I think what is scariest for me about the solo tour isn’t so much that I’m stepping out on my own now, and regardless of who joins me or not, I will continue on. No, that’s not it. What bothers me the most is how “out of the box” for me that it is.
All my life, I have been wrapped up in the punk and metal world for the most part. A punk show in a friend’s garage, and then another at the Lion’s hall in Keizer, OR was my first introduction to any sort of community. I remember spending hours at LibCo in Portland, reading pamphlets and ‘zines…searching for answers to questions a life of pentecostal and plasticized upbringing couldn’t answer. But even there I never felt complete or a true sense of belonging. It was those same kids I was growing a kinship to that were ripping each other apart as the nights of drinking weighed on later in the evening at the basement shows. Girls didn’t like me much because I wasn’t wearing fishnets and leopard print skirts, and the boys felt like I was threatening their manhood by being a little girl in the pit. Oh Portland, we’ve certainly had our fun.
I’m not saying I’m not guilty of tearing others down when they least deserve it. Most of us have had our fair share of fun at another’s expense at one point or two in our lives.
I guess to save a long explanation…I am not part of that world. I’ve always been on the outskirts of everything. Watching, listening, learning…throwing a hand in when it felt like the right thing to do, but I don’t believe in scenes or clicks, or any of the sort.
Even back in highschool, I hung out with the children of the korn, the corner bench crew, the smokers, and the stoners…but korn was not my favorite band, I wasn’t a drama geek, and I didn’t smoke cigarettes or pot. I pretty much just stayed close to anyone who didn’t seem bothered my company, hoping that one might turn into a real friend.
It was rare that anyone ever came to my house. I was always the next to last stop on the school bus route and the city bus route. Pretty much left to my own devices and far away from everyone. There was also the strange bursts of anger I would have that tended to keep any levels of closeness far at bay. I loved the punk rock world because I was already an outsider. It intrigued me, but I never seriously considered myself a punk.
I used to wear a wedding dress under my leather jacket, and people would make fun of me for it, and then Vampire Sean would say…no fuckers…that’s what punk really is, just not giving a fuck. If not giving a fuck is what makes you a punk rocker, than I know many punks who have never dressed the part.
Regardless…punk and metal shows is where you’re most likely to see me. There’s an energy of chaos there that can not be harnessed, and I love it, I thrive on it, it brings a smile to my face. However, the path of Zebrana Bastard goes elsewhere…instead of vicious circles of angry kids trying to make sense of the world as they collide into their brothers and sisters, I look into the audience and see people listening to me…and what am I talking about? The reasons for the cravings that caused me to slam my body into another human being.
This is a world I have spent a long time avoiding. The emotional flood. Before it was easy, I laugh, I joke, I dance….and people are awed or frightened. Rarely ever bored. I guess you could say it’s nice to never be boring. But still…I’ve always graced the stage with rage, chaos, and a dash of fun or sex appeal for good measure. And I enjoyed it, I really did. But this time no. The make-up is gone, the heels are hung up, every line of the words are filled with meaning, and there’s no comic relief to make up for the fact that I just kicked you in the face, made out with your girl, and fucked your man in the alley way.
I’m ripping my heart out, throwing it on a platter, and offering up the pieces. Often keeping my legs closed, because sex is a coping mechanism, a distraction, and even when it’s what you want, it’s not always what you need. If you get it, then pieces of your heart are mingled with my own, and there’s no where to hide. There’s no wall to smash into. While grateful with everyone I’ve connected with after a Z.B. performance, it’s still fucking hard as hell. I’ll never forget this first show I played at the Dollhut in Anaheim. I don’t remember if it was my first or second time playing there…but I broke. I don’t cry in front of people. At least I didn’t used to. I was singing Aftermath, and I got choked up, but I pushed through it anyway and finished the song, with tears streaming down my face as I’m choking on the words.
After I packed up my gear, this man came up to me with tears in his eyes. He could barely speak, he looked me deep into my eyes, as his eyes welled up, and he put his hand on my shoulder. He tapped his heart with the other hand and managed to let out a soft “thank you” and something that kinda translated as “I felt that here” before the tears fell from his eyes. He tried asking me for a hug, but he couldn’t get the words out, and I just hugged him.
This is my crowd. The battered and broken, the bleeding hearts and spirits that the world seems to push aside and forget.
After a show in Bakersfield, the host broke down and told me of her divorce and abusive ex, and her fears…she poured out her secrets and her heartache, and all but begged me to sleep with her. And I get it, she’s a beautiful and damaged soul, desperate for love. For kindness. For something good to fill her life, and this is my crowd. This is the mirror of my life, of my heart, of my pain.
While similar to the punk and metal community in some ways…there is little room for masks here. I’m putting it all out on the line, and it hurts. It also feels good and healing in the purge.
Idunno, I guess it just feels like new territory is all. The contacts are different, the shows are different, the crowds are different. I doubt anyone is going to run up on stage and headbutt me or fall into my mic or knock my pegs out of tune, and I find that somewhat frightening and a little intimidating.
Kinda reminds me back when Dan and I first got together. It was the first time I drank and drove after I told him I wouldn’t do it anymore. I came home smashed and laughing about it. There was so much disappointment in his eyes. I could see the love mixed with pain as he stared into me. I told him I was fine, and that it was just a van, I’d buy him a new one if I wrecked it. He said, “I don’t care about the van, I care about you.” Those fucking eyes…I couldn’t take it. I remember saying, “Please don’t look at me like that…yell at me, scream at me, throw something at me…anything. That I can deal with, but please don’t look at me like that.” He was calm, he stayed calm. He told me he loved me, and he told me how he felt about the condition I had come home in. I laughed, “Well I still made it home in one piece.” I spun around, and fell onto the couch, leaning next to him, trying to lighten the mood. But he didn’t smile. Nothing I did or said that night brought a smile to his face. I told him I wouldn’t do it anymore, and that I was sorry. I told him I loved him…and he said he loved me too…but he knew me for who I was, and it would not be the last time he looked at me that way.
That’s what this feels like. This uncomfortable reality. I never know what’s going to happen. Are people going to walk away? Will they love me? Will they hate me? Not that those thoughts ever bothered me much before, but before if a show ended in chaos, if I did piss someone off bad enough, then I thrived on the chaos that would stem from it. Here, this time…I feel like this project brings a cloud element to the party that might not have been invited or expected, and I’m not sure what that’s going to be like, touring with that cloud all the time. I keep trying to remember to write some hope into my songs, and I hope it comes out as such, but still. Life is pain, and distractions are what they are. Z.B. is the truth as I know it and see it, there’s nothing to hide behind or under, only me.
This man came up to me the last time I played the A-Frame in Salem, and he said, “Are you okay? It seems like your down a lot or sad a lot.” He came up to me as I was laughing and talking with my friends, but I still found it a bit odd and bothersome. One man’s opinion I suppose…but look at my music collection, or the majority of the movies I watch. I guess you could say I don’t exactly believe in happy endings. Too much of a realist for that sort of thing…but life is good to me and has been good to me these last few years, and for that I am grateful.
I am grateful for a number of things really. I am grateful for the freedom to go and do as I please. I am grateful for friends that understand, and I am grateful that I owe no allegiance to anyone or anything other than that which I choose. 100% I am mine. I rise when I rise, I sleep when I sleep, I eat when I eat, and I do what I do. My obligations are things that I’ve chosen. I don’t feel like this makes me lucky or special or privileged. I do believe every man that seeks can and will find their own way if they don’t give up.
And I also believe that no matter how scary the road that lies ahead may be, it’s still the path that I must take. I’ve known monsters and I’ve known the gentlest of souls, and while I will never see or know everything, I feel like I’ve got a good foundation and a level enough head to get me through quite a few more adventures.