It arrived soon enough when the bass player complained of financial problems. I had the perfect solution: We should smarten up a bit, change our name and play weddings for cash, then revert back to type and play our normal material at our normal shows. His reaction was akin to suggesting that he started producing snuff movies at the local primary school to aid his cashflow woes. The merest hint that we should exchange our music for enough cash, even just to cover even our travel expenses was anathema to his and the groups leftist mindset. They did not understand the irrefutable law of nature – that in order to achieve anything, from getting up to change the TV channel to running a business empire, involves exchange. Exchanging hardship for results. They wanted the results without the work.
What I didn’t reveal was that I was suffering from fiscal difficulties myself, and had reluctantly started to deal cannabis on a sale or return arrangement, which was the equivalent of working an equivalent 126 hrs a week in the local newsagents – a job that I had to maintain as a “front” to avoid suspicion from the parents (The spectacle of being kicked out of semi straight-edge band for drug dealing would be too glorious an irony to muster)
Other incidents followed, but the final straw came whilst watching a very popular band play a show. About halfway through in between songs, the singer, egged on in part by the swarming mass of disciples before him, commenced bemoaning racism and how he was ashamed to be white and that we should atone for past crimes by basically killing ourselves. He took on a distinctly maniacal fervour that would have made Kriss Akabusi blush, and was making intense eye contact with each member of the crowd as he spoke when eventually his eyes locked with mine. A made a split second calculation that whatever the result of our exchange, I wasn’t going to be associated with this bullshit scene anymore nor continue to be lectured at by this sanctimonious cockmuncher. I went all in…
“Why are you ashamed?” I asked (The singer looked taken aback at having his sermon interrupted, but soon regained his stride)
“Because we are all criminals!” The singer roared (applause)
“Because we have committed misdeeds in the past? So has every race!” I responded (gasps and murmuring from crowd)
“What?! No they haven’t!” (louder applause combined with vocal noises of agreement)
“Are you sure? How many slaves landed in the US?” (the crowd started cursing at me even more and getting visibly agitated, leading me to feel like Edward Woodward toward the end of “The Wicker Man”)
“Fucking millions!” (More swearing and shoving now started up in earnest)
“What?! It was no more than 400,000 tops. How many white slaves were taken by Muslims? 1.5 million. Should Muslims carry that guilt as well?” I shouted
Our brief exchange was met with kind of opprobrium reserved for war criminals and Michael Owen, and in no uncertain terms was told to leave the venue – American Pete doing the honour of pushing me out of the door yelling that I’m out of the band. “Oh fuck off you fat mental yank cunt” I shouted as I skipped down the stairs.
Trudging home, and being a nostalgic creature by nature, I was consumed by reverie that before long degenerated into a mild depression. It hit me that in only 20 seconds, I had decimated the bridge between memory and the present. Never again would I able to make any memories with that group of people, the same people who bore witness to our PA rig catching fire mid set and filling the room with smoke (due to the bassists lunatic insistence on bypassing our amplifiers and plugging all of our instruments straight into the mixing board), and the time our singer attempted a Bruce Lee style roundhouse kick onstage only to slip and nearly snap his spine over a monitor, causing much merriment in the many retellings over a beer. On the other hand, is it healthy to suppress your true beliefs and character in order to enjoy making music you love but within a scene that resembled little more than a Manson-esque secular church complete with it’s own lay preachers and customs? By the time I had arrived at the bus stop I decided that it is beyond foolish to suppress yourself – it’s probably better to remain true to your own convictions and just let the dice fall where they may. And that was that. Conservative punk fucks off.
I last heard that American Pete was being hunted by Greater Manchester Police after upon learning that Procter & Gamble were banking with NatWest. He took this as a call to arms and proceeded to go on a rampage with a claw hammer – smashing every NatWest ATM within a mile radius to bits. Sadly, due to being a genuine simpleton he forgot to conceal his identity. He was never seen again in the UK.
Shame. I still owe him a tenner!
© Shibusa 2017