Sunday, May 1, 2016

Reverberations and Feedback...

After teasing it a bit I can now announce that, yes its true - ANTiSEEN is returning to Europe this summer. This is gonna be a real adventure for me as I've never been out of the country before. It's gonna also be a test of endurance - sixteen straight shows in a row. I will clock out of work on a Thursday, fly across the Atlantic that night, play the first show on Friday and everyday thereafter until returning home on Sunday two weeks later. Then back to work on Monday. So anyone claiming I'm a braggart or ego-driven can kiss my tired old ass!

But seriously.

It seems that a lot of the milestone moments I've had since joining the band have been linked to other heroes of mine. My first set had the members of the Weirdos and Mudhoney looking on from the wings. My first tour was with the Meatmen. Now, my first record is a split with He Who Cannot Be Named of the Dwarves and my first European tour will kick off with two shows with Negative Approach. Sometimes its hard for me to wrap my head around it. It's a pretty exciting time for this band, even if I wasn't a part of it I'd still feel the same way. If the story were to end here I think I could walk away satisfied.
But the story is only starting. 

Of course in a certain sense, I'm merely enjoying the fruit of Jeff Clayton and Joe Young's labor. And no matter what I do, or how involved I am, I cannot help but see this still as Jeff and Joe's band. I still find myself referring to the band as 'they' as opposed to 'we'. I just can't comfortably interject myself into the scenario. And although there's been a lot of important key players and influential members, the style and approach has always been Jeff and Joe. It's the foundation of what we do, and a continuation of what they started.

Hard to believe its been two years since we lost Joe Young. Harder still to believe we even lost him at all. But he isn't really 'lost'. In a very real way his presence remains with everyone who knew him. It certainly remains with the band. It is his sound that I unapologetically try to emulate. It's a sound so titanic and towering that it eclipses and shadows us beyond measure; the genetic DNA of ANTiSEEN. In the old days critics struggled for adjectives to describe Joe's signature tone. Colorful descriptions like "Black & Decker buzzsaw", "fuzzed out white noise" and "doofus drone spuzz" and the like that tried to define the nasty snarling spit of what was ultimately Joe's voice.

Obviously what I bring to the table is already influenced by Jeff and Joe, but along the way I picked up other ideas and influences that I still refer to occasionally.  A long time ago, back in the days of MySpace, I used to keep a blog of just random stuff. I once wrote something I titled "Where Were You in'92?". I copped the title from the tagline ad for the movie 'American Graffiti' (which read 'where were you in'62?'). However a lot of my friends took it as an accusatory question - like I somehow was claiming to have participated in something that others missed. Knowing my arrogance sometimes gets the best of me I can see how what I had written may have been misinterpreted. It was really meant to be nostalgic, the same as the 'American Graffiti' tagline. And what I was remembering wasn't so much what I had done, rather the people and events that I encountered and maybe advanced me on my path.

People like Jes Rosenburg, Fred Mills, Jimmy King, Justin 'Widowmaker' Crockett. Andy Cauble, Brad Mullins, Shan Evans, Phil "Whiskey Rebel' Irwin, Scott Savage, Jose Wright, Jeff Williams, Alan 'Goddamn' King, and Joe Dead - all of whom I was lucky to have met. Some grew up and out of it, and simply moved on. Some changed gears and played other kinds of music as their abilities allowed. Sadly, some even died. A few still soldier onward with a glorious tenacity, neither expecting nor receiving reward. They have all inspired, influenced and encouraged me in different ways. And still so often do.
Its kinda weird to think I have played in punk bands on and off for over twenty-five years. I never saw it as much more than a hobby. I really didn't have aspirations of doing much outside of my own hometown. When I started my first band I probably thought we could at least make records but I was largely more concerned with making impressions. Bad ones. So I partnered with a guy named Tom Nalley and started what was to become 'Mad Brother Ward & the Screaming Street Trash'. We had no aspirations, ambitions or goals outside of upsetting people - something I seemed to be quite good at.

Somehow we managed to make records. Good ones. We recorded each record on literally days notice and virtually zero practice. That they even came together at all is worth bragging about because we garnered a lot of acclaim -  Jeff Bale, Bruce Rohers, Brian Deverauex and the late Tim Yohannon at MRR... Thom, Katz and Martin McMartin from Flipside - and many other tiny fanzines from god know where all were offering high praise.

Tom was a unique guy, unlike any musician I’ve known since. Sometimes working with him was like discovering gold, and other times it was like pulling teeth. Tom was either ’on’ or ’off’; there was no middle ground. His brains were hot-wired backwards - when he was drunk he was lucid and coherent while sober he seemed bombed. He eventually split off on his own and started a band that I jealously had to admit were better. He chose some of the wrong people to work with, however, and sadly fell into extracurricular activity that permanently derailed him. 

I carried on very erratically and sporadically. My backing bands were an odd assortment of characters that changed line-ups virtually every time we played. I myself never claimed nor believed myself to be any sort of "tough guy" and truthfully I was afraid of some of the guys that I've shared the stage with. Guys who actually did shit I had only read about or saw in movies. They fucked girls on bar tops and pool tables, had voracious appetites for copious quantities of hard drugs, consumed lethal amounts of alcohol and maintained a predilection to violence unlike anyone or anything I’ve ever seen. Guys who never backed down from anyone or anything. EVER. I discovered that rather than hide from them it was easier and wiser to hide behind them. 

Ok, so yeah - maybe I did fuck a girl on a pool table once but whatever...

So in some ways I feel like I'm the unwitted and undeserved recipient of a position I did not rightly earn. Yet paradoxically I also feel I have very much paid my dues and deserve to enjoy what I now get to do. This is the conflict that I know I will never fully reconcile. So I try to focus on the job at hand and do the level best I can. I still carry some of the ol' proverbial adolescent angst - it's as stubborn, wrong-headed and misguided as ever. I make no apologies for this. Whatever 'fucked-up-ness' fuels me is probably better left unanalyzed. I still dislike far more than I like. I see more academics than heart. I see more calculation than reaction. I see more platitude than attitude.  So a little gumption to say flat out something sucks wouldn't hurt things too terribly much....

Would it? ...

We are returning to the fabled and hallowed ground of the legendary Milestone Club in Charlotte this summer. I saw my first ANTiSEEN show there so to return as a member of the band is sorta special. It's also where I played my first show ever and where we staged the first Mad Brother Ward show. So there's a lot of history for me in that old building. I have no doubt the evening will be something pretty special. I'll have more details next time, so stay with us.
Until then...