Thursday, 27 February 2014

Current Updates 02/27/2014

Howdy folks! I hope you are all doing well. I just wanted to take a hot minute to bring you a few updates as I do from time to time just to keep you in the loop of my current happenings. It's definitely been one hell of a winter in these parts. I haven't seen this much snow since I was a kid. I walked by a 7 foot high snow bank the other day at the end of someone's driveway. Sometimes not driving is truly a blessing. All I know is I've had enough of this winter already and I'm sure you're looking forward to spring as much as I am.

On the musical front I suffered a major setback. My power cord to my laptop crapped out on me just before Christmas, so in turn I couldn't do much work on music. On top of that the external hard drive I keep my music on also crapped out on me a month or two ago. I have most of my material backed up, but unfortunately everything I've done in the last year wasn't backed up. I had an expert take a look at it and it seems I need to order a specific circuit board for it to live again. I'm just getting that together so hopefully all of my material will be recovered. The power chord was an easy fix, so at least I can work on new material for the time being.

In the meantime I've been working with my latest project "Godzilla Monsoon" a collaborative effort with Mach Spitz(Beef Chiefs,Street Trash), SpeakerSlut, and Greg"GERG" Dawson on BWC Studios. I'm also revisiting the past and doing a track for my former band mate Prince Paully, who has started work on a mixtape release entitled "The Man They Couldn't Hang"
so I'm pretty pumped to be working again with my Black Belt brother.

That's about all I've got for now, Heavy Ghetto returns once again, and I will more than likely check in with new updates in a few weeks. Love, peace and chicken grease!


Monday, 24 February 2014

They're Red Hot!

Meeting Lenny Kravitz was kind of cool, and getting to see him perform while being front row in a smaller, intimate setting was also unique, but I was way more excited to see the Red Hot Chilli Peppers concert. The chillis actually had 2 nights booked back to back, and we had tickets for the second night. We had a day to kill which felt like an eternity, until we set up a meeting with a man named Elliot Leftko, a big wig at MCA records in Toronto. Within a flash we were sitting in his swank office face to face, handing him a copy of our new demo tape we had just made. Elliot listened to maybe 30 - 60 seconds of the first song, then he hit the stop button. He went onto tell us our sound wasn't exactly what they were looking for. My guess is the piss poor quality of the recording didn't do us any justice, not too mention Derek's vocals were totally off key and his voice broke up frequently. Elliot said he'd keep our tape "on file" in case any opportunities came along for us, then he tossed the demo into a huge pile of other demo tapes. As we left the office I thought to myself "Our tape is buried in a sea of cassettes. We are never going to hear from this guy."

The evening was upon us and it was time to head home, until Derek said we should go by the Concert Hall and see if we could weasel our way into the show. Derek was a master of "weaselling" and by this I mean the guy had a knack for scoring things for free or getting great deals on stuff. It wasn't like he even tried to weasel people, folks just gave him deals and freebies all the time. I figured he had the karma gods on his side. So now we were in the parking lot of the Concert Hall walking around talking to people. We saw some guys hanging out at a tour bus so we approached them. They ended up being the opening act. They were a new unknown band called Pearl Jam. We shot the shit with them for a bit and even traded demo tapes. The guys were very friendly but they had absolutely no pull, meaning they couldn't even get us into the show for free.

After exhausting all our efforts, we decided to sit on the curb and smoke a cigarette before we headed back to Brampton. Just as we were about to butt out, some guy came out the back door and started banging on a tour bus. A minute later the bus door opened and a scantily clad female exited the bus followed by none other than John Fruscianti, the guitarist of the Chilli Peppers. Derek blurted out "HEY JOHN!" John looked at us quickly then kept walking. A few steps later he stopped and looked at us again. He took a few more steps then stopped and glanced at us a third time, then said "What?" We stood up and approached him explaining how we had tickets for tomorrow's show but before we could finish our sales pitch he eagerly blurted out "Oh you don't have tickets? C'mon in!" John held the door open for us and pointed us down a hallway. We came out of another door right by the front of the stage, so we weaselled our way into front of the crowd. 

Not even a minute later the lights went down and the red hots hit the stage. They put on one hell of a show and we were as happy as could be. The next night I was back at the Concert Hall, this time with my ticket and my girlfriend Sue. We arrived fashionably late as I had no interest in seeing the Smashing Pumpkins open up or the unknowns called Pearl Jam. They were nice enough guys but after listening to their three song demo it really didn't tickle my fancy. The chillis killed it the second night as well, they had the entire crowds undivided attention in the palm of their hands. I was up in the front of the crowd once again just like the previous night and I was in absolute bliss.

This had been quite an amazing year so far. I could only wonder what the last two months of 1991 held in store for me...

Friday, 21 February 2014


One day while helping Derek with his store, a Lenny Kravitz song started playing on the mix tape we were listening too. I found it odd considering most of the music on the tape was heavy stuff or rap. I questioned Derek about it and he told me he had been a Lenny fan since he first showed up on the music scene. D went on to tell me about how the first time Lenny played Toronto he was still virtually unknown. Still unscathed by the celebrity spotlight, Lenny went second hand clothe shopping on Queen street and wandered into Afterlife. Derek welcomed him with open arms and gave him garbage bags full of vintage clothes for free. To show his gratitude Lenny gave him free tickets to his concert that night. It seemed like a tall tale but I never pegged Derek for a bullshit artist, so I tried my best to believe his story.

A week later, I'd finished up at the animation studio for the day so I headed over to see Derek. On my way to afterlife, I passed by much music and noticed a huge commotion of people. Low and behold there was Lenny Kravitz doing a meet and greet. I rushed up to the store to inform Derek. No sooner than I got the words out of my mouth, he hit the streets and took off in a flash. Hours later, Derek's girlfriend and I were ready to close up shop for the day and there was still no sign of Derek. Finally the phone rang and it was him. He informed me of how Lenny brought him into much music as soon as he saw him. Derek sat at the table with him for the meet and greet, then he sat off camera in much music while they interviewed Lenny. From there Lenny brought him to Q107 for a radio interview he had to do. They were now on their way back to the store. I couldn't believe all of this was actually happening, it seemed like some surreal dream....until Derek and Lenny walked into the store! 

I couldn't believe Kravitz was in afterlife. He was very chill and friendly, and much to my surprise he gave us free backstage passes to his show that night at Massey Hall. We rushed over to the spot as the night wasn't getting any younger. The hall was packed and since we didn't officially have tickets we got to stand up by the front of the stage and watch. I wasn't a huge fan of Lenny's music but he was definitely rocking the crowd. Much to my surprise and delight, Lenny came out to play an encore with Flea and Anthony from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (who were scheduled to play Toronto the next two nights) on horns and brass. They did an incredible rendition of "Let Love Rule" to close out the show. From there we went to the backstage after party. 

The after party was filled with beautiful people who all seemed to think their shit didn't stink. I overlooked this negative and balanced it out with the positive, free alcohol and food. While everyone else schmoozed and tried to get close with Lenny, I was busy stuffing my face and belly with booze and sandwiches. Lenny seemed different in this environment. Back at the store he was very friendly, now he was acting all pompous and treating us like he didn't know who we are. On top of that he was hitting on Derek's girlfriend right in front of him. Once again a celebrity encounter was tainted by pure douchie-ness.

It was still a great experience for a kid my age fresh out of high school, and needless to say I was now extra excited and pumped up for the Chilli Peppers concerts...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Jah and the Demo

Slow Poke now had a new bass player in Nav, now we had to get a demo tape together to shop around to the clubs to try and get some live gigs. In the early stages of the band we were jamming in Derek's store after hours or jamming in his girlfriends parents basement. We weren't in Brampton enough to call that our regular jam space, and we were now receiving complaints when we had our late night jams in the store. Derek and I looked around the city for a new rehearsal space as we couldn't stop jamming. We ended up checking out a place called Jah Studios at Queen and Ossington, directly across the street from a mental health facility, home of the infamous Toronto albino squirrel.

Jah Studios was run by Rastafarians, so naturally when we went to check the place out Derek fell in love with it, being a wearer of dreadlocks himself and a huge fan of reggae music. Jah was cheap and I didn't even have to bring my own drums which was a bonus. I think the Rastas at Jah assumed we were a reggae band due to Derek's dreads, my long hair, and the fact we were always adorned with beads or bracelets representing the red gold and green. I'll never forget the first time we jammed there, all the Rastas were staring in at us through the plexiglass window with their jaws on the floor. They were smiling and laughing and carrying on. Although we couldn't hear them, it was clear they were highly amused by the crazy white boys.

We continued jamming at Jah for quite some time, but now with Nav in the mix. We knew we needed a demo so we approached the guys at Jah, but they didn't actually do any recording there. The hunt was now on for our first producer, and it was a short lived hunt at that. Derek had convinced one of the teachers from SEED, the alternative school he attended, to bring his 8 track down to Brampton to record us. We ended up using the basement of Derek's girlfriends aunts house. Alvin was an older black man who was very calm and soft spoken. During the session he almost seemed out of place, but he was concentrating on doing his thing and he gave us a lot of helpful hints and suggestions. A few hours later we officially had a demo recorded. If I remember correctly it was 3-5 songs. Once the mission was a success, we packed up the gear and called it a night.

I was a bit concerned about the sound quality of the drums, as the quality of my drums was rapidly diminishing. Most of my heads were needing to be replaced and my snair drum chain had broken, causing it to sound more like a tom drum. When we finally sat down and listened to the demo we were quite happy with the sound, but I knew in my mind that my drum set needed a serious overhaul. Now our next mission was to dub copies of the demo and create a makeshift cover for it, which we banged out as quickly as we could. It was nothing fancy but it served the purpose it was intended for.

The next day Derek and I hopped in the van and headed down to the city. We drove down Queen street and dropped demos off to every club we could find. From there we headed up to Sneeky Dees at College and dropped off another demo, and then from there we bolted up to Bloor street and dumped one off at Lee's Palace. The mission was a success and we headed back to Brampton for the night. We stayed at Derek's place as we usually did when I was going to Toronto with him to work the next day. He lived with his mother and brother who were never there, so we'd spend the night listening to vinyl while we smoked weed and ate ridiculous amounts of double bubble gum and ice cream cake. 

We chatted about the demo, our band, and the satisfactory feeling of getting our demo tape out to all the clubs. We had done our part and tried our best, our destiny now rested in the hands of promoters and club owners. All we could do now was wait patiently and hope that someone contacted us...

Nav @ Derek, Jah Studios 1991

Monday, 10 February 2014

Summer of the Titans

There were a few other musical happenings of noteworthy attention that summer of 91' that I've almost overlooked. First and foremost, Epileptic Brain Surgeons were gaining some steam, which landed them an opening spot for Canadian punk legends Day-Glo Abortions. The show was at The Spectrum club which was on the east end of the Danforth. Not exactly a hop, skip and a jump from the downtown core, but there was no way I was going to miss this. My only dilemma was I had no way to get there. 

I ended up convincing an art class acquaintance named Jon to go. Jon was a big guy, somewhat on the nerdy side, who was always decked out in camo. He'd spend his weekends in Caledon hunting small game with his like minded friends. Jon was a fan of punk music, and he had a car, so I put two and two together and the next thing I knew we were going to the show.

The Spectrum was a decent sized venue, probably the biggest I'd seen E.B.S. perform in to date. This was also my first time seeing E.B.S. with Mike Chapman on bass I believe. It was surreal being in a crowd that large, moshing it up and singing along to my friends band. The crowd response was positive and the boys put on a kick ass show. I felt like a real big shot hanging out with the guys in the V.I.P. area beforehand and afterwards, even though a couple of them weren't really all there due to LSD consumption earlier in the evening. I kind of felt bad realizing I'd somewhat ditched Jon, so I found him and we slammed it up for Dayglos. All in all it was a great show and I felt like my friends were destined for greatness.

A flyer I made for the show while working at my co-op placement.

A few weeks later there was a massive metal event taking place at the CNE grandstand, it was called Clash of the Titans, and it boasted the biggest names in Thrash Metal. Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax with opening act Death Angel. Death Angel ended up having a terrible accident that almost took the life of their drummer Andy, so they had no choice but to drop off the bill, only to be replaced by an unknown band called Alice In Chains.

I was totally broke at the time and had absolutely no money to buy a ticket, but I still had a master plan to see the show. Since the CNE was an outdoor stadium, Jerry and I decided to head down and hang around the gates. We couldn't see the stage that great but we could hear the music, and that was all that really mattered. Apparently other people had the same idea as us, as there was a huge tailgate party going on in the parking lot. We befriended the strangers, had a few beers with them, and enjoyed the music.

After the show we hopped on the subway to head back to Yorkdale mall, where Jerry's truck was parked. The train was quiet and empty, so we sat in silence reminiscing the evenings events. About two stops in on our subway trip, the doors opened and a gang of rowdy concert goers piled in. Much to our surprise it was Noel, Shayne, and a bunch of the older thrasher guys. They were drunk, rowdy, and excitable from the show. Our quiet subway ride now had some action in the mix. They were all going to take the go bus from Yorkdale to Brampton, so Jerry offered them all a ride home. Thankfully his pickup truck had a cab on it to conceal the 8 or so guys dog piled in the bed of the truck.

We got everyone home in one piece, and Jerry had now solidified his spot in my other group of friends by doing them a solid deed. We managed to see a concert for free on top of that. It definitely set the standard for what was one kick ass summer...

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Rotate Fugazi

It had definitely been one hell of a summer. Not only was Lollapalooza one of the biggest concerts I had ever attended, but it gave me the chance to meet a few "rock stars" and I even made some new friends there. I'm not sure what was in the air that week, but mere days before Lollapalooza I went to the opera house with Derek to see Fugazi. Fugazi was a newer band that had acquired legendary Minor Threat front man Ian MacKaye as their vocalist. I was super excited to see Ian in the flesh as I felt he was a very important piece of punk rock history. When we got to the Opera house I was stunned to see Ian out front unloading some gear from the tour truck. We eagerly approached him and Derek blurted out "Hey Ian MacKaye what's up?" Ian turned and looked to us, paused a moment, then replied "it's going good but it's pronounced MacKaye" (mah-kai, Derek had pronounced it ma-kay) As if Henry Rollins hadn't disappointed me enough, now here I was thinking Ian was a douche for getting sensitive about the way someone pronounced his name. Regardless he was still aces in my books, after all he's Ian MacKaye damnit!

The Opera House was packed and Fugazi brought the house down as expected. The opening acts Scott B Sympathy and Pure left a lot to be desired in my opinion and they really didn't even fit the bill. During one of the opening acts we ran into a guy we called "Driftwood Chris" who worked at Driftwood Records, our most favourite used record store in Toronto. Chris was a really cool guy and was forever hooking us up with deals on vinyl. Chris introduced us to his friend Navie. Nav was of Indian descent, although I'm not sure if he was east or West Indian. Never the less he was a large dude, a few inches taller than me and probably 30-50 pounds heavier. Nav had long black hair that he wore tied back in a ponytail most times. We got to talking and there was an instant connection between him, Derek, and I. 

As the conversation unfolded, we discovered Nav was a bass player and he was also working at a new local record shop that had just opened called "Rotate This" When given first chance, we went to check out the shop and visit Nav. Rotate This was laid out nicely, it was clean and spacious, and there were even couches you could chill out on. The record selection was tremendous, although prices were a bit higher than I was used to from the used record stores in the area. We got to rapping with Nav and realized that the three of us all shared very similar musical tastes. Although we had a bass player in Sted, we never really connected with him, perhaps due to the large age gap between us. Now Derek and I were unanimously agreeing that we wanted Nav in our band.

I don't remember what we said or how we told Sted, but he took the news like a champ. It didn't really seem to phase him, but looking back at it, we were "Slow Poke" and the band was living up to its name as far as progress went. Sted was a seasoned veteran musician, he had no doubts or worries as to joining another band, which was a huge relief to us. We immediately offered Nav the spot and he accepted. The next night we jammed and it went very well. After rehearsal we sat around talking and eventually we stumbled upon the topic of us playing live. Derek and I voiced our disappointment about how hard it was to get a gig in this town. Nav had a simple solution. He proclaimed we needed a demo tape to give out to club owners so they could hear our sound, plus it would make us appear to have our shit together. We agreed that this was a good idea, now we just had to record a demo somehow...