Sunday, June 10, 2007

Remembering John Pike

Blogs are a funny thing. I guess I can't speak for anyone else, but it seems to me as none of us decided from the beginning the ethical and moral standards we would take with our own websites. We didn't decide the tone, the type of coverage, or the stance on ideas, views, or anything of that nature. Frankly I think it's because music is music and rarely do we find ourselves in sticky situations that require such back thought. And yet when tragedy struck last week, I, myself, wasn't sure how to proceed.

From the viewing of many other blogs who covered the unfortunate and untimely death of Ra Ra Riot's drummer, John Pike, most seemed a bit unsure themselves. I wasn't surprised, or shocked, by how certain people decided to cover the story. In all honesty, in a story like this where so many questions are gone unanswered, the more I could read about it, the more I came to a personal relief.

And in the week since that I first heard that John was missing, I've found myself thinking about life and music and the people you meet in this crazy life. And from the conversations I've had with the band's manager, and the sense I've gotten from him, is that in these types of circumstances the person must be remembered for who they were. And the very least I can do, is help that cause.

I remember the first time I met John Pike. It was during the CMJ Music Marathon of last year, and I had booked a Sunday day show that I knew was going to be tough on all of us. After four days straight of drinking and show hopping, I myself was exhausted. But I woke up early and ran to dunkin donuts and decided to treat all my musical guests to a bit of coffee. Naturally, all were very thankful but I specifically remember John walking up to me, with a big goofy grin, and telling me how nice it was. Like the awkward self I usually am, I smiled and nodded, but John wouldn't stop. He kept going on and on about how late their show was at Studio B the night before, and how excited they were to play this one, but tired and the coffee was really nice. I'll never forget how genuine that conversation felt then, even more so now.

It's a strange thing when you find yourself seeing the same band numerous times. I seem to be a victim of this a lot, a creature of habit that sticks to what she likes and doesn't let go. Ra Ra Riot just happened to be one of those bands where I would not, could not, miss one of their New York shows. There was even talks of driving to Boston when they played with my dear friends Birdmonster, and when I was in Austin I made sure to catch up with them, not only once, but twice. And when you see a band every time they are in town, you run the risk of looking like a psycho fan that the band needs to be weary about. Or at least that's what goes through my head when I get there.

Besides that first encounter with John, the memories I'll hold dear is seeing his face coming through a crowd at every single show. For a pretty shy, but super fan like myself, having a member of one of your favorite bands not only acknowledge your presence, but thank you time and time again for making the effort to come down is priceless. John, without a doubt, always made the effort to come say hi to me and thank me profusely for making it out. I remember the last time I saw them play at Mercury Lounge, I finally told him he didn't have to thank me anymore, that he can pretty much guarantee I'll be there every time. He just smiled and went on asking me about work and life, knowing full well he'd be there to show gratitude the next time. And even though he won’t, I think I'll know that he's still thankful, as am I, for being there.

I didn't know John Pike for too long, but from the time I did I was honored to be in his presence. Never have I felt someone so genuinely warm and compassionate for so little time. Needless to say, he will be missed by myself, a music community at large...and most importantly, his family and friends.

To my dear Ra Ra Rioters, stay strong. My thoughts are with you.


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