Thursday, January 8, 2009

I’m With The Band: The Beginnings

It may surprise people who meet me at this stage in my life, but when I was younger, I looked a lot different :). I remember distinctly the emotions and the attitude that led me into wanting to join a band when I was 18 years old. Prior to that, I was a music geek, loved music, had a level of minutiae knowledge of bands that was quite prodigious, and I enjoyed tooling around on my guitar, but honestly just figured that I wasn’t cut out to be a musician.

Well, that changed soon enough when I turned 18, and those changes had a profound effect on my life, in good ways and not so good ways. I’ve talked about these in many places over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever really told my story of my life as a musician and what it actually meant to me to be in that whirlwind for the near decade I was actively pursuing music as a career. Thus, it’s time to add another schizophrenic element to this blog. This is my first entry in what I guess will become a fairly significant series of posts called “I’m With The Band”. Today I’m going to start at what’s effectively “The Beginning”

Sometime towards the tail end of 1985, I broke up with a girlfriend, and that was a rather intense experience (it wasn’t one of those nice “can we still be friends’ type of breakups, either). I found myself dealing with a lot of emotions and frustrations that I wasn’t sure how to handle, but more to the point, I could make some clean choices if I wanted to. I could pour my attentions into my schooling (I’d just started my first year of college a couple of months before), I could pour my attentions into working and making some money, there was lots of things I could somehow do. I could start mending my relationship with people in my church, of which I was actively in the process of ticking off at least half of the people there at the time. What I didn’t expect was to be sitting in the college cafeteria one day, talking to another guy who I’d just met, sharing some quick conversations about music and what we liked and didn’t like, and how it seemed aggravating that all of the stuff we liked was spread around a bunch of different genres, and you were somehow weird if you liked more than one of them. Being a fan of New Wave and Heavy Metal? Sure, but pick one or the other, you can’t bge both or do both in the same band… or can you? With that casual conversation came the beginnings of a decade long pursuit.

On the plus side, I tried to play bass and be a meaningful “musician” in a band as it was forming, but ultimately I discovered what my true musical talent was, and that was as a singer. I would start to come out of my shell, inch by inch, and the introverted and shy, though hyperactive, kid would soon enough develop into a much more gregarious and forward (though still hyperactive) man. I made some great friends during these very formative first three years, where myself and my friend Mike Welsh (the aforementioned first conversation) would meet Eric Johnson, Jeff Winkler and Mike Kaluski (as well as a number of other people who would come and go) along the way as we developed our first true band.

Negatives that came from this time are entirely subjective, but there’s no question that my ultimate choice of going to BYU at some point was completely halted at this stage (I grew my hair out, you can’t have long hair at BYU, hence no attending BYU for me). In addition, I developed some *very* bad habits and attitudes about money at this time in my life, not at all helped by the fact that we wanted to get things rolling and *FAST*. To do that, you need gear, you need transportation, and you need to be able to promote your band in a broad manner. My answer to all of this was to get credit and run it up like a maniac, which I did in spades. It goes without saying that the rock and roll lifestyle is somewhat diametrically opposite of a lifestyle of an active Latter-day Saint. Is it possible to be a rock and roll musician and an active, observing member of the church? I’ll say yes, it is possible, but it’s definitely a challenging undertaking. Were I to recommend to anyone a course of action and a career path that included living the gospel standards to their highest level, I don’t think I would include striving to be a rock and roll star as being a good way to go about it. Of course, this is coming from someone who did not live up to those standards at that time in his life. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have shared that reality with my children (not in any vivid detail sense, mind you) but its common knowledge that Dad became inactive while he was a musician.

I’ll share more about the development of this first band (that went by three names; Crysis, Monikker and Ricochet) in our next installment :).

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