Saturday, August 14, 2010

There's Somebody Out There

I had a long conversation with my friend David Steadman about what I'm doing with this blog and why. For one thing, I thought there might actually be some Naked fans out there who would find this interesting. Certainly not fascinating... but at least interesting. Also, I totally geek out about band histories, so I thought it would be fun to do this so any similar geeks would have a sense of where I'm coming from musically.

Plus, I'm an egomaniac.

So, before I really get into Naked, here's a (sort of) brief account of my (and the band's) pre-Naked history...

I started playing music the "usual" way - a bunch my and my brother's friends wanted to start a band. It's a little fuzzy, but I know I was in middle school. Thirteen? I'm pretty sure that my brother Bill had already gotten his first acoustic guitar. He and I are the only ones who went through with it. Long story short, I started on a small-keyed Casio keyboard and worked my way up from there. I had a little Peavey Decade guitar amp and I would pump out distorted power chords (which was all I could play) while four or five visiting guitarists would take turns noodling their high school hearts out in my parents' garage.

My freshman year of high school, our school had the good fortune to get a new band teacher - Roy Bailey. Roy became my piano teacher, mentor, and dear friend. He left after three years to pursue other opportunities but had been helping me to go from barely playing with only my right hand to being prepared for Berklee college of music in Boston (I got accepted but didn't end up going. To any college--that wouldn't happen until I was about 30).

Asleep yet?

The unusual part of the story is that, deep in the heart of a small, rural New Hampshire town (Country, Grand Ole Opry, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, assorted hair metal...), the greatest act of musical rebellion for us was to become... jazz musicians. Sort of. We had a rock/jazz/whatever band (Enigmatic Ocean. Really.) and played in small jazz/fusion/funk ensembles with Roy. Music was our obsession. I still remember the first time I made it into NH All State for jazz piano (I was number two. Both times). I was sitting in US History class. The PA interrupted with polite congratulations.

The teacher said, "Congratulations, Mr. White."

The kid to my right said, "You play piano?"

The kid to my left said, "What's jazz?"

For reasons unimportant (and even boring-er than what you've already been put through), I quit playing music for a while after I graduated. Bill was playing in a cover band that wasn't gigging, partly because the bass player kept flaking out. He kept after me to join in on keyboards and I kept saying no. I really didn't like the drummer/band leader, who had been a few years ahead of me in school. Eventually, the bass player's girlfriend wouldn't let him come out and play any more, and I ended up joining on keys and borrowing Bill's Peavey bass and filling that role as well.

The band was called Emergency Broadcast System (EBS). We played some Rush, Police, Eagles, Thin Lizzy, etc. (We even did a gig as a faux-country band) It was a great way for me to get back into music and learn to play bass, but I quickly grew bored with other peoples' music. We started writing songs but things just weren't going fast enough and then we had a falling out with the drummer. We had done a pretty decent four-track cassette recording, with me engineering (this was 1993). Armed with that and a desire to make music that was more visceral, more tribal, more... not what EBS was doing, I decided to start from scratch, and Bill was immediately on board.

Enter Naked.

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