Fast and mean
It’s how I want to live my life
At the blistering speed of light
Speed Of Light M.S. 1995
I talked with the bands Harden Steel and Thrash Attack until the dawning of the new day. Being up at such an hour wasn’t new for me and it obviously wasn’t for the bands either, although the venue staff did get a little jack of us about 4:30am and told us they wanted to shut the place.
At 5:15 AM we were nice enough to finally let them shut, well, to be fair it wasn’t just us that stopped it happening but the way the venue manager spoke you’d think it was! As I stepped on onto the Esplanade and began to make my way down the beach the sun hadn’t even started to rise, it was close but due to the buildings of suburbia it was kind of slow. But there was more than enough light of day to show me my path back to our truck and even the street lights were turning off as the first of the early morning traffic started to rumble along the road.
Now I did suggest previously that if you are ever lucky enough to find yourself back stage at a gig never ask the musician for lesson, it’s the last thing they want to do before or after a gig. They may be doing what they do for the attention of others, some may even feed off what the crowd return to them from the venue floor and it drives them to play better. But they don’t want to teach your sorry arse how to play the riff they created, the drum sequence they worked out, or even how the singer can reach the high notes to rival that of two cats humping in an alleyway at three in the morning without someone giving him a squirrel grip. They want to relax and wind down after their gig.
So with that in mind you wont be surprised to hear that throughout our conversations of the morning not once did an instrument get picked up. Music got played on small boom boxes that were in the room, but not a single instrument. Another thing to remember is that most musicians on stage are also fans of music, they have their own icons and music heroes and back stage can often provide them with the time and place to talk about the people they like. So instead of my new friends telling me how good they were, or me praising them for being good, they showed me a bunch of stuff that influenced them.
Not only was it amazing to hear about all these new bands and musicians, most of them from overseas and many of them selling out arenas not just clubs and pubs, but it filled my head with so many new thoughts I really didn’t know where to start or stop.
As I walked back along the footpath that separated the Esplanade and the beach I had a spring in my step, I was awake and alive and I’d found something that I didn’t know was missing in my life and something that I knew I had to have. There was no thoughts of getting lost, no thoughts of Steve and the guys playing a prank on me and moving the truck, or worse still leaving for Adelaide without me. No I was just thinking about the new music I had been listening to and how I was going to learn it.
When I arrived at the truck no one was awake, well at least I assumed that because the truck was locked, which stood to reason given that it was parked in a publicly accessible car park along the beach, a beach many people used the early hours of the morning to get their exercise on. I still wasn’t sleepy, it wasn’t the sort of buzz that I got from drinking, but I did have a buzz that had me awake and alert. So instead of snoozing I sat on the bonnet of the truck and continued to think about music and go through what Jim had taught me and how to make that do what I’d just seen.
When Steve emerged from the truck a little after 7am I was still sitting in the same spot humming and playing air guitar.
“Where the hell did you get to last night?” He wasn’t grumpy but he was obviously still a bit tired. “I was going to send a search party out for you.”
“Why didn’t you?” I asked as I climbed down from the front of the truck.
“Eh.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Couldn’t be fucked!”
We both laughed. He was still rubbing his eyes and stretching and I could tell he hadn’t managed to score himself as much sleep as he would have liked but thankfully he was used to that, as most of us road crew were, even me who’d only been doing it a few months. I told Steve where I had been and what I had seen, I didn’t think I was talking that excitedly about it but apparently I was because his first words to me after he finished stretching and farting were.
“I think you better calm down and buy me breakfast before you blow a foofer valve, buddy. You can tell me all about it while we eat.”
We found ourselves a cafe that did breakfast and I was more than happy to buy Steve his breakfast, not only because he was prepared to listen to me, (and stop me blowing a foofer valve), but because he had done so much for me since I’d met him.
Not once during our conversation did Steve tell me I was wrong. Not once did he tell me that what I had done was wrong. And not once did he try to convince me that something I was thinking would be better thought his way. His words were open, honest and never condescending. He told me straight from the top that he wasn’t a heavy metal fan, he was more into blues and rock, but he also told me he understood how I could be so affected by it.
Even having been out of home and with Steve for nearly four months I could still not believe that an adult could sit there and tell me he didn’t agree with something I’d said but still respect my right to say it. I could not believe that he was not telling me I was wrong for not thinking the same way he did.
Why did I still think that way? Maybe the thoughts and fears of a child really do get ingrained deeply at a young age, I honestly don’t know but I can tell you it wasn’t the last time I felt like that.