Of all the people I’ve played with over the years, only two bands ever continued on to make music as more or less the same group after I’d left. Running Erin, now performing as Planet Roy, is the latest. I just received their CD in the mail.
Listening to the songs, about a third of which were played when I was in the band, was a singular experience. Rather like hearing a version of Running Erin from an alternate universe.
The alternate universe illusion is reinforced by the liner notes, where three years of the band’s history (my three years) is expunged like the names of dissidents from a Soviet Union textbook. If all you knew about Gary and Erin’s musical history was what you read in that jewel case, you’d never know they had a different bass player, and a different drummer.
Of course, I understand the need to compress that time in the interest of creating a new identity for Planet Roy. It was a wise choice to skip everything that was not connected to the band they are now. But it’s weird to be written out of history like that! My ego is twitching.
Another strange moment came when I heard a song that was one of the last ones we worked on together as a band; one of the last ones I had creative input on. As I recall, Erin brought in lyrics and a melody, and Gary, Miguel, and I fleshed out the chords and structure around it.
I can hear the harmony vocal I helped design, and DJ’s bassline is like a car following the muddy tracks of the last vehicle to take that road.
I’ve just hit on why it’s so weird — it’s because I can hear the ghost of my presence in their work.
I’m not trying to overemphasize my importance to their music, don’t get me wrong. It’s just a natural result of playing on those songs with those guys for those three or four years — a little of my spirit is in them.
That’s a part of my spirit that is missing.
Gary once told me that my leaving the band was like breaking up with a girlfriend — that it was hard to be friends right away. I respected that. I know I surprised them when I decided to leave. It was a difficult decision to make at the time.
The social interaction provided by being in a band — even a band that hardly ever played in front of people — is something I’ve never replaced. I moved to a remote town, and I don’t relate to the neighbors on my street. I have many people in my life whom I know and respect, but they’re all either at the Cursed Day Job or online.
It’s not the same as hanging out for hours a week in a small, sweaty room, creating art out of thin air, wood, and metal.
I know there’s a good chance Gary, Erin, Miguel, or DJ might read this, or someone they know might. I haven’t written anything I wouldn’t say directly to any of them. Here’s one more thing:
Good luck, Planet Roy. Don’t stop. And thanks for talking me into being in your band. It was a hell of a lot of fun at a time when I surely needed that.