I know, you’re like, “What kind of ass-hat wears sunglasses alone in his apartment?”
That’s last night in a nutshell. It rocked. Ivan Sandomire rocked, Dough rocked, and hell yeah, I’ll say it, I rocked. And I’ll be honest with ya’, I’m as surprised as anyone.
Rockwood Music Hall is a cozy venue. My apartment’s bigger (though they have a better bar). But that just made it easier to fill the place up, and it made it that much easier for the enthusiasm to spread. Judging by the applause, I thought folks particularly dug “Shiver” (first time ever with a band) and the new one, “Do It Again.” But it was our cover of Avril Lavigne’s “My Happy Ending” that really tore the roof off. Really. It was a trip. We were having a ball playing it. And I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: it’s a great pop song. Honestly, the instrumentation of her version notwithstanding, the song itself isn’t that different from something I’d write. So, to me, it fits right in. And it rocks. And the room’s enthusiasm for it was such that I got an honest to God encore out of the deal. I brought ’em down smoothly. I played “New York” all by my lonesome.
Yunno’, the fact is, you’ve probably got more confidence in my musicianship than I do. I mean, I like the songs that I write. I think I’m pretty good at that. But performing’s a different beast. There’s a lot to consider. I have to get to the venue on time, I have to get the other bands there on time, I have to remember the chords, I have to remember the lyrics, I have to lead the band, I have to engage the audience, and I have to at least look like I’m having fun.
Even when I’m on tour performing every night for a week or so, I get pretty wound up. I’ve taken to hiring a car for the trip downtown just to kinda’ Zen out for a few minutes. I listen to my iPod and try and get in the right head, but the fact is, I can’t get out of my stomach. It’s always tied up in knots. When I finally get to where I’m going, I find myself in these brief, distracted conversations. I ramble. I pace. It’s not cool. And then I hit the stage.
My first thought during a performance is, ‘Wow, I’m doing it.’ Then I think, ‘Look at all those people. Don’t mess up.’ But then a funny thing happens and you kinda’ gain some footing and some voice and realize that maybe you know what you’re doing and that it’s gonna’ be ok. And it usually is. Knock on wood, in twenty years of public performance, I’ve never train wrecked or broken down or messed up unforgiveably. So maybe I should stop worrying about it.
Of course, not worrying is why I do it in the first place. When I’m in the moment, on stage or in the studio, all of the useless, destructive, negative voices in my head go silent. All that’s left is the process. And on a day like today, when I spent the balance of the afternoon recording a new song, well, that makes for a pretty good day. When it’s turning out well, and you can’t believe you had anything to do with it, you put on your sunglasses and rock out a solo like you’re Slash or someone … someone who looks a little like you.