Archive for February, 2013

http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/stow/2013/02/nirvanas-chad-channing-drives-before-cars/

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From my point and shoot…

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(Waiting in the GA line across the street)

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(Waiting inside…c’mon already. That’s a pretty grunge-looking guy in front of me.)

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(Finally…the band takes the stage. No warm-up act.)

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(Chris Cornell)

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(Ben Shepherd)

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(Kim Thayil and a semi-headed Chris…I pretty much had to lift the camera over my head and hope for the best)

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(Chris with his head restored)

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(Ben Shepherd)

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(Chris Cornell)

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(Matt Cameron)

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(From left: part of Kim Thayil, Mike McCready [Pearl Jam], Chris)

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(It’s funny. People seem to think these trips are all about partying with the bands. It’s actually relatively low key for the most part. Fun, but low key.)

The morning was pretty relaxing, and then I headed over to the Bainbridge Island ferry to meet up with Before Cars. I’m writing a feature about this band, since they have a new record out in a couple of weeks called How We Run. Unlike most groups, where you can just match the players to their respective instruments, BC presents a bit of a challenge, because the musicians play a variety of them… acoustic and electric guitar, bass, drums, violin, keyboards, mandolin, and ukulele (I think that covers it, although there may be a recorder in there somewhere.) I had interviewed one BC member several years ago, Chad Channing, for my book since he was in this band you may have heard of (hint: it starts with an N and ends with an irvana.) Also in Before Cars: Paul Burback, Justine Jeanotte, and Andy Miller. (Below: taking the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island.)

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I’d never been to Bainbridge (referred to as “Brain Damage” by one person whom I will not identify), so taking the ferry there would be a treat. It’s pretty cool. You can drive or walk on (I drove), and then you relax for about a half hour crossing. I met the band in a cool little town called Winslow and we ventured over to Hale’s brewpub.

What a great group of people! We chatted over lunch and beers, and they all agreed with me that humankind’s greatest inventions are the brewpub and bread. Afterward, we wandered over to a coffee place (this is Seattle, after all) and talked some more about the new record and upcoming tour plans. I’ll get into specifics in my upcoming feature. (Below, hanging with Before Cars…from left: Senor Dorkinger, Chad Channing, Andy Miller, Paul Burback, Justine Jeanotte.)

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After taking the ferry back to Rob’s house in Ballard, I realized I was in no shape to go out that evening. I had planned to head over to Capitol Hill to see a Rod Moody-recommended band called Atomic Bride. I felt so rundown, though…I never really recovered from that first day. So, I camped out on Rob’s couch and we watched great old-bad movies. He had found one called Don’t Knock the Rock or something. Bill Haley was in it. The whole premise revolved around a battle over how rock n roll had been corrupting ’50s youth. Some of the lines were like: “Gee, Mrs. Jeepers, you don’t have to be sore with us rock n rollers. Us kids just want to have a swell time.” It was great.

I fell asleep on the couch, and opened my eyes at 5 am, packed up and left. Rob was still sleeping, so I figured I’d message him good-bye and thanks and stuff. As I got into my car and started up the engine, Rob came frantically running out of the house wearing his Charlie Brown t-shirt to wish me off.

You see why I like these people? So long, Seattle.

UPDATE: Why Rob Morgan is my hero…

We’re hanging out watching TV, and Rob has a giant hole in his sock with his big toe sticking out. He looks at his toe says, “Ah, trying to escape, are you? Dumb shit. You’re attached to my foot.”

 

Day Two was pretty relaxed, which is a good thing since I am still kind of wiped out from Day One (yeah, I’m old.) I chilled with Rob Morgan for a while at his house, watching a Darkness show he burned to DVD (Rob’s kind of a little bit of a Darkness fan…picture AC/DC meets Alice Cooper meets Queen meets who knows.)

Then, breakfast with Jack Endino and Leighton Beezer at Ballard’s legendary Vera’s. I usually check in with these guys on my Seattle trips, but I’ve never hung with both of them at the same time. Heard some funny Screaming Trees stories from Jack, while Leighton was hysterical just being Leighton.

After breakfast, I made my usual stop at Ballard’s Sonic Boom Records, picking up a Walking Papers CD (features Barrett Martin from the Trees/Skin Yard/Mad Season plus Duff McKagan from Guns N Roses.)

Later that day, I met up with friends Dave O’Leary (author of Horse Bite) and Clint Brownlee for happy hours. It’s always good to hang with those dudes and talk music. Clint’s been writing, while Dave’s spending time playing bass in Sightseer, a band which has been getting positive pub around Seattle. (Dave mentioned a hysterical Onion story about a groupie mistakenly sleeping with a bass player…I’ll have to check that out.) Then, it was time to check out the GUM at Darrell’s Tavern in Shoreline with my host, Rob.

The opening act killed me…the Guardians, featuring the one and only Lee Lumsden.  Don’t know Lee? You should, if you have any interest in Seattle music. Along with a handful of folks like Jim Basnight, Neil Hubbard, and Rob Morgan, Lee essentially created the Seattle music scene out of thin air in the mid-’70s.

Rob had told me just how nervous Lee was before this performance, his first ever as a front man. (Lee drummed for the Meyce back in the day, a band that played some of Seattle’s earliest punk rock shows.) You’d never know it from watching Lee perform, though. He seemed totally comfortable and in the moment on stage. And the songs! That dude can write. Great hooks, and creative. I wish they could have played longer. Fortunately, Rob’s band followed. (Below, Lee Lumsden fronts the Guardians.)

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The GUM nailed it as usual, playing a variety of covers…some well-known, some more obscure, as well some mash-ups (Rob calls them “mudleys.”) Sporting a jacket and bow tie, Rob held the audience in his hand, and proceeded to entertain us. Everyone had a good time. (Below, Rob Morgan and the GUM.)

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I ended up chatting with a few folks during and after the show, notably Lee, Kyle Nixon (no making out this time…we’re just friends), Scott the soundman, the GUM’s Rod Moody, and some other folks who said nice things about my book. It’s always a cool thing to find out your work has touched someone.

So, yeah, a pretty mellow, but fun day overall…looking forward to tomorrow. I’ll be taking the ferry over to Bainbridge Island to meet up with the members of Before Cars. I’m working on a feature about that band, as they have a new record coming out in a couple of weeks. BC features former Nirvana drummer Chad Channing.

It’s been a while since the last entry, I know. But I decided to head to Seattle to see Soundgarden, the GUM (featuring the Pudz/Squirrels’ Rob Morgan and Deranged Diction/Swallow’s Rod Moody,) and hangout with Before Cars (with Nirvana’s Chad Channing.) So I thought I’d write about this trip.

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Yesterday was a 24 hour day. As in I was awake for all of them. But it was a good thing.

I left Philadelphia at 1 am Pacific time, arriving in Seattle via Phoenix about 12 hours later. I decided to do this trip on the cheap, and fortunately my friend Rob Morgan allowed me to camp out on his couch for the weekend. I hung out with Rob in Ballard for a while, then headed over to the Paramount to see Soundgarden.

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I’d never experienced one of Seattle’s “big four” bands live. I was supposed to go to a Pearl Jam show in Camden, NJ some years back, but I got tired of looking for parking and turned around and went home (although I have seen members of PJ play in bands.) So, Soundgarden would be it, and in their hometown at the iconic Paramount.

I bought a GA ticket, and got in line at about 5:30…doors were to open at 7, band on at 8. Fortunately, only about 100 folks stood ahead of me. Soon I found myself chatting with this dude next to me, Dana from Bellingham. That was good, because neither of us had anything do to for the next two hours (turns out they didn’t open the doors until 7:30.) Finally, we started to move and headed over to the venue.

As we entered the theater, we realized they had removed the chairs, so nothing stood in the way of us and the band. We poured to the front of the stage and waited.

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After a couple of false starts, Soundgarden (there was no warm-up act…which was pretty cool by the way. That would never happen in Philly), finally appeared on the stage, opening with “Flower” from Ultramega OK. Amazing. It was like experiencing Soundgarden in a small club. Chris Cornell and Ben Shepherd were only a few feet from us. (Below from left, Chris Cornell, Matt Cameron, and Ben Shepherd.)

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The band whipped through some classics early on, notably “Hunted Down” and “Nothing to Say” (from their first Sub Pop record), “Outshined” and “My Wave.” Chris Cornell, looking trim and fit, jumped around the stage. His vocals at times sounded strained, although at other times he exploded just like the old days. Guitarist Kim Thayil planted himself to Chris’ right.

Then there was Ben Shepherd. Watching him was a trip. He finished nearly every bass run by contorting himself and then pulling his hand away, with obvious force…made it look like he was trying to pull the guts out of his instrument. Then he would just level this death stare. Not at anyone in particular, just straight ahead mostly. It really looked like he wanted to kill someone. Then, every so often he would smile. Funny to watch. (Below, Ben Shepherd.)

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At one point, Chris announced the band would play “Been Away Too Long” from the latest record, King Animal. He said the song title had a dual meaning: one related to Soundgarden’s nearly dozen years of inactivity, and other had to do with his return to Seattle.

The audience behaved itself for the most part. For the most part. The majority of the crowd was comprised of middle aged rock fans, just wanting to see a good show. But some folks have not grown up yet. Every so often, an asshole—old enough to know better—would crash into bodies and force the crowd to surge this way or that. I didn’t like it, nor did some of the folks around us. A couple of dudes almost came to blows. Another guy began making hay by knocking over both men and women indiscriminately. It pissed some people off around me, and they began to shove the moron away, which only seemed to please him. I found myself getting angry. I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and told him to knock it off. He smiled.

Meanwhile, the band continued to play on. (Just watch Matt Cameron play drums. Just do it sometime…for five minutes. That’s all I ask.)

Matt’s son, a guitar player, joined the band on stage for one number. Next, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready played dual leads with Kim Thayil on another (yeah, I can’t recall either song…feel free to chime in [UPDATE: see set list at the end of this post.]) (Below, Chris Cornell.)

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The band finally exited the stage around 11, then came back and did an encore with “Rusty Cage.” It was then that I realized just how freaking tired I was…on my feet for several hours after an all-day trip, all on zero rest. I secretly hoped this would be the only encore.

It was. I walked out, wished Dana fairly well, and headed back to Rob’s couch in Ballard, tired but happy.

Update (Courtesy of Matt Brown), last night’s set list: Flower. Nothing To Say. Outshined. Jesus Christ Pose. Spoonman. Hands All Over. Gun. By Crooked Steps. Rhinosaur. Taree. My Wave. The Day I Tried To Live. Been Away Too Long. Worse Dreams. Hunted Down. Drawing Flies. Matt Cameron’s son playing guitar on Eyelid’s Mouth. Blow Up The Outside World. Fell On Black Days. Live To Rise. Mike McCready playing guitar on Tighter And Tighter. Non-State Actor. Ty Cobb. Rowing. Encore: Rusty Cage. Far Beyond The Wheel.

(Below, Ben Shepherd.)

 

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