Rock Star of the Apocalypse - An Afterward: Tales of the New Earth Story - Chapter 3
Chapter 3: Somewhat Hungry Days
Teen-age bands, bein’ what they are, almost always break up. Most of ‘em ain’t got the maturity or business smarts to actually be successful. That was us; just a bunch of idiots dreamin’ dreams. My brother, our best friend, and the jackass hanger-on guy all graduated from high school at the same time, and they all went their separate ways. My brother went to the military, our best friend decided to become a hair stylist, which was pretty cool, ‘cause of free haircuts. Jackass hanger-on guy went into his dad’s business, which I have no idea what it was. Probably sellin’ used cars. Yeah, he was that big of a douchebag. So there I was, still two years out from graduation, and with nothing else to do, I just raised hell all the time. If it weren’t for enlisting in the Army in my junior year, I would’ve been in fuckin’ jail. I have no doubt about that.
Yeah, I joined the Army. Became what was known as a Combat Engineer, or Sapper, if you want to get all technical about it. That job took advantage of my… well, let’s call it an overaggressive nature. Think about some of the monsters you occasionally see now days. We were like human versions of that. I blew shit up, killed guys, and broke their stuff. I’d been from the Middle East to Central America, and we brought the pain to whoever was in the way. What’s that? You want that bridge gone? Bammo! Gone! You want the route cleared? Done, and we got to shoot some assholes, which was always a bonus. God damn it if it wasn’t the most fun I’d had with my clothes on. I kept doin’ it for about ten years, until I just up and decided that I’d rather be doing somethin’ else, and that somethin’ else was fuckin’ rockin’. Yep, gave all that up to be a rock star. I’m glad I didn’t know how hard that was gonna be at the time, or I’d have just stayed in and became one of those old guys you used to see at the liquor store, buyin’ a case of J.D. for the weekends. Hmmm. Now that I think about it, that would have been pretty fuckin’ sweet. But I didn’t, so here I am today.
So I got out, headed to Virginia, and started looking for a band. It ain’t as easy as you think, and it took me about a year to find one. The problem is that anyone with a guitar, or bass, or drum, or keyboard, or fuckin’ xylophone thinks they can be a rock star. I started with a group called, get this shit, Hemorrhoidal Rage. I have no idea what the hell I was thinkin’ being part of that. It was mostly post-punk/thrash, which wasn’t exactly my style, but I did it anyway, thinkin’ it gave me some exposure as a rock n’ roll front man. It didn’t. In fact, it made me look like some little angsty fuck, screaming out some bullshit about the government, or religion, or authority figures, or whatever little angsty fucks sing about. Most of the time, I wanted to punch those guys in the face, because they thought that their stupid name and whiny bullshit lyrics would get ‘em somewhere. I stayed with ‘em for about a year, before I decided that I was better than that. Hell, I was better than all three of those other jackholes put together. Y’know, just the thought of ‘em still pisses me off. Hope they all got eaten by a chimera. Hemorrhoidal Rage. Seriously.
Hopped from day job to day job for about three years after that, and wound up in San Luis Obispo, CA, when I see an ad on the Interwebs for an open lead singer’s spot. It was with an alt rock group called Fancy Hats and Shenanigans. They sounded like some weird combination of indy rock with heavy metal. Nice, but crunchy. I was able to pull the gig, and we played some really good shows. One of the most memorable ones was when we played The Showbox in Seattle, Washington. You know how some bands say they can feel the love from the crowd? Yeah, we were definitely feelin’ the love. I was feelin’ it more than the rest of the guys when I decided to stage dive. I’m pretty sure some of the ladies, and maybe a few dudes, were grabbin’ my junk. Can’t blame ‘em; I have some pretty grabbable junk! But the overall feelin’ of the show was that they accepted us, and we loved that shit. I felt like I’d finally arrived, and this was gonna get us to the big time. We were on top of the world, even if it was at a local level.
But, like any good, true story of rock n’ roll success, there’s always a few fuck-ups on the road to glory. Sammy, our bass player, decided that he wanted to be the guy everybody recognized. Dude was always divin’ out into the crowd, or runnin’ up on me while I was singing, or doin’ the same thing while Nate, our lead guitarist, was into a solo. I mean, it’s not a big deal for a band to share the glory, but he was always doin’ shit to say, “Hey! Look at me! I’m a rock star!” He was even makin’ local news for some dumb shit, like moonin’ people out of cab windows. Basically, the bigger we got, the bigger Sammy’s fuckin’ ego was.
So we had a band meeting. It was actually more like an intervention, but instead of confrontin’ someone over their drinkin’ or drugs, we were doin’ a dickhead intervention for Sammy. We were all like, “Dude, stop being such a giant dickhead all the time. We’re a band. It’s not FH&S with Sammy the Dickhead.” Dickhead Sammy, being a dickhead, starts accusing us of being the real dickheads, and that Nate and I were just trying to grab all the glory, while he and Tom, our drummer, were just supposed to be in the background. He even tried to get Tom on his side. I had to actually laugh during this serious meeting when Tom said, “Nah, dude, you’re a fuckin’ dickhead.” Sammy walked out on the band, doing the whole “I’ll show you!” routine. Yeah, he showed us. He showed us that he didn’t have anythin’ else goin’ for him, when we saw him playin’ for some emo group a few months later, bein’ all mopey and shit. Serves the dickhead right.
Ultimately, the band had to break up, even after findin’ a really good replacement for Dickhead Sammy. Have I mentioned he was a dickhead? Yeah, he was. We weren’t explodin’ like we thought we would have been. At best, we were regional heroes, from Seattle to Chico, CA. We just couldn’t break through. There were problems with the band as well. Tom’s health took a downturn, and he eventually got claimed by cancer. Sad shit. Tom was a stand-up dude, and we really missed him. Nate started havin’ “family issues”, which meant his wife was always yellin’ at him to get a real fuckin’ job, so they could do crazy shit, like pay the rent. Dave, our replacement bassist, saw the writin’ on the wall and bailed. Can’t blame the dude for that. We jammed one last time at Cozmic Pizza, in Eugene, OR. It was a good, small show, and we all shook hands and parted ways after that. Hope that the dudes are doing okay, things bein’ what they are. I should probably try findin’ ‘em sometime.
I eventually made my way back to the East Coast, and settled down in Alexandria, VA. Got a roommate and moved into Old Town, where they had a pretty good music scene. I snagged a job at the Light Horse, and bartended and bounced for a while. Yeah, I may be five-five in height, but I’m always a big fan of the equalizer. Trust me, quite a few people have had to deal with the Napoleon Complex dude with an ASP. I was always payin’ attention to the music acts at the Light Horse, and elsewheres in Old Town. They were good, and I thought I could do somethin’ like that again. All I needed was some dudes to make some good music, and not give a shit if we got paid all that much
I started out with an ad on the Interwebs for people who would be interested in puttin’ together a band. Holy shit, that was a mistake for the most part. I did, however, meet a lot of really interestin’ people, and that’s puttin’ it mildly. This one guy, who was tryin’ out for drummer said he could only play in adult diapers. I was like, “What the hell, dude? Why?” He said it was because he strained so much when he drummed, he sometimes pissed himself! I told him to call me after he sees a doctor about that shit. A dude who wanted to be lead guitarist comes by my place, unpacks his guitar, plays a pretty nice intro, and then just starts beating the everlovin’ shit out of the guitar. He told me that’s how you play a solo; with emotion. I told him that his emotion wasn’t playing any actual fuckin’ notes, so that was it for him. The most enjoyable audition for me was a lady that said she couldn’t sing or play an instrument. I asked her what the hell she was gonna to bring to the band. She said she could be our “dancer”. I told her we didn’t need a dancer, to which she asked me to come see her actually dance. I went on a few dates with her after that, so thanks, Interwebs, or what were the Interwebs. Damn shame we don’t have that anymore. I bet she’s still around, dancin’!
After about a year and a half of this crap, I finally met Angus while I was tendin’ bar at the Horse. Dude could knock ‘em back, which I can appreciate, and durin’ a drunken conversation he told me that he played guitar, and was lookin’ for a few dudes to put together a band. I told him that, oddly enough, I was lookin’ for said dudes as well. Numbers were exchanged, he said a slurred “Later, man!”, and off he stumbled into the night. I was thinking Well, shit, it couldn’t be any worse than the jokers I’ve been lookin’ at, so what do I have to lose? Good thing I went with that thought. I met up with Angus at his place, and we drank and jammed for a few hours, which is how this shit is supposed to work. Dude could definitely play, and he was pretty cool, so we decided to pool our resources and look for the final pieces of the puzzle; a bassist and a drummer.
I found ‘em later on. That summer, I was down at the Old Town Waterfront, where they were havin’ one of those shindigs where it’s a “family-friendly” event. Old people with their grandkids, parents with their toddlers, that kind o’ thing. I’m just down there enjoyin’ the music, and the food, and most of all the beer, having a fine ol’ time. Well, it was later in the evenin’, after all the kiddies had left, when this group, I wanna say their name was Essential Requirements or something, gets on stage and they just start killin’ it. It was kinda like a rock/funk thing, and I liked the hell out of it, and so did a good bit of the audience. But, like with most good things, some asshole decides he didn’t appreciate as much as other people do, and he starts in with the fuckin’ hecklin’. They stopped playin’ long enough for the lead singer to focus right on the guy and flip him off and start talkin’ shit, to which the asshole in the crowd responds with throwin’ a water bottle at him, which wound up hittin’ the bassist. That was it. Show’s over, and the bassist jumps off the stage, bass in hand, walks with a purpose up to the dude and punches him in the fuckin’ face. Asshole takes a swing back, so the bassist clocks him with the bass. Dude was done, and you’d have thought that woulda been the end of it. Nope! I guess there was some pent-up anger in the audience, because a huge fuckin’ fight breaks out, and the bassist is in the middle of it all, swingin’ that bass around like he was some kind of fuckin’ Viking or something. The rest of the band had bailed except the drummer, who was just up there protectin’ his gear, which is completely the right thing to do. That shit looked expensive, so yeah, I’d do the same thing. So the drummer is sluggin’ the occasional douchebag that jumped up to start shit with him. I was thinkin’ to myself, These are the dudes I want for this band. Everybody was fightin’. It wasn’t just these two guys against the crowd. In fact, it looked like somethin’ you’d see in a fuckin’ movie. All they needed was an old-timey piano guy playin’ in the background and fuckin’ chandeliers to swing on. Bass man was holdin’ his own, as most people didn’t wanna get hit. Hell, that’d be on my list of things not to do; get hit with a bass guitar. But the drummer was about to get his ass handed to him. While he was dealin’ with one jackoff, another dude was behind him, gettin’ ready to put the hurt on him. So me, bein’ the civic-minded guy I am, come up behind that guy and bust him in the head with a beer bottle. Yeah, I know that was kinda sneaky, but you don’t win a fuckin’ fight by playin’ fair. The drummer turns around and gets ready to unload on me, but I’m all like, “Dude, I’m on your side!”. That’s when the cops show up, bust heads, take statements, the usual shit. Fun time was over.
I meet up with these two chuckleheads as they were packin’ up. I call ‘em chuckleheads, but I mean it in the most affectionate way possible. Both of ‘em were talkin’ about how the other guys pussed out. I introduced myself, and asked what all that bullshit was about, with their band mates leavin’ like that. Craig, the bassist, introduced himself and the drummer, Bean, and said the band was fallin’ apart, and that just proved it. I said their set, right up until the fight started, sounded pretty tight, like they were a pretty good unit overall. Bean says that’s what it looked like, but their guitarist was a prima donna, and their lead singer was a complete pussy who’d start shit and run off, just like that night. I introduced myself, told ‘em I was lookin’ for a couple o’ guys for a band that Angus and I were startin’ up. I also said, as an added bonus, that Angus and I weren’t a couple o’ fuckin’ douches who’d leave their band mates high and dry when shit goes down. They talked about it for a few minutes and came back with a “yes”. Just like that, we had our missin’ pieces, and could commence to tear up the local music scene.
We all met up a week later at my place and jammed. Shit, we sounded good, and that was with only an hour or two’s worth of practice! We played the rest of the night, drank lots of beer, got really loud, and had a lot of fun. People, that’s the way this shit’s supposed to be; have fun, but make the fuckin’ music. Once we were all played out and drunk as hell, we started talkin’ about band names.
Furious Cavaliers? Nope. Sounded like we should be playin’ in frilly pirate shirts or some shit.
Forever Old Town? I like Old Town, but I don’t wanna be actin’ like we fuckin’ owe ‘em anything.
Crumpus? I forget who came up with that one, but I do remember beer cans were thrown.
Finally, Craig comes up with the name Waterfront Thieves. I asked what the fuck that was supposed to mean. Craig says the majority of the band met on the Waterfront. I asked where the “Thieves” part comes from. He comes back by sayin’ him and Bean stole about seven cases of liquor after the fight was over. We thought about this one for a while, and eventually, Waterfront Thieves was born. God dammit, I miss those guys.