Music is my life; it always has been. The first musician I ever listened to was Weird Al Yankovic back when I was 9 or 10 years old. Then it was Green Day, Smash Mouth, the Beastie Boys. When I met someone for the first time, I’d always ask: “What kind of music do you listen to?” I’ve always been so restless and hyperactive my whole life, and music could keep me occupied for hours. I’d listen to it and all the problems of the world. my problems that had plagued me since I first could walk, vaporized—just like that. Gone. See you later. My first job was in a DJ studio; I worked in the warehouse where I sorted through inventory. It was a big company called Gibson Productions and they had lots of gear and I was so stoked about this job. I was only 14. In my free time I’d come in and set up the dual CD player with scratching capabilities—like an actual record player (they only had one dual CD player that could do that)—and a couple of monitors and just Go for it. I’d be there for hours mixing tracks, scr-scr-scratching songs, doing it up.
Finally I got the owner of the company to give me a shot in the field. He said okay, but warily, as I was only 14 years old. I had to do my first two gigs with an experienced DJ, and for free, and then he’d see how I did. The first gig was great: I made a 30 dollar tip, and I got a very complimentary phone call from the client when I returned to the warehouse the following Monday morning. The second gig—not so well. That would be the last time I DJed, but not the end of my career as a musician.
I was always very anxious and quiet and most of the time I preferred music as my only company. I liked to crank it when I was drinking because nothing beats it when your vision blurs and the world spins and the roaring guitar kicks in. I was addicted to it—more than anything. Every time I went out with my friends, the moment we’d start drinking I’d flip my headphones over my head, click PLAY on my discman. The music would flow so smoothly as my head swam in a sea of liquor.
Until my angry, blunt friend said to me one day: “You know, it’s kind of rude to hang out with us and then put on your headphones and act like we don’t exist!”
What a dick! Well, I suppose that’s why they make boom-boxes. So the surrounding world can hear the movement. I’d bring my boom-box everywhere. It was sort of my signature, my contribution to this pre-apocalyptic world where we sometimes exist.
Picture this:::: You wake up in the morning to the sound of a bass drum being kicked. Boom! And then again, it’s kicked. Boom, boom! Every few seconds you hear that bass drum, a rhythm that knocks you awake. Then there’s feedback as you make the coffee. The coffee maker rattles a bit. Buzzes. Rattles. You take the pot and pour it into your mug and the guitar cuts in like a buzzsaw with your first sip. The bass guitar gets plucked. There might be some sort of synthesizer being keyed as you sip your coffee, becoming more awake. But it’s not enough. So you have another cup and the vocals chime in with beautifully poetic lyrics that give your life purpose, and now, you can go about your day.
That’s why I had to start a band.
We lived faster and we played louder--that was our motto. Being onstage and releasing your emotions in a rapid-fire succession was almost comparable to taking an automatic assault rifle and gunning down a line of presidents and world leaders. With one long, raucous roar, each head would explode Domino-style, one after the next. Some venues were packed, and some were barren, but it didn’t matter. We’d play in front of a measly mirror, for all we cared. We played--for us! We played because it was fun. We played because it was a major release. We played because we … played;;;; and not to mention it was a fun way to release your emotions on an unsuspecting crowd.
It was the best part of life, the only thing I looked forward to. When I wasn’t onstage or playing with my band, I was sitting on the curb playing what I later referred to as my Stink-Box—a large red construction-worker boom-box that I carried with me everywhere I went; it was my baby. I only bought it—for 120 dollars—because all my previous, cheaper boom-boxes would break in some disastrous but humorous act of destruction. They would never last. So I saved up and invested. It stayed with me for five to six years.
I always had to have my music.