CHAPTER 4: SHE LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE P!NK
The following Tuesday I was back to work. I’d spent the last week really digging into the music. The more I dug, the more I respected the hell out of P!NK. I enjoyed her music, but previously been a fan of just a couple hits, “Get the Party Started” and “God is a DJ”. I did however, own the underrated Tim Armstrong produced “Try This” album. I was always into the records that didn’t sell as well. I was kind of hoping P!NK would go underground and true punk. I always felt she toed the line between artistry and giving the corporate suits what they wanted, but thought it would be interesting to see what she would do if she didn’t have anyone to please.
It wasn’t until I was being paid to study her music that I truly appreciated her artistry. The influences were all over the place. The bridge of “Funhouse” was pure Robert Plant. Lyrically, some of the songs reminded me of Sondheim. There was such a pop gloss sheen that could trick the indie snobs into dismissing it as fluff, and maybe up to this point I was one of them.
Almost every single drummer that studied her music for the audition made expressed the same sentiment. That upon further study, the music was fucking amazing. In walked Vinnie, a guy that was likable from minute one. He just had a great vibe about him. Needless to say he (almost near perfectly) nailed it and he got the gig. Rik now had a four piece. Him, Vinnie, John on guitar and me on sub vocals.
Rik asked me to come back next Tuesday, I did. Once again, a kick ass rehearsal. I was impressed at Rik’s ability to put a band together so quickly and how quickly it was coming together. At the end of rehearsal Rik asked for $30 from everyone for the rehearsal room. This is when things got uncomfortable.
It was clear the other band members didn’t know I was a hired gun. Looking back, I realize that any gig that requires me to be secretive about being paid is not the gig for me. If anyone asks me at rehearsals, “So what do you do for a living?”, it is not the gig for me. I know this now, didn’t know it then. It simply does not matter how great the music is if the business side is shaky. And this was shaky. Rik later had a conversation with me suggesting that we split the rehearsal four ways. I declined and was clear I could only carry on if I was getting paid. Rik said he would keep me as long as he could.
As much as I loved the band on a musically and had great respect for Rik as a band leader, I knew that something was off. I was under the impression this project had a budget. It didn’t make sense that band members would have to kick in cash. This is when I realized it was more of just a start up band, but with huge potential. Potential doesn’t pay the rent, however. There was a constant struggle within me for loving the project musically, but being wary on a business level. Something was off. Although this is a common dynamic in bands that have session musicians in it, I knew in my gut something wasn’t right. At this point in my career, I had been in countless bands that were brilliant musically, but never got off the ground.
I kept showing up every Tuesday ,however, giving it my all. I’d casually mention to Rik that he might want to look into understudies since it was impossible to predict what could happen in my life professionally. He told me I was the only singer he could imagine doing this. Uh-oh. It’s like the hook up girl falling in love with the player. I was the player and the P!NK tribute band was my backup chic. I didn’t want to cut ties because the sex (music) was so good, but I didn’t want to commit either. And I knew I never would without a substantial paycheck.
As rehearsals progressed, I was learned more of bad blood between Rik and Chuck and getting became increasingly uneasy. Rik had made a couple of Facebook posts regarding how Chuck was no longer a friend of his. It seemed a little second grade to me and I knew I had to start planning my exit. I had a feeling something really bad was coming, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I stepped up my dialogue concerning understudies/future replacements.
The band needed to still lock down a backup vocalist and a keyboard player. I honestly thought the band would fall apart before that happened. Not because Rik couldn’t make it happen, he clearly could. Because most bands fall apart in the startup phase, even if they are great.
I was shocked Rik locked down both effortlessly. And they were amazing. Lindsey, the backup vocalist was one of the best singers I’d ever heard. Singing with her artistically provided some of my favorite musical moments in my entire career. The band had gone from really fucking good to pure magic. But I knew I had to get out. The polarity between the two dynamics was killing me. I knew a firm exit could potentially derail the band. With or without me, this was a band that needed to be heard. The chemistry was lightening in a bottle, and Rik deserved to get this off the ground after all the work he put in.
Still people didn’t know I was getting paid and I had to be secretive about it. Ugh. Each car ride home, I increasingly brought up understudies and replacements. It was like breaking up with somebody, but doing it ever so slowly as opposed to the rip off the band-aid approach. My heart was into the band musically, but my head was screaming “GET OUT”, like a poltergeist in a haunted house. I started confiding in friends. I had to get out of this band. Something bad was going to happen. It was on my mind 24/7.
At this point in my life I had developed a sharp intuition and became increasingly psychic. It was almost a curse. My sensitivity to energies made it difficult to be in crowds, although I could perform in front of them just fine. I was an accidental Shirley McClain. I didn’t want this gift, but I had it. I had also developed hyper- sensitive empathic abilities. I could feel the collective energies of a room, even those who occupied a space in the past. This made it hard for me to go into old dive bars because I would get drunk and evil, feeling the lonliness and pain of decades worth of professional drinkers. This intuitive feeling would not go away. I would go through the motions singing P!NK’s music and loving every second of it, but knowing something bad would go down if I did not get out.
“Call me please”.
“Your about to get a letter” he said.
“An email?” I asked.
“No a letter”.
My stomach felt absolutely sick, as I never gave anyone my address. What ever blackness and fear I was feeling in my stomach about this project to emerge. And my gut feeling was about to reveal itself.
Rik explained that Chuck who was a personal injury lawyer had tracked me down and I would be getting a cease and desist letter in the mail. Rik had chosen the name “Reservoir Dogs”, despite the fact that another band already had that name.
I opened my mailbox horrified and annoyed. My gut instincts were correct. Rik later then asked me if I could perform a show. I agreed to do one show and I decided I was going to get extremely busy after. Fortunately, after the next rehearsal Rik mentioned he had a potential understudy coming to rehearsal.
He had no idea if she could sing, but she looked exactly like P!NK. And I had no idea this would begin an almost year long journey into the dark underbelly of the legal system.