A STONED CONVERSATION (recorded 2001)
This is just what the title promises: a substance-enhanced tête-à-tête with Tyson 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 live 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. That was a mistake. When the day of the show came, we learned he hadn’t 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 have a show booked. He thought because his mom worked there we could just show up and play, and no one would have a problem with it.
I watched a guy who looked like Artie from The Sopranos argue with Gord’s mom 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 smooth jazz during the verses. 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 twelve 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 guys at the bar and sealed our fate. I don’t think so. He was the one who 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 the fuck do you think is going to happen?
There was one person 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 maybe 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. It wasn’t 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, or open to giving it a chance.
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.
Back 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 everything else 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 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 fruitless searching, my dad appeared at the top of the stairs and told us he felt we’d had enough to drink, so he’d hidden it. 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 a friend’s house, walked back to my place, and presented me with the gift of weed, 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. 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 with Gord? Would we have ever become friends if that ball hadn’t been punctured by a tree branch and we hadn’t come back to the park right 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. We found the Wiser’s without looking for it — 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. A lot of things seem profound when you’re high. 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.
A COLLECTION OF LOVE SONGS (2002)
A useless compilation (not to be confused with TWISTED & FRESH) put together to get an idea of what the setlist for what turned out to be our last live gig 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 at collecting 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 most 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)
It’s Guys with Dicks! Live! On video! All nine minutes of it! The live version of “Something About Lies” makes it worthwhile.