Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Post 4: I had the flu, but I was Dracula

When I was stationed on Okinawa (’95 – ’98) I was in a band. We did mainly covers. Shit, we only had two original songs and both of those were instrumentals.

I was the singer and it while it was fun, there was a tremendous amount of pressure. We were all in the Army. All the guys in the band were in the same unit except for me. There was kind of weird dynamic going on, I had replaced a guy who was in their unit and while they preferred my voice, I know they missed how well he clicked with them.

Our first gig was very soon after I joined. We played a festival on base, just one or two songs, but it was pretty cool. Our first “real” gig was at this Okinawan bar downtown. We only knew like three songs and played them about three different times. We were opening for another band, our sound was horrible and we came away from that experience with a pretty bad taste in our mouth for that particular club.

We took a little time, learned more songs and played our next gig at another Okinawan bar further down the street from the last time we played. Our set consisted of Green Manlishi by Priest, Twist of Cain by Danzig, 10 in 2010 and Punk Rock Song by Bad Religion, London Dungeon by the Misfits and Cleanse My Wounds by Corrosion of Conformity. Over time we grew our set to include some more Danzig, Misfits and Bad Religion we also had a Life of Agony tune, and some other things I can’t remember well.

I wish I had photos or videos of this era, but I don’t. This is due to the same reason I got kicked out of the band – I was a huge binge drinker and no one really wanted to be around me when I was that drunk. I couldn’t remember lyrics. It was pretty bad. So they replaced me with a Marine.

That hurt.

What hurt more was the fact that they guy couldn’t sing. I put it behind me though.

Then, one night after I hit the sack, the phone rings. It’s the drummer from the band. He’s like, “Hey, our singer is going to the field. Can you fill in?” I know they didn’t want to do that, but they did. And I wasn’t about to let them down. This was the weekend prior to Halloween.

Guys, I gave the show of my life and they asked me to sing again the next night. Many people talked about who I sang much better after having been kicked out. The next night was also awesome. It felt great to jam with them again. By this time, the band had pretty much become the de facto house band at this bar and they asked me to sing with them on Halloween weekend because their singer was still going to be in the field.

I caught a bug sometime during the week and had a full-on, throat fucking flu. But I dressed up as Dracula. Cape. Vest. Black pants and Docs. I drank some lemon juice and honey. I drank beer. And I fucking rocked socks. I am not exaggerating to say that it was my best performance. The bar, while small, was full and it just rocked hard.

One of the songs we’d added to the list was Where Eagles Dare. We’d added this breakdown in the last Chorus. After singing through the “I ain’t no Goddamn son of a bitch” the first time through, we dropped everything but the basic drum beat. There was a quick bass fill. Then a guitar fill. Then a drum fill. Then a huge buildup back into “I AIN’T NO GODDAMN SON OF A BITCH!” The entire bar rang as everyone screamed along with us.

Dracula sang with the flu and all was right with the world.

Where Eagles Dare.

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