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Have you ever wanted to see what the view is like from behind the drum set?? Wanna hear what it’s like to be a working drummer, traveling around the country playing music, making friends and seeing the sites?? How about a crazy road story or two??


That is what this blog is for. Since I am not a famous drummer like the ones we read about in Modern Drummer, this blog will feature stories from the road from bands that move their own gear, drive their own van, and record their records themselves. Some of the stories will be about great or terrible gig, or a particular student I gave a lessons to, or just what is going on in the life of a working drummer.

Drum roll please….


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9/14/2011


New 45 Grave record in the works!


Back in June, I recorded drum tracks for 5 new 45 Grave songs!! Actually, two of them, The Sorceress and Akira Raideen are songs the original band wrote and played live, but never did proper recordings of. We also did a new version of Night of the Demons (a much more rock and roll version that the one from the movie soundtrack) and brand new songs. One of them (“Pick Your Poison”)was brought to the session by Frank Agnew. He and I blew through it in one take,, and he and our engineer Mark Bolton pieced it together later. So what you will hear is exactly what I played the first time I ever played the song!!


Frank and Mark have been working their tails off editing, adding parts and mixing. By the end of this month, we will record 4 brand new songs….two of Dinah’s from her trusty poetry book, and two new Frank Agnew songs that I am yet to hear yet!!


Look for this new music to be available by years end.

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Back in the old days of Myspace.com, I wrote several 'Tales from the Road" blogs. Before I start new ones, we will post some of those older stories for those of you who missed them.


Stories from the Road : 45 Grave West Coast Tour

5 Days, 3 Shows, 2 Funerals, and 700 Miles with 45 Grave

That Was Then

When I was in High School, my friend Craig's house was the
'hang out house', where my teenage friends and I would spend our summer nights,
drinking stolen liquor and listening to AD/DC on vinyl! That's OLD
SCHOOL!!!  I remember a car that was
parked near his house that had bumper sticker that look just like this:







To my 15 year old, drunk on Mickey's Big Mouth brain, this
was pretty intimidating. I was only a few years out of Catechism and still
though Motley Crew was a group of Satanist, so this image was a little scary.
So we always avoided that house on our late evening "neighborhood redecorating"
Suarez's (i.e. toilet papering, stealing of X-mas lights, and the old "text via
detergent on the front lawn' trick). That sticker was like goats blood on the
door – "I Shall Pass!!"

 

Flash Forward 25 Years

In 2006, I was at a Christmas Party at Jeff Deihm's place,
and my good friend Styven Gray was telling me that he was going to be playing
with 45 Grave. I had heard that they were playing shows again, and I wasn't
surprised to hear that Styven had gotten the gig, because he plays with
EVERYONE in the Los Angeles Goth scene. If he ever wrote a book – or a blog! – about his experiences with Christian Death, Faith and the Muse or Frankenstein, I'm sure lives, reputations, and livers would be irretrievably damaged!!

Styven and I have gotten into the habit of subbing for each
other on our gigs when one of is unavailable. Between the two of us we have
done shows with or recorded with The Last Dance, Mercurine, Frankenstein and
now 45 Grave.

 
So, I was not entirely surprised a few months ago when Styven called
me (while I was at an Angel game with Mark and Tony – formerly of The
Prophetess) and asked me if I could cover some shows for him with 45 Grave? Uh, YEAH!!! Styven had taken to working 3 jobs along with playing in 4 bands, and was finding it hard to do all of the dates. What a problem to have! 

The first shows were in a month – so I got a hold of all of the cd's and started listening, listening and listening. 

I had really never listened to 45 Grave. My only exposure to
them was the clips from "New Wave Theater", a public access TV show in the early 1980's that my older brothers band ("Nightwing" – a great late 70's Boston/Styx type band that worked the Hollywood clubs about 5 years too late) had been on. I remember 45 Grave's performance of "Wax".




In learning the songs, I found out a few things about 45 Grave. 

The songs were full of clever musical tricks, weird time changes, and comical lyrics. 

The original band were all great players, with
a tinge of jazz thrown into the mix of Ramones style punk, Dick Dale-esq surf
rock, and 80's Heavy Metal. Their live album even had a version of Dave
Brubeck's "Take Five", possibly the worlds most famous jazz tune.
 http://www.last.fm/music/Dave+Brubeck/_/Take+Five

 
Also, in cruising the internet for videos of the songs, I found that The Red Hot Chili Peppers had covered 45 Graves' "Black Cross"! 



But the element that sticks out the most is this: Dinah Cancer has a GREAT ROCK VOICE. She can scream along with the best of them, spit out rapid fire lyrics like a true punker (which she is!) and even cajole a lyric for more melody in some of the more pop/rock styled tunes, like "Phantoms". She's just a great rock singer.

 

The Cast 
 
After two local shows, the current 45 Grave line-up hit the road for a 3 show trip to the Bay Area – San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. This group of
people is really like an all star band of musicians from the South Bay
Punk/Goth scene. Here is the run down with links to the individual myspace
pages.

 Voice: Dianah Cancer. 
http://www.myspace.com/dinahcancer  

The leader, the voice, the Legend! She was
there at the beginning of the LA Punk scene and helped to make it happen. She's
thoughtful, well read, and has a life outside of music that would surprise most
uber punks. She's full of great stories and is a good conversationalist –
especially over coffee! This pic should prove her "Punk Icon" status: 



 


L. Ron Jeremy : 

http://www.myspace.com/thinmanentertainment 
Jeremy has played in Faith and the Muse, Element, Frankenstein, Kommunity FK, and many more. If you've ever been to a Goth Club in LA, you've probably been to one of his, and if you have ever bought a Goth Rock compilation cd, you probably own one that
he put out.
  

Lisafer: 

http://www.myspace.com/lisafer  

 The bass player of the stars!

She plays bass with 45 GRAVE, drums with THE FAG HAGS and bass with THEE SPONTANES. Past bands she has been in are LISAFER,Castration Squad, Snap-Her, U.X.A., Nina Hagen, the Resistance, D.I., Jason & the Hypes and many more...

THE GIRL PLAYED WITH NINA HAGEN FOR CHRIST SAKES!!! HOW COOL
IS THAT!!!!!!!!
 

Kenton : 

http://www.myspace.com/kenton  

Kenton plays guitar for XIPPER and 45 GRAVE. He's also  worked with ROZZ WILLIAMS, GITANE DEMONE, AKUBI OBJECT, FAITH & THE MUSE, THE THREEFOLD MISERY, THE LAUGHING DEAD, and SCARLET.

Plus, he's by far the handsomest member of 45 Grave!!
 

For this trip, we were driven around by the one and only Ames Evil, Roadie to the Punk Gods! (Most famously the band X)

  http://www.myspace.com/amesflamesevil  

 

So, my question for you is . . . WTF am I doing here? 

 

Planes, Vans and Naked Hippies in Berkley

Let me start by saying that I didn't think
I was going to be able to do this trip a first. I was supposed to be in the High Sierra Mountains, camping and fishing with my wife and my mother and step-father. But My
stepfather, Dick Wagoner, had come down with a nasty chest infection that
turned into pneumonia, so we canceled the trip which left me open for this 45
Grave min-tour.

 
So, on Wed the 9th of July, we all piled into Ames's van and drove North, through the desert that is Central California. I didn't notice at first, but about 2 hrs into ride, I realized
that the van did not have AC. As we moved through the triple digit heat, the
van started to feel like exactly what it was: a metal box being used to cook 6
pieces of meat in the open sun! Even the air blowing through the open window
felt like a hair dryer.

Somehow, we survived and arrived in San Francisco at the DNA lounge.

This place is sort of like SF's answer the Key Club in Hollywood. All high tech, with computers all over with free internet, a big stage on one side of the room with a balcony above it. Se it here: www.dnalounge.com

At show time, everybody was ready to go –
except for the bass cabinet, which was just into going "WWWHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOO".
That's what was coming out of my monitor. It's was probably trying to tell us
something.

During the first song, everything that could go wrong, did. Jeremy broke a string, Kenton's amp died. He plugged into another "back up" amp which gave no sign of life either. So he just walked off the stage, literally throwing a white towel across the stage in an attempt to
get Ames's attention, who was busy re-stringing Jeremy's guitar. 

While all of this was happening, I was being attacked by the boom stand the prior bands drummer had been singing into. It keep swinging at my head from the left side of the drum set ( a beat up CB 700 kit worth about $150 – how PUNK!). I finally managed to move it after the song, but not after being head butted by a flying mic, and break a stick mid-dong, a
rare occurrence for me.




Oh, and there is more. At some point, still in the first song, Dinah must have bumped her mouth with her mic, which caused the
cap on her front tooth to fall out and land on the stage! From my vantage
point, I saw her and Jeremy looking down at the stage floor, and Ames trying to hand Jeremy a pick. So I just figured they were looking for a guitar pick, not a
tooth!! I didn't even know about her tooth until after the show. But being the
trooper that she is, Dinah just kept on singing, and judging from the recording
I heard later, she was not affected. Those fans in the front row must have been
thinking "God, this woman is HARDCORE!"


 

The audio from the show is still on the DNA Lounge's website in the WEBCAST Archive. 

http://cerebrum.dnalounge.com/archive/

It's the monitor mix, so it's pretty funky.
There are whole sections of just bass and voice, or the drums without the snare
drum.

Bella Morte played the same club the next night. I left them a nice "love letter" on the drum monitor. Something to do with pigs and Virginia! (On the flier for their show, they were listed as "Bella More" HAHA!!)


After that, we all got a much needed day off. We stayed in Berkley
at the home of Dinah's long time fan/friend Nick, who graciously let us take
over his house for 3 days.
http://i38.tinypic.com/156ww84.jpg

 It's NICK!!

We spent most of that day in Chinatown in SF, shopping for knives mostly! I ended up getting this cool box that makes the sound of crickets when opened, with the idea of using to annoy my neighbors (long story!). As it turned out, my wife Shanon liked it so much she claimed it, so I'll have to take my neighborly revenge some other way.

Later that day, I volunteered to walk down the road to retrieve coffee. There was a small park next to Nick's house, where I noticed a tall, thin man kneeling on a mat. I surmised that he was about to start his morning prayers, so I didn't look too long.
On the walk back past the park, I was greeted with this sight: Our spiritualized friend could be seen walking in circles around the park in a ski jacket, construction helmet, cowboy boots and NO PANTS!!! He was just hangin' out, you might say. I coundn't tell if he was pointing towards Mecca or not as I was trying to avoid looking that way after the first glance.

We spent that night at a party thrown for us by one of Nick's friends, who lives in what amounts to a museum of horror and sci fi toys and figures. We were all so spent though that I doubt we were much fun. Met some cool people there though.


 
The next show was in Oakland. This is where things got hectic for me.

My step-father Dick, who had the pneumonia earlier in the
month, had actually died on the 4rth of July. He was 77 years old. Turns out that the pneumonia was being caused by tumors in his lungs. Fucking Lung Cancer. He was in the hospital for 10 days, just riding it out until he couldn't go any longer, and so he left us at about 5 a.m  on July 4, 2008. My mom was there with him, alone, saying goodbye to a husband for the 2nd time. 




If your reading this and are a smoker, PLEASE STOP SMOKING NOW!!

It's not a way you want to go out, believe me.

Dick's Funeral was set to take place on July 9, at 11 a.m. in Whittier Ca, near East Los Angeles. I was playing a show at midnight in Oakland Ca, some 350 mile away. 8 hrs. by car. But I had to get home.

So, after the show (which was rockin' good!), I hitched a ride with Jeremy's father (ironic?) who had drive up to the show, to Oakland airport. I got there around 3 a.m for a 7 a.m flight. So I just hung around the terminal, waiting around. It's surprising how busy airports are at 4 a.m. of a Saturday! 

I landed in Long Beach at 8 a.m. I managed a one hour nap,
then went to the service. 

Luckily, it was a "celebration" type service rather than a
"cry fest" type service. In my Italian family, I'm used to lot's of wailing and
drama. Not here though. Dick had a great time during his final 15 years of life
– traveling, volunteering. Not a bad retirement. This was more of a send off
for a man we all want more time with, but also just feel glad that we knew him.

 After that, everyone rolled over to my mother's house for a
party. It was nice. Nice and hot! (The temp hovered around 100 degrees all
day). By this point, I had been up for just about 24 hours. Since I wasn't
drinking the night before, I was feeling fine. The emotion and adrenaline were
keeping me going at this point.

 

My flight back to San Jose left at 7:30. I landed in San
Jose, where the next gig was, and was picked up by my
aunt who lives there. I think I slept for 30 or so on the plane. She took me to
her place and fed me spaghetti (CARBS = AWAKE!!), and then drove me into town
right to the club. I walked in at about 10:30,
downed two coffees and a Red Bull, and was on stage at midnight!!



 The Red Bull is on the monitor to my left . . . the coffee is in my bloodstream!

Strangely enough, I think that I played the best at that
show of the three.  The whole band was in
the zone that night. Maybe I should sleep less. By the time we finished, I had
been up for roughly 36 hours.
 

On Sunday we drove back through the desert to LA. It wasn't
quite so hot by then, so the ride was more bearable. Maybe I was to out of it
to notice the heat. I now felt bonded to the people in the van. They were all
family now. Part of that big group of people around Long Beach/LA and OC that
live to play music whom I get to mingle with once in a while.
 
The next day, went to yet another funeral, this time on my
wife's side. Another elderly man, another smoker gone to cancer, more
melancholy adult children. WTF.

Next month 45 Grave is playing at a memorial for Traci
Michaelz, a drummer in a band called the Peppermint Creeps who died at the age
of 34 while on tour in Texas. He was one of the most happy go lucky guys I've ever met – like Ivan of TLD.
FUCKING TRAGIC.
Really, enough death already!



As it worked out, I think it was really good for me to be on
the road that particular weekend. Instead of sitting around feeling depressed
and miserable about Dick, I was out LIVING MY LIFE, playing music for people who were ecstatic to be hearing it. Many of those people had waited years and years to hear those songs played by 45 Grave. Instead of this just being
another fun excursion for me, it ended up be a cathartic, healing experience. I
got to make a bunch of new friends, make a lot of people happy, and keep my
mind on the positives of being alive rather than the negatives of loss and death.

My wife likes to tell this story about how she saw X play at Fullerton College in the late 1980's. They just kept telling the crowd "Don't listen to anybody! DO WHAT YOU WANT!!" 

How right they were.

 

tc
July 2008

© Tom Coyne 2011