When we go to gigs, my girlfriend and I spend most of our focus on one or two members of the band. Sometimes we concentrate on the front man/woman. Ninety percent of the time some background character will grab our attention and hold onto it. The front man/woman gets a lot of our ear-time, but someone else becomes our visual ear worm (if that's a thing).
For my girlfriend, it'll often be the drummer. Drummers are cool. More than anyone else in the room, they just sit there doing their own thing. Even more than the bartender overcharging for half portions of weak lager at the back, the drummer just sits around and carries on. They occupy a whole end of the room by themselves. They get to sit down, and their job is too loud to be worrying much about anything else that's happening. It creates a kind of cool, easy, devil-can-claim-me attitude. They usually look like they're having a good time, or at least an exciting time. So my girlfriend tends to watch the drummer.
I often watch the drummer, but it's not always the drummer for me.
I Always Watch the Dude Looks Like They're Having the Best Time.
For some reason, that often turns out to be the bassist.
I'll give you an example. You ever seen Dorothy live? If you have, you know what I'm talking about. The bassist who tours with the band Dorothy spends the whole concert rocking out to everything that's happening. He smiles a goofy smile, bangs his head, and has hell's own trouble keeping to the small real-estate of the stage that's his. He's this tall, lanky dude, with all this hair and sneaky-looking eyes. He looks like a fox who got into a hen house and then didn't steal anything, but you haven't discovered that yet.
When I went to see Dorothy, I spent the whole concert watching this dude having a good time. My girlfriend kept rolling her eyes and asking if I wanted to get a room.
We looked him up later. It turns out that the bassist for Dorothy is a dude named Eliot Lorango. Eliot is a virtuosic multi-instrumentalist who and music producer and one of the two founding members of Dorothy. Dorothy is a project that they started in order to showcase lead singer, Dorothy Martin. Eliot Lorango basically designed a band around this woman's voice. He brought the project into existence with a skillful application of understanding the industry he operated in.
Interesting guy. Interesting charisma. He understands what he's doing, and that's infectious. He was like the conductor of the gig, making it clear to everyone present how to feel and think about the evening.
Incredible room control. I'm sure we've all had professors or choir directors or managers who had this. They could bring a room to order with a gentle gesture and get everyone looking the same way with a wave. Room control.
I Haven't Had the Pleasure of Seeing a Gig Where Kaku Played, But...
If someone could tell me what that's like, I'd appreciate it. Because I have a suspicion of a sneaking sort that Kaku is the kind of musician that does what Eliot Lorango does. In the sense of being the dude in the band drawing the eye.
Kaku is a Barcelona-based multi-instrumentalist. He gave himself away when he told me which instrument, at the moment, he liked the idea of playing best.
He said he liked bass, because when he played bass it allowed him to dance while performing.
I get that.
I entertain a complex fantasy life. One of the fantasies I often consider is getting drinks with the band after the gig. I fantasize about asking them to share stories about the world of music. I never have, and probably won't, because I'm shy and easily startled. That's for one thing.
The main issue I anticipate, though, is that in my mind, all musicians are passionate technicians. They love and understand their chosen field. I'm desperately afraid of having that illusion shattered. I'm afraid that I'll discover that these rock stars are actually normal people. People who are also interested in sales at the supermarket and reciting Robot Chicken bits in a circle with other people who also all know how it ends.
I want my rock stars to have special knowledge and special passion. I want them aware of their industry and gifted with secret knowledge. I want them to feel earnestly that making music requires a special set of skills and a different passion than I have myself.
I'm afraid of that. I still want to talk to these performers, I'm just nervous to do it.
And I assure you that I'll be getting Kaku a drink and asking him about the music, if I ever see him in concert. Or, more likely, I'll ask my girlfriend to do it, because she's more brave than I am.
Kaku is a multi-instrumentalist session musician who possesses a higher than usual degree of professional experience.
Kaku's story felt all out of order. It was like the film Pulp Fiction, with all the bits arranged in a way calculated to achieve an odd effect.
He's from Argentina. While in Argentina, Kaku won a contest for a pop song he wrote and performed with his musical partner. Their song became a hit all at once, and it got a lot of play on the radio in Argentina. It threw them into the Scene, and they were hobnobbing with the social elite at big parties in Buenos Aires. They suddenly had big gigs and deadlines to produce more music. Kaku had a big hit and a career as a pop star in Argentina.
They Were Sudden A-Listers. Hooray for Contests.
Which sounded like it came from someone else's story, when Kaku got that far. He'd been introduced to me as a session musician. A good one, but usually the session musician section in the story of a rock star comes at the beginning. The pop star section comes later. Jimmy Page was a session musician first, and then there was Led Zeppelin. That's the order these things usually happen.
Not for Kaku. What with one thing and another, he graduated out of a career as a pop star in Argentina. From there he moved into the underground music scene in Barcelona.
Only that wasn't his plan. There's got to be something funny in the air driving people to Barcelona without a plan, because I keep meeting people with that backstory. Kaku's another.
The next chapter in his life sounds like the first chapter in the life of, I don't know, choose someone. Choose anyone cool you've heard of who had humble beginnings.
Since he was an Argentinian ex-pat, Kaku sought out Argentinians and found a bakery that sold Argentinian cakes. Excellent. Everybody loves cake.
He worked there for a while until coincidence dropped opportunity on him like a load of dulce de leche cookies.
A man walked in. The man was a former member of a tribute band that paid tribute to an Argentinian rock group from the '80s called Soda Stereo. His name was Nano. Somehow (probably without a plan), Nano ended up in Barcelona. He came into the bakery one day demanding a particular dessert. It was made with dulce de leche. It's an Argentinian quality, I'm told, to talk a lot. By talking a lot, Nano made it clear that he was looking for musicians.
Kaku apparently got a word in edgewise, because he said he was one of those.
Nano introduced him around. After that, Kaku started to pick up gigs with acts around Barcelona.
He's sort of a ringer: his main instrument is keyboard, but he CAN play anything. He's a quick study when it comes to music. He'll pick up the tune you're playing quickly. I expect it's refreshing to have a music project and find a dude who can play anything and pick up my songs fast. That would already be cool, I think.
When you get done with a set where Kaku's playing, it'd probably be worth it to ask him for feedback on it. Even though he looked like he was just having a good time dancing around and playing bass, he was paying attention to the performance. The quote I've got from him is, "Hey, Titan, that song's usually five minutes, but this time it was ten. What happened in the middle?"
He Brings a Degree of Technical Understanding to His Musicianship Like He Inherited It From a Former Life.
Which he sort of did. More than sort of.
It was strange. I expected that at some point he'd tell me that he wanted to rebuild his old pop star career. I expected he'd explain he wanted to helm a project of his own and get in front of the band again.
But no. He says he can sing. He likes to sing. But he said that when we finished our conversation he'd get on his keyboard. He'd tickle the ivories for a while, and just do that. No singing, because he liked playing keyboard.
He loves to make music, and he loves the music to be the best possible shit it can be. Yet he's not driven by a need to be the center of attention. He said that he's glad there are front men and front women. He loves that they're around, because somebody needs to be up there. Someone needs to be at the front. Someone needs to drive the performance. They need to so that he can be in his little bit of the stage's real estate with his keyboard or bass or whatever he's playing. He wants to show up and play and dance and take mental notes to help hone the performance.
I like front men and front women. It's cool to watch the people in the middle of the performance, giving it definition and shape. I like making note of them. Maybe I'll see them in an interview later, and I've got to be glad they're brave enough to be there to sing the songs.
I spend more time watching the person up there who's got something about him, something special going on. They understand what they're doing, and it's infectious.
Kaku. Get him something fruity and ask him about Slash.