Hello. I am writing this letter to you to to tell you of the length I went to, to perform “For the Love of God” at one of my larger gigs.
I play lead guitar with a Christian band known as Faith Out Loud (I’m only 16). Our main audience is a Youth Group consisting of 13-18 year olds. A couple of months ago in early April, I knew that we had a fairly large (large for us, anyway) gig coming up. It was at a church fiesta, and we were going to be playing in front of about 500 people. So far, my largest audience had been 250 people, so I was very excited. About a month before the gig, I was listening to the G3 record, and I thought that it would be great if I could arrange “For the Love of God” for the whole band so that we could play it at the fiesta.
Personally, I thought it was a great idea. It would add an instrumental number to the band’s repertoire, it would be a nice break from all the faster vocal songs, it would give the singers a break, and it would give me the opportunity to perform one my favorite songs of all time on stage! The title also worked for the band. I talked to the bandleader about it, and he said that we should let all the band members listen to it, so as to get their take on the song. So later, after all the band members had listened to it, I asked for each of their opinions. The Bandleader, who is also rhythm guitar, liked it and seemed very positive about it. The keyboardist loved it. The bass player liked the bass line, but was a bit spooked by the “psychedelic guitar lead” as he put it. The drummer, for whatever reason I STILL can’t figure out, hated it. All he did was whine about how it was “too slow” and “It’ll put people to sleep.” Even as I pointed out all of the positive aspects to try to get him to see some light to it, he still hated the song. I knew that he didn’t like your music at the time but I had no idea that he’d be that opposed to it. He has no tolerance for anything other than what he likes, which is punk/alternative. Anyway, he did not give me a yes or a no about whether he would play it or not, but I could tell he didn’t like the song at all. Personally, I am baffled at how some people simply do not like your music. What’s not to like? I think it is the best music ever recorded!
Anyway, back to the subject, I got the go-ahead to arrange the song for the whole band. I made copies and simplified notation/tab of all the song’s instruments, tape copies of the studio AND live versions, gave them to the band, and learned the guitar riffs and leads note for note. I thanked them for their cooperation, and the bandleader told them to practice it. It was a month before the gig.
Five days before the gig. The bandleader is reluctant to play the song, nervous about the audience’s reaction. The bass player had lost interest in the song and managed to lose his sheet music TWICE!!! The drummer was refusing to practice it, except for a few 30-second bursts. The keyboardist, bless her soul, had dutifully learned her parts. It was not practiced.
Three days before the gig. I have ran through four minutes of it with the rhythm guitarist only. The drummer and bass player show up to practice, and the drummer manages to get through four minutes of it before quitting. I was seriously beginning to doubt that the song would be performed, and maybe I should quit. I pressed on, confident that I could persuade the band members to pull this off. Why was I doing the persuading? Because the 34 year-old bandleader was not willing to persuade the rhythm section, a 14 and 18 year old, to do it.
T minus two days and counting. While installing an Evolution bridge pickup in my Ibanez RG450DX, the electronics are fried in a freak technical mishap. The guitar is only repairable through a complete electronic overhaul. I do not have a guitar. Since it is an emergency, my parents agree to loan me the money to buy any guitar I choose, as long as it is under $1000. And I would have to pay back every penny of it, which was fine with me. I decided I needed a new guitar that would need no modifications and that would last me for years to come. I chose a JEM 555. It arrived the next day in the mail as I exhaled in relief.
The day of the gig. I have the band run over the song…halfway. The keyboardist has come down with a 105 fever and has to miss the gig. Just after the intermission, the bandleader instructs the rhythm section to start playing on my cue. I cue them, and play the first notes of FTLOG. To my dismay, the bass, drums, and rhythm guitar come in about 3 bars late. Oh well, at least they actually started. Suddenly, the drummer accelerated to about 70 bpm, a far cry from the 50 bpm. Nevertheless, I kept playing the song perfectly. About two minutes into it, all other the other instruments, bass, drums, and rhythm guitar stop playing. I am shocked, but I hang on the note I left off of and end with some feedback and a dive bomb. I was very disappointed that they ended the song like that, but the show went on.
Later, at home, I got so frustrated with the bad attitude and poor performance of the band on that song that I almost cried. I mean, I’ve played some special request songs of theirs, even if I didn’t like them. I didn’t matter if I didn’t like their songs, because my job, as a musician in that band, is to learn the songs I’m assigned and play the parts to the absolute best of my ability. My job is not to complain. I still can’t express how disappointed I am with the whole thing.
But I suppose I should look on the bright side. It did get played a little bit, and something is better than nothing. And the head of music for the whole parish LOVED it, and now he wants to put it on the band’s upcoming CD. My efforts were not totally in vain.
I just wanted to tell you this story to express to you how far I will go for and to play your awe-invoking sonic explorations of the guitar. It may not be much compared to some, but it’s the best I could do.
I remember the first time I heard your playing on the first Merry Axemas album. There was something about your rendition of “Christams Time is Here” that touched something deep in my soul. I bought “Passion and Warfare” and when I heard the music on that record, I knew what I was shooting for, musically.
In a nutshell, I wanted to share my little tale with you just because I thought you might find it interesting. That is really all that I have to say. Gee, how do I close up a letter to the greatest guitarist on the planet? Uhhh.. I’M NOT WORTHY!!!! hehe. I guess I’ll just say this; Thank you for reading my letter, thank you for being my greatest musical influence, and keep up the good work. Peace.
Lead guitar, Faith Out Loud
P.S. Oh yeah, I LOVE my Jem, and I plan to move up to a 7V eventually. I’ll send you a picture of me playing it live. Could you please post this on Vai.com? I know you must get thousands of letters a day from wackmobiles like me, but it would mean a lot to be if you could post this on the site. Thank you so much!