"So when are y'all gonna get rid of that guy?" asked Grant on the way home from the gig on a summer Friday night. It was probably a little after 12 am and we were on our way to the usual Denny's midnight dinner. Grant was Darrell, our drummer's older brother. He was 5 years older than the rest of us, but we all got along pretty well. Grant and Darrell were brothers, as I said, and the two were my cousins. Our dads were brothers. Grant happened to be driving us to the show that night because he wanted to watch us play anyway.
The guy he was referring to was Tim, the lead vocalist. We played a killer show that night. All original songs and not a mistake in the music could be found. Tim, on the other hand had forgotten words, sang out of key, and dedicated one of the songs he had no part in writing to some chick who had no interest in him. These things happen, I can understand that. The thing is, it happened every single time we played out. Unacceptable. Yeah, we'd tried talking to him, but he took our advice and shrugged it off. I suppose you could call him our friend, but as you probably have noticed, he wasn't riding home with us. He drove himself there and back and we had the privileged of loading and unloading our gear and hauling the trailer there and back home. He was a big help. Tim talked behind our backs often and skipped out on rehearsal quite often to hang with his cool friends. He wasn't that great of a singer to begin with. Why keep putting up with this?
Grant, Darrell, and I had talked about starting up a band many times, but we just never went through with it. Grant was a killer guitar player. He'd been in a few gigging bands before and he knew the business pretty well. We were still pretty much amateurs, only doing some light gigging. I think after Grant saw what the instrumental side of the band could do, he was convinced that if he replaced this Tim guy, the band could be successful.
We talked about dumping Tim over our meal and even on the way home. I made sure that Grant would do the singing and not only be playing guitar. He assured me that he would take over on vocals. I had never really heard him sing, but I trusted that his talents would rise well above Tim's. It wasn't hard to do.
I'd say the hardest thing to do in life is to kick out a band member. Sometimes it has to be done. We all sat down on the in the living room and talked to Tim in the most polite way possible. The information he was about to receive could send him into a world of anger or hurt his feelings. I didn't want to see either, but we knew it wouldn't go over too well. He knew it was coming, I think. After we had sat Tim down for our "Talk," there was sort of an awkward pause. I wasn't sure what to say. My mind was racing as I tried to think of the best way to let him down easily. I couldn't think of anything and out of nowhere I heard Darrell's voice. "Tim..It's not working out." He said it so simply, but not in a rude way. I thought that maybe that was the best way to do it. No beating around the bush and no buts about it. Tim was out and that was it.
"Alright, so..." Tim started in a cracked voice. "Why?" was all he could muster. This time Keith spoke. The lead guitar player was probably the best with words out of the four of us. "We just think it's best for the band. It's nothing personal, man. It's just that...You don't really seem to be digging the new songs that we're writing and I think if you want to pursue another group, then go for it, but I honestly don't think we're musically compatible." Well said Keith, I thought. "Yeah, and if you want me to help you dig up some local talent to start another band with I will." I added. Tim just nodded. Ben, the bassist, said nothing. He sat there slumped on the couch waiting for this moment to be over. "Well, if you guys all want me out, then I can't argue with that." Tim said with a grimace. We all nodded. Tim didn't know that we had already decided that Grant was replacing him. "We have shows booked already. One's coming up in a few weeks. How are you guys going to play without a singer?" Tim asked. I don't know if he was genuinely concerned or if he just wanted us to say he could stay for the next wave of gigs. We told him we'd work something out by than and if not, we'd just cancel. Tim went home after a few apologies from us. We felt bad, but even more relieved.
Grant had albums and albums of awesome hard rock material that we'd be adding to our set after some tweaking. He came over a few days later and we taught him our originals. He caught on quickly and when we heard him sing, we were almost blown away. The dude had some pipes. The third guitar added some texture to our sound as well. I was skeptical about letting Grant join because I wasn't sure about how it would work out and I didn't want to be stranded without a lead singer. That practice calmed my nerves a bit, though. I was ready to show the world what we could do.
A few weeks later, we played at the very same venue we'd played the night we decided to kick Tim out. The line up was scheduled according to ticket sales and we ended up headlining. 5 bands played before us. Some of the bands we were acquainted with and some of them were strangers, but all the same, we were ready to melt some faces. We went on at 11 and played for half an hour. The songs we'd written had finally come to life and I liked it. After we wrapped up our set, the owner came up to us and praised us. He remembered us played a few weeks ago with Tim, but wasn't impressed. How could he be? Tim's mumbling and, quite frankly, terrible singing ruined the music. We booked another show at the place for a local band's signing party that was coming up in the next month. The place was supposed to be packed.
We left the venue that night and went straight to Denny's like we always did. We talked about our victory of playing an awesome show and talked about the next one. Basic stuff, ya know. We had practice within the next few days. We practiced often in order to stay on top of things. Aside from Grant and Ben, we were all fresh out of high school and all we wanted to do was play music. Ben was my younger brother. 3 years younger, actually. He was just starting high school. Darrell showed up in a shirt with the Batman symbol on it. Keith walked in with a sub sandwich and Grant came in, straight from work, full of ideas. Since Ben and I lived there, we didn't make such an entrance. We picked up our instruments and began learning a Sevendust song to do as a cover for the next show. Things were going pretty good so far. We were playing music and that was all that mattered to me.
To be continued.