Thursday, May 19, 2011

The History of Audubon Park, Part Nine

When Matt and I were in college, during finals the dorms extended the "quiet hours" all day with the exception of one half-hour block at 9 pm every night. Being bright young men, Matt and I referred to this as the "Loud Half Hour."

Matt and I really chaffed under this sonic ban during the first week of finals our Freshman year. Our souls yearned to strum loudly and listen to "Weld." One night, finding the burdens of monastic silence too much, we decided to put the Loud Half Hour to use.

I was the only person in our dorm who had a real stereo. Not a one piece unit with tiny speakers, but a full size component stereo with giant speakers. I also had a Peavey bass amp with a monstrous 18" speaker (years later, after V. Sirin broke up and I stopped playing bass, I gave the cabinet to Go! to use as a monitor. I have no idea where it is now). Matt brought down to my room his Peavey Audition Plus. We lined our amps up, leaned our guitars against them and, with my door locked, right at 9 pm, we turned our amps on as loud as they would go.

For sure, we were far from SUNN0)))) territory, but for a tiny dorm in rural Kentucky at 9 pm on a Wednesday night, it was bone-rattling enough. We also cued up on my stereo a Dinosaur Jr song that begins with a squeal of feedback. Matt continually hit the back button, playing the squeal over and over and over.

We did this, uninterrupted and without variation for exactly 30 minutes, and then stopped. Angry neighbors were beating on the door and screaming at us. The RA thought it was a fire alarm and tried to evacuate the building.

As the song says, Matt had a Washburn with a locking Floyd Rose. I think I probably bullied him into trading it in for the Jaguar he plays to this day. I remember really wanting a Jaguar myself, so there was probably something selfish in my encouraging him to buy a guitar that he couldn't really afford. Also, once I dropped it and broke the switches and didn't pay to have it fixed.

Really, I was the least honorable person. I apologize for that.

The first drummer in our band was my friend Rob (who would later introduce us to Robert). Rob decided, without consulting us, to become our drummer and bought a drum kit from the one guitar store in Danville. When he bought it, he asked the salesperson, "I think I need a top hat too."

"You mean hi-hat."

"One of those also."

The kit was made by TKO and he played in a way that I've never seen someone play the drums. Rather than having a hand dedicated to the hi-hat and ride and one for the snare, Rob used whatever hand was closest to the drum he intended to hit at any give time. It was like watching someone play whack-a-mole.

The first time that Matt and I ever played live together was our freshman year at a talent show in our school's coffeeshop. We played "Brother" by Alice in Chains and "Jane Says" by Jane's Addiction. For many reasons, I don't think any one is proud of that performance. Matt had never preformed live before, but I'd done it twice, so I was the pro of the group. When we started, Matt was singing about three feet from the microphone. I leaned over to tell him to sing closer and he stopped playing, turned to me and said, "What?"

"Don't stop playing. Sing closer to the mic," I said sternly. Because I was a pro.

We got through our set and Matt's father said we were great (it was Parents' Weekend and his whole family was there). "You all are my favorite local band." The subtext was that he didn't think we were better than Cream.

When we recorded "The Loud Half Hour," Ben doubled the drum track. Listening back, I thought, 'No, we aren't better than Cream, but we are better than the Velvet Underground and that is something.' Finn walked into the control room with two chili dogs, looked at the monitors and said, "Wow, that sounds great."

"Hey," Matt said, "Where did you get those chili dogs?"

"A man has to have his secrets," Finn said, sat down, and began to eat.


Anonymous said...

curious as to how you are going to be able to get through the entire catalog by next week's show.

DC Nahm said...

We have a show next week?

Anonymous said...

we don't have a show.

but we're all going to that And the E Stree Band show at the 506.