I was a tragic musician. I never picked up a guitar until the age of 16. Then I didn’t want to put it down. Unfortunately, without some structure, the ability to read music, schooling, I was on my own 100%.
It wasn’t like today. There was no Internet in the 1980s. You couldn’t just look things up instantly. Musical secrets were random and elusive. Or you had to have money. I snatched chords from wherever I could find them, from the radio and from a schoolmate.
I was 16 in ’82, trapped in an all-boy’s high school in Patterson NJ. A particularly demented Irish kid introduced me to his old weather beaten Yamaha acoustic, and to weed—another story altogether.
Interesting fact on the Irish kid, his rhythm was shyte. Despite being able to pick out chords and notes from just about any tune, his playback suffered from white-boy hand. He didn’t respect drums or bass for some personal reason, and it showed in his performances. I knew I wanted to avoid that pitfall.
Then there was me, starting from zero. What did I want?
I wanted to write songs and bash the earth. Perhaps I still do, but mostly in lucid dreams. I sometimes write symphonies in the night.
Cut to 1989, post Rutgers. My frat buddy, Patrick–another long story–let me know to come down to Philadelphia, where it was all happening, and to check out the music scene.
What an awakening that was, a new musical genre I had never even heard before. *
Basement grunge. Thunder. Punk, funk, mind-fuck central. I descended the dusty wooden staircase, and a band was thrashing, but not the standard generic blasé that term would imply. These guys were dischordant on purpose, driven and rehearsed with a new sound I had never heard.
Tossing away the 80s spandex arena rock and the blues of yesteryear, this was something else. These guys were sharp, but in the way you wouldn’t want to turn your back on them.
Not punk. Not funk. Not predictable, and certainly not safe, those guys had a sick twist on urban decay and modern insanity that just clicked with me right there, right then. It was a fucking nirvana moment (pre-Nirvana btw).
Their name was Daddy’s Protein. The original lineup played their full set and some other jams; I still have their demo tape packed away.
I had no idea that this was their last jam together, and that the band was breaking up as I watched. More: Pat knew. And he wanted me to step in and become their next guitarist, himself their next drummer.
* Those songs/sound are not available online today anywhere; I searched before posting.