I got kicked out of my own band for being a dilettante.
I’ve been booted from things before so it wasn’t a new feeling. But I had never been kicked out of something that I started. I got booted out of Select Choir in High School for not showing up to performances citing “religious conflict”. I got kicked out of Spanish Club for not taking part in a fundraiser I dubbed “Operation Ass Hat”. I graduated with honors but I was banned from taking part in Honor Society and their graduation ceremony for spending too much time in trouble at school and with the law. But being kicked out of a punk band was a new one.
At the time I was working as a copywriter at one of the world’s worst magazines that sold gadgets, trinkets, and other items that were probably broken before they even arrived. It was my first job out of college. I hated it. I couldn’t wait to quit. The owner used to brag about how many planes she owned and how great she was at flying them. She and her husband died shortly after I quit in a plane crash.
But right before I left I hit it off with one of the graphic designers. He was young and had a couple of kids and lived out in the suburbs. “Carl” and I got talking about music one day and we realized we’d both been in bands before but weren’t currently in one. I had written a bunch of punk songs recently and showed him. He was more of a Phish fan, but could rip the guitar in great busts of solo prowess. We thought the combination would make a cool band.
We rounded out the group with a drummer, Barry, I’d known who could blaze around the kit and my friend Farles. Farles and I were friends from the restaurant job I took after I quit the magazine. He couldn’t play much bass at the time, but I didn’t care. This punk band was more of a gang than an actual band in my head anyway. Carl and Barry got along well and everyone liked Farles.
Band practice was on Sunday mornings at Carl’s house in the basement. We named the band Free the Python after Carl’s long scary python got loose in the house. They found him weeks later. I didn’t have a car at the time so Farles would pick me up in the morning at about 9 am. When he picked me up in the morning, we would just start drinking again to make sure we weren’t too hungover for band practice from the night before. We’d come stumbling out of the vehicle at Carl’s, smelling of cheap beer, cigarettes, and sleep.
Carl looked a little like Chuck Norris if he’d never done karate and spent all of his time smoking pot and listening to progressive rock. He was a nice guy, a true gentleman, and had a nice little studio in his basement for practice. His wife was kind and pretty and never gave any issue with us showing up drunk on a Sunday morning in front of her kids. We’d practice until just afternoon where it would inevitably devolve into a drunken malaise, Farles and I loudly doing Jerky Boys impressions into the mic and smoking cigarettes, falling over each other to get up the back steps and into the sunlight.
In short, we were having the time of our lives. Me and Farles, cooking in a restaurant, drinking excessively, playing in a rock band, writing songs, and having a blast. Carl and Barry, on the other hand, were having less fun and as it turns out we’re none too impressed with Farles and me living the punk rock band life. Those boys saw potential for a band with some good songs. We saw a way to act like assholes and blame punk rock.
We all went to a diner for a “meeting” that Carl and Barry wanted. It was just down the street from Farles’ apartment. We went in and ordered and they told us that we needed to start taking things more seriously. We somberly ate our eggs and stared at each other. They needed change. They needed our buy in to start a real band. A band that was actually good. A band that didn’t just mess around, but book shows, impress people, and work towards a record contract.
Farles and I started laughing. We paid the bill and left wishing them good luck. We went back to his apartment and sipped beer and decided to start a new band. Which we did. We vowed to never take anything seriously.
We called the band Pat Buchanan’s Hearse. We were in that band for 3 years, recorded 2 EP’s, played countless shows and heard ourselves on the radio. We only aimed to have fun. It was a great time in our lives and one that would never have happened if we took ourselves seriously.
This post is republished on Medium.
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