As soon as I got the chance to be in a rock band, I took it.
I was 16 years old. My best friend Scott was (and still is) an immensely talented acoustic guitarist who got a lot of shit for loving Duncan Sheik. I was a classical piano player who got a lot of shit for loving Billy Joel. In the end, we bonded over our mutual love for Dave Matthews, Jewish humor, and gargantuan meals.
Scott introduced me to his best middle school comrade Sean who had an encyclopedic knowledge of alternative rock. Sean was the first to introduce me to Nirvana (“The chord progressions are too simple!” I would say), Radiohead (“This music is so weird! What instruments are they even using?”), and Tribe Called Quest (“Where’s the melody? What is this rap stuff?”). For some reason, I had no patience for Sean’s obviously abnormal taste in music. For that same reason, Sean thought I was an idiot.
One day in between classes, Scott told me he met this drummer named Chandler who just moved out from California. Chandler pretty much blew our minds because a) he never wore jeans, only khakis; b) he had an infectious laugh and immediately dominated any conversation he took part in; and c) Friends was a huge hit at the time. Chandler was the type of guy who when he casually walked into rehearsal one day and proclaimed that he was going to get The Police back together if it was the last thing he did, no one was going to challenge him.
So Scott, Sean, Chandler and I got together in my parents living room and started a band. Scott and I split lead vocals, because after all, The Beatles and The Eagles did it, so why couldn’t we? (…crickets…crickets…)
Oh, and there was no bassist. Does that make Borderline a real band? Discuss.
One day I was in the car with my brother Adam and we were stopped in traffic because of some work they were doing on the road. I told him how I just formed a band with my best friends and how we were having a tough time coming up with a name. We were surrounded on all sides by Bob’s Barricades and he just blurted out, “Why don’t you call yourselves Borderline?” And just like that, the name stuck.
During our first gig at a house party, I noticed this one long-legged brunette standing by the pool. She was the hottest girl there, if only because she wasn’t paying any attention to me. After we played our first set, she came up to me and asked what my name was. We talked for about 5 minutes then she slipped me her number. I went back to keyboard feeling like a rock star. This is so easy, I thought. Being in a rock band really makes you cool!
Here’s the rub: that never happened again. And since I was approached by a hot girl the very first time I played live, I was basically set up for disappointment at every one of the hundreds of gigs I’ve played since. Talk about high expectations!
Borderline lasted all of junior year and the first half of senior year. We took it so seriously that rehearsals became these tension-filled nightmares where your best friends became your worst enemies. How dare Sean complain about not wanting to play that Billy Joel B-side that nobody knows or ever wants to hear! How dare Scott suggest that he sing that Dave Matthews tune that I completely botch when I try to sing it! What do you mean the piano’s too loud in the mix when the vocals and guitars are on mute?
By the end of a year and a half we were tired of being at each other’s necks and more interested just being buddies. Scott and I are better friends for realizing that we have different tastes in music (I couldn’t quite get him into Bruce Springsteen, and he forgives me for loathing Jack Johnson). I still call Sean regularly to say that I’ve discovered this amazing new band, only to hear him say that he tried to get me into them like 5 years ago. At least now I like In Rainbows more than he does. Take that, Sean!
After we graduated college, Chander took a job at the local concert arena in Florida booking bands and special events. Around the same time he was talking to booking agents and band managers, The Police got back together for a reunion tour. Coincidence…?