For mostly nostalgia's sake, here is every band I've been in from 1995 (when I started playing music in a group setting) to 2008.
This is a long one, folks. Kudos if you read the whole thing:
Sugar High, Summer 1995
My first foree into playing music with people, but not really a band. I met two guys who were a year or two older than me who were trying to start a band, Jerry (who played guitar) and Steve (who played bass). There was no drummer. I had just started learning how to play guitar, so since I wasn't very good, they made me singer (who still wore a guitar around his shoulder but rarely played). I think we practiced twice, and each time we really only played 2 cover songs, which were probably Green Day or The Offspring or Nirvana. I never really liked Jerry, so I stopped going over to his house. Years later he became a white supremacist, and then a drunk punk. Funny how the world works.
Ritlan, 1995 - 1997
My first band. Me and Steve from the previous band decided we actually wanted to write our own songs and be in a real band. I got better at guitar and they made me keep singing (in retrospect, though I really sucked at the time, it made me a frontman, which I've been 90% of the time since). So we found this guy Myles, who was a year younger than me to play drums. We were all going to the same Junior High at the time. In trying to think of a name, someone I believe suggest "ritalin" because we were really excited about the band and were probably overly hyper. None of us really knew how to spell it correctly, so this is what came out. I think we decided on "Ritlan" so we could draw a circle around the A in our logo. Oh god.
Myles to this day is still one of the hardest hitting drummers I've ever played with, and he was only 12 at the time. We started out writing stuff that sounded like Nirvana, and kept getting more and more "punk" as time went on. The three of us were at that age where we were trying to find our own identities, both as a band and as people. In the beginning we were writing three chord punk songs, would play shows completely drunk and high, and were basically living the "punk" life as best our 13 year old brains could understand. I even played in front of my entire Junior High School population drunk off Golden Glow (a Canadian malt beverage...tasted like fucking piss, but was the largest, cheapest alcoholic thing you could get at the time...it was big with the punks) I had been drinking in the bathroom at lunch hour.
Skip to the following year, and we're straight edge (ha). We started listening to hardcore, so our writing went more in that direction. I wrote some songs about being straight edge, and they would be the only ones I would ever write in the ensueing 9 years of edgedom. We only ever played in Halifax and the outskirts, because that's as far as our parents would drive us. We eventually lost interest and split up. Very few people were ever at our shows, including our last.
We self recorded a bunch of tapes that we released. One was a glorified practice recording done early on, which would probably be like absolute nails-on-a-chalkboard for me to listen to now. Hopefully it has been destroyed. In early '96 we recorded "What's Going On Here?" on a 4 track we rented for the day. As well, probably long gone. Later that year we had a live recording done which was limitedly released as "I'm A Living Joke". In '97, right before we broke up, Derrick Hiltz recorded one song for the Incoherent Comp (a comp compiled and released to accompany a local zine I used to help do called Incoherent Crap), which accompanied one song off of the "I'm A Living Joke" recording. This was really the only time anyone heard us.
Unstable Society, Sometime in 1996 or '97
This was an offshoot from Ritlan. One time at practice while taking a break, Steve picked up my guitar and started playing a hardcore song he wrote on the spot. Myles kicked in on the drums, and I just screamed and rolled around on the floor. It eventually went somewhere, and we wrote a few songs and did "Wake Of Deception" by Dropdead. We played once at the end of a Ritlan set. I think people enjoyed it more than Ritlan. We had plans to get a bass player and be a real band. Mackenzine (Mac - you'll read more about him soon) came out to a practice one time, but we lived so far outside the city that it was the one and only time. The band fizzled out when Ritlan did.
The only thing ever recorded was a practice recording, which is long gone. I believe I still have a live recording of Ritlan doing the Dropdead song though.
Persist, Sometime in 1997 probably
This was kind of a one off thing. While Steve and I had the 4 track rented for a Ritlan recording, we decided to write two grindcore songs on the spot in my bedroom at my parents house. On this, I played drums, guitar, and sang, and Steve played bass. It was extremely primitive grindcore, ala Enslavement era Napalm Death. We were so pleased with how it sounded, we rented another 4 track a few months later and did some more. I think we wrote 15 songs on the spot. The second time around it was alot more like Excruciating Terror (which, yes, is like Enslavement era Napalm Death).
Neither recordings were ever released, and we never assembled anything to play a show. I still have the tapes though.
Snot Party, 1996-1998
Once Ritlan ended, Steve and I decided to roll with him on guitar and me just singing as we did in Unstable Society. By this time Steve had moved on to High School, leaving me a grade behind and in another school. There, he met a fellow named Lance who played drums. We got a guy named Gerry to play bass who lived in the city that Steve and I had met from going to shows. He'd take the bus for about an hour just to come practice.
Our premise was to dumb ourselves back down to fast, short punk songs. Combined with a taste for ridiculous and lewd humor made this one of the funnest bands I've ever been in. We got our name from a Simpsons epidsode.
Right from the get go, we would dress up in costume for every show. We'd each come up with something different for each show, and we'd never match with each other. Gerry would often end up naked - in fact, one time Lance's Dad drove us to Fredericton, NewBrunswick to play a show and Gerry's costume was a plastic bag taped over his dong, which was removed during the set, and we were basically run out of town by rednecks. We weren't very good, but our antics made us controversial and a big hit with the local crowd. We also spanned what I consider a generation gap in Halifax punk: we got our start playing at Cafe Ole (Halifax, and Canada's first completely all ages club), survived through it being forced to shut down, the ensueing dry spell of punk shows for nearly a year afterward, and the opening of The Pavilion (another all ages club started by the guy who ran Cafe Ole).
This was the first band where I started regularly playing in other provinces and getting outside my comfort zone. Gerry and I became best friends during this band. We all began to get involved with other bands and our interest eventually faded, so we decided to end it. We did a reunion show during the Summer of 2000 and because of a falling out, we didn't invite Steve to play at it. Derrick Hiltz filled in on guitar.
In mid to late 1996, our first demo tape was recorded by Derrick Hiltz in a variety of houses and apartments on a 4 track. Entitled "Please Hammer Don't Hurt Us", it featured the intentional longest thanks list of any demo tape ever made, in leiu of a lyric sheet. My lyrics were so fucking dumb, it didn't matter anyway. A few live recordings exist, but were never released. A couple songs made it to the Incoherent Comp I believe. In '98, we recorded and released "627 Days", our second tape. It was recorded this time by Ian Dares, and again on 4 track. The mix was totally blown out and raw, and it matched our eventual thrash sound excellently. It was the first time a Big Muff was used on a recording I was on, and Gerry's bass tone was amazing. The cover of the tape had the 80's SPEED METAL log on the cover, and actually featured lyrics this time. I remember seeing people read them and literally laughing out loud. This was one of the only bands where I felt accomplished when people openly laughed at what I was creating.
The Master Bakers, 1996 on and off until about 1999
The Master Bakers were formed one night after some band cancelled at a show all the Snot Party guys were at, minus Lance. SP were asked if they could fill the spot, but since we were one man down, we said we'd do something anyway. I played drums, Steve played guitar, and Gerry sang. It was all total improv grind/punk for about 40 minutes. By the end of the set Gerry put his head inside the bass drum while I was still playing, and he was still singing. I remember him saying he had quite a headache after.
From then on, since we literally went to just about every punk show in Halifax, we were the on site spot filler. Eventually it caught on, and other people started coming on with us to play various instruments. At one show I believe we had 6 or 7 people on stage, all trying to play a made up song on the spot together. Imagine two guitar players and two bass players trying to keep up with me on drums, with no direction whatsoever. I think once we even had someone playing a bass that wasn't even plugged into an amp. It was either amazing or annoying, whichever way you look at it. This was all done during the Cafe Ole days.
Incarnations puttered out until 1999 sometime when Gerry and I pulled it out at the newly opened Pavilion. This time only featuring me on drums, Gerry on bass and both of us singing. We did a Spazz song that night I remember.
It was always 100% improv and never recorded. Thankfully.
Falling Out, 1998, maybe into early '99
After Snot Party ended, the combination of Steve and I would make one last go. In the height of the straight edge scene in Halifax, we decided to pledge a band to just that. This time around, Steve would be frontman and just sing, I played guitar, Lance played drums, and some new friends Nathan and Keith, would play bass and guitar, respectively. In hindsight, the songs were bland, generic 90's hardcore. Even then, I was kind of the black sheep because even though I was straight edge, I wasn't one of those STRAIGHT EEEEEEEDGE guys. My contributions to the band were alot of Ebullition records-esque parts that didn't really match, but we played anyway. We did "Impact" by Chain Of Strength, which was really my favorite song to play with the band.
Ironically, Steve and I eventually had a falling out and I quit the band. Steve's personality traits also grated the nerves of a few other members, and I convinced them to leave the band as well and start a new project with me...
We recorded a demo tape sometime in '98 I think. I think it was engineered by Philip Clark using the equipment at The Pavilion. I had nothing to do with its release. The covers were fucking ugly. And it said straight edge all over it.
Useless Solution, 1998 - 2001
On the heels of the "falling out", Nathan, Keith and I decided to start a different kind of hardcore band. This time with Nathan on drums, his musical birthright, Keith and I played guitar and Gerry came in on bass. We all loved His Hero Is Gone and decided that's who we would emulate. We were all talented musicians and song writers, especially for our ages (15 through 18). We gelled insanely well when we were both writing and playing, and it was probably the only time I've been in a group where every member brought both ideas and riffs in on a regular basis. We were all extremely into what we were doing and really were best friends in the process. For the first little while we all sunk all of our energy into the band and we all felt like it was really paying off.
We made small accomplishments such as getting on national and international comps, getting on the Halifax On Music festival (which, for a few years, is what the legendary Halifax Pop Explosion festival became), and for the first time building a fan base outside of Nova Scotia.
After the first year or so, we hit rocky times. Keith was also playing in local band Led By Regret which took preference and eventually pushed him to leave Useless Solution to focus more on. At his last show he said he had just gotten a job at Pizza Hut and needed to focus on that (though, at the time, Pizza Hut was the scene hangout). Shortly after Keith left, we enlisted Ian Hart as his replacement. Once Ian was in the fold, our writing started to go more on the metallic side, and our songs got longer. Ian and I were listening to alot of Morning Again and Cave In at the time, so we wrote similar stuff. Though Ian did a great job, we never got the spark back that the original line up had. We played some good shows, and eventually Nathan decided he wanted to leave as well. Nathan found religion and it's still debatable whether he wanted to focus more time and attention to that, or he just didn't want to associate with athiests as closely anymore. From then on, our (he and I) friendship was never the same again either, though now I still see both Nathan and Keith as great guys and still consider them friends, though we only talk on occasion.
What followed was a long hiatus of trying to find drummers who could play fast and solid enough. We had the curse of spending a few years playing with a phenomenal drummer who left some big big shoes to fill. Eventually, in 2000 Gerry, Ian and I decided to overhaul the band. We went full on in the metal direction, incorporating black and death metal stuff. A friend, Gerald, agreed to play drums thankfully, as he was really the only one in the city we knew who could do blast beats other than Nathan. At this point, I switched to just singing, and we played one show in the basement of an art space as a 4 piece. Soon after though, long time friend of Gerrys, Mike Day, came in to play second guitar. Mike sold drugs and it made Ian uneasy, which was funny.
We played with this lineup for only about 8 or 9 months before it was time to stop beating a dead horse. We played some shows, wrote some good songs, but Gerry and I both knew that what the band had become was nothing compared to what we were with the original lineup. Our last show was dubbed "The Funeral" and everyone was encouraged to dress in black. I had poured so much in to the band over my mid to late teens, and it had gotten me through so many rough times that when it was gone, I felt like there was an immeasureable hole to fill.
We only recorded with the original lineup. We did our first demo, during which we also did "Like Weeds" by His Hero Is Gone. After that, we did two songs specifically to go on comps. One went on the "Violent Core Attack Volume 2" 7" comp put out by Tabacco Shit Records out of Montreal. The other was going on a comp by a label out of North Carolina, which I have no idea whether or not was actually released. My friend Mackenzie did guest vocals on the one that was probably never released. Then we did our "March" cassette. This got a good review in HeartattaCk zine. Also, the night after finishing the "March" recording, we did a live set on CKDU radio in Halifax, which was recorded, but never released. I still have it though. I had lost my voice earlier in the day so my diaphragm would only open to scream, but when I talked nothing came out.
Sadly, the second generation Useless Solution stuff was never recorded. Though I have ripped off several of the riffs from those songs over the years.
I'd still like to do a reunion show with the original line up, now almost 10 years later (!!!) as it is one of my fondest memories of my adolescence, and as a musician.
Envision, 1998 - 2002
I guess even though I wasn't one of those STRAIGHT EEEEEDGE guys, apparently one straight edge band wasn't good enough for me. Spear headed by long time (and still) friend Ian Hart, I was the guitar player in the original lineup, with Hart singing (as always), Ian Dares on bass, and Gerald Smith (second drummer for Useless Solution, and who was never straight edge) on drums. In the beginning it was traditional '88 style youth crew. We were a band who prided ourselves on good covers, so Envision started a long line of different cover songs. Ian had comprised a list of them here.
After our first show, we went on nearly a year long hiatus after all the members left except for hart and I. We couldn't find a drummer, so I switched over to drums and we got people to fill in on the stringed instruments. I can't even remember who though. We played one show with that linup, and then another year long haitus took in. I can't remember exactly why, but I know we had more lineup problems. For the first 2 years, it was basically just Ian Hart and I and a revolving door of people filling the spots. Eventually we got to what I consider to be the "classic" line up, which was me on drums, Hart singing, Ian Dares back on bass (I think he had moved for awhile and then came back), and Derrick Hiltz on guitar. We meshed really well and were always on the same page. Rarely did we have to sit down and learn a cover because we always picked stuff all four of us knew.
For the longest time I resented Envision because it was generic straight edge stuff in the beginning and was continually cursed with problems, but during the last year I really came to love it, and was bummed when I had to leave (because I was moving to the USA). I played just under 30 shows with the band (as chronicled here) before moving, and even though there was a big age gap between me and the three other guys, we got along really well and never had problems.
Sometime in late 1998 we recorded our demo tape, which mostly just Hart and I played on, I think. The gang vocals were done in a kitchen, and one of the guitar players from Canadian emo giants MONEEN was in the crowd. I don't even remember who recorded it. Later we recorded four or five songs with Philip Clark at a weird studio in the ghetto. It didn't sound too good and it was never used. The Summer right before I moved we recorded 5 songs for a split 7" with Sean McGillvary at the studio in The Pavilion. That 7" never came out though, but it was definitely our best stuff.
Envision was one of the only bands to ever continue on after I left. They are still together, surprisingly, and apparently recently completed their first recording in 7 years.
Excitebike, Briefly in early 1998
This was a very short lived band featuring who would be future friends and bandmates Mark Black and Scott Leighton (who would later be the bass player for Shrine Of American Martyr). I don't even remember what we sounded like, and I was kind of an afterthought. The band started, and shortly after their bass player was ousted, and I came in to fill the spot. I can only remember playing one basement show, but never remember actually practicing with the band. I think activity with the band started before a name could be established so "Excitebike" became a placeholder - then the band fizzled out before anything actually happened.
Mr. Bread, Briefly in early 1999
This band never actually had a name, but at the one show we played, dear friend Mark Black christened us Mr. Bread(I think). It was the only real band (if you omit the above) I ever played bass in, but it was insanely fun stuff to play. It was sorta melodic hardcore, kind of like I-Spy or Assfactor 4. Selwyn Sharples was the brains behind the operation, writing all the songs, but playing drums in the band as well as singing. Guitar duties were by Lachie MacDonald and Lionel Stanley. We practiced only once or twice as a full band, and the one show we played (which was a basement show at Ian Hart's parents house) we played without Lionel.
We only had four songs and they were only recorded during the one full practice we had. That tape may still exist at my parents house.
This was another sorta melodic hardcore band, this one with me playing drums. Also in the band was Lionel (from Excitebike) on guitar, Erin Greeno on bass, and this dude Noah singing. I didn't really know Noah, but he had full sleeves, which at the time I thought were SOOOO cool. We didn't really do much though. We only played a handful of shows (only one of which I can remember for sure) and covered "Resist Control" by Born Against.
We broke up quickly and I can't remember why. Nothing was ever recorded.
Shrine Of American Martyr, 1999 - 2001
Shrine Of American Martyr, or The Shrine as we came to be called: this was in some ways a super group at the time. Making up the band was me and Mac Ogilvie on guitar and sharing vocals, Lance Purcell (from Snot Party and Falling Out) on drums, and Scott Leighton on bass. At the time Mac and Lance had alot of notoriety for being in The Plan (Halifax math rock/post hardcore giants), Mac had just come off of singing for influential Halifax hardcore band Equation Of State, and I was doing Useless Solution. Scott was just a hermit.
We combined influences from the emerging "screamo" scene - bands like Orchid, Page 99, and The Locust, and combined them with moodier stuff of the 80's like Joy Division and The Cure...though the result was all power. Mac and I traded off vocal lines which created a really interesting dynamic between our voices. The hardcore trend of wearing shirts and ties while playing hadn't really exploded yet, so in the beginning this was something we did at every show. Our shows were always super chaotic and intense, and sometimes that superceded the music. I felt that Mac and I made a really good combination on stage, both musically, lyrically, and visually when we were playing.
We had set up a short eastern Canada and east coast US tour sometime in the winter of 2000, and in turn every show got cancelled a week before we left but one show in Boston, MA with Orchid. At the time, we were still all obsessing over that band, so decided to drive down to play it anyway. We rented a van and loaded all of our gear and made a 3 day trip out of it, only to arrive to the house the show was at in Boston and find out that Orchid wasn't playing. In fact, they were never even asked to play - a friend of a friend of the promoter said he'd ask them and forgot. We still played like hell, and got to play with Eulcid, got paid very little, and called it a fun weekend trip.
If I remember correctly, near the end Mac and I started butting heads a little, both wanting more creative control of the band, in combination with a weird love triangle thing which is another story all together. As well, I think I was jealous of the success Mac and Lance were having with The Plan (national/international releases, touring Europe, etc.) and their priorities on that. We kinda fell apart for awhile, and then eventually played a ho hum last show. I used Gerry's guitar amp during the show and it literally caught fire. Mac and I later totally patched things up.
We recorded a four song cassette and self released it at (I believe) our first show. It was recorded by Mike Catano (of The Plan, North Of America, The Holy Shroud, Thrush Hermit, etc.) in his parents basement. Mac and I went in with no lyrical structure, and the result was amazing. The fact that it was recorded in 8 track analog made it really powerful as well. Eulcid had bought a bunch of them to sell while they were on tour, so these actually exist somewhere outside of the east coast, and Canada at large. I'd like to meet someone who actually still has one to this day. I also have plans that when I finally start my own record label, to give the tape an official release on vinyl.
I was part of what seemed like a never ending line of guitar players in this long standing grindcore band. In fact, when I told people that I had joined, not one person was surprised. Existench was dirty grindcore, mixed with crust punk. They had a ton of releases and splits under their belt when I came into the fold. The original lineup when I joined was Gerald Smith (of Useless Solution and the OG lineup of Envision) on drums, Amanda Smith (Gerald's wife) on bass, and Derek MacElhone (of ever Halifax crust band ever) singing.
I was straight edge at the time, so I was already the black sheep when I joined. They just knew that I was way into grindcore, so my turn at guitar came up after about 6 or 7 guitar players before me. I had a good run though - we played some awesome shows and fests in Halifax. I don't think they were crazy about my guitar style at the time (I was listening to alot of Dahmer, so I was doing alot of single note picking when they wanted me to be doing power chords) but they were too polite to really say anything. I was also WAY younger than everyone else in the band - I think there was about 12 or 13 years between me and Derek.
At the time, I was doing about 5 other bands at the same time, with varying degrees of activity, and basically just showed up when I was told for practice and played shows. I was bringing in riffs now and then but not writing a ton. Eventually they got tired of this, and just stopped calling me for practice. They later said they assumed I wasn't really into it (though I was), and they were too nice to kick me out. But, there were no hard feelings. I'm not sure if they eventually found another guitar player.
I never recorded with them, but they were a band to keep releasing the same recordings on splits and whatnot so a bunch of stuff came out around and after me though they weren't super active.
The Shotgun Solution, 2000, possibly into 2001
This was the brain child of Gerry. He was listening to alot of Murder City Devils at the time, so he assembled a band accordingly. The were around for about 6 months before I joined. Making up the band was Gerry on guitar, Tim Kirkwood (who you'll hear more about soon) on drums, Tim (from Led By Regret) singing, Erin Greeno on keyboards, and Jon Samuel (of local band Slight Return) on bass. Gerry wrote all of the songs, and probably the lyrics for the band. It was definitely HIS band and we were all kinda hired guns, but that was okay. I remember for their first show, Gerry had made me official band photographer, but I missed the show because I had fallen asleep (this was also during the first time Krista had flown out to see me, so I think he thought I had blown him off just to have sex or something...but I really, honestly did fall asleep). I did feel pretty bad though because I knew I let him down.
But, all was amended obviously because about 6 months later he was talking about wanting a second guitar player and before a Useless Solution practice one evening I was playing guitar while waiting for everyone to show up, and I guess I did something to impress him because he said "you're the new guitar player for my band now, okay?". You can't really argue with an invitation like that.
Now, one of my traits as a band member is I'm often either all in, or barely in. Meaning, I either take a really aggressive approach to composition and image, or I'm passive to the point of what seems like disinterest. If I'm in a band, I always want to be in it, but when someone else has the reigns, I don't try to take them. This was the case with SS. It was definitely Gerry's deal, and he had a vision for it, and I didn't really want to interrupt that. I learned the songs and played guitar, kinda like everyone else did in a way. They were good, solid rock songs, but I think the lineup was a bit wrong for what Gerry really wanted to do. I think some members were always really holding back (or just weren't equipped for that style) and it held everything back. I think if Gerry reinvented that band again and I was in it, I'd now know how to approach it to help make it something really special.
I remember the practice space we used had like a 5 and a half foot ceiling, so I hated practicing because I'd always leave with a bad neck cramp.
We never recorded (at least with me), and I don't remember the circumstances of a last show or anything. I think Gerry just got kind of fed up.
I did however use one of the song titles as my AOL screen name for years.
Tim, Jon and Gerry went on to start The Clap, which became Oh God in 2002 or shortly after, which probably beat the shit out of SS.
Falling Short, briefly in 2000
Falling Short was a traditional hardcore (like early 80's DC style hardcore) band that eventually adopted some mosh metal stylings. They were around for a few years as a five piece, and I watched as a spectator and liked them. They weren't amazing, but they were good. I was pretty good friends with some of the guys in the band and I think that's more what made me like them. One time at a show in 2000, I filled in on guitar for that one show because somebody couldn't make it (I can't even remember if it was Matt or Jason). So I practiced with them a few times (which meant a terrible bus ride out to Sackville, NS) to learn their songs. Shortly after, Wayne the bass player quit, so they asked me to take over on bass. I accepted and begam practicing with them again. I learned most of the songs, including one they had started to write around when Wayne quit, and before I was able to play a show, they just decided to break up instead.
Wayne came back and played their last show, but I got to come in and play that one song that he hadn't done with the band.
I suppose realistically, I wasn't totally in the band...but I'm going to say I was just to justify the amount of time I had to spend waiting for and riding buses just to get to practice.
Three Fine Days, 2001
Three Fine Days was an emo/hardcore band consisting of Ryan Greeley on guitar, Matt on guitar, Wayne on bass (both from Falling Short), Oke singing, and this dude Mark playing drums. I never liked Mark - he was a chad who fell into liking hardcore and got people to accept him. He was friends with my room mate (Greeley) and would always walk into our apartment without knocking. Eventually, everyone else got sick of him too and kicked him out.
I jumped in as the drummer. I remember them having a bunch of shows planned, so I kind of had to hit the road running. Mark was a better drummer than me, so I was trying to do everything he did, but couldn't totally pull it off. I probably looked pretty sloppy for it, in hindsight.
We played some shows, and then about a half an hour before we played a set in Charlottetown, PEI Oke told us that he was leaving the band and that this would be his last show. It kind of put a damper on things, and we broke up after the show. A few months later they reformed the band, with Mark back on drums, and with a new singer. In retrospect, it almost sounds like an elaborate prank just to get me out of the band...but oh well. There's no grudge.
I never recorded with them, but I did some of the artwork for their CD that they put out before I joined the band.
Flesh Made To Suffer, 2001 - 2002
I had been saving this name for a band for about 2 or 3 years before this started. It was initially brainstormed between abhored scene guy, Nick Oxner, and myself. We wanted to combine discordant hardcore like Buried Inside or Zao, and combine it with black metal. The original lineup was Nick on guitar, Ryan Blakeney on guitar, Tim Kirkwood (of Shotgun Solution) on drums, and Matt Hameon (of Falling Short) on bass. It took us months to organize and plan everything but we wrote a handful of songs, and covered a Misfits song, and snuck our first show onto the New Seen Fest on New Years Day, splitting the headlining slot that Envision had.
The following February, Nick committed suicide in his apartment. Less than a week after this, we had a show scheduled, which we played because all of us agreed that it was what Nick would have wanted us to do. Knowing him, he was someone who didn't want to be overly grieved upon, or have people's lives interrupted. In hindsight it seems a little cold of us, but his parents refused to have a funeral or a wake (which was probably his wishes), but I still felt a public service for him was in order. So, I felt this would be appropriate. We played as a four piece, and handed out candles to create somewhat of a memorial vibe. I spoke about him between songs and so did some other people. It was probably the most emotional show I've been a part of.
A few months later, the band re-tooled, deciding to continue on. Matt switched over to his common place in guitar, and my longtime roommate Ryan Greeley came in to play bass. Matt and Blakeney together wrote some amazing riffs and we churned out some really good music. In hindsight, if I heard it today after the big metalcore explosion, I probably wouldn't give it the time of day, but I thought it was amazing at the time. At a show we played with Bleeding Through, the singer Brandan told us that we were the best band they had played with for the whole tour. I was ecstatic about hearing that at the time...though now I couldn't give a shit less.
In the Spring of 2002 we recorded a full length CD and self released it. It was recorded by Sean McGillvary at The Pavilion's recording studio (the same guy and place who did the last Envision session I played on). I was, and am, proud of myself for how I sounded on that recording and the lyrics I had written.
I eventually left the band right before I moved to Colorado. FMTS will always hold a special place for me because of the lengthly amount of time I put into it with Nick, even before we actually played a show, as those were the best times I shared with him. The band as a whole was some of the best music I've been a part of playing, and some people told me that after seeing me sing for it, despite all of the various positions I've held in bands, that being a frontman with just a mic was what I was best at.
After I left, the band attempted to continue on. Ryan Blakeney left shortly after me, leaving the band a four piece after recruiting Wayne (of Falling Short) to sing. I guess they played a show or two before sputtering to a halt.
Skip to a few months after Flesh Made To Suffer, and I find myself in a new country with no friends or band leads. Eventually I found a full band looking for a drummer to play more metalcore stuff. Not having a drumset of my own, they borrowed one for me to play from a friend of theirs so I could try out. It went okay...it didn't have the same spark as stuff I had done in Halifax, but I was playing music again, and that's all I really cared about.
I eventually bought that drumset from their friend, with the financial help of one of the guitar players who owed that kid money anyway. I didn't think their singer was very good, so I pulled a jedi mind trick and convinced the other guys to kick him out. Though I made the mistake of bringing in a new singer. So, making up the lineup was me on drums, Austin Michel on bass, Ben Donnelly on guitar, Chris Papp on guitar, and the infamous Mark Alive singing. We began playing a fusion of hardcore and tech metal - sorta like Botch meets Black Dahlia Murder.
We practiced in Broomfield, CO which meant that I had to spent an hour and a half on three buses just to get there every week since I didn't have a car. We practiced in a shed with a goat pen on one side, and a chicken coup on the other. It was nice in the summers that you could spend 2 hours playing metal and then walk outside and see a baby goat. The stringed instrument players made our "band colors" white and pink by painting all of their cabinets those colors. Gay, in retrospect.
In the summer of 2003, we recorded with Dave Otero at what was then Hellion Studios in Boulder (now Flatline Audio in Denver). It was the best recording I've played on...too bad the music kind of sucked. Well, it was okay I guess. We self released the five song CD at a show with God Forbid at Cerventes Ballroom, which to this day, is the biggest venue I've ever played.
We played lots of local shows, but never played outside of Colorado. We were born into a bad reputation because of Mark's history of being in bands, not to mention his personal history, some of which we refused to believe at the time. I think the beginning of the end was at a show at a warehouse in downtown Denver, where Mark decided it'd be a good idea to spray lighter fluid all over the concrete floor and light it on fire. Then proceed to keep spraying the fire to make it bigger. I eventually had to throw my sticks at him to get him to stop. His idiocy that night made me realize that I was a part of something I really didn't wanted to be doing.
Not too long later, Austin had enough and decided to quit. Some of the members had brainwashed me into thinking he was an asshole, when really he was the most honest one of the bunch. Mark spray painted all over Austin's cabs before leaving our last practice (at Austin's house) because he had to work late that night and couldn't make it to practice. It was in pretty bad taste and Austin is still pissed about it.
That would prove to ultimately be our last practice, as we never found another space. We played a few shows without a bass player, and eventually I had a falling out with Ben and told them I was quitting too. I showed up to our last show to find that they had found a new bass player (some Christian douche) who was going to play with us. We waited until almost 2 am to play, and by then I was so annoyed that everything Ben did pissed me off even more, and I eventually threw my bass drum at him...it didn't hit him though, and I don't even think he realized my malicious attempt.
I didn't talk to any of those guys for awhile after. I made good with all of them, only to un-make good with Mark after he put a permanent bad memory on my first day of marriage, and then shortly after was convicted of sexual assault. I haven't talked to him since.
Objects Held And Thrown, 2004
After Jennifer, I eventually started talking to Austin and Chris again and we decided to take the grindier side of Jennifer and roll with that. Chris and I wrote about 15 grindcore songs over the course of a few days - they ended up being a combination of the Pig Destroyer-type riffs he wanted to play, and the composition of Discordance Axis songs that I wanted to play. While we retained the same positions we had in Jennifer, they called in their friend Logan to sing, who was a character to say the least. I got our name from a photoset done by Joel Peter Witkin. Nobody really got it or could even remember what we were called.
We played one show at The Junkyard in Commerce City, CO. We were told the wrong time, so we showed up late and had to wait until the end of the show to play. Actually though, we got what I consider to be the ideal slot on any show (second to last). We played and people loved us. Logan wore a cat costume and planned to puke on on somebody during the set, but chickened out.
After what we considered to be a successful show, we never practiced or played again for really no reason in particular.
In 2004 I began tattooing full time, and me and Chris Watts (the other artist at the shop) continually planned out a band we were gonna start. I wanted to move back to guitar after focusing on drums for the last 5 years. We found Steve Zahren to play drums, who had previously played with xFallen Altarx, with whom I almost joined as well. Phew.
Chris, Steve and I practiced a few times, intially writing fast thrashy hardcore songs, ala Tragedy, but way tuned down. Eventually we found a bass player in Adam Wheeler (who fought the position on bass for a long time saying he'd only play guitar), who joined with it being his first real band. With Adam in the band, we began writing longer, slower songs to which Chris couldn't figure out how to sing over, so he quit the band. Seeing as how I hadn't known Steve or Adam very long, and they didn't know of my history as a frontman, I told them I would sing for awhile, and if they weren't into it we could find someone else. Not long after, I was officially the singer and I had settled back in to the band position I was most comfortable.
Bosnia soon turned into a stoner rock/doom band, writing long, slow songs drenched in feedback. I was able to nurture my love for guitar gear, as Adam and I kept adding to the pile, never playing through less than two seperate amps each. For a long time I played through two full stacks, each with 100+ watt head running it. I even did this while playing in a basement in Colorado Springs. Ouch.
We had some great opportunities as a band, especially with getting on shows with big touring bands that came through Colorado. We got alot of great exposure that way, and made friends with bands I look up to. Though we never played outside of Colorado, I think our reputation expanded past the state's boundaries as we were selling shirts to various states, and got international label interest.
We recorded our first demo CD with Tanner Olson in the summer of 2006 in his house in Denver. We did 5 songs on reel-to-reel 8 track which made the sound really big and organic. We self released the CD, and made an unknown amount. The following year, we began tracking a new album, again with Tanner, this time in digital format. It took months and months to finish due to Tanner's gear issues, and shortly after finally finishing the vocals, Tanner's outrageous temper got the best of him on two seperate occasions. The first over my un-enthusiasm for the sound quality, the second taking place between him and Adam, which effectively ended Adam's role as bass player in Tanner's band, Across Tundras. My bad taste for him still there, we just decided to abandon the recording, which had taken upwards of 7 months to do, for the mere fact of not giving Tanner any recognition.
Less than a few weeks later we started re-recording the same album with Ben Rahmstahl at the audio studio on the Metro State College of Denver campus. This was the biggest studio I have worked in. Ben was incredibly gracious and patient, and made the whole process much easier than originally done. Once finished, we dubbed it "Nazarene Hallucinations" and released it at our "last" show.
Bosnia came to a halt in June 2008 right before Adam moved to Portland, OR and Steve to Los Angeles. We decided to not officially break up, as we'd like to do what we can when we can, though nothing has since happened. Though, Paradigms Recordings out of London, England has decided to officially release "Nazarene Hallucinations", which will hopefully be out in early 2009.
Black Sleep Of Kali, 2008-2009
Only 3 days after Bosnia's last show, I had my first practice with my new band, later dubbed Black Sleep Of Kali. I began talking to Taylor Williams (guitar and vocals) who had moved to Denver from Salt Lake City and had songs written with a drummer he had found - it was stoner rock stuff, along the same lines as Goatsnake or High On Fire. I went into it expecting to not be into the music, but was pleasantly surprised. Taylor and I got along on many levels and he made the executive decision to have me in permanently as second guitar player and singer as well. The drummer he was working with, Matt (I never even learned his last name), was extremely light handed and had a wishy washy personality. He was also Christian. I pulled the same jedi mind trick I did in Jennifer and got him booted from the band, though Taylor was sick of him already anyway.
In Matt's wake, I called in recently made friend Gordon to play drums. Gordon is probably one of the best drummers I've ever had the opportunity to play with, but is still relatively young and hadn't had the opportunity to play in many bands who stayed consistently active. Once Gordon was jumped in, I asked my longest Denver friend, Austin (from Jennifer and Objects) to play bass. Though the stoner rock type stuff we were playing wasn't his first cup of tea, he saw the merit in it and joined.
So far the only snags we've hit have been personality differences which we've moved past, and are travelling to Salt Lake City to record and play this month (my first outer state show with any band since moving to the US).
Chris Watts (original Bosnia vocalist) started this band not too long after leaving the early inseption of Bosnia. Rolling hard on his Danzig worship, he found similar guys who wanted to write and play songs that sound like the Misfits. They wrote and recorded a full length album with their original lineup entitled "Curse Of The Hearse" and self released it. After running into a few problematic drummers, they asked me to play drums mid way through 2008. Expecting it to only be a passive role in the band, I've been contributing alot to composition and song structure, while Timmy (guitar) brings in all the riffs.
It's also the first band I've been in where a stand-up bass is used. It's an interesting new change.
We're planning on playing my first show with the band in the next month and recording a new record early next year.