UG Story: All About Matthew Cateland 2

Matthew Cateland had always thought it was a bad idea to do any more than was strictly necessary on a Monday.

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There are many subtle differences between relationships and friendships over the internet, and relationships and friendships in the questionably less common reality'. While philosophy has moved around in circles for centuries in an attempt to define what is real, whether fried eggs came before fried chicken and if the moon is in fact a pancake or a fruit pastille, the internet is simply the internet. Sadly, this assistant simplicity does not carry over onto it.

Since the invention of social networking, partners have become friends. Drinking buddies have become friends. Teachers have become friends. Work mates have become friends. Bosses have become friends. Friends of friends have become friends. Mothers and mother-in-laws have become friends. Even dentists and doctors have become friends. It is a strange sort of reality to exist in when a direct conversation with your boss can, in fact, be monitored by your mother. In such an environment, honesty becomes subversive, and friendships draw ever closer to xbox achievements. The bigger the number, the greater the social status, and the smaller the collection of outright dislike. Outcasts remain outcasts, and we never quite leave school in terms of social clique.

Now of course, with online bands a realisation, it's questionable whether it's even worth attempting anything in that fabled reality that people keep talking about, but never quite establishing what the damned thing is. To struggle on through the hectic time that must be spent in setting up a band is as unnecessary as spending time carefully crafting a friendship that you feel might be missing in your life. Why meet girls at the pub when you can meet them online? Online sex sites are considerably cheaper than prostitutes, and you're practically set up for life. Isn't everything already taken care of?

Sadly, for many, many lonely and desperate people, the answer is no. There is a theory that, the more human an image or creation looks, and the more intelligent artificial life acts, the greater the feeling of disgust will be by somebody beholding it. Human and human interaction is still based on subtle nuances, handling disagreements, tone, body language and, in the case of partnerships, pheromones. That's right; its how you smell.

If you want something, you have to get stuck in there and, no matter how bad things look, you have to put your heart into it. Otherwise, other people might.

---

Matthew Cateland had always thought it was a bad idea to do any more than was strictly necessary on a Monday. Monday was never a good day. Everything you attempted would inevitably go wrong, including Knocking On Heaven's Door.

This time it had been Josh, the drummer's fault. He had decided the best way of keeping a steady rhythm was to add in fun little fills after every bar, until he lost track of his own rhythm. Matthew held on for a while; he did his best not to rely on the other members of the band for well, anything. Nevertheless, after a whole verse of all three members doing their own thing, Matthew gave up and dropped out. The bass trailed off soon after. They had to turn round and wave at the drummer for a full minute for him to notice they were gone. Scratching his scrappy little black beard, Joshua leaned against the wall and rolled his eyes.

Sorry, Josh. If the song is getting in the way of your drum solo, feel free to ignore it. It's not like we've got a concert to prepare for or anything. Matthew snapped. After a deep breath, he continued, Let's go back to the first chorus.

It took all of ten seconds for Luke to mess up the chord changes. Luke was a placid seventeen-year old with a cigarette in between his lips, coffee-coloured skin, and an afro that refused to grow.

Christ's sake, it's G D C not D C G. Jesus Christ, it's the most bloody basic progression there is! What the hell are you two smoking? We have a concert in all of seven days! That's, at best, two rehearsals.

Yeah, about that, Matt. We never agreed to a concert so soon. We're blatantly not ready. Joshua leaned forwards, eyebrows slightly creased.

No, you blatantly aren't ready because you're not paying attention. We had this perfectly last week. Jesus, guys, it's Knockin On Heaven's Door, not Dream Theater.

Why are we even doing this song? It's crap.

It's a crowd-pleaser. Matthew said lamely.

So we've not even played half a dozen gigs and we're already selling out? Josh shot back.

OK, I know. Seeing as we've got, what, an hour of material, and... An hour-long set... how about we just drop any songs that you two are gonna bloody whine about? That way, we can just sit in silence for the last ten minutes of the gig. That's sure to get us lots of success. Matthew turned away and went to play with a knob on his amp. His tone was a little strident, but he wasn't quite sure what he could fix to sort it out. A question for the Electric Guitar board. Hell, the whole situation was begging for advice from the Bandleading forum. The other two were whispering behind his back. It figured they would rebel, in a way. Very few people knew about the true nature of his exit from the Bad Apples. The band, Andrea, and some of his friends were probably the only ones, and most of them were far away now. As far as Anticitizen One were considered, Matt had left for musical differences, so why would there be any burning rivalry between Matt and Steve? Why would he be desperate to outshine the headlining band next Saturday? This was just a gig to them. Intimidating, but not life-changing.

Luke spoke up. Right, Matthew. We'll do this concert -

Too kind, Matthew snapped.

We'll do this concert. But next time you don't go and book us a gig without asking us first. And from now on, we all have to agree on covers.

But I can't sing half the stuff you choose.

Make it work, Josh said flatly, Let's take it from the top.

Matthew scowled, but recognised he didn't have much choice.

I'm tired, let's do it instrumental.

The song bored Matthew, too. The solos were the only point of interest, but they were punctuated by endless repetitive chord changes. Still, it was a crowd-pleaser. And they had to please the crowd if they were to upstage the Apples. He knew Andrea was definitely coming to see them - she had even offered Matthew a lift to the venue. But his master plan was all dependent on the band actually coming together. As they barrelled through Knocking On Heaven's Door and straight into Fluorescent Adolescent, Matthew felt optimistic. With the last chord still reverberating off the bare brick walls, he swore cheerily and remarked,

That was good, guys. Did you feel it?

Yeah, we actually sounded like a band and not... well, rubbish. Luke played a triumphant little bass lick.

Matthew grinned. When they were good, they were really good. It was just a question of staying really good.

***

Staying really good for more than ten minutes.

The drums fell silent, and pretty soon, the bass dropped out too. Matthew had no idea why, but soon joined them.

What was that bollocks? Josh snapped, stamping on his bass pedal.

Guitar solo? Matthew gritted his teeth.

You were a bit out of key, mate, Luke said placatingly.

I wasn't out of bloody key! Just because I wasn't pentatonic-wanking, doesn't mean I was out of effing key. It was a Harmonic Minor scale.

Well it sounded bloody awful, Josh snapped. Matthew rounded on him, and Luke ducked in between him and the drumkit. As he did so, the cable popped out of his bass, and lay on the floor. A harsh buzz filled the garage, but no-one seemed prepared to sort it out.

Matt, just stick to basics, yeah? We're playing a pub, not an avant-garde jazz club. One dissonant note, and you've ruined someone's pint.

It's not dissonant. You're a bloody bassist, all you ever do is play root notes, what do you know? This wasn't fair, and Matthew knew it.

Oh, piss off Matthew. Luke went to plug his bass back in.

He's right, Matt. Stop trying to make this band into something it isn't. It's not supposed to be high art or revolutionary harmony. It's good old-fashioned rock and roll. That's what we're booked to play, that's what people want to hear.

Matthew clenched and unclenched his fists for a moment. Then he turned away, switched off his amp, and began packing away his gear.

What are you doing now? Josh snapped.

I have to go. Got work.

No you haven't, it's your day off.

They asked me to fill in for someone, Matthew said quickly.

Well... OK. See you day after tomorrow?

Yeah, sure thing. Avoiding their eyes, he slung his guitar over his shoulder, and heaved open the garage door. Laters, guys.

***

Andrea Harrison:Ello.

Matthew Cateland: Evening.

Andrea Harrison: What you been up to?

Matthew Cateland: Rehearsal. Pissing about.

Andrea Harrison: Day off?

Matthew Cateland: Yup.

Andrea Harrison: So how was rehearsal? Ready to rock the Ivory?

Matthew Cateland: Shit name for a pub, the Ivory. Sort of.

Andrea Harrison: Sort of doesn't sound like the kind of do-or-die rockstar attitude I was expecting. Sup?

Matthew Cateland: Meh.

Andrea Harrison: Expressive.

Andrea Harrison is offline.

Heaving a sigh, Matthew rolled away from the computer and headed for the kitchen. They had been close, a few years back. Close in that sort of unrequited love way. They had grown apart, but in the space of twenty-four hours, the sight of her profile picture in the chat box was already messing with his head. Upon his return, Facebook was beeping.

Andrea Harrison is online.

Andrea Harrison: Sorry bout that, kicked the plug.

Andrea Harrison: Matthew?

Matthew Cateland: Smooth.

Andrea Harrison: I blame the plug.

Andrea Harrison: So yeah, are you OK?

Matthew Cateland: Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Rehearsal was just a bit... frustrating. I mean, I walked out.

Andrea Harrison: That does sound bad. But isn't it always? The Apples always sounded like a bit of a nightmare.

Matthew Cateland: I don't know, it was frustrating at times, but I loved... it was really fun. This just isn't... this ain't the same. I don't know if it's because they're younger than me or... I dunno. I spend all that time reading rockstar biographies and this isn't what they say it feels like. Slash was all about that crazy-sick chemistry they had in the early days, not this... it's just... not rock n' roll, what?

Andrea Harrison: Cos celebs are known for their honesty. C'mon, Matt, don't be silly. I bet they all had really crappy sessions too before it all gelled. Why would Slash tell you about them? He's trying to create a myth, isn't he?

Matthew Cateland: Suppose.

Andrea Harrison: Don't start doubting it now, I mean it. You need to really believe in this, or you're not going to be able to pull the gig off.

Matthew Cateland: Mmmm.

Andrea Harrison: I'm serious. You start doubting, walking out, starting fights, you'll fall apart before you even make it on stage.

Andrea Harrison: Be right back.

Matthew sighed and opened a new tab. As the Ultimate Guitar forums pixellated into view, he rubbed his eyes. He had started a thread in Bandleading a couple of weeks back to vent, and since then, he had updated it almost religiously whenever anything went wrong at a rehearsal. It had only been a couple of hours since his last update, but there were already a handful of responses - night-time in the States was always busy. They were mostly useless - he mentally categorised them as he went.

If you're so frustrated, why don't you just quit already? It's like you've got nothing to say that's good about the band - man up or leave!

Mr. Living-In-A-Dream-World-Where-Rhythm-Sections-Grown-On-Trees

Sounds like you're in the wrong band.

Mr. Makes-One-Liner-Responses-That-Neither-Amuse-Nor-Help

To be honest, the impression I've got from all your posts in this thread and elsewhere is that you need to deflate your ego by several notches. It is quite clear that your bandmates are not interested in the sort of thing you're trying to make them do. A good musician is adaptable. Just because you can play Hungarian Minor scale triplets at 200bpm, doesn't mean every song wants you to do it. Nor does it mean every audience wants to hear it.Take it for what it is, it sounds like a perfectly enjoyable blues-rock band. Not only is that fun to play, but it's popular with audiences.

Mr.Too-Intelligent-To-Be-Lurking-On-An-Internet-Forum-(And-Who-Is-Wrong-Anyway)

Hopefully, the useful people would come in and back him up later on.

Scowling, he changed the forum code to eleven, and went over to The Pit. Five shoop threads, four political threads, the Relationship thread. The rest of the page were stupid list threads or forum games. It appeared the Pit was not in an entertaining mood. Facebook was buzzing, anyway.

Andrea Harrison: Matt, I'm off.

Matthew Cateland: Aight. Talk to you later.

Andrea Harrison: Steve says hi, by the way.

Matthew Cateland: He's at yours?

Andrea Harrison: No, other way round. We're about to go for dinner. Bye Matt. <3

The screen seemed to swim before his eyes. He gritted his teeth and typed Steve's name into the search box. Surprisingly, they had remained friends. He entered his profile, and clicked on Personal Info, his heart pounding.

In a relationship with Andrea Harrison

Matthew clutched at his fringe, burying the heels of his hands in his eyes. Andrea getting a boyfriend would be bad news whoever the lucky bastard was. But he'd have coped. He was used to disappointment in the romance department. But not this. Not again. Last time, Steve had told it about him - to his credit, he had been very sensitive about the whole thing. Finding out through Facebook, just when he had been getting his hopes up... He swallowed, drew his sleeve across his face and pushed himself away from the computer.

It was getting late, even for Matthew. Clenching his fists, he headed for bed, reflecting on the day. Upon reaching his bedroom, he realised the gutter still hadn't been fixed. It figured, really.

Monday was never a good day.

---

Mondays sucked major balls. Not even small, human sized balls; Gigantic, sweaty, elephantine bollocks.

To say that work had been slow would be a lie. The job was actually fairly enjoyable, even if Hugh found himself a little uninformed for it. Customers seemed to respect honesty, which was an incredible surprise to Hugh. The first time he had professed to having no idea when the next Jackson shipment would be, the customer had just sighed and decided to try the Squier again. Though quite cheap, Hugh seemed to have a talent for shifting these.

The aggravation of the day was the complete lack of work that Greg involved himself in. As managers went, the man seemed to have no desire to be involved in anything except when it would cause Hugh some further torment. The first example happened during Hugh's very first sale. Unsure of how to work a till, Hugh had had to stick his head in the back and call out his boss. The result was a lengthy tirade, in front of a fairly cute punk rock chick, on the dangers of bayonet bulbs in favour of screw-ins.

Two hours later, Hugh had the audacity to ask whether Greg's shop did boxes for their instruments, or if the cases were discounted with a guitar sale. At first, Greg applauded the concept of giving away free stuff, and then refused to let Hugh leave until he's rated his top five Wile E. Coyote stunts. Thankfully, he seemed largely oblivious to what Hugh was actually saying, since he completely made it all up.

The highlight of the day was the point at which Greg was faced with a customer, but that was a story so heinous that Hugh didn't even want to think about it.

The day over, Hugh was ready to leave with his pockets thirty pounds heavier when Greg asked him to lock the door and come into the back room. There, through a haze of smoke, Greg offered his new employee a joint, a big bag of Doritos and a seat in front of a Heroes re-run.

In the end, Mondays weren't so bad after all.

Gabriel Mallows / Tom Colohue

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Echoplex
    This story was very engaging, but it's been so long since the last one that I had to go back and reread it.