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The Afflicted: The Alphabetical Order, a District four-piece that’s been turning out a clever blend of twisted time signatures and hummable hooks since 2004.

Diagnosis: The Order’s four-piece is often a de facto three. Guitarists Gabriel Fry and Gavin Dunaway, along with bassist Kate Rears Burgman, share vocal duties but can’t seem to hold on to a drummer.

Symptoms: Those who shuffle through the Order’s fourth spot have a tendency to either move up or grow up. Drummer #1, Ben Reynolds, changed his name to “Jim something” and moved to NYC in 2005 “to go become a hipster in Williamsburg,” says Fry. “He was gonna be huge,” Fry explains. “He is not.” Drummer #2, Chris McKinney, defaulted in 2006, choosing to focus on his two-year-old son instead of the two-year-old band. When Drummer #3, Jeff Miller, bailed earlier this year, the band began to tire of the rotating cast. “We thought Jeff was the one,” says Fry. “Unfortunately, Jeff has a wife and a house and a career that he really enjoys.”

Treatment: Find somebody who can strike the right balance between hi-hats and home life. “All [our ex-drummers] are excellent players, excellent people,” says Fry. “But when you’re torn between buying new cymbals or your kid’s birthday present, or between practicing and fixing your roof, or between sleeping in a van for three days with me or going on vacation with your wife, it’s hard to pick the band.” The Alphabetical Order is hoping that Drummer #4, Ashraf Younes, will pick the band. Says Fry, “It hasn’t been especially difficult for us to find new drummers, but it’s depressing every time.”

Listen: Constant State (with #3, Jeff Miller). Hear #4, Ashraf Younes, when the Alphabetical Order play the Velvet Lounge Friday, Dec. 28.

Are you a filmmaker, theater director, sculptor, harpsichordist, or similar arts type? Have you got a problem? E-mail your artistic quandaries to ahess@washingtoncitypaper.com.