Okay, as any regular reader of this lovely diarrhea flavored page knows, I’m currently in the middle of reviewing all my jobs and figuring out how my own life experience has spit me out into the backwash of polite society…I’m currently discussing being in a band, and, as that is the job I’ve held the longest, it gets more airtime than my two month stint at McDonalds…makes sense, right? Okay, before we continue (if you’ll recall, our last entry found five young men who called themselves Gladhand about to embark on an epic journey to Malo’s, a rock club out in Aurora to play a show with Violent Youth Assembly and Slugbug), I’d like to, in the spirit of any good reader/master relationship, respond to the requests for more advice oriented columns…
I’m going to be cranking up the advice machine this week…Get your questions ready and send em in. Know, however, that I will not answer your question if it’s any of the following issues:
1. ANYTHING having to do with writing music or the ideals of rock n roll- This is not an area where advice can be given, really…Okay, that’s wrong. Here’s the answer to your question about punk rock, what it’s supposed to mean and how you should go about trying to write a great song: “You need to stop worrying about what other people do/think and figure some shit out for yourself. Not everyone is cut out to write good songs. You may be one of those people.” There…glad that’s settled.
2. Something so obvious that it’s not even worth printing here. “my girlfriend and I are both 18. She went away to college and I think she’s fucking this other guy… I really want it to work out. What should I do?” Come on…she’s DEFINITELY fucking that dude, and you’re shit out of luck. Try to find some underclassmen to bang to get your mind off everything…But don’t text them pictures of your dick. That will land you in jail.
3. Something boring- You already know if your question is boring. Usually, it’s something like “I like this boy, but we’ve never kissed or anything, but I THINK he likes me, although, maybe he likes my friend…should I go for it? Oh, also, we’re both into all the same….” Do you see how boring that is? It’s boring.
Okay, so send in the questions, and I’ll fix you right up. As always, and as mentioned in the first ever BSC post, all questions about felching go straight to the top of the pile and will be answered first. Anyway, back to the rock n roll lifestyle:
We got to Aurora, to Malo’s, which was a little free standing rock club and to me, it seemed way, way cooler than the gateway, just because, well, it was a real show, we were sort of on the road (a little bit, right?) and there were only 3 bands. This wasn’t some cattle call! This was rock, rolling along like it is wont to do, man…Fuck!
The dudes from Slugbug were there already and we got to talking. Chris and I had an instant rapport with those dudes, while our other three guys in our band (the bum, the black sideshow bob and the elderly hippy) were acting kind of standoffish. It was odd. Slugbug assured us that Violent Youth Assembly was the dorkiest band of all time, (no small achievement when on the same bill as Gladhand) and they were right. Without giving too much away, they were three buzzards, slightly punkified, just attempting to jam out, but there were three big problems. The drummer was complete dogshit, their amps were so bad that you couldn’t hear anything but the drums and the guitar player was in a wheelchair. It was awesome.
By this time, I’d already bought and listened to the Slugbug tape and I was, I guess it could be said, a bit of a fan…so I was able to talk to those dudes about their music and stuff, which really broke the ice. I mean, they were only sixteen themselves, so to have a long haired guy in oversized cut off green corduroys, a security guard button up and several medallions tell you how cool your band is must have been a real stone groove for them. Heh.
Okay, let’s see. Long story short, the show sucked…There was NOBODY there. Violent Youth Assembly was hilarious, Slugbug, again was totally pro, and I was actually able to sing this time, which was a nice change of pace. At the end of the night, I got Matt from Slugbug’s phone number because I wanted to get phone numbers and addresses and advice so I could get the pro demo tape treatment for the sweet Gladhand demo that had, up to now, gotten us so many great gigs.
The next day I called him about the tapes. We got to bullshitting and he mentioned that he thought I had a pretty cool singing voice and then mentioned that he and the drummer of slugbug, Rob, were starting this new band with this dude named Dan who was from a band called Flowers (yes, Flowers). They’d tried out a bunch of singers, but no one had been working out…long pause.
“Uh, hey, I’d come out and sing for your band, man…” I said, not really knowing if that’s what he was getting at, and he assured me that it was EXACTLY what he was getting at. He told me that the new band would be doing ska…which was, at the time, a term I had never heard. I said, yeah, what the fuck, cool, yeah… and hung up the phone feeling, for probably the first and last time in my life, like a pretty damn good singer.
Now, this was where shit started to get interesting for me. Matt and Dan and Rob had all been in bands that had played lots of shows, and were part of a scene. I had nothing like that. I didn’t know what punk rock was, or ska, or how Jawbreaker was different from Mother Love Bone. It all just seemed like music to me. I also had long hair and medallions, mind you. SO, when I showed up to hang out with these guys, they had the interesting task of teaching me about punk rock, even though I was already kind of into punk rock by accident. They showed me all about the DIY scene and sort of pointed out that you know, Naked Raygun and Bad Religion are kind of THIS sort of band, while The Farmers and Bitch Magnet really are a whole other thing…It was enlightening. This took place over the course of a few months in which time I learned about guitar sounds, club shows, stage presence, how to actually write songs, what actually made bands interesting and of course, I finally shaved my head. That was a real relief to all the guys in the band.
The first practice was in Rob’s basement and it went well. Pat Ford, the singer of Flowers was down there, kind of sizing me up, and he intimidated the shit out of me. Funny, because now, I’d put his ass in a headlock faster than you can say “Beethoven’s haircut” but at the time, I was very, very new at all this, and easily cowed (I’m actually quite sensitive. The dick jokes are a defense mechanism, really).
After practice, Rob and I went out and got Mexican food and then Dan and I got stoned. It was the beginning of something, all right.