You always remember the taste of a guitar shoved into your mouth. At least that’s what I learned one night outside some bar in Chicago after The Tango Tesla’s first gig in the Windy City. Harry aka Halfhead was smoking his twenty-seventh cigarette, and I was trying to get him to answer some questions. It felt very Almost Famous. I was asking him about his early influences when suddenly (or not so suddenly, it depends on your view point) he picked up the guitar and shoved it into my eating cavity. Halfhead is of course the drummer of Tango Tesla and by his own admission has “no fucking godteat clue how to play the guitar.” Months later I can still taste guitar, and Halfhead still can’t play guitar. Unless using one as a drumstick counts. Which actually happened during a practice session back in New York. Some of the band thought it was great; namely Halfhead and Jon, the rest thought it was retarded. But, since the guitar belonged to Jon, no one made a big deal out of it. And that was a relief, because the band really couldn’t afford to have another fight like the one back in Philly. We were all in some hotel room hanging out after a show. The show itself had been a huge success. They really killed it. But now it was a good a few hours after the show in one of those weird am hours. Jon and Mike were smoking a joint and the rest of the band were passing around several bottles of Johnie Walker. As for me, I was typing up my notes on my laptop; which really meant I was on Facebook, and taking quick work breaks. Then for some unfathomable reason, Mike mentioned that he missed Tricia. Tricia of course being Sally’s ex partner. A bit of back story: before they broke up, there had been some persistent rumors that Tricia had cheated on Sally with Mike. Nothing had been proven but… Anyways, Mike said it, and I don’t know why he did. Maybe it was the ganja, maybe it was some of the other drugs he had taken early that night. Who knows? The room grew silent and tense like a B-movie slasher scene. The tension dripped like semen off a transvestite’s cock. Finally Sally calmly took off her steel-toed shoe and hurled it at Mike, followed by a thundering, “Cuntfuck!” The missile of course missed Mike and hit Jon smack on the forehead. That’s when the shite really started. Soon everyone was shouting and accusing one another of various vile sins. Every tiny pool of resentment and hostility started to burst like some biblical geyser from hell. The actual physical violence was pretty low. In addition to the shoe, only three punches were thrown. Two by Halfhead and one by Mike. However, the verbal violence was extreme enough to give Eli Roth and Tarantino wet dreams for six months. Every darkness of the tour that had been unsaid over the past few months was now being said with vehemence and perhaps even some relish. I don’t know how long the fight lasted. Three minutes? Ten? An hour? Two? And unfortunately, there were no Tiny Dancer to restore order. I do know that the fight ended when Mike said, “Fuck you fucksticks! I’m leaving I hope you all choke! The band is done.” Then he got up and left. Jon and Halfhead had quit the band a few dozen times in the past, but this was the first time that the lead singer had done so. Jon and Halfhead’s quitting usually lasted at most a few hours. But somehow everyone felt Mike’s was different. Once again things were silent for a while until slowly we all discovered reasons to go our separate ways. The next afternoon the band was supposed to head over to some local radio station for an interview. By 4 Sally, Halfhead, Jon, Greg and Amy, the manager had arrived, but there was no sign of Mike. Amy, of course, was a smidgen freaking out cause they were supposed to go on the air in ten minutes and the lead singer was fuck knows where. Since Mike was the most well known member, when by 4:13 he was still ‘in hiding’ the station decided to axe the interview. That’s when Sally decided to announce that she was quitting as well. She spat and went off. And with a wad of spittle, Tango Tesla died. Amy did do a stellar job trying to fix things, but both Mike and Sally were being stubborn like a cadaver. I returned to New York, Halfhead went to see his brother in Seattle, and Gregg opted to stay in Philly. A week later, a week spent pacing and drinking and searching for something to tell my bosses, I got a text from Mike: “band back”
I immediately called him, and after the fourteenth attempt I got through. Mike rambled on for a good hour about sex and religion and every fucking thing under the sun, but it all boiled down to he wanted back in. Mike called Greg and Halfhead and I called Sally. We managed to get everyone to meet at my apartment. In one of my uncharacteristically forceful moments, I got everyone to apologize to one another. Then Halfhead brought out some of the medical M. he had gotten in Cali, and everything became bright and sunny again. A few days later the band was during sets in the Village and a few months later they were preparing for the aforementioned gig in Chicago. Prep which included the guitar-as-a-drumstick episode. After Chicago the band set off for Seattle. They made a few stops on the way, played a few places, nothing big. Joints, shots, and groupies were passed along and there was only two near car accidents. They played four shows in Seattle, and they were all fucktastic. The crowds went apeshit boppity crazy. During the second show, Gregg played his first keyboard solo. It was over ten minutes of electrical Loki-fucks-Buzz-Aldrin rock n roll magik. The last show was my favorite though. The band opened with “Kill the Punks!” which evolved into a nearly twenty minute musical dance between Sally on the lead guitar and Halfhead on the drums. They ended with a soulwetting acoustic version of “Mother in the Eye of Father.” On the way back to New York, as was his weird habit, Greg read all the negative reviews out loud. Halfhead hated this is but kept his complaining to a minimum; only about every seven minutes. Once we got home, Amy wanted the band to start working on its next EP, but they wanted to “fuck around for a bit, have fun, relax.” Amy persisted for a while but eventually realized that they would work when they wanted to and not before. The band spent the next month fucking around and doing their relaxing shit. hanged out with them a few times. Such as when Sally and I went to Atlantic City. But I spent most of those thirty days editing and trying to catch up with my other work.
Behind the scenes:
Instead of using a timer, I made a playlist on iTunes that was an hour long.
- Children of the Revolution by T.Rex
- Beat on the Brat by The Ramones
- It Follows From Your Heart by Outlaws
- Baby Won’t You Let Me Rock N Roll You by Ten Years After
- New Slang by The Shins
- Little Sally Tease by The Kingsmen
- Ever Since the World Began by The Yardbirds
- Thru The Eyes of Ruby by The Smashing Pumpkins
- Crazy on You by Heart
- Given the Dog a Bone by AC/DC
- Mighty Joe Moon by Grant Lee Buffalo
- All Around My Hat by Steeleye Span
- Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed
- Can’t Get You Out of My Head by Electric Light Orchestra
- Looking for a Kiss by The New York Dolls
- Milim Yafot Me’ele by Idan Raichel
- Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana
and a special thanks to all the Rock n Rollers I love. Especially Briana Layon and the Boys (http://www.brianalayon.com/fr_home.cfm)
Midnight Mob (http://www.midnightmob.com/) The Nuclears (http://www.thenuclears.com/), The Deafening (http://www.thedeafening.com/TheDeafening/home.html), Marc Bolan, and Syd Barrett.