Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Wild Ones

The weekend ritual of bar hopping in Toronto had most certainly caused some strain on mine & Tara's relationship, and like the old saying goes "All good things must come to an end". We had been together roughly two years through good times and bad times. Our bond was toxic at times, generally when alcohol came into play. Regardless, our household was down from six to four people now, which meant another increase in rent for us.

One fateful night she showed up drunk to collect whatever belongings she had left at the house. Her and Shayne got into an altercation and she started throwing a barrage of full blown fisticuffs to his face and head. Not one to hit a woman, he opted to go in the garage and proceeded to throw a spare tire through the windshield of her jeep. Tara ran to the neighbours, phone calls were made, and in the blink of an eye the boys in blue showed up and hauled Shayne off to the drunk tank for the night. To this day I'm still dumbfounded how someone who was intoxicated, driving at that, assaulting people, and essentially breaking and entering, got to walk free while Shayne spent the night at the iron bar hotel. 

Speaking of alcohol, Mike C. was partaking from time to time, but generally to the extreme. Over the past 3-4 months I had literally seen Mike blacked out, passed out drunk, yet still standing. It seemed like every time we went drinking now it ended up with Mike asleep on his feet. This also caused him to become a different person, one who was more belligerent towards the people he cared about. One night in particular it sounded like someone was trying to kick the door down at about 3 a.m. I could see it was Michael through the window, so I unlocked the door to let him in. As I opened the door Mike fell right to the ground, the door was the only thing that had been holding him up. As I started helping him up I noticed he had some visible wear and tear on his face. I asked him what happened and he told me John McCuish had done this to him.

I couldn't understand what was happening. These guys were close friends, band mates, and fellow Scottsman. I helped Mike up to his bed and by the time we got there he collapsed into the mattress and immediately threw up between the wall and the bed. I was worried Mike might be concussed so I kept an eye on him, but I also called John in the middle of the night and started freaking out on him. John was super irate and explained everything that had happened between them that night. As it turned out Mike got into one of his belligerent black outs and had caused the whole debacle. A man can only be pushed so far before he snaps, and Mike had clearly pushed John passed the point of no return.

I really hoped Mike would see this as a wake up call now and perhaps slow down a bit on the sauce, and indeed he did. There was no bad blood between these two and they remained "brothers" for many years to come. 


I can't recall exactly how, but an old friend resurfaced around this time. It was none other than Indy filmmaker Owen Roberts, the man who was responsible for giving us the Epileptic Brain Surgeons music video for "Cows". I suspect Mike C. was instrumental in Owen resurfacing, as Mike still worked with Owen's audio engineer Stuart. It was cool having Owen back on the scene again 4 years later. He was the same old guy, but now sporting a half sleeve tattoo of an old ghetto scene. We sat around the kitchen table drinking, smoking, and reminiscing. 

As the conversation unfolded we eventually stumbled onto the topic of film making. Owen was still very much wielding his trusted camera, and he was looking for a new project. I do not remember specifics of the who what when wheres and whys, but by the end of the night it was official: Owen was going to shoot a video for Wiggaz...

Friday, 1 April 2016

Horizontal Underground

1995 had kicked off with a real bang. Wiggaz & Black Belt Jones continued to play gigs together when we could, which was always very draining on me psychically. I never let that stop me mind you, as I always wanted to give the best of myself to our audiences, even if it was 20 people or 200. 

We were still going to clubs in the city, but it was becoming quite difficult to get into the bars downtown now after Mike C had rushed some bouncers. When one door closes another door opens, and such was the case... But two doors had opened.

There were two new clubs on Queen street in Toronto that had opened literally across the street from each other. The first one was called "Velvet Underground" and it was very reminiscent of the Boom Boom Room, minus the caged dancers and dual levels. The place did boast a pretty sweet pool table lounge as well as a mysterious old bowling alley. Musically they were playing the same stuff we would typically here at the Boom Boom, but the clientele had changed a bit. There were many more clean cut college kids filling the dance floor, but we still had some great times there.

On the other side of the road there was a small hole in the wall of a club that was strictly catering to rap, hip hop, & r&b. It was called "The Horizontal Boogie Bar" and it's no surprise that this place was right up my alley. Generally we'd go there first for drinks until the place packed up, then we'd cross the street and close out the Velvet. I personally liked the Horizontal much better, and a lot of times I chose to stay there while my posse headed across the road. 

The vibe was awesome there, great music, friendly people, cheap drinks, good looking ladies dancing, and a super nice DJ named Mike Nice, who would ALWAYS play our requests for us. I liked the club so much I even once tried to get a job there as a bus boy. The only catch to me staying behind there was I'd lose my friends at times. Generally I could prowl the club district and find them, but there was one particular time I could not. 

It was 2-3 a.m. and I had no money on me, although I did have another type of green. I decided to start flagging down cabbies, the only problem was majority of them were Indian. When I finally found a Caucasian driver I explained my situation to him and he agreed to drive me back to Brampton. I couldn't believe it. The best part was the driver didn't even really take much green from me. It had restored my faith in humanity to know there was still good people in this world who weren't just out for a buck.

On the Homefront, Shayne & Pauline had decided to part ways, so she moved out and our rent slightly increased. He was civil enough to switch bedrooms with Tara and I, so we now inhabited the master bedroom, which was soon over run with an assortment of reptiles she had been acquiring from her new job at Super Pet. Our room was starting to more so resemble a zoo than sleeping quarters. 

I was still working midnights at the gas station for Shayne's mom, generally Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday nights. The rest of the week I'd be home with the homeboys either slanging, hanging, or banging out music in the basement. We were still congregating in the kitchen quite a bit, where the ghetto blaster was usually playing "Enter The 36 Chambers" by a new hiphop super group called The Wu-Tang Clan. As much as I was digging Wu-Tang, I was slightly disturbed by the fact they were on the Kung-Fu tip just like Black Belt Jones were. Once again a group had unknowingly taken a page from the Brampton books, and I feared most people would assume we ripped off Wu-Tang, but such was not the case I can assure you that.

Mortal Kombat II had been released for Sega Genesis awhile back, so there were many countless smoke filled nights in the basement with Jay Poole, Sanjai, Mike C, Pauly, and everyone else that was on the MKII "Pro Tour" as I used to call it. We'd have tournaments all the time and the fun seemed to never end. I even had a little black book with all the fatalities I had hand written myself. Some of my most fondest memories were forged in that basement and they are still dear and close to my heart in this present time. 

BBJ were still playing the material on our demo, as it was all so fresh and new to us. Wiggaz on the other hand had a demo tape that didn't include their current vocalist, yours truly, so Greg and the boys decided it was time to write some new material and record a new demo...