- Man About Town
New York Waste, July-Aug, 2003
<CLICK IMAGES FOR LARGER PICTURES>
[I've entered the renovated Lower East Side tenement building where members of The Drive started sharing an apartment a month ago. We're sitting in the living room, with a kitchen area at one end, and doors lead to various bedrooms. There's some discussion as to where this interview should fall on the spectrum between a publicity piece for the band and a tabloid-type exposé, and suddenly things get started.]
EVA: ASK ME A QUESTION!
RL: Who's that man in your room?
EVA: Ask me another question (tapping her foot).
RL: Sorry, it was the first question that popped into my mind.
JEA: Sarah's angry at all of us.
RL: Why are you angry?
JEA: Cuz we all got some action last night and she didn't.
SARAH: Yeah, I've had NOTHING.
RL: Now, what do we mean by "action"?
SARAH: Y'know, companionship.
RL: Well, there's "action" and there's "action", we all know that.
[Eva returns to her room.]
RL: Well, I understand, she's a very private person.
JEA: Yeah, and getting more private all the time.
[giggling and cackling break]
RL: OK, let's talk about what it's like for all of you to be living here together.
JEA: Three of us - Rachel doesn't really live here.
RACHEL: Yeah, it's easier for me to live where I live now.
RL: But you spend a lot of time here?
RACHEL: Yeah, we're sitting on my bed now [the couch]. It's cool to be the one who doesn't fully live here, cuz I can have the dynamic of everything, but I can also leave.
RL: So how has it been living together - the household?
JEA: I think it's going really well. [to the others] What do you think?
JEA: Yeah, she gets in trouble a lot. She's the first one who got us in trouble with noise, the first fuckin night we were here. She thinks she has a soundproof room.
SARAH: You told me I did.
JEA: Soundproof to the apartment, not to the rest of the building.
RL: Do you practice your drums in there?
SARAH: No, I was just playing music.
JEA: We can't hear anything out here, but the neighbors can.
RL: Well, it looks kinda like a little fortress [Sarah's room has a raised floor, thick walls, and a bay window overlooking the living room.]
JEA: I think us moving in together was a fucking brilliant move - fucking brilliant.
RL: Where were you all coming from before?
EVA: I was living right here in this building.
JEA: But she was living with two obnoxious roommates, and now she has two cool ones.
EVA: I lived with two of the worst roommates ever. Then we got kicked out when they wanted to renovate the building.
RL: So you were on some kinda list to get back in?
EVA: No, we just found it - it was real easy to get in this building.
RL: Well, when you move from central Jersey to Manhattan, you can expect the volume to go up.
JEA: Yeah, well it was a fuckin huge move to make, cuz I was commuting four times a day, between work and practice. I was living out there with my boyfriend, but when we broke up, there was no reason I couldn't move to the city, and get outta there.
RL: You had a boyfriend out in New Jersey?
JEA: For fi-i-ive years - a long time. But he was on tour most of the time.
JEA: Yeah, I was put out in the middle of NJ to keep me safe from all of
the other men who might take a look at me, put away in my shoebox. But now...
SARAH: Everyone advised me against it. They said it would be a bad move.
JEA: Y'know, a lot of people in bands are real stupid, they're real immature - but we're not.
RL: With bands, it's a lot like in other relationships - some bands just click, and you seem to have a pretty healthy band here.
JEA: Yeah! Everybody thought we would break up in a month, and we're nowhere near that.
RACHEL: You know, they say you don't really know someone till you live with them. But everybody knows each other at this point.
RL: Yeah, personally, you seem like one of the most together bands - lots of hugging going on. And I'm sure there's very little competition among you.
JEA: I WON!
RL: Oh, that simplifies things.
RACHEL: It so different now, we're always in touch. It used to be, I used to talk to Eva maybe once a week.
JEA: Yeah, Eva was a hard person to get to know. You'd talk to her on the
phone, and she'd be like, "WHAT?". It's not the type of thing
where you say, "So how's the day going?" - you just don't go there.
JEA: Yeah, that was it.
RACHEL: But we're all getting better. [to Jea] I remember one time, after
you broke up, I was on the phone with you for twenty minutes, and I got
off and thought "that was weird, we were just talking about STUFF!".
RL: Well, I'm glad you're over that!
JEA: And Eva talks to people a lot. She knows so many people, creating such a buzz for us, at work.
RL: Where do you work?
EVA: Top secret.
JEA: She works in this detective agency, she can't fuckin say, she's undercover.
JEA: I'd like to talk about the first time we met you, Robert. At the first Medusa Festival this year.
RACHEL: I've seen you for the past five years. You've seen so many of my bands play and you don't even know it. We'd be playing a show, and you'd be right there in front, and you didn't know it was me!
RL: What bands??
RACHEL: I was in Unexplained, and we used to play The Continental. I didn't know who you were, but it was like "OK, there he is."
RL: But the Medusa Festival was the first time I saw The Drive, I'm sure.
RACHEL: That was a great show, at CB's. But Jea took a tumble. All of a sudden I heard "BOOM" and I turned around, and there's Jea on the floor, and the music stopped.
JEA: Yeah, that really hurt. And you took a picture of my underwear.
JEA: Yeah, a little panty picture - dude, you've got radar.
RL: Oh, I didn't notice - to me it was just "hey, here's another bass player falling on the floor." I like when they do that - like Mike from Pisser - I love it when players go wild.
RACHEL: It wouldn't be a rock show if someone didn't fall on the floor. That was a great night.
RL: And that was the first time I saw The Drive, right?
JEA: Oh yeah. You couldn't have forgotten us, you wouldn't have been able to. We put you in a trance - you've had those whirly cartoon eyes ever since then.
[cackling all around]
JEA: I remember when you first
wrote about us in the NY Waste, you called us a Metal band, remember
that? You said "The Drive blew me away with their hard metal sound."
JEA: I consider us Hard Rock. Cuz it's melodic.
RL: So I guess that's a distinction between Metal and Hard Rock.
RACHEL: There's a fine line. I think it's the equipment that makes the difference between Metal and Hard Rock. Hard Rock stops at one level, and then there's the Metal phrase that comes from a guitar, and it creates a completely different sound. Like, Eva has a Hard Rock guitar, not a Metal guitar. I play a high-pitched trebly additive, that little Metal part, and Eva's got this crying guitar with these huge sounds that are more like Hard Rock.
JEA: Aw-w-w, a crying guitar!
RACHEL: And also, Jea's got this Metal bass, real trebly, and it mixes really
well with my trebly guitar. It's like this little Metal force in the band.
And then sometimes Sarah's playing like a straight power rock, and then
she'll go over into this Metal part, and it gets this underriding Metal
flavor. And then Eva brings it back with that Hard Rock kinda sound. And
so between the two of them they maintain a groove, and it's a nice mix.
RACHEL: Yeah, I was hired to play a few functions. I spent time learning
some pieces I already knew, and I played background music for two hours.
And I teach guitar and piano at a music school where I have about 25 students.
RACHEL: Yeah, from 5 to like 40. It's kind of difficult, cause I'm surrounded by other teachers who are professional musicians, concert violinists and such. And sometimes I listen to the play and wonder "What am I doing here?"
RL: What do you try to get across to your students?
RACHEL: I make them laugh about their bad habits, I try to make them feel the music. Like if I'm trying to teach them to play slurs, with the accent on the first note, I'll say their name, like Sa-MAN-tha, I LOVE you, I'm RA-chel, and bring it around to something they can feel.
RL: Well, from what I hear of what you have to offer your students, I wouldn't
worry too much about not being up to the technical level of some of the
other teachers. What you're giving your students is very important.
RL: Me too.
JEA: You know, we were playing together, the three of us [Rachel, Jea, Sarah], and looking for a fourth. And Rachel was adamant not to have a girl. She said "I don't wanna be a novelty, like a 'girl band'".
RL: Did you put ads out?
JEA: We put ads out, and there was no response. So I basically went to every musician's message board and put up posters. We had one guy who did a little emotional thing. He kept like playing "Suicide Note" and trying to have an emotional moment with us. It was really funny, me and Rachel were looking in the mirror and laughing our heads off.
RACHEL: And Jea kept saying "get a girl, get a girl." It went on for the entire summer. We auditioned this one guy, he comes in smoking a joint, he was really cute, but... And then there was this really heavy guy from Staten Island, playing like Br-r-rt/dum/br-r-rt/dum [marching rhythm], and we were like "OH MY GAWD!!!" And the age thing - this guy calls up and says "Oke-e-h, I'm like, 42, but I look like I'm 32." And I just thought "WHY do we have to do this??"
JEA: So I e-mailed a female band up in Canada, and asked "Do you know any female musicians in the NY area?" So she contacted Eva and got her to contact us.
EVA: Yeah, a friend of mine e-mailed me their phone number, so I called them and went in for an audition.
RACHEL: I wanna know, what was Eva's first impression of us?
EVA: I came in, and Sarah was drunk, and she kept saying "I'm not drunk, I'm not drunk."
RACHEL: So Eva walks in...
EVA: [to Rachel] You were MEAN to me!
RACHEL: Yeah, we had just seen several players who sucked, and I was just irritated, and was being picky. I hadn't even heard her play yet, and I asked her things like "Do you know how to use a tuner?" and "Do you know what harmonics are?" I was so disgusted that nobody could play.
JEA: And you didn't want anyone with a sticker on their guitar.
EVA: I'd had this guitar since I was seventeen years old!
RL: So how did it go? She walked in, you're like "this better be good," and what happened?
RACHEL: I thought she was really good, and she played something that she wrote, and I liked that.
JEA: And Eva showed up at our next show, which was a plus.
RACHEL: And later we went out together and she bought a guitar and an amp.
RL: Yeah, it sure works for me.
RL: Alright, tell me a bit about this BBC reality show that's being made.
EVA: I hate that word "reality."
RL: But this is what it's being billed as, a "Reality Show" - I mean this is a very popular genre of TV programming these days.
JEA: This is more like a one-hour feature. There's a narrator, who narrates over the footage of us, talking about what's going on. And we got a video out of it, which is great.
RL: This is the BBC?
RL: And the video, you're free to use it?
RACHEL: Yeah, we own the video.
JEA: They went through a lotta girl bands, and they met up with us, and we got it real quick. Every time you put yourself out there like that, the fear is how they're gonna edit you, how they're gonna make you look. I mean, they could so easily make me look like a complete bitch; and probably make Sarah look really stupid; and Rachel might look like she has absolutely no decision-making power whatsoever.
RL: Oh, this is interesting - I'd love to hear everyone's fantasy of how they could make the others look with editing [no takers]. So, this voice-over, is it already written?
JEA: Yeah, the script is done, and they're editing the footage they've shot
of us to fit the story. They have SO much footage. In addition to what they've
filmed of us, the four of us were given DV cameras to make video diaries.
JEA: They're putting them all together on a tape and giving it to us. The producer says they're so fucking real and precious that she wants to make sure we have them.
RACHEL: Every morning I woke up, and set up the camera and talked, and I had a new look. All different, all the time, you know.
JEA: They got everything, they got us rehearsing, recording, they got us moving in together.
RACHEL: Yeah, isn't that crazy, they got us moving. I mean, I walked in here, and it was completely empty, it was just white. There was nothing, there was no Sarah's room, no Eva's room, Jea's room. I didn't know anything. And I broke up with someone during that period too, and they got it all on camera.
RL: And they knew you were going to be moving?
JEA: No, you know, they just fell into that. We were originally planning
on moving July 1st, and this was the first place me and Eva went to, and
we realized "we gotta take it." And it's great now with the place.
We can all travel together, finishing up late at night. Before we had to
all split into four, and now at least three of us just go home together.
[The ladies had told me that their rooms were unique reflections of themselves. That Sarah's room was "like a guy's room," Eva's was "like a hooker's bedroom," and that Jea's was "like a child's room, full of toys." I was eager to see for myself.]
RL: Oh, let's do that tour of your rooms!
JEA: Let's go in!! [directed at Eva's bedroom door, where she has been with a fella for a while]
RL: Nah, leave 'er alone.
[Jea brings me to her room. It doesn't strike me as "a child's room," but more like that of a young teenage girl. I thought they meant a younger "little" child. Guess I should remind myself that young teenage girls are indeed children.]
RL: You play this [small electronic] keyboard much?
JEA: I bought this one because I think she looks like me [holding up a life-size Bratz girl face, looking into those cat's eyes and matching the full puckericature].
RL: Is that how you see yourself?
JEA: Yeah, that's me. See? Those are my lips.
JEA: As you see, I have lots of beauty aids. I would look horrible without them.
[At the foot of the low bed hangs a Star Trek poster, Jean-Luc glaring out at the bed from within a black hole.]
[We wander out again]
JEA: Go check out ChavelaLand.
[As Eva leads me inside, it looks more like an antique fair than a "hooker's room." Maybe a fancy hooker's room from the Old West. Full of pretty, meaningful, antiquarian cultural artifacts and furniture. And a row of those dotted dresses we see one of at each gig. Family photos on a shelf above the closet door.]
EVA: My dad was in the Viet Nam war. My parents were hippies.
RL: Nice, nice.
[Off to Sarah's fortress. The floor is raised, the walls are insulated. Only a few things around.]
SARAH: My room is not... I still live somewhere else, my stuff isn't all here.
RL: Who is that? [looking at poster of a very sensual woman on the wall]
SARAH: He's my favorite. I took two hits of acid for the first time, and
I went to see U-2 in the 10th row of Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh
by myself. It was SO GOOD! I've been carrying around this poster since I
was in 9th grade. I got that one at the same time [pointing out "My
Own Private Idaho" poster with Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix]. And
this was my band in Pittsburgh, when I was 18 years old [handing me a CD
labeled Sarastatic]. Look how retarded it is - it was like bubble-gum road
kid pop. And this was another band [another CD] I was in; it was just me
SARAH: I played drums, and he did everything else. This is actually quite good.
[The Drive has to go rehearse, so the tour, and the interview, come to an end.]
Wanna know more? Check out this interview with Eva in The Beauty Process.
Check out my performance photos of The Drive at DRIVE PICS.