When I look back and examine the opportunities and experiences I've been given, I have to say that I've been blessed beyond my wildest dreams & imaginings.
Certainly, growing up listening to and idolizing KISS and the like, I dreamt the dream of a Rock n' Roll superstar playing in huge, sold out arenas for thousands of adoring fans (and supermodels) and doing no wrong in the eyes of the world...
Obviously, except for during REM sleep, that particular dream has not (yet : >) been realized, but I have gotten to play on several stages with many fascinating and talented people. I've recorded in a 'Pro' studio and built my own studio in my home.
I've joined and formed a couple of bands that did quite well by the standards set by it's members and, most importantly to me, I've written, performed and recorded more music than I ever would have imagined.
Okay now, before this starts to resemble the life story I'm currently throwing against the wall of my Biography page, I think I should list of some of the actual projects and provide some content for you other than my 73 w.p.m. ramblings...
Aside from my musical stuff, I've also gotten involved in website design during the latter part of the 90's so I'll start by showing you this...
I was thrilled and surprised to recently learn that my Very First website is STILL ONLINE ! ! !
If ya wanna check out some real basic old school HTML, go have a look at http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Lagoon/9577/
(but please ignore the silly little advertisement window that geocities has taken the liberty of adding)
Sadly, my Very Second website, the one that supported the Dark Mother Scream - Today's Times project, has been obliterated from the world wide web.
Although I'd love nothing more than to pin the blame for this on the whole Roger's to Shaw conversion process that so many of us here on the Canadian west coast suffered through, I must take most of the ownership for myself as I had a day of carelessness that saw me lose a significant quantity of NON BACKED UP DATA from my hard drive and the old DMS website content was among what was lost.
Let this be a lesson to you kids...
Uncle Robbie says, "ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR WORK IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN"
Musical Acts and Recordings
FIRST AND LAST
Sunday May 3rd, 1992
The first time in my life that I ever got up on stage and performed in front of a crowd was quite an amazing thing. It astounds me that it ever even came to pass.
I'd been living and attending college in Prince George, BC and met up with a guy named Conrad who played guitar, sang and played harmonica. We jammed at his place a couple times and then he informed me that he was leaving for Germany within a couple of weeks. I was also preparing to move back down to the coast within a month or two so we agreed that we would pick a few songs and perform them at this local establishment called the 'Urban Coffee House' that had open stages every Sunday night.
We planned to perform within about 12 days but figured it would go over better if we had a bass player with us.
A friend of mine had a 12 year old daughter named Dusty who'd been playing bass for about 4 months or something and I gave him a hastily recorded tape of the songs we'd decided on.
She was never able to get together with us to practice but she did show up for the night of the performance!
Now THAT'S Courage!!!
Since it was literally the first and, almost certainly, the last time that the three of us had ever or were ever going to perform on stage together, we chose to call ourselves 'First & Last'.
I remember being incredibly nervous myself and hopeful that the night's audience was going to be a particularly open-minded and forgiving one as I didn't expect anything to phenomenal from the three of us other than to have fun and savour the moment.
Imagine my surprise and self-consciousness when the MC introduced us as 'The First & Last Band' (a moniker with a very different sort of implication about the stature and prowess of our little throw together band)
I had yet to find a singing voice so Conrad handled all the vocals, rhythm guitar and harmonica.
I played rhythm and lead.
Dusty rocked away with her bass.
As you'll hear, the performance(s) were pretty rough on all of our parts for the first while but we got less nervous as things went on (seems like Conrad missed the last line of almost every verse). At least during my guitar solos in Ash's song I managed to connect with my feelings for the song (one little glitch in end of 3rd solo).
The set was only meant to consist of three songs but we were actually honoured with a request for an encore!!! The cheering I heard at the end of each song became my life's new drug and I've never, ever, EVER gotten enough of it and doubt I ever will!
The recording isn't that great so I've included the original lyrics for the song 'Ashley-Anne' so you can check them out.
This is what we played:
(Song I wrote for Ash when she was four and I missed her so very much)
(Note how the solo moves from totally out of synch to pretty cool)
(Here's where we really started to gel)
(Pure Fun!!! Not sure why I brought it to a close so soon)
Here are some pictures of the three of us from that night...
(click on the thumbnails for a larger image)
Not a lot of photos were taken that evening but here are a few of the ones I received. The stage was small but, as you'll hear by the applause on the audio, the room was pretty large.
Summer & Fall, 1993
A friend of mine named Anthony Sawada had put together a 60's 70's 80's cover band to perform for the local 12 step recovery community and they'd done pretty well and played some rather large gatherings. The lead guitarist had quit and Anthony gave me a couple auditions. I thought I'd done rather poorly but the band welcomed me with open arms. I only played a couple gigs with them but they were for huge crowds, by my standards, and I had a blast. Not really my brand of music but lots of fun to play for dancing hundreds!!!
(Sadly, no pics or recordings available)
Spring, Summer & Fall, 1994
How to tell the tale?
(click on the thumbnails for a larger image)
Me n' my good old friend and drummer Hugh McGillvray began jamming in the spring of '94 and, before long, we were really enjoying and grooving on some of the songs we'd collaborated on.
We ran an ad in the Georgia Straight in search of a bass player, vocalist and second guitarist and soon met up with bassist extraordinaire, Zombie Man, Doug 'The Slug' Ryan. The three of us gelled quickly and began auditioning some of the singers who'd responded to the ad.
There wasn't much response but one of them was from a young woman named Connie Schmidt. I met with her on my own and she stated her influences as Robert Plant (Zeppelin) and Geoff Tate (Queensryche). She had great tone and LOTS of enthusiasm. She tried out for the band and won us all over immediately.
The second guitarist we settled on was a young guy named Mike 'The Spike' (last name unknown). Brilliant young player but not very reliable for gigs and practices which forced me to play some of the shows as the only guitarist. I guess I still hold a resentment against him cause we'd worked so hard to construct songs and sets that worked with a guitar duo and my enjoyment of these nights was reduced by the pressure of having to play both parts for every song... that and he still owes me $10.00 : )
We practiced as a five piece for about a month or so and played a party at my house (our practice space) for about 25 - 30 people before venturing out to play at various clubs in town.
We went into the studio and recorded the Three Song Demo "How Serious Are You?" before playing Freeworld in Langley twice, the American on Main St. for one weekend with Dead Crony, the Hungry Eye in Gastown and a battle of the bands called Rock School at the Hotel California on Granville.
We had a bunch of promo shots done (coming soon) and had a full-on, kick-ass concept for the band, including my favourite "DFS" which stood for Dead Fucking Serious and was echoed in our closer, 'How Serious Are You?'
I'll soon include here for you, some clips of the shows... They were quite intense a lot of fun for all in attendance, particularly US.
In those few months that Hugh, Doug, Connie and I rehearsed and/or performed a few times a week or more, I felt at a spiritual or cellular level that
I spent my DFS days feeling excited, optimistic, enthusiastic and proud of what we were doing, okay, frequently scared too. I doubt I could ever type words to describe the joy I felt on stage with this band. Probably can't describe the challenges either, unless you count those few moments after Con stepped on the cable leading to my wah pedal during a particularly challenging solo at the Eye. But that wasn't her fault, I should've secured it better.
Stage anxiety is an amazing thing. I recall being near vomiting from the anticipation of walking on stage the first time and not much less than severe nausea most nights. Much like exercising, self help work and other forms of discipline, it's an experience that proves to the individual time and time again that the fear far outweighs the rewards
Sadly, Dead Serious was not exactly what we were.
Too much partying and a lack of mutual focus led to Hugh's departure.
He and Mike were replaced by drummer Greg and guitarist Shawn and the band's sound became even heavier (wait for the audio tracks I'll soon rip from the Turf show). This wasn't necessarily a bad thing but the musical connection wasn't quite the same and some of my own behaviours had gotten a little further out of hand than I wanted and I blamed it on the 'lifestyle'.
I'd become disenchanted with the energy of the band as well as the way I was handling my life at the time and I left the band.
I hung out with Doug n' Connie on and off for a few months to come and we jammed now and then with different people. Doug went on to join one of my all time fave local bands, Chronic Noise Injection (C.N.I.) <watch for postings of their demo here> before moving back east and Connie did some stints in a couple local bands as well.
Lots of cool memories, pictures, recordings and videos of live shows to look back on. There's still a couple videos of the Hungry Eye performance out there that I'd absolutely LOVE to get my hands on if I can ever find Connie or her friend Bill again.
Definitely... One of my life's greatest summers...
Here's a big chunk of the tunes from the day:
The HOW SERIOUS ARE YOU? Demo
The HOUSE PARTY
HOW SERIOUS ARE YOU?
HOW SERIOUS ARE YOU?
HOW SERIOUS ARE YOU?
HUGH n' ROB
SOMEDAY COMES OF AGE
Others from that year...
LIES TO SELL
GHOSTS & HOVELS
1996 - 1997
After DFS, I did some writing and jammed with Dan Trudell helping out on vocals. I then spent about a year focusing on a relationship I was in and moved from Surrey to New Westminster and back again. I was still writing and playing but not really putting any serious energy into putting a band together. I wrote a tonne of songs in this period and recorded many of them on a ghetto blaster in the shack I shared with Pete in Bridgeview. Played and wrote a lot of cool stuff with Cheryl Klassen in '96 as well. Man she has a great voice!
I'd never taken myself seriously as a vocalist but really began finding something of a voice in this stretch. Mostly just the courage to sing in front of people as opposed to the true sense of where my singing soul lay... That's still forming to this day...
I went into a studio in New Westminster in early '97 and recorded 'Ghosts of my Addiction', a 12 song demo of 11 originals and one Neil Young cover tune. Having since acquired my own studio and studio skills, I sometimes find it painful to listen to these recordings cause we could have done so much more with what was available and the performances themselves were so rushed. But it is a piece of my musical history and I have some pride attached to it
GHOSTS OF MY ADDICTION
LOOKING GLASS HOLE
FEAR OF YOU
GREETING & BLESSED BE
OUT MY WINDOW
3 DAYS AFTER
POWDERFINGER - written by Neil Young
Ashley & Dad
The first cool song I recorded after investing in my home studio was 'Tofino'. Ashley and I wrote it after she came back from her vacation with Lori n' April. The lyrics all come from her descriptions of what they saw.
DARK MOTHER SCREAM
1999 - 2000
No time right now to give y'all the complete breakdown on this one...
Here's some of the material from the Today's Times project:
Due to its being located on a different server, this link may respond differently than the others (perhaps opening a Quicktime window and begin playing the track) so it is recommended that you right-click and hit 'save as'. It's definitely worth it - One of the best on the disk!
A More Detailed Musical History
join me, take my arm and stroll down Rock n' Roll - Heavy Metal Memory Lane as we travel from where it all began all the way forward to the land of where it was, ummm, yesterday...
Mom says I used to wake up around the age of three on Sunday mornings and ask her from my crib, "Can we listen to some Blem Plampbell?..." Why Sunday mornings I'm not quite sure. Maybe even at that young age I recognized the divinity inherent in music. Why Glen Campbell I'm even less sure... I guess we just go with what we know...
Music is definitely one thing I am eternally grateful to my family for exposing me to. There were no living, breathing musicians in my childhood world but Mom played tonnes of it on the stereo all our lives.
By the time I was about 8 or 9, the sounds of Aerosmith, Nazareth, Sweet and others were emanating from my sister Lori's bedroom. I think it was about my 8 or 9th birthday when Lori bought me Aerosmith's 'Toys In The Attic' as a gift and I was doomed to a Rock n' Roll lifestyle from then on.
To be continued...