We've all heard the advice...we ought to be very careful about who we surround ourselves with. If, for whatever reason, two people are not compatible...or if the necessary conditions of a relationship are not established from the beginning and maintained over time, there can be no real future.
Sadly, this turned out to be the case with the band I was a proud member of, Sungod Abscondo. The band started as an acoustic duo between two Americans living in Slovakia, Kevin and I. For the first year or so, Kevin would come by my flat with his acoustic guitar and we'd spend hours drinking beer, sharing songs, and writing together. After some time, we started to recognize that we were creating a unique sound and I committed to move to the next step - to record an album.
Back in late 2006 and early 2007, I bought everything that was needed to record at home on a laptop and the two of us spent week after week around my kitchen table with headphones on. Of course we made some amateur mistakes, as it was my first time recording in a serious way, but I think that ultimately the album "Imperfect People" turned out pretty well. I invested a lot of time and money promoting it, and we eventually succeeded in having some of our tracks played on dozens of radio stations in the US.
We continued on as an acoustic duo, trying to do something very ambitious and against-the-odds: to make things work between two singers / songwriters / guitarists. Essentially, we needed to learn to control our own egos and take turns in the spotlight.
For some time, it worked. We started playing acoustic shows as a duo and, while the sound may have been simple and incomplete, we started attracting local attention based on what I believe is our quality songwriting. I felt proud at Kevin's side, as I respect him greatly as a musician and songwriter.
Just last year, David, our bassist, was at one of our shows and convinced us that he'd like to join. We soon realized that we sounded much better with him than without him, so we welcomed him with open arms and I grew to like him very much. However, in just a few months, it became clear that we needed a drummer to take us to the next level.
In September of 2009, I reached out to Martin, a very talented drummer who immediately agreed to join the band after he had heard our music. For the first month or two, we went through a very healthy growth process, practiced several times a week until late into the night, and after just 5 weeks we came up with the complete, Sungod Abscondo sound that local fans would begin to notice...playing 4 shows in just a few months. I was making plans to fund a proper, profession album which was to be recorded this May. I was starting the process of booking some big, festival shows this summer, all was going well.
Then last weekend, I received the call that our drummer has "creative differences", wants out of the band, and that Kevin was just fine with this. In fact, Kevin had already moved on and is making plans to "start another project" with Martin and even David if he agrees. So, in essence, I was thrown out of the band that I started...when things were going very well musically. I have absolutely no doubt that I held my own musically, that I belonged on that stage next to those three excellent musicians. I also know that I more than held my own when it came to buying equipment, promoting us, booking shows, and driving the equipment around. So what happened?
The excuse is that they wanted to perform more "heavier" music...but what confuses me is that I would have been perfectly fine with them adding more heavy songs, even with them doing that as a side project. Why couldn't we have continued as a band regardless? Why did our drummer decide to quit less than two weeks before a scheduled concert? Whatever for?
So I'm left asking myself, what didn't happen? Was there anything I could have done? I know that our fans are left scratching their heads, as I am. Not to brag, but anybody in the room when Sungod Abscondo would play would know that we had something original, something interesting, something great.
What never happened is that we never actually learned to communicate. We never were able to really sit down and talk, in a mature way, about goals, about our needs, etc. Too often, decisions were made at some pub, without everyone there, as 3 vs. 1 instead of as a whole band. I tried...I fucking tried over and over again. This post is starting to feel like nothing but a bunch of finger-pointing, but the truth is that at this point nothing I say will make any difference. In fairness, Kevin and David did half-heatedly offer to go back to our acoustic thing, without a drummer, while they built up another project without me in it. But even if I could manage to look them in the eyes ever again, what would be the point? We would be lesser than we were. Sungod Abscondo needed a drummer. And how could I build a future with people who could so easily toss me aside anyway? If any of them had shown any loyalty at any point, this wouldn't have happened to begin with.
So, as of now, things are on hold indefinitely and most likely finished with Sungod Abscondo. I am extremely disappointed and let down by people who I was committed to. I'm also very sad and embarrassed that our fans have been let down. I fucking loved performing for you and I was looking forward to doing the same for your friends and your friends' friends as things continued to get bigger and bigger.
Life is such that all of this happens in a second (though it may have built up for months or years) and you have no other choice but to move on. But, I am a musician with many more songs in me. Almost immediately, I have thrown myself back into my Abscondo project (which has been neglected for the past 4-5 months, though I do have a number of new songs begging for my attention). I'm already making progress and meeting with at least one talented musician next week who may be interested in working with me.
I know that, in the end, this is for the best. When something is as messed up as this apparently was, it is better for it to end sooner rather than later. So, with a heavy heart, I return to this space...to my more personal style...and rebuild my musical world into something ultimately far greater than anything I've done before. That's something I have no doubt about.