We have spoken of a life-altering announcement for a short while now. Well, here it is, and it isn’t a happy one. After a year and a half of dedicated low-end wizardry, our beloved bassist and dear friend George Faulknier is going to be parting ways with The Anatomy of Frank. Our show on March 31, 2012 at Hereford College will be George’s last hometown show, and April 27 in Harrisonburg will likely be his last show with the band.
This decision is something that we all agreed on quite mutually, and was absolutely not due to any animosity or conflicts between anyone in the band. Nay, this quintuplet of blokes are about as in love with one another as five supposedly straight men could be. Rather, the decision to part ways was one of necessity, for George is one of the hardest working people we know and cannot commit the time needed for our road-warrior lifestyle at this point in his life.
You probably didn’t know this about George. Sure, we mentioned that he drives hundreds of miles each week. Did we also mention that he has, at the tender age of 22, invested lavish amounts of money into buying his own business in Scottsville? Or that he has owned and operated his own produce business for over a year? Or that, while most of us wake up and work 9-5 jobs, George works from 4:30 AM to 10:30 PM several days a week, and only slightly shorter hours the rest of the days? Or that, when we played shows in places like Asheville, NC, George drove separately so that he could wake up 3 hours after loading off stage to drive back to the store in Virginia?
Of COURSE you didn’t know this about George; how could you? For everything I have just said, the most amazing bit of all is that George doesn’t ever complain. Most people (myself included) would bemoan my situation tirelessly if I had to juggle a music career with another whose hours rival those of a Manhattan investment banker. It feels natural to do so; it lets people commiserate with you, it gives you approval for the massive sacrifice you are making. But all you ever saw of George was a smiling, dancing, fun-loving guy with muttonchops that would have made Ambrose Burnside hang himself, playing incredible bass lines and adding to the positive energy on stage.
For this, George has become a very important role model for me. As graciously and elegantly as he entered and contributed to The Anatomy of Frank, he now resigns with understanding and kindness. Our aspirations for success and progress as a band, while incongruent with his busy schedule, are so deeply rooted in his skills and support that he will forever be an integral part of our music.
Not to be verbose, but I would like to share two particular memories that stick out to me of George:
One of them occurred in the early days, when we would have to sneak into empty UVA classrooms in the middle of the night to practice. We would spend an hour hauling our things inside, setting up, moving desks, and then practice for 2-3 hours before packing up and heading home around 2 AM. One night, George called me 30 minutes before our meeting time to request my help in keeping him from falling asleep. He was going to make it to practice, he said, but he was driving on Interstate 64 and was having trouble staying awake. As it turned out, he had been awake and working since 5 AM and was just now getting into town on a drive from Georgia. The next morning he would have to be up at 6 (he didn’t tell me this, of course, but I knew it from his schedule). The guy is a powerhouse of good nature—that night, of course, I sent him home to sleep.
Another one of my favorite George moments came at a show in Lynchburg, while playing Rivermont Pizza. Our set was approaching its final songs, and we were ass-deep in a shamelessly jammy version of Chameleon (note: time-filler and favorite of drunk people) by Herbie Hancock. Erik signaled for George to take a solo. Now, we in the band know that George is not an ordinary bassist. He is a full-fledged virtuoso. He possesses all the powers of slapping, tapping, rhythmic prowess, and terrifying agility on the fretboard that you might expect from the greats like Flea and Victor Wooten. But, most importantly, he never overdoes anything, and is always tasteful when playing, so you wind up witnessing a guy who plays a very mature and minimalistic role in the band. This particular night, however, he built a solo that started out slow and easy and built to an electrifying climax that made me and much of the audience break out in goosebumps. George is able to play bass using all four fingers, hitting the strings in rapid succession with the speed of a snare drum roll, and in the final moments of his solo, I realized that I had never been part of such an inspired improvisation. And afterwards, he fell right back into the groove. That, I think, summarizes George Faulknier.
Do not fear for the future of the band. We have found and begun training a new bassist, who will be debuting with us in the upcoming months. As with George, he is an awesome guy who loves the music, is perfectly compatible with our personalities, and is already accomplishing the Herculean task of filling George’s shoes. Forgive my cliche, but when one chapter ends, another begins, and we are already feeling the energizing effects of admiring George’s legacy and seeing the potential of what is to come.
George, we love you deeply and you will always be a part of what we do. We all wish you the best in everything; not the best of luck, of course, because people who work as hard as you do don’t need luck. And to everyone else, thank you for being there to witness the fantastic foundations George laid for this band. The other guys may get on here and write some thoughts of their own, or they may not; either way, we all share the same sentiments and you will always be in our hearts.