Reasoning with Madness
"This is a barbaric yawp, and it will be sounded over the roofs of the world."
Today marks the second anniversary of We Have Guns' final show, which took place at the WOW Hall three years ago today. The reason I post this now on my website, is because I have an update.
It's not really breaking news, as the update happened earlier last year when I lost my gig at KFLY. My great friend and band mate Tobby Lugo, that you will read about below, reached out to me with an online olive branch of sorts and we settled our beef. We put the damage behind us. We are friends again. We have hung out many times over the past year, despite him moving north to Portland. We even went to the Scorpions and Queensryche in Seattle late last year and next month we will be joining up again (along with Issa Koberstein and James Smith of We Have Guns) to go see Iron Maiden in Tacoma. It's a trip because I never thought that would ever happen. Especially when I wrote the following, two years ago regarding the last show We Have Guns ever played.
Life is a wild ride, and more often than not, it runs in directions that you would never expect. Sometimes for the bad, but sometimes for the good. And in this case, it was for the good. Never discount the people in your life that matter to you. No matter how bad it gets, no matter what goes down or how insane the fallout was, fresh starts and new horizons are completely possible. I must give credit to my man Tobby, as it was his decision to reach out to me. I was still not strong enough. But I'm glad he did. I'm glad we are friends again. It means more than words. So for that, I applaud his choice and makes the following account, which still resonates deeply with me, all the more profound...
One year ago the band I was in for six years played our last show ever. It wasn't a farewell show. It wasn't a celebration. It wasn't intentional. It just wasn't planned that way. But deep down, there were clear signs it might be the last. I performed, as always, with every piece of my soul. Blood, sweat, tears, screaming banshee wails and feedback seas, whiplash thrash and heavenly wails...My brothers-in-arms played with everything they had too. That was how we approached everything. No holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, play like it's your last day alive. We stomped the terra heavy. We left marks. We never played weak. Even our practices were full of thunder and fury. This was our church, our sacred union with the Other. Music can be a conduit for the Divine and this band always sought our truths through our songs. We had fun, but we always took it deadly serious.
After that show, we took a break. A very long, much needed break. We had worn ourselves thin, playing festivals and shows nonstop, years on end, city to city, town to town, sometimes to howling masses, sometimes to meager groups of pool playing drunks, always with full force. All while trying to live a life outside of it. 2-6 nights a week playing at sound-breaking volume, all while working 45-50 hours during the daylight, and juggling second and third gigs making ends meet to take care of myself and my family. All of us were pushing ourselves too hard, too far, something eventually had to give. You don't run an engine at full RPMs without something blowing up. And it did. Between me and our guitarist and my best friend. We are both hard-headed, alpha bulls in China shop types when it comes to our stance on things. As I've been told by quite a handful of people now, we were very much a "Lennon-McCartney, Axl-Slash" type of duo. So that temporary growing break eventually became permanent, after a nasty encounter I probably enticed, unintentionally, over something so petty it's not even worth mentioning. I lost a best friend, a brother, a fellow bandmate, and ultimately the band due to this petty squabble. I still struggle with that moment. It still plays out in my head like an assassination.
But it was building over time. While I regret that it all collapsed the way it did, and I was ripped from the fold, I can't say it would be any different if that day never happened. It seemed inevitable. Things had been mounting for some time. Pressure, stress, hardships, differences, inner turmoil and some things which I will probably never fully even understand. The fracture came much earlier than my "firing", even before that final show we played. Some people are finished long before they decide to walk away. And sometimes ending something is impossible without a reason. There must be a clear scapegoat, a sacrificial lamb, and I was the perfect beast for it. But I won't point fingers at anyone, play the blame game, hurl insults. But I know it couldn't have happened without my role in it. I know what I said. How I handled it all. I could have played it better. But I never thought it would result in the total collapse of a band and a friendship, but it did. And that's the part I truly regret. Had I known the final stand was a few throw away comments away, I would have remained silent. As they say, hindsight is 20/20, right? I have learned to bite my tongue more than I used to though. It gets me in trouble more than I care to admit.
Despite that dark painful moment, I still look back on the era of the Guns with fondness. We had six amazing years together. We recorded two EPs, a killer Beastie Boys cover of Paul Revere, a ridiculous TV commercial, learned some ninja viral marketing and used all forms of the media as our lapdogs to get our gospel out, taking cues from one Jim Rose, who literally wrote the handbook and taught us everything we knew. And finally, the most important aspect of our output...we made a full length album which took us from Eugene to San Francisco in a blizzard in the winter with a broken axl, a showdown with Berkeley cops at 1 am, and a near gang fight with an amateur producer, which ended with us fleeing California on 2 hours of sleep at 5am to get home before it got Real Ugly...That crazed mission sealed the bond of the Brethren. I knew then that we were destined for something Epic. We were just getting started at that point. We eventually finished the album at Central Node in Eugene, where we spent more time finishing than anything I've ever created. That album...man...it was a two or three year labor of love. I am still very, very proud of it. We took so much time producing it, tweaking it, making it as perfect as we could. It meant everything to us. It had to be perfect. And we managed to get over 30 bands, friends and fans on that album for the gang chants and party sections, as we strived to build and unify the local scene. And we did. For awhile...
We went from playing house parties and dive bars all over Oregon to sharing the stage with Hell Yeah, Chimaira, Hed PE and many more. We played and recorded many live shows, even playing an acoustic set for our CD release at the local record store in town, which terrified me but ultimately worked out just fine. We were a force to be reckoned with. What started as a fun side project blossomed into one of the most powerful bands I've ever had the honor to be in. I learned much about myself and my brothers. This band helped me address the darkness I carry within me, the darkness that befell upon my family and my life, it got me through some of the most agonizing and painful experiences I've ever lived through. There were more than one occasion when these guys literally saved my life. That band was a heavy metal life raft at a time when I needed one. The universe aligned. The songs that we wrote...barbaric yawps of catharsis, anthems of the fallen, warnings to a blind sheep mass of the dangers of apathy and laziness, and of course, songs about zombies, aliens and partying the woes away until blackout. Every lyric I wrote was a truth. Every song we wrote was a part of all of us and it still is.
When I look back a year after our last performance it is with fondness, sadness and longing. We had 8 or 9 songs in the works for a second album that will probably never see the light of day, at least with me doing the vocals. It's tough to swallow, but it's the truth. I know deep down that the five lions of Voltron will probably never form that giant beast again, but that's OK. I'm finding peace with it all as best I can. There are days that pass without much fanfare, and then there are days when I feel the phantom limb twitching and I check the clock to see if it's almost practice time. But I can't do anything to scratch that itch. It will probably always linger. But we all keep living. We all keep going. That's all we can do.
I look toward the horizon these days for the next mission and I don't know what it will be or what kind of band I'll start or join or whether I'll even do it again. I don't really even know what kind of music I even want to play anymore. Starting over gets harder each time. And with that last run, it's going to be difficult, if not impossible to beat. I still don't have the strength to get back up on a stage or behind a mic or hold a guitar like I used to. Those six years meant everything to me. And it still does. But it is over now. It is a memory. And it will stay with me forever.
"Underneath the Veil, there is no Hell, There's only one understanding that, we are all finite, full of wrong and right, and everything you do will always come back to you, when you see us around, when we walk these grounds of any city or town across this planet know we are a pack of wolves, a crew of starving fools, with nothing more to give than a trip down your...Way down the rabbit hole...you'll find a memory of full-scale meltdown...there's no one there to protect you from the demons...no heroes, no gods, no fathers, no Brethren."
Long Live We Have Guns.
Who Am I?
I am Ahab.