Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Musical History of Me

This post is an update of sorts to one of the very first posts on this blog. It was originally written in March 2005.

Anyone who knows me personally, or has read any of my stuff knows that music plays a big part in my life. Way back when I first wrote the post, I had just recently left the band I was currently playing with (a band which by the way I am back together with) and it got me to thinking where have I been (musically) in my life.

So tonight I thought I would update that history a bit and instead of just updating the original post, I would re-post it on its own here.



This year, a friend of mine (Von) and I formed our first band. I think we started it right after graduating high school but we might have still been in, I can't really remember correctly.
This band was originally called Hate Machine. We decided to change the name for 2 reasons. (1) There was an album called Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails that we did not want to be associated with; and (2) There was another local band that went by the name Hate Party and did not want to sound like we were copying those guys.
So after several ideas and failed suggestions, we went with the name ABF which was the name of a fictional dance club in a book about a punk rock vampire.
The name originally did stand for something, as ABF was actually the acronym for this dance club in the book. However, over the years progressed in this band, it came to stand for other things as well.
When we first started the band, I was singing and playing guitar. Well, let me rephrase, I was, attempting to play the guitar. You see when we started the band we did not have a clear cut idea of who would do what because neither of us actually played an instrument (unless you count Von having been in high school marching band). I happened to own an electric guitar although I did not know how to play it. So I figured out somewhat how to play while Von was singing and attempting, like me, to play the drums.

For the most part 1990 was an uneventful year for this band except that we spent a lot of time writing songs.


This is the year things really started to take off for the band, mostly because we got a little more serious about actually having a band. Von switched to full time vocals and we hired a drummer (Josh). At this point we never got around to hiring a bass player and played our first show in the living room of a friend's house. Josh was actually only around long enough to play this first show.

Also after this show, ABF was put on a brief hiatus while I joined another local punk rock band called Goon Squad for a short time as their 2nd guitar player. This band was in all respects, the aforementioned Hate Party but with a different singer (and me as 2nd guitarist).
This band did not last long. Probably long enough for 2 or 3 shows.

After leaving this band, me and Von hired a bass player (Brian) and drummer (Chad) for ABF.
Shortly after beginning rehearsals with this band, Brian and I switched instruments as his suggestion. The problem was, I was still not worth a crap as a guitarist and had absolutely no control and kept breaking strings. He suggested we switch because it was harder to break bass strings.
This lineup only lasted long enough to release one E.P. and do one "official" live show. We did, however, have several "open practices" in the garage we were practicing in.
At some point in time, Brian left the band for unknown reasons.

Also in this year, I started another band with another friend of mine (Sonny). It was a huge departure from ABF in that it had a more "heavy metal" feel to it. It was called The Punished. In this band, I sang and played bass and Sonny played guitar. The drummer position was filled by several different people. We never actually did any shows in this band and it only last a few months. I don't remember really being all that into it.


ABF went through 2 totally different lineups this year.
In the first one, Brian was replaced by an old school chum of ours (Dennis). He played with us a few times until Chad decided to leave and form another band with Brian.
This left us in a bit of a pickle because we had a really huge show coming up for us and needed a drummer quickly. Someone that could pick up the music just as quickly. Dennis suggested his former college roommate (Skosh). He came in and started practicing with us and essentially did what we needed him for.
He probably would have continued being in the band but the problem was that he and Dennis both started getting in the habit of skipping practices so we let them both go.

The second lineup consisted of Frank on guitar. How we found him I honestly can't remember but I do remember him joining the band had something to do with the fact that he really liked the band Bad Religion. The drummer position this year sort of revolved for a while. In fact, I think while Frank was with us, we went through 3 drummers. Sort of the Spinal Tap of punk rock, except our drummers didn't blow up.


Strange year for ABF this one was. For some reason which I can't remember, I ended up switching back to guitar. We played quite a few shows in the first half of the year but we had so many different drummers and bass players this year that I don't remember them all.
I am still quite shocked that the band stayed together at all this year. In fact, in September of that year, I left college and joined the military, thus ending the band for the rest of the year.


When I returned from boot camp and technical school, I oddly enough ended up getting stationed in the same place I had just left the military for. Very strange. It worked out though for a while.
ABF never really got off the ground after I returned though and I ended up joining a band called The Crackbabies, but only as a singer.
Another friend of mine (Jay) and I had been talking about music late one night while drinking. He mentioned that he was trying to get some sort of band off the ground with him playing drums and his 2 friends, Mike the bass player and Bob the guitar player. So he suggested I come sing for them. So I did.
Some really cool shows were played with this band and there were some very interested tapes released of this band including one of a live show at a club called Alcatraz. I had a lot of fun with it and was actually a bit sad when we stopped playing, mostly because Bob had decided to focus more on his schoolwork as he decided to go back full-time.

So with The Crackbabies gone, I invited Jay to come play for a newly resurrected lineup of ABF. Another friend of mine (Charles) came in and began playing bass for us (Charles actually ended up becoming another "core" member of the group, besides Von and I, as he stayed with the band until its eventual demise). So with this lineup we did a few shows and a live tape was released.


The Von/Me/Charles/Jay continued at the beginning of this year and remained that way almost the entire year.
Toward the end of the year however I learned that I was being transferred to Alaska. So, we decided to record and release another album (which ended up becoming an ep instead) before I left. Unfortunately, Jay left us shortly before we began recording it. We brought in a temporary replacement (Dan) to finish the album for us.
Thus began another extended hiatus for ABF.


The first few months of being in Alaska were very trying. I did not really hang out with very many people because I was still trying to get my bearings.
Early 1996 I became acquainted with a guitar player (Cameron) who was into all the same types of music I was into. And he was also into beer. So we became fast friends.
He knew a guy that played drums (Chris) so we started jamming and started my first and only Alaska punk band.
Originally the band was called Astro Zombies (we were both big Misfits fans) but soon found out there was already a band with that name so we started thinking of other names and eventually came up with Ice Station Zebra.
The lineup for this band was me played bass and singing, Cameron playing guitar, and Chris playing drums.
Eventually, another friend of ours (Dave) came in and started playing bass leaving me to being just a singer again.
The drummer Chris actually did not stick around for very long after Dave showed up. Actually, I think he might have been transferred somewhere else but I can't remember. After he left, we ended up using a drum machine for recordings and I don't remember what we did for live shows. I do remember we did quite a few though
During the course of this band's lifetime, we had 2 bass players (besides myself). There was Dave and another Chris who had recently moved to the Alaskan frontier.
This band's life came to an end because I left Alaska and left the military itself.


After returning home from Alaska, Von, Charles and I started another lineup of ABF with a friend of Charles (Jason) on drums.
After practicing for a while with this lineup, Von started missing practices and eventually ended up leaving the band altogether. I took over singing duties after he left. For the first show we did after his departure, we actually got an old friend (Jay) to fill in on guitar for me because I had still not gotten used to playing the guitar parts and singing at the same time. That one show did turn out to be a really good show and we almost thought about keeping Jay permanently. I am not really sure why we did not go with that plan.


At the beginning of 1999 (and ultimately until the demise of this band) remained as me, Charles and Jason.

This year, we went into an actual studio and recorded some really promising material. However, due to reasons that I would rather not get into here, the masters for those recordings were destroyed thus those songs never saw the light of day.

In 2000, in addition to playing with ABF, I started playing bass for a bar band that played some country, some old rock n roll (Beatles, Stones, Motown, etc..). It was a lot of fun and I don't remember why I quit playing for the band. We did a ton of shows that year and even made some decent money doing it.

Also in 2000, I moved into a house with Von (we were still friends even though he was no longer in the band) with a bunch of other people and we had started discussing ideas to start another band. Nothing really got off the ground though. I don't think the other guys were all that serious about it.

Mostly we just practiced and kept writing and only ended up doing maybe 2 or 3 more shows during this whole time period.

The end of this band came when my interest with the band (and sadly my interest in playing) became dulled and I also had decided to leave Oklahoma and move to Seattle. So, after 11 years, ABF was finally a band no more.


These years were very not interested year for me musically.

In 2002 I really did not have much interest at all in playing for a band at all. In the summer of 2003, however, I ended up trying out to be the bass player for a local Christian band called Gears of Redemption. That, however, did not work out. They needed someone that was a way better musician than I was. In retrospect I am glad I did not join that band because I probably would not have been happy playing that type of music anyway. Oddly enough, that band broke up a few months later.

The rest of 2003 I just played by myself, writing stuff.


I did not begin this year playing in a band either. My wife was pregnant and I just really could not find the time to bother looking for anyone to play with.

However, in June of that year, I saw an ad on Craigslist for a band that needed a singer. They were into the same bands I was so I went ahead and tried out and got the spot.

The band became Otisburg. The original lineup was me on vocals; Brant on guitar and vocals; Scott on guitar; Matt on bass and another Matt on drums. The bass Matt at some point disappeared and I took over on bass as well as sharing lead vocals with Brant.

We played a show in early December of that year and began recording our first demo. At that point, we skipped playing any more shows in favor of going into a pro studio to work on a better demo.


After finishing up the demo in the studio, I actually left the band due to personal reasons. I was replaced by another singer/bassist (Robert). This lineup actually played one show as Otisburg and then Otisburg basically came to an end when they fired Matt the drummer and re-formed with a different musical direction and a new name, Fall City Shakedown.


I started writing and playing a bit more this year and Scott and I ended up re-forming Otisburg with a slightly different lineup. Me, singing and playing guitar, him (Scott) playing bass, and Brant playing drums.

We did not play any shows but did some recordings that formed the basis for an ep that would end up being released the next year.

This lineup ended mid-2006 because the family and I moved back to Oklahoma.

The rest of 2006 I did not really play much although I had began to harbor thoughts about re-forming Otisburg with an Oklahoma lineup.


This year, I started getting some people together for a new lineup of Otisburg. During this year, I went through 3 drummers (Jonathan, Mason & Jim) and 2 bass players (Curtis & Barry). Actually, the first Otisburg lineup in Oklahoma was Jonathan on drums, a guy named Henry playing guitar and me only singing. However, Henry only lasted one practice and I went back to singing and playing guitar again. But to be honest, nothing with any of these lineups really came to anything. Just practicing. It never really felt the same.

Also during this year, I played a solo acoustic set at a Starbucks by invitation of a friend of mine. It was kind of weird, I had never played in front of such a small crowd or by myself. It went okay in the grand scheme of things but probably is not something I would want to repeat. I ended up playing 4 Otisburg songs. They turned out okay on the acoustic.

Toward the end of this year, Scott and I finally agreed on the final mixdown for the recordings we had done as Otisburg in Seattle the previous year and we released our first ep "Born Yesterday."


At the beginning of this year, nothing was really going on with Otisburg and things were getting kind of crazy in my family's personal lives. I did, however, find a little bit of time, to try out as the bass player for a country bar band. I did not end up joining that band though because there was too much going on in my life to play as much as they wanted to.

The major event in 2008 was that the family and I moved back home to Seattle. Shortly after coming back to Seattle, Scott and I began fiddling with the idea of resurrecting Otisburg.

We began to do some practicing and writing song and it was great to be playing for Otisburg in the city it belongs in.

Presently, we are not planning on doing any shows and are hard at work writing material for what we are hoping will become our first full-length release.

And that my friends is a musical history of me.

1 comment:

  1. Steve, this is so awesome I decided to do the same at!!