Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Wrestler part 1



I had previously been black listed from amateur wrestling in middle school, but now that I was in a new high school I was able to try out for the school wrestling team. The tryouts were announced fairly early into the fall and I was all over it like stink on doodoo. The tryouts were held after school but they were not in the gymnasium. Our school had a fitness room on the second floor that contained exercise bikes, weight machines, and other work out equipment.

When I got there on the first day of tryouts there were thin blue mats laid out in a large square, the same kind of mats you would see in pro wrestling on the outside of the ring. There were a group of males sitting in a circle on the mats so I went and joined in. I was a bit surprised to find out there weren't even any teachers present, as the class was being taught by three senior students from the wrestling team, all of them clean cut, cocky, preppy jocks...the type of guys I loathed.

We started out with some stretching then we went into some simple drills. As the drilling went on they became much harder and harder. The smallest of the three instructors was maybe 5'3 at best and he had the biggest mouth and attitude of the group. As the drills went on he proceeded to start singling me out and pushing me harder than the rest of the group. I immediately assumed that since I was the biggest grade nine at the tryouts he was looking to make an example of me while making himself feel better about his short stature. I'm sure the fact that I had a long flowing mullet just encouraged the target that was now placed on me.

As the weeks went on so did the bullying and abuse from the one instructor. When we finally got into learning holds he would constantly pick me as his volunteer to show the rest of the class the moves we were learning, and he always made a point of really applying the pressure to me and stretching my body to its limits. I can recall him putting me in a reverse hammerlock while I was face down on the mat with him straddling me, he then instructed me to try and break free. Every time I tried to get lose he would tweak my arm harder and harder, to the point where it felt like it was about to break.

Defeated by the pain being inflicted on my bad arm I had broken years prior, I just lied there and gave up, which made him even madder. Blinded by anger now his voice raised as he demanded I try to get free or he was going to break my arm, then he applied the pressure harder than ever. Something snapped in me and I saw red. Before I even knew what I was doing, I violently jerked my body in the direction of my free arm and rolled. Now he was back down on the mat with me on top of him, my back facing his front, the hold was still slapped on good and I'm pretty sure he was legitimately trying to break my arm. I thrusted my head back and our skulls collided, dazed he let go of my arm and I flipped over, my knees now pinning his shoulders to the mat. I heard a hand slap down on the mat declaring a pin and a cheer erupted from the grade nine lackeys.

I got up and raised my hands in victory, the so called "teacher" jumped to his feet in dispute, his face red with embarrassment. Humiliated, he charged at me with a crazed look in his eye trying to start a fight with me. The two other "teachers" had to grab onto him and hold him back. I felt great about besting him but there was no way I was going to be apart of this wrestling team, so I grabbed my stuff and left. After that whenever I passed him in the halls he would give me dirty looks but he never tried to start anything with me. A few weeks later a friend of mine in grade nine who was being bullied by the same guy decided to fight back one day which resulted in the grade 12 wrestler getting his nose broken, and his ass kicked in general. After that I never heard much out of him again and he didn't even make eye contact with me anymore. It looked good on him...

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Home movies & hammer locks

the pxl 2000

All in all grade nine was starting out pretty amazingly. I was making new friends, I was discovering new things that ranged from alcohol to recreational drugs to incredible music, I had my own identity in the BBS world, and most importantly I finally had a band. Even though we had our band now we still didn't put as much effort into it as we should have, instead we opted to run around and get into trouble every chance we got. And as winter was rolling around nobody wanted to be transporting instruments and walking to band practice.

That year for Christmas my folks got me a black and white camcorder made by fisher price, the leaders in durable kids toys. I even had a very small black and white television that I could hook it up to and use as a monitor. The tv was literally about 6-8 inches squared, so it was very easy to carry and to conceal. We would hang out at the Ching library a lot in the evenings. We were supposed to be doing homework and school assignments, but instead we'd be creeping around with that camera, looking for funny things, people, or situations to record.

Some kid at our school got caught masturbating in the boys washroom so whenever we saw him in the halls we would roll film and get up in his face declaring "hey it's the loser who got caught wanking" that's an example of the things we felt were worthy of documenting. I also tried to do a lot of stop motion animation with the camera but not having a tripod made it extremely difficult, so back to pranks and humiliation it was!

I was now in my fifth year of hockey as well, and to be quite honest I was starting to get bored of it. Plus with the discovery of partying and drinking came the discovery of the dreaded hangover. Getting up for a hockey practice or game at 5 or 6 am after a night of mixing every type of booze under the sun was getting tiresome to me. I knew without a doubt that this was going to be my last year playing hockey, I just had to break the news to my old man now without breaking his heart.

The truth of the matter was, is, and forever shall be, that I despised sports and most of the jock-ish people related to them. Over the years I had played soccer, t-ball, softball, hardball, basketball, and hockey...all to appease my father who was a basketball and football star throughout his high school days. I suppose him marrying my mother at such a young age and in turn having no choice but to work for a living cut his dreams of sports stardom short, causing him to vicariously try and live his dreams through me.

In reality there was only two sports I truly loved, wrestling and skateboarding, both of which seemed incredibly hard to make a living off of without the proper discipline and dedication. I had no clue at age 14 that one could actually be a pro skateboarder, so naturally wrestling seemed like the only option. The question now was did I have what it took to become a pro wrestler?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Sweet Leaf



Early into grade nine my sister and her friend had gotten an apartment over on Knightsbridge near the Bramalea City Centre. The buildings on Knightsbridge were known to be seedy and the area was essentially the first ghetto in Brampton.  The first time I went to her place I noticed a plant in her living room and thought nothing of it, until I realized it was a marijuana plant. I asked my sister about it and she confirmed it was and we had a chuckle over it. Obviously moving out of ones parents house meant the freedom to do whatever one wanted to, and I was already anxious about it, regardless of the fact I had at least 4 more years to go, like hell on earth with a terrible president. 

At one point my sister went to use the bathroom so I decided to take a clipping off of the plant and quickly hid it in my cigarette pack. When I left her place I just about puked when I realized someone had stolen my brand new bmx bike I had just got a few months prior. As I walked home in frustration I saw a young black kid approaching me on what looked like my bike. As he got closer I became more and more convinced that it was in fact my bike, so just as he was passing me I clotheslined him with my right arm and hooked him like a lariat, resulting in the kid slamming down to the sidewalk on his back, which sent the bike coasting in a "ghost ride" until it tumbled over. The kid laid there stunned and winded. I quickly realized it wasn't even my bike he was riding. I ran off before he even regained his marbles and figured out what had just happened. 

The next day before school I decided I was going to try the marijuana I had secretly stolen from my sister, I hadn't even told any of my friends about it as I feared they would possibly be upset with me and perhaps even outcast me. I twisted the herb up in some type of paper, I can't even remember if it was an actual cigarette paper or tissue paper or onion paper, but none the less I managed to roll my first joint. In movies I had always seen people use roach clips to hold their doobies so I had to improvise, a pink paper clip from my art supplies would have to suffice. I opened my bedroom window and literally hung my upper body out of it so the house wouldn't smell. Once I was finished I grabbed my school bag and trusted Walkman and began the trek.

I can recall enjoying the walk thoroughly. My music sounded better than ever and everything in general looked more beautiful to me, I was truly appreciating nature and life in a different light. When I got to school I can remember roaming the halls, which seemed to be never ending, a shit eating grin on my face no doubt. When I saw people I didn't like or had issues with I would blatantly point at them and laugh out loud to myself, as opposed to being angered and causing a confrontation like I normally would have. I ran into my friend Julie who was the only "user" I knew of and I excitedly told her what I had done. At first she didn't believe me but my actions quickly convinced her otherwise.

I felt great, I felt happy, and for the first time in my life I truly felt centred and whole. My anger, hatred and hostility were non existent. I felt care free and wasn't sweating the small things that generally lead to feelings of dread and anxiety. This was definitely one sweet leaf, and I had no doubt in my mind I would be trying it again very soon...

Friday, 26 October 2012

Bass

One thing in particular I noticed about thrash and hardcore music, and one thing in particular I very much liked about the music, was the predominance of the bass guitar. I'm not sure why, but throughout my previous years prior to grade nine I had never really noticed bass in music. I am unclear as to why, but I reckon that the way heavy metal and rock music was mixed, you just didn't hear the bass. I later learned that bass could be felt more so than heard, but going back to old metal, I still don't hear it or feel it, with the exception of Motörhead. I was aware however as to what a bass guitar was but I think I was pretty clueless in the differences between a four string and a six string guitar. 

Now with crossover music I had completely become aware of the bass and how it differed in sound, tone and feel in comparison to the electric guitar. A lot of the songs I was hearing in this new genre I had discovered, had a tendency to start the song off with a bass lick, or there would be a break in the song at some point where just the bass stood alone. I loved the sound and feeling that charged me up whenever this happened, and I wanted to incorporate that into our sound now that we had a band. The only problem was we had no bass player.

Enter Scott. Scott, or "Vans" as we called him (vans being the first four letters of his last name) was a kid I had met in grade six when I started school at Williams Parkway. Vans was a pretty quiet, average looking guy, and Sanjai had started hanging around with him, so naturally he became apart of our circle of friends. I can't remember if he already owned a bass or if he bought one so he could join the band, but none the less he had a bass and we were now a five piece band with a bass player.

"VANS" & I clowning around in toys-R-us
When we first started Anathema we were a three piece, which was inspired by groups such as Motörhead, Venom & Celtic Frost. Now with the discovery of thrash and hardcore, I had noticed most the bands had four or five members. I now felt we were one step closer to becoming the new vision I had for us. With this new line up change came more changes, we decided it was time for a new name for the band. We were all huge fans of the television show "our gang/little rascals" so we decided upon the name "The Little Thrashcals" Although it was somewhat juvenile and silly we liked it, but not for very long...


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Band morph

One day at school during grade nine I was telling my buddy Ryan about our band "Anathema" which he was quite interested to hear about, so much in fact that he asked if he could come watch us at our next rehearsal. I agreed and told him he could even get in on the action if he wanted.

Our next jam session arrived and Ryan showed up at my place to watch. We went through the handful of songs we had as he sat and eagerly watched on. After we played through the set a few times I asked him if he'd like to hop on the drums and try our songs out with us. The fact was that I found it very difficult to sing and play drums at the same time. I could pull it off but it was hard and the timing on my vocal delivery was altered due to me following the rhythm of the drums. 

Ryan picked up easily on our songs and was jamming right along in unison with us and his timing was impeccable. The truth of the matter was he played drums much better than I did, he had much more experience than me and he was much more technical. Plus he was the guy who taught me to play drums in the first place. On the flip side of things I was really enjoying just being on the microphone. There was no drum set binding me down and I was able to deliver my vocals the way they were intended to be delivered in the first place. All in all our songs were sounding much better with the addition of Ryan on drums, and me being able to do my thing on the mic.



To be quite honest I had become somewhat enamoured with the high energy vocalists I was seeing in all the new crossover bands I'd recently discovered, and I wanted the freedom to jump and mosh around and deliver more showmanship. By the end of the jam the original 3 of us had a pow wow while we smoked cigarettes in the cold cellar of my basement. We all came to an agreement and decided to ask Ryan if he wanted to join our band as the new drummer, he agreed and even stated that we could jam at his parents house and combine my drum kit with his to make one giant, thrashing set!

Everything was coming together nicely but there was now one key element we were missing if we were going to become a true crossover thrash band...a bass player...


two drum kits combined as one!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Record Peddler

The time had arrived for my next trip to Toronto and I was excited as ever. I had located the whereabouts of The Record Peddler on Yonge street and I could not wait to check the place out. Normally I would have wanted to visit the usual spots, comic stores, head shops, etc. but on this particular day I was a man on a mission. We trekked up Yonge until we hit the Peddler, which was on the east side of the street between College and Bloor. 

The moment I stepped through the door I was in bliss. The store was quite large and boasted a nice open concept, which was different than the cramped, closed quarters I was used to in other record stores. The place was just a big square, or perhaps it was slightly rectangular, I can't quite remember, but it was definitely bigger than any of the record stores in my local shopping mall. Working behind the counter was none other than the man, the myth, the legend himself...Brian Taylor, he was a gruff looking individual who didn't come off as friendly or social, but none the less I felt like I was in the presence of a very important person. 

The walls were decorated with all kinds of cool band posters, mostly metal, thrash and hardcore bands. The record bins were all set up by genre and let me tell you there were a lot of records to browse through. The prices were a bit higher than what I was used to in Brampton, but it didn't matter as a lot of the records they carried were either rare, imports, or simply hard to find underground music. I didn't mind having to pay a buck or two more for what I considered great music.


Razor. Autograph session @ the original Record Peddler.

I must have spent at least an hour going through vinyl until I picked out some selections to purchase. The first was "Life of Dreams" by The Crumbsuckers, which is still one of my all time favourite records to this day. The second album I picked up was "Spreading The Disease" by Anthrax. I had never heard the album but at the time they were my favourite band, so this choice was a no brainer. The third and final record I picked was somewhat of an urban legend I had overheard some older guys talking about at school one day, it was called "Speak English Or Die" by a band called S.O.D. (Stormtroopers Of Death) and was rumoured to contain the fastest, heaviest music to date topped off with  the most extreme, controversial lyrical matter. 



As I approached the counter to pay for my selections I noticed a flyer in the window advertising the fact that a band called Corrosion of Conformity,  or C.O.C., were looking for a new vocalist. I vividly remember staring at it in awe and being amazed that the band had an add in a Toronto store, and was even more amazed by the day dream of some nobody like myself having the opportunity to front an established hardcore band such as C.O.C.

As I was paying the silent Mr.Taylor I noticed a jar on the counter. Canadian punkers Day-Glo Abortions were being sued because some irate cop had found the record in his daughters possession and brought it to the attention of the PMRC. The jar on the counter was to donate money towards their legal fees, so I proudly dumped the change I got back from Brian into the jar eagerly and willingly. The overall atmosphere of the place blew my mind and it was now without a doubt my new favourite record store. As I rode the go bus home I admired my new records and was already anticipating my next visit to the Peddler...





Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Metal Up Yer Kilt!

During grade nine my older friend John McCuish told me about a radio show one day that catered to thrashers and punkers. The radio show was called "Metal up yer kilt" and it was hosted by a fellow named Brian Taylor. The show was on a station called CKLN and it was at the far left end of the radio dial on 88.1fm. CKLN was my first exposure to "college radio" as it was affiliated with Ryerson University. The show only aired one night a week, it was either Mondays or Tuesdays if my memory serves correct. I believe the show spanned from 11pm to 1am.


brian taylor today. manager, rotate this.

The first few times I tried to tune in I ended up falling asleep within the first few minutes, as I was always dead tired by 11pm. Eventually I just started recording the show onto cassette tapes that way I could catch up on all the stuff I was missing out on during my slumber. Thankfully by doing so I was able to discover all kinds of new bands, like Madball who I mentioned a few posts ago. Brian played a song of theirs called "wake up and smell the bacon" and I was a fan of it instantly. The fact the singer was a 14 year old kid such as myself was very inspiring to me, not too mention he was being backed up by his older brother's band, Agnostic Front. 

Another band I discovered on the show was "Death" from the Florida area, and I fell in love with the extreme sound they provided. Death would later go down in history as the band that essentially coined the term "death metal" and put the genre on the map. They were also considered as early pioneers of the "grind core" scene. 



Another stand out from the show was a New York crossover act called "Ludichrist" I recall Mr.Taylor playing a few of their songs and it blew my mind. They were thrashy, hardcore, yet they contained elements of rap music that most metal heads probably would not have recognized. Seeing as "rap core" was my thing, Ludichrist now sat close to the top of my list of favourite bands.

I was so excited to play these tapes for my friends and introduce them to all these new bands. I'm not sure if they were as excited as I was, but they all seemed to dig the music I was exposing them to. I was eager to hit up the mall and see if I could find some records or tapes from these new bands, much to my dismay not one of the three record stores in the mall had any of them.

When I tuned in the next week Brian played a new record from a band which escapes me at the moment. The name of the band clearly isn't important at this moment in the story, what is important is the fact that Brian mentioned you could pick their new release up at "The Record Peddler" on Yonge street in Toronto. I now had a new mission in mind for my next excursion down to the big city...find the "Peddler"

Monday, 22 October 2012

Kevin's Not Here

I wanted to take this time to apologize for not posting an entry on Friday. It had been somewhat of a hectic week and I got my son Gabe on Friday for the weekend, so I opted not to write so I could spend more qaulity time with him, like creating silly videos such as the one below.


I'd also like to thank anyone and everyone who has helped spread word of this blog. Since I reached out to all my readers a mere 10 days ago, I have been averaging 100 views a day, so once again thank you.

Although I'm still wrapping up " 73' " I have already started producing beats and music for my next future release entitled "What's below remains below" I've actually managed to complete one song so I figured I'd share it with you all, I hope you dig it, and be sure to check back tomorrow for the continuation of our on going story. 

Kabal - "Kevin's Not Here"

V1. 
I'm not here, please leave a message. 
I'll get back when I'm outta the wreckage/ 
Please wait for the beep then speak, 
But, refrain and don't you get to deep/ 
Cus, chances r that ain't my brother, 
In one ear, out the other/ 
Like my mother and my father 
Machines running, but please don't bother/ 
Cus I've been gone since the time I got here, you go on, even though I'm not here/ 
Talk long, I long to rot here,can't see me I'm a little dot here/ 
Don't fret, even I can't find me, 
I missed that, so Im rewinding/ 
It feels like, my ears are blinded, 
Please leave another one I just might find it/ 

Chorus 
Kevin's not here, please leave a message, 
Ill get back when I'm done with the presage/ 
Please wait for the beep then speak, It seems I'm either asleep, or I'm making a beat/ 
Or getting something to eat, or too busy smoking weed, you can always text me I need something to read/ 
I'm either in too deep or way over my head, but I'll get right back to you soon as I can/ 

V2. 
I'm still not here, so please leave another one, don't get offended, I do it to my mother son/ 
Don't get me wrong, you're not being troublesome, I swear I'll get back to you, right on the double, once.../ 
I'm done dealing with whatever that I'm dealing with, And done feeling with whatever that I'm reeling with/ 
I'm not revealing, whoever that I meddle with, staring at the ceiling dreaming things ill never settle with/ 
You keep leaving them as if you were a real friend, just concealing that you're kneeling for a deal and/ 
a helping hand that's appealing to a weed man, clearly not hear but you're squealing like a creed fan/ 
There's no need to keep feeding me your hard times, I heard that shit, when you mentioned it the third time/ topped my inbox like you're working part time, I'll get back, once I'm done, lurking in my dark mind/ 

Chorus 
Kevin's not here, please leave a message, 
Ill get back when I'm done with the presage/ 
Please wait for the beep then speak, It seems I'm either asleep, or I'm making a beat/ 
Or getting something to eat, or too busy smoking weed, you can always text me I need something to read/ 
I'm either in too deep or way over my head, but I'll get right back to you soon as I can/ 

V3. 
I'm not here, please leave a message. 
I'll get back when I'm outta the wreckage/ 
Please wait for the beep then speak, 
But, refrain and don't you get to deep/ 
Cus, chances r that ain't my brother, 
In one ear, out the other/ 
Like my mother and my father 
Machines running, but please don't bother/ 
Cus I've been gone since the time I got here, you go on, even though I'm not here/ 
Talk long, I long to rot here,can't see me I'm a little dot here/ 
Don't fret, even I can't find me, 
I missed that, so Im rewinding/ 
It feels like, my ears are blinded, 
Please leave another one I just might find it/ 

Chorus 
Kevin's not here, please leave a message, 
Ill get back when I'm done with the presage/ 
Please wait for the beep then speak, It seems I'm either asleep, or I'm making a beat/ 
Or getting something to eat, or too busy smoking weed, you can always text me I need something to read/ 
I'm either in too deep or way over my head, but I'll get right back to you soon as I can/



Thursday, 18 October 2012

Mischief

During grade nine I started spending my Friday nights sleeping over at my friend Ryan's place, the head spinning drummer I've mentioned in previous posts. Ryan lived up in what we referred to as the "M" section by MacKay plaza, another Brampton landmark I've mentioned back in the story. Ryan's folks were very nice and laid back much like Jerry's folks were. They allowed smoking in the house and his dad would even rent porno movies for us from the video store at MacKay.


MacKay Plaza as it stands today

Normally on a Friday night we would head over to the plaza, eat some pizza and/or junk food & hang out with the assorted riff raff that frequented the place. We'd usually hook up with a few other trouble makers and see what kind of shit we could stir up. Our most common activity we enjoyed was going into the grocery store, I believe it was a "Food City" and buying cartons of eggs. From there we would wander off into the night looking for people or places or objects to throw eggs at. By far our most favourite thing to do was wait at any random bus stop and egg the driver once he opened the door, then we'd scatter into the darkness. I had started getting drunk early into grade 9 so we were also hitting the bottle a lot on our weekend excursions, usually while we hid out in Massey forest, where we were once lucky enough to bump into some drunken female classmates which resulted in me having fellatio performed on me for my first time. Unfortunately it was cut short by one of the girls irate fathers screaming and searching for his daughter, as she had stolen a bottle of his booze earlier that night.

 
 One night while bumming around a residential area we came across an interesting situation. There was a party taking place and we could clearly see it was full of older kids from our high school. Nobody was guarding the door so we just decided to man up and walk in. I don't think I had ever experienced that much anxiety in my life before. I was certain we were going to be outed, beaten, and ejected off the premises. Ryan knew some of the older guys there who lived in the area so he gravitated towards them. The next thing I knew I was standing there alone scoping the scene, my anxiety now higher than ever.  Finally I spotted a familiar face, it was John McCuish. I quickly approached him to receive a big grin from him and the question "Theodoropolus? How'd you get in here?" I told him we just walked in and he burst out in laughter. John and I shot the shit for a bit. I clearly remember him busting my balls about wearing a beastie boys shirt. If I told John on that day he'd be a huge Beastie Boys fan one day he probably would of laughed in my face...or beaten the shit out of me. Eventually the heat was on us so we dipped out, but I had wet my beak with my first high school party...and I was ready to jump in feet first!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Mentors


Down the street from my high school was a strip mall where all the students used to hang out on lunch. There were a few un notable businesses there that I'll mention anyways such as a bank, a carpet store, a flower shop and a dry cleaners. The rest of the businesses there were all worth mentioning and all held their own as far as a cool place to hang out went. There was Hasty Market which was convenient for the junk food fanatics, smokers and porn aficionados. There was a donut shop which seemed to be more of the rock on/skid hangout, people we referred to as "yeah mans" and "Molten rivet heads" There was a greasy spoon restaurant called "Kelly's" which was usually also full of the above mentioned rockers. There was another food place called "smoke & spice" which specialized in chicken, fries & wedgies. They also had some cool video games like Karate Champ, Sprint & Super Mario. The only other option for food was Pizzaville which had my favourite video game TWA Wrestling.

And then there was my favourite place to hang out, "The Friendly Neighbourhood Comic Shop" yes that was literally the name of the place. They had two kick ass arcade machines in there, Gauntlet & Xenophobe. When we weren't playing video games or browsing the comic bins, we were usually placing prank calls to the sears pickup window in the back of the shop. When the clerk left the counter unmanned to go answer the Sears phone, we would grab boxes of Garbage Pail Kids trading cards off the counter and make a run for it, the clerk oblivious to our actions each time.


There was a group of older thrashers that used to be there every day either hanging out in Smoke & Spice or Pizzaville. These guys ranged from grade ten to twelve and all seemed very cool to me. Most of them had long hair, leather jackets, and cool band shirts that I always made note of  for future record shopping references. They also hung out with some punkers and skaters as well as the occasional skinhead. As far as I was concerned these guys were the coolest dudes in the school and I looked up to them in awe.

I had somewhat of an in with them seeing as my old school mate John McCuish was apart of their group. As my style started changing from metal head to thrasher, I noticed some of them starting to notice me and even complimenting me on some of my shirts and schwag. I took this opportunity to communicate with them and talk music. I'm sure some of them may have considered me a poseur as I was going through this transitional stage, but I was just a kid who loved music and was evolving.

I started deciding where to eat lunch each day depending on where they were eating lunch so I could have more opportunity to talk to them and attempt to befriend them. One of them was even in my math class so I made a point of trying to talk to him each day. Most of them didn't really have the time for me, but some of them humoured me with small talk and chit chat. I had a new goal now in my new school, I was determined to become apart of their circle before the school year ended...


the type of "cool guys" I was trying to befriend


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Madballs

I remember before my family moved off of Longbourne crescent and onto Lord Simcoe street, Jerry's family had moved onto Longbourne, house number 69 at that! I spent quite a lot of time there due to the fact Jerry was now a mere minute walk down the street from me. Jerry's folks were from Newfoundland and they were pretty cool and laid back, they even let us smoke cigarettes in their house when we were 13/14 years old. Most of my time spent there was occupied by either playing Karate Kid and Castlevanyia on the Nintendo gaming system, or watching horror movies that we had rented from Jumbo video across the street. It wasn't uncommon for us to rent 3-5 scary movies at a time and watch them all. 

I recently unlocked another new memory while thinking about those days spent in Jerry's basement. Before my family moved, before I got my drum set, and before Anathema became a real band, there was another band name we had started off with, the name was "Madballs" inspired by these gnarly toys I was collecting, there was even a comic book. Anyone who knows me clearly knows of my toy obsession as I have been collecting for years. In my early teen days I was always scouring places like the It store and Hallmark for bizarre and strange collectibles. 


Jerry had a school project that he asked me to help him out with. He had to design a record cover for music class. Jer did not have much artistic ability but he was great with industrial arts like wood, welding, and auto. I loved drawing and the fact that I got to design a record cover was all the incentive I needed. The school had supplied him with some white bristle board that we measured, cut, stapled and taped together to create a record cover that actually was like a legit sleeve, you could even fit a vinyl record inside of it. We agreed on a Madballs design so now we had our own record cover even though we weren't even a real band yet nor did we have more than two or three songs at the time. 

The artwork looked great and Jerry ended up passing the project with very high marks. A year or so later I went onto discover a new hardcore band from the New York area named "Madball" hence why we never stuck with that name and ended up changing it to Anathema. Their singer was a kid our age and he was the younger brother of Roger Miret, lead singer from Agnostic Front. 

When I got home from Jerry's that night, I entered the house and closed the front door, which in turn woke up my Papa (grandfather) who was asleep in a rocker. My nana and papa (moms parents) were over visiting and it wasn't uncommon for him to take a nap in his favourite plush rocking chair. On this particular night however, me closing the door caused him to wake up, which was a good thing as he realized he was having a heart attack in his sleep. We called 911 and off to the hospital he went. A few months later he ended up passing away peacefully in his sleep. I still wonder to this day if I hadn't come home and inadvertently woke him up would he have died right there in our living room? I felt like I had saved his life, even if it only was for a few more months...


Monday, 15 October 2012

Melissa

There was a kid in grade 9 that I did not know but he was in a few of my classes. This guy was always dressed to the nines in Adidas gear, shoes, sweater, jacket, hat, you name it, he had it. His name was Wayne and he was a bigger guy, about the same height as me but he was much stalkier. Wayne had a jolly red face that was always smiling and adorned with acne. 

We were in the same gym class together but we never really talked until the sexual education portion of the semester started and we sat side by side during the in class lessons. I don't really remember how we started talking but it was probably Adidas or beastie boy related subject matter. Wayne was actually a very friendly guy and I was impressed by his musical knowledge. 

One day we got on the subject of heavy metal and I was shocked to learn that he was very well versed in metal 101. Wayne knew of all the metal bands on the map and even I few I didn't know about. Turns out he was a huge metal head who even had long hair, but he had made full turn to b boy before entering grade nine. 

We got on the subject of vinyl one day and Wayne mentioned he had some old records he would consider parting with. The next day he brought me in an album from a band I had never heard of called Mercyful Fate. The album was entitled "Melissa" and on the album cover was an image of an interesting skull. When I looked on the back I immediately recognized the singer who was known as King Diamond. I had seen a King Diamond video recently for a song called "Welcone Home" which kind of freaked me out and intrigued me. The King had a very interesting voice that was almost opera like, and his face painted black and white with upside down crosses and other satanic imagery.


When I went to lunch that day I proudly showed the record to some older metal guys in the smoking area only to be barraged with laughter and insults. Apparently they didn't think King Diamond was cool. All the guys passed the record around and had a laugh. At one point I realized the record was gone, they were obviously trying to pull a gag on me but I played it off like it was no big deal. Magically the record reappeared followed by snickers from the guys.

When I got home after school that day I went to put the record on only to find that it was terribly warped and unplayable. It ended up someone had taken the record, ran off to the welding class and melted it with a blow torch during that period of time that the record had magically vanished. When I got to school the next day I had a laugh with the guys about it, since I was younger and trying to impress them I figured laughing along with their prank would earn me a bit of respect, and it did. They liked the fact that I could take a joke and didn't cry over spilt milk. But I knew in my mind I'd never bring a record around these guys again...


Friday, 12 October 2012

Halloween 87'



Halloween was rapidly approaching and with it came the first school dance of grade 9, the Halloween dance of course. I was quite excited as Halloween was and always will be my favourite holiday season. There was only one slight problem, I had no idea what my costume would be this year. It wasn't until mere hours before the dance that I came up with a costume idea, I decided upon dressing up as Scott Ian, rhythm guitar player for the almighty Anthrax, my new favourite band. 

Looking back now on this I can honestly say my costume wasn't the most original idea, as I was pretty much dressing up the way I would normally, just with a bit of extra flare. On my feet were my brand new Patrick Ewing Adidas shoes, adorned with two different tube socks, one with blue stripes and one with red stripes. I put on my most colourful pair of jam shorts, thankfully it was a mild evening. I had a blank hockey jersey that I modified. I cut the sleeves to 3/4 length and illustrated a big picture of the "not man" on the front, on the back I drew the anthrax logo across the shoulders where your last name typically would be, and adorned the back and shoulders with a number. The number now escapes me but I have a feeling it was either 69 (for obvious reasons) 87 (the current year) or 14 which was always my number in hockey. I used my sisters crimping iron to straighten my hair and make it appear a bit frizzy like Scott's. I topped the costume off with my Mike D hat and sunglasses, I was ready to rock.




I met up with Jazzy Jeff, Eggman, and a few others at a park behind the strip mall close to our high school. One of my friends had recently discovered that his father smoked hashish, so he brought a piece of hash with him he had stolen off his old man. Jeff had a bottle of booze he had stolen from his parents. We hung around the park for about an hour passing joints and the bottle around. Once we were all feeling good we headed over to the graveyard to meet Steve and his neighbour, and my old friend Pat, who had an amazing Freddy Kreugar costume. From there we walked across the street and were at the school.

I remember we almost didn't get in due to the fact we were clearly inebriated, and if I remember correctly Jeff eventually got kicked out of the dance for being so drunk. The dance was clearly not my scene as the music being played was terrible top 40 bullshit. Eventually there was either a heavy song, or a public enemy song played by the DJ that fired us up to the point of starting a mosh pit. I was ecstatic that I finally had the chance to try out my new dance moves, which resulted in both boys and girls hitting the floor hard.

The next thing i knew we were being hauled into the office for our "violent" behaviour. The principal was treating us like we had committed some heinous crime, like killing the president or something. We were given one choice, leave now or risk facing possible suspension. Humbly admitting defeat we decided to leave the dance. All in all it was one hell of a night and a pre cursor to an ongoing trend that would follow, which was me getting kicked out of places for moshing...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Join The Army

A few weeks after purchasing Anthrax's "Among the living" cassette, I found myself back at the dentist for some follow up work. My first visit weeks prior was part one of two visits that I had to make to the dentist. If memory serves correct the follow up appointment was to fill some cavities that the dentist discovered during round one. As per usual my mother had agreed to buy me a new record afterwards. 

I now found myself once again standing in Sam the record man. Surprisingly this time around I didn't even look through the vinyl records, I went straight to the cassettes and picked up Suicidal Tendencies "Join The Army" I flipped the tape over to see if it contained the song for the video I had recently seen "Possessed To Skate" and much to my relief it did. That one song was enough to sell me on buying the tape.

Once I got home I did my usual routine which consisted of retreating to my bedroom, popping the tape in my stereo, and strapping on the "ear goggles" (headphones) As always I listened to the tape from start to finish a few times repeatedly, while following along to the lyrics, reading the liner notes, and admiring the cover artwork, which in this case was a gnarly looking dude wearing a blue bandana. He was holding a pistol in one hand and was pointing forward with his other hand, very familiar to the iconic image of Uncle Sam wanting you to join his American army. 



Another aspect of the tape that caught my attention and intrigued me was the inner sleeve of the cassette cover, which was a mass photo collage of the band. I had never seen a collage like this in any release before and I could easily get lost in trying to look at each and every tiny photo that made up the collage. 

Musically this tape was fantastic. Suicidal seemed to have their own distinct guitar sound which was provided by Rocky George, an African American. I remember being fascinated by the fact that a black man was playing guitar in a thrash band, and he was an incredible guitar player with licks that made the average metal guitarist seem elementary. The singer also had a very distinct voice that almost sounded like he was straining to deliver his vocals in somewhat of a raspy manner. The majority of the songs were a blend of fast paced action and rocking grooves and breakdowns. 

All in all I was overly impressed with this tape and I felt every track on it was quite solid. The stand out song for me however was the title track "Join The Army" it was very grooving and almost had a rap type appeal to it due to Mike Muir's vocal delivery. I was enamoured with the new crossover of rap and metal that Anthrax had introduced me to, and this was right up there in somewhat the same sort of vein. Before long I found myself wearing flannel shirts a lot with just the top button done up as well as bandanas and/or baseball hats with the bill flipped up and "Suicidal" written inside of the bill with black magic marker. I was now emulating the Suicidal look and it had nothing to do with trying to be a crip or blood or some type of gangster. I had simply joined the army...


still rocking the suicidal look after all these years

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Hate Rap



Asides from Sanjai, there were only a handful of guys like myself that were into rap music. They all got heavily into it like I did in grade 8. Now that we were in grade nine I figured there would be more of us, but there wasn't. Besides Sanjai and I, my other group of "rap buddies" consisted of only a few: Jazzy Jeff, Egg man Craig, Davy D, Rich P, & Matt O.D. 

Drawing I did of Davy D. in grade 9 math class.

Jeff, Matt & Craig had started up their own DJ crew called J.M.C. and they were making quite a name for themselves quickly, landing gigs DJing at middle school dances around the Brampton area. Jeff owned the bulk of the equipment as well as an excessive amount of vinyl records, so naturally we all hung out at his house to work on our skills and honing our styles.Jeff's house had a small guest room on the main floor that had become the beat lab. There were turntables set up with a mixer, a microphone, and record crates scattered about. I didn't DJ but I loved hanging out there and watching them do their thing, plus it was a great opportunity for me to catch up on all the newest releases. 




One day I showed up there with a mission on my mind, I had written my first rap song and was hoping Jeff could help me record it. Jeff had a cassette deck hooked up to the mixer so he could record mix tapes of his DJ work, so he agreed it would be easy to record a song, the only problem was I didn't have a song, just lyrics. Jazzy decided he could beat mix a few instrumental records so I would actually have a song to rap over, but he gave me the liberty of picking the records. I ended up choosing 3 instrumentals that I was big on at the time, The 45 King's "900 number" Fast Eddie's "yo yo get funky" and Twin Hype's "Do it to the crowd" Jeff cued the tape up, plugged the mic in, and got the records lined up. We decided to switch the beat up about every 60-90 seconds to keep the song fresh and interesting with constant changes. Due to the fact we were recording straight to cassette, everything had to be done perfectly in one take, which surprisingly we pulled off with ease. 

The song was untitled but would later go on to be known as "Hate Rap" since the lyrical content was chock full of negativity, stereotyping, and slight undertones of racism. Generally I remember every word to every song I've ever written, but this one escapes me. It could be due to the fact that I lost the tape a mere year or two later and have never heard the song again. I do however clearly remember the opening line: 

"it's time to get funky to this best that gets you hooked like a crack head junkie" 

The rest of the lyrical content was a general bash fest attacking a new trend that was happening within our high school, white girls dating black guys. There was also a lot of hatred spewed forth in regards to the black guys in our school targeting punks like myself who looked different and labelling us as racists. As far as I know my rap was the first rap geared towards hating on people and society, hence the self appointed moniker "the original player hater" I dubbed myself over a decade later. If I had to compare it to anything nowadays I suppose Eminem's early music would work as a comparison. Looking back I truly consider myself "the real slim shady"

When the other guys heard the tape they were stoked. They absolutely loved it, but were all in shock over the controversial lyrics. They all agreed the song was great, but they all shared one opinion about it....there was no way in hell any black guy in our school could hear it without my life possibly being at risk...and MC Kev T was officially born!





Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Thank you, the reader

I decided to take Monday off from writing a blog entry since it was a holiday and all, and I hope all my fellow Canadians had a good time with their friends and family this past Thanksgiving weekend. Speaking of friends and family, I've decided to dedicate this post to you, the readers, my new friends and family. I hit 5,000 views this weekend and I'd like to use today's post as a very special thank you card to all of my loyal readers. Now 5,000 views may not seem like a lot to some people, myself included, considering the amount of people in the world, not to mention the numerous websites that get millions of hits a day, for me though this is a huge milestone. 

Back when I first started this blog in April after being inspired by my friend Jon, it was merely a new creative outlet for me. I honestly didn't expect more than perhaps 10-20 of my closest friends to actually read my blog, numbers that would of suited me just fine. I started the blog back in April with a modest amount of readers, and each month the activity seemed to get a little busier. In fact last month alone I had 1,500 views which is a huge chunk of my overall stats, and I've climbed from an average 10-20 readers a day to an average of 40-50 readers a day. It is quite clear and apparent that each month is better than the month before.

As time went on I was noticing through the stats on my blog's website, that my audience was stretching wider and further across the globe, which surprised me greatly. The bulk of my readers are from Canada, and I was shocked to see quite a few followers in the good old U.S. of A. as well. The thing that really hit me hard was seeing how many readers I had obtained from other parts of the world, places as far as Russia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, The U.K., Mexico, Australia, Poland....the list goes on and on. I don't know quite who these readers are or how I obtained them, but I feel connected to each and every one of them through this story I've been unfolding, which is the most rewarding part at all.

When I first started writing this blog I really had no clue what I was even going to write about, I just kind of went with the flow. The tale that is being weaved has been nothing short of exhilarating to say the least for me, as I've unlocked countless memories and remembered a lot of great and formidable events that helped shape my life and make me the man that I am today. Considering its mainly been musically related honestly makes me feel like you are just getting the tip of the iceberg that is my life, there are so many other wondrous stories I could tell you but they wouldn't really be relevant to this one. 

Another extremely satisfying factor for  me that I've experienced through this journey is the feedback. I really love that a lot of readers have told me they relate to the story. Perhaps because they were the same age, or grew up in a similar environment, or their own childhood memories were restored by reading mine, or they are close friends of mine and are excited to relive a story that they were a major character in. Whatever your reason for reading may be, it's yours and I truly appreciate it. I also appreciate all the kind people who have told me how good of a writer I am. I never considered myself a writer by any means, with the exception of all the lyrics I've written over the course of my days on this earth. Truth be known, I always did love creative writing in school and I guess it's paying off for me now.

Now that this blog is slowly growing into a monster, like any proud father, I wish to see it continue to grow and flourish. So now I humbly ask you, my readers, my friends, my new family, for your continued support in my endeavour. I am assigning a non mandatory homework assignment, that is to help spread the word for me. If you have a friend who loves music, loves art, loves wrestling, or just loves to read, please recommend this blog to them. If you have your own blog or website I'd appreciate any form of mention, a blurb, a link, whatever you can manage. This blog has already super ceded my expectations, so why not see how much further we can take it together in a joint effort. 

Once again my sincerest thanks go out to each and every single one of you for making this an incredible experience for me, and its just the beginning...