“I can already hear your tune Calling me across the room When the world and his wife Are on my back again Not enough pleasure Too much pain” Swamp Thing – The Chameleons UK
If you have a peek at my Blogger profile it has a teeny, tiny listy of bands that I mentally ingest. The above mentioned band is VERY there, so it was with great honor to accept an invite to play a set of Chameleon’s tunes last Wednesday, with the founder/singer/bass player of the band, Mark Burgess.
I had my friend capture some of the event on video, but the sound on those are total shit so I’ve only included a small clip of “Swamp Thing” until I receive a copy of the “professional” dvd. It also sucks in that he only taped the half of the stage that I’m on, um duh! Of course I want to be somewhat visible, but I want everyone in it! I'm in the dark far right in the clip under that EXIT sign - Yeesh.
We had two rehearsals and only one with Mark. I’m not a keyboardist in general (played on six songs though yeay), so we basically pulled this out of our asses, but it went ok. I wasn’t in charge of the gig itself so I won’t comment on booking etc (grrrrr), but it was awesome not only to play those songs with the writer, but also the other dudes that performed as well.
The bass player, Brent, I had never met (he was on SubPop – Nirvana’s first label - with Beachwood Sparks) but we played a festival together with Sebadoh ages ago. He freaked me out a little because he looks and talks so much like Stalker Hater, it’s Discovery Channel worthy; my friends couldn’t stop laughing at the freaky similarity.
Above: Brent, Me, and Paul.
Musicians from Boston, D.C., Miami, and Tallahassee flew and drove to Tampa to play with Mark. Those that know the Chameleons LOVE them. They are obscure and basically an 80’s band, but they left heavy prints on any ear they landed on. Bands today that attribute their sound to Mark’s work are The Killers, Interpol, The Editors, and White Lies. In Tampa, the press could care less, but in L.A. (a real place) the show had all kinds of tongues wagging last night (http://blogs.laweekly.com/westcoastsound/synthful/mark-burgess-live/). There is rumor of me playing in a NYC show; if that happens, I'll mention beforehand =)
I yakked so much that I lost my voice, plus I got a cold. Most of the conversations were shop talk like “Hey you remember that narcoleptic guy that used to manage so & so before they hit it?” or “You know them too? I toured with them in blah blah”. Stuff civilians can’t relate to or you sound like a big old name dropper. Most of us in round about ways know the same people but at different times in our lives, it was interesting to say the least.
Doubly bizarre is now being friends with this man who was a mentor to me. It’s rare you get to meet someone from a different time that changed your life, let alone bond with them. I learned to sing and play bass at the same time because of Mark, and he also got me through one of the darkest hours of my teen years without knowing it.
I brought my 1966 Hofner Bass to rehearsal and he picked it up and played “P.S. Goodbye” on it:
I can’t tell you what that song means to me without tears forming a protest line down my cheeks, so I’ll skip it.
We started our set with “Nostalgia” at my behest, as it’s the only song I’ve ever heard that sounds sort of like my real name, and Mark said “Nuh Stah See Ya’s song”. We closed with a Door’s like version of “Second Skin” where he dedicated “this melody” to the backing members, which was cool.
Above: Mark, Omar, and me with creepy green earplugs that kept falling out.
When I dropped off Mark and his awesome girlfriend Lydia, after a wild Thursday evening of drinking and debauchery, he told me that not only was I the first female Chameleon, I was the ONLY one he ever shared the stage with.
(Sound of a feather being gently placed in my cap.)