Unsane were from New York, and they were a very heavy and intense band, they were also only a three piece, but they rocked that shit. Their album cover was really cool too, an image of an unfortunate person who apparently was decapitated by a train. It was a very extreme image, so naturally I was instantly attracted to it.
Unsane were coming to play Toronto, so of course we got tickets, but what made it even cooler was that our buddies The Satanatras were going to be the opening act. We were very excited for our friends, and equally excited to see Unsane live. To be quite honest I don't even remember what club the show was at, but both bands kicked an extreme amount of ass. The most impressive part for me however, was the drummer of Unsane. His name was Charlie, and he was a very quiet eccentric type, somewhat resembling Tiny Tim. I'm talking about the musician, not the character from the classic Christmas story.
Charlie played a jazz kit, which was very small. A kick drum, snare drum, one tom, and a floor tom. However Chuck rocked that kit like I had never seen. The sound and force he omitted was equal to that of Rush's Neil Pert and his 30 plus piece drum kit. It was truly inspiring to see someone get such a huge sound from such a small kit. I was absolutely blown away by him.
Our Satanatra friends ended up getting us backstage at the show, so we got to meet, party, and hang out with Unsane. With the exception of Charlie, they were really cool friendly guys, especially the singer/guitarist Chris, who had taken a strong liking to our Canadian narcotics. We partied until the wee hours of the morning, then it was time to head out. Someone mentioned that both bands were playing in London the next night and that we should come out for the show. 12 hours later we were in London Ontario, re-experiencing the whole event once more, and once again partying backstage with the band. And yes, once again Charlie blew my mind. I don't even think I put eyes on either of the other band members during the entire set. We smoked and drank backstage until the club owner kicked us out. It was another amazing night under my rock n' roll belt.
Not long after this we learned some sad and tragic news, Chuck had died from a heroine overdose, and we were devastated. So were his band mates needless to say. It was very unjust for them, at the peak of their career, to lose a brother. They decided to look for another drummer after the grieving was done, then carried on as a band. I never knew Chuck was into Heroin, nor did I know anyone who had ever tried it, but looking back it made sense why he was so quiet and kept to himself. I was sad so see such an incredibly talented drummer taken from this planet before he even got his full due.
In the meantime (pun fully intended) the band Helmet were blowing up with their new single "Unsung" from their second album "Meantime" We had previously enjoyed their first release "Strap It On" and the new album did not disappoint one bit. However, the first time I heard "Unsung" I immediately proclaimed they had ripped off Pantera. Derek seemed to despise any type of "Metal" that had guitar solos which he called "wanking" so he immediately dismissed my statement. After all, Indy rock bands were so much cooler right? Why would they need to rip off a metal band right? Not like they grew up listening to rock and metal right? Wrong.
The next day I had a new mixtape ready for the ride to Toronto, and you guessed it, the first song on the mix was "Rise" by Pantera. I didn't say a word as it played, just watched Derek's facial expressions in my prerefferal view. There was no denying the riffs were one in the same, Pantera having written theirs first. Was it coincidence or plagiarism? One could only speculate. Either way I loved both bands and both songs, and still do.
It wasn't long before Helmet rolled into town to perform live, and you know we had to go check it out. They were on the bill with Bad Religion, who I was familiar with but wasn't a die hard fan of. I was more into the hardcore punk at the time and was blatantly ignorant to most forms of punk music that had actual melodic singing and not rabid screaming and growling. They still rocked the roof of the place, and I grew to love them. The place in question was the Spectrum Club on the Danforth, and I don't think I had been there since seeing Epileptic Brain Surgeons open for Day-Glo Abortions.
Helmet were really solid in concert. It's always impressive when a band can sound just like their record when they are performing live. It's also always more pleasurable when one is familiar with all the music a band has released, so all in all I enjoyed Helmet more than Bad Religion, although Bad Religion made a new fan out of me that night.
The real highlight for me on that particular evening however, was the local opening act that performed first. They were a newer band to the scene called "Trigger Happy" and I was totally stoked to see Mark from "Missing Link" and Al from "Deep End" on stage in front of me. Deep End were on Epidemic Records with E.B.S., but they had recently disbanded, and from the ashes rose Trigger Happy. I wasn't familiar with their music at all, but I was so pumped and full of energy that I was banging about through the pit like a mad man.
This was all so surreal to me back at this point in history. I was still fairly young and it was inspiring and impressive to see all my friends and the people around me doing so well in the Canadian music industry, which at the time was next to impossible to break into if you weren't a radio friendly top 10 pop band.
There was really no telling where some of us might go...