Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Years Update 12/31/2014

Happy holidays readers! The most wonderful time of the year is upon us once again, which means a lack of posts from yours truly. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and got to enjoy some relaxing fun times with their families, I know I sure did. 

Well, it's been quite a year I must say. Things started off a bit slow and stagnant for me, but I definitely got back in my groove. My latest full length "What's Below Remains Below" was released earlier this month after two years of writing and recording. I'm quite happy with the finished product as it fulfilled the vision I had in mind for it. If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, then perhaps you should bump it at whatever New Years Eve function you'll be attending today. You can stream the album for free or purchase the digital download via the link below:

2014 has definitely been kind to me. I've been using social media a bit more to my advantage, which has led to me making some new connections, gaining new blog readers, new twitter followers, and more supporters of my music. I was also fortunate enough to meet the woman of my dreams, and I've gotten to spend more time with my son Gabriel than the previous year. I truly have no complaints and feel very blessed.

It was a pleasure to do some collaborative work with some friends this past year, which in turn spawned the idea for my newest project I'm working on "Tribes of the Moon" which showcases the production talents of various musicians and producers, with myself supplying the lyrical content for each song. As it stands I hope to have this wrapped up by June, but you never know it could end up being earlier...or later. I'm going against the grain this time too, and keeping all of the songs secretly under wrap until it is complete. I think this could very well end up one of my most interesting releases, as working with others tends to bring out the best in me.

I've also started working on another new project, my next full length album entitled "If you want C.H.U.D... You got it" but this time there will be a slight twist on my regular formulas. I'm delving back into the heavy end of things so it will be more of a rap/metal/hardcore hybrid with production from myself as well as a few guest producers. I'll be keeping this a bit hush hush as well, but you can hear the song "Dethrone the Emperor" to get a taste and idea of what's to come:

As you may recall I've also been working with my good friend Mach Spitz over the last 12-24 months on "Street Trash" and it's slowly but surely coming together. We hope to have that release out sometime over the next few months, so be sure to keep your eyes open for that as well. It's been great working with him again, but it's also been tough, as life and schedules have been obstacles for us. We are literally a song or two away from completion. You can almost taste the sweet trash of the streets...

Another new endeavor to look forward to in 2015 will be a six song collaboration EP I'll be doing with my friend Tank Diggs, a man I almost consider a protege of mine. Tank is a multi-talented musician who can sing AND rap, and he is also dabbling into producing now, so it should be quite interesting to see what we come up with. I shall keep you posted...

On top of all that I will still be working on remixes as well as cover songs for "Heavy Ghetto" two other babies of mine that have been slowly simmering on the back burner. These two projects are more so things I do for fun in my spare time, the only catch being my spare time is somewhat limited. You can also be sure my blog and the ongoing story of Heavy Ghetto will continue in the new year.

All in all I feel 2015 is going to be monumental for not only myself but many others. I hope it will be kind to you. On that note, I'd like to wish everyone a safe and Happy New Year's Eve tonight and I shall see you all next year! 

- Kabal

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Death of Grasshopper

When I answered the ringing phone the following day, I was surprised to hear Derek's voice on the other end. He rarely called my place unless it was to tell me he was on his way to pick me up, but on this particular day we weren't going anywhere. D asked if I was home, to which I replied yes, and he said he was going to pop by to talk to me. I was very curious to say the least.

Shortly after, he arrived at my place and I greeted him at the door. His face was full of concern and he seemed very uneasy. The words that came out of his mouth next floored me... "So I think it's time to end Grasshopper" I stared at him with a dumbfounded look on my face for a few seconds and then exclaimed "WHAT??? WHY???"

Derek went onto explain that the band was not going in the direction he wanted it to and that he felt it was time to pull the plug. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why. I explained to him that we had just played our biggest show to date and that our momentum was on a major upswing, yet he didn't seem to agree with any of my statements. All he could do was continue to plead his case and say things weren't going as he had planned. I brought up a lot of valid points as to why we shouldn't quit now but he didn't seem to agree with any of them.

Needless to say I was in shock, I was upset, and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. After our discussion concluded Derek asked for some records of his I had borrowed to make mixtapes. I realized then he wasn't just ending the band, he was ending our friendship. It was similar to an ex girlfriend coming to retrieve her belongings after a break up. D had been my best friend for the last few years so I was very upset and devastated by these events. He seemed reluctant during the conversation which had me wondering what his true reasons or motives were behind his actions.

I immediately called Mike C. after Derek left to tell him the news. Mike was just as surprised but he didn't seem too upset about it, after all he was originally supposed to be a temporary hired gun, so I think to him it was just "something to do dude" as he would always say. We both felt like Derek was not fully responsible for this, and we assumed his girlfriend and her mother had a hand in the destruction of our band. It made sense to us, they seems to have some form of control over him and we were both under the impression that they didn't like either one of us.

What was I to do now? Where would I go from here? I still had my rap side project 3 n' Pass on the go, so clearly I could now focus all of my energy and creativity towards that, yet I was still reeling from the news and I couldn't seem to get over the fact he would kill a band at the height of it's glory. It just made absolutely no sense to me. Not to mention he was just chucking our friendship in the garbage too. I was hurting in a bad way.

Everyone else was just as surprised by the news as much as I was. The Demon Barf boys could not believe it. They could see my pain, and being the great friends they are, they invited me to come to Hamilton with them to for their performance at the Corktown Tavern. I graciously accepted their offer as I needed to get out of the house and tie one on.

Just to sweeten the deal, Wrestlemania IX was happening that day, and the bar was actually able to get it on satellite, so we were all stoked. It was taking place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and it was a spectacle to behold to say the least. The Demon Barf boys were all straight edge, so lucky me inherited their free beer that the club gave them for performing. I grabbed a pitcher and a glass and made my way to a table front row centre. It was still early in the day so the guys were setting up the gear and getting ready for soundcheck. 

As I poured my first drink, I noticed there was a flyer on the table advertising upcoming shows, and low and behold it stated that none other than Grasshopper would be performing here next week. I thought to myself "is this some type of mistake or a sick joke?" I figured it was a gig we had lined up previously that would now not happen, but I usually knew about all of our shows in advance and I didn't remember anything about playing in Hamilton. I needed answers.

I approached the club promoter and asked him if this was some sort of mistake. He informed me that it was not and they had just booked the gig a week or two ago. I told him we were no longer a band yet he confirmed that he had personally spoken to Derek to set the show up. One thing was for sure, I had some serious investigating to do.

Once I was back in Brampton after the gig, I started networking with my friends from other bands to see if I could get some answers. Eventually my curiosity and questions led me to an answer. Derek had NOT ended the band. He had been secretly jamming with another rhythm section behind our backs while we were still an active band. Mike had been replaced by the bass player from Mudfish, and I had been replaced by the drummer from Goat Dance. Two bands that we considered to be brothers to us, and two guys I considered friends that I had respect for... and they'd stabbed us right in the back while smiling in our faces the whole time.

I was absolutely furious. Derek had blatantly lied to us, betrayed us, and destroyed our bonds. I felt like it was the lowest thing he could have done. Clearly he didn't have the balls to tell us what was really going on, so he chose the chump way out and fabricated some bullshit story.

I literally wanted to beat him to a bloody pulp. All I knew was that it would be in his best interest to steer clear of myself, as I really had no idea what I might do if I saw him. I also refused to acknowledge the fact that his new band was Grasshopper, as they were not. When two thirds of a three piece band are replaced, it is no longer that same band. Would you still consider Rush to be Rush or Primus to be Primus if their frontmen replaced the rhythm section? I think not...

A few things were for certain, I would make Derek's life hell at any given chance, I would run the name of him and his band through the mud, and I was not going to give up my passion and love for making music...

Monday, 1 December 2014

Sonic Spring

The spring of 1993 was in full bloom. Flowers were budding, the leaves were back on the trees, and Grasshopper were gearing up for our biggest show to date. We had been invited to play The Edge 102.1 (CFNY) Sonic Spring Explosion at the Concert Hall AKA the Masonic Temple. This festival was a pretty big deal, as it was heavily advertised in the papers and on the radio. Granted we had been in local papers before and our music was getting heavy rotation on the college radio stations, but this was our first time being mentioned by major newspaper publications and radio stations. We would be performing with Acid Test, Teknicolor Raincoats, and The Morganfields. These were somewhat "bigger" bands that were getting commercial exposure. This was a serious opportunity for us which was very exciting, but to me it wasn't as exciting as the fact that I'd get to perform on the stage of my all time personal favourite venue. It was also put together very professionally, we even received legit backstage passes for the first time in our "career"

We got to the gig fairly early that day, met up with the required contacts, and we even did a sound check for a change, something we were not accustomed to doing unless you pretty much forced us. I guess being a "noise band" we assumed sound-checks would make us too polished sounding come performance time. On this particular day though I was very happy we did sound check. While I was setting up my gear something caught my eye...a pair of drumsticks sitting on the floor. I was always trying to build my stick collection, so naturally I went and snatched them up. I was surprised to see that they were custom sticks engraved and inked with the signature of a drummer and the logo of his band...Sacred Reich. As it turned out the almighty Reich had played the Concert Hall the previous night, and their drummer left behind a memento for me. I decided I would definitely use his sticks for the gig that night.

We still had a few hours to kill before the festivities for the evening commenced, so we tracked down one of the promoters to inquire where we could go to "smoke" He told us we could go down to the basement and do as we please. I was totally shocked to see just how large the basement of the Temple actually was. There were all sorts of hallways and rooms, even a banquet style hall lurked beneath the street. It had a nice wooden floor and I just so happened to have my skateboard with me, so I commenced thrashing about while Derek and Mike continued exploring the basement. 

I had only been skating for a few minutes when the guys called out "Kev! Come here you gotta see this!" I hopped off my board and ran in the direction of their voices, which led me to another smaller room that somewhat resembled a diner, minus an actual counter and kitchen. There were a bunch of "booths", tables with nice plush couch type seating. I realized in the blink of an eye that this was were MuchMusic had interviewed the Beastie Boys exactly one year prior. I was in total awe. We sat down at that very table and preceded to have a session. We were all stoked at the fact that we were sitting where the boys had once sat, cooking B.T.s off the exact table that MCA skateboarded off of during that interview. There was definitely magic in the air.

Eventually it was our time to shine, so we hit the stage and belted out what I considered to be one of our greatest sets to date. I couldn't believe I was playing the Concert Hall, and it was packed with people just like most of the shows I had attended here. This was definitely our biggest shining moment and it was a dream come true to be rocking a stage that had been graced by so many different musical legends. Pretty much every show that ever mattered to me had taken place here and this was another one to add to the list, only this time I wasn't in the audience as a spectator.

After our set we headed out to mingle in the audience however, and we were overwhelmed by the amount of people waiting by the backstage door to greet us as we exited. I couldn't believe I was actually singing autographs for people... it was a total trip. I was also getting eyes from a few pretty ladies so I decided to try and score, but that didn't pan out so well as I had two starstruck fanboys following me around asking questions about the band for the remainder of the night.

Eventually the show ended, we packed up our gear, and headed home. I was so blown away by everything that had unfolded that night as I lay in my bed totally wired. This was indeed our biggest show to date, and the big break we had worked so hard for. I imagined things would just get huge for us now as we were at the pinnacle of our journey. The last thing I expected was the disturbing phone call that came the following day... 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

HMV, Sloan & CHRY

I had mentioned previously that our biggest show was upon us, but before we got to it there were other monumental steps to take. We were guests on the premiere episode of "The Seminal Load" a popular underground radio show on 105.5 CHRY. It was lots of fun as most of our radio appearances had been to date. I may have briefly mentioned this in a previous post but I recently discovered I had a recording of the show on cassette tape, so I decided to try my best to clean it up and I put it online. You can check it out by clicking the link below and hear everything that went down that night as opposed to me having to remember and write about it.

The ultra hip record store "Rotate This" was still holding the odd show in their back room from time to time, and somehow we stumbled upon another opportunity for the band. Sloan were in town for a big gig, but somehow the owners of Rotate got them to agree upon playing an off the record set in the back of the store. So who would get the honours of opening up for them? Yours truly mans company of course. It was another big notch in our belt of credentials.

HMV had recently opened their "Super Store" at 333 Yonge street in Toronto, which had actually been open for some time now, and they decided to start having bands perform live in store. With us being essentially close to our peak we ended up landing a gig with a band we considered our rivals, they were called hHead. I can't remember how we landed it or who pulled the strings, but we hadn't been this excited since we were turned down for Breakfast Television because they felt our music was a bit too loud for the morning. 

From our perspective they (hHead) seemed like upper class suburban kids who's parents had money, as we were all from middle class suburban families with little money, yet we were kids who grew up in more urban environments clearly. The fact that their guitarist/singer used a lot of the same guitars and amplifiers and pedals that Derek used (or wanted) drove him nuts. That bit of envy alone was enough for D to dislike them, so naturally I had his back, there were however other elements about them that were extremely unlikeable. 

They were like... clean cut pretty boys who wanted to be grunge rockers. The way they carried themselves was as if they were better people than anyone around them in the room. An aura of douchey-ness encompassed them and it wasn't hard to see with the naked eye by any means. The few times we exchanged words with them they came across as very smug and pompous, inadvertently saying things that one might take offense to. We were easy going guys and weren't very judge-mental by any means, so naturally we didn't like feeling looked down upon or judged by others. They were talented musicians no doubt, but musically I felt like they were PG-13 and we were XXX.

Beef aside, Grasshopper was excited to play HMV as it just seemed like another great opportunity for us. We were packing clubs on the regular but I was still surprised to see the record store jammed with people in the middle of the afternoon. The coolest part was that the store had a wall on the outer exterior made up of numerous television screens, and they were filming the performance and broadcasting it live on Yonge street at the same time. This drew people into the already crowded store, more importantly people who may have never heard of us and were willing to spend their hard earned cash on our new demo tape.

All in all we killed the show and put on a great performance from what I can remember, I know the crowd loved it so that's all that really matters or ever mattered to me. I always said if I change even just one persons life with my music it makes it all the worthwhile, and worth more than any sum of money. In present time (2014) I ended up finding a few videos from that day at HMV posted on YouTube. The audio is quite horrible but I'm sharing them regardless just for the nostalgia and preservation of memory. I hope you enjoy...

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The "NEW" Music

As the levels of "success" were rising for Grasshopper for all to witness, what people could not see was that tension levels were also rising amongst the three of us behind the scenes in our personal lives. Nirvana was huge now, so of course I didn't like them anymore. Anytime I'm on the cusp of discovering a new and excitingly unknown band I'm all gung-ho, but once said bands make it to the mainstream I generally tend to lose my love for them. I've always been a unique individual and the way I see it if the rest of the world is listening to what I am listening to then it is no longer unique, nor am I for that least that's how I feel. "Nevermind" had now become a trendy pop album to me, and to be quite honest I was sick of it, but Derek was still bumping it religiously. I started shitting on the album as well as dissing Nirvana in general, much to Derek's dismay.

Finances were definitely another issue that were causing rifts amongst us. We had long paid back our initial investments, yet myself and Mike weren't seeing a dime of the money. We brought this up to Derek, who reluctantly agreed to start giving us a cut of the money after each gig. You could see how painful it was for him to give up some chump change, and it was often causing debates amongst us. Mike and I felt like the backbone of the band yet we were in the shadow of the minimally talented frontman. We both started voicing opinions on a lot of matters, and I don't think Derek liked the fact we had opinions. I will be the first to admit that every band needs a control freak to keep the wheels turning in a productive manner, but we were starting to feel like we had no say in anything and it was time for us to change that. Mike and I were voicing our opinions more and we were definitely becoming more cheeky towards Derek. We both felt like he needed to be more of his own man as his girlfriend and her mother had him on a very short leash. I believe they felt like we were a bad influence on Derek as we could sense their bitter feelings towards us.

We were gigging three times a week on average and it was starting to get to us. There was a lot of traveling, not much sleeping, and it was beginning to feel like a thankless job due to the fact we never saw any money. Mike and myself were not grunge fans by any means but we were happy with the songs we had produced to date. I think one of the main issues was the fact we weren't writing any new music and we were starting to grow tired of our current set list. Our only real salvation was our rap group 3 n' Pass, it gave us a creative outlet of our own to break the monotony we were experiencing. As our passions grew in regards to our rap project it was apparent Derek was feeling more threatened by it and he always seemed uncomfortable whenever we mentioned it in passing or played some of our songs for him.

The creative bug had definitely bitten me. Asides from 3 n' Pass, I was still highly addicted to the premier Redman album, which had inspired me to start my own solo rap record. I was still in possession of Derek's four track, so I had began creating songs and writing lyrics for them. I had a vision and a concept. The songs would tell the story of my life in chronological order with lyrical content regarding all of the mischief and riffraff I had gotten into as my youth progressed. I was really stoked with the project, but I kept it all to myself as it was a work in progress. I figured I'd be working on this for awhile and I wanted it to be complete and perfect before sharing it with anyone. Time would only tell exactly how long the project would take, and I was in no rush to finish it as the big picture was miles down the road.

Speaking of big pictures, as winter turned to spring we ended up being interviewed and featured on an episode of "The New Music" on CityTV. The episode in question was all about the relation between marijuana and music. We were interviewed in a head shop on Yonge Street, where the three of us wore lays of hemp leaves. When it aired we were ecstatic, well most of us excluding my mother, who caught the episode. Her only feedback on the entire thing was "I hope none of my friends saw this." She was clearly embarrassed and disappointed to see her baby boy on national television promoting and supporting "the Devil's weed"

Even though there was disorder amongst our band, I still personally felt like things would just keep getting better for us. I suppose I was young and naive, but I honestly felt like we would be millionaires before my 21st birthday which was another 10 months away. Despite the endless gigging for mere dollars, Grasshopper now had a gig lined up that was surely to be our biggest and most important performance to date...

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Da Mob Rulez

Despite missing the Rage Against The Machine concert, 1993 started off with a bang, and the ball of momentum known as Grasshopper was still rolling strong. On average we were gigging 2-3 times a week, and we were landing opening spots for what one might consider bigger underground bands. One band in particular that we would be opening for very soon were known as The Jesus Lizard. I wasn't a fan of them by any means, but Derek was a huge fan, so needless to say this show was going to be a very big deal to him.

The night of the gig arrived and we unloaded our gear into the infamous Opera House. The weather was terrible as it was winter, and there was a heavy snowfall that day. We got our equipment in without incident and it was time to rip shit up. I can't remember who the first opening band was, but they tried their best to warm the fans up who were still piling into the venue from the harsh winter outside.

By the time we hit the stage the place was packed from front to back. This was easily the biggest crowd we had performed in front of to date. Just as we were about to kick into our first song, the promoter came out on stage and informed us that The Jesus Lizard would not be able to make the show due to how bad the snow was in the U.S. We now went from mid-card openers to headliners in the blink of an eye. Not only that, he left it in our hands to inform the audience, who were not pleased at all with the announcement.

I almost felt like a thief, all of these people were here to see a certain band and now that band wasn't coming, which left us with their plethora of fans at our disposal. The promoter also told us we would have to increase the length of our set as to fill time voids. We came out strong and kept punishing the crowd's ear drums with song after song. The reception wasn't the greatest at first since most of the fans were sour about the Lizard not being there,but it seemed like each song we played warmed them up to us a bit more. By the end of our set we had the crowd eating out of the palms of our hands, and we received a great ovation from the audience in attendance. All in all it was a great night filled with great exposure for us. 

Another surprise was the fact we ended up getting paid five times more than we were supposed to. Since the Lizard couldn't make it that meant they didn't get paid, which in turn left the promoters with extra money, and they weren't too stingy to share the wealth.

Days later I was getting prepared to attend a rap concert at the Concert Hall, Ice Cube would be blessing us with his presence, and his crew Da Lench Mob were to be the opening act. I had seen the Mob once, but I was very excited to see them again, as I was much more familiar with their music now that their debut LP "Guerrillas in tha mist" had been out for about 4-5 months.

I started asking around my circles of friends to see who wanted to attend the show with me. I can remember being excited to tell Mike Myers about it, as I figured he'd be stoked. Surprisingly I was shocked when he replied "No I don't want to go. It's going to be all white people and Ice Cube doing 'throw your hands in the air' type sing-a-longs" I couldn't believe his response, but we laughed about it and I dismissed his theory.

The night of the show arrived and the Concert Hall was rammed full of people, and just like Mike had predicted most of them were white. They weren't white b-boys however, most of the crowd were grunge and alternative type people. I was quite surprised to say the least.

Lench Mob opened up the show and they absolutely killed it. Their sound was a bit rough thanks to the sound man, but their energy was great as they murdered track after track. I was slamming around in the pit, rapping along, and it was apparent that most of the people here weren't familiar with their music. The set was a bit short for my likings, but they still put on one hell of a performance regardless.

Cube was up next, and he came out with a plethora of music from his solo albums. Much to my dismay Mike had been correct in his prediction, as Cube was getting the crowd involved in sing-a-longs quite frequently. There was nothing funnier than watching a bunch of corny white kids trying to join Cube in participation, but it was getting old quick. All in all he put on a decent show, played quite a lot of great songs, and rocked the stage for a good hour or so, but to me Lench Mob were the highlight of the night.

On the way home I felt a bit dumbfounded. What had happened to hip hop? A mere two years ago if a white kid attended a rap show, he or she would be one of the few white folk in attendance. Now there were barely any black people attending rap shows, and the white kids who were attending them weren't even rap kids. They were punks, thrashers, metal heads, goths and grunge kids. 

I could only wonder what the future held for this once all-black art form...

Friday, 7 November 2014

Updates 11/07/2014

Greetings everyone, and welcome to yet another quick update post. First and foremost I just want to apologize for my lack of entries for the month of October. While most people generally celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, I personally celebrate the 31 days of Halloween. Most of the month was spent watching horror movies daily, as well as partaking in the Toronto Zombie Walk and of course Halloween festivities with my son. I've also been spending a lot of time with my significant other, Stacey.

I'm the first to admit I've been a bit sidetracked with my new love interest, yet at the same time she has been very inspiring to me, as she has pulled me out of my creative slump. Granted I haven't been too creative with the blog lately, but musically I'm back on track once again. A couple of weeks ago her and I were out shopping, and somehow we got on the subject of Boney M, which resulted in me singing "Brown girl in the ring" as we did the groceries. I told her I was going to download the album "Night flight to Venus" and see if there were any good samples on it I could use.

Sure enough when I returned home I got my hands on it and scoured through every song looking for ideas that could work. I actually ended up making three new songs with the samples I chopped. I'm really not clear as to what I'm going to do with the first two songs, but I'm pretty sure one of them will be used for the "Street Trash" project. The third song I made which is entitled "Night Flight" is going to appear on my latest full length effort "What's Below Remains Below" which is surprisingly almost complete, ahead of schedule I might add, as the pending release date is January 15, 2015, my 42nd birthday.

Night Flight turned out very interesting. Musically the structure is similar to the Boney M song, but obviously done in more of my anti-rap fashion. Lyrically the song ended up going in the direction of a fictional concept: myself and others are aboard a spaceship that is bringing us to a club on Venus to party down for the weekend, when in reality I am actually daydreaming while taking the bus, which is my "Night flight" to see my girl who is my "Venus"

I am very happy with how the whole idea panned out, and it really brought me back to my childhood, as my parents owned that Boney M record on vinyl. If you're up there in age as I am, I hope you can relate to this and experience the same nostalgic feeling. Needless to say with my new muse in my life you can expect a lot more happenings from me in the months and years to come. Please be sure to check out "Night Flight" via the link below... K

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

London Rage

I could never understand why, but Derek seemed ashamed to admit the fact we were indeed from Brampton. We all grew up here, we all went to school here, yet D seemed to not want to acknowledge this. Granted he did leave high school in Brampton to attend an alternative school in Toronto, and his former business "Afterlife" was also in Toronto, but he actually lived in Brampton. Despite all of that he still considered himself to be from Toronto and he considered Grasshopper to be a Toronto band.

I don't know why, but back in those days I was always proud of Brampton, especially the music scene. It just always amazed me how many talented kids were doing their thing here. Hell, my rap band 3 n' Pass even did a song called "Straight Outta Brampton" our very own loose cover version of N.W.A.'s "Straight Outta Compton" it always amused me how Brampton and Compton almost rhymed with each other. 

The scene was always alive in Brampton, and club Tremors was the spot for live musical performances. We has been contacted by a band from town called "RundFunk" and they wanted to do a gig with us at Tremors. It took some deliberating and debating, but eventually we convinced Derek to play the show. I think the fact it was happening on my 20th birthday made him feel compelled to do the gig. It was actually on my birthday, so we advertised it as "Theo's 20th Birthday Bash" As suspected the show was a success, after all it was our first time gigging in Brampton. A lot of old and familiar faces came out of the woodwork, including dead beat leeches who assumed they could get something beneficial through us. And of course there were a lot of younger unfamiliar faces in attendance. I got completely fubar and to be quite honest most of the night is completely unmemorable to me.

After a night lacking in sleep, I was up and hungover, and now en route to London Ontario with Grasshopper. It was our first time playing London and we were quite excited. The Embassy Hotel was the location, and it reminded me of our home away from home, the 1150 club in Toronto. We put on a solid show and the turn out was decent. We we're invited to a party afterwards, so naturally we accepted the invitation. Somewhere along the way LSD was brought into the picture, and we were now tripping balls. The house party was fairly rocking, but the music was totally doing my head in. Someone put on an album called "Pure Guava" by a band named "Ween" and it was some of the weirdest shit I'd ever heard in my life. The acid was only making the music sound that much weirder, but we were all digging it. 

I had made eyes a few times with a tall, slim, gorgeous redhead, and I was getting the impression she was into me. I had seen her back at the gig and now here she was once again. Before I could make my move she left with a group of people to attend another party, as this one had gotten thin and mellow. I chatted up a local guy who was giving us the scoop on things and convinced him to bring us to the other party. He agreed, so I rounded up Derek and Mike and we were on our way.

When we got there it was much more livelier, and sure enough that girl was there. We kept making eyes with each other, then eventually she went down to the basement. I decided to follow her but I was awkwardly surprised when I got downstairs to find just her lying on a bed alone. I struck up some conversation and the next thing I knew we were making out. Time flew by as it does when you're having fun, and it was almost 4am. The guys were freaking out and ready to leave, as Mike had to work at 6am and he'd be running on no sleep. They were pressuring me to leave.

The girl, who's name ended up being Sue, begged me to stay the night and she ensured me she would drive me home the next day. I told the guys I was staying and that they could leave without me. They were a bit concerned for me, yet they were also a bit pissed off that I'd waited to tell them. They hopped in the van and rushed back to B-Town, as where I ended up in Sue's bed for the night.

The next day we stayed in bed watching movies and television. Sue lived with he grandparents and she didn't even actually have a car. She was relying on borrowing her grandparents car to drive me home, but they had plans which meant I was stuck here for another night. I really wasn't complaining, but I was going to miss a show in Toronto. Thankfully it wasn't one of our shows, but Rage Against The Machine were playing Toronto for their very first time at the Opera House. They were still fairly unknown at the time, and admission was only $5.00, but our MCA buddy Elliot Lefko had gotten us on the guest list. I figured missing them was worth the cause, and I knew they were going to be huge, so I assumed I'd get to see them play Toronto again sometime.

The next day rolled around and Sue's grandparents told he she could not use the car. I was totally freaking out, but she had a master plan. Her grand folks retired early for the evening, so she snatched the keys and we were on our way. We got to Brampton fairly late, so I called Jerry to see if we could crash at his place for the night, thankfully he agreed. We didn't do much sleeping that night, and by sunrise she was on her way home. I was totally smitten with this women, but unknown to me at the time was the fact I'd never see her again.

I've never had any regrets in my life, and I'd never change the way I've done anything during my time here, but had I known I'd never get to see Rage perform live I may have changed this one thing...

Friday, 10 October 2014

The Starter

Grasshopper was still rolling with momentum, and our merchandise was selling amazingly. Our "Born Loser" demo was getting heavy rotation on college radio, and we hit #1 on HMV's indy chart. Our video was also getting quite a bit of play on MuchMusic, and the Fusion episodes were saturating cable 10 in Brampton. Our shirts were quite possibly our best selling item though, as we seemed to constantly be getting more printed off.

Derek got a great lead on cheap blank shirts through one of his suppliers downtown where he used to pick up incense and other items to sell at Afterlife when it was still active. Thankfully he had kept this contact, as we were getting our shirts for next to nothing. We were making money off of them, but all of the money went back into the band and it's primary investor, Marsha, Derek's girlfriends mother.

Once again we had sold out of shirts, so I went with Derek one night to the supplier to pick up more. The location was on Spadina and it was like a wholesale head shop. All of the things you'd typically see in a head shop, or rock shop, but in endless abundance. The Indian fellow who ran the place brought us down to the basement to get more shirts, and that's when something caught my eye.

There was a shelf full of starter pistols, the kind they use for starting races and whatnot. They emit a loud bang when you pull the trigger, but they don't actually fire any type of bullet or projectile. I asked the owner if he could sell me one and he eagerly agreed for the low low price of ten dollars. I was always into collecting props of all sorts that could be used for theatrics, and this was an incredible piece to add to my collection.

We packed the shirts in the van, strapped ourselves in, and prepared to roll out. I discretely took the starters pistol out of the box for a quick peek at it. I was conscious enough to keep it down low in my lap to avoid anyone seeing it and getting the wrong idea. We drove down Spadina until we hit Dundas, here we waited to make a left hand turn. There was a police cruiser in the oncoming lane and he had the right away, yet for some reason the car sat stopped at a green light. The officer driving waved us through, so we made our turn.

The next thing we knew, the cop turned right and flashed his lights and ran his siren. It was apparent he was pulling us over. As Derek pulled the van to the side of the road I noticed a fleet of squad cars coming out of the shadows. We were completely surrounded by flashing lights and parked cars with their doors open, yet no police were in sight. Then a loud booming voice echoed through a megaphone "Slowly step out of the van" to which we obliged. The next command was to put our hand behind our heads and to slowly start walking backwards, which we also did. It was then that I noticed all of the cops hiding behind their open car doors with weapons drawn and aimed at us.

As we walked backwards we were greeted by groups of unfriendly police officers who immediately started going through our pockets. One of the cops even started searching through Derek's dreadlocks and he proclaimed "if I find a needle in here you're fucking dead!" Meanwhile other police officers were searching through the van, what they were looking for was still a mystery to us. This was all happening right in front of the 52 division, one of the largest police precincts in the city, and the audience of bystanders was rapidly growing in numbers. The next thing I knew we were in handcuffs being brought into 52 division.

After siting in a small room for what seemed like hours, two cops entered the room to explain why we had been detained. Apparently someone called the police claiming we were driving around waving a gun out of the window, which I knew in my heart never happened. Had someone seen me checking the starters pistol out in the van? Had the proprietor who sold me the pistol ratted me out minutes after taking my money? The answer was unknown to me, as it still remains to this day.

When the police figured out it was a starters pistol they became much more friendly. They were taking pot shots at the officers who called it in, two cops from a smaller precinct in Parkdale. The duo were now the butt end of all the jokes the 52 division cops slung about. They fed us McDonalds, processed us, and released us...but not before charging us with "weapons dangerous"

Here I was trying to live life on the straight and narrow, my criminal past behind me, and now I'd have to appear in court again. Derek was quite terrified as he had never dealt with police before. He was a wreck, shaking, crying, and totally freaking out. I tried my best to keep him calm and explained that I would take full responsibility for the situation, even though charges had been layed on him too. 

I didn't know it at the time, but this would be the pre-cursor of negativity that awaited in the wings for us as individuals and as a band...

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

3 n' Pass

Amidst all the madness of the Grasshopper happenings, I was spending all of my free time working on my passion... My rap group "3 n' Pass" with Mike C. and Mike Myre. As much as I was loving being in a band, rap music was my true passion at the time. I believe Derek felt somewhat threatened by this fact, as he always seemed uneasy when I spoke of what we were up to. Perhaps because I had so much fire in me when it came to this project... It was my baby... my brainchild... Regardless, I was pumped to be apart of two bands, one that was on the uprise, and one that was starting at the bottom.

Myself and the two Mike's had a few songs under our belt now. We had started off with "The Immigrant Rhyme" our track using Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and it was quite a success. We ended up shooting a video for it even, and it was one of the most fun experiences I had partaken in during the year of 1992.

We had also made a few more songs using our same recipe of me looping beats on my dad's JVC tape deck, Myre providing keyboard and synth riffs via a cheap Casio keyboard as well as drum hits compliments of his cheesy little drum machine, and Mike C. cutting up records on the "wheels of plastic" yes, we had a shitty old plastic turntable. We actually had to tape pennies on the needle cartridge to prevent it from skipping when Mike was scratching vinyl. Since we were doing everything on Derek's four track recorder, we had to run multiple channels into a mixer, then run the mixer into the four track, enabling us to mix four separate tracks down to one track.

As far as microphones went, we were pretty ghetto in that department too, as we made due with a small plastic mic from a 1970's cassette recorder and "the rap mic" The rap mic was actually a novelty kids toy we found at Toys R Us. It had pre programmed beats you could rap over, or you could rap acapella. It also had a jack on it giving one the ability to plug it into anything. Since we only had two microphones we actually had to pass the mic off after we finished spitting a line, which meant two mics in rotation between three guys when recording vocals.

Our second song we did was called "Fry-Day" and as you can imagine it was all related to marijuana. We sampled music from The Jackson Five's "Enjoy Yourself" which was a happy, up tempo funky track. The lyrics were comedically playful, and we just had a whole lot of fun with this track. I'd say it was collectively the fave amongst the group.

Eventually Myre decided to try his hand at producing a track, and he came to us with a song that went on to be titled "3 n' Pass" named after our band of course. Mike used samples from Celtic Frost and RUN D.M.C. to put together this little ditty. In our first two tracks we attempted to emulate the Beastie Boys style of passing the mic, but for this song we decided to each do our own verse, which gave some nice separation and range to the track.

The song turned out so well that Mike decided to take another stab at production. Once again he used yet another RUN D.M.C. beat accompanied by some heavy synths. The track had a happy and positive fun party vibe, so we decided to write lyrics depicting a fictional party we attended together. This song came to be known as "Fryday the 13th" and I always got so pumped up and energized whenever I heard it or whenever we jammed it.

As our musical tastes expanded it began to show through in our music. For our next song we stepped out of the box and sampled a song from noise legends Sonic Youth. We incorporated it with a break beat from a song that escapes me now, but it gave the track some nice separation going from slow and low to fast and furious. We ended up dubbing this one "Weird n' Willy" a chorus that we came up with after the song had been completed.

We now had five songs and we we're excited to share them amongst our friends. Myres through together a little intro and outro, and we had enough material to make our very own homemade demo. As I compiled it all via Derek's four track, I decided to add on a bonus track. I still had live jams from the early days of our inception, one of which was a jam of Cypress Hill's "Real-estate" so I dumped the music into the four track, wrote some quick lyrics, then recorded them. Needless to say the guys were a bit surprised.

We ended up making a few more music videos as well with Mike's trusted camcorder. We shot vids for Fry-Day, 3 n' Pass, and Weird n' Willy. It seemed like each video we made just got better, as we were learning tricks to edit more smoothly as well as getting more creative in our cinematography. Eventually we aired all of our videos at our buddy John Waller's place one weekend, since he was having a party and coincidentally had a huge tv that was probably about 50-60 inches. Everyone got a kick out of the videos, and as insecure as I felt, I was happy that our friends appreciated what we had done.

We were always trying to do something different with our music, and even though we were inspired by the Beastie Boys, we strived to have our own sound and not come off as a complete and total rip off.  We had used samples of heavy music before, but this time we decided to get even heavier. We ended up using a loop from Slayer's "Seasons In The Abyss" for our next track, and it was heavy as hell. As per usual, we needed an uptempo breakbeat, so we threw in a loop from a SCHOOLLY D track. It felt like every new song we did got better, and naturally became our personal new favourite. This hit came to be known as "Straight Outta The Abyss".

We ended up doing a cassette single for the song, the original Slayer version, and a second version with just the simple beat from the rap mic with a bit of live guitar noise provided by Mike C. I even went as far as to create covers for our demos and to come up with our independent label "Weed Of Wisdom Inc" and "Bot-Spot Records" in ode to our session spot at Lester B. Pearson school, the birth place of our rhymes and ideas. Looking back at this stuff, the audio quality was terrible, a lot of our rhymes were corny, and we were lacking in rhythm for most of our lyrical deliveries. None of that mattered. We were doing what we loved with a fiery passion and we were having a hella fun time doing it.

I was curious to see where the road was going to lead this rap-tastic endeavor...

Monday, 29 September 2014


Grasshopper's bass player, Mike C, the linebacker of basslines, was still working every Sunday morning at CIAO radio in Brampton, a multi cultural radio station. Mike didn't necessarily enjoy the type of music he had to spin, but he loved the job for the simple fact that he was getting hands on experience in radio broadcasting. Grasshopper had done a few interviews now on "college radio" stations like 88.1 CKLN, 105.5 CHRY, and 89.5, and we were catching up to speed with Mike, in regards to how the inner workings of a radio station operated.

Our hosts were always gracious, they gave us the liberty to pick the music we wanted to hear, and some of them even let us smoke dope right in the control room. One time in particular at CHRY, security guards came knocking on the door of the radio station, as they could smell the pot in the hallways of the university. The host of the show quickly dismissed them, stating we were "live on the air" and they couldn't interfere with the broadcast. It felt nice to get that royal treatment.

Meanwhile back at CIAO radio, Mike had a friend and coworker named Stuart, who coincidentally happened to be friends with a gifted young film maker named Owen Roberts, the same Owen Roberts who had produced the amazing Epileptic Brain Surgeons music video for "Cows" a year or two prior to this timeframe.

Stuart informed Mike that Owen was starting up his own show on Rogers cable 10 television in Brampton, with Stu as his trusted sidekick and sound engineer. The show would be called "Fusion" and the premise of it was to showcase local artists, wether they be involved in music, art, poetry, or any other type of expressive art form. Needless to say, we thought it was an incredible idea and we were more than happy to oblige when Owen asked us to perform on the show.

We ended up going into cable 10 studios after business hours. Asides from us, Owen, and Stu, nobody else was in the building. Once again we were shown great hospitality behind those closed doors. Carte blanch to snoop around, smoke weed, and have our run of the place, as Owen set up a stage for us to perform on while Stuart hooked up all of the audio equipment. We pretty much had an empty area of a room to perform in, with nothing more than a black curtain behind us and some lighting. It seemed a bit bland and boring, so we went around ransacking all of the offices for any plants we could find. From there we set all the plants up around our gear, and a little bit of life was injected into the stage setup.

We played through a few songs while Owen filmed and Stu worked the soundboard. It was a total trip being in that building. After what seemed like the longest night ever, we busted out of there not long before sunrise. I imagine the people who worked there were probably en route with their morning coffees to start the day as we were heading home to bed to end our day.

Shortly after that experience, Owen invited us back in to view the footage with him. The audio recording wasn't as polished as we'd hoped, but visually we were happy with what the guys had put together. We picked the two songs that we thought sounded the best and left it in Owen's hands. It wouldn't be long until the first episode of Fusion aired on cable 10, and we anticipated it with great excitement.

The day, or night, finally came for the premier episode of Fusion, and it was awesome. Owen had done a great job editing, arranging, and producing a solid little independent television show. It felt pretty cool seeing myself on tv, and I wondered how many other Bramptonians had witnessed the show. If people had at all been wondering what I had been up to, they now had an answer. The show was on fairly late, and had a scheduled time slot, but somehow Fusion was being aired quite frequently. It was almost as if cable10 was playing it anytime they needed to fill an empty time slot, and we sure as hell weren't complaining about it.

Sure enough, Fusion started causing a buzz. People I hadn't spoken with since high school were contacting me to say they had seen me on television. Whenever I ran into people I hadn't seen in awhile, they too would mention the fact they had seen Fusion. It was almost as if all the bugs were coming out of the woodwork, as some very unlikely people went out of their way to contact myself, Mike, or Derek.

I really admired and appreciated what Owen was doing. One one hand he was trying to establish a name for himself as a film maker, and on the other hand he was going out of his way to help promote local artists and make the public aware of them. I had nothing but the utmost respect for him.

I was definitely interested to see what Owen would bring forth in the next episode...

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tribes of the Moon

Good day readers! I am just checking in for a quick post in regards to current events, or should I say future events? I'm always one to have multiple projects on the go, and I've recently had another brain fart to add to the list. I've decided to start working on yet another full length LP. I know, you're probably saying "But Kabal, you're already working on a full length LP" which is true "What's Below Remains Below" is my most recent full length I've been working on for the past year and a half. It is close to complete, but I've still got a few tracks to do after suffering some setbacks earlier this year.

For my new project however I've decided to try something a little different. I've always been proud of the fact that I compose and produce all of my own music, so this time around I thought I'd get other people to produce music for me. Playing in numerous bands over the years I've always found it easier to write lyrics when I'm given a song that has already been written. The music literally talks to me and tells me what to say, how to say it, and where to say it. The name of this release will be "Tribes Of The Moon"

I'm accepting submissions from friends, djs, producers, amateur beat makers, and just about anyone who is interested in working with me. I've already received a few ideas from people, and just as I suspected, their songs are giving me my words and my voice. I think this is going to be a very interesting project, both fun and diverse, considering each song will be from a different persons perspectives and tastes. 

Normally I tend to post songs online as I create them, but for this project I've decided to keep it a bit more hush hush for a change. I may mention in passing I did a song with so and so, but I will be keeping every track on the downlow until the project is complete. I'm really looking forward to seeing what kinds of creations come from this collaborative effort. If you wish to be apart of this, send me your best tracks in any format, or links to your tracks. You can contact me directly via email at:

Let the games begin!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

RU Down With The Goats?

Christmas definitely did come early in 1992. I was gifted with the discoveries of many new hot bands, I got to see my beloved Beastie Boys in concert again, NOW Magazine had featured us, Grasshopper was getting a lot of great opportunities, and to top it all off I was going to get to witness a live performance by The Goats, who had quickly become my new favourite rap group at the time. They were opening up for Consolidated, so that was an extra added bonus treat as well. I had lots of B.T.s and high fives waiting for Santa!

was super stoked for this concert, mainly because The Goats were still so new to the scene and virtually unknown, this made a guarantee of a small, intimate show, the kind I liked the best. I had been listening to their LP "Tricks of the Shade" non stop since Derek returned from CMJ with it back in October, and in that short period of time I had already memorized practically all of the lyrics. I always liked thoroughly knowing the music of a band I was going to see in concert, as it always made for a more ultimate experience.

The night of the gig arrived and we got to the Opera House fashionably early for a change. I wasn't surprised at all by the lack of people there. Consolidated were a fairly established band, but nobody knew who The Goats were. I assumed Consolidated fans would show up later in the evening, and I wasn't complaining about that at all, as I managed to secure a spot dead centre at the front of the stage. The crowd was thin and loose, and the dance floor was practically empty.

The Goats hit the stage in a rage with high energy, wailing mics, and pounding beats. They put on an amazing performance and I'm pretty sure I was the only kid in the crowd rapping along to every song word for word. The three MCs, Oatie, MADD, and Swayzack, made eye contact with me numerous times, and they were even shaking their heads in disbelief over the fact I knew all of their material. They even went as far as to shove their microphones into my face from time to time. I imagine they were slightly impressed considering their album hadn't even been out for two months. The rest of the crowd was grooving along, but it was apparent they weren't familiar with The Goats, they were just going with the flow.

By the time their set was over, I turned around to head to the bar. I was shocked to see the Opera House was now fully packed with people from one end of the club to the other. Clearly I was right in assuming Consolidated fans would skip out on the opening act. I squeezed my way through the sea of people and grabbed a cold one. I looked to my left and realized MADD from The Goats was beside me at the bar getting drinks. I immediately gave him props for an amazing show and he went on to give me props for knowing all of their lyrics. He was totally blown away and mentioned how crazy it was that I was so familiar with them. We had a great little pow wow, then MA double D returned to the backstage area.

After what felt like an eternity, Consolidated finally hit the stage. They had a giant video screen set up behind them that played imagery to coincide with every song. A lot of the imagery was very graphic, and it reminded me of the Mal Havoc days. Consolidated put on a really solid show as well, and it was a very interesting and diverse crowd to say the least considering he band were advocated of women's rights, animal rights, gay rights, and racial rights. There was a song on their album that contained a bunch of audience members debating issues, so I was curious to see if anything like that would unfold.

Sure enough, after a solid hour or so of musical performance, Consolidated cut the music and declared it was debate time. People from the audience were welcome to hit the stage and discuss issues regarding, politics, government, sexual preference, racism, and animal cruelty, just to name a few. It was fairly interesting to say the least and definitely was something special that you don't see at concerts on a regular basis. It did get a bit stale and boring after awhile, so we decided to dip out and call it a night.

All in all it was an amazing night and another incredible concert experience under my belt. Plus I got to meet and talk with one of my new rap heroes. My only disappointment was the fact that The Goats had absolutely NO merchandise for sale. I would of loved to have gotten a T-Shirt at least to add to my collection.

It had been one hell of a year, perhaps better than the previous year, which had been absolutely mind blowing. I could only wonder in amazement what 1993 was going to be like...

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Not long after the second Beastie Boys concert went down, we received the call we had been hoping and waiting for: NOW Magazine wanted us to be featured in their "spotlight" article. Spotlight was usually about half of a page, displaying a nice band photo and a small blurb of information. Things had been going great for Grasshopper, and we assumed this would only help us reach more people and gain more exposure.

The people at Now even gave us a choice as to where we wanted to do the photo shoot, so naturally we picked our favourite record store "Rotate This" I can still remember the weather was warm considering we were transitioning from Fall to Winter. We showed up in our Sunday bests and met up with the crew from Now Magazine.

It was slightly awkward being catered to by the small group of people with cameras, lights, and makeup? Yes, correct. We were told we had to have our faces powdered to make the photo turn out better. Being the dirtbags we were, with the exception of Mike C., we protested as much as we could, but they wouldn't budge. We felt like a bunch of pretty boys having makeup applied by a young lady. After we got past that hump it was time to take some photos.

Rotate This had a few couches in the front of the store, so we figured that was as good of a spot as any to shoot the pictures. Once again we were faced with awkwardness, as the photographer posed us oddly and even went as far as to pile us on top of each other like we were some lovey-dovey boy band. We couldn't help but feel stupid, but we made light of the situation and busted their balls a bit. Especially Mike, who was by far the comedian of the band, always tongue lashing out some witty sarcasm and/or dry humour. I could tell we were making the Now crew uncomfortable, and rightfully so seeing as how they had made us feel uncomfortable. 

After the photos were done, we sat down and answered a few questions that would be apart of the article. They were fairly basic ones: band name, band members names, what instruments we played, type of music, weirdest moment on the job, and upcoming gigs.
All in all it was fun and slightly painstaking at the same time, but we got through it without incident. Our only concern was were we going to look stupid when this came to print?

The magazine finally came out, and naturally we grabbed an abundance of them. Inside the first page we were surprised to see a small photo of us informing the readers that our spotlight was on page 31. We skipped right to page 31 and there we were in all of our glory. As lame as we felt posing in makeup, the photo wasn't all that bad we collectively agreed. I can't speak for the other two guys, but I definitely felt like we were moving up in the scene. Our "upcoming" gig listed was a show where we would be opening for "WOOL" a rough yet melodic hard rock/punk band from Washington.

The following night the gig arrived, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who showed up. Wool were fairly big, but were still an Indy underground band. I truly didn't know if the crowd was there to see them or us. I recently learned that our pals in Yet Another Posse also played the show, so I imagine there was probably quite a few people that came out to see them as well. We headed to the "backstage" area, which was actually a small, yet long and narrow enclosed corridor at the side of the stage.

As we partook in our usual pre-show activities of drinking free beer and smoking dope, Peter Stahl, vocalist of Wool, entered the room and took a particular interest in studying the bottle toke I was preparing. After staring long and hard with an intense look in his eyes, he blurted out "Are you cooking up heroin?" I explained to him it was hashish and what I was doing was known as a "B.T." Peter was in utter amazement stating he had never seen this being done before. Sheltered Americans I thought to myself. He asked if he could try one and of course I obliged. His face went red, his eyes bulged, and then he coughed up a storm. Peter thanked me and left the backstage area.

After the session, I went to the bar to get a beer, where I saw Peter standing, looking somewhat disheveled. He asked club owner Willie New, who was running the bar, if he could have a glass of water. His voice sounded like he had a throat full of gravel and wood chips.
I chuckled to myself and hoped it didn't compromise his performance abilities. Peter proved me wrong, and Wool rocked the house down. I really have no recollection of our performance that night, but I do remember getting great embracement from the crowd.

On the way home that night I was in a blissful state. We had made it in Now magazine. We had just played in front of one of our biggest crowds to date, AND we had played with what one might consider a "bigger" band than we were accustomed to opening for. Things seemed to keep rolling for us, and once again I wondered just how far the Grasshopper would jump...

Friday, 5 September 2014

Return of the Beasties

October 1992 had been a very eventful month for myself, my band mates, and my friends. Asides from all the Grasshopper happenings, CMJ, and discovering new music, I learned that my beloved Beastie Boys were coming back to play Toronto on the second day of November. Needless to say it was apparent November was going to be just as good, if not better than October.

The show was scheduled to take place at Varsity Arena in Toronto, a venue I had never been to before. It was bigger than The Concert Hall, so I feared it wouldn't be as intimate as the show back in the spring. The opening acts were Rollins Band and Da Lench Mob, protégés of rapper Ice Cube. We were all quite excited for the show and Mike C. had but only one mission: to successfully bootleg the show after his first attempt was thwarted by security at the previous concert.  

The night of the gig arrived and we were all pumped up. It was a cold night but we didn't let that interfere in our fun. The huge lineup of people were finally granted entry and I got my first look at the inside of Varsity Arena. It was your typical sports complex, very similar to Maple Leaf Gardens. I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of people in attendance, as I wasn't used to crowds this large at live concert, with the exception of Lollapalooza.

We decided to grab some seats to the left of the stage a few rows up for the time being. Mike C figured this was as good of a spot as any for him to safely bootleg the show. We fired up some ganja and sat back to enjoy the gig. Both openers were solid, but somewhat forgettable due to the piss poor job the sound man was doing. His lack of skills combined with the size of the venue led to a very hollow and echoey sound being delivered. I was so used to small clubs and tight sound, that the echo was driving me absolutely crazy. I painstakingly sat through both Rollins Band and Da Lench Mob, patiently waiting for the Beasties to bless us with their presence. I could only hope that the sound man would get his shit together by the time they hit the stage.

That time finally arrived, and I made my way down to the floor. As much as Mike liked to boogie, he stuck to his word and remained seated safely for stealth bootlegging purposes.
Finally the Boys stepped out on stage and broke into the first song on their new album "Jimmy James" The sound didn't seem any better, so I started working my way through the crowd to get closer to the action. Once I passed the soundboard it seemed like the echo lessened a bit, so I inched my way closer to the stage and sure enough the sound quality was much more tolerable. As the Beasties reached the end of the first verse in Jimmy James that leads into the sample "I'm rockin" they surprisingly replaced it with "I'm grasshop, grasshop, grasshopping!" Did my ears deceive me? Had the B-Boys listened to the demo I threw to them on stage a mere 8 months ago? Were they actually giving props to us? I was convinced they were, but I'd have to review Mike's recording at a later time to confirm.

All in all, the Beasties killed it once again, but I didn't like the show as much as I did as the previous one. Perhaps better sound and less people made it a much more enjoyable concert, even though they had just belted out numerous classics with conviction. The show finally came to a close so I went and regrouped with my posse. Alex the journalist had a backstage pass and got to interview the Beasties. After that he was kind enough to give us his backstage pass so we could each a have a chance to meet our heroes. When my turn finally arrived I made my way back to find a large group of fanboys, groupies, and dick riders surrounding the boys. I didn't want to be one of them, so I humbly made my way back out to meet up with the guys.

Mike C had been successful in recording the entire performance without incident. We got our gears in motion and headed out to the parking lot. When we got to the van we were shocked to see broken glass on the ground and a missing window. Someone had broken into the van. We were all stunned, and fearful that our gear had been stolen, as we had some of our instruments in the back. Thankfully everything was still there. Derek had two cases of cassette tapes in the van, but noticed one of them was gone. He opened he other one to find his usual assortment of mix-tapes, then he declared "They took our fucking demos!" 

Yes, some idiot had broken into a van full of valuable stuff and only stole a case of Grasshopper demos. It was strangely surreal and almost flattering, yet they probably didn't even intentionally set out to steal just our tapes. It was a messed up scene to say the least. 
We popped the Beasties bootleg into the tape deck and headed back to Brampton. Sadly the recording was just as echoey as the concert had sounded, but we all collectively agreed they were saying "Grasshopping" during Jimmy James, and that alone made up for the poor audio quality. I told Mike I'd need to make a dub of this ASAP.

We also collectively agreed how fucked up it was that someone jacked all of our demo tapes. One thing was for sure, we'd be keeping an eye open for anyone and everyone selling black market Grasshopper demos...and it was going to be a cold ride home with no window...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Updates 09/02/2014

Greetings readers, I hope you've all had an amazing summer, I know I sure did. I got to spend 5 days a week with my son practically every week for the last two months, so that has been an amazing pleasure. We got up to a lot of fun and creative things, went to many interesting places, and enjoyed our time together with each other and our friends and family. I'm sad to see summer come to an end now, and my boy back to school, but such is life.

Musically this year started out with a bang for me, but then after a hard drive crash and laptop malfunctions, it was brought to a screeching halt. I'm glad to say that I have finally picked the ball back up to play, metaphorically speaking, and I have been brewing up some new creations. My collaboration with Mach Spitz known as "Street Trash" was put on hold for the past few months, but I'm happy to say we are going to hammer out 2-3 more songs that will complete the project, so keep your eyes and ears open for that,

I've also been in cahoots once again with my former Black Belt Jones brother Prince Paully. Awhile back I did some lyrics over a track he had produced for his upcoming mixtape "The Man They Couldn't Hang" which resulted in the song "Still Be Gettin' It On" I decided to include it on my latest full length solo effort I'm working on entitled "What's Below Remains  Below" I recently went over to Paul's to re-record the lyrics for the version that will appear on his mixtape, and I also dropped some more golden verses on a second song which is the title track. There might be a bit more collaborations for this mixtape, so be sure to keep your heads up for that as well.

I've also recently produced a new track that will be on my new album. The song is called "Diseased" and I'm quite happy with how it turned out. I was fed up of the musical slump I'd been in, so I sat down and made a new song from scratch and wrote the vocals in one day, then eagerly recorded it. You can stream the song for free by clicking the link below:

also started working on a quick little ditty for a contest being held by underground rap legend R.A. The Rugged Man, which is a hot verse over an instrumental from his latest album "Legends Never Die" My track will only be available through my soundcloud page, so I'll be sure to post a link by the weeks end hopefully. I will more than likely use the verse for a track on "Tales From The Mixtape Vol.2" which I'm also currently working on.

In personal news, I met a fantastic woman just over a month ago, and I'm happy to say things are going great between us. Part of me feels she is the reason I've finally gotten back on the production tip, as she inspires me and has re-lit my creative flame. Needless to say you can expect more songs in the coming weeks and months.

For those of you that are back in school...I pity you! Ha! All jokes aside I wish you the best of luck in your educational endeavors. That about wraps things up for me, thanks for your continued support and keep on rocking in the free world!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Tricks, Bombtracks & Fa$cism

Fall had arrived. The ground was littered with multi colored leaves. Hoodies and toques were making their way back into society, and Derek was gearing up to head to the CMJ music festival in New York. A little birdie had informed him that he would have to pay duty on every copy of our demo he brought across the border, so we came up with a plan. A simple sticker design that said "Grasshopper - Born Loser: promotional copy not for sale" which we hand cut and placed on every demo. Now he would not have to pay duty on the demos, and if need be Derek could remove the stickers in the states and still sell the tapes. Off he went to the Big Apple.

With Derek gone, we actually got a bit of down time, which had become quite rare in the life of being a Grasshopper. I took the opportunity to catch up with my old friends, as well as work on 3 n' Pass material with Mike and Mike. Some of my Brampton boys were complaining about how I was always in the city now, so instead of just lazing about in Brampton with them I suggested we go hit up the city.

Most of them hadn't been to the Record Peddler in years, so we made that our first destination despite the fact I was there on a weekly basis practically. The thing I loved the most about the Peddler was the fact that they always had some awesomely unique music playing, and this day was no exception. There was a very unique song playing in the store that was a melodic mixture of dance, industrial, and spoken word. The lyrics were all about vegetarianism and the message was politically strong and demanded your attention. We asked the clerk exactly what we were hearing and he informed us it was a band called "Consolidated" and the name of the album was "Friendly Fascism" I immediately picked up the cd and Foxy Bano bought it on cassette.

Consolidated were really cool in my books. They supported homosexuality, vegetarianism, and respect for the individual, while voicing their opinions on hate, racism, politics, animal cruelty, and many more negative aspects that we as humans face every day in our existence. It wasn't long before a video popped up on MuchMusic for one of their songs, and naturally I recorded it onto VHS.

When Derek returned from New York, I was very excited to introduce him to Consolidated, and as I suspected he instantly fell in love with it. D had a great trip, had met some great people, and he gave our demo to anyone and everyone he thought could help benefit and further our career as an Indy band. He had also gotten a ton of swag and I was totally stoked with the gifts he brought me, a sweet Cypress Hill t-shirt and a slick House of Pain brass pin. Derek had a bunch of demos from other bands he received while in NY, so the next morning on our commute to the city we decided to check one out. It was a cassette single with only two songs, one on each side, by a new unknown band called "Rage Against The Machine" and the names of the two songs were "Bombtrack" and "Killing In The Name Of"

We had no idea what we were in store for, but we had no idea our minds were about to be blown either. The sound was so unique. Heavy drums but in a hip hop fashion, heavy guitars that also sounded like a DJ scratching records, fat and funky bass lines, and an amazing vocalist who rapped, screamed and growled with the ultimate conviction. I immediately recognized a riff from a Funkadelic song in Bombtrack, which just showed me these guys were well versed in black music. Even though the cassette single only had two songs, we listened to them over and over again for the entire 30 minute drive to Toronto. We just couldn't get enough of this new unknown band.

The next day Derek brought another cassette tape with him he had gotten at CMJ. It was yet another band we had never heard of called "The Goats" and the name of the album was "Tricks Of The Shade" Soon as the first song kicked in entitled "Typical American" we were instantly bobbing our heads in unison. The unique part of this album was the fact that all the songs had a skit between them that told the ongoing story of two parent-less street kids trying to find their biological mother and father at a freak show carnival. Every song on this was a banger and the lyrics were very on point. The band was also highly political, taking numerous pot shots at the government and society in general. It truly brought back that political activist rap attitude that I associated with one of my all time favourite bands, Public Enemy.

It seemed like all we listened to for the next few weeks was Consolidated, Rage, and The Goats. It wasn't long before I had memorized all the lyrics to the songs, which was a task in itself given the abundance of words on The Goats album alone. Thank god, or satan, or whoever, for my uncanny ability to lock down lyrics in my mind. Shortly after all of these events unfolded, I made a startling discovery while reading Now Magazine one morning: Consolidated and The Goats were coming to Toronto to perform at The Opera House.

It looked like Christmas was coming early...