It was a really strange night. The gig was awesome, and about as perfect as any band could ever hope for. The venue was incredible, the fans were exactly as they have always been, and we played about as tightly as we are capable of playing. Knowing it was the last one added something different into the mix. The circumstances of the gig could easily have led to either a weird, sad, or an overall uncomfortable night, but once again our fans lifted us up, and it turned into this wonderfully private celebration between us and them. By the time we got to the encores it was really settling in that this could very well be the last time we were together. Afterwards, the dressing room was eerily quiet and heavy with emotion. Definitely not normal…. we hugged one another and it was done.
The idea of actually taking a break really seemed to come from out of nowhere, it just sort of happened, and happened fast. Although I have to admit that the seeds of our own personal discontent had probably been a long time in the making. We had been going at it hard since 1989 and actually were a little burnt out as a band, and our friendship was being tested as a result. So we didn’t announce a break up or anything, just a ‘last show’, and that we are taking time to really gain some much needed perspective on IME as a concept, and more importantly, our friendship. Too many outside forces had tarnished both, and we thought it best just to step away from everything before our fans felt any negativity, even if it meant sacrificing all that we had achieved.
Maybe more bands should do this. Slugging it out for no reason other than to make a buck is probably the most dishonest you can ever be to yourself as a musician, and is actually a blatant lie to a fan. IME was never about that and we were smart enough to not let it happen.
Where the hell did we go?
I guess when you announce these kinds of things, you’re very much thinking in the now vs. “what the hell am I going to do tomorrow?” Luckily, we were all smart enough to develop skills in other areas of interest while in IME. I actually stopped playing guitar for 2-3 years, and felt that until I had something more to say with it, I wouldn’t touch it. I did keep one on a stand in the corner for years and just stared at it. Although I kept producing, engineering, etc., I think that grew kind of old after working with too many dumbasses that just didn’t get it, so I decided to tone it way down and focus only on things I felt emotionally attached to. Now it wasn’t all bad mind you… some real gems in there too! I also started my content company Segment X which has proven to be where I currently feel the most artistic satisfaction and excitement. (More on this soon, big things a comin’ on that front which you will love!)
I’ll get the guys to contribute their thoughts on the past 8 years in future blogs as well as their thoughts on other things, but in a nutshell: Chris became an agent, a talent buyer and is now GM of a kick ass venue. Brian embarked on a fruitful solo career doing the alt-country thing (rather well too, go find those records!) all the while doing his tattoo apprenticeship, and opened a couple shops. Bruce joined in with the Blue Man Group and plays a million different instruments for them down in the Orlando, Florida production. He can really make that zither wail!
Needless to say, there’s a LOT going on.
Overall, there wasn’t this yearning to reconnect as we had all things on the go, as well as all being busy taking care of and enjoying our expanding families. Kids have a way of lulling you into this weird kind of contentment and the next thing you know, 8 years have passed and I’ve forgotten how to play Summertime in the Void! While Chris and I have obviously been in touch (hard to escape him at thanksgiving dinner!), I hadn’t spoken to Brian or Bruce since the last gig! Some circumstances changed that allowed me to talk on the phone with Brian on a semi-regular basis while he was out west tattooing, and I realized that we are still the same idiots we always were and nothing had really changed. It was as simple as that, friendship resumed.
It wasn’t until many months later that we actually started talking about music. The discussion wasn’t about reviving the past, recording, or playing shows as much as musically reconnecting, hanging out and making a racket! It’s an easy thing to miss, as our “racket” was at least always challenging and interesting. It was kind of hilarious that I hadn’t plugged into an amp for all these years, and Chris didn’t even have a kit! We eventually got it sorted out and gave it a go, and I would say that within a couple of jams we had outlines of some good songs and started talking about some possibilities moving ahead. Brian had moved into our neck of the woods from out west and being back together as friends felt surprisingly natural. There is a reason we were all placed together in the first place. The writing was on the wall… it was fun again.
Now the missing piece of the puzzle was obviously Bruce. He had moved down to Florida, with a great gig going and a new family. He was also very far removed from all of the good vibes we have received from fans over the years, or even knowing about radio stations across the country still playing our music. We were guessing that IME was about the furthest thing from his mind. After reaching out, we were surprised to find that he was really open to finding a way to make something happen. We still weren’t thinking live at this point, just to try writing a bit to see if we all still enjoy it. So far so good….
Now the idea of the ‘reunion’ has always put me off a bit. Even just hearing the word makes me heave a little. I guess after being in the game for so long it’s easy for me to smell the proverbial rat. The story goes: band ends up despising one another and calls it quits; band gets back together because there is money to be made and egos to be fed; and, band tours country travelling separately, with separate dressing rooms, putting on miserable shows, and raking in the dough. Smells like onions to me.
That’s just the way it usually is, sorry to say, but it’s definitely not the way it has to be. I think getting back together has to happen naturally and as long as it feels good, and you feel that you still have something to add to the musical landscape, you keep going. That’s pretty simple right? This is the mandate since ending our ‘hiatus’. First we reconnect as friends, then explore writing, and if we are still having fun, we play live. There is no other reason to be back at it if it isn’t fulfilling. Whatever happens beyond what we can immediately control isn’t up to us, and has no bearing on what we do next. As long as we do this for the right reason, and stay honest to fans and to ourselves, count me in. The minute it changes, I’m out, I think the fellas feel the same. So a reunion it isn’t, a continuation, it is (that’s deep, especially if you say it in a Yoda voice!).
What happens now?
We have no idea. We keep writing music, have been recording, have a show planned… and that’s all it needs to be for now, right? We’ll see how it goes and plan for the future, it’s a huge first step for us. I think we’ve found some interesting ways to give people what they want, without disrupting the lives we enjoy outside of IME. It helps that we have no obligations on the business side of things to do the usual, you know: make record, make people understand record, make video, tour in support of record, try not to piss people off, etc. “Having” to do anything kind of takes the shine off of living, especially for a musician! Best of all, we don’t really need to measure our own success anymore, or even care about it. There are no benchmarks or standards set for what we are about to do. Outside of our fans sharing our excitement, and us just having fun, what else are we supposed to care about? Am I missing something?
The single most important thing we need to do is rekindle the relationship we’ve always enjoyed with our fans, and with each other, and if everyone is still interested, we’ll continue…. Want more songs? Want more shows? All it takes is a little faith and commitment between us all and if we can do that, we’ll be around… if not, we’ll exit as gracefully as we did before.
Did I mention that the new tunes ROCK!!!??