Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Dogs

The Dogs was the first band I had that actually practiced on a regular basis. Formed out of the ashes of a heavy metal trio of Dungeons and Dragon types at my high school, the dogs were Loren Wallen on lead guitar, Matt Ashcraft on bass, myself on guitar and a guy named Robert on drums. Matt and I had been jamming in his trailer for a couple months ahead of time, so I had already learned most of the songs on our heavy-metal playlist - Rock and Roll by Led Zepplin, Rip it Out by Ace Frehley/Kiss, Paranoid by Black Sabbath, Sweet Emotion by Areosmith and Living after Midnight by Judas Priest. That was it - I think those were the only songs we played for 4 or 5 months straight. Maybe there was a foray into some original riff at some point but it was overshadowed by playing Paranoid 5 times in a row to get the solo section correct. The only snippet of a recording that I have left somewhere is about 15 sections of us playing paranoid - a brutal, distorted, teen-aged recording on some dysfunctional 4-track. Anyway, Robert was kind of key to the band because he A.) had a drumset and B.) had an actual, sound-proofed, shag-carpeted jam room in his parent's house. It was awesome! Every saturday at 12, our mom's would drop us off for 2 hours while we worked out our rudimentary chops on our big 5 tunes.One day, we even set up outside on a rare, non-rainy day in Crescent City. We got through 3 songs before a police cruiser rolled up. We finished the song were playing - probably Rip it out - and then we stopped. The officer politely intoned, "I came over to tell you guys to stop, but you sounded so good, you might as well play one more and then quit." I was like a scene out of Happy Days or Andy Griffith. We packed up our gear and went back upstairs, to our carpeted practice room, and finished out the day. probably debating the merits of post-Ozzy Sabbath and post-David Lee Roth Van Halen. Dude, I think my mom's here - I gotta go.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

They Don’t have the Magic – WE have the magic

I remember a friend saying that to me in regards to his mid-90’s band breaking up, a band I was in for awhile but not at the time of the un-ceremonious breakup. “The Magic” was a snippet of a drunk conversation between bandmates overheard while on an ill-fated California tour – “They don’t have the magic – WE have the magic!”, referring, I always assumed, to the other younger, lamer, more successful bands they were playing with. I often think with this kind of curmudgeonly attitude myself when confronted with the fact that the band that appears to be 20 years my junior are the ones cleaning up with the popularity, hipness and the majority of the take of the door at any given show while I’m packing up my gear and getting ready to go to work in a few scant hours after a long drive and a short nap. “They don’t have the magic – WE had it tonight! For a few minutes during our set, we had them in the palm of our collective hand and they had to, NEEDED to dig our rock, because WE had the magic, not THEM!” And, thusly, the true rewards of life, not anything you could account for or anything that would pay some bills, but, “the Magic,” the shit we all love, the sublime joy of making some noise in an emotional context that resonates with others. As my friend Vic would say – "Kool story, bro."