the story of coco

Hey, I woke up this morning and for whatever reason, I had this notion of exactly what I was going to write here. I’m gonna tell you the story of Coco.

That’s cool, right? After all, I’m a luminary in the punk rock scene and while I’m not personally successful or interesting, I am friends with lots of successful and interesting people, and you’re not, so I can offer you, the unwashed filthy and unconnected hordes, a little insight into what it’s like to be friends with all your favorite uh…what? “Stars” seems a little much, right? How about ‘dudes in bands that are successful?’ Does that work? Sure. Good enough. Think of this as like, some kind of travel show, but the places I’m showing you are places like “Fat Mike lounging on a couch with a hurt ankle backstage at the NorVa with a slice of pizza on his bare stomach screaming at Limo” or “Tom Gabel shitting his pants” or even “Tim McIlrath age nineteen bringing a keg of rootbeer to his backyard bbq.” That seems like it may be fun to read, right? Okay. You convinced me. So up first, the story of Coco.

Now, Coco is what I call Brian Fallon from the Gaslight Anthem, and before we get any farther in this whole thing let me state unequivocally that I think Brian is a good dude and he’s in a good band and this will not be in any way an attempt to smear or talk shit about him, as he’s always been a pretty nice fella and I find myself listening to his records a lot, AND we’ve spent a TON of time together, and, well, that’s where the story of Coco begins.

The first headlining Lawrence Arms tour was in 2000 and featured the Berkeley band the Wunder Years (a band that would eventually morph into the Ghost and later splinter into Hanalei, and Lanemeyer, a new jersey quartet featuring a young Coco on guitar/backing vocals. This tour was something ridiculous like 18 weeks long. We all became much closer than we ever dreamed we’d be. Just sayin.

Now, Lanemeyer had recently lost their main singer/guitar dude and they were transitioning their bassist, Doyle into “main dude” status. They brought Coco on as the replacement guitarist and let him sing two songs a night, an original and a cover of “someone to shove” by that dumb band with the guy with the mongo face and the caveman-jen-anniston hair (who, by the way was caught by my friend Brandt doing blow in the off the toilet in the smart bar bathroom when his crappy band [I’m now remembering that they’re called Soul Asylum {also a song by English-fake-Doors/Indians The Cult}] sold out the metro many years ago. Brandt kicked his mongo face and caveman-jen Anniston hairdo right out of the building. Not so fast, Dave Pirner!) and generally, in the Lawrence Arms van it was agreed upon that Coco was the best guy in the band by far, in terms of skill. His songs weren’t all Brucey yet, but he had a good voice (better than Doyle, though Doyle was pretty talented in his own right) and a passion that bordered on embarrassing but never quite got there, and so, remained endearing. In the van we’d say things like “man, they should let coco sing more” and “man, coco’s song is kind of the jam of the Lanemeyer set, innit?” Shit like that. We’d bring it up to Baby Beluga (the drummer and leader of Lanemeyer) and he’d just kind of shrug it off. He was bitter and jealous because his buddies in Midtown were getting famous. He saw Doyle’s boyish good looks and big hooks as the road to success, not coco’s wacky teeth and coffee cup tattoos.

So, here we are. 2000. New Found Glory was blowing up and the Lawrence Arms and the Wunder Years and Lanemeyer were limping around the contiguous 48 in three crappy vans (ours being far and away the coolest and most sketchy, by the way…we had a tv with tetris. Hey! This was 2000 when that shit wasn’t just in everyone’s van, you fucking unimpressible new generation!) and there’s coco, just kind of rolling along as the least important member in the opening band of the three band bill that would MAYBE draw sixty kids a night.

I remember he was really into the following things: tattoos, new jersey, jesus and coffee. Now, since then, I’ve seen Coco a few times and I’ve noticed a few things: he’s still very much into coffee. I’ve actually not seen him drink anything but coffee in the past ten years. He’s got tattoos on his hands, which, well, good thing the band is doing okay, and he’s become sort of a poster child for new jersey, which is great. The young coco used to sit there and try (in vain) to convince me that new jersey was actually the most beautiful state in the union. It’s true folks. He really, really, really believes that shit. He loves new jersey as much as it sounds like he does on those records. Wow.

So, what else can I tell you? Oh, me and coco, along with Chongo who was the roadie for the Wunder Years, all got suicide king tattoos in Toronto on that tour. A few other dudes got them a few days later, back in the states. At the time, they weren’t Lawrence Arms tattoos. They were just tour tattoos, but when we ran out of shirts, the only art I had to send into the shirt place was the stencil of our tattoos, so we made shirts with the tour tattoo on them. We didn’t at the time know that it would wind up being our most popular design and turn into something of a logo for us and ultimately backhanding Chongo and Coco into having retroactive Lawrence Arms tattoos…Pretty funny when you think about it, eh?

Yeah. Sigh. What else?

Oh, right? Why do I call him coco? On the first day of tour, to establish dominance, chris and I gave everyone unflattering nicknames. Most of them didn’t really stick, but coco was such a great one, and Brian was such a good sport that it’s maintained to this day. Our roadie from that tour still doesn’t even know Coco’s real name. He only knows him as coco. Now, the drummer, Baby Beluga, he was just so pissed about his nickname that we had to keep it just to kind of chap his taint. Everyone else’s nickname kind of just dissolved. The tour was long, man.

Okay, so that’s the story of coco. Good dude. Loves coffee. Has tattoos of coffee cups. He should probably give me some money or something, right? Sure he should. Hey coco! I’ll write your bio or press releases! Need a bass player? How bout a jester?



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