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...