Murphy’s Law and Ben is the New Guy Again?

So last Saturday was fun, but nerve-wracking, to say the least.  The FTF enclosed trailer we use for our gigs was out of storage and loaded up.  I got to spend a little bit of time with fam before getting ready for the jaunt up to Clearwater to play, which was awesome.  I did what I thought was my civic duty – my good deed for the day if you will – and used my air compressor to fill up the trailer tires.  I even made sure the spare was good to go.  And that poor thing has been sitting and roasting inside that hot box for over five years.

                Needless to say, I felt pretty good about myself.  We were practiced up, excited to have a 45 minute set in front of family and friends in our hometown.  I was anxious to get there, get setup and rock.

                Arrival was slated for 4pm.  That way the bands could backline their main guitar cabinets to make the night run more smoothly.

The blown tire, in all its shredded and mangled glory...

The blown tire, in all its shredded and mangled glory...

                Halfway there, I was doing around 70mph and heard an audible “pop.”  With a furrowed brow I checked both rearview mirrors.  Both tires on the trailer were fine.  I kept going, thinking maybe I ran over something in the lane and it was no big deal.

                A few seconds later was when reality set in.  The truck started shuddering and the odometer showed an ever-decreasing speed.  I looked in the rearviews again and the passenger side trailer tire was shredding itself into oblivion.  For lack of a better term or “mind picture,” I was reminded that this was what the space shuttle Challenger looked like those 30 years ago.  Albeit on a microscopic scale.  Bluish gray smoke emanated from the wheel wheel.  The rubber was tearing itself inside out and wreaking ubiquitous havoc on the side of the trailer.  The running light on the wheel well was completely destroyed as the tire morphed from a recognizable donut to indiscernible tentacle of chaos.

                So my good deed of the day so far turned into a near disaster.  Had I filled the tires too high?  Had the ever-expanding heat sought a larger space and pushed itself outward until the puncture allowed it to escape?  Or was it that the trailer had mostly been dormant in a moisture-laden field in central Florida for the last five months from our last show?

                Either way, it was time to get off the road.

                I was already in the left lane, trying to race to the venue.  Throwing the flashers on, I pulled off into the shoulder.  I called Gabe and my dad, thinking; my dad could come take over while Gabe and I loaded the gear into Gabe’s truck and headed up to Quaker Steak.

                Vehicles sped past, shaking the truck.  The truck is a ’99 and most of everything under the hood has been replaced, but she’s still old.  The A/C started getting warmer as I sat there.  I even counted two ambulances and a police SUV.  All the while no one stopped.  Curious.

                I texted Chandler from Polar Summer, the headliner of the evening.  He and their drummer, Steven, put the whole show on.  Thankfully, they were good with us running behind.

                Finally, my dad showed up.  We jacked the trailer up and starting spinning the lug nuts.  By this time Gabe had arrived.  It took forever.  The damage was worse than we thought.  One of the studs was loose and spinning with the lug.  All in all, the delay cost us an entire hour.  Once the spare was on, Gabe followed me to the venue.  My crazy dad stayed and somehow managed to get the mangled remains of the tire, which was still in the road and apparently got run over by at least four cars and dragged a quarter-of-a-mile down the road.

                In the midst of all of this, I was determined to not let it get to me.  Things happen that are out of our control.  Just roll with the punches and don’t let it affect you.  This is far different from my “THIS IS MY DREAM AND I WANT EVERYTHING TO BE PERFECT” attitude which I normally have, haha!

                We got there and setup and thankfully had dinner together.  Once we got onstage and started rocking, everything was good.  We did our standard fare of heavy rocking, and about four songs in we played one of our variations of our classic rock medley, which got the crowd going.  However, once we started “Friction,” my guitar amp started seriously malfunctioning.  The footswitch would only allow it to go to the clean channel – which, if anyone knows our music at all – is completely unacceptable!  We stopped the song and I took a few minutes to fiddle with it and figured I would just make do with no channel switching or effects.  The way we practice our songs though, this becomes a little bit of a pain, as there are songs where a clean sound is needed before launching into a heavy part.

                Also, the Florida weather struck again.  We were no longer confined (like the heat in the trailer tire) to a nice, air-conditioned practice room, where we dictated the sound we heard through headphones.  We were outside, in the oppressive heat, sweat not dripping, but pouring all over our instruments.  In the heat of the moment a crucial bass line was forgotten, my amp decides to self-immolate, and as it turned out, two of Ben’s guitar pedals also malfunctioned within the last two songs of the set.  I think the only one that had a flawless show was Gabe.

                Everyone was gracious in their immediate reviews though.  We are always hardest on ourselves, obviously, because we want the band to be presented in the best light possible, all the time.  But again, mechanical and/or electrical issues that may arise are often out of our control.  So, while I was angered that my amp was not conforming to my needs at that very moment, I was able to make changes on the fly and adapt to the situation and make the best of it.

                I’ll attribute the rest of it to working out the kinks of five months of no live shows – if you’ll permit me to get away with that of course!


How does Ben REALLY feel about being the new guy again?  Remains to be seen...

How does Ben REALLY feel about being the new guy again?  Remains to be seen...

                Also, if you came out to the show you would have noticed in the bass player position, there was none other than Brian Bell.  He manned the low-end.  But what of Drew Macarthur?  Did we kick him out because he had the same first name as me?  Absolutely not, haha…

From This Summer!

From This Summer!

                Drew brought a resolute excitement to the band, no doubt.  In the three years he was in the band we traveled, played out and got serious about building a studio.  But he always – from my perspective at least – seemed to be semi-trapped between two worlds.  If you don’t know this, Drew is an amazingly talented graphics and web designer.  He loves doing this.  And he loves playing bass.  There is a third, more personal reason, but I will leave that to him.  Obviously there are components to a person’s life where they are the ones who should be the deciding factor in divulging what they feel necessary.  It is not my place to go into any sort of details.  But I will tell you this: Drew is still very much a part of what we are doing as a band and a ministry.

Polar Fire!

Polar Fire!

                Trust me when I say – I have felt the tug of many alluring horizons.  But at the end of the day, this exhausts a person beyond belief.  Drew was not able to put into the band what we needed him to – not because he did not have the capacity to – but because of other important things going on in his life that he needed to tend to.  And we absolutely understand the magnitude of these personal things.

                But on a professional level, we need someone who is able to give almost too much of himself for what we need to accomplish.  Drew has an amazing talent – and he is committed with us – to spreading the gospel wherever we can.  Don’t think of it as a severing or a jettisoning.  Think of it as the vision is expanding.  He’ll still be here, every step of the way.

                And we hope you will be too.


                Until next time,