Part One: Setting The Stage
Alrighty, time for another Throwback Thursday post!
Last week I talked about the best concert I’d ever played. Now it’s time for the second best. While the Dear Katie concert focused on the quality of my fans and the experience of people singing along with words that I wrote, this week were talking about quantity. In college I played in a Hardcore band named “Hepafilter” and we sang about Zombies. This is the story of our quest to play at our school’s Battle of the Bands.
Let’s time travel way back to 2007, I was a freshman in college and met two guys who would become some of my best friends, and who I am still friends with to this day.
I am a pastor’s kid, I was born in Northern California, and in December of 2001 we moved to Phoenix, (ugh, I know right? Who would want to live there?) because my Dad had taken a church there.
I was longing to get back to California, and Azusa Pacific University seemed like a great fit for me. I was going to play football, and study music.
At least, that was my intention, I found out you couldn’t play sports and be a music major at the same time because there was a required class that always would conflict with practice times. So I dropped it. I didn’t need a music degree to make music, as you’ll see a little later.
I didn’t end up playing football, (hey that’s next weeks Throwback Thursday topic).
The first week of school there were these two guys named Rik and Adam across the hall from me that had an Xbox 360, and guitar hero with TWO CONTROLLERS. This meant we could play multiplayer, so we did, every free second.
I had never played it before, and so I kinda just hung around and grabbed a turn or two. There was this other kid named Kirk, that could five-star almost all of the songs on the expert level. I was so jealous.
This was how I started hanging out with what would be my college group of friends. Rik and Adam’s dorm became our version of the Friends Coffee shop. I would get off work and school and just hang out there.
It was sitting on their futon and playing guitar hero that I finally found people with the same interests as me.
“Wait! You like nerdy stuff, played sports and like music and play an instrument? ME TOO! “
That was an interaction I never had until college. We became fast friends and hung out all the time, we talked about starting a band, that kind of 2:00am great idea that usually never comes to fruition (until it does).
It was a great first year.
Part Two: Chaotically Humble Beginnings
Fast forward to the start of sophomore year, I owned a really junky drum set and Rik and Kirk had asked me to bring it, so I packed it up and my dad and I headed out to move me into my first apartment.
We were all at school a week early, so in our off time we would “jam,” jam is in quotes because what we played was not what any sane person would call music.
Then classes started and we got busy.
Every year, APU has a battle of the bands, even though we didn’t have a bass player or a singer for that matter, we were convinced that we would surely get in.
On a Monday the student union posted the submission guidelines and deadline for that years battle of the bands. The press kits were due the following Tuesday.
We panicked and planned a weekend trip to Phoenix, where my dad’s church had an electronic drumset. We took a few pictures outside, and threw up a myspace page.
That night we went to Denny’s at about 1:00am and wrote some lyrics on a napkin in crayon. (We’re too legit to quit!)
That Friday, the band hopped in our friend Brie’s car and made the 5 hour trek to the horrible land of Phoenix. We got up and recorded two songs in our church’s nursery.
The Outbreak – First Recording
The Aftermath – First Recording
Needless to say we did not get in.
About a month later we went back to Phoenix and recorded two more songs, only one of them is listenable.
The Mary Poppins Song – This song was so bad we immediately abandoned it.
The Survivors Prayer – First Recording
Part Three: Getting Serious About Non Serious Music
Junior year, I was living with Kirk, Rik and our friend Jordan. We were crammed into one bedroom in a two bedroom apartment with all our music gear in another room, we were going to be serious about our music and definitely get into the battle of the bands this year.
This is also the time we met Garret. In probably the weirdest way a band has ever gotten a frontman, Garrett just showed up on our doorstep. He had heard that there was a drumset in our apartment complex and decided to investigate, and he was walking by while we were jamming.
As he stood there he said, yeah I scream (did I mention that we were a hardcore band that sang about zombies?). And then he just started screaming some lyrics. Surprisingly, he was pretty good. We were blown away, and we asked him if he wanted to front our band for the battle of the bands if we got in.
He was up for it, so we borrowed some mics and re-recorded the songs from the nursery, and laid Garrett’s vocals over them.
The Outbreak – Second Recording
The Aftermath – Second Recording
The Survivors Prayer – Second Recording
We were excited, we had three songs that didn’t sound too bad and we thought we might get in. Sadly heartbreak hit us and we were not on the bill for the second year in a row.
It was time for a change, time to get super seriously you guys.
Garrett had found out that we could check out a room in the music building for rehearsal on the weekends. So every Saturday we practiced. We wrote our first song as a band there, and recorded it. That song was “Tasty Treats”.
Tasty Treats – First Recording
Towards the end of Junior year Kirk’s brother Kyle started playing bass for us, and we wrote two more songs, “I Have a Yacht” and “The Fallen Torch.” After the year was over we were told in no uncertain terms, that if they found us in the music room again we would be prosecuted for trespassing.
Rock and Roll rebels through and through!
Part Four: I Am Hardcore and Hardcore is Me,
and Sweet Sweet Victory!
The summer between Junior and Senior year we all stayed at school and rented a sweet practice space. We practiced hard, between two and three times a week. We were determined to get into Battle of the Bands our last year at APU.
Rik had a friend down in San Diego who was an audio engineer and we tracked out two songs during a very long Sunday afternoon.
That week I edited them and we prepped hard for Battle of the Bands.
The Fallen Torch – First Recording
I Have a Yacht – First Recording
I need to take a break from the narrative and give an overview of the musical climate at APU. We were at a school that had a large population of Hipsters. Hipsters don’t like hardcore, and neither did the administration in charge of the Battle of the Bands. They felt our music was disruptive and dangerous. We had tried to play at open mics and been told that they didn’t feel that our music “would be appropriate for the atmosphere we’re trying to create.” There was definitely a musical prejudice on campus.
The line that we often heard was that there wasn’t a demographic for our subculture. Which wasn’t true, we knew plenty of students that wanted to see themselves and their musical interests represented on campus.
If we were to play at Battle of the Bands, it would be the first time Hardcore had been played at a recognized APU function. Ever.
We were pioneers!
Submission time came and according to the rules, five bands would play, after all the submissions had been received there would be an online vote. We prepared for a fight, we started talking to those we knew liked hardcore and started gathering voters.
However, in a stroke of luck, only six bands sent in submissions. They couldn’t turn us away, we were in!
An excitement reverberated throughout our overlooked subculture. Hardcore was coming to the Hipsters!
We were first up, and we took the stage to a packed room. In all my time at APU, I had never seen that many people turn out to a school sponsored event, let alone the Battle of the Bands.
Our set featured an intro track with the band coming in heavy with “The Survivors Prayer” (a 45 second masterpiece). When Kirk slammed out the fill that started the song off, the place exploded, the pit opened and kids hardcore danced so hard.
The video at the top captured one of the most amazing moments in my life.
It was magical.
During “The “Fallen Torch” a massive circle pit opened up, and we even got to do a wall of death (you reach a pause in the music, split the room and when the music comes back in the crowd runs at each other, braveheart style).
We didn’t win, but as far as we were concerned, it was worth it. The best part? My parents were there and got to see me rock the faces off of at least 200 kids.
After the Battle of the Bands, we put some real time in a sort of real studio and recorded a 7 song EP that we’re pretty proud of.
Hepafilter – Coward
Hey, you made it to the bottom!
Congratulations, here is your reward!
Back in the day before we found Garrett, we tried out a guy who said he could scream.
He Couldn’t, here is that recording.