Thursday, 26 February 2015

Serial Business

Even though Grasshopper had come to pass, I sill had quite a few friends down in the city. I wasn't getting downtown as often as I used to, but I strived to maintain these connections and friendships. Guys from bands, radio people, club owners, promoters, record store dudes, the list went on and on. 3 n' Pass were playing the odd shows in the city, so I always encouraged my Toronto peeps to come and check us out.

Of all the friends I had downtown, the one I cherished the most was Dallas from The Satanatras. I was still going out of my way to hang out at his place for a couple of days whenever I had the chance. We'd mainly just hang out and talk rock, puff some ganja, and listen to music or watch movies. Dallas had gotten into Geto Boys big time, and the members had all released solo albums by this point, which had become his choice cuts. We both loved Willie D and Scarface, but Bushwick Bill was our main muthafucka. There was just something so cool and unique about a little person rapping with such a larger than life attitude and persona. Dallas had also became a big fan of "Lords of the Underground" so needless to say we were bumping that album a lot too.

Dallas had a older brother named Travis, and he lived in a sweet studio type loft where the party never seemed to stop. We'd hang out there quite frequently, and there always seemed to be an abundance of psilocybin being passed around freely. Travis and his roomies had a stage area set up, and there was always some form of jam going on, be it bands performing or just an open stage concept. I'd often hop on the drum kit and jam with random people, some of whom I didn't even know. 

I remember the cops showed up one time because someone in the neighborhood had filed a noise complaint. It must have been about 5:30-6:00 am in the morning when the cops came knocking. They were surprisingly very friendly and interested in the music we were making. Despite tripping balls, we stood at the doorway talking music with these two police officers for what felt like hours. Eventually the sun was up and the morning was in bloom. The cops proceeded to tell us we could go back to jamming and making noise, since it was now morning. Amazing I thought to myself. No cops in Peel Region would ever be that cool. I definitely developed a new respect for Metro Police that day.

The Satanatras bassist Bernie, was also a very kick ass cool cat and I always enjoyed chatting with him. Bernie had a shindig at his place one night, so naturally Dallas and I headed over. That night Bernard taught me the true powers and magic of psilocybin, proclaiming it didn't matter if you took a tiny nibble or ate a whole bag, it was all about opening your mind up to it. We sat and had seriously deep conversation on the subject, and many others, and somehow Bernie sent me on my way the following morning with a shitload of the coolest underground comics and even serial killer trading cards. He was truly the bees knees in my books. 

Jughead was another band out on the scene at the time and they were all buddies and affiliated with The Satanatra crew, I think Travis may have even been in the band at the time but I can't quite remember. Anyhow, one of their members Mike was having a party at his place, and once again Dallas brought me along with him. The place Mike lived in was very cool. It was full of studio type lofts similar to Travis' place, but the building was actually a square, and the hallway was a square perimeter, with apartment doors on both sides of the hallway. 

Practically everyone who lived here had their doors open and you could literally just walk around party hopping from apartment to apartment. Early in the night I had made eyes with an attractive young lady who suddenly vanished, so I spent the evening going from room to room trying to find her. Hours had passed, and I had pretty much given up, when from out of nowhere she appeared again. I made my move and started talking to her, and before long we were in a janitors closet smoking weed and talking. The next thing I knew we were in a taxi cab en route to her place. You don't need much of an imagination to figure out what happened next.

Her name was Tammi, and she was a very cool chick. We had quite a bit of fun over the next few weeks, and I was spending quite a bit of time at her place. She had a male roommate who was gay, and he made no qualms about throwing it in your face. I was still fairly young and somewhat homophobic to say the least, but I quickly got over that, as he was always saying and doing things to try and get a rise out of me or make me uncomfortable, but I never gave in. Looking back it was truly a great experience and part of growing up in life, as I was no longer homophobic nor did I hold any ill will towards gay people. Tammi ended up moving to Vancouver not long after I met her, and that was the end of our little fling. 

The timing really couldn't have been any more perfect, as it was not long after this that Michael Campbell brought Shayne and myself to the party I mentioned a couple posts back. The night that I met her...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

New & improved for 93'

Although our 3 n' Pass demo sounded somewhat simple and basic, we had evolved with our songs. When we initially created them we would write our lyrics on the spot and then record them, which meant we had to read off of paper as we did so. We didn't have them memorized, which resulted in a lack of flow and delivery. Now that we were jamming on occasion and playing gigs, we had our lyrics down pat which gave our songs an entirely different dynamic. Our live performances definitely had more impact and energy in comparison to our demo tape.

We had played a few shows by this point, including Tremors in Brampton, as well as the 1150 club and the Edgewater Hotel in Toronto. We generally got great reception from the audience, mainly because they weren't accustomed to seeing a rap band perform live, so I assume they appreciated a different change of pace and a different form of music.

Things were going great and I wouldn't of changed it for anything....except Mike & Mike. "Mikes squared" as I used to refer to them as, approached me one day with a new vision for the band. They had collectively agreed that I was the best rapper out of the three of us, and they thought it would be a wise move for me to become the main vocalist and for them to start playing instruments to bring a new live feel to our sound.

I was a bit taken back at first, but I was totally on board with their idea. I gather they had been inspired by The Beastie Boys playing instruments on their latest album "Check Yer Head" and since the B-Boys were our biggest influence, it made sense to me. The only issue now was who would supply the beats? Enter John McCuish, former drummer of Epileptic Brain Surgeons. 

John hadn't been doing much music wise since EBS folded, and his drum set was just sitting around collecting dust. "Cushal" as we used to call him, agreed to give it a shot, so we decided to get together for a jam at Mike Myers. It was quite a trip to me, jamming with three former members of EBS, the guys solely responsible for me starting my band "Social Disorder" in my early years of high school. I felt like a student who had now become a teacher.

The first practice went pretty well. John was on drums, Chapman was on guitars, Myers was on bass, and yours truly held the microphone. We just kind of went with the flow, the boys made improv music and I busted freestyle rhymes. It was great fun, it sounded cool, and the energy was definitely there. 

Over the next few weeks we ended up writing three songs, "Wonton Soup'd", "Hurricane Theo" and "Weed Don". We were all totally stoked with what we had come up with. They (the songs) were a splendid mix of funk, rap, rock, punk and reggae. It brought a whole new feel to the band, and we weren't so limited with what we could do production wise anymore. We also knew it would make for an easier and better sounding live show.

We made some rough recordings of the songs so we wouldn't forget what we had come up with. At our rehearsals we continued to refine these three songs, as well as just winging it with live freestyle jam sessions which never disappointed. I was really happy with this new version of 3 n' Pass, and I believe the guys were very happy to be playing their instruments again. After all, they were highly talented players, so it only made sense. Why waste all that talent to simply be a mediocre rapper? Mike & Mike had a great idea, they had made a great call, and I felt like we had come full circle.

I had told Paul from Demon Barf about our new and improved version of 3 n' Pass and I played the songs for him. Needless to say he loved it and was very intrigued to attend one of our jam sessions. I ran it past the guys and they were cool with it, so we decided Paul could come sit in on our next practice. Little did I know at that time a simple jam session would change his life, and our lives forever...

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

3 n' Pass: The Videos

had previously mentioned in my story the homemade music videos we did for 3 n' Pass. They were very low budget....more like no budget. Our rhymes were very sophomoric and lacked flow, rhythm and delivery. The technique we used to create music was highly ghetto. We made due with what little access we had to amenities. Why? Because we loved rap music and we wanted to be apart of it. We were just a bunch of teenage kids having fun and expressing ourselves. Embarrassing as it is, I am not ashamed of my past, as it has made me who I am today. With that being said, I present to you the lost videos of 3 n' Pass. The quality is a bit rough and a few parts are missing, but I hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane. Special thanks to Mike "Mr.P" Myers for taking the time to rip these from VHS to share with the world via YouTube. Enjoy!

3 n' Pass also shot a video for Owen Robert's FUSION cable 10 tv show. A good chunk of my rhyme is missing but it was great to see this again.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Funkiest

The spring of 93' saw the death of Grasshopper, but everything else was in bloom and coming to life. A new hiphop group had emerged on the Soul Assassins label which had been made famous by House of Pain and Cypress Hill. The newest addition to their family was a trio called "Funkdoobiest" consisting of DJ Ralph M The Mexican and rappers Tomahawk Funk and Son Doobie. 

Their debut LP "Which Doobie U B?" was an instant classic in my opinion, with banging production from Ralph M as well as DJ Lethal from H.O.P. and DJ Muggs from Cypress, so naturally it had that same type of feel as both of those groups. Lyrically it was a bit different though. Son Doobie was the main rapper, with T-Funk as his back up and hype man. T had a lower deep voice and an interesting choppy rhyme flow, while Son was a bit more high end and nasal. 

I suppose they were somewhat comparable to the dynamic of B-Real and SenDog from Cypress Hill, yet they were totally different and had their own vibe going on. A lot of Son's lyrical content was almost cartoonish, and his references were out of hand, each track being chock full of them, mainly referring to old tv shows, oddball celebrities, and musical roots. Son would literally drop some type of reference in almost every line he spit, he was also known as "The Porno King" so needless to say there was quite a bit of x-rated material as well.

They released a music video for the title track "The Funkiest" and it was getting mad rotation on the video shows. It wasn't long before they dropped their second video "Bow Wow Wow" riding the momentum of their first hit. They were blowing up quick and I was loving it.

Meanwhile in Brampton, I was truly enjoying spending time with all my different circles of friends and catching up with everyone. I had really been a ghost in this town the past few years but it was nice to be embraced by my friends after being MIA for so long. I was spending quite a bit of time with the Demon Barf posse, as I'd mentioned a few posts ago, and it was always a blast hanging with those dudes. I had the privilege of getting to attend their studio sessions for the recording of their demo "More Sweat From The Cornhole" and I even got to make a cameo appearance as "Satan" partaking in a wrestling interview.

The DB boys were now slated to appear on Owen's cable 10 show "Fusion" to perform some of the songs from their new release. I was totally surprised and caught off guard when they approached me and told me they wanted to do a cover version of Public Enemy's "She Watch Channel Zero" with yours truly on vocals. They also wanted Mike C to bring his turntables along and join in on the action. We were all so stoked.

When the big day arrived I found myself in quite a bit of a predicament. It was Greek Orthodox Easter, and I was expected to goto my grandparents with my family. I had never missed any family gathering in my life, but now being a legal adult able to make my own decisions, I decided performing with Demon Barf was more important, much to the disappointment of my parents. I felt like I had let my family down, yet if I didn't goto the Fusion taping I knew in my heart I'd be letting all of my friends down.

Still shot from the video of me and Mike C.

The performance went pretty awesome and the day was a success. The boys decided they were even going to include the song as a bonus track on their new release, which was highly flattering and exciting to myself. I truly felt a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood amongst the DB crew, they were all genuine people and the best friends a guy could ask for.

I had also started hanging around my old thrasher buddies quite often as well, mainly Shayne aka "Spicoli" as he lived a hop, skip and a jump from my parents house. We were partying it up every weekend at various people's homes, which was where I ended up getting acquainted with his friend Greg, a talented guitar player who was in a blues/jazz band called "Sweetgrass" I had met him a few times in passing, but we had never really gotten to know each other.

While partying at our buddy Gary's place, I specifically remember blaring the Public Enemy album "Fear of a black planet" which led to some pretty deep musical discussions between Greg and myself. Greg was looking to start a new musical side project called "Psycho Puffs" his vision was a hybrid of metal and rap, and he was interested in working with me. I was totally stoked on the idea, and the following morning I found myself so inspired that I managed to write three songs, hangover and all.

Shayne had also made some new friends over the past few years of me being AWOL, and I was slowly but surely meeting them all. He was now working as a stereo salesman at Majestic, which was a trip to me. This once flamboyant thrasher was now a "short hair" suit wearing electronics peddler, but on the inside he was still the same old Shayne. I started meeting a few of his salesman buddies over time, and by early May we were partying quite frequently with one of them named Michael. Mike was black but he was by far not your typical black man. The guy loved classic rock such as Pink Floyd and Joe Cocker just to name a few. 

Michael seemed like a very happy guy. He was always sporting a big smile, he was always outspoken, and he had a deep booming laugh that was highly contagious. We hung out at his place quite a bit, and he hung out with us at Shayne's quite a bit as well. One night he decided to invite a few of us to a party his friend was having. We'd never met this friend, or anyone at the party for that matter, but Mike was simply bringing people together. 

When we got there it wasn't quite what I had expected. I was used to big ragers full of people, but this was a fairly quiet and small get together. Being the shy natured person that I am, I sat my ass in a corner to drink and smoke in peace, constantly observing and analyzing the party goers. To be quite honest I wasn't really enjoying myself and I perceived a few of Mike's friends to be goofs and morons. Then I saw her...

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Home Video

In the last few months leading up to the disbanding of Grasshopper, Mike and myself were burning the midnight oil on the regular working on a project. We had decided to make a Grasshopper home video, so we were spending countless hours working with Owen at Rogers Cable 10 in Brampton. As soon as the employees all cleared out, Owen would give us a shout and we'd head over to meet him. We'd literally spend hours there each visit, usually clearing out of the studio just before sunrise as the employees were on their way back to work.

A lot of bands were releasing home videos, so we decided to join them. The formula was quite simple. We had videos of two songs being performed on Owen's show "Fusion" as well as two live videos from performances at our beloved 1150 club, and of course our actual music video for "Born Loser"

We wanted to give our fans something more than just music, so between each video we had slickly edited together about five to ten minutes of random footage of us behind the scenes. It was an intimate expose on us as people, and the things we did in our spare time. Things such as us skateboarding, hanging out talking, having sessions etc. We also dubbed over the footage with interesting audio, mainly instrumental beats topped off with an array of funny answering machine messages from "The Grasshopper Hotline", audio clips of us talking on the radio, and anything else we could find that we thought fans would enjoy.

I'm not even sure how much time we invested in this, but I'd guess it was somewhere around 30+ hours once everything was said and done. It was amazing having access to the television studio once again. We were able to do all sorts of slick editing and visual effects. I really admired Owen for giving us this opportunity, even though he put in most of the work, while Mike and I loosely directed the whole project.

The fact that Owen was doing this during his free time for absolutely no pay just showed exactly how much love he had for his craft. The guy was super talented and was genuinely one of the nicest dudes I ever had the pleasure of working with.

The sad and tragic part of this however, was the fact that after all of the hard work we put in, nobody would ever see this video. We had completed it after a few months of hard work, but it was all too late by then, as Derek had made that fateful decision to weasel us out of our band. I found it disheartening that our true fans would never get their hands on this piece of musical history. Not only were we robbed of our positions, but our fan base had been robbed of ever viewing or owning the Grasshopper home video.

This was all I had left of a band I loved being apart of. After everything was said and done I would still watch the home video on many occasions, reliving the memories of the great times we had together. It filled me with joy and happiness, yet saddened me at the same time. I truly felt like a lot of people missed out on something special we had created for them. 

I haven't watched the home video since the mid 90s, but to this day I still have a copy on VHS somewhere in my vault, and it would be pretty amazing to be able to share it in this day and time. I personally don't have the means to do this, but one can never say never...