My whole life I have been obsessed with music.
I think just about everyone is in their own way, but not everyone lets it matter so much. I have always identified with people who care way too much about music. We can't clean, drive, walk anywhere, exercise, or even give birth without the perfect soundtrack.
It's not entirely my fault. Some of it could be nature in a way that all primal beings move their bodies to rhythm, but I am sure a lot of it has to do with nurture as well.
My dad raised us on only the best: Led Zeppelin, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and all their cohorts. My best childhood memories were spent on winding California roads, loaded up on gas-station candy, headed to a camp site in Morro Bay with my dad and sisters listening to the finest classic rock so loud we could barely hear ourselves singing along. That's when music first started pulsing through my veins.
My mom didn't love that kind of sound, but she really encouraged me in all the musical theater and voice lessons I took as a kid. She was my biggest cheerleader. She honestly made me feel like I could easily be a star. She also shared her love of the Beatles. I remember one period of time in particular when we used to drive around looking for homes for sale as a family listening to Beatles tapes, not my dad's favorite ("They're like the Backstreet Boys of my time," was his argument.)-- it was rainy one day in particular and the mood was just right.
My sisters were a harmonious mixture of punk rock, hippie-60s, Beastie Boys, and Grunge. We all cried when Kurt Cobain died and stayed glued to MTV all week. If you know my sister Natalie now you might be surprised to hear that in high school she obsessively obtained a HUGE collection of the best punk, grunge, and alternative music ever. We nearly named our Dalmatian after Perry Ferrell because of her and I'm not suggesting that Janes Addiction is even close to the best music ever (Nat wouldn't claim that either even though Perry himself put a scrunchie in her hair if I am remembering correctly), but "Jane Says," just might be. It was her theme song. Brittany was a hippie and kept the oldies station playing all day long on the radio in her room just so the station would get good ratings and stay around forever. One summer Brittany brought a mix-tape home from college that had the most random collection of songs we loved so much it played and played by the pool until all those lyrics were permanently burned into my memory. I can't hear one of the songs without wishing we could play shark with her hilarious friend Ben and try to walk to Snow Shack without dying of heat exhaustion. Ashley is a wild card. She liked Face to Face and Madonna. I'm pretty sure she had a lot of boy band albums too. It's shocking really. As always, she is her own person and no one is ever gonna tell her what to listen to or anything else for that matter. She'll tell you what's up and she'll be right. As always.
I grew up wanting to be so much like everyone in my family that I have never settled into one unique musical niche where I feel smug, mocking all others who dare to like a pop song, or indie folk, or techno, or show tunes, or even ska. I would settle on Get Up Kids for a bit, then Radiohead, then Weezer, then Bijork, then The Rentals, then Mates of State, then Wilco, then Eisley...etc. as my favorite. I have and love it all.
And speaking of ska (because we were...well I might have mentioned it), I have always known I would marry Thomas Robertson. He's in a ska/punk band. When I bought Reel Big Fish's famous album, you know, the only one you actually know songs from... I was just getting ready for him and Upstanding Youth.
I spent any weekend I could at Craigos in Rexburg eyeing the base players. I knew I liked the understated musicians. I dated someone who was desperately trying to lead/control/mastermind a cover band of all things. A coverband! I can't think of anything more embarrassing. He needed a lot of attention and validation. I wasn't looking for him. I was looking for Thomas Robertson.
I chose best friends amongst people who were obsessed with music. The truest, bluest, best souls often are. I had lots of those and yet, something was still missing. I called my dad at the end of Laie Point one evening and I was in tears because I just felt like something was missing.
The next week I met Thomas after a show he played on campus. He was slender as always with a trademark short-sleeved light blue dress shirt and skinny black tie. I could hardly see him in the dim light of the ballroom, but as I interviewed him for the campus newspaper I had a distinct feeling that he would make a good, loyal friend and I know it sounds cheesy, but I even felt a twinge of jealousy for all the people who got to be his friends.
The lead singer of UY gave Thomas my phone number and we've hardly been apart since. We spent the first few evenings together driving around the island frantically sharing our favorite bands and singing, unashamed, right in front of each other like we'd been friends forever. It's so juvenile and so were we. We were both members of this same music obsessed group of people who walk the planet knowing that connecting musically is enough. Millions of conversations later in what now seems like the shortest time ever led us to get engaged after just three and a half weeks from the time we met. It was just obvious. We should have made that decision sooner. I called my dad first to try out my new piece of shocking news, "Hey dad. So, I met this drummer..."
"When's the wedding?" he asked without skipping a beat in a very knowing tone. He knew too. I married a drummer on purpose.
And have you seen that boy play the drums? He's a machine. I can easily count the handful of hilarious times he has botched his cue on a song at shows he's played... so he's human (whew), but I love the look on people's delighted faces when they watch him do his thing.
That brings us to Upstanding Youth. The band that has been a part of his life for over ten years.... longer if you count the members who were in Rukus before it. Upstanding Youth has been a part of our marriage. I have gladly handed my husband over to weekly practices, countless shows, a few tours, album recordings, live online concerts...etc. for as long as I have known him because Upstanding Youth is a part of his soul. Being music obsessed myself, I get it. I would never deny him his identity and outlet. I have joked that his five other bandmates are "the other woman," but those guys are my brothers and I'm great at sharing.
In May Upstanding Youth will be done. Our fearless leader Marc has been offered a wonderful job opportunity on the Mainland and we are all so proud of him and happy for their family. We will miss them dearly. We are all, also, mourning the loss of a piece of our souls because Upstanding Youth will be over, finished.
If that sounds dramatic to you, humor me. You are not one of the music obsessed types and you don't get it. I don't understand your dedication to (pick one) video games/surf culture in general/sports watching or playing of any type/ultimate fighting/"health" cleanses/dramatic self-portraiture/motivational speaking/partying/taking pictures of your pets and posting them as if they are your children or something/etc... and yet that makes your heart sing right? Ok, so now we understand each other.
We are all dealing with this passing in our own way. It's been our identity for so long and it has been family. Right now Thomas is with his bandmates in Kailua rehearsing for their last show. I want him to soak it up and enjoy something huge he has been a part of. I feel grateful for the joy this band has given us. I'm going to miss being a merch-girl, band wife, groupie. I'm going to miss hearing a sweaty club of adoring kids scream the lyrics to Paint By Numbers so loud that Marc backs away from the microphone with a look of pure joy on his face. I'm going to miss the time Demitri, Thomas, and I were in Taco Bell and a kid with a UY shirt stood dazed in the doorway, gawking at the guys, and squeaking out, "Holy sh*#! It's Upstanding Youth!" Echo and I even got recognized as band wives one night long long ago in Walmart by some fans. And the times people covered their songs in super creative ways, or the hours we spent making shirts in my in-laws family room, or the drama that enraged us over "Nalo Boy," or the weddings/funerals/graduations/BBQs/birthdays we have all been a part of to support each other. I love my UY family and the amazing stages we have been on and the cool people we have met and the millions of inside jokes.
After the last show in May that's it. And that is sad.
I told Thomas his next move is a family band. Start brainwashing... I mean training the boys to play all the instruments until they have Jackson 5 problems and Hanson boy hooks. We can do this.
Whatever the case I guess tonight I just needed to take my moment to work through the end of something amazing and gigantic. I will forever be grateful I married that drummer, glad that we understand each other, happy when I think of our UY memories, and excited to see where this goes next.