Christ, I’m late for work already. What is today? The continuing saga of my life as a barely employed wretch? Great. I think when I left off, my first highschool band, Gladhand was a four piece, consisting of Brian, the stinky drummer who pan fried baloney, lived in a laundry room and rocked a pretty sweet (and I use the term ‘sweet’ drenched in so much sarcasm that it almost sounds like I’m not being sarcastic at all…try it some time) Eddie Vedder impersonation (hey, it was the 90’s. Who didn’t have one of those?), Tim, the worst bassist of all time, who’s dad was a creepy fundamentalist preacher and Chris, my best friend, on guitar and me just singing. We played a few shows in basements and at Chris’s school and then things got pretty sweet.
Tim was about to graduate from highschool. We needed a replacement so Gladhand could continue on. Enter Jordan, a tall, skinny dude that we used to say looked like a black version of Beeker from the muppets, but who actually, thanks to his dreads, looked a lot more like a black Sideshow bob. He had never played the bass before, but we all hung out in this one park after school, and for whatever reason, he was into Gladhand. I brought a bass to the park and taught him a few things, (which is, to this day, all I know about the bass). Well, within 2 weeks, and I’m not exaggerating, he was WAY better at the bass than I was, (even now, looking back, he was a great player…one of the most naturally gifted players I’ve ever seen) and we asked him to replace Tim in the band. Well, sure as shit…He said yes, and Gladhand was rolling strong. No more people who were completely incompetent on their instruments! A black guy! Oh yeah.
Anyway, there was this guy named Doug who was good friends with Jordan and he was about 24, which at the time was old as dirt. He looked like a leprechaun with a red ponytail, red beard, blue eyes and very fair complexion (actually, last time I saw Doug was in the United Center, and he was literally dressed as a leprechaun. That was about ten years ago, maybe more…wow) and he wore a big rug with a hole cut in the middle of it, poncho style, everywhere he went, regardless of temperature, and a crocodile Dundee type hat. He also had Jeffrey Dahmer glasses.
He was always hanging around and one day, he brought his guitar to practice and let’s just say he shredded like you wouldn’t believe. Let’s just say it, because that sounds cooler than the truth, which is, that he was a wanky blues soloist.…So, here’s the band now: Baloney frying, under the bed living, smell of homeless zombie drummer, me, chris, tall skinny black guy into funk, slapping and popping his way through the sort of punkish songs that Chris and I wrote, and some leprechaun hippy Stevie Ray Vaughning everything by about 25%. It was actually worse than it sounds, if you can believe it.
Also, guess what? We still played Nuts nuts we want nuts. Even with this dynamic new lineup. Finally we had someone who could play the bassline, so we weren’t about to let that gem just fade.
We had a friend…I don’t exactly remember how this all went down, but we had a friend who somehow got us a gig at the St. Scholastica all girls school homecoming dance and offered us seven hundred bucks. This was the first paying show I ever played, and the biggest payday for at least another five or so years. I remember sitting in the principal’s office, playing a demo we’d made to the principal and the head of the dance committee and them, inexplicably saying, ‘yeah, we’d love to have gladhand play the dance.’
We had to play for a few hours, and we did a lot of embarrassing covers. This was actually funny. We didn’t know any songs but our own, so we bought a guitar transcription magazine and just learned all the songs in it. So we ended up playing such hilarious and crappy, crappy covers as ‘alive’ by pearl jam and ‘the weight’ by the Band, just because they happened to be in the issue of “guitar Player’ that we bought. The whole thing was a complete clusterfuck. We played, and (keep in mind, at this time, I listened to a lot of punk rock bands, but I didn’t know anyone else who listened to that kind of music besides my friends…we had record stores where we’d go and just blow money on tapes we’d never heard of, based on band name or on the covers, and we just kind of gravitated towards the punkier stuff without knowing there was a scene, or a defining characteristic that made things ‘punk rock’ as opposed to ‘stoner rock’, ‘alternative’ or ‘metal’ or ‘hardcore’ or ‘funk’. We were really naïve, which explains why our band was such a hot mess, but anyway,) there were these kids at the dance, who I now, looking back, recognize as punks, who were calling out for “Strong Reaction” by Pegboy…Well, that wasn’t in the issue of Guitar Player that we had bought, so we didn’t know it, but they kept screaming for it, so what did we do? Of course, we played Nuts nuts we want nuts, but changed the words (which are pretty much all in the title) to Strong, strong strong reaction. It went over huge and marks the first time I ever played music to a ‘mosh pit’ even if it was at a homecoming dance in an all girls religious school.
We got seven hundred bucks which we blew like idiots. My mom had a friend who did design on her computer, which back in those days was the technological equivalent of smashing electrons together, and she was nice enough to make us thirty shirts for about five hundred bucks. Looking back, it’s the second biggest screwjob of my musical career, the first biggest being the story for tomorrow, our first REAL show at a REAL club.
Bye. Oh, and chris, come see me at work. (look at that, we’re still buddies. Heh.) XOXO