>An Open Letter to All My Friends

>Some of you readers may have gotten this message (actually, all three of you probably did). But, because I am lazy, I am just reposting it here in its entirety. Dig it:

Hello Friends!

I realize bulk mailings are kind of lame; those of you who haven’t heard from me for a while are probably feeling particularly offended. I deserve whatever ire you may feel in being spammed in this fashion, as I am well aware I am not a particularly good correspondent. I’m sure we will all get over it, though, trust me. In fact, I would offer anecdotal evidence to each of you that I am well aware of what our connection is, but my motivation in not doing so is more because I don’t want anyone among you to know just how short the list is of potential friends I have to call on at a time like this.

The point of this message is to remind you that this Thursday, February 14th, is, indeed, Valentine’s Day. Besides that being the day I predicted to my family that our neighbors will finally take the plastic, light-up nativity scene out of their yard, it is also a day of some importance in the world of independent-minded, live-on-the-edge-of-financial-ruin world of DIY rock and roll.

Here is the deal: my long-toothed heavy rock band, LAZERWOLFS, is playing the Pabst Blue Ribbon Performance Series battle of the bands thing (that they say isn’t actually a battle of the bands, wink-wink-nudge-nudge) Thursday night. Which is, as we’ve already discussed, Valentine’s Day. The way this works is six bands play and two advance to the finals on March 6th. Our evening this week is the third preliminary round. We don’t have any real delusions of winning the whole thing (my bets are on The Good Neighbor Policy, if I got their name right); we just do it for the opportunity to play for people who normally wouldn’t come out to one of our shows. Yeah, ego demands that we want to advance, but it’s more than that. I’m the guy who books our shows, and I’m generally lazy. We try and play once per month or so; if we advance, that means I have March covered and don’t really have to mess with trying to get a different show. See, when it comes down to it it really is all about my comfort. I also want to avoid last year’s debacle, where we destroyed the room like the devil’s very house band but didn’t advance. The common theme of that evening was drunken folks approaching us after saying, “Whoa! You guys rocked! You were TOTALLY the best band tonight! Uh, I didn’t vote for you because my buddy is in [insert other band name], but you ROCKED!”

By now you are on the edge of your seat wondering just what you can do to help. If you would come down to The Other Side on Thursday night, some time after 8:00, you will get a ballot and you can vote for us. It costs $6 to get in ($8 if you are 18 – 20), but they have a free keg of beer until it runs out, so you should be able to drink up the cover in no time. If you want to come down but are really strapped, I can arrange for you to be on the guest list as well. We have a few spots, and I will happily bump one of the other guys’ list requests just so I can gloat over how I brought in the most people on our behalf.

Still need convincing? Well, check the edition of The Independent that is coming out on the 14th, as it will have a feature on the LAZERWOLFS. I am quite certain that the quality of writing, the magnificence of the photography, and the compelling nature of the subject will be more than enough to make you ultimately decide that you don’t want to miss this event. The nature of our drummer’s relationship with the powers of law and order make every show potentially our last one, so don’t be one of those dismayed people, fallen to your knees and crying to the heavens, “Oh, I shoulda gone!”

I attached the actual flyer. I realize we are playing kind of late, and many of you won’t want to stay out so long. No big deal, we are like politicians — we just care about your vote. Come in, say hello, watch one of the other bands (I’m particularly eager to see Black Velvet Elvis; in fact, given their popularity, they will probably trounce us; it is quite likely though that we will turn their singer’s hair from blonde to brunette just with sheer, overwhelming volume), drink a beer or two, and leave if you must. After voting for us, of course. You may see the list of bands and realize someone you like better than me is in one of the other bands (I won’t feign modesty here — I guarantee this other person’s band isn’t better than the ‘wolfs dreadnaught). That is fine, I’ll make sure and not tell them you actually voted for us instead. I guarantee all the other bands have a much easier time getting shows in this town than we do.

So yeah, there is my big pitch. I hope to see a couple of you out on Thursday! Thanks for your time!

Bearer of the Lazerwolfs Flame

>Tag Me? Tag You!

>Okay, so Rebecca hit me with one of these, but I’m really holding Patia responsible. I’ve never done this before, it seems kinda MySpacey, though. If anyone uses this info to try and swipe my identity, go ahead — you ain’t going to get far using my credentials, trust me.

4 Jobs I’ve Held:

1. Bale bucker
2. Pipe changer
3. Box stacker
4. Ass sitter

4 Movies I’ve Watched Over and Over Again:

1. The Last of the Mohicans
2. The Lord of the Rings (yes, all of them)
3. Conan the Barbarian
4. Meatballs

4 Places I’ve Been:

1. Prague
2. Nogales
3. Winnipeg
4. Pablo

4 Places I’ve Lived:
1. Sumner, WA
2. Sidney, OH
3. Ronan, MT
4. Frenchtown, MT

4 TV Shows I Watch:

1. I
2. Don’t
3. Watch
4. TV

4 Radio Shows I Listen To:

1. No
2. Radio
3. Either
4. (Since the one in my truck died)

4 Things I Look Forward To:

1. Rocking
2. Hiking
3. Traveling
4. Feasting

4 Favorite Foods:

1. I
2. Refuse
3. To
4. Answer (in the interest of avoiding a craving)

4 Places I’d Rather Be:

1. Playing soccer
2. Rocking out
3. On the Iron Maiden jet touring with the band
4. Walking the Earth

4 People I E-Mail Regularly:

1. Jimmy
2. Julia
3. Anyone else is just
4. Once in a while

After stressing my way through this, I realize no one would want to steal my identity. I’m actually pretty boring and shallow. There aren’t a lot of specific things I can name with stuff like this.

>A Tough Night for Gear

>The gremlins, or whatever it is that sometimes seem to wreak havoc on stuff, were definitely gunning for me last night. Sunday evening is LAZERWOLFS practice. I went downstairs to retrieve my bass, where Sid had been jamming with one of his buddies and was using it. Anyway, I go downstairs and the case is open, but it’s wide open flat, not open 90 degrees like it’s supposed to be; the little straps that keep the lid up while it’s open were broken. It would require some force to break them, so it didn’t just happen by itself. Of course Sid has no idea how it happened. Funny how stuff like that works.

No big deal. Cheap case, and it is still fully functional. I load up, go to practice. It takes us about 20 minutes to get set up. I have my amp set up, start getting my pedal board set up, about ready to deliver the thunder, and all of a sudden the amp starts making a weird cracking and popping noise and suddenly shuts down. The smell of burned electric fills the air. Nice. Now this is a sweet amp — we are talking vintage, ’73ish era Ampeg SVT. Ask any bass player worth his “E” string and he/she will tell you it is the real deal. So I’m concerned, but not that surprised — it is an old amp, definitely needs new tubes, and was probably due to have something like this happen. Here is is below, the venerable item being discussed is prominently circled:

We check it out, find a blown fuse, replace it, fire the amp back up and it works . . . for about 5 minutes, then fizzles again. We are thinking blown rectifier tube, or at least hope that is what is wrong. Fixing it is one thing, but replacing it will be $1000+, easy. And Lemmy knows our band needs the thunder an amp like that delivers.

So I run home, get my backup amp, which I’ve never run with my full speaker cabinet configuration, and commence to rock. It does the job admirably. Doesn’t have the whoomph! I usually have, but will still bury most scrawny little indie bands. We rock the set we have been working on for our big show this week (more details on that tomorrow!), then work on some new stuff, and then run the set again to wrap things up. With a few songs to go, I open up a liter bottle of soda to freshen my pipes, take a single swig, and we continue rocking. The thunderous vibrations apparently pushed that bottle across the table it was on, and it inverted itself . . . into my bass case, which is lying wide open beneath it. Or course I didn’t see it happen, I just looked over and saw the empty bottle with the telltale glisten of moisture in the padding beneath it.

We are a rock band, for crissakes. The least the gremlins could have done is made sure it was beer that soiled my case.

>So Cool I Can Hardly Stand It

>My friend Will Broadbent is an artist and rocks the drums for one of my favorite bands in the world, Maine’s OGRE. They have a new album coming out, which is a 38 minute, single-song concept ala Rush‘s 2112 or KISS‘s The Elder.

Not only do they have one of the coolest names in rock, which kinda pisses me off, they have now unleashed the cover art for the new record, and Will did it. It is the greatest piece of album art I have ever seen. Dig this:

That is a thing of true beauty. Not only that, but these guys are also doing some shows in Japan in March. I can hardly stand it.

Seriously though, they are great guys and deserve every bit of what is happening. I guarantee they ain’t making a penny, far from it — they are just doing great music and putting it out in cool-as-all getout fashion because they love it. And I love that.

>Parental Indignation

>I had a moment of uncertainty this afternoon when Sid wanted to buy himself this Venom t-shirt from Ear Candy. The front really didn’t bother me, just the typical satanic skull thing that Venom always use. The back had some of their lyrics on it, which kind of tweaked my parental idea of what a kid shouldn’t necessarily walk around with . . . but I took a deep breath and let it slide. I told him just to make sure he didn’t wear it around his mom or grandma. He just shrugged and said, “Well, I think Grandma has already given up on me.” That amused me. It’s not literal, of course, he just means she has given up on making him the Junior Republican that I think she would like him to be (I am referring to the grandma on his mom’s side; my mom is way cooler than that).

Sid is a great kid, so I let slide some of the stuff that other parents may balk at because that is how he wants to express himself. To me, it’s all perspective. Some parents let their kids leave the house looking like Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake; mine looks like a Hells Angel. But he is respectful and minds his manners, and that is what is important. Hell, I was the same friggin’ way when I was in high school.

So when he told me the story of how his graphic design teacher pissed him off, I got pissed. Not mad, pissed. Here’s the story.

Apparently they were supposed to find pictures online that they felt represented them, showed something about what they were about. So, as one of his images he chose this shot from Evil Dead, which is essentially a movie poster you could see just about in any decent video store, and dressed it up a bit. I haven’t seen it, but I know Sid is pretty talented with this stuff, so I’m sure it is pretty cool. And it is appropriate — zombie, b-style horror movies, all that stuff is a big part of what he loves. His own art is definitely deeply rooted in that genre. He loves it. But Thursday afternoon, his teacher told him to scrap it, and use something else. He told me he didn’t say anything, just said OK and used something else. No big deal, it could have ended there.

Today, though, she was displaying each person’s image as they existed to this point. She didn’t show what Sid had done, not even the new image he had done instead, and instead told the class that he didn’t know better than to use something that was inappropriate, and proceeded to berate him in front of the whole class, asking him what he would do if she called his dad and told him about the picture. He said he just told her his dad probably wouldn’t care that much, because I know he likes stuff like that. So her response was that maybe he should spend some time with the guidance counselor.

Damn, even as I write this I am getting heated up again. I could see if she had made specific requirements for what they were supposed to do; she asked to choose something each student felt represented them, and he picked that. I certainly got it, because I know my kid. Who is this teacher to pass this kind of judgment on him not two weeks into the class before even knowing anything about him?

I’m pissed.

As I mentioned before, when challenged with the idea of “You Are What You Read” I chose this:

Like father like son, eh? Hell yeah.