A very long goodbye..... 

Saying goodbye is never easy for me. Not even when I have “sort of” been preparing for the moment for quite some time. Being in a band is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl. That’s what I wanted to be when I grew up, in a band.   I wrote my first song on a snare drum in the 4th grade, and it was titled “don’t bother me”, I still sing it sometimes out of the blue.  I have always written songs, even before I knew how to play an instrument. I played “band” with one of my brothers and neighbor friend every summer until one year they decided they didn’t want to play anymore.  I was older than them, and it made me really mad that they had outgrown my favorite thing to do. They were ready to retire the tennis racket guitars and throw pillow drumset.  I went on to play percussion from 4th grade until I graduated, and then somewhere in high school I started playing acoustic guitar.

I met Jenni two weeks shy of her 21st birthday, when we both lived in Illinois.  I was 22 at the time, still searching for more musical influences, smoked a lot of cigarettes and had a very short haircut (just to paint you a picture).  Jen ended up randomly at my apartment one evening. The night almost didn’t happen, but I’m so grateful that it did. She walked in my living room with a rock n roll haircut, chuck taylors, a cool vintage t-shirt and was sporting glittery blue eye shadow..( just to paint the picture even better).  Over a night of rolling rock and some awkwardness, someone called me by my last name, to which Jen said “Your last name is Blue? Mine is Black!” and it kind of felt like this strange magical moment because we were already getting along quite famously. Then it came up that I played guitar (Not very well, I might add) and Jen said ,“You play guitar? I play guitar too!” Both secretly judging each other while thinking, “I bet this girl sucks at guitar.” Come to find out, Jen was a true badass on guitar, complete with rock moves, a band, stage presence and amazing equipment.  I just had myself an acoustic that I wrote sad songs on and tried to play Ani Difranco and Beth Orton tunes to in my bedroom (Yep. I was that girl). . I still very much wanted to be in a band, and had yet to find anyone who I felt understood exactly what I meant by that.  I didn’t want to be a folk singer. We exchanged numbers and emails, and the next week she drove 2 hours back to my house and brought her acoustic guitar with her. We sat around playing Murmurs songs, realizing that we could harmonize really well together, and figured we should start a band. We started writing together instantly.  Jen was in a good indie rock band at the time, but quit to play music with little ole’ me.  I felt guilty about that, but was happy she was ready to be my musical partner. We tried to come up with a band name, and she jokingly said we should call ourselves The Bruises… and so it was.
 
That’s the short version of how we started. We’ve been through many incarnations of this band, acoustic duo, acoustic duo with drummer, Electric trio, and finally the 4 piece rock band that happened when we made our way to San Francisco, by way of Los Angeles, by way of Illinois. 
Those first years of being an acoustic duo/trio were so fun and scary for me.  I was very scared playing in front of people, as Jen has always been the more dynamic of the two of us on stage. I had to grow and find my comfort zone.  Playing with Jen by my side has always brought me great comfort. I think I’m her biggest fan still to this day. Sometimes when you see us smile or laugh on stage, it’s not because we’ve messed up. Sometimes I’m laughing because I may catch her in a new dance move, and other times I’m smiling because I’m so happy and lucky to get to play music with my best friend, who happens to be an amazing musician, and also makes me laugh harder than anyone in this world.

We packed up our beloved Mini van Sheila, when we were 23 and 24 and trekked our way thousands of miles away from everything we knew and loved, and entered into the world of Los Angeles, as very naïve Midwest girls with barely $1000 to our name. Our van actually broke down as soon as we entered LA’s city limits, and thankfully we were kindly pushed off the roadside by a group of homeless kids.  We were also pulling a uhaul, so it was kind of a big deal. We spent our first official night living in LA sleeping in our mini van in a gas station parking lot. No Jobs, no apartment, 2 cats, and a toothache. (My wisdom teeth were killing me when we moved).  It’s a journey I don’t think either of us will ever forget. Our first show was 2 weeks later, and it was my official first show playing an electric guitar on stage. I was terrified. Looking back now as 33 and 34 year old women, I don’t think we’d be brave enough now to attempt anything that nuts.  In the time between being two naïve youngsters and now, we’ve experienced our fair share of ups and downs. We’ve had many lineup changes, many of life’s joys and pains, many tears, many laughs, and through it all, we’ve always had this band and we’ve always had each other.

After 13 years of being in a band, it sort of becomes intertwined with your identity. It’s been a constant companion, friend, and relationship. Sometimes it’s been super fun, sometimes it’s been super not fun, but it’s been there for 13 years. I’m sad to say goodbye, but I am also ready.  This is not to say it’s an easy decision. This is not to say I’m never playing or writing music again. This is to say, it will be different.
To everyone who’s been a part of this band: Derrick, Alicia, Jory, Mary, Billy, and Wendy, thank you for being a part of this story. Thank you for the memories, the growth, and the music.

To The Bruises: Clayton, Jen and Tamara, you guys have made the past 3 years of playing in this band a pure dream. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of musicians and friends to spend every week with. I’ve had the most fun that I’ve ever had being in a band when Clay and Tamara came along.  It was the perfect pieces to our musical puzzle.  I love the way we click, I love writing together, I love laughing together, and I love sharing the stage with you guys.  (and all the things in between) In the beginning I mentioned how I always felt comfort knowing Jen was by my side on stage. Well, that changed when you guys joined the group. I feel so proud playing next to you all. Thank you three for reawakening my love and passion for playing and performing music. I love you all dearly, and know we will always be able to pick up right where we left off, even 10 years from now.

Finally, thank you everyone who has ever come out to our shows, bought our cd’s, donated to our Kickstarter, wears our t-shirts, watches our silly Youtube videos, cheers at our shows, plays us on their radio show, gives us lovely gifts like homemade calendars and brownies, ever had a ride in our beloved mini van Sheila, written shitty reviews, written nice reviews, told us we are going to be famous (Thanks), danced to our songs, sing along to our songs. Thank you all for encouraging us, making it worth it, and making this 13 year journey a really sad one to say goodbye to.

The Bruises are saying goodbye for now, and this is my very long way of doing it.

We will be playing our farewell show January 31st, 2014 at Slims in San Francisco.  I might cry, but mostly, it’s going to be amazing and we would love to see you there.  Gonna play our hearts out.

Thank you everyone.

Love,
Aja

5 Comments

  • Sam Haun

    Sam Haun San Francisco

    No fair!! I have a gig on Jan 31 too, so I can't be at The Bruises final gig. I just want to say how sad I am about this. I've always loved your band... right from the very first note I heard. Funny, after reading your msg. I flashed on the day I was first introduced to you, Jen and Wendy by Daniel in Golden Gate Park. The Bruises were in between drummers at the time. It seems so long ago now.
    No fair!! I have a gig on Jan 31 too, so I can't be at The Bruises final gig. I just want to say how sad I am about this. I've always loved your band... right from the very first note I heard. Funny, after reading your msg. I flashed on the day I was first introduced to you, Jen and Wendy by Daniel in Golden Gate Park. The Bruises were in between drummers at the time.

    It seems so long ago now.
  • Carolyn Adair (from One World)

    Carolyn Adair (from One World)

    Good luck to you in all your future endeavors! Love You!
    Good luck to you in all your future endeavors! Love You!
  • Aaron Michael Ritchey

    Aaron Michael Ritchey Denver, Colorado

    The dreams come wrapped in cellophane reality. I've been writing novels seriously for seven years going on eighty. It's been my dream for as long as I can remember to publish books, and I'm diong it, and it is so very, very real. For one of my projects, I needed the perfect girl rock music for a teenage oxycodone drug addict in recovery. And so I used I listened to The Bruises because they captured Lissa perfectly. No matter what happens, you have left a legacy of music. I thank you. The world thanks you. For spending your precious moments that way.
    The dreams come wrapped in cellophane reality. I've been writing novels seriously for seven years going on eighty. It's been my dream for as long as I can remember to publish books, and I'm diong it, and it is so very, very real. For one of my projects, I needed the perfect girl rock music for a teenage oxycodone drug addict in recovery. And so I used I listened to The Bruises because they captured Lissa perfectly. No matter what happens, you have left a legacy of music. I thank you. The world thanks you. For spending your precious moments that way.
  • Alicia Warrington

    Alicia Warrington

    It is a pleasure to be a part of the story. Our time together in the "Electric Rock-Trio" version of The Bruises is still one of my favorite musical times. I'm proud of our little EP, "Ladies and Gentlemen..." and it remains on my iPod and car stereo to this day :) I wish that I could be there for your farewell show but, I am sending positive thoughts and good vibes to you and Jen. Best wishes to the both of you as you finish this chapter and start the next. xoxox.
    It is a pleasure to be a part of the story. Our time together in the "Electric Rock-Trio" version of The Bruises is still one of my favorite musical times. I'm proud of our little EP, "Ladies and Gentlemen..." and it remains on my iPod and car stereo to this day smile I wish that I could be there for your farewell show but, I am sending positive thoughts and good vibes to you and Jen. Best wishes to the both of you as you finish this chapter and start the next. xoxox.
  • John Drew

    John Drew Sydney

    It hurts every time one of my favourite bands calls it quits :( I remember finding The Bruises on CD baby -"recommended if you like Pretty Girls Make Graves, Sleater Kinney and Tegan & Sara" (3 out of 3!) Hopefully this is only goodbye for now. :) Thanks so much for the music -you makes people feel good - and that's a wonderful thing :)
    It hurts every time one of my favourite bands calls it quits frown
    I remember finding The Bruises on CD baby -"recommended if you like Pretty Girls Make Graves, Sleater Kinney and Tegan & Sara" (3 out of 3!)
    Hopefully this is only goodbye for now. smile

    Thanks so much for the music -you makes people feel good - and that's a wonderful thing smile