Monday, 16 November 2015

Black Belt Jams 101

We were officially moved into the Slayer House and party time had commenced. Steve Waller was heading back to BC soon, so he was spending most of his time at our place. Our backyard backed onto a field that was part of an elementary school, and it's big blank walls stared into our kitchen windows. Waller declared he would tag (graffiti) the school before he departed to Vancouver. Sure enough, on his last night in Ontario, he snuck over to the school during the wee hours of the night and emblazoned one of its walls with a big graffiti burner. It was beautiful. Steve wanted to get a picture of it in the morning before he left, but we were all shocked and disappointed when we awoke and discovered the schools janitor had already removed it. I was going to miss Steve big time, and I didn't know it then, but it would be another 4 years until I saw him again. 

Meanwhile in our new, not so humble abode, we finally had an official jam space for our newest musical endeavor Black Belt Jones. We had a table in the corner of the space where Mike had set up his turntables and mixer. We also had a P.A. system set up on said table, as well as space for our drum machines. In the adjacent corner, Mike's small jazz drum kit was set up for rocking beats, as well as his guitar amp and guitar. Myers and Pauly brought their amps and guitars and the special ingredients, their drum machines.

Pauly had gotten his drum machine awhile back, and Myers now had one too. I had previously programmed a few songs into Paul's as had he, and Myers had programmed a couple of songs into his. I liked the fact we had two different drum machines, as it meant we would have varying sounds for our songs. I don't vividly recall our first jam here, but I do know that since we already had beats programmed it was time to start building songs.

From this point forward we would have a weekly jam, generally Friday evenings after everyone was done work. There was never a shortage of beer and the pipe was always packed. It was in these first weeks of jamming that we put together the songs that would eventually be our first demo tape. Our first batch of creations included "Oldschool Enuff" a song loosely based on The Message by Grandmaster Flash, "It's Like Dope" which is pretty self explanatory although it was inspired by the Schoolly D song of the same title, and the coup de gras: a self titled bomb track that always hyped us up. 

Myers had also had come up with a little ditty he called "Slut love in B minor" which was one of the first songs we completed. It later came to be known as "The P-Stro Beat" which spawned from Myers old 3 n' Pass MC alias "Mr.P." I'm not sure how the whole "stro" thing came into play, but I gather it was on account of the Beastie Boys song "The Maestro" in the later days to follow we would even start to refer to Mike C as "The C-Stro". We now had the P-Stro, the C-Stro, Prince Pauly, and myself "Black Belt Jones" the final four of what started as a 10 man band.

Lyrically I had an abundance of material to choose from, so when we were building these songs I was merely reading random pages from my rhyme books. When I found something that went well with the music, I stuck with it. Over the next few weeks we continued jamming and refining our songs, each week they'd become tighter and better. Musically this was the most fun I'd had in any band yet. Everyone's input and ideas were welcomed with open arms, we collectively created our songs together, there were no egos, no control freaks, we were simply four guys who were open to suggestions and down for whatever. 

What we were down for now though, was getting some shows booked so we could spread our sound to open and willing ears...

The rhyme book that started it all...

Friday, 6 November 2015

Slayer House pt.2

So why was our new abode to be nicknamed "The Slayer House"? The answer is quite simple. On either side of the driveway were beautiful stone statues of falcons, which were very similar and reminiscent of the falcon logo the band Slayer had been using on their merchandise. There you have big mystery.

The day we moved in was a gorgeous day luckily for us. We had rented a large moving truck and managed to get all of our stuff into it. Shayne had wrangled up an old salesmen buddy of his from Majestic to help, which was a blessing as he seemed to be an expert packer and mover, which just kept everything running smoothly.

When we arrived to move in our new digs a bit of drama occurred. There were now two couples and a debate arose about which couple should get the master bedroom. I really couldn't of cared less either way, but my girlfriend Tara, who was very loud and outspoken, got into it with Shayne. When you have two loud, stubborn people butting heads it is always a fiasco to say the least. Shayne brought up a valid point, that he was very instrumental in getting this place for us, which was absolutely true. I really didn't give a shit either way I just wanted to move into a room already. 

So it was settled. Shayne & his new girlfriend Pauline got the master bedroom. Tara and I got the next largest bedroom. Noel called dibs on the only room that faced out the front side of the house, and Mike C got the smallest bedroom which was located between our room and Shayne's room. The room Noel took had a small den area off to the side of it, so we set up a little makeshift library there. Later on I'd find a lot of solace in said den. It was a very relaxing place to read and/or write.

There was oddly enough a spare bedroom on the main floor of the house, which nobody wanted, so it became exactly what it already was... a spare bedroom, which would come in handy for friends who needed a place to crash. There were also two living rooms, one by the front door which Noel pimped out with his new furniture he'd bought. This came to be what I called "the plastic room" as it was the embodiment of a living room you'd see at your grandparents, covered in plastic and never used.

The second living room ended up being where my snake Regius lived, and I set up a computer desk with my old Commodore 64 to relive the retro gaming era. Strange part about living rooms, we never really used them at all, so they definitely weren't living up to their names. There was also a dining room but we only had one table, which obviously found its home in the kitchen. The dining room stayed completely empty with the exception of a few plants.

Speaking of the kitchen, it ended up being the most communal part of the house. We always seemed to be gathered at the kitchen table when we hung out, and the radio in the kitchen was constantly blaring the soundtrack to our lives. We all worked different hours, yet seemed to cross paths in the kitchen before or after work. Little did we know the kitchen would be the place where we did most of our partying... and the basement as well.

The basement was my true sanctuary of the house. The tv was down there as well as the video game system, which at the time was Sega Genesis. We collectively had so many couches now that we set up two around the television, then had numerous more couches formed in rows behind the couch closest to the tv. The result was like our own little comfy cozy movie theater. Behind the couches there was still a large area of empty basement, where Mike set up his drums and turntables. This would now be the official jam space of our band Black Belt Jones.

We were all moved in and we had everything arranged to our it was time to see what kind of shenanigans we could get into...

Monday, 2 November 2015

Slayer House

The time had come for us to find a new place to live, which was going to be a struggle considering we were four young men with two cats and a snake, not to mention two of our girlfriends wanted to move in with us, one of whom had a cat as well. So that's six people, three cats, and one snake. Who in their right mind was going to rent to us?

Luckily, Shane our neighbour and good friend, had a sister named Tracey who was a real estate agent. We put her on the case and crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. Tracey was amazing at her job so we all had faith in her. Sure enough she delivered promptly and properly within no time. 

She had found a place for us in Flowertown, which is in the west end of downtown Brampton. I'd always been a bit anti-Brampton, as I grew up in the east end of the town which was known as Bramalea. Nowadays it's all considered "Brampton" but back in the 80s there was legit heat between Bramalea and Brampton people. Regardless of the silly geographical politics we needed a place to live, so we went with Tracey one day to check the place out.

We arrived at 28 Phelps drive in Flowertown and we were overwhelmed by the size of this house, it was huge! The owner was an old Italian gentleman named Joe, and the front lawn was adorned with a big fountain and cherub statues. There were also matching falcon statues on each side of the driveway. There was a double car garage and the driveway could easily fit six vehicles. We hadn't even stepped in the door yet and I was already sold!

Once we entered the premises we were greeted by nice polished marble floors and a giant sparkling chandelier. The main floor had a bathroom, laundry room, guest bedroom, dining room, two living rooms, and a large gorgeous kitchen. From the kitchen you could step out to the backyard, which boasted a nice deck and a barbecue gazebo. 

The basement was unfinished, but it was absolutely massive. It even had a big room that would remain locked, as it was full of Joe's possessions. The cool part about the basement was it also had a bathroom, as well as two staircases, one to the main hallway and one to the laundry room, which also had a door into the garage and a side door to the backyard. 

We made our way to the top floor, which had a full bathroom, three bedrooms, and an enormous master bedroom with a big walk in closet, and the swankiest bathroom I'd ever seen. The can was adorned with crystal, mirrors, and marble. There was a glass walk in shower, a bidet, and a large step up tub with jets. This place was unreal, and we definitely wanted it.

Tracey put our lease application in and we hoped for the best. The rent was about $1400 a month or so, which was almost $500 more than we were already paying, but between 6 people it would work out to about $230 each a month, which was more than affordable. I figured we weren't going to get the place, as Tracey had been very honest with Joe, explaining in the lease that there was indeed six people, three cats, and a snake looking to move into his house. Perhaps the old saying "Honesty is the best policy" is indeed true, as we received the call from Tracey shortly after to inform us we'd gotten the place! 

Come the end of the summer we would be moving into our new abode, that would come to be known as "The Slayer House"...

SLAYER HOUSE as it stands today