Originally (before the DC cab ride), when thinking about friends and music, a series of photos came to mind:
The first is of me and my friend David Wain just after a Purim parade at Park Synagogue in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s King Ahasuerus, and I’m a ‘gregor’ (musical noisemaker to be rattled whenever Haman, the villain in the Purim story, appears). I’d say we’re about 5 yrs old.
Cut to photograph 2, a band photo from 9th grade featuring me, David Wain (drums) again, Stuart Blumberg (gtr), Matt Fields (bass), and Scott Harbert (gtr). At that point, the band was called either ‘Immoral Minority’ or ‘Batman and Robin’, I’m not sure which. But here’s a brief history of the friendship-music connections shown in the photo:
Stuart Blumberg and David have been best friends since the day they were born.
Stuart, David, and I have been best friends since age 4. Scott Harbert was the resident guitar prodigy, and was the first of many best-friend/guitar player foils in my life that began with Scott, and went all the way through Chris Matthews and Nathan Larson (see above) in Shudder To Think.
We all met Matt Fields at an 8th grade JCC dance. He had an asymmetrical haircut and wore a smart black vintage suit jacket covered with buttons of various awesome new wave and punk bands.
We became instant friends, and to this day the music Matt turned us on to (then-newly released cassettes of ‘Dreams Less Sweet’ by Psychic TV, ‘Swoon’ by Prefab Sprout, the first Tones On Tail record, the first Smiths album, and Henry Cow to name a few) remain my favorite albums, and ones which continue to inspire and shape my own music to this day. Scott Harbert and I, after having been out of touch for 15 yrs or so, recently rekindled our friendship with obsessive emailing re the whereabouts and strange album-release habits of Paddy McAloon, mastermind behind Prefab Sprout, a band my wife hates, but with whom I’m still obsessed.
Matt Fields went on to play in Red Red Meat, Califone, and Those Bastard Souls (with Dave Shouse from Grifters, and Kevin March from Shudder To Think, coincidentally). I am forever in his debt for helping lead me to my own musical voice.
David Wain and I continue to collaborate together on a regular basis, and I’ve composed score and songs for all of his movies, from his student film in college (‘Aisle Six’), to his most recent, ‘Role Models’.
Stuart, David, and I are still best friends, and a few years ago I introduced Stuart to director and dear friend Lisa Cholodenko (director of ‘High Art’ and ‘Laurel Canyon’, for which I composed the music), and the two of them collaborated on the script for her new movie, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ (named after the Who song –Stuart’s favorite from childhood). Stuart, David, and I are currently talking about making a movie that Stuart will write, David will direct, and I’ll compose. Of course we’ll all wind up collaborating on all of it, including the music, just like in 9th grade.
The third photo is of Shudder To Think backstage at Lollapalooza, 1995. In it, you see the band, David Wain (who was filming bits of the tour for promo/documentary use), and Stuart Blumberg, who we coerced into roadie-ing for the tour (sorry, pal).
And finally, a photo of me, my wife Meggan, and David onstage during the finally of a concert celebrating the release of David ‘s movie, The Ten, which was basically a giant collaboration/pile-up of all of our friends in comedy and music.
Incidentally, I met my wife 20 years ago through her brother, Tom Lennon, a dorm-mate of mine at NYU, who was in the comedy group The State, for whom I made music. The State were my best friends from college, and I continue to make music for their various projects to this day.
Long story long, music and friendship for me have always been inextricable, and music has been the trigger, the glue, and the beating heart of some of my most important relationships, not to mention the centerpiece of many of my most beloved memories. Music connects me to my history; it is the portal and the soundtrack to the story of my life, the lives of my friends and family, and the time we share together. It’s the emotional umbilical cord that connects me to my peeps.