1996 had been a roller coaster ride to say the least thus far. The passing of Jay Poole, the finding of new love, the growth of Black Belt Jones, the opening of new local clubs to play, moving to Malton with my friends, and the continuing explosion of Wiggaz A.D.
As fast as I had moved to Malton, after a whirlwind of fun it seemed as if I was moving out just as fast. Not wanting to rely on my parents again I decided to try and find somewhere new to live. My girlfriend Jenny suggested that I move into her place with her family. I wasn't wild about the idea, but it did mean I wouldn't have to burden my folks again. I was also out of work so I really didn't have many options.
Surprisingly her parents were fine with the idea, the only catch was that they had a family dog and they were not very fond of cats, so my kitty Fritz would have to stay confined in the bedroom. A small sacrifice to say the least in order to have a roof over my head.
I wasn't gainfully unemployed at that time so I spent most of my days perusing the shelves of Blockbuster video in search for classic kung-fu movies to rent and dub. I took a chance on a whim one day and rented a samurai movie entitled "Shogun Assassin" or "Lone Wolf & Cub" In the opening minutes I was thrilled to hear samples the GZA of Wu-Tang had used on his new debut solo LP. It went on to be one of my all time favourite films.
I built up a pretty good collection in my short stay there, and surprisingly grew close to her family despite my anti social personality. Her father had even became a fan of my band Wiggaz, after I inadvertently left our demo in the tape deck of his car one day. Jenny was in tears laughing explaining how her father was cruising around Brampton with his shades on, windows down, and Wiggaz blaring out the stereo. I thought it was the greatest thing ever.
Despite not working, her parents always supported me and I did whatever I could to pull my weight around the house. Their dog Wilson, who pretty much hated everyone, was now my best friend and we had an incredible bond. Her family embraced me and included me on outings such as spending time at their cottage in Bancroft. Jenny & I even got the place to ourselves a few times and had friends stay there with us. It was paradise.
Speaking of paradise, the old saying "trouble in paradise" was creeping back into my life and my friend's lives, specifically my brothers in Black Belt Jones. Tensions were rising between Pauly & Mike, and myself of course. Mike had voiced his displeasure at the fact that Paul & I were the ones who had our hands in the beat creating and song writing. Mike could play drums and he was one hell of a guitar and bass player, so he was resenting the fact that Paul was writing the stringed content of the music, in turn dictating what Mike had to play.
I totally understood where Mike was coming from and I didn't blame him for feeling how he felt by any means. Truth be told, Mike was a busy man. He was working multiple jobs and he had many circles of friends, which in reality meant he really wasn't around us much at all these days. Paul & I hung out a lot hence us being the creative force behind BBJ.
We were gigging regularly at the London Bridge in Brampton now, where we continued our tradition of the open mic segment at the end of our sets, we even went as far as to make a first place trophy/bong for the best freestyle rapper. Delving further into experimentation, the open mic segment had now transformed into an open stage concept - meaning anyone could come join us on stage with their own instrument of choice for some freestyle jamming. I was even jumping on the drum kit as was Mike, who was also switching between bass & guitar with Paul every other track for the most part during our sets now since voicing his opinions.
The club had a massive movie screen on stage so we also began editing our own VHS videotapes so we could have a video presentation to run along side our audio presentation. It was exhilarating having this new found creativity in the band, but with Mike already being bitter about Pauly writing all the guitar parts, and with all the freestyle jamming that was going on, Mike went rogue.
What I mean by that is Mike started playing what he wanted when he wanted instead of sticking to the structure of our songs that had been set in stone. At times it could work, at other times it completely threw us off. Needless to say Mike & Paul started bumping heads quite often. The whole vibe reminded me of the tension between Derek, Mike & I in the Grasshopper days, and deep down I knew it was the beginning of the end...