🎵 She used to. Be my girl but now she’s famous 🎵

🎵 I’m singing too high tonight, I’m gonna lose my voice / I heard her on the radio, don’t want to sing along, but I’ve got no choice! 🎵

At first I was annoyed, “Mom!” I groaned. “Stooooop!” Typical teenager.

Her entire face lit up when she laughed, turning from pink to red with a glow that seemed to prove she was somehow magical – like Mrs. Santa Claus – unable to hide the twinkle in her eye when she was truly happy. She was just a bit mad herself, so it was impossible to stay mad at her as she started to swerve the car back and forth to the beat.

We were listening to a mixtape made by I don’t know who. The creator doesn’t matter as much as this single moment held in time.

Flipping through my homework, writing my name in the top corner of every paper with a final zig zag of the Z, my pencil drew a random line off the corner of the paper. She had zagged when I had zigged. I looked up and glared at her as best I could. I pushed out my lips and squinted my eyes, trying desperately to keep up my tragic teenage stereotype. Instead, a smile spread infectiously across my face as I shoved the papers in my bag, giving up on any sense of procrastinated organization to sing out loud with her.

I reminded her all the time, “Some kids would be embarrassed by a Mom like you ya know…” and this morning was no different as I rolled down the window to her seafoam green Ford Contour and yelled the lyrics out the window,

🎵 She used to be my girl but now she’s famous!
She used to be my girl but now she’s famous! 🎵

Pulling my head back into the car, I could hear her laughter above the scratch of the cassette tape in the car stereo. We must’ve replayed this song a thousand times this week alone.

🎵 No one will ever touch the way that I feel
Just for the record, she got the deal
I don’t want to hear it! 🎵

We lived alone. Just the two of us. On a cross country jaunt with his aging father, my dad received a phone call for a job offer. Two job offers in fact. It was one of those answers to desperate prayers as he had been out of work for nearly two years. That’s what brought us here, to a basement apartment 2/3 of the country away from where we had been living the last eight years. We were here to be close to his parents in a place we thought we might end up if all worked out. But prayers never work that way. Instead, he took a hard right and moved to Texas and we were to follow. The thing is, no one. had told me…yet.

I was the youngest of four children and it was safe to say that my dad and I had spent at least the last handful of years at odds. Extreme odds. You might even say we hated each other, but I don’t think either of us cared enough to put that kind of energy into it.

In those few, short years, life changed. My siblings all graduated, went to school, married, and moved out before I could even say that I survived the 7th grade. At that point, we stopped sitting down together for dinner. It was easy to assume that the obligation was no longer there when we were only half of a family, but it was more than that. My mom never argued. She never bickered about spending more time together. Instead, she prepared dinner in phases – allowing me to scrounge down enough food to fuel a professional athlete before my dad even sat down to the table. We were separated. It was easier that way.

So, it won’t take any great effort or imagination to know that moving to a small, dark apartment in a sorry excuse for a mountain town was hard on the both of us. There were a lot of slamming doors and insisted alone time. Once he was gone, he was happy. He had a job now. He could refuel that sense of being a caretaker, or whatever. Meanwhile, my mom and I were mucking it up to overplayed tracks on ska mixtapes.

With one-foot propping open the car door, I gathered my things before heading in for another day of school. And just before getting out of the car, we leaned in together, belting out some of the final lyrics,

🎵Well she’s like me, just not as ugly🎵

I’ll never forget the nights we’d chose to warm up frozen pizzas for dinner rather than cook anything remotely healthy, and during the five short minutes it took to crackle the crust, we’d dance circles around each other to the sounds of trumpeting punk rockers.

My mom cracked me up. I felt lucky. The woman I had grown up with and most of my life, knew nothing about. Now we had all the time in the world to spend together and she was as silly as ever. I felt like she was all mine. I knew her in a way that no one else knew her. I knew her in a way my dad had never known her.


Header image of Reel Big Fish live by https://www.flickr.com/photos/chadcooperphotos

♫If you believed what you felt you would be in love…♫

My memory is a blur of one concert after another. Were you ever really there?

Over the course of two years I must’ve interviewed Chiodos over half a dozen times.  Definitely over half a dozen times. They seemed to be the never-ending assignment and always about you.

Were you there with me that time?

I can’t remember if you were ever there and yet I know you would have had to have been.  You would have had to be there in the beginning, at least. You were the reason I was obsessed; the reason why every one of their songs reminded me a time I was dying to get back to.

Don’t let this die, we may never fall in love again
It’s hard but worth the wait when it’s over…

Like so many words I’ve heard before, these particular lyrics came like a knife of forgotten memories.  All, but one.

I should have never moved in with her or had anything to do with her and her family.  It’s not as though I had a choice – living from couch to couch and out of my car at a different a house every week.  So much of my life wasn’t good back then, but you were. You helped get me back on my feet – moving me from N–‘s house to J–‘s house and from J–‘s house to S–‘s house.

It was the best situation I had been in for a long time, but I hated going home to S–‘s house after your parents sat you down, insisting that I was spending the night too often.  Mostly, I hated being away from you from one night to the next.

We were so completely in love – a typical summer romance, but better.  It was Fall. It was my favorite time of year. There was no better time to start a romance, wrapped in each other’s arms to keep warm through the nights.

I let go of my previous life, putting the likes of Happy Valley permanently behind me.  I traded it in for a temporary desk job in South Salt Lake and sacrificed sleepless nights on a broken couch in the dark basement of an unfamiliar family just to be close to you.  And you know what? It worked. I wouldn’t have asked for more or thought that I could do better.

I took on some extra odd jobs for nights you weren’t around, going line-by-line over hand-written receipts for her parents car sales business.  Most of the hours were lonely attempts to organize someone else’s mess, but I enjoyed the work. Every hour, every penny in my mind went towards a life we could spend together.  I had no doubt I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.

I think that’s how it came up.  I think that’s where she managed to pry, asking question after question with that fake, high-pitched baby voice spewing out sounds rather than words as if “Bleh!” were a viable expression.

“Weren’t you almost married before?” she asked.

“Sort of,” I said, typing in more numbers into the computer.

“And wasn’t that like,” she said like all the time, “like, only a few months ago.”

“Sort of.” I wasn’t doing anything to provoke the conversation further.  I was just minding my own business, working on things that I thought were dependable sources of income.  That would just be one of the things I was wrong about when it came to S– and her family.

“Well, then how do you know?  Why don’t you still just marry that other guy?”

“Because I don’t love him I guess.”

“But you did.”

It was more of a blunt statement than any kind of question, and it was enough to make me stop what I was doing and see what it was she really was getting at.

“Ya, I did.  He was an important part of my life and I really didn’t treat him well.  I loved him. I still love him, it just isn’t the same ya know?”

“How can you still love him and love D–?”

“I don’t.  I mean. I do.  But…” Now she had me thinking.  “B– was one of the best things that happened to me.  I met him at a time he didn’t think I would really be open to going out with a guy like him, but he made me laugh.  I loved his energy and his willingness to get out there and try. But bad things happened. Really bad things happened.  And ya know what? Months later when I showed up on his doorstep, he was there for me. It was technically only our second date and by the third date, on Christmas Day, we moved in together.”

“Lauuul my gosh!” It was another one of her sounds – like an over annunciated hipster pronounced lol, only before hipsters started pronouncing text-speak like it was an actual, real thing.

“He used to write me these cards, like these little love letters telling me how much he loved me and we had this thing where, I dunno, I can’t really describe it, but they were cutsie things based on mannerisms that we really only had with each other.  I miss that. I miss him.”

“Why don’t you talk to him?”

“We didn’t part ways very well.  I really hurt him. I don’t know what I was doing.  I freaked out I guess. My therapist says I have a real problem letting people love me so that’s probably it.  My therapist didn’t like Brandon very much anyway. But ya, I miss him. I miss the way it used to be. It was easy living together and doing everything for each other.”

She was quiet for a moment only because she was answering text messages on her phone.  I took the opportunity to think about what it was I was saying. I really was going to marry this guy.  Why didn’t I? Why did I have to go and fuck things up?

Fear set in.  That kind of backwards, double-jeopardy fear like you’ve out done yourself this time and really fucked things up for no other reason than second guessing your second guesses.  It is confusing, but that’s because it really doesn’t make sense. What if I had duped myself and purposefully destroyed everything in one, over-dramatic swoop because I was incapable of receiving love?

By the time she looked up, I’m sure I had one of those ohmyGodwhathaveIdone looks on my face.

“You should talk to him,” she said.  “At least tell him that you still love him.”

I knew it was a bad idea, but she had a point.  I needed to know why I had just said those things.  Sure I loved him, but did I still love him like that?

I felt the sudden and familiar pit in my stomach as nausea overwhelmed me.  Oh God! I had been here before. This is exactly how our relationship ended.  I loved him and still I believed I loved someone else. I left because someone else was there, giving me the attention that I insisted I was no longer getting from what had been the longest relationship that had survived me so far in life – 8 months.

What if I was doing the same thing with D–?  What if I just thought I was in love with him and he was just this fling that was ultimately going to drive me into complete disinterest because he would flip flop between being overly attached and completely distant like P– had just done to me?

I thought about what she had said for days.  Three days to be exact. Then she found me again, buried in work at her dad’s desk in the basement office.  She asked me how I was doing and all I could say was, “Horrible.”

She had unlocked an insanity – a complete insecurity in me over my ability to make any real decisions for myself.  I was, after all, constantly against myself. Just the fact that I was practically incapable of allowing love into my life was evidence enough that I didn’t really know what love was at all.  So maybe I wasn’t in love with D– at all. Maybe I was just playing out the same old scenarios from every relationship before now – being asked by his parents to no longer share rooms like M–‘s parents had done so long ago.  After all, I thought I might be in love with one of his friends at the time that I met him and switched gears. That certainly wasn’t a new story!

“I’m going to do it,” I told S–.  “I’m going to tell B– I still love him and see if he’ll still marry me.”

The idea of it was nerve-racking.  I had to pick an outfit. I had to change my hair.  I had to do everything to look my best for no other reason than I so desperately wanted to hear that he still loved me and all could be forgiven.

Insecurity filled the gap between this decisive moment and the last time I had seen D–.  It had been days. In the depths of my mind, desperate for security I somehow believed that this time apart meant we could never make it work.  It was too much. It was too hard! He had to work and was going to school. I had to work and couldn’t stay enrolled in classes to save my life!  My life was going nowhere and somehow this was all his fault.

Without warning, I stopped calling him.  I stopped sending out texts insisting how I couldn’t wait to see him next.  I didn’t bring him lunch at work. I didn’t wait at his house in the evening until he came home from a long day just so I could lay in his lap while he meticulously drew mathematical lines on blank pages that would somehow, someday turn him into an architect.

When I did see him, everything about him annoyed me.  I had no patience with him. The way he laughed; the way he sounded like a complete idiot all of a sudden, despite knowing he was one of the smartest people I knew.  It seemed as though I had discovered his complete disregard for the obvious, and with that, I could no longer even look him in the eye without feeling some sort of regret for having fallen for a joke.

When I first moved to be close to him, he used to tuck me in at night and sit at my bedside until I fell asleep – spending every moment we could together before the adults in our life weighed in on their, “What will people think?” opinions of our young love.  Now, I just lay in bed at night, watching television reruns of shows B– and I used to watch each night together, calculating the complexity of my heart and which side of this black hole was the actual truth of how I felt and where I belonged.

I knew that at times I couldn’t even stand him.  He seemed gullible and overly amused by everything.  I felt that. My annoyance was very real to me, but I didn’t understand it.  Why? At the same time, I loved him more than anything or anyone, yet somehow believed the real love of my life was someone I had so easily left behind.

♫If you believed what you felt you would be in love…♫

I’ll drown in my consideration… Baby, this won’t get any easier…♫

“It was a good night… listening to Glassjaw on my computer and drinking some Blue Moon. Ya…”

Shredded by state lines
Press my face up against the glass
With both eyelids shut and
Baby, this won’t get any easier

I remember laughing out loud, worried that I was laughing incessantly – coming across like more of a flirt than someone who was just a little bit nervous as I fumbled around the microphone extension of my white, iPod Classic.  “Test. Test.” I tapped the microphone as if it would give me any reassurance as to whether or not this thing was actually recording. “November 12, 2006…” They told me I’d be interviewing Craigery, and instead, sent me what most music journalists would consider two nobody’s.

Matt and Brad leaned against the back wall of Salt Lake’s Great SaltAir music venue, giving me a cold shoulder and avoiding eye contact as if to say I was just another fan with a press pass.  But, I wasn’t and I was determined to let them know that between the fierce echo of another hardcore band warming up on the far away stage of this twice burned down venue.

“Is it true you wrote No Hardcore Dancing In The Living Room about a party on Locust Avenue in Provo, Utah?”  I could tell I started strong when the bassist peered past his lit cigarette, through the swoop of his disheveled bangs and thought for only a brief moment before the idea seemed to strike them both at the same time that I might actually be a long lost friend from a time before they were made popular.

As if being noticed by that cute boy in class for the very first time, I unraveled the grip I had on my iPod just long enough to wiggle my fingers as I said out loud, “Hello!?”

I stuck my hand out for another handshake as though I hadn’t already shook their hands and introduced myself initially.  “Hi! I was there that night.” I felt that in order to differ myself from their bra-slinging Hot Topic bought fans that I needed to explain further.  “R’s house right? I was standing on a chair when, well, I don’t even know who it was that decided to ride a skateboard from the kitchen into the living room while this guy I was dating at the time, B–, R–, and some other kids were all hardcore dancing in the living room.  Hence, the name right? Anyway, I remember when R– fell back into his own stereo, which then went through the front window. It was a classic moment – listening to The Locusts at a party on Locust Avenue.”

Not sure if they were high as fuck or just completely bored by me, I explained further.  “You were there,” I pointed toward Matt. “And you…”

“You were on Facebook and I had never really been on Facebook before.  I remember you were a total dick to me about it.”

“Sorry,” Brad said as he shuffled his feet over a cigarette, throwing his head back just enough to move his bangs out of his face and give me that look that seemed to say, “So?”

I went on with the interview, asking typical questions about where they grew up and how they met.  I remember being surprised that the core of the band had met as performers in a high school musical.  That sort of thing always gets me – when hardcore bands have an actual legitimate and cultured background – like suddenly you realize that these kids that reek of alcohol and cigarettes come from suburban Michigan where they probably attended private schools and lived in big ass houses with rich parents that didn’t give a fuck what their kids did.  So here they are, in a hardcore band – hiding drug addictions between the adoring screams of 13-year-old girls.

I stopped for a moment; relaxing the direct microphone-to-face stance I had been holding and reminisced again.

“I don’t know which of you all were there.  I was pretty wasted by then. But me, R–, Craig, and some of the Marluka guys all went back to my place after.”  I looked down at my hands as I talked, smiling over a stupid memory of a younger, crazier version of myself. “If you were there, you would’ve remembered I’m sure.  I only had a studio apartment. I had one bed and if I remember right, 7 people slept there that night. I think 5 of them were in my bed alone and as R– tried to snuggle up to me he ended up holding hands with whoever was on the other side of me, completely passed out.  I couldn’t help but laugh. I wiggled my way out of the mess and fell asleep on my kitchen floor because it seemed to be the only place where I could sleep alone. There were bodies everywhere ya know? It was a good night… listening to Glassjaw on my computer and drinking some Blue Moon.  Ya…”

11/12/2006: Interview with Chiodos

//First draft


//Originally published on NowOnTour.com

Chiodos, the greatest band you’ll ever see live is also down to Earth.  Recalling the last time I truly had the chance of hanging out with Chiodos, prior to being signed to Equal Vision, we reminisced about just exactly where the title for their song No Hardcore Dancing In The Living Room came from.  Originated right here in Provo, Utah, bassist, Matt Goddard, and guitarist, Pat McManaman recall with fond humor an after-show party in which random, drunken hardcore dancing took place in a mutual friend’s living room.  If I recall correctly, we were all dancing to The Locusts.  Swinging arms and ninja kicks flew between a handful of dedicated fans until the record player was disjointed from the stereo system, something was sent flying through the front window, and someone attempted to skateboard off of a living room chair.  Good times indeed, Chiodos is a band that’s memorable in every sense of the word.  A popular band indeed, having been asked nearly everything, I tried to get a few details on the random issues. 

Who chose the name Chiodos, and what horror film did it come from?

Matt:  It’s from Killer Clowns from Outerspace.  Me and Craig picked it out.  It was like a vision.  An angel came down and was like, “Watch this movie!”

Pat:  Didn’t he look like Behelzebub?

Matt:  Yes, the devil told us to do it. 

I want to hear about the controversy with Sonny from First to Last.  Why did they try to sue for the tour?

Matt:  I don’t know if I’m suppose to talk about it.  I don’t know.  I’m not aloud to talk about that!!!  More fun less controversial!

You guys tour a lot, is it something that you like to do?

Matt:  Yea, when I was growing up I always wanted to be a viking and an astronaut.  This is kind of like those two jobs put together. 

Pat:  We don’t rape and pilage as much.

Matt:  Yea, that’s where the astronaut part comes in.

How do you feel about the speed of your popularity?

Matt:  It’s cool.  I mean going into the band and playing, I didn’t really expect it.  I’m just here to play and anything good that comes out of it I’m stoked about it.  It’s pretty crazy.  I didn’t know or expect anything like this out of it.

Who are your biggest influences and how did they change as the band evolved?

Matt:  They haven’t really changed at all.  Stuff I was into, that I listened to for years was like Saves The Day.  Journey.  I love Journey.  311, no, I’m just kidding.

What do you miss most when you’re on tour?

Matt:  My bed.  Wait.  Let me put this in order – my wife, my bed, the obvious.  I miss regular food.  There’s this Thai place I go to, this shitty bar I go to.  I guess my Mom and Dad, my sisters, and my brother.

Pat:  You guess!

Matt:  I miss honey bagels with cream cheese and salami, TV, and my computer.  That’s it. 

How is it being married on tour?

Matt:  She’s in graduate school.  It’s probably better that I’m not home to waste her time. 

What’s the weirdest way that people have ever pronounced Chiodos?

Matt:  Cheerios.  Key-ode-os.  Chodes – that one never gets old.

How do you feel about Sonny and From First to Last?

Matt:  Oh all the rest of the guys are awesome. 

Oh wait you can’t talk about it.

Matt:  That’s right!  Can’t talk about it…

That’s so funny!

Matt:  Sorry.

They had a big thing with the Warped Tour this year too.

Matt:  On and off stage they are totally different people.

How are you different on stage?

Matt:  A lot more homo-erotic.  I do a lot more pelvic thrusts on stage then I do in the general public.

But you do it at home and in your shower?

Matt:  In the shower I’m singing, pelvic thrusting, and washing!

Pat:  I just wash.

Matt:  Usually I lay down, take a nap.

Do you all have formal music training or teach yourselves?

Matt:  I grew up in orchestra from fifth grade until I was a Senior.  Didn’t Jason play like the clarinet or something gay like that.

Weren’t you in High School musicals?

Brad and Craig were.  I went my Senior year and saw them.

What did they do?

Pat:  Bye Bye Birdie.

Matt:  He had his hair dyed black and it was all sleeked back.

What made you guys decide to go from orchestra to Chiodos?

Matt:  I played violin and I had a friend who played bass.  He wanted me to switch over and come to the bass section, the dark side!  I don’t really play violin anymore so I went with that.  The bass guitar is the same thing as an upright bass so then I played bass guitar.

Is there anyone you hate?

Pat:  Tim Hobbs!  He’s a fucking idiot?

Why’s he an idiot?

Pat:  He’s just a friend.

Ok.  If you could be any cartoon character from anything growing up, who would you be?

Pat:  Drooby the Dog.

Matt:  You’re such a downer!  I would be, that’s such a good question, I would be Fry from Futurama.  I can relate to him.

Not a Ninja Turtle?

Matt:  They’re cool, but I don’t want to be a turtle. 

What about the Asian kid from Captain Planet?  Power of Heart!  Do you remember the Captain Planet song?

Matt:  (Sings)  Captain Planet he’s our hero… I could write down the whole song.

I’ll expect a hardcore version!

January 8, 1999

Here, I come to save the day on legal speed the American way

My homework was done. I had been a perfect angel all week long, and I wouldn’t take no for an answer when I told my mom I needed a ride to Center Street Provo for a show this Saturday. A band I had known since my first summer visit to Utah was playing and I was supposed to be on the guest list! But I wasn’t just there as a guest, I was there for business! I had met another kid online that was planning a Battle of the Bands and needed my help.

This was back in the day where America Online was like Facebook, only with no real competitors and while the over-sharing of information struck fear into the hearts of every mother across America that believed the Internet was filled with older men pretending to be young teenagers, the reality is we were safe back then and the information we shared was nothing like we share today.

Some friend, of a friend, of a friend – not one of which I knew their actual, real name – recommended his screename to my screename. DJBinky808 (clearly a raver) was my new pal and I knew he’d be the one one by the pool table, rocking Hot Topic style parachute pants and a spiked dog collar. Ok, so maybe my mom was allowed to worry… a bit.

Back then everyone I knew in my life, I met online.

Living the single-parent life with my mom in a basement apartment of some random used-to-be farm town with a skate park over the fence meant for a lot of late night, completely dodgy meet ups with these random screenames while my mom agreed to at least stand back far enough to act like she didn’t know me while I shook hands and made friends in a way she never imagined she’d have to worry about. She couldn’t say no. I would always get my way.

Anything my parents refused me was somehow instantaneously distorted into a school project. “Oh you won’t let me meet this guy 20 years older than me with his own recording studio? That’s cool because now I have to interview a professional in the music business for a career day project at school!” I spawned the term #SorryNotSorry before hashtags were a thing (outside of my frequented life as a secret computer geek when I wasn’t binge watching MTV with random would-be band mates).

For having never planned a show before, I was confident this was what I was meant to do with my life and the fact that I barely knew anything about it didn’t even phase me. I made arrangements to meet DJBinky808 at Wrapsody during a show with local band, Froglick. There was no cooler place to hang out and no better place than this to plan my first ever music business meeting. Surely he would be impressed that I knew the headlining band!

Back then, Wrapsody was the place to go. It was the largest venue in town and the largest venue that has existed since! It held down the only lively corner of our small, college-town. The owner, Corey Fox, had just put in a self-built set of stadium seating, blocking the back half of the venue for billiard tables.

I never really played pool before. I didn’t have to try to know that I was terrible at it. I circled the table, trying to hide the way I was starring at this kid. He wore a pair of reflective, black rave pants and a large, metal beaded necklace. He didn’t have much to say, and I didn’t really have anything to ask him. It was obvious that he was very uninterested in this school assignment, or the assignment didn’t exist at all.

I watched him try to play. He wasn’t any better than I assumed I was, having never really even tried to hit the ball across the table toward whatever color I was. I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard an excited, “Heeeeyyy!” It was K-!

Without knowing how to react in the middle of a loud venue, I just stood there not prepared for the moment he leaned in and gave me a big hug. A hug? Oh my God a hug! We were definitely going to have babies.

Maybe my new high school friend could tell that any remaining interest I had was suddenly faded. Maybe he was uninterested himself. Either way, he walked away without ever even saying goodbye, and I shyly walked behind K- as he continued greeting a few familiar faces.

We stood at the back of the crowd, arms crossed, listening to the band on stage.   I had never heard them before. They sounded nothing like any of the other bands that were popular around Provo. This wasn’t ska. This wasn’t punk. This was awesome!

The music was the only thing that could lull me away from the worry as to whether or not K- liked me and what it might mean that we were standing next to each other so contently. Oh God our shoulders were touching! Should I move? Should I stand there? Is he trying to touch shoulders with me? Being a teenage girl sucked! But this was easily the most awesome night of my life so far.

Blasting their way through the speakers, and head banging through the entire song, my entire body buzzed as the band threw aside their equipment as if they had no real intention of being there and their entire presence was a favor to someone far less important than they were. The stage faded to black. Amplifiers buzzed a loud, crackling buzz as electric guitar strings hummed against the old, Persian rug on stage.

“I’m going to…” I started to yell over the buzz, motioning wildly toward the stage.

“Wanna go backstage?” he asked. My heart jumped! We were always on the same page. He took the words right out of my mouth.

Scooting past the band, carrying their equipment off the stage to the back room, we moved from total darkness to an overwhelming fluorescent luminescence. The lead singer of Froglick raised a blue bottle toward us in his left hand, singing out, “Heeeeeeeeeey!” as we entered. The rest of the band sat dread-locked and dark haired on the old, yellow couch in the center of the room – backed by drum equipment and stacks of large, black amplifiers.

This must be heaven.

K- went to congratulate the band that had just finished loading off the stage. He was that kind of guy – nice and stuff. R- broke through my daydream of life as a musician’s wife when a small, bumpy blue bottle of Bawls was presented directly in front of my face, dancing back and forth.

“Bawwwwls,” he announced, causing his band mates to break out into laughter as if they were half, well no probably more like a third of their actual age.

L- flipped his long, reddish black dreadlocks over his shoulder as he stood to start loading their equipment to stage. K- offered to help while I palmed this strange, glass bottle in my hands, careful not to spill.

“Have some!” R- insisted.

Oh the peer pressure. I lightly tasted it, barely a sip at all. I wasn’t sure what it was and was convinced by the look of things that it was probably alcohol. And that’s just the sort of thing I would never be able to successfully hide from my mother nor did I want to. The whole idea of it was just… strange.

I didn’t want to ask. I didn’t want to sound stupid as the rest of the band egged me on, bragging about how Bawls was now their official band sponsor.

“Is it…” I couldn’t word this any better, “is it alcohol?”

All I got in reply was boisterous laughter as each member of the band started lugging their respective set of equipment to the stage – R-, joking about the struggles of carrying one, single microphone to the stage as he gyrated around me, tongue out as if he were trying out to be the lead of KISS.

I-I-I’m wired
I’m so inspired
I drank the entire pot

It didn’t take long to feel the effects of this bubbly delight to find out that this was indeed an energy drink. Exciting! No thanks to my older brother, energy drinks were already a staple of my teenage diet. He would be stoked to find out about this new one! Jolt Cola, step aside!

I suppose it was the best pre-show choice when rocking out at an All Ages venue with… well, kids of all ages, including that girl that goes to my school. I don’t know who she is. I’m not even sure what her name is, but she’s always here, at every Froglick show with the same boy.

Like so many Froglick shows before, I was up front vying for spot as #1 fan next to my only contender, Jentle. Another known screename associated with an unfamiliar face. Jentle is the kind of girl that dyes her hair black or orange and types *le sigh* as a common expression. God, she was cool! She was the kind of girl you wanted to be – the kind you knew could kick your ass, but still rocked a flawless appeal no matter who she was, no matter what she wore. I wasn’t sure if I should loathe her or worship her. So I ignored her.

Yelling out the lyrics to the most popular songs and throwing elbows in a wild, seizure-inducing dance craze, this was my night and I would never forget it.

January 8, 2000.

That was just the thing about music, it captivated me. It made me not give a damn! I know who I am. I do what I want! There wasn’t anyone there to stop me.

Except… curfew.

Intro to Music 101

Suddenly my life had energy. It had purpose. I felt motivated to greet each day, and for the first time, I had an idea of what it was I wanted to do with my life. I was in love with music!

Having grown up as a damn near professional touring, Classical concert pianist, it was unbeknownst to me that radio stations existed past the lower 80-FM channels. For most of my life, the radio remained on Classical NPR, and the only albums floating around the glove compartment were Bob Dylan inspired folk artists like, Peter, Paul, and Mary.

This was the soundtrack to my life, and life… well, life was boring.

It was only during the summers my parents sent me away to stay with my older sister that I was introduced to the compelling sounds and lifestyle of Punk Rock.

Punk Rock was amazing. The short, repetitive sound of only three, simple chords on violent repeat on songs that never lasted more than a couple minutes was just what my hyperactive, over-emotional brain needed. It allowed me to put my energy into something, and feed my natural rebellion into what seemed like the only real thing I had ever believed in.

Punk Rock wasn’t just a sound – it was a cause!

My very mantra was to be anti-everything, before I even understood what these super-powered political responses meant.

As rebellious as I felt, I was too young to truly care about much more than what mattered to me in any singular moment as a teenage girl. That’s where ska came in, and that’s exactly how I fell in love.


Music is dead to me

The simple fact is, I stopped listening.  Everything reminded me of something.  Of someone.  Even the slightest sense of one familiar downbeat would throw my heart to the front of my rib cage, arms flinging forward in an attempt to brace myself for impact.  Eyes shut.  Sweat soaking my armpits instantly; heart beating louder in the ears, deafening each continuing beat until I know for sure I’m drowning now.  This is the point of no return and my only thought right now is – Thank God.

Mom always said dying wasn’t that easy.  I think it was her way of telling me I was being pathetic without giving too much attention to my teenage drama.  With a splintering pain, my heart ran full force into the front of my chest, frantically trying to push its way out; to burst through in fear that staying locked up within these dying catacombs, connected to these ears, to these feelings, would destroy what little remaining energy it had left, beating on in hope that someday these would be great memories – icons of a complicated road that ultimately led me somewhere.  

Each forward thrusting thud felt like the last time I’d ever feel my heart beat again.  With a faint energy, I felt myself reaching out in the same, desperate way my Mom used to ask me, “Why do you want to leave me?”

And if I’d continue?  If I would try to live through the moment, pushing through to a familiar, happy place, forced into my head by a pair of shit headphones given to me in a party swag bag – attempting to remember all the other times I might have heard this song in a particular place that wasn’t connected to one, single moment in time – my heart would petrify.  The attempt felt like my lungs were being filled with concrete.  The sludge would creep in one beat at a time until I couldn’t be sure if time had ever even passed or if I had always been this way, since the last time I listened.

My mind would erase.  Time no longer existed.  Yesterday was today.  This was happening to me now.  I could almost feel the failure in each beat as it sank, hopelessly forgiving.  Why do I do this to myself?  Go back?  Put a song on repeat?

“A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile…” -Don McLean

I’m not quite sure the day the music died, for me anyway.  I can’t recall the exact moment my soul exited my body, leaving behind only cold, familiar memories of the moments that once made the soundtrack to my life so grandiose.

I remember when it really began for me – my obsession with music, that is.  I was 16.  I had spent the last several summers visiting my sister in a land where, in movies, music had been outlawed.  So when my parents and I moved there just before my 16th birthday, every corner of this Happy Valley was singing a familiar tune.

My best friend introduced me to the local music scene.  I felt like we had to be the two coolest girls in town every time our Mom’s dropped us off at the local all-ages music venue, Wrapsody.  This is my anthem. My riot.  My mixtape.  My story.

Listen to it on loud.