Bay City Blues

by Staff

My friend Adrian was supposed to write this column for the Temposection but he had to write a paper for philosophyor something so he asked me if I could do it. I’m not much of anon-fiction writer; I mostly stick to short fiction.

He told me to write anything about entertainment, so I said OK.I’ve been reading these columns since the beginning of the year andbecause they all seem to be about music, I’ll write about that. Itwon’t be hard, since I was in a band in high school.

Burnt Plastic was one of the only alternative bands in Bay City,Mich. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but try beingalternative rockers in a state that’s bred Eminem and Kid Rock.

My friends and I would tour the clubs and play house parties andstuff. Our biggest gig was opening for the White Stripes in 1999right after the release of their “The Big 3 Killed my Baby” single.Our manager told us that Conrad from And You Will Know Us By TheTrail Of Dead caught that show and said we were pretty good.

Ever since we were in the 9th grade, we would practice together atmy girlfriend’s guesthouse. I played guitar; my best friend, JansenBjorne, sang (screamed); my girlfriend, Venus Moon, fingered thekeyboards; ex-jock Butch Swig plucked his bass mysteriously in thebackground and the amazing Ken Murphy played the best drums in theworld…for a girl.

Just thinking about it makes me feel nostalgic.

I remember one time we had finished playing at some bar where theband had been bigger than the audience and we decided to go up toCanada to get some beer.

After we got wasted, we decided to sober up in a motel room.Somehow, Butch puked on a cat and brought it inside to clean it up,but he fell asleep and the cat got puke all over the place.

When we woke up the next morning, we were all covered in cat hairand vomit. It was great.

On top of that, we had to get back home and print some shirts andstuff for a show we were having later that day. We were all hung overas we printed shirts and stickers and made pins. I don’t know how wegot everything done.

Midway through the first semester of our senior year, Jansen gotcancer and we had to put the band on hold. We tried to get a newsinger, but it wasn’t the same. The chemistry wasn’t there. Nobodythat we got was in tune with the dynamic that we had.

Later that year, Jansen died and so did Burnt Plastic. I went tocollege, Venus stayed in Bay City to take care of our daughter, Butchjoined the army (he got shipped to Afghanistan last month) and Ken’sstill got another year of high school.

When I tell people about the band, they always tell me that Ishould join another band down here so I can get back to playingmusic. I tried, but not only is every local band another emo band,but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with anyone else. When we wereonstage and the crowds started jumping around and having fun, it wasgreat to look around and see that I was with my friends.

To me, being in a band wasn’t about the music; it was about thebond and the energy that emanated from the five of us being together.

Energy is very specific; you can’t get the same kind of energy ifsomething is even a little different, a little off.

Jansen was Swedish, from Malmo. His favorite band was the Hivesand when I heard they were down here, I got Venus to fly down withour daughter (whom we named Jansen) and we saw the show.

After the Hives’ set I kept looking at the stage. The drums, theamps, the pedals… It was very easy for me to see us up there and tosee Jansen dancing all over the place, tossing the mic around,climbing the amps. It almost makes me want to bring out the guitaragain.

But there are bands out there that are in it for the music andultimately, they’re the ones who should be onstage.

Al Rodriguez

San Diego, CA

2001

— This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of TheDaily Aztec.