Dr Strangedate, Part 4: The Groupie and One Drink Disasters.

After the general disaster of my first OKCupid date, I decided to be a little more cautious. I wasn’t going to fall into the same traps I found myself in on that first experience. I would get to know the prospective date before agreeing to meet. At the very least, a week of phone calls and emails would be my rule.

Sifting through their site is a challenge. You can never search very close to home, they only allow you to search at a minimum of 25 miles. So instead of all local singles, I would end up with a handful of people in my area and the rest would all be from the North Shore and Boston area. This was a little frustrating at times, but I figured at the very least the site was helping me expand my horizons. Foolishly, I was still under the impression OKCupid had my best interests at heart. Oh, I was so naive.

I quickly broke my own rules by agreeing to meet for drinks with someone after only one email. A pattern emerged rather quickly with the “meet for drinks” dates. Starting with a casual response to my ad and quickly suggesting we go for a drink, somewhere in the middle and neutral. And since most of my matches showed up from the North Shore and Boston, even meeting in the middle was a bit of a hike. But all of these meet and drink dates ended the same: going our seperate ways, both dissatisfied with the experience. I was always early, waiting at the bar. I could always recognize the date from their entrance: standing in thedoorway, scanning the room with an expectant smile. Then, they saw me….and one of two things happened: an outright look of “ewwwww” or that pained, forced smile, the kind you reserve for your Uncle when he tells a raunchy and inapropriate joke at a funeral.

A couple went so far as to make eye contact with me but quickly look away and rush out the door. One even texted me after dashing out the door, explaining that she couldn’t make it to the restaurant due to her inability to get a babysitter. I messaged back “Do you live in the parking lot?” She never got back to me. One woman I met for dinner in Newburyport, which is actually rather close to me. We had great conversation, a few drinks and even some dinner. I thought we were having a lovely time. At the end of the meal, she gave me a big hug and when I suggested getting together again, she started laughing loudly. “No thanks, I think I’ll pass!” There was a distinct tone of “ewwww” in her voice.

During all these disastrous little dates, I had met a woman on the site that I thought I had connected with. Her name was Emily and she grew up with the same crowd I hung out with: punk rocker kids hanging in Harvard Square. Yeah, I used to be one of those punks, black mohawk, combat boots and trenchcoat, the whole halloween costume, just lounging around Harvard Square. I have always lamented the fact that I lost touch with all the great people I used to know back then, not to mention all the bands I counted as friends. And it turned out, Emily knew all the same people! She was like a lost connection to my forgotten past. I was dying to meet her but I decided to wait. We talked, emailed and texted for almost two weeks.

Her favorite restaurant just happened to be my all-time favorite place in Boston. The Border Cafe on Church St. was just beyond my favorite movie theater to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show (which you can read about in an older post about my adventures in the square https://glassowater.wordpress.com/2008/08/03/im-a-rocky-horror-fan-or-lets-do-the-time-warp-again/ ). I had been dining there since the day they first opened their doors. Anytime I find myself in Harvard Square, you can usually find me there at some point. It all seemed so perfect. We were so alike. What could possibly go wrong?

I planned the day according to my previously established rules. Instead of meeting her outside the city, we decided to meet at the restaurant. This gave me a plausible excuse to disapear if I had to. We had spent 2 weeks chatting, so it was well established we had much in common. Our activity together was dinner at our mutual favorite restaurant of all time followed by Newbury Comics and other such window shopping activities, with a trip to Faneuil Hall planned for the latter part of the day if time allowed. I had planned the perfect OKCupid date. Right? Escapes routes, mutual interests, lots in common, what could go wrong?

I waited in the bar at the Border Cafe, watching the door. It was a cold and blustery February day in the city. Emily knew how to make an entrance: the door blew open and she swept into the room, a flurry of flying scarfs, her long coat billowing in the breeze. She took off her woolen hat to reveal platinum blonde hair streaked with purple. Scanning the room, she found me immediately and smiled. Not a forced smile, but a genuine giddy smile. And holy crap, she was so much cuter than her pictures suggested: big smile, beautiful eyes framed by librarian girl glasses. I was won over in seconds. She came running up to the bar and gave me a hug and smooched me on the cheek.

Wow, this was starting out well…..

We sat down for dinner. I immediately start talking about music. I figured this was a good place to start since we both loved music so much. I start mentioning all the bands I used to know, the people I hung out, the guys at TAANG! Records who used to have their office in the square, bringing up all the little connections I knew we had. She smiled and laughed as I talked about the old times. Finally, I asked how she met everyone from these bands, people I called friends back in the days of the old punk scene. Her response? “Oh So-and-So? I fucked him.” She then proceeded to recount, in rather colorful and descriptive language, all of her sexual conquests. “I sucked his dick, fucked that one, had a three way with them”… I quickly realized something: she wasn’t a friend of any of these people, she was a professional GROUPIE!!  Her list didn’t end with my friends, oh no. She started to recount, in graphic detail, every band she has gone back stage and serviced over the years. I was a little horrified. Is this really dinner conversation? Telling your date that you screwed, sucked and cornholed your way through all their friends? What would the future hold for such a coupling? Every time she said she was going to a concert, do you sit home with a portable STD testing kit so you can swab her and run some tests as soon as she gets home?

Once The Groupie got a foothold in the conversation, she never stopped talking. The rest of dinner sounded like this:

“Me me  me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me…. you? Me me me me me me, etc”

I could not get a word in edgewise. I felt battered into hanging out with her because there was never breathing room for me to object or to implement my escape plan. At one point, we were standing on a platform waiting for a train and as it approached, I seriously considered just leaping in front of it just to make her shut the fuck up! Finally, outside Faneuil Hall, I got a moment to myself, texted a friend to call me. We faked an emergency and said our goodbyes. She kissed me on the cheek, saying it was nice to meet me. I dashed off for the Goverment Center T station, but first I made a quick stop at CVS. Alcohol swabs were on sale that day…

Advertisements

Delayed

I know I haven’t been writing. I have alot on my mind. There are things I need to get off my chest and events in my little life that I need to write about. Amazing people, road trips, beautiful music and incredible friends, all have permeated my life for the past few weeks. Been having such a good time that I completely forgot about this site.

But soon, soon I will sit down and commit thought to keyboard and share some of the things rolling around in my tiny little mind. Right now, I’m full of the wonder and awe that the people in my life have graced me with. The love I have felt over the last few weeks from the people that matter to me has been overwhelming.

The delay is over. The thoughts are organized, the photos have been transferred to the computer. Now all I need to do is type…. soon.

Middle Cyclone by Neko Case: A Review

neko-1

Ok, I know what you are going to say: George found himself another redhead to obsess over. And yes, Miss Case is gorgeous and a redhead. That aside, her latest album Middle Cyclone has completely blown me away.

Let me back up a bit.

About 4 years ago, my ex told me about this musician she loved named Neko Case. She prefaced that statement by saying, “You’ll love her. She’s a redhead.” Now for most people, that would seem like a harmless statement. A matter of fact statement describing the hair color of an individual, plain and simple. I knew better than that.

Whenever the subject of other women ever popped up in a conversation, even something as silly as discussing hair color, was a dangerous mine field of neurotic worries and complaints that inevitably led to a fight. One false move and BANG “I’m not good enough!” and BOOM “You want her!” A smile at a waitress and BANG “You must be sleeping with her!” Polite and chatty with the check out girl and BOOM “Is she your next date??”

And commenting on the beauty of a singer, any singer, no matter how ridiculously out of my league or sphere of influence meant that I simply MUST be actively trying to track them down so I could dump her and sleep with them.

Yup, she was a delightful little ball of Italian craziness. I know it’s weird, but I think her unpredictability was one of the reasons I loved her. It was entertaining to talk her down from her neurotic psycho episode and making up, well, that was always the best part. But living your life on a minefield, always unsure if the next thing you said would trigger a massive fight, that wore thin after awhile.

So when she mentioned that Neko Case was a redhead, I immediately shut down all interest in the conversation. I declined her offer to listen to her cd and even passed on a chance to see her live, all to avoid a massive blow out of a fight that I knew would come if I had shown interest in front of my ex. Secretly, on my own, I went and checked her out on my own online.

I’m not a country fan. Never have been.

Most modern country music annoys the hell out of me with it’s simplicity and jingoistic “America Fuck Yeah” attitude, and the incredibly depressing cry in your beer, sleep with your sister and go watch NASCAR reputation. But there are elements of the country sound that I love, elements that soar above the mundane and create something that can touch us all universally and not just the niche market of modern country music. The term “Alt-Country” has come into popularity in the last decade or so to categorize this sound.

Wilco, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Whiskeytown, Uncle Tupelo, Southern Culture On the Skids, Palace Brothers, Old 97s and even rockabilly and psychobilly bands fall into this category from time to time, although psychobilly definitely leans more towards it’s punk influences than it’s country inspired roots. My love for this know-it-when-I-hear-it genre of music has helped me appreciate artists like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline (early recordings) and even the subtle influences of artists like Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and especially the influence of Sun records on the defining sounds of country, blues, rockabilly and, of course, rock and roll.

When I was finally able to check out Neko Case, I fell in love. Her voice, sometimes grating, sometimes demanding, sometimes soaring and angelic, sometimes accusatory but always entertaining, captured my heart. Her lyrics, with their dark overtones, touch the perfect balance between bitterness and light, an ambiguous place that allows her voice to tell you the context, not just the words.

Middle Cyclone starts off with This Tornado Loves You, an appropriate begining. A song about love as a force of nature, strong and undeniable and yet, the subject of her affections is in denial, refusing to believe. And no matter how frenzied or powerful an emotion is, even if it has the power of a tornado, it can be deflated and defeated by a simple act of denial. This sets the tone for the album, a strong set from beginning to end. Songs of unrequited love, loss, frustration and hope, this album has the impression of an artist in a middle ground emotionally, lost and searching for something to hold on to, but the songs reveal that despite all of this, she is a confident and powerful creative force.

Her style on this album definitely still falls into the alt-country genre with some elements of indie pop, folk and even a little motown sound mixed in. I heard it, don’t mock me! 🙂

Her voice is at times heartbreakingly beautiful with an undercurrent of frustration and even hostility. The Next Time You Say Forever contains the memorable lyric “The next time you say forever, I’m going to punch you right in your face.” That one sentence tells a whole story by itself and thats what I love about her. On the title track, she laments “Someones made a fool of me ‘fore I could show them how it’s done.” The title is perhaps directly misleading, expecting a raucous song like Tornado, we get a soothing meditiation on unrequited love.

I could easily go track by track and mention every little aspect that spoke to me: a key lyric, a note, a reverb of a guitar, the sigh in her voice. There are few things to pick apart on this album. I will say that my only true complaint here is that some of the songs are too short, almost feeling incomplete, but it works within the themes and confines of the song. Like all good things, they must come to an end and some of these songs, you just want to go on and on. But I admire that about her writing: she gets the point out, never overstays her welcome and leaves you begging for more.

nekocase1

Yup, I’ve found a new redhead to obsess over, just wish I could have found her sooner….

Another Interview, Another Challenge

Trisha asked and I answered the call! And I really have to thank her because I needed something to write about and I am in a rut….

1. You’ve been chosen as a contestant on Survivor Devil Island. What skills would you bring to the island to help your team and then ultimately yourself?
scan0022 As you can see by this example, I’m more than adept at building houses out of available materials…
Ok, actually, this a “Fairy House” I came across on my first trip to Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. And it’s made from twigs, bark and moss and not mighty branches and logs from the massive trees in the woods…and yeah, did I mention I didn’t actually build it? Yeah, so I really have nothing to offer when it come to survival in the wilderness.  Besides watching “SurvivorMan” or “Man VS Wild”, I have no experience with surviving in the wilderness without basic camping gear. Give me a tent, some cooking gear and maybe a gun, and I might make it 24 hours….So I think the first camp council on my season of Survivor would involve the rest of my tribe voting off my sunburnt (yeah, the native american genes did not involve my pigmentation at all!) and crying ass.
2. You’ve just won $28,000,000. in Powerball! What will you do with all that money?
66-5So after everyone in my family has been taken care of…and after I’ve quit my job…and after I’ve moved in to my new seaside villa…and after I’ve whipped myself into shape with my 24 hour on call personal trainer…and after I’ve taken care of my good friends needs…and after I’ve bought my friends bands new gear and funded their next album…and after I’ve set up a scholarship foundation for underprivileged art majors…after ALL of that, I would load up the car and fullfill a lifelong dream. I would drive out to Chicago and find Old Route 66 and drive cross country. I have a fascination with all the old kitschy stuff that cropped up along this once major highway that runs from Chicago all the way to Santa Monica. One of the purest joys in my life has always been just hopping my car and just driving and seeing all the old Americana, being able to experince a truly “American” experience (the fabled love affair with the automobile and all the road side attractions that helped build) and maybe writing a book about my experience or at the very least, do some photography and painting along the way. One thing I would have to add to this experience would be stopping along the way and visiting with the many amazing people I’ve met online over the years. 🙂
Then after all that, I would open up the restaurant I mentioned in my last post and hopefully somewhere in my travels, I would have met the woman of my dreams. But thats a post for another time…
3. Giada DeLaurentis asks you to audition for her show. What dish would you prepare for her and give us the recipe , please!
giadaI have to admit, the idea of being featured on a cooking show would definitely intrigue me. Whenever I cook for my friends, I have this tendency to talk out loud about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, how long something takes to cook and how to properly dice something. Aparently, this is an unconscious habit that I do even when I’m alone. Ok, I know that sounds like I’m a little nutty, talking to myself while I cook, but you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t enjoy some of my eccentricities. 🙂
I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that Giada would ask me to audition for anything, but lets say she wanted me on to feature a recipe from my restaurant (you know, the one I would open after I win Powerball…) so I’m thinking I would have to make something slightly italian so I would probably make a cold cut and italian sausage omellette.
4 eggs beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsely
a sampling of italian deli meats chopped roughly equalling about 1/2 lb : prosciutto, mortadella, capicola are some good examples.
1/4 lb diced pancetta, pan seared
2 italian spicy sausages, grilled and chopped
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 green pepper, finely diced
2 roma tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped roughly
roasted red pepper, chopped
one cup mozzarella
1/4 fresh parmesan, roughly grated
salt
pepper
basil
oregano
juice of one lemon
In a large bowl, combine the eggs with the milk and whisk to combine. Add oregano, basil, salt and pepper to taste. In a large non stick pan, grill the onions till they start to carmelize and combine with the green and red peppers, garlic, pancetta and sausage.
On a large flat skillet that has been either buttered or at least had some non stick spray applied to it, pour on the egg mixture. Make sure the skillet is piping hot before tossing the egg on there. From here, this all comes together rather quickly. I’m a big fan of the tri-fold method of omellette making so the egg spreads out thin across the skillet, giving you a rather large middle area to combine your ingrediants. As the egg starts to firm up, put down a handfull of mozzarella and then layer on the deli meat followed by the pancetta/sausage/veggie mixture. Squeeze on top a little juice from a lemon, add another handfull of cheese and fold together the omellette. Remove the pan from the heat, layer the sliced tomatos across the top of the omellette, then smother with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Then take entire pan and set in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes to further melt the cheese and fuse the flavors. After the cheese has melted and appears golden brown, remove from oven, garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with your favorite hash or a mixed green salad.
4. If you could make a home for yourself anywhere on the planet where would you live permanently? Can you describe your home in detail? Money is, of course, no object.
scan0007scan0047scan0012Monhegan Island would be somewhere near the top of my list. I loved this place from the first moment I set foot on the island.  I wrote about my first experience there here, here, here and here. That one experince made me a fan. Sadly, I’ve only been back there twice since and only on the same kind of day trips. Eventually, when I get the free time, I plan on spending alot more time there. It has long been a refuge for artists, the Wyeth family had a home there, Hopper painted here and countless other artists have immortalized this tiny little slice of heaven.  Isolated as it is in the Gulf of Maine, it would take alot of committment to want to live there year round. A healthy love of all things seafood and a stronger set of sea legs would be a start. But the idea of living and breathing art for the rest of my life? Yeah, thats pretty tempting….And if I had a house on the island, I would want an ocean view (not hard to do on an island) with a large studio space custom built with huge bay windows facing the ocean. All the rest would be details, but a massive kitchen to cook and entertain in and of course my own mini  movie theater. 🙂
5. You’re dissatisfied with the work you do. If you could do only one thing for the rest of your life what would you do?
sirsy7joey-sarah-and-lourdsI think I would be the happiest man in the world if I could help my friends in Sirsy and Lourds. I would love nothing better than doing photography and and promotional work for them and helping in some small way. And I would definitely do this on breaks from living on Monhegan Island. 🙂
So heres the rules again in case you forgot already:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Moments of Joy and Other Sublime Silliness

adult-disguise

I have been feeling way too adult lately.

Deadlines. Meetings. Quotas. Bills. Taxes. Registration of my new car. Spring cleaning looming on the horizon.

It’s all been adding up to a whole heck of a lot of stress thats been bearing down on me for the last two weeks. I need a reason to be happy.  Surfing the blogs the other day, I came across the beautiful Miss Shepherds entry and felt a little inspiration. My mind started it’s own list of natural highs and moments that bring me joy.

1. Walking along the beach on a warm night, my toes sinking into the wet sand, the waves around my ankles.

2. Lying on the sand on a summer night, listening to the beat of the waves.

3. Making an elaborate meal for my friends when they are down.

4. Planning and cooking a huge meal for an event (Thanksgiving) and having it all come together perfectly.

5. Sinking into the couch on a cold day, wrapped in a warm blanket with a huge mug of coffee and a stack of dvd’s.

6.  Stealing a few minutes on my break to drive down to the beach and watch the waves for awhile and let my mind decompress a little from the stresses of the day.

7. Planning a road trip with my fellow ‘road warriors’ to see the bands we love.

8. Having a total geek moment and walk into a comic books store and talking all things X Men and Dark Knight and all things in between with fellow recovering geeky nerds like myself. Once in awhile, the nerd has to be let out!

9. Walking through the toy section at Walmart and seeing all the neat and highly detailed toys, secretly wishing I was a little kid again….

10. Picking up a book I haven’t read in a long time and falling into it’s pages like putting on an old sweater: comfy and warm.

11. Losing 8 hours of my life wrapped up in a video game. I realize some would see this as a waste, but sometimes getting lost in a little fantasy land is what my brain needs. And before you say “Go read a book”, I do read darnit and nothing compares to seeing your character run through that fantasyland and directing the action yourself. Don’t hate. 🙂

12. Having some song from the 80’s pop on the radio that I haven’t heard in a long time causing me to dance joyously. Melt With You and Rock Lobster are two songs that always make me giddy.

13. Having the lead singer dedicate her next song to me. I always get a little weak in the knees when that happens.

14. Being a dj and playing the music I love and actually having listeners. I truly miss this. When I was a dj at Keene State, I loved knowing people were listening.

15. Music Geek moment: going into a record store and ending up in a conversation with a total stranger about whether Trent Reznor sold out, or if the latest Ani Difranco album rocked or sucked or who was on tour and what shows we have been to, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

16. The smell of fresh brewed coffee.

17. The smell of my kitchen when I have been cooking up a storm.

18. The smile of a stranger who caught me glancing their way.

19. Playing with my camera and photographing the little things in my life.

20. Giving and recieving a hug when I least expect but when it was most needed.

21. When my rockstar friend tells me I’m one of her favorite photographers. I’m humbled that anyone would consider me a ‘photographer’, but for that to come from my friend who has been through professional photshoots for magazines and her own promotional work, I think I must have blushed three shades of red. Makes me want to take photography a little more seriously….

22. A moment of silence with friends. Not an uncomfrotable silence, but a sort of silent soldarity where there is nothing to say and we are content and comfortable with each others company and don’t have to fill each moment with talk.

23. Seeing a band for the first time, the thrill of hearing new music and a new voice.

24. The smell of laundry fresh from the dryer.

25. A clean house.

26. Getting in my car, loading up on music or books on cd, hot cup of coffee in hand, picking a direction and just going. No destination, no cares, no worries. Just me and the car driving as far away as possible.

27. The experience of a ‘destination’ restaurant. Picking a cuisine or restaurant from a review either online or on a Foodnetwork/Phantom Gourmet/Travel Channel reccomendation and going for their signature experience. I have a list a mile long of everything from greasy spoons to haute cuisine that I want to experience. Anyone up for a little road trip???

28. Sucking out a flush or a straight on the river and cleaning out my friends at the poker table when I was sure I had made a mistake by going all-in on Jack/Ace suited. Yup, I play way too much poker…..

29. Waking up to find my cat nuzzled into the crook of my arm.

30. Las Vegas! I loved that town when I visited in 1999 and been dying to go back ever since. I felt like a kid in a candystore there! A very adult candystore, but nonetheless….

31. Holding hands with someone for the first time, that fumbling of fingers and palms, finding how your hands fit together.

32. A first kiss, melting into each other for the first time.

33. The unspoken dialogue of eyes and movement, knowing someone so well that you know what they are thinking without ever speaking a word.

34. Hugs that linger and last too long, conveying more in that moment than words can capture.

35. WordPress Geek: Checking my stats and seeing what people are reading…I do this all the time. Makes me smile to see what people like.

36. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

37. Going to a wine tasting and being suprised by some obscure shiraz,  merlot or pinot noir that I had never heard of.

38. Catching up with an old friend and laughing about how much time has passed and how old we are getting.

39. Realizing how much your friends and family really care about you.

40. Successfully writing out 5 more moments of joy than Pam. (Couldn’t resist putting a little competitive spin on this)

Saying Goodbye To A Song or How Industrial Music Came Into My Life

139

i still recall the taste of your tears
echoing your voice just like the ringing in my ears
my favorite dreams of you still wash ashore
scraping through my head 'till i don't want to sleep anymore

you make this all go away
you make this all go away
i'm down to just one thing
and i'm starting to scare myself
you make this all go away
you make this all go away
i just want something
i just want something i can never have

you always were the one to show me how
back then i couldn't do the things that i can do now
this thing is slowly taking me apart
grey would be the color if i had a heart
come on tell me

you make this all go away
you make this all go away
i'm down to just one thing
and i'm starting to scare myself
you make this all go away
you make this all go away
i just want something
i just want something i can never have

in this place it seems like such a shame
though it all looks different now,
i know it's still the same
everywhere i look you're all i see
just a fading fucking reminder of who i used to be
come on tell me

you make this all go away
you make this all go away
i'm down to just one thing
and i'm starting to scare myself
you make this all go away
you make it all go away
i just want something
i just want something i can never have
i just want something i can never have

“Something I Can Never Have” – Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine

I don’t usually include song lyrics in my writing. Personally, I like to have an original take on a well founded idea, expressing my own version or variation of the theme. The individualist in me, the snarky little punk rocker that won’t go away, the artist looking for his creative outlet doesn’t like being overwritten by someone elses words and reproducing them here causes a minor crisis of faith in myself and my abilities. Do I really have so little to say about something that I have to use someone elses thoughts to express my true feelings?
When I was a DJ at Keene State College radio, a friend of mine introduced me to industrial music. I was completely clueless on the subject up til then. My life at that point was a whirlwind of punk rock, celtic, ska and the Boston music scene. I had never heard of the concept of industrial music. What did that mean?
My life was quickly saturated with the heavy, noisy, angsty and downright dirty nasty beats of the industrial scene. Many bands flowed in and out of this genre, most prominently:
KMFDM, Front Line Assembly, Front 242, Ministry, Einsturzende Neaubauten, Laibach, Nitzer Ebb, Skinny Puppy, The Revolting Cocks, Meat Beat Manifesto, Sister Machine Gun, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Pigface and of course, Nine Inch Nails. I fell in love with the intensity of the music, the noise, the distortion, challenging what really constituted a song. They introduced elements into music that were sometimes shocking but ultimately infectious and satisfying. Heavy use of looping, drum machines, samples, sound effects and simple things like a trash can being smashed across the stage entered into my little world of music. Next to techno and house music, this was far far from my safe roots of the simple 3 piece punk bands I had grown up with. The live stage presence of bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (8 members, sometimes more) compared to the pared down presence of alot of industrial bands was at first confusing to my punk rock sensibilities.
When I saw KMFDM for the first time, En Esch was prowling the front of the stage while Sascha stood surrounded by a bank of keyboards and samplers. That was when I got it. Industrial was the new disco!
Ok, all you haters out there, don’t kill me just yet. Let me explain.
Early industrial, before it’s inevitable foray into and co-opting by the metal scene, was all about style, a look and a ferocious dirty beat. At it’s core, it was exactly like disco. The music was there to move your ass! And where disco stopped at telling you to shake your money maker, industrial music took it to another level. They cranked up the volume, added in more beats, co-opted the s&m culture and created a whole world unto itself. A subculture was born that encapsulated this dark angry electronic music and gave a voice to the s&m scene, thrusting elements of that scene into the mainstream. I’m not much of a fan of the whole s&m thing, although I do own a pair of hand cuffs and have been known to wear a dog collar back in the day, but thats beside the point. 🙂 I fell deeply in love with this music.
I was still a punk rocker at heart but industrial music had laid claim to a portion of it. Within a year, I was the DJ for the industrial music show on the college station. The “Soundstorm” was born! Ok, I know it was a cheesy title, but what else would you expect from a self involved brooding artist college kid? As the official “industrial” dj, I had the opportunity to talk to labels and scored tickets to see and interview different bands. My first big show? Ministry!
I was awestruck by their amazing live show. Two drummers! Three People on guitars, one bass player and 3 on samples and keyboards. And next to them, a revolving door of vocalists from Al Jourgansen (the lead singer) to Chris Connelly and even my old punk rock hero Jello Biafra. It was an amazing experience. The opening to the song “Breathe” is basically Bill Rieflin and Martin Atkins doing their version of “Dualling Banjos” but on drum sets! The incredible noise of that Ministry show blew me away! I was a fan of metal bands to an extent ( saw Metallica 4 times during the Justice for All Tour) but never had I seen or heard a fusion of metal with the programmed nastiness of industrial music and boy did Ministry nail it. This show, this line up, this amazing piece of music was a simple taste of things to come. The merging of metal and industrial music seemed almost inevitable: the style and flash of both genres, the driving beats, the noise, the guitars, the pomp and circumstance…it was all there! Ministry perfected it! Then Trent came along and took it one step further….

Pretty Hate Machine entered my life at one of the worst and the most opportune times in my little life. I had just had my first ‘real’ breakup. It was a heart wrenching, unfair and downright cruel breakup. I was left totally depressed and angry. I wanted to lash out at everyone around me, but instead, I bottled it up. I kept it hidden. I couldn’t face how things had fallen apart.

Then, late one night, I was doing an overnight shift at WKNH. The General Manager made a request and went into the library and pulled out Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine. I played “Head Like A Hole” and immediately fell in love with the music. The next morning, I went out and bought my own copy and played it non stop for about a week or so. NIN soon became a regular staple of my first show and the song “Something I Can Never Have” became my official “woe is me, I done been dumped again” theme song. Reznor had created an album full of heartbreak and anger that was painfully human in it’s approach to industrial music. From the mechanized militant march of bands like KMFDM and the all out sensory assault of Ministry, NIN dug even deeper and attacked your heart and soul. He managed a feat that few other artists had ever managed up to then: his music made me cry.

Over the years, I come back to this album over and over again. Whenever I feel down. Whenever something went wrong in my life. Bad day at work? Pop in a little angry NIN and the day was that much darker and I wallowed in my own self pity. But most of all, I came back to this album after a bad break up. And for all the angry, pissed off posturing on this album the one song I cling to when my heart is broken is the simplest song of all. The caustic, accusatory lyrics of “Something I can Never Have” are the penultimate of self indulgence and self pity. It encapsulates a total mental breakdown and a damn you and fuck the world attitude that we all love to wallow in when our heart has been handed to us. I’ve always embraced this, no matter how old I get, when my heart gets ripped out of my chest, I fall back to that angry little punk rocker kid wrapped up in his black trench coat, headphones on, pumping the NIN, blocking out the world. These past two weeks, I revisited this attitude for a bit….

I found myself re-reading the lyrics to “Something” and it suddenly dawned on me: why am I listening to this? It was like something inside me snapped and slapped me in the face. “Why are you depressed and angry? NOTHING is worth this much sorrow!” My eyes were opened and I realized, for the first time in a long time, that I have an amazing life, full of wonderful family and friends and I have no right and no excuse to wallow in self pity. It is an insult to everyone I know, everyone I love, to sit here and feel sorry for myself when they have made my life so wonderful.

So I made a hard decision….It was time to retire this song.

I’m sure somewhere, there is an equally dissaffected youth looking for a soundtrack for their depression. And let me tell you, I can think of no better theme song than “Something”, but for me…I’m letting it go. I do not want something I can never have. I want to appreciate and love what I do have in my life, starting right now.

Horrorpops or Welcome Back The Rockabilly!

 

How could you not fall in love with this woman??

My musical vision and tastes have been a little narrow lately. I’ve been focusing on my own little local scene and the careers of my good friends. My devotion and friendship had blinded me to the music beyond my borders and my circle of friends. Then, I heard her.

Listening to NPR the other day, a story came on about about the resurgence of rockabilly and psychobilly around the world. And not just the music, but whole aesthetic that comes along with it : tattoos, Betty Page hairdos, flat tops, leather, etc. Think the movie The Outsiders, but with alot more attitude and ink. I had always been a fan of The Reverend Horton Heat, Ronnie Dawson and other bands that fell under the psychobilly umbrella during the early 90’s, but over time, well, I sorta lost interest in the uniqueness of the sound and the melding of old school rockabilly with punk rock. The scene didn’t notice my indifference, the scene carried on and grew stronger and stronger. The story from NPR was illustrating it’s growth and popularity in places like Denmark, the UK, Belgium, Amsterdam and even in Japan. One of the bands they mentioned was the Horrorpops.

I’m embarassed to admit that I am definitely coming late to this party. The Horrorpops have been around since 1996 and I’m only just now hearing them for the first time. With my encyclopedic knowledge of most things in the alternative rock arena, I had to admit, I had never heard of them. The NPR piece played a sample…and I completely fell in love. How could you not? This amazing woman with an incredible voice rocking out with a stand up bass??? Their recordings really allow you to hear every pluck of the strings as she plays her custom made stand up bass, built just for her by her husband (DAMMIT!!) Kim Nekroman, whose own band, the Nekromantix, produce their own brand of dark psychobilly. Nekroman is also in the Horrorpops playing guitar. I went straight from work to Bullmoose Music and bought their cds, after adding them on the crackspace as well. Now I just need to see them live and so do you!!! If you hear about them playing in your area, run, don’t walk, to that show!!! I’ll probably see you there…. 🙂

http://www.myspace.com/thehorrorpops