not your average boy band…or are they?

(I just found this in my “drafts” folder – it’s from July! Black Gold is now off in the world, on tour in Arizona or California or somewhere. Assuming I can get YouTube and WordPress and any other EnCapped entity needed to play well together, I am illustrating this post with several of the impressionistic, hilarious, supersummery videos my friend Than took on this visit. They could all be titled: “In which Lagusta natters on endlessly and Than cannot resist the urge to turn the camera on himself.” Enjoy!)

I’ve had a band recording in my sweetheart’s basement recording studio for the past week. Just as soon as I posted all that about how much I love the ladies, along came three prototypical band dudes to sleep in the pink room and record in the basement.

I don’t have a large house, so when bands come to record they are true housemates – true “don’t use the water while Eric’s in the shower,” “can I borrow the car tomorrow if I drive you to work?” housemates. Our house just isn’t big enough to call them house guests. We don’t even own a toaster, which I for some reason think of as the ultimate accessory for entertaining overnight guests. It just seems so luxurious to make them toasted bagels and toast in the morning, instead of burning their bread in the broiler. We also don’t own a coffeemaker, although I do have a little French press, but since I keep my spice grinder coffee grinder at work it’s pretty useless, which all adds up to caffeine-loving people always needing to dash into town to get coffee.

We’re just not breakfasty people, and it seems to me that breakfasty people are better at having house guests. In my defense, working under the assumption that if you can’t get it together to make toast properly for your guests you can at least have nice fruit at the peak of fruit season, I did forage a whole basket full of blackberries just before their arrival.

The lack of a toaster is an academic issue, however, because bands don’t tend to wake up until 1 PM, at which time toast seems inappropriate and berries and/or leftover kimchi and rice just about right. Which is good, since that’s what I always have on hand.

Anyway, I’m not sure what’s happening to the world and if this maybe means that the feminist utopia my foremothers worked so hard for is actually happening or what, but their visit brought up absolutely none of the typical band-recording-at-the-house issues. My mind is pretty blown by the whole thing, actually.

My 73-year-old radical feminist pal Selma often remarks on how she believes that men these days are so much sweeter and more gentle and all-around better than the men that drove her into a woman-only world in the ’70s. I used to sometimes marvel at these statements. I seem to know an endless trough of annoying dudes, and could point to a bottomless stream of horrific anti-feminist…well, everything—websites, magazines, ads, etc. There is a lot more work to do before I start loving the dudely sex as a whole.

But I also know a lot of sincerely thoughtful guys, and this band visit really did tip the scales a little more to the side of not being able to make blanket statements about patriarchy without adding some disclaimers.

It’s not that I’m so blown away by three guys washing dishes, folding sheets, and putting beer bottles in the recycling bin that I’ve stopped believing that we live in a society that is structured around the needs and wants and proclivities of men. It’s not that. It’s just…they washed all the dishes, folded all the sheets, and put all the beer bottles in the recycling bin. The facts must be stated.

What I got instead of the expected sloppiness and general loutishness was nice dinners out, deep conversations about our families and relationships, sweet tinkling piano music to listen to while doing the laundry, and, most astonishing of all—a spotless house when I returned from dropping them off at the bus station.

In truth, the vast majority of musicians I know are insanely sweet. Yes, some of them are fucked-up in beautiful and strange and beautifully strange ways, but almost all are gentle souls. The stories about diva musicians are doubtless true, but all my musician pals are almost painfully considerate, as if they are personally responsible for making up for decades of mischaracterization in popular culture.

Also, most of the musicians I know are musicians for a living, which means that they are also businesspeople. it’s a little-known fact that being in a band also means becoming a business owner–at least, if you’re doing it right. So a little more maturity than your standard garage band is to be expected. Still, a feministy woman living with three band dudes for over a week—I was expecting a lot more Three’s Company than I got.

The two big issues with bands are always food and noise. In general and with notable exceptions, bands tend to need lots of both.

Bands are notoriously starving all the time, and are almost always completely obsessed with food. I’ve come to think that this is not just because bands are so often comprised of youngish boys, not just because those bands might be using substances that make them hungry, but really because food and songwriting and recording go hand in hand. If you don’t need to lay down a few bass tracks until the drums are finished being miced (can that possibly be right? “mic-ed” maybe? “miked”? “microphoned”??), what else are you going to do but wander off for a snack?

Knowing this, and knowing that I always have leftovers in the house, I do my best to oblige. They had a budget for food, and weren’t just coming up to eat me out of house and home. But my oft-ignored, barely there mothering gene always comes out around bands—they are often so skinny and so spaced out. I like to fatten them up and chat them up. So I’d write them long rambling notes about the food situation (“There is somewhat of a paucity of breakfast foods around, but there is lots of baklava and soup and steamed buns that you just need to steam. Than knows where the steamer is. Also, you can make a dipping sauce for them with sesame oil and shoyu and garlic vinegar in the cabinet…”—needless to say, this was too much instruction for them, and the buns went uneaten).

They would happily eat the meals, but never all of them—they would always save one piece, one cookie, one baklava left for me. I was touched by their thoughtfulness. Bands who curb their natural vacuum-cleaner tendencies out of politeness to their hosts, who knew?

And the noise issue. Our house is relatively neighbor-free, so they were free to settle into their natural 8 PM-5 AM recording schedule. I’m a night person, but not exactly a 5 AM bedtime kind of person. Happily, I have the lucky ability to sleep through anything—even drums being tracked two floors below me. Than knows this because of many nights spent here recording, but his co-conspirator Eric was super concerned about the noise after the first night. When I assured him that I didn’t hear a thing, he was genuinely relieved. Bands who are aware of and respectful of their noise levels: I am stunned.

I do have one hilarious complaint about them: they will not say the word “vulva.” They will eat my little work-in-progress vulva chocolates happily, but will always call them vaginas, despite my gentle corrections.

There is work to do, my feminist band-hosting pals. Now that sheet-folding 101 is done, we can move on to working on anatomical correctness.

(P.S.: I love this video of them gushing over their love for all things vintage. So sweet!

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