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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Those times have changed man/and so have I

So says Dave Smalley from one my favorite Dag Nasty tracks, "Never Go Back." Of course we can't go back in time, but I feel there are certain things we should look back and cherish. In the case of a band's story, I choose to focus on the most important factor: friendship through playing and making music together. Since I often talk about other bands, I figured I should talk about some of my old bands.

I have played drums since 1994 and have spent time in five separate bands since then. All of them had their ups and downs but they have made me appreciate the time I have in my current band, Ashburne Glen. I remember the days of being friendly competitors with fellow area bands and all the drama that came out of it. Those were fun ways of passing the time but the most valuable things I learned about friendship through bandmate status came from a band I was in between 2001 and 2003 called the 11:30s.

When the 11:30s started, me, Dave and Nick (two guys I met through KTCU) were really into Sigur Ros, Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Coldplay. Somehow we got away with jamming at a relatively sane volume in Dave's apartment without getting the cops called too much. Though I had my drumset set up in Dave's place, I found myself playing guitar more than drums. Dave would be on guitar and keyboards and Nick would be on my drums. When we realized that we could never pull off these impromptu jams in a live setting and we needed another person to play either bass or guitar, we added Stephen "Goose" Gose and moved into Dave's father's warehouse to practice.

Choosing a name out of a list that Goose had written up, we all liked the sound of "the 11:30s." We felt it was a fitting nod to the late-60s, "Nuggets" era of bands where almost every band had "the" in the name. Plus, our first performance in front of people (intentionally) happened at 11:30pm. We were off to a great start.

While we first started out as a jammy space rock band, we pooled our influences from shoegaze rock (especially Ride and Slowdive) and garage rock (Dandy Warhols, Brian Jonestown Massacre and all those great bands from the '60s) right as garage rock was getting a lot of attention in the hipster, indie rock world. We didn't care about becoming rock stars; we wanted to write good songs and have a good time playing them.

One of our biggest shows was at Ridglea Theater, a renovated movie theater with a huge ballroom. We got to play with Chomsky (one of my favorites), El Gato and the Audiophiles on the same stage that I had once seen the Flaming Lips and Fugazi play on. We had so much fun and had a blast at the following show at the Aardvark (which would end up being Nick's last show with us). Nick had a golden opportunity to intern at Capitol Records in LA so he took a sabbatical from the band with plans to return in the fall.

In the meantime, we got Taylor from fellow friends, Voigt, to fill-in on bass and we gigged around some more (we even played in the bright lights and big city of Dallas). When Voigt's drummer slot was open a few months later, I offered my services and I was now in two bands at once. Though I was planning on being in the band for a short while, I ended up being in Voigt for a full year.

As for the 11:30s, when Nick got another golden opportunity (this time it was living in London for the fall semester and interning at Cherry Red Records) and eventually moved to Chicago, and Taylor's schedule didn't work out for us, we figured we needed a new bass player. We planned to record an EP (maybe an LP if we were lucky) on the cheap but the guy who was going to do it flaked out on us, so the plans were scrapped. Then, Goose decided he had enough of living in Fort Worth because of not being able to find stable work, so he moved back home to San Antonio. I wasn't going to let the 11:30s go without a fight and talked to a few possible bassists. When those possibilities flaked out on us and I realized that Dave and I are two very different people and saw Dave join our old rivals the Audiophiles on keyboards, I went to our practice space and got the rest of my stuff. There was no talk about ending the band; everything just dissolved.

Voigt let me go a few months later in October of 2003. Suddenly I was band-less, something I hadn't been in a few years. I wanted to start a new band from the ground up. I was inspired by how Conor Oberst could find a large revolving cast of backing musicians for Bright Eyes in the small little town of Omaha, Nebraska. I figured I could find some like-minded guys here in Dallas, a town whose population greatly dwarfs Omaha's. Before any of this happened, I got a call from my old bandmate Goose. He told me he had found me my new band. He told me I should call this friend of his named Jason and try out with his band, Ashburne Glen. I got in touch, joined the band, played a couple of shows and have enjoyed the experience immensely. Jason and I are housemates and still play together in Ashburne Glen though our practice schedule is very sporadic. We get together when we can and almost always have a good time playing with Lance and whoever ends up becoming our permanent bassist. All the roads of bands have led me here and I'm grateful for all the experiences I've had before and look forward to more.

I bring all this stuff up because I have been greatly moved by friendship found through of music, whether it's playing in a room together or playing music for one another. Nick has been a very close friend of mine since college and I often forget that we were once bandmates. He's been on board with Post since day one and I truly cherish our friendship and mutual support. There is no price on this kind of stuff and it's hard to live without it.

I hope what I will show with Post are bands whose warts-and-all stories are appreciated by its ex-band members. I think of it as appreciating certain things of one's past in order to appreciate one's sense of self and friendship today. I just hope it will feel less like watching old embarrassing home movies.

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