Just when I thought I’d take a week off of Toxicity due to the lull before the upcoming tour, the bomb dropped…
Well, maybe ‘bomb’ is overstating it a bit. But certainly, Noah’s baby bombshell is the most noteworthy news to come out of The Airborne Toxic Event camp in quite some time.
In case you missed it, the band alarmed fans on Wednesday by sending out an e-mail that included the words, “Noah Takes a Break,” and then burying the lede at the bottom of the message. Frantic scrolling ensued. Fortunately, the news turned out to be good – well, as good as could be hoped given the fact that we will all have to get along without our favorite bassist for awhile.
Whaaaat?! With the exception of four songs in Seattle (during which Noah was stuck in a cab), the five of us have played every single Airborne show together… But things happen—and by “things,” we mean babies.
So congrats are in order to our wayward bassist, who will soon be welcoming a new tiny person into his family. Does he know what he’s in for? Who knows. But to prepare for this inevitable upheaval in his up-until-now music- and motorcycle-based existence, Noah will be taking some time off to tend to his homestead and grapple with the sleep-deprived joys of young fatherhood.
In his temporary absence, we’ve asked our old friend and all-around badass Ashley Dzerigian to fill in and do what she does best. She’s a ridiculously talented bassist, and we couldn’t be happier to have her onstage with us.
Though the bulletin doesn’t specify, one would assume that the break begins immediately – sad news for those of us who were looking forward to seeing Noah this Saturday in Vancouver (ahem), or at one of the shows on the brief tour next month. But, all selfishness aside, a huge congratulations to Noah and his family, and best wishes for a safe and healthy arrival for Baby Harmon. Also, if you’re interested in a TATE-themed baby shower, we’re in that business now.
All About Ashley
As for Ashley, what do we know about her? Not a whole lot, unfortunately. According to good ole’ Wikipedia:
Ashley Dzerigian (La Verne, 22 January 1983) is an American bass player. She currently plays for Adam Lambert and Maximum Hedrum. Previously played for My Jerusalem, Money Mark and Square On Square. She is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts and lives in Los Angeles, California. Ashley is also the former bassist of the band Great Northern. On December 29, 2011 Adam Lambert introduced her as his new bassist. She plays Fender basses.
A quick search of YouTube yielded a paucity of live performance footage, most of which subjected me to copious amounts of Adam Lambert with the occasional glimpse of Ashley in the background. But, this Fender video certainly demonstrates that she’s got some chops (HT Mike Wilmoth):
Meanwhile, this video from My Jerusalem shows off Ashley’s diversity, as she’s seen playing what looks to be a trumpet in addition to the guitar.
Of course, the real question as far as TATE fans are concerned is, does she play upright bass and/or mandolin? We won’t have to wait long to find out. Check back on Monday for This Is Nowhere’s review of the Vancouver show – the first ever TATE gig without one of the band’s members. In the meantime, here are some links if you’re interested in learning more about Ashley:
Congratulations, and welcome to the band Ashley! We’re looking forward to seeing you rock the stage Saturday night in Vancouver!
There was one other tidbit that snuck out this week as well. It seems the band has some new music cooking.
— Anna Bulbrook (@annabulbrook) January 22, 2014
It’s early stages no doubt, but could this be the first seeds of album #4?
Warning: Speculation Ahead!
So, what does all this mean for The Airborne Toxic Event, both in the short and long term?
Noah’s announcement ignited no small amount of hand wringing among the fanbase. More than a few followers wondered aloud if the bassist would ever return. So, here’s my take. (Disclaimer: this is nothing more than educated, optimistic speculation – “just my best guess,” as it were. So take it for what it’s worth.)
Let’s start with the big picture. Though I can catastrophize with the best of them, there is nothing here to suggest that this is anything more than what the band has said it is: a temporary break. There is no reason to believe that Noah won’t be back. Were he in any other line of work, it would be perfectly normal for him to take some time off around the birth of a baby, and no one would take it as a sign that he was leaving for good.
Any band whose career spans more than 5-10 years is bound to face this issue at some point. In fact, with five members in their mid-to-late 30’s, it’s somewhat surprising that it’s taken this long for an Airborne Toxic Baby to appear on the scene – though the band’s extreme touring schedule in past years hasn’t exactly been conducive to starting a family.
So, long-term, I expect that TATE will adapt to this as countless other bands have done. If the band is to continue on together for even a few more years, it is quite likely that at least some of the other members of the group will follow in Noah’s footsteps and have families of their own. This will no doubt necessitate a change in the band’s schedule and lifestyle (including, one would expect, a lighter and more concentrated touring calendar), but it need not spell the demise of the band or even the loss of any of its members.
In fact, in this early interview, Anna suggests that they aspire to be the kind of band that brings their families on the road, if and when that time comes (HT Julie Stoller for the link):
Short-term, we’re obviously going to see at least a handful of gigs sans Noah. But that being said, all signs already pointed to 2014 being a fairly quiet year for TATE, at least in terms of public appearances. Based on the tweet above, it would seem that Mikel is turning his attention towards writing – right on schedule, given that the last two albums were released in 2011 and 2013. And aside from the handful of shows over the next few weeks, there’s nothing on the schedule gigwise until the summer festival season begins. Whether this was done intentionally with Noah’s absence in mind or it was just a happy coincidence, the timing is working out quite well. He could take the next four months off and really not miss much. How many times in TATE’s career thus far has there been a window like this?
So, my educated guess is that we’ll see the band go quiet after the February run. Noah will have his family time; Mikel will continue to write; Anna will continue to tinker in her studio and engage in side projects; Daren and Steven will do… whatever it is that Daren and Steven do when they’re not busy with Airborne. The band will then reconvene on stage at a number of summer festivals – quite possibly with Noah, though perhaps not. That will take them into the fall, at which point we may see some tour dates mixed with some studio time, working on the next album.
Of course, I could just as easily be completely out to lunch on all of the above… but it’s always fun to speculate.
Since we’re not going to be seeing much of him for awhile, we’ll sign off with the bass man, doing his thing (video by This Is Nowhere contributor Stephanie Webb).
Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.