For legal reasons, let's call them Sans-Triberian Dorkestra.
WARNING: High levels of TL;DR but it's well worth the read.
Some of you might have heard about this already... I tried to keep it a secret but did a very shitty job about it, because I told at least half of the people on my AIM buddy list every little detail as they came along. Now for legal reasons due to the position I am in, they don't want me publicly discussing my role in the band. Well, at least the managers don't, the band members don't seem to give that much of a shit and let me take pictures with them behind-the-scenes, but at the very least, I'm going to use codenames for the band and its members (and please, do so as well...I don't want Google Alerts and shit popping up because someone in here used real names). Additionally, I'd like to keep my job, so I might have mods take this thread down after awhile so it's not just floating around. But you guys do deserve to know this, so I'm going to take the risk.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN... Unbelievably, I didn't find them doing auditions or anything. They came to me. A woman by the codename of Danyell sent me an e-mail back in April with the subject "Sans-Triberian Dorkestra." And it read:
"Hi Tony, I represent STD. We're a multi-platinum selling band. One of my colleagues found one of your videos on youtube and and sent it around the office and we all liked it. We'd like for you to call us so we can get more information from you."
So obviously I was like . She had an e-mail signature displaying the name of the touring company she worked for, and I looked it up and it appeared that it was part of the whole STD organization. So I called Danyell and she told me that during their tours they like to use backup musicians, and the backup musicians are a good way to eventually work in newer members into the show. Then she told me that they were going to send me one of their songs, and that I was to record a video of myself playing the song and send it back to them. Then they would send it to STD's big boss, story writer, lyricist and producer codename Mault O'Meal, and if he liked it, they would fly me out for a real audition. I did the video, sent it off, Mault liked it and they told me that I was going to do the audition once they started gearing up for their next tour.
A MONTH LATER... I found a playlist for one of the Winter 2010 concerts that STD did, so I started learning all of those songs. They didn't tell me to learn anything, I just wanted to impress them. It took me about a month to really get them all down solid, and this was 25-30 songs.
Then in early June, I finally got another e-mail from Danyell asking me for my address, because Mault wanted to send me some gear and a jacket. So I get this package in the mail, and it's all of STD's CDs, a couple tour programs with lots of cool artwork, and a sweet heavy black denim STD jacket.
(Which I will certainly be wearing at MAGfest censor-free)
FAST FORWARD TO MID-AUGUST... They flew me out to Florida. They've paid for everything, got me a nice hotel room, rental car and paid for my airfare. On top of that, they're paying me $200/day to do the audition, and I was down there for 3 days. I flew down Monday, expected to do the audition Tuesday, and then fly back on Wednesday. But while I was getting my rental car, there was a minor snafu and I had to call one of the managers to get it straightened out. While I was on the phone with him he said "Hey, you want to go to the studio at 8 tonight? They have a little free time." I got to my hotel and checked in, ate some food and then went over to the studio.
They had rented out an office suite and put all their stuff in it. But when I first got there, the windows and doors were all blocked out, and one of the doors had a keypad, and what I at first thought was a retina scanner, but actually was a camera. There was also a Hummer and a Mustang parked out front. So I thought "welp...I think I'm in the right place." But I was really intimidated and just stood outside waiting for someone to open the door. Eventually codename Agave Spitmann came and opened the door. Agave is STD's full-time sound guy, doing all of their recordings as well as live sound (and as a bonus, looks EXACTLY like what you'd imagine a 70's-era nerdy sound guy would look like). He told me to sit down in the lobby and that Mault was in the studio and would be out in a minute, and codename Hal Gitrelli was out and would be back soon.
I got my bass out, warmed up, tuned up... and then I hear a car pull up, a guy get out and come in the building. We walked inside and I thought he looked like Hal, plus he was wearing all dark rocker garb, but it looked like he cut his hair though he was also wearing a hat. He said "What's up, brothuh?" and walked out of sight. I nervously spat out "...not much!" Then he came back and introduced himself "Hey I'm Hal, I'm the music director." And I replied "Oh of COURSE you are! Hey man, I'm a huge fan, love your work in Megadeth. Didn't recognize you without the hair though." And he said "Oh, it's all up in the hat."
We sat down on the lobby couches and he asked my why I was there (I guess he didn't know. The managers are the ones that organize these auditions and if they only tell one person it will be Mault.) So I told him about the video and all that. Then he asked me if I knew any of their material, which I replied "Yeah, I learned your entire winter setlist." He laughed, smiled and said "Of course you did." Not in a disbelieving tone, more in a "Well that's pretty dandy" sort of tone.
Then we go into one of the office rooms where they had some small amps and a keyboard setup. Hal grabbed an acoustic guitar and started shredding some awesome Hal Gitrelli blues licks, making me start a creamery in my shorts. Then he suggests we play through the song I auditioned on, so we do, but we don't even get all the way through the song. Al stops, shakes my hand and says "That sounds awesome, man!" Then Mault O'Meal comes in the room, I repeat all the previous stated information to Mault, and then we play that same song, still not playing all the way through. Then we play a second song, which is more of a power ballad type song, but also is kinda groovy, so they used that judge my "fit in the pocket" abilities. Still didn't play all the way through. They shook my hand.
Then Mault rambles on for about an hour about many subjects like the economy, state of the music industry, music school, farmville, killing bankers, etc. He also told me that he has original copies of letters Thomas Edison wrote to a guy instructing his on how to create the wax cylinders for Edisons' phonograph. He also paused, reached into his pocket, pulled out a handful of coins and asked what my birthday was. I told him it was 1989, then he tosses me a coin from 1889. I think it's a dollar coin, and it has Queen Victoria on one side and Mephistopheles on the other (Mephistopheles is a character in one of STD's albums). And he said "Here, I hope that brings you good luck." And it resides in my wallet right now.
So he's rambling on and then stops and says, "Alright you call [the main manager guy] and tell him that you have the backup spot, and he'll fill you in on all the details." And then keeps rambling on. I'm just blown away...
THEN THE NEXT DAY I'm back at the studio because I wanted to drop off some of my albums, but instead they just invited me in anyway. I also met one of the other main STD composers codenamed Juan Olive. I also met one of STD's many singing babes, Quela Weeves, who was there working on a demo for one of their new songs. I ended up having dinner with them.
After dinner, they invited me into the studio to watch them work on music. Mault asked me if I was in any ensembles at school, and I told him that I was in the Jazz Guitar ensemble. He asked me my teacher's name, so I told him Dan. Then Mault pulls out a winter 2009 tour book, opens to his page, takes out a sharpie and writes:
To Dan, an artist can create 1000 works of art, but a teacher can create 1000 artists.
With sincere admiration,
P.S. Enclosed you will find a junk food fund, as junk food is an important part of the creative process.
Then Mault goes over to his jacket, pulls out a fat stack of cash, counts out ten $100 bills and hands it to me, and tells me "Here's for your preparation and enthusiasm, and you should give one of those to your teacher." Blown away again.
And for you Megadeth fans. As Hal was recording some of his guitars, he randomly started playing the intro riff to Holy Wars. Then he stopped, turned to me, smiled and said, "That's all you're gonna get."
The whole group is really some of the friendliest and most hospitable people I've ever met in my life. They made me feel that I was welcome in the band and that they wanted me there. Whether you like STD's music or not, just know that they're NOT the typical rockstar inflated egos. They make lots and lots and LOTS of money, but they're not arrogant about it. Imagine the friendly talkative Irish Catholic father from Brooklyn, and the friendly talkative Italian father from Brooklyn that are best friends and act like an old married couple, that's Mault O'Meal and Hal Gitrelli.
Here are group pictures I took with Mault O'Meal, Hal Gitrelli, Agave Spitmann and Quela Weeves really just to prove to you that I'm not making this shit up.
Mault, Agave, PuD, Quela
Mault, Agave, PuD, Hal
AND NOW... I'm the backup bass player for STD. It's very unlikely that I'll be playing live, but I have to learn the live show and I'm going to be rehearsing with them next week in Omaha. That's about 40 songs, including the whole previous winter setlist, but I have to relearn those songs in the two subtly different ways the West band and East band plays them. They're not allowing me to take any pictures, so I doubt I'll really come back with anything to show you guys. But they're paying me $2000 for the rehearsals and $3000 to be the backup. This means I can build a computer and buy a new guitar! SWEET!
My 3 oldest brothers bought me this new Music Man Sterling as a birthday/christmas/congratulatory gift because I need a good 4-string to play with the band. I popped a hipshot on it because STD has some songs in D:
But again, it's VERY UNLIKELY that I'll be doing anything live. Unless of course one of the bass players (STD has a West and an East band) gets in an unfortunate accident which would be really nice but I am not liable for anything anyone of you do about that. So right now I'm in somewhat of a "paid internship" position. Give it a few years, I say. They are expanding rapidly. Codenamed Jerek Weeeeeeeeeland started out in STD in my same position on keyboards. Now he's lead keyboardist and East band's music director.
So yeah, that's the big secret I have that you guys might have heard about. I can talk about it in private and we wont need to use codenames, but DAMMIT DO NOT ASK ME FOR FREE TICKETS, BACKSTAGE PASSES OR SUPER TOP SECRET UNRELEASED MATERIAL THAT I TOTALLY HAVE RIGHT NOW because you're not getting it!
See you guys live at the local 14,000 person arena in...I dunno...2015?