Thursday, February 27, 2003

Ancient history 2

Early shows and band members

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we found this guy Adrian (we called him Adrian the South African) to play drums. I don’t remember much about him. I guess he was good. I’d never played with a drummer before, so I wouldn’t have known if he was the next Buddy Rich, or a total fucking hack. I remember that his kit was black. We must have practiced together a bit.

By this time I had moved in with Kreinar on Sideburn. I didn’t have a credit history of any kind, so the douchebag landlord made me pay a double security deposit. (Do I still sound bitter?) Other roommates were Martha Charron, and some girl named Colleen. The first emmet swimming show was in the basement of the house on Sideburn. I can’t remember the house number, as you go down the hill it’s the house before the one with the big white wall on the right. I would suspect that we sucked. I think that my friend Carl Garland was there. Probably my wife to be, Jill and her roommate Phyllis. I don’t remember who else might have been there. But I’m fairly certain that we must have sucked.

The lineup would have been:

  • me on guitars and vocals. (I was playing my black Guild acoustic and Yamaha SA800 copy of a Gibson 335. I think I was playing through the Peavey Special that I bought off of Brad Wynn before I moved back to KY.
  • Jim McNabb: on Bass
  • Eric Kreinar: Keyboard
  • Adrian ???: drums
Ancient History 1

I went to high school in Virginia Beach (Frank W. Cox) (Go Falcons)

I came to GMU for 3 reasons:

1. They accepted me
2. I wanted to continue debating and GMU had a quality debate program
3. I didn’t want to go to a school that would feature a large population of kids that had gone to my high school. I was over them. Mason only had 2 other people from my high school. That made me happy.

During my sophomore or junior year, my family moved back to Kentucky, (from whence we’d come.) I was taking one of my many vacations from University and decided to move back with them. I stayed in Louisville for about a year. It was at that time that I bought my first 4 track (a Yamaha whose model escapes me.) I worked construction, waited tables and began to write songs. (Of note from those early 4 track session are “Bill”, “Morning Comes” (which then had the miserable title “Love after Watergate”) and early emmet song “Quiet Storm”. (the only song I ever got to play a solo on)

I was in contact with friend and musical mentor (the guy who planted the music bug in me) Brad Wynn. He was playing in a band and kept encouraging me to move back to Fairfax to start up a band. I believe his band was called Black Mariah (reference to the Clash song “Guns of Brixton”) The drummer in his band was Eric Kreinar who would later become emmet’s keyboard player, then drummer.

When I moved back to Funfax, I took a job in the kitchen at Picco’s, then later got a job waiting tables and tending bar at the Black-eyed Pea. I moved into one of the plexes back in the Villa off of West drive.

Kreinar was living in a house on Sideburn (ffx side.) We immediately hit it off. He introduced me to his high school friend Jim McNabb. McNabb and I first met at my duplex sometime in 1990, and the band was formed. Kreinar wasn’t even part of the band. He had gotten rid of his kit and didn’t want to play drums anymore. Jim and I worked on my songs and worked up some basslines that he had written into songs. We convinced Kreinar to join on keyboards (He had this ridiculous Casio keyboard that was somewhere between full size and those tiny Casio’s that we all had as kids.) We just wanted him in the band. We drank a lot, and generally had a really good time. It was my first band (and until Quitter UK formed last year, emmet remained the only band I’ve ever played in, except 5th grade band ), and I remember it just felt good to be part of something. We didn’t have a name, or a drummer, but we got together and wrote/ drank.
A very biased history of emmet swimming

Everyone has a story. Morrisey summed up this feeling in that more recent (within the last 10 years anyway) single about “singing your life”. For those fans who truly care about emmet’s past, present and future, I would like to contribute some of the remembrances and stories of what happened in our past and where we are heading in our future.

Committing some of these stories to page in Blog format allows me the freedom to just sort of throw it out there without much concern over the quality of the prose, proper punctuation etc… I will start today with some ancient band history, but I don’t really intend to go chronologically. I’d rather just relate things as they come to me. I’m definitely going to focus on the past early on.

The last thing that needs to be said is that the opinions and stories in these blogs are solely from my perspective. I think we all know what’s inherent in that. I want to be really honest in this space. But not honest to the point of hurting feelings or pissing people off too much. Historically I’m not much of a bridge burner. I learned a very valuable lesson in the first grade when my family had just moved to Pewee Valley. I started Crestwood Elementary a couple of months before the end of the school year. I met a kid named Jody Maddox and befriended him. He didn’t really seem to get on with most of the other first graders. He was kind of a tough kid from a poor family and most kids sort of ignored him. I don’t remember being really tight with him… just respectful and nice to him. One day at recess my ass was getting kicked by Mike Hamilton, and it wasn’t looking good for me. Out of nowhere Jody Maddox clocked Mike Hamilton and pulled him off of me. Jody proceeded to kick Mike’s ass (first grade style.) I remember even then thinking “let that be a lesson to you. It’s an okay thing to be nice to people.”

So I’m all for being honest --and I don’t think these entries will be remotely interesting if I’m not honest -- but I’m going to try hard not to “burn bridges” and upset anyone who may stumble across these entries that was involved in these stories or in my life. And if I do insult, I will obviously offer a fair trade in terms of allowing them to put out their side of any issue on these pages. I’m on good terms with most of the people who have been involved with, or in the band, and even those that I don’t have a functional relationship with, I generally respect enough to wish them nothing but the best.

Ancient History

Before I even start with the ancient history of emmet swimming, I want to try to figure out a sort of chronological listing of who has been in the band over the years.

1. Yours truly (vocals, guitar)
2. Jim McNabb (bass)
3. Eric Kreinar (keyboard)
4. Adrian ??? (drums, can’t even remember his last name. He was a South African native who was going to Mason. His only show was a house party in our basement on Sideburn Road(Fairfax side). Very fortunately for us, he left his kit at our house for a few months after the party, which allowed Kreinar to use his kit and switch over to drums from his little Casio keyboard. We even used his kit for our first paying gig at the Wave (later Planet Nova) without his knowledge. (We used the money from that show to buy Kreinar a kit from Kevin (Ace).
5. Eric Kreinar (drums)
6. Brad Wynn (lead guitar) My musical mentor and all around great guitarist played a few shows and practices with us. I particularly remember playing Finnicky’s (owned by Safi, the least shady member of the family that owned Planet Nova, Grog and Tankard and the Bank in Baltimore.) Brad was soon to be married and a temporary solution to the band problem -- that I was (and still remain) an underwhelming guitarist. Plays on occasion with El Quatro.
7. John Alexander (guitar) Amazing guitar player and total character. Hopefully I can dedicate some blogs to stories about him. (And John, should you stumble across this, contact me you fucker.)
8. Erik Wenberg (guitar) Erik was in a band (Love Nut) with Larry Bailey and Sherry Frishette (sp?) We had been performing as an acoustic duo “Harlots In White” at T.T.’s from time to time. When Kreinar and John Alexander both quit on Jim and I on the same day, I naturally turned to Erik. Erik was just getting back to playing the guitar. I just knew that he was a much better guitar player than me, and that we got on musically/ personally and that he didn’t play the guitar like most guitar players. He wrote guitar parts more with his head than with his hands. ( which to me is the highest compliment you can pay to a guitar player.)
9. Tamer Eid (drums) Horton Hears a Hooch (Infamous GMU party band featuring Luke Michel on bass) was just splitting up. Tamer was arguably the best known drummer in Fairfax/GMU. (What a scene Fairfax was in the day : ) We auditioned him in the shed behind T.T.’s. We acted like we were auditioning a bunch of drummers. We were secretly hoping that he would want the gig since we had no other immediate drum prospects. For some reason I remember taking a guitar idea of mine and turning it into Hey Jesse at that audition, but I know that John Alexander came up with the mandolin style guitar lick in the intro so we must have been playing around with it before Erik and Tamer joined. Maybe we just wrote the end bit that day with Tamer in the shed.
10. Devin (bass) Good friend of Roseanne Meale, who was a roommate of Kreinar and I on Sideburn Road. She is also the subject of emmet rarity song “Rosie” on the cd-rom part of Big Night Without You. He would later go on to play with Richmond band Carbon Leaf for a while.
11. Rob Shaw
12. Luke Michel
13. Mike Chocolate Thunder
14. Dude from FredVegas/ Charlottesville
15. Derrick Decker