Hoe. Lee. Shit.

Nonetheless is releasing our debut CD, “Despite The Stereotype”, tomorrow night at our old hangout, Tomcats. People, let me tell you about the journey. By the way, this is a long post. Fair warning.

This band has been in existence for 3 and a half years now, and we’ve gone through so many changes…it allows me to reflect.

A History of Nonetheless, On The Eve of our CD Release

  • From the origins, a band called 7 Wrench, where Kelly and I met and formed our musical bond. God, when I look back to that band, I first say “We sucked”, and then I say “That was SO not our style of music”. But it served one main purpose – it brought us together as fast friends. Oh, and we met Deep End Donnie, a man for a story on another day. Trust a brotha.
  • When we decided to form the band we had now, it was monumental. I had just been through the stupidest band breakup I had ever seen (again, a story for another day), and was pretty much ready to just do a whole lotta nothing. But Kelly lit that fire in my belly…we were going to make the band we both wanted to be in. A band that played heavy, melodic hard rock where we could freely express ourselves. We didn’t know how winding that road would be.
  • Adding Sarah and Rowdy completed the initial incarnation of Nonetheless, and we hit the scene as 3 white chicks and a black guy. A lot of people thought we were a disco act, and were surprised when we busted out with rock. We love that reaction.
  • We added a 50 year guitar player to play leads and solos. It didn’t last long. We showed up at rehearsal one night, and he had moved his shit out without a word. Life is strange, though. We ran into him again last year at a gig, when our band opened for his. We blew his band out of the water like a German U-boat. We enjoyed that.
  • Sarah left to pursue other opportunities (read: audition for American Idol), and tht dropped us to a three piece. We retreated, gave up the practice room (we rent those, people. They aren’t free) and just practiced quietly at Kelly and Rowdy’s house. That didn’t last long.
  • We added Chris, another guitarist. Chris had a bluesy style that we thought would mesh well with our rock flavor, but that was not to be the case. Chris wasn’t able to keep up with our frantic pace of learning 4 or 5 cover songs over a 3 month period. And if you can’t pick up on the sarcasm in that last statement, shame on your dumb ass. I was nominated to ask Chris to leave, and that was the hardest phone call ever…for him. For me, it was a 5 minute phone call that stretched to 45 minutes of “Why?” (because your style doesn’t fit ours, and you’re too slow learning, and you argue with us when we try to help you) and “One more chance” (No) and “Was I THAT bad?” (Yes, actually).
  • We added Josh as a lead singer. Josh told us he had experience touring. Josh told us he was a member of the rock band Taproot. Josh told us he was rusty because he hadn’t been singing in a long while, since moving from L.A. Josh told us he had been in the Navy Seals. Josh told us that although he didn’t have a car, he’d always make it to practice. Josh told us a lot of things, and a few were actually true. He really was in the Navy, but was a semen stain seaman, not a SEAL. He really did live in L.A., but was never a member of Taproot. In fact, we learned later that OUR band was the first band he’d ever been in. We played only 3 gigs with Josh. The first gig was at a high school, and the comments afterwards mostly went like “Why is he such a spaz?”. The second was at a small club downtown in Dallas, and he did ok. But the last one…that was the turning point of our band. Up to that point, we were a combo band – we played mostly cover songs, with a mixture of originals in there. That’s all well and good, but we weren’t riding on the cover band track – we wanted to make it, and we played with bands who wanted to make it. We played our last gig with Josh at a club in Denton, TX, and it was a disaster. He forgot words. He put choruses where verses were supposed to go. He used his big dumb feet to accidentally unplug and turn down the volume on Kelly’s effects pedal. I was also having equipment difficulty that night, and the set was an unmitigated slice of hellcake. And when we were done…nothing. No one clapped. No one booed. No one acknowledged that we had even performed. It was utterly humiliating. Most performers will tell you that the worst possible thing an audience can do to a performer is not care. Apathy is louder than the loudest boo; it drowns out the loudest cheer. And we got a double dose of it that night. One of the other, more experienced bands told us that if we wanted to make it, we needed to drop the covers and find our sound. We heeded that advice, and completely changed the direction of the band. And we eventually got rid of Josh, though we added his best friend Mike at rhythm guitar just before we kicked him out.
  • Ah, Mike, aka Stress. Mike was and still is my boy. Mike brought us better competency at guitar, and a sense of responsibility and class that we hadn’t had in that role before. He also brought some other valuable talents – he worked for Kinko’s, and he was a very good graphic artist. He and Kelly refined our logo, designed the press information, basically made us look good. And his Kinko’s connection helped us out tree men dus lee when we had to make flyers or CD inserts or what have you. Mike left the band on his own accord last year in order to join the military, and we’re still great friends with him. He was also present when we added our new singer.
  • Jmart. The night we auditioned him, we had already seen a fuckton of bozos and pretenders who thought they could sing, but obviously mistook their talent for annoying the monkeyfuck out of others as a sign of vocal aptitude. He called late, wanting to come in based on the ad we had placed. We really didn’t want him to…we were tired, and tired of listening to a bag of hot cats being swung at a pinata filled with bees. I hate bees. But he was insistent, and we had him come down. It was already after midnight when he started singing, but as soon as he opened his mouth, we were sold. But after Josh, we played it cool, and made him come back to audition again. He blew us away again. Jmart is our current lead singer since fall of ’05.
  • Gordie came along after Mike moved on. We were auditioning for guitarists, and although we had a couple of informal auditions that were mismatches in expectations (read: the guy was a fucking asshole, and we didn’t want him) and mismatches in talent (sweet guy tried to hang with us, but couldn’t, and he knew it). Gordie was our first official audition, and when he started playing…we knew. Right then. We had never heard playing like that before, not from someone unfamous. Since we’d been burned so recently by Josh, we decided to again err on the side of caution, which we learned later tripped him the hell out. He was used to people kicking their moms in the grill to get him in their band, and we said “Thanks, we’ll let you know”. Blew his mind. But we knew. Gordie has been with us since February of ’06.

We’ve come so far, done so much, and all on our own. We aren’t signed; we don’t have a manager or a booking agent (although that could change here soon); we don’t have a dedicated street team to go forth and spread the gospel of NTL. All we have is us. We build our fanbase one happy person at a time, and getting to a point where we have a CD to release and people actually CARE about that…well, it’s mind-blowing, honestly. This post had no purpose except for me to reflect upon our path…it’s a way of looking back and seeing exactly how twisted and convoluted it’s all been to get to this point. We can plot out the turning points, the places where we were gently (or not-so-gently) nudged in the right direction, and the places where we’ve reached back and helped others along the way. We can see the true power of our craft, when someone tells us they were considering suicide until they heard one of our songs, or that seeing us live uplifted them in an unexpected way. We can see our strengths and talents, reflected in the eyes of the people who pay hard-earned money to see us perform. We can look around the stage, and see 4 other people there all playing their hearts out, creating something that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

I don’t know where Nonetheless is going…the future is still unwritten. But I can look back at where we’ve been, and I can be proud of all that we’ve accomplished together.

Long may we rock.

If you happen to be in the Dallas area, come out to the show. It would mean a lot to me. It’s free, and the doors open at 8. If you can’t make it or want to listen live over the internet, go to www.RenegadeRadio.Net. We’ll go on around 11:30pm Central time.

Also, don’t forget about Badger The Witness on Sunday, where I’ll be hung the fuck over, yelling softly at Elle, and recapping the night’s events.