Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Musical History, Episode 2: The Legendary R.F.H.

I don't really remember what happened to Maelstrom after that jam session. I guess it was like one of those first dates where you both decide that it's not gonna work out so you just sort of stop contacting each other. Not that I know what that's like. Or maybe. Whatever. Never mind.

Anyway, soon after that, I noticed this dude playing an Ibanez guitar on the balcony of our dorm. We had a conversation that - I swear - went like this:

Me: Hey, how's it goin
Me: Nice guitar
Me: Okay, later

Kind of like this, but red
So I went back to my room. He came walking in a few minutes later, playing some Van Halen lick. I was not a Van Halen fan at the time. I think it was a few more minutes before he actually said anything. His guitar was tuned to E-flat, while mine was tuned to E. Obviously, this wasn't going to work out.*

Fast forward a few weeks. Having tuned our guitars to each other, we were now cranking out some random metal/punk-ish riffs through our Crate amps late one night after watching Letterman. In a moment of sleep-deprived inspiration, we decided that "hey, I bet the acoustics in the bathroom would sound pretty awesome!" and relocated our jam session to the communal dorm lavatory. We took my boom box along and recorded a couple of thirty-second ditties that featured us playing Kerry King-inspired solos and screaming about physics class. Realizing that my voice probably wasn't going to last much longer, I shanghaied coerced asked another friend from down the hall to be our "singer." To my surprise, he agreed, and a legend was born.

A legend in our own minds, at least. We went on to write and record nearly forty minutes' worth of these short, S.O.D.-style songs, despite protests from dorm-mates who were foolishly trying to get some sleep at 4am on a weeknight (I don't know what they were thinking). These songs included such lovely gems as . . . as . . . well, let's just say that none of the titles were really appropriate for a PG blog such as this one. That goes for our band name as well, which I will simply refer to here as R.F.H.

Anyway, those forty minutes became our first "album," which we titled Have A Day. Using a pencil and typing paper, I made an album cover and liner notes, complete with lyrics, and today that tape sits - safely hidden from my kids - in my home office. R.F.H. went on to make a video/musical movie (kind of our Hard Day's Night) as well as two more albums. It's funny to me, because our creative arc was rather similar to "real" bands - the first album had a uniform sound and style, the second album saw us branching out stylistically (including the use of funk influences and cardboard box drums), and the third album was an attempt to return to our roots that ultimately ended up destroying the band.

To this day, R.F.H. holds a special place in my musical heart. Every so often, I'll go back and listen to some of our songs and think "wow, that was sheer genius" or "man, that was an awesome riff" or "I can't believe no one came into the bathroom to kick our butts." And yes guys, one day I really will - finally - make digital versions of everything, I promise.

Next: Finally, A "Real" Band

* we ended up playing in bands together for the next 12 years

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