The College Bands You Loved and the Shame You Feel Now
I remember in college how picky I was about music. I guess I still am today but, I never related to other people who were "supposedly" really into music. I pretty much wouldn't listen to anything unless I thought it was amazing. And, so even though music was a big part of my life, I wasn't one of those assholes who thought it was cool to list off a shitload of bands to make myself feel cool. In fact, every time I met someone like that, I just wanted to spit in their face and disgrace them. That's how I roll.
It's amazing to me how much music can make you have something in common with someone. I've actually stopped caring about other people's musical tastes as I've realized most people are stupid or just don't care enough to be worthy of any judgment. But in college, if someone liked all the same bands as you, you automatically had something in common and could easily be friends. It worked the other way around of course. I know I refused to acknowledge certain people simply based on their musical tastes.
Some musical experiences worth sharing:
Guitar Center is one of the greatest meccas for stupid musicians. I don't think there's been a time I've gone there where there weren't two metal heads on different sides of the store battling each other for best guitar player in the world. Of course, there's no real agreement to this duel, and if you asked them if they were competing with each other they wouldn't admit it. But seriously, if you haven't seen it, you need to go to Guitar Center right now. It's like a loser zoo.
One time I was there, and at the front counter there was this guy with huge hair, late 20s, and decked out in all leather. He was talking to the door man who checked people's receipts (I feel really sorry for these guys, that's their job, to check receipts all day--and most are aspiring musicians). Anyways, you could tell he wanted to talk to the door man about something, but he didn't want to force it.
The door man made some comment I couldn't really hear, and then the leathered out guy says "Ya, I used to be the singer for 'the Audacity". The door man pretended he didn't care, but for some reason I think he did. You see, when you're a door man at Guitar Center that means one of two things. Either you're a failed musician who had no back up plan or you're a failing musician with no back up plan. Thus, anyone who even mildly boasts about some sort of succcess in the music world you're naturally going to hate.
So the door man says "Cool."
The man in leather would not take "Cool" for answer, so he continued: "The Audacity! You ever heard of them?"
Poor Door Man: No
Leather Man: Ya we had 3 raging guitar players all at once. It was a trip.
Poor Door Man: Alright, looks like you're good to go.
I couldn't help but wonder if the door man felt like he was looking into the mirror of his youth. Poor door man.
Another thing that reminded me of Guitar Center is my stint as a pizza delivery driver in Greenlake. I delivered pizzas with the drummer from a band called "the Tree People"--they were fairly popular about 15 years ago, and I believe two members of the band went on to play with Built to Spill (one of them being Doug Martsch who is the brainchild of the band). For months I worked with him and had no idea about this connection, but when coming back from deliveries I would always be blasting the Built to Spill Album "There's Nothing Wrong With Love". Literally for 6 months, that's all I would listen to on my delivery runs. For some reason it just worked. So anyways, he heard it playing in my car one day and said "You know, that's me drumming on that song". (I believe the song is Twin Falls Idaho, but it might have been another one).
What are the fucking odds? I had been listening to this album for months on end, so many times that I scratched it and rebought it 3 times--and the whole time I was delivering pizzas with one of the drummers on the album.
Anyways, we built up a sort of quasi-friendship (he was about 10 years older than me), and we started playing basketball every weekend. I kept telling him to make sure that Doug Martsch would come play pick up hoops with us the next time he came to Seattle to play a show (appartently he's obsessed with basketball). He said he'd try, but I'm pretty sure they don't talk anymore. (On a side note, the guy said that they'd call Doug Martsch the fat skinny tall short hairy bald man. So if you ever go to his show, try yelling that out, he might just be fooled into thinking you've met him).
Eventually I left my delivery job but we still kept playing basketball for a while longer. Then I finally left Seattle. When I was home for the holidays one year, I went to Guitar Center to buy some strings. And wouldn't you know it? Guess who was the door man? You guessed it. I said hi, he said hi, and then he couldn't remember my name. Nice guy though, and he has a hot girlfriend and a helluva jump shot.
Another thought about music stores.
My friend Sid and I had a habit of being bored and going to various retail stores and trying to weird people out. One time we went to the Super Mall to buy something, and we could have been in and out--except the first store by the entrance was a BoTox clinic which Sid found too hard to resist.
So we walk into the clinic, and Sid (who is only 23 at the time) being the daring young lad he is says: "Do you offer free consultations?"
I expected the women at the front desk to laugh at us. But they took him totally seriously. So one of the women gets up and says "Come with me" (as a side note, for some reason older women are obsessed with Sid--I have no idea why, but that's just the way it is, so my suspicions were raised. Don't worry though, she didn't take advantage of him).
So now I'm stuck in the lobby by myself of a BoTox clinic while Sid is getting a free consultation. I start to look at all the brochures when the other woman at the desk asks "Are you considering botox yourself?". Anyone who knows me will tell you that on a good day I barely pass for 18 so I found this odd. Did I need BoTox?
Then a silence kind of hit the room and I looked at the receptionist and said "You know, my friend has absolutely no interest in getting BoTox. You know that right?". She just kind of giggled, but I think she was really dumb so didn't really understand that I was serious (which she could have figured out on her own anyways).
And of course, 10 minutes later Sid walks out with this awkward grin on his face. I asked him what the hell happened. He said "Nothing, she totally thought I wanted BoTox. She went into this 20 minute schpeel about it and I had to just sit there like I was taking her seriously".
On the way out the lady yelled "Don't forget to come back if you change your mind!".
Now you may be asking, what does this have to do with music stores? Well, aside from BoTox clinics in malls, we liked to go to various music stores and fuck around with instruments. More than a few times we had been asked to calm down during our random music store adventures. We liked to play loud and veraciously. For example, one time we went to American Music in Fremont and found the most expensive guitars we could find. Once we chose our guitars, we went into one of the little sound rooms where you can plug into ampliphires. So we each plugged in.
Now I'm not sure how many people are aware of this, but when two people are plugged into amps with their electric guitar, you'll get shocked really bad if your skin touches the strings of the other persons guitar. So basically instead of jamming on our next expensive instruments, we proceeded to try to shock the hell out of one another. For added effect, we'd strum a chord as loud as we could to distract the other, then grab the other person's hand and shock the shit out of them. While we weren't officially kicked out, one of the women who worked there came to the booth and gave us the "get out" look. So that's what we did.
Another time we went to Trading Musician, which has a nice little selection of acoustic guitars. We waltzed in and Sid picked up a cool looking Epiphone and I picked up a nice Martin guitar. We sat down on some stools and sid turns to me "Wanna play some Tom Petty"?
"Do I?" I said. And with that we started going into a full on ensemble of Tom Petty's "Break Down"--me on rythem, sid playing the solo. About 30 seconds into our glorious outbreak one of the disgrunteld workers behind the desk, probably risking his job, just starts yelling "STOP IT! STOP! STOP! FUCKING JESUS! STOP IT! FUCK CHRIST! STOP IT!".
I looked at Sid in utter disbelief. We put the instruments down and walked slowly out, all the time under the silent stair of the "guy behind the desk". He was angry. Guess he really hated Tom Petty.
So then instead of letting dead dogs lie, we sat outside in my car across the street and called the store on our cell phones and started to yell all sorts of profanities about his mother.
I really don't know what inspired me to write this post, but if there's anything to be learned it's this. Music is for listening--best not to get any more involved than that.