My Music History

I have claimed many times in the past that music is a major part of my life.  I think this claim is very cliche and needs further explanation.

My grandfather was a musician, a very good one.  He started off playing the trumpet of all things, something that very few people in my family have ever tried playing.  I cannot recall in his story when he started playing guitar but I remember him saying that all he had for musical guidance was the sheet music he had for the trumpet and then picking it out on his guitar.  As time passed on he got better and better and started picking out old hymnals for church.  His family was strongly religious.

Anyways, the music part is here.  I remember many, and not enough, fond moments of hearing my grampa playing his guitar and singing old country tunes or even funny tunes he’d made up through the years.  He’s got a very silky and deep voice and looks like Johnny Cash.  One thing that is irrefutable is that when he played, it was magic.  It was a solid thing, grasping at the heart and the soul and caressing it with love.  It sounds cheesy but that’s how I’ve always felt about it.  I’ve never thought to emulate it because it’s too precious.

My father also is very musically talented.  There’s few instruments that he hasn’t played in his life.  I grew up around my dad’s bands and music.  Ranging from country to rock and roll, he played in many places around Michigan.  Played for 30 years in a band as a hobby then gave it all up because it became like work and had lost it’s enjoyment for him.  Just as my dad stopped playing, was when I gained interest.  I had learned how to play guitar when I was a kid but I didn’t “want” to play so I let it go.  My mom also played music but didn’t have the background that my dad did.  She did play the drums however and was good at it.  Just before I came into my adolescence I had her drum set, a Swingerland, red sparkly 5 piece that I mishandled and had no idea of it’s true value.  My mother sold the set for 10 dollars in a moving sale.

I spoke in a previous blog about how my skateboarding days were the best part of my life.  I listened to rap all the time, it was the music that nobody but a select few would even confess to liking.  My sisters hated it, I loved it.  When I started skateboarding I started to meet more people, one of those people was Chris D.  After we moved to Tuscany street in Holt, I started hanging out with Chris D and Shawn H doing the skateboarding thing.  Chris introduced me to punk rock, which was like feeding blood to a vampire.  I needed more.  They invited me to one of their band practices and I went.  Being familiar with the equipment was one thing, actually seeing how my friends were using it was another thing altogether.  Shawn sang, Chris played the drums, Karen played guitar and Jen played the bass.  It was a cacophony of sound that mezmerized me.  It was heavy, it was fast, it was punk rock and I loved it!  I guess you could say that I was a fan because I always went to the practices and learned the words to the songs.  So, when Shawn H and Chris D had a falling out between each other, over a girl I believe, I volunteered for the job as a singer.

Ohhh my god, I sucked.  I was just cocky enough to be the front man but not confident enough in my voice to actually sing anything.  I kinda had a monotone that changed between soft and loud but not much change in the pitch.  I didn’t last long as singer but long enough to have a performance at a graduation party for Andy Toth, recorded on video.  I’m not sure how it all happened but I gave up the singer spot for Corey Hake, who was way better than I was.  I was offered the empty spot as a rhythum guitarist.

I had not played with a guitar since I was a kid but amazingly, I picked it up rather quickly.  In a month I had learned the songs that the band was playing.  My biggest problem was equipment.  My dad gave me the Fender Jaguar, 1965 Vintage, Candy Apple Red, to play.  However, I didn’t have right amplifier to get the right distortion from the guitar.  It was just not enough to play how I wanted it to sound.  I endured, however.  Practice practice practice… The first song I wrote a riff for was called Executioner.  It was my riff, I wrote it.  Eventually as time progressed, Karen and I ceased getting along.  We were both too arrogant to exist in a band together.  She left, I stayed.  In so doing, made mortal enemies with Karens boyfriend Jeff who was also a guitarist with much more experience in heavy metal.  I was always prone to saying stupid shit to people, that’s what made me a punk rocker.  Though my words came back to me more than 10 fold but also crushed me completely once, then twice, then put me on a long and lonely road of solitude.  Crush number one, was at Heather Bannick’s house, new years party I think.  I had been practicing with the band for a few months and this was the first big show where everyone was going to play.  We did a practice set and everything was good.  We partied and then when it came time to get ready for the show, *gasp*, omg, something is wrong with Jim’s amplifier.  What is it?  Oh, the fuse blew.  No problem, we can just replace it… oh, sorry Jim but we don’t have any fuses to spare.  Ok, I can rig it to work, no problem.  No Jim, I don’t want you to damage the equipment.  I know what you can do, how about you just stand up there with everyone and pretend like you’re playing.  OMG, WTF DID YOU JUST SAY?  Everyone got a good laugh from that, as I actually did just that and made a complete and total fool of myself.  BLAM, WTFPWND.  I do remember that but I remember it like my brain has tried to repress the memory, in darkness.  Time went on and I got over that blow to my confidence rather quickly and after Karen left the band, I played a show at Ken S’s house, crammed into the living room.  I recall there was a problem with Jen coming to the show, I can’t remember if she came or not.  I can’t even remember how that show went, I think it was fast, I know I got pushed into my equipment and it all fell down but someone picked it all back up again for me.  I think that was Charlie S that did so or Ron G.  Hard to say.  So that wasn’t so bad.  After that, Jen left the group.  More likely because I said something rotten to her as I tended to do, only this time it was my girlfriend from Nebraska that empowered my lips.  After we moved to Burton street, is when my friendship with the guys fell apart.  I don’t know what drove it, probably my mouth again, but I remember telling the guys that it was ok for me to store my equipment at my house inside my room.  I remember telling them that I had a lock on my door and that the equipment would be fine.  Yet, the next day, someone broke into my bedroom and destroyed my christmas present, an amplifier with the distortion that I had been seeking.  Nothing else was damaged, just that amplifier.  Granted that there were other things going on at the time with my sisters but never had any of those thugs tried to do something like that.  Maybe it was my sisters that did it, I don’t know but that was crushing blow number two.  The irony of having Chris, Corey, and Joel all tell me that I shouldn’t keep my stuff at my home, then having that happen the next day was too much conspiracy for me.  

As I got better with playing guitar and writing songs, I began to explore different genre’s of music.  I started listening to blues, notably, Stevie Ray Vaughn.  I had plenty to be blue about.  I tried to experiment with blues with the band but they were not having any of it.  My attitude towards them dwindled into sadness, then
eventually Andy Toth told me that they were planning on kicking me out of the band.  I saved them the need and just stopped associating with them.  They didn’t ask me, I didn’t ask them.  It was silent, I was gone.  I was replaced by Chris’s brother, Scott who learned how to play all my songs, who sat in a studio and got to record all the riffs that I wrote, then put his name on them.  Not a single mention of me was made.  That was crushing blow number three.

As I seperated myself from those guys, I found myself associating with a new set of people.  Heavy Metal, the stoners, or whoever you want to call them.  They were the ones that didn’t care, truely, about what people thought or said or even what music you listened to.  I was hanging out with Shawn O, Ken S, Alfredo V, and Dave C.  Dave played the bass, Al played drums, Ken played guitar, Shawn played guitar and sang, I played guitar.  We traded spots, Ken would play drums, Shawn would play bass, etc, as people weren’t around to play.  Eventually we called ourselves Stormcrow and wrote out a few tunes like Hiel America, which was an affront to my old friends who had become “American Skinheads”.

Differences in opinions and in quality of music kept me from doing anything with these guys.  When they all spoke about being in a band they all had stars in their eyes about fame and glory and fortune.  I didn’t care about any of that and their talking turned me off from going further.  Shawn O and I jammed quite a bit with him either singing, playing bass or playing guitar, he’s a talented fellow as well.  So is his brother, Jason.

I did get involved with Shawn O and Hiram M with his Amiga computer that produced something that sounded similar to drums.  We were called Ack.  Ack was a project that Shawn and Hiram had done a while back.  The product of this band, which lasted roughly 24 hours of wakefulness, was a number of tunes, two of which will forever be etched into my head.  One of them being “Ceiling Fan Death” and the other being “I saw Mommy killing Santa Claus”  The purpose of the project was to make as many songs as possible in as short amount of time and then record them.  It was an awesome time.

I continued to play guitar, learning new songs as they came out.  I got heavy into Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Suicidal Tendencies and eased out of the punk rock for a bit.  Then, as my life headed into 40 directions at once, I happened upon Brian and Scott M, twin brothers that used to hang out with the guys in my skateboarding days.  Neither of them knew how to play an instrument but they had a desire to learn… they also had talent.  Brian bought a drum set and Scott bought a guitar which he eventually returned for a bass.  I taught both of them how to play their instruments and Shawn O, Brian M and Scott M and myself started writing music.  We recorded a few of them, one called Greed that was a parody tune, sounded more like a commercial.  I wrote Sorrow at this time but I was never happy with any words so til this day it is all instrumental.  We did covers of Twisted Sister and Ugly Kid Joe.

I did one more public performance for my Aunt Lisa’s wedding.  Not sure if it was recorded or not as I’ve never seen it but by their request I played a Van Halen song called 316 as they walked down the aisle together.

I stopped playing music, period.  I was into partying all the time and that went on for about 2 years.  I abandoned all my band equipment at Brian and Scotts house, except my guitar.  My guitar is the only thing left.  All the other equipment is gone.  Amps, speakers, cords, pedals, you name it, all gone.

Eventually I got into computers which over rode everything else in my life beginning in 1994.  When I went to college, that changed.  I brought my guitar with me and then having the ability to listen to so many different varieties of music was amazing.  I fell in love with Offspring and learned how to play every single song on the Smash cd.  Also, with the computer came an ability to record easily and process easily and save it for later hearing.  I was laughed at in college at first, but on my floor, we kept the door open and I had offspring cranked, eventually the jocky boys on my floor stopped laughing and would come and listen to me play and say, damn, you’re good.  Chad S was one of those guys.  He wanted to be a part of what I was doing so him and I started writing songs.  He couldn’t play anything but he could sing alright and wrote decent lyrics. (Shawn O was way better at this however)  Chad and I performed a couple of songs for the people on the floor when they asked us to and we were applauded and encouraged.  It was a nice feeling.  I received an award from the RHA as being the most musically talented in the dorms.

My friendship with Chad S came to a screaching halt over a woman, and that ended all my musical associations with anyone else since then.  Shawn O and I have tried but I just don’t have the spirit in me anymore.  However, Shawn O introduced me to…and I finally got the realization that, my computer is a band waiting to be played.  Shawn sent me a hot version of Fruity Loops and from there I have wrote 2 fully finished songs.  The quality isn’t the best but they are indeed songs that I wrote and produced and mixed all on my own.  They are complete works, minus the lyrics.

Over the last few years I have recorded a SHIT LOAD of songs and jam sessions on my computer.  I have burned them into many cd’s in order to make sure I never loose them.

One thing that I didn’t mentioned before is that no matter what people say about POT, it was the root of my music.  Being high and in the right frame brought out creativity in me that now, i would struggle with trying to emulate.  I have been sober for a long long time and I think that sobriety is why my creative process has slowed down so much.  Or perhaps it’s just the stage of life I’m in now.  I don’t know the answer, only know that the feeling is just not there.

Over the years I have wrote songs of punk rock, heavy metal, country, blues, folk, and classical.  My root is punk rock, it is to me, the clearest path to the story of my life.  Blues is also an instinctual thing as well as country being the thing I’ve rejected all my life but know how strongly is in my heart.  The classical tunes flowered when my talents hit their peek as did my smoking marijuana.  It was easier to speak words with music.

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~ by aeroslin on November 22, 2006.

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