In my previous post about a recent milestone for Thrice, I was surprised to watch the article become my most popular one yet. However, I also surprised myself while writing this article, as what was intended to be a more straightforward piece about the rock group’s career turned into a more memoir-like piece on how songs and albums from the band affected my life and the lives of those close to me.
In that same vein, I have become very interested in thinking about (and now telling!) some additional stories about how music affected some of my friendships – or more specifically, how music became foundational to numerous friendships.
I will be releasing a sequel to this blog post as well – containing your stories! So please, comment on this blog and share it with others, so that I can collect as many stories as I can and hear about how music is connecting our lives in awesome ways! And please feel free to add your email to my ‘Following’ list so that you can hear about when the sequel is posted.
(in the middle of cutting off his hair)
As I stood among the large group of college students, I spotted a girl across the way that I really wanted to talk to, one whom I had only recently met. Talking to her was a tall guy with devilishly long hair whom I didn’t know. I waited for him to finish talking with her before initiating my plan to swoop in and begin my own conversation, but just to be polite I greeted the long-haired man as he walked away.
“Hey, I like your hair.”
Enthusiastically, almost defiantly, he immediately replied, “I like your hair!” I had obviously just dyed my hair blonde at the time, so it was difficult not to accept this compliment heartily.
“Thanks. What’s your name?”
“Dane,” he said, and I introduced myself likewise.
Then I said, “You know, you look a lot like Tim Skipper, the singer of House of Heroes.”
“They are SUCH a good band!”
Shock struck over my face like a bruise. I think this was the moment that I completely forgot about the girl I was planning on talking to. An hour was engaged talking about House of Heroes and other groups, our mutual love for Family Guy, and more.
Since this evening, Dane has actually become best friends. It feels like we’ve been through thick and thin during the near-year that we’ve known each other. We attended a concert together for a band we both love, the virtually unknown Schematic. He showed me 19-minute-long songs by Yes, (which I loved!). We watched the patience-testingly long DVD for The Dear Hunter’s The Color Spectrum. We even wrote a song together, which remains unreleased but that we both think is pretty darn great.
And we’ve lived a whole lot of life together. Does this really all come down to us both liking House of Heroes? Prettymuchyeah.
Elena is a great friend – I’ve probably talked with her on the phone more consistently than any other human in recent years. (Remember those things called phones, which used to be used for phone calls but nowadays are only used for texting?) We’ve jammed music together, shared loads of music together, and even been to see an orchestra together.
(if you looks closely, I think the little sliver of black to the far left might be me)
The chances of us meeting were pretty slim: different cities, different colleges, different churches, different ages, etc. The reason we met is because we randomly played a show together, my band Romantic Machines and her band, The Bad Habits. I remember what I thought when I first saw them: “Ha, these kids, I can’t even imagine what style they’re going to play.” I wasn’t even sure which of the five were band members and which were “roadies” or “merch-people” or whatever. But when all five took the stage to play their set, I was joyfully surprised – punchy rock music with super-tasteful drums, stand-out guitar riffs, and Elena killin’ it on the keys.
To be fair, I actually became friends with all of the band members through this show, and the mutual respect we all gained for each other as musicians brought up us playing more shows together and hanging out together in different contexts. Without that one chance show together, I highly doubt I would have met any of them; I’m grateful I did!
I cannot recall exactly the circumstances of how Jon and I first fell into conversation with each other – I almost feel like someone paired us up, instinctively thinking that Jon and I would certainly get along. Either way, I distinctively remember bits of pieces of this first conversation.
We pretty quickly began talking about songwriting – I talked about how I was experimenting with different rock genres and he talked about how he was experimenting with writing songs by first writing and recording the drums parts. I also vaguely recall him mentioning about to trying to create some sort of “space cowboy rock.”
Naturally, we also talked about musical influences, and when I brought up Thrice, I was thrilled that Jon’s natural inclination was to begin praising their record Beggars. I believe that same day, I let him borrow my copy of Thrice’s follow-up record, Major/Minor. Not long later, I went over to his apartment one day and we worked on writing a song together. I still have the recording on my phone of him playing piano and me playing guitar to pretty effective levels of awesome.
In the year and half since, our friendship has evolved to much, much more than just music. In fact, music is a side object. (There’s just the funny part that when Jon and I like the same genre, we normally like very different bands in that genre, or when Jon and I like the same band, we usually like them for completely different songs or totally different reasons.) More typically, he and I share some of our deepest feelings and thoughts each other. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
That One Guy
Okay, so this isn’t really a story about a friend, but I still think it’s worth sharing that I love sparking up random conversations with people because of their T-shirts. One day while at the restaurant I work at, I was so stunned to walk up to a guest sitting in my section wearing a Touche Amore T-shirt! I almost felt bad for not taking his order for ten minutes because we were stuck in a conversation about that band and more.
Speaking of Touche Amore, absolutepunk.net put out a really entertaining podcast with the band’s Jeremy Bolm, where he shares some similar stories about making friendships with other bands and making friendships through the record store he works at.
In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis expertly defines the four different loves in the Greek language – charity, eros, affection, and friendship. As simply as possible, friendship can be defined as the love of having things in common. It’s the love that can be shared and expressed over a cup of tea – the love of shared interests, the love of conversation and mutual activities. Something as simple as music – which seems so surface-level and yet has deep roots in our emotions – seems to be a great starting place for friendships.
At one House of Heroes concert, my friend who also attended with me beat me in saying hi to the band’s singer, Tim. This friend, Austin, took a picture with Tim and said, “Hey, so I’m here with my friends Taylor and Chase.”
Austin was surprised by Tim’s response: “The Tremaine brothers!” Austin came back to us, excited to inform us that Tim-the-singer-of-House-of-Heroes-Skipper knew my brother and I by name.
Well, yeah, of course he does – it’s because we aren’t just his fans, we are also his friends.
Earlier this summer, Luke Brawner wrote a long but great blog about how he can no longer consider himself a fan of artist Derek Webb because he can now call Derek his friend. Brawner came to the conclusion that the new music industry would be based around friendship, not around fandom. He might be right.
I really love sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I love getting to take an active part in what artists are trying to create. (In fact, shameless plug, the awesome and talented dudes in Tides of Man are currently trying to fund their new album and I highly suggest you download their new song for free and consider helping them out however you can.)
I had the pleasure of helping fund Schematic’s debut album, and it has easily been one of my favorite albums of the year to-date. I was extremely excited when they came through Dallas on their tour, where they played a superb show, performing a large portion of my favorite songs from the album. But what was even better was how nice everyone in the band was – I got to eat dinner with them and spend a good chunk of the night getting to know all the members of the band, particularly the keyboardist. It was an unforgettable evening, as is every concert where I get to make a bond with the band members or strengthen the bonds of friendship with the friends who came to the show with me (…which reminds me of another story that I very may very well share in the sequel post).
All this said, music clearly brings people together in surprising, entertaining, and sometimes life-changing ways! I cannot wait to hear what stories everyone else has to share! Please comment, share this blog, follow the blog, and go listen to great music with your friends!