Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Musical History, Episode 1: Origin Story

I started playing the guitar when I was fifteen. I had a black and white Aria Pro II "The Cat" guitar (which I still have today) and a small Peavey combo amp. I was a complete metalhead - my favorite bands were Iron Maiden, Metallica, Anthrax, Exodus, Megadeth and Slayer.

Even though I had some experience playing stringed instruments (the ukulele), for some reason, when I started on guitar, I didn't initially grasp the idea commonly known as "chords." To me, everything was played with single notes. The first thing I taught myself to play was the intro riff to "Piranha" by Exodus, followed closely by the intro and main riffs to Metallica's "Master of Puppets." (I eventually learned that, yes, metal bands did, indeed, use chords in their songs.)

Not long afterwards, I even had my first band. Because it was just me on guitar and a friend on vocals (term used loosely), we didn't consider ourselves a proper band at the time (I learned later in life that there have been bands made up of less.) Anyway, we didn't have a name, but we did write and record two quasi-punk rock songs on a lousy cassette player. One of the songs was called "The Void," which was about watching TV, and the other one featured him cursing in Korean. I really wish I still had that tape.

After that, I was hooked. There was nothing I wanted more than to play guitar in a "real" rock (okay, metal) band. During my first days in college, I met up with another guitar player that I had known from high school, and we started to jam in our respective dorm rooms. He had a 60-watt Crate combo amp that I was insanely jealous of because it sounded so metal (I later bought it off of him and today it sits in my garage.)

We came up with some metal-sounding riffs and named ourselves "Maelstrom" (okay, I named us, he hated it). Of course, every metal band needs a drummer*, so we tracked down another high school classmate and rented out a room in a local rehearsal facility. I had heard that this place had - gasp - full Marshall stacks that you could use, so I was very excited.

Of course, they didn't have full Marshall stacks. I don't really remember now what they had, but I do remember being pretty disappointed. Anyway, we had a little jam session, and I could tell that the drummer - who was much more experienced - was getting a bit bored with us. It was kind of like that scene in Kick-A@@ 2 (title censored, this is a family-friendly blog) where Mindy is beating the stuffing out of Dave during his training. It was embarrassing, uncomfortable, awkward, and at the time, the best musical experience of my life.

Next: The Bathroom Stall Birth of the Legendary R.F.H.

* notice I said nothing about a bassist

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