“It’s certainly not flawless… but it’s nevertheless perfect!”

by nielskunze on May 18, 2016

Left to Right: Christopher, Cory, Niels, Shane, Ian

Left to Right: Christopher, Cory, Niels, Shane, Ian

I found myself at the centre of a whirlwind. A surreal kaleidoscope of events had swirled around me for days already, and now it was finally winding down…

I was standing in the middle of the restaurant. The last of the drunk and very happy patrons were still relishing in the afterglow of a terrifically nostalgic weekend. We had made them smile… and dance… and sing along. So many had come to relive some cherished memories of youth, when Missing Peace was still regarded as that one band that would surely make it… and everyone had kept the collective aspiration tucked away for the day that they could say “Hey, I knew them when…”

Then and now… not that much, really, had changed. I was fifty now… but I still felt twenty-five. Christopher had replaced David on the drum kit, but still, David had taken to the stage one more time at the end of the night. Ian stood in at bass– as always. But it was Christopher who’d strapped on Shane’s guitar and stepped up to the mic to rip out a Dylan cover. He drums for us– ’cause, fuck, he’s good– but I think he still prefers being the front man, singing and playing guitar. How many CDs has he made now with his other band– the one in which he’s the main songwriter? Goddammit my bandmates are a talented lot!

Ian has always been in bands. He’s that bass player who can sit in on any jam and the other players will love him– guaranteed. He was the one who held the gun to my head so many years ago and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. “We’re going to be a band; we’ll focus on your songs.” How could I say no? Being in an actual rock band wasn’t something that I could take any more seriously than my own antics alone in my bedroom, playing air guitar when I was twelve, lip-syncing to Jerry Doucette as he sang “Mama let that boy play some rock ‘n roll…” It was a fantasy, common… maybe even silly… but Ian had been dead serious… and Ian doesn’t take no for an answer.

It may have started out– oh… about 22 years ago– centred mainly around my songwriting (something I did for myself in a vain attempt at remaining sane), but we weren’t at it very long before the irrepressible talents of my mates insisted on a more diverse path. I’d bought Shane his first guitar. Within a few months he’d written half of the songs that appeared on our first album. The other half were mine, and Cory had written the hidden track with the help of our good friend Steve. Cory had just gotten started. His songwriting skill is irrefutable, and Missing Peace took full advantage of that. And then Ian began contributing his own song-craft too.

This fiftieth birthday celebration had doubled as a CD-release party. The long-awaited, much-talked-about sophomoric release from Missing Peace was finally finished and available to the public… after a mere sixteen years in production– my bad (I wear the sound engineering hat). So what do I think of it? Feel free to quote me on this: “It’s certainly not flawless… but it’s nevertheless perfect!” Despite all of the frustrations and delays, I’m proud of it and glad to share it… and I’m pretty sure my bandmates agree.

So there I was, standing in the middle of the restaurant, at about 1:30 in the morning… and I was sober! Can you believe that? So much had been going on throughout the night– the unrelenting hug-fest among old fans and friends– that I forgot to get drunk! I hadn’t even smoked anything, despite having two pre-rolled doobies in my backpack. Maybe I was finally an adult… and I was meant to face the second half of my life with an unprecedented clarity…?

One thing was certainly clear: Missing Peace was reinvigorated. Lazarus had risen again… looking a bit rough around the edges and perhaps a bit stinky, but this weren’t no zombie corpse– no, this was true life resurrected! Jesus would be jealous.

The local newspaperman who’d always been our staunch ally referred to us again as “forward-thinking” in his writeup of the event. Sure, all the nostalgia and reminiscence was great, but we were definitely looking ahead. And most of all, that’s what I really wanted for this milestone birthday. I wanted Missing Peace to still have a life.

A day after everyone had gone home, back to their regular lives, I sat down and compiled a list of our songs which hadn’t been recorded yet. All of the simpler, poppier, radio-friendly tunes were well represented on the first two albums… and now all that remained was the really, really good stuff! I tend to listen to progressive rock (prog)– you know, the out-of-the-ordinary stuff that I couldn’t play myself if my life depended on it. So in my opinion, our best stuff, our more progressive offerings were still awaiting their day in the sun. You see, back in 2001, Missing Peace existed as a 4-piece; I had left the band– for numerous reasons, but one significant factor was that I simply didn’t have the skill as a musician to keep up with the direction the band was leaning. Besides, I was the ‘folk’ influence… and the new sound wasn’t particularly folky.

(Black & Blue by Missing Peace from our 2016 release Second Thoughts)

I’d never been crazy about gigging in general, and touring was a real pain in my home-loving ass. Maybe we’d still play the odd show here and there going forward, but the guys seemed mostly content to just make music now, to be a recording band, and let the internet handle all the hype and the distribution. That’s all I ever really wanted– from before the internet was even a thing. I guess I should count myself as lucky that my mates so easily welcomed me back into the fold, seeing how I officially quit in 2000.

But some things, especially artistic things, tend to take on a life of their own. Missing Peace had always been just such a creature. Its lifeblood is the genuine bond that has endured among this family of musicians– my brothers in rhythm and melody. Its aspirations have long been the amalgamated childhood fantasies of five guys who still refuse to grow up all the way.

As I drove my sober self home, I reflected… It was the best birthday ever! I’m fifty… and I truly feel that I’m/we’re just getting started.

(Whitman’s Gauntlet by Missing Peace from our 2016 release Second Thoughts)

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