Sometime after Rise Again, when things were at their peak for us (“peak” meaning at least a dozen people were coming to shows and we’d break even on gas money) we had an unfortunate falling out with Jim. In retrospect, the reasoning was pretty dumb, but sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. We pressed forward. We played a bunch of shows with our friend Dan and eventually we found a permanent drummer named Dustin, who was hungry to play. He’d drive an hour from Longview for practice twice a week, which showed amazing dedication. He was rock solid, had great timing and wouldn’t settle for boring. With Dustin behind the drums we were progressing musically, making new fans and getting to play some amazing shows. The highlight of them all was definitely opening for Tiger Army at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. Playing that stage was a spectacular moment. Dues = Paid.
The lead up to Requiem took a long time. We got rid of our practice space in Portland and started practicing at Dave’s garage out in Scappoose. Because it was now an hour long drive for everyone except Dave, the frequency of practice dropped and songwriting slowed. The last two albums had only taken 1-2 years to write. When we finally recorded Requiem we were going on 3-4 years. In 2008 we finally had enough songs for an album, so we went back to Egg Studios and knocked out the whole batch of them. Tracking went really well and we finished our entire wish list of songs. In the past we aimed for 14 or 15 tracks and settled on 12 or 13. This go round we recorded 20 and put 19 of them on the album. The biggest problem was we couldn’t decide what songs to cut, so we just included almost everything. Personally, I think the album is a bit unfocused because of it, but like most decisions, it seemed like the right call at the time. It was nice to have that period documented and most importantly, it was nice to have Dustin, who had been in the band 3 years at that point, finally on an album.
Right after we recorded, real life started to happen. Dave was already married and soon had two kids and a full household. He was also busy with a job where he traveled almost weekly, often internationally. Justin also got married during this time and decided to pursue a 4 year degree and a career change. Dustin was keeping busy with music and playing in 2-3 other active bands, most of which with their own shows, recording and other things happening. I too got married, had kids and kept busy with work. With all this stuff going on, practice was proving difficult to coordinate. Shows were even harder to pull together and one year we actually cancelled more shows than we played. Thankfully, we were still playing really well, despite being considerably older than many of the bands we played with. When we did play it was still a blast and we’d sit around and wonder how come we don’t do this more often.
So, where are we at now?
Well, it’s complicated. Justin has graduated, Dave now has a non-traveling job and all of our kids are getting to a place that allows for more freedom. We’re getting the itch to play more regularly, especially with the 20 year milestone at hand. Unfortunately, after 9 years Dustin quit the band in July. If your goal is to play music full time, you’d be wise to stick with the bands that are actually playing as much as possible. A few shows and practices a year wasn’t cutting it for him. It’s a bummer, but we get it. We’ve discussed calling it quits, but it always comes down to one question… “why?” We have fun playing music and when we do get to play live it still seems to leave a mark on a few people.
At this point who knows if we’ll find another drummer. If it does work out we’ll see you around. If not, then maybe that’s a sign to call it a day. I don’t know what’s going to happen. In either case I certainly didn’t think writing songs at that crappy garage in Boone all those years ago would have turned into 5 albums, hundreds of shows, seeing the country, meeting many of our favorite bands and making so many good friends along the way. We’ve known lots of bands that have gotten much farther and burned much brighter, but few have had the luxury of longevity. It’s been an amazing experience so far and something we’re very grateful for.
I hope we can keep it going, but only time will tell.