There is a certain element to some personalities that sometimes predisposes it to form an outlook that on occasion contravenes the expected. The forms by which these appear are infinitesimal in kind, but the mainstay of the concept could be surmised as ‘rebelling against rebelling’ – a veritable internal double bluff.
In my case this manifested itself by adopting a Conservative mindset at the tender age of 15, acquired simply by thinking through economics from first principles, as opposed to following my peers in groupthink and getting behind whatever sounded good. This lay in being completely honest in one’s convictions whilst simultaneously being completely at odds with what a normal, rebellious 15 year old should think, but also overtaking my parents on the right side of the political spectrum. True to form, this mode of analysis was in its death throes – conservative hegemony had all but run out of steam after 15 years, and the country, unbeknownst to itself at the time was only 2 years away from voting Labour into power for a 13 year innings.
Around the same time as Mr Blair installed his family and his colossal ego into Downing Street, Nu-Metal was entering rock consciousness. Contemporary rock clubs would swell to the rafters with kids in oversized jeans, basketball vests and wallet chains capable of anchoring a small frigate to the ocean floor. It was in attending these clubs that I was exposed to the harder stuff, music that appealed to the “boutique connoisseur” if you will – hardcore punk bands like Strife, Earth Crisis, Shutdown, Morning Again, Minor Threat, Cro-Mags – bands of whose vocalists (to use the term at its very limits) would essentially scream the lyrics in an apparent attempt to render their vocal chords permanently impotent. Nu Metal was saccharine pop compared to this – I was hooked, even though there was an unsavoury whiff of hard leftism about the whole affair.
The clientele at rock clubs was at once both incestuous and segregated – incestuous in the sense that that at the macro level, everybody knew everybody – mainly due to rock being that niche form of music that imbibed a sense of kinship with people who interpreted the noise emanating from the speakers as something worthy of praise rather than worthy of torturing people with. (Bizarrely, of the songs that the CIA used to torture inmates at Guantanamo Bay only 2 were rock/metal, the rest was chart music. Make of that what you will).
At the micro level it was segregated much in the style of a US prison yard: crowds at rock clubs were often partitioned by sub genres. The hair metal clan, the skate kids, the death metal crew, nu-metallers…all had their own “patch” and rarely would one cross over into the other. But, before long I traversed from the Nu Metal citadel into the hardcore punk fortress…
I soon began attending punk shows. The intensity of the performances were incredible. It was de rigueur for the singer, and where possible, the band, to play in the middle of the crowd – ostensibly to display a show of egalitarianism in order to quell the band/crowd divide. Sometimes a show would finish with a random spectator performing the vocals, the drummer playing guitar, and the guitarist rolling around on the floor fighting with the vocalist. It was chaos, but an absolute hoot. Sadly what was ever present was the far left political posturing that began to infest the repertoire of most of the bands including, in the end, our own. It was also around this time that the stark hypocrisy of leftists was made apparent – when playing a show of 12 bands it was made clear that it was imperative to “inclusivity” and “solidarity” that everyone would watch each other’s bands. Regrettably, discrimination is an undiscriminating mistress – some bands in the scene were more popular than others, which even lead a singer to stop mid song and complain in a very effete manner about the “lack of solidarity” evidenced by the fact only 5 people were stood in the audience. You couldn’t force people to like your music, a notion seemingly lost on leftists.
Not long after, I formed a band with a friend and started practicing. Anyone who has played in bands will know that due to the noise, cost and storage constraints, drumkits and their drummers began to garner a Spinal Tap-esque quality about them, and it would often be the case that you couldn’t simply recruit a drummer outright, you’d have to recruit a drummer who was is in multiple bands (sometimes spanning multiple genres if they were really good) and hope he’d have time in his already burgeoning schedule to turn up for practice. One time we played a show with six bands, and our drummer was in no less than four of them. Let’s call our drummer American Pete. I will zone in on him because he was instrumental to me being unceremoniously ejected from my own band and who also happened to be one of the most colossal bell ends you’d ever likely to meet….
American Pete. A bolshy, straight edge, vegan activist who spent his life bouncing between his native Massachusetts and Leeds, at a guess out of pure necessity due to possessing a pathological disposition to run afoul of the law wherever he was, and swiftly taking flight in order for events to calm down pending his return. It turned out that he was a key organiser in arranging trips to Huntingdon Life Sciences in Cambridgeshire – not to lend a hand toward contributing to the advances of medicine but instead to vandalise the cars of the scientists who worked there. I was introduced to him after he disembarked his coach in Manchester where he proceeded to instantly speak at length of his incredible hatred of people. I began to suspect that American Pete maybe wasn’t quite playing with a full deck, but I found out much later that American Pete’s father walked out on his family, leaving Pete to run the family house whilst his mother descended into alcoholism. The result of this sad cocktail of misfortune was an olympic level misanthrope who seemingly would only be at peace if humanity was wiped off the face of the earth along with the added bonus of a prohibition of alcohol. That said, we weren’t in the position to let severe personality disorders obstruct the acquisition of a very capable drummer. Plus, he was only in 3 bands.
© Shibusa 2017