Saturday night my good friend and bandmate Jez had his last Wellington gig. It was easily the best one I’ve ever been to: I got to Bar Medusa early for soundcheck and he did my makeup in the bar toilet and the place was as packed as I’ve ever seen it and for his final song he ripped off his shirt to show off his new tattoo. Everyone hugged him all night. The other bands all played awesomely—one of them even did a cover of one of his own songs—and then when it was his turn to finally get on stage people screamed and screamed for him. When I got up and joined him they screamed some more and even though I was nervous, having never sung in front of so many people before, I felt totally comfortable being up there with him, because singing and playing with this man is just something I do now. We did our thing and people screaaaaaamed again, and I loved him and I loved our band and I loved Wellington very much in that moment. It’s going to be very very strange without him here. H Walking home from the gig I was overcome with emotion and texted him, all caps, ‘I’M SAD AND I’M GOING TO RUN MY EYELINER.’
He’s leaving town in a couple of weeks, you see—doing a bit of international travel, heading to his homeland for a few months, and then fetching up across the ditch in Melbourne early next year. I know he’s going to visit us again in Welly, of course—this has been discussed in detail whenever I freak out–but at the moment I can’t really believe he’s going.
I’m still in denial, the way I was when another good friend left for Melbourne, several years ago now. Is it real? It can’t be real. I mean, we recently decided—because why not start a big project with just a month to go before half the band decamps for Thailand?—to do another video and we’re still texting each other whenever we hear Pour Some Sugar On Me playing somewhere, and we’re spending a lot of time at each others’ flats, recording or filming or just chatting over tea and bickies, so how can he be really leaving? We just started playing our songs with rocked-out backing tracks and electric guitar instead of with strummy strummy la-la acoustic. What about the band, man? WHAT ABOUT THE BAND.
My bandie. My good friend. He makes me do formal vocal exercises and offers me a Vocal Zone when we have band practice. He teases me about my desire to drink a cup of tea on stage like other rockstars drink beers. He makes otter-related t-shirts and says that he’s putting whatever money he makes off them into the nonexistent Band Account to fund our to-be-planned international tours—he wants us to meet up next year either in Japan or in Chile, and why not? He says “Can you turn up her vocals? She has a very soft voice!” when we soundcheck. He tells me to get a good night’s rest the night before we play a local fair at ten in the morning. He lets me cry on his shoulder. He usually gets mee goreng with chicken when we have band dinner and tells me about his girl adventures, and I nod and furrow my eyebrows and laugh and roll my eyes and say “How does this even happen to you?”. He bickers genially with me in public and then says “And people say we’re not married!” and everyone giggles.
He responded with “Sure!” when I texted him at midnight on a Wednesday a couple of years ago with the information that I had written a song and would he mind helping me put some chords behind it or something? He did that, and then spent the next two years convincing me that we could really sing that song together, for real, like a real band, and that we could write more songs, and record them, and that we could sing them in front of people, even if those people were just our friends in their lounges. He’s taken me seriously when I said I wanted to do music as not many other people would have, and he has forced me way outside my various comfort zones in ways that have changed me maybe forever.
I know he’s not leaving me, specifically—he’s leaving a whole community of people who adore him ferociously and will miss him terribly—but I still feel like I, specifically, have to let him go, the way I have had to let so many others go. He has promised me, many many times, that we will have band practice again, and I guess it’s on me to believe him.