Other things

A STONED CONVERSATION (recorded 2001)

this is just what the title says it is: a substance-enhanced tête-à-tête between tyson and i that took place a week or two after we’d finished work on GOOD LUCK IN THE NEXT LIFE .

gord organized our first (and, as it turned out, second-last) post-high school show, at the windsor sportsman’s club. i left the details to him because he made it sound like he knew what he was doing, but when the day of the show arrived we learned he hadn’t really done any organizing at all. he hadn’t even bothered to ask anyone if it was okay for us to play. technically, we didn’t even have a show booked.

i watched a guy who looked like artie from the sopranos argue with gord’s mother while we set up. before the show, gord told me we’d be able to use the stage and the house band’s equipment, and we would be good to play for two hours. now we had to set up on the floor in front of the stage, and we weren’t allowed to use any of that gear. good thing i brought most of the equipment i had at the time, just in case.

we got through three songs, opening with our re-working of the theme song for king of the hill, which we’d warped into something like elevator smooth jazz. then my dad came over to tell me something.

“you guys sound great,” he said. “and you have to stop. some people at the bar are complaining.”

i started laughing in disbelief. gord and tyson looked like they’d just been kicked in the nuts. so much for two hours. after ten minutes we were done.

gord seemed to think a vocal shriek i let out in the middle of “voyeur” pissed off some of the old alkies at the bar. i’m not so sure. i think it was the lack of organization that killed us. if no one knows a band is supposed to play because no show has been booked or advertised, and then they’re confronted with three weird teenage guys playing a song that starts out with the words, “i want you to die / i want you to die so painfully,” well…what do you think is gonna happen?

there was one guy in the audience who was around our age. i saw him tapping his foot. at least he liked our music. he lived in michigan and talked about having us play at his birthday party. that could have been fun — playing for people our own age who might have liked what we were doing. but it wasn’t meant to be. the few shows we played out of high school were doomed, and we never got the chance to play for an audience that was really expecting us or prepared for what we were going to do.

gord decided to defect and stick around the place that had rejected us for the night, since his family was there. tyson headed back to my house with me, singing along to “absolutely perfect” in the car. he suggested we pick up some booze because “that’s what frustrated artists do”. my dad stopped at the liquor store and bought us a mickey of wiser’s and my old friend crown royal. now that’s commitment.

at the house tyson poured us each a shot in the kitchen before mixing crown and ginger ale. while he reassembled my drum kit in the music room and i put the other stuff back together we talked music, and i played him a few songs i’d written that would later end up on solo albums. we went on to record a few of the demented joke songs that ended up on the mr. sinister CD.

by the time we were finished having our musical laughing fit the crown royal was gone. tyson went into the kitchen to grab the wiser’s and get round two started, but he couldn’t find it anywhere. after a few minutes of us searching in vain, my dad appeared at the top of the stairs and told us he felt we’d had enough to drink. traitor!

“we’re not even close to being drunk,” i said, confused. at best we had a halfway decent buzz going.

“that’s good,” he said. and that was the end of the discussion.

so we were cut off, just when we were starting to have a good time after the shit show that was our first real gig as a band almost ruined the day. tyson saw a way out, though. he walked to the house of a friend, walked back to my house, and presented me with a gift of mary joanna, saving the day. we celebrated with a joint on the porch.

when we were back inside tyson suggested hitting the record button on the mixer and preserving our conversation for posterity, wherever it went. so we each grabbed a microphone and got comfortable, and i started recording. in a little over an hour we touched on fate, the band, our future, and a lot more. the band was probably given more attention than anything else, with tyson’s “we make no sense together and yet we make perfect sense together” observations getting a good workout.

“why am i here?” he began. “i’m at your house, in a band with you and gord, and we have all these songs. why? i don’t believe in god. i don’t know if there’s some higher power…”

and on it went. we didn’t come up with a lot of answers, but we had fun asking the questions. why did we meet that one day in the park when i was kicking a purple ball around in the park with gord? would we have ever become friends if it hadn’t been punctured by a tree branch and we hadn’t come back to the park exactly when we did? i told him a bit about the roots of papa ghostface, we discussed our disparate musical tastes and how we managed to sound nothing at all like any of the music we listened to when we played together, and just when it looked like a conclusion was about to be drawn, the conversation would head in a different direction.

when we were just about finished, tyson decided he wanted a snack. it was then that we found the wiser’s — hidden behind a box of crackers in a kitchen cupboard. we had a good laugh over that. we talked some more out on the porch before tyson took off.

“this has been…” he started, trying to find the right words. “i don’t know if i wanna say it’s been the best night of my life. but it’s been a good night.”

i went back inside and recorded a weird message about the people i loved in case i happened to die of amusement in my sleep or something. it seemed profound at the time. but then a lot of things seem profound when you’re under the influence. and no one ever heard that message.

the next day i found the wiser’s had magically relocated to the inside of the dishwasher.

someday i’ll mix this and dump it on a CD. it’s not something anyone else would ever want to listen to, but it’s kind of fun to let our voices take me back to a time when anything seemed possible and, as unhappy as i was, there was something exciting about being alive anyway. it was a feeling in the air, and the music we were making, and the feelings we were baking. everybody dance.

A COLLECTION OF LOVE SONGS (2002)

a useless compilation put together to get an idea of what our setlist for the clifton grant show would sound like. the original papa ghostface version of time again also got tossed in, making things even more confusing.

STONER BLUES (2002)

an attempt to collect some of the highlights from the pre-SUBLIMINAL BILE, lineup-shifting days. it’s probably better just to dig into the individual CDs, as hit-and-miss as some of them are, because one disc isn’t enough to take in all the best bits. at least my liner notes are kind of fun.

LIVE ON VHS (2002)

gwd vhs

it’s guys with dicks! live! on video! all nine minutes of it! something about lies makes it worthwhile. we had somethin’ going on, at least for a little while.

there are also the first issues of SUBLIMINAL BILE and GOOD LUCK, with slightly off-kilter panning. but you don’t want those. the remixed versions from late 2002 sound a lot better.

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