Waking up from a fog
Like waking from a bad dream
Takes a strength from inside
Takes a strength not to scream.
Waking Up M.S. 1988
If I was to say that I didn’t see Travis and Dennis leaving the band before it happened I guess it wouldn’t be that surprising given that I was in a bit of a fog. But to say the same about Willy’s departure would be severely understating things because honestly his departure completely blindsided me.
I suddenly went from being in a band with three other guys, several crew, who were probably better described as hangers on for free tickets, and regular gigs, to myself and a small warehouse for which my name was on the lease but I had no use for. Unsurprisingly the warehouse wasn’t my first concern, I’d paid the lease for six months so there was no money owing and as caught up as I was I believed the guys would be back after they thought about their prospects. But apparently I was wrong.
It might sound inconsiderate, and it probably was, but Dennis and Travis’ departure didn’t mean that much to me. I’d had players leave before, I was convinced they could be replaced and I was convinced they would be replaced with someone better. But Willy’s departure hit me hard, so hard that I tried to repair whatever broken bridges there were between us.
Interestingly enough I spent longer and tried harder to repair whatever it was that was broken between Willy and myself than I did to fix what eventually broke between Andrea and I. With Andrea I had been intimate, she showed me what love was, she showed me what sex was and she showed me how to treat a woman, but then she went off the rails and left me. Initially I did try to win her back, but in no time at all I’d given up and was doing little more than going through the motions. But with Willy I tried and tried and I tried again.
For nearly a month I rang him at home, his mother promising to pass on messages. I rang him at work, he never seemed to be there. I found out after the second week that he’d been able to get a transfer to another store. It wasn’t hard to find the store given how few there was in the area owned by the same business but when I went there the first time he was not working, the second time when I saw his car in the car park and was told the same thing I started to put all the pieces together.
I waited in the car park of the bottle shop for nearly three hours that night. I started the evening parked three spots away from Willy’s car, but after returning from the Kentucky Fried Chicken, which it was known as then, I decided to move my car, Steve’s car, several rows back. I don’t remember having the thought that he would see the car and not come out of the store but I must have because after all I moved it.
At 9pm, the time bottle shops had to shut back then, the outside lights of the store turned off leaving the car park relatively dark. I could still see the front door and I knew the ‘close’ part of Willy’s shift only took about fifteen minutes, so I waited. When he came out at twelve minutes past nine and began to pull the roller shutters down I got out of my car and headed towards his car.
“I’ve got nothing to say to you!” Willy said before we came close to each other.
“Why?” I asked, well almost pleaded. “What happened? Who told you to leave the band?” Even after four weeks I still didn’t or couldn’t accept that it was my fault.
“No one told me to leave.”
“Then why did you?”
We were both standing at his car and even in the dim lighting of the car park I could see the look of confusion on his face.
“You honestly don’t know?”
“No. No one told me anything. I don’t care about the others but you’ve fucking ignored me for a month. How am I suppose to know anything?”
Then hit hit me right between the eyes. “Dennis and Travis left because they were sick of you telling them what to do.”
“It was my band,” I thought quickly, which was quite surprising given my state of mind, and changed my sentence, “our band. They were hired help, paid to play. For fucks sake we even let them write on the album. What more did they want?”
“They said they wanted to be in a band where the lead singer wasn’t a prick to everyone. They wanted to be in a band where the lead singer didn’t mope around and lose his shit whenever things didn’t go his way, or spend his time drunk and stoned out of his head.”
“What the fuck are they talking about?” I asked, getting angry but far from losing my cool.
“I’m just repeating what they said.”
“Well fuck them!” I said, “What about you, why did you leave. Why wouldn’t you talk to me?”
“Because you were either stoned and didn’t give a shit about anything, or you were drunk and shitty with everyone.”
“Are you just repeating what those two said now?” I asked and he just shrugged his shoulders.
For whatever I had or had not done to Willy I had to give the guy a huge amount of credit because not only did he sit there in that car park and talk with me for more than an hour that night he even returned into the bottle shop to get us some beer to drink.
I still to this day don’t know what we resolved during that discussion but by the following morning Willy was back in Raging Storm and we were both looking for another guitarist and bassist to join the band.