When rehearsing with your band, expect nothing. And prepare to be disappointed.
Due to Jake’s family ties to the clergy, The Underdogs rehearse in the underground crypt of a Church. On the one hand, this has its benefits. Firstly, we have essentially been allowed to practice for free. The only time the parish council asked us to contribute anything was when they asked us to perform at the church fete. This was only allowed to happen once. And with sound reason.
Secondly, it allows us certain opportunities. That is to say, when inevitably someone didn’t show up, or we are simply bored, we seek entertainment elsewhere in the building.
Most of what follows, unfortunately, happened in a house of God.
Venue: A place of worship.
Crowd: The band. And maybe, depending on your faith, God.
Bombing the Reichstag
When Nicky failed to show up for two months, the rest of us took it upon ourselves to draw a map of the Reichstag on a piece of A4 paper, replete with a waving Hitler. Different locations were assigned numerical values and the paper was then placed on the floor beneath the bell tower.
At the top of the bell tower, there was a trap door of sorts, which opened up to overlook the church floor below. It was, to be blunt, f**king high up. Two band members would then drop tiny screwed up pieces of paper from this trap door, whilst the third stood by the Reichstag and scored points.
I forget who won, but Hitler was definitely killed.
Bon Jovi Sermon
Burned into the very fabric of my memory, with little sign of ever disappearing, are the lyrics to Always by seminal rockers Bon Jovi. I put this down to very sound musical listening choices in my youth.
As a result, I have led several Bon Jovi sermons to the rest of the band from the church pulpit. Much like our version of I Spy, it’s very much a performance piece than actual game. What happens is this; I call out, line by line, the lyrics to the mid 90s rock anthem Always. The band replies, from the pues, to each line by repeating it in unison. This continues until a) laughter, or b) Ritchie Sambora’s solo. Whichever comes first.
This past time serves no practical purpose, beyond once again cementing those lyrics into my long term memory bank.
EDIT: Since drafting this blog, Jake has reminded me this game was played with many other Bon Jovi songs, You Give Love a Bad Name being his particular sermon of choice.
On the other hand, there have been numerous occasions where the church has worked against us. There are far too many to reasonably take your time, but i’ll share my two favourites with you.
The Church Bell
For reasons never explained to me, the means with which you sound the church bell is the most nondescript piece of blue nylon rope. Nothing like the inches thick you can imagine a monk dangling from.
Consequently, it is very easy to pull it thinking it’s just a piece of blue rope, simply to see what it does. The answer? It rings the church bell. Loudly. It is, after all, a church bell. These things weren’t designed with subtlety in mind.
Furthermore, The Underdogs tend to rehearse after dark. On one occasion following a gig, a friend was storing some equipment. He probably rang it a good three times before being stopped. It was 1am.
It Would Be Nice
The final tale I’ll leave you with involves a special guest.
It is late, the band has been drinking in a nearby establishment, and the time feels right for a quick practice. But for reasons I forget, we cannot access the crypt located underground. Instead, it feels like a good idea just to practice in the vestry, a room located very much above ground. Within clear earshot of several local residents, many of whom frequent the church. And have the vicar’s number, should they wish to complain about a punk band practising at 11 o clock at night.
We decide to have fun with a couple of cover songs. Which we do. At full volume. The vicar himself interrupts us, wearing a demeanour of confusion as much as anger.
We are in the closing phrases of this…
We don’t finish the song.
Photo by David via Flickr.