Radio Station: WLOW 88.9 FM Intro Song: Palefighter, After The Mystery Is Gone
Host Melissa Covey: Jillian Thiele
C: That was (After The Mystery Is Gone) by (Palefighter), and you’re back on WLOW 88.9 FM, I’m your host Melissa Covey. And in studio we’re hanging out with touring band North To Port. Hello Barbara and Matt!
B: Thanks for having us!
C: Chicago is a tour stop for you, where and when are you playing?
B: We’ll be at 4th Ward tonight at 8 PM, playing with good friend and awesome musician Rudy Sims.
C: Oh, love that place!
M: It will be our first time, we’re looking forward to it.
C: Not your first time in Chicago though…
M: No, we’ve been here a number of times together, and in separate projects.
B: The last time was pretty memorable, at least for one of us.?
M: Geez, I know right?
C: What happened last time.
M: Do you want to tell the story Barbee – you know things are a bit fuzzy for me.
B: You start, and I’ll fill in the gaps.
M: So we were playing here last summer, and at the same time we were hired to sing the National Anthem for the White Sox – at US Cellular.
C: A lot of bands do that.
M: Yeah, and, I’ve had experience doing it. In college I sang at a few football games, and some basketball games. For awhile, the football crowd at UNH was my largest audience.
C: How many people were there?
M: I think about 8000 or so, which was kind of a big thing for a 19 year old.
C: That is pretty big, you must have been nervous.
M: I was but I think I was braver about doing new things back then. I don’t know, it was a thrill. But you know the weird thing with playing at stadiums like that is the audio reflects back at you, and it’s wicked loud.
C: Isn’t that good, you know, so you can hear yourself?
M: Oh no! There’s a delay in the bounce back, so what you hear is what happened a fraction of a second ago. And the further you are away, the longer that slap back gap is.
C: Oh, all that slap back gap crap?
M and B (laughing)
M: Right! SO it’s confusing as hell to sing in an environment like that. It sounds like a whirling vortex and makes you feel like you’re tripping out.
C: What do you do?
M: You just have to try to ignore it.
C: Wow, ok. So you you have some experience, and you were hired to sing the Anthem here.
M: Yes, but this time was a bit different. Barbee and I needed to figure out how we were going to perform it. One person doing it is pretty easy once you know what you’re doing, but we had to decide, do we use the guitar, do we sing in harmony, all that.
B: And I’m not from the US, so I’ve never done it before.
C: Oh, that’s right. So you had to learn it.
B: It’s not like it’s terribly hard, as long as you make sure it’s in your range, but the problem is everyone knows it. So, if you mess up, you can’t hide it.
C: Oh no, did you guys mess up? I didn’t hear about that!
B: Well we did, but not how most people mess up.
C: What happened?
M: Normally when you hear mistakes, it’s people messing up the words, which is understandable. I think because, for Americans, we’ve heard and sung the thing millions of times.
C: Right – every sporting event ever.
M: But you know how if you say a word over and over again it starts to sound weird, and feel weird coming out of your mouth?
C: Oh yeah.
M: I think the same thing happens with the Anthem.
C: In what way?
M: Well, if you add on the fact that performers, because they’re afraid of messing it up, practice it over and over again, after already hearing it and singing it a million times in their life, can you see how it would start to feel weird coming out of your face?
C: I can definitely see that
M: And I think the people that mess it up get a sudden realization, mid song, of what they’re doing and singing, and they become so self aware that they lose their place and can’t regroup.
B: It’s this deer in headlights moment, and every time I see it I cringe. So we made a pact – not us!
M: And everybody boos, it’s carnage.
B: Mass hysteria.
C: Right. So what happened with you guys?
B: This was a particularly difficult time for Matt.
M: It was.
C: Oh no, why?
M: I had a health issue that basically made it very difficult to eat, and I lost a lot of weight.
C: Oh, that’s terrible.
M: Yeah, I was really uncomfortable, tired all the time, and we were on the road. So, not the best mix of things.
B: I felt so bad for him, but he was a trooper and made it through the remainder of the tour.
C: What was it?
M: I’m not 100% sure actually, but it got pretty bad right as we got to Chicago. So. I called my doctor back home, and he recommended I have a endoscopy.
C: That’s the tube right? But which way is it, forward or backwards if you will?
M: The doctor sends a tube down your throat with a camera in it to see what’s going on in your esophagus and stomach.
C: That does not sound pleasant.
M: Well I don’t know actually. You’re given a mild anesthesia, which is more like a drug that makes you forget.
B: I think it’s a combination of drugs right?
M: Yeah, they give you a drug to make you calm and sleepy, and a drug that makes you forget, and also Benadryl to help it work quickly. But I’ve never had a surgery or anything, so this was my first experience under. I was a bit scared.
B: You were. there was some death talk and a power of attorney if I remember correctly.
C: Morbid! (a little taken aback but slightly chuckling)
M: Right. Well, Barbara was the only one with me. I gave her power of attorney in case some tough decisions had to be made.
C: Is it a complicated procedure?
M: Not at all. I think maybe 1 in 100,000 cases have an issue.
B: I’m not surprised you looked that up.
M: Of course I did. But you know, it was my first time. There were first time jitters.
M: But the worse thing is not the procedure.
C: What is it?
M: It’s the memory loss.
C: How so?
M: A few ways. First of all, it’s weird that something happened to me. I mean a tube was put inside me, and I have no recollection of it.
M: Sometimes when I think about it, I think I can remember parts of it, but it’s completely possible I’m just making it up in my head.
B: And then he had memory gaps for the next 24 hours. We watched a movie after we got back to the hotel from the hospital. Remember the movie?
M: Right! So 6 months ago, we were hanging out on the bus between shows, and we decided to watch a movie. It was St. Vincent. I said to Barbee, I’ve always wanted to watch this, and can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet. Isn’t it supposed to be good?
B: And I’m like, we watched this before I think. But I don’t have a good memory for that type of thing, and Matt insisted he never saw it.
M: As we started to watch it, I started to recognized things, like right before they happened I was like, Oh, the kid is going to start hanging out with Bill Murray, and then it would happen. Or, they’re gonna go to a strip club. I thought I was psychic!
B: Turns out he wasn’t. We watched it a few hours after his endoscopy. And it’s like he was completely lucid throughout that day, but he would not remember things that happened a few minutes before.
M: So my short term memory was affected, but also my long term memory.
M: Yeah, I can see parts of that day pretty clearly, but there are huge gaps. For instance, I don’t remember seeing the doctor afterwards, but I remember the nurse.
B: You were so excited when he came in!
M: I don’t remember! I remember being in the wheel chair outside of the hospital, but don’t remember getting into it, or riding it through the hospital at all. I only remember one or two moments from the ride back to the hotel, and didn’t remember watching St. Vincent until we watched it again.
C: How long did it take for you to get back to normal?
M: I think about 24 hours or so.
B: But the kicker was, that night after the endoscopy, we had to sing the Anthem at US Cellular.
C: Oh no!
M: Oh yes.
C: Did you forget all the words?
M: No, it was both better and worse than that at the same time.
B: He didn’t forget the words, but it was like he forgot he was singing it.
M: Yeah, and I don’t remember this at all.
C: What happened?
M: This is probably where you come in Barbee. I’ve seen the tape but it’s like a stranger did these things.
B: Like I said, he was lucid, so if you talked to him at the time he seemed completely normal.
C: That’s weird. It’s like he was a zombie and you didn’t know it… And he didn’t know it either!
B: Right? I asked him if we should cancel, and he completely convinced me he was fine. I couldn’t really tell anything was up, he just seemed tired. So we went to the stadium, and right before we went on, he had his guitar over his shoulder and we were about ready to walk out onto the field, he was like, Oh I need to tune this!
M: I had apparently already tuned it.
B: Yeah like three times, and the last time about 1 minute before. So I told him you just tuned it and it sounds great. And I asked him again if he was sure he was fine. He said yeah, yeah, everything is good. I can totally get through this no problem.
M: No memory of this.
B: So we got out to the field and we’re introduced. It’s a full house.
M: They were playing the RedSox that night.
B: And I look over at Matt, and he smiled at me – like his normal self, and he plays this short into just like we practiced.
M: I apparently had no issue remembering things from before.
B: No, but we get through the first verse just fine and then it’s time for “Whose broad stripes:…the second verse and Matt starts repeating the first verse all over again.
C: Oh no!
M: I did.
C: Barbara, what did you do?
B: the only thing I could do! I kept going and it turned the Anthem into a round!
C: No way!
B: Now, at this point I’m afraid that once he finishes the first verse he’ll go back yet again, so I’m terrified as I near the end of the second verse.
C: What happened?
B: I looked straight at him, and caught his eye. And Somehow he pulled it together…
M: I must have read your lips or something and found my place…
B: And at the end of the second verse, his second first verse, he joined me for And the rockets…
M: What’s amazing was it didn’t throw me off that we were singing different words. Performer mode must have kicked in.
C: How did the audience react?
B: I think they weren’t quite sure what to do, actually. They still clapped, and cheered when we hit the high notes.
C: They did? So you fooled them.
B: I think they just thought we were making an artistic interpretation of the Anthem.
M: Some people are ok with that, and others are sticklers.
B: Right, If you don’t sing it exactly, they’re not going to like it anyway. But the majority seemed to be cool with it and we still got paid so It could have been much worse.
C: Well if they paid you, the organization must not have noticed.
B: Yeah, and Matt didn’t remember. And I certainly wasn’t going to say anything.
M: I once heard a rendition in 4/4 time so, the round isn’t that far outside of the box. I think we got away with one though.
B: We did, and I’ll definitely never let Matt convince me to perform after Anesthesia again. We need full faculties so there are no surprises.
C: That sounds wise. So, good luck with your show tonight. So glad you stopped by. Don’t be strangers.
M: Thanks Melissa.
C: And now here’s You Never See It Coming by North To Port.
~Matt and Barbee
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