Finding a permanent practice space has always been somewhat of a hassle for the Venetia Fair. When we go into writing mode we usually practice five days a week for seven or eight hours each day, so we need to find a practice space that is available to us pretty much 100% of the time. For a while we were practicing at each of our parents' houses until they got fed up (understandably) and kicked us out. We've explored the possibility of renting a space but that either was to be too expensive (it was hard to work a steady job with our practice schedule) or didn't allow the hours we needed.

We eventually found a cheap enough spot. It was a storage space behind a liquor store called Kappy's on a major highway. Basically a tin box. Unit 595. There was one power outlet, one lightbulb, no heat, and no space to stand once our equipment was set up. There was also a porta potty that was a few hundred yards away in a construction site (we don't think it had ever been cleaned). We began practicing there in late August. Though the conditions weren't ideal, practices ran pretty smoothly for a while. We were able to get a lot done.

Eventually when the season started changing and the weather got colder we began second guessing our idea, but couldn't come up with a better one. Money was also becoming an issue. Because our practice schedule didn't allow much time for work, we had to take whatever was available. What I'm about to describe to you may be the worst month of my life.

Chris and I found jobs at a place called the Christmas Tree Shop in November. This store is a heaven for bored retired women. It's the size of a small Wal-Mart full of glittery knick knacks, holiday decorations and home decorations. Because we didn't want work to interfere with our 12 pm to 8 pm practice schedule, we opted to take the 5am to 10am shift. The Christmas Tree Shop was conveniently located a few miles away from the practice space on the same highway, so after work we would head right to the practice space, catch up on a couple hours of sleep and then practice. Then we would go home and immediately sleep and do it all again the next day.

This should have been pretty easy, but doing that same routine 6 to 7 days a week bested us. We were cracking after the second week. Waking up at 4:30 am every single morning was awful. Work became our own hell. We would take two hour breaks at work and hide in the back room. We eventually started to bring flasks to work. After work, we would go to the liquor store and start drinking and be drunk by the time practice started. We would be unable to play by the time everyone else showed up. We had zero social life. Our social life consisted of hanging out with the ex-convicts and disabled people that also worked the overnight shift at work. Our only meals were Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds. It's amazing how things spiraled so fast.

Practices were so cold that I began making mini-bonfires outside of the practice space to keep warm during breaks. It's extremely hard to play any instrument when you're hands are that cold, so we were pretty miserable. It didn't help that the only things we had to drink were either alcohol from the liquor store or the several cases of “Drank” that were given to us at Collegefest where we performed in October. Drank is a drink with melatonin in it. If you drank Drank, you were asleep an hour later. There were several occasions where we would find ourselves waking up with five empty cans of Drank and three hours had gone by.

Eventually we accepted our new lives. What was actually weeks felt like months. We felt like we lost touch with all of our friends. After practice when some of us would be making plans to go hang out at a bar or someones house, Chris and I would head to our respective homes and sleep until 4 the next morning, only to do the same thing again. The others participated in our misery by forcing us to drink for their amusement. One time specifically, Ben told me to finish a handle, which in turn ended practice when I was unable to play my parts, and all the ideas that I was shouting were just god awful.

Eventually, work upped our hours from 5 am -10 am to 5 am -12pm. At this point, we weren't showing up until 6 am. Eventually, sometime after working Black Friday, we just decided to not go at all. Thats how we quit. We just stopped going. It was the worst place. And we suspected our boss was a pedophile. We didn't want to go to him to tell him we quit. Practices were still awful because of the cold. It was like practicing outside in the snow. We had the smallest, tiniest space heater, and if we used a bigger one the power would turn off. I'm not sure how, but we were able to find another place to practice and were all pretty happy to leave.

I do miss Kappy's though.

Joe Brown (@joeoqt) is the keyboardist of Boston-based rock group the Venetia Fair (@thevenetiafair).