The lights are dimmed
The crowd is cheering
The speakers hum
Here comes the
Raging Storm M.S. 1988
My eighteenth birthday, the coming of age in our country, came fairly quickly once Willy and I got the band together and started gigging, but things were still very different for me than a lot of teenagers. Underage drinking and drug use has been a thing since the invention of both substances I’m sure but in the 80’s while it was happening, it was no where near was wide spread as it would become in later years. Except for teenagers like me who had been involved in such things for long enough that both posed little excitement when adulthood was reached.
Don’t get me wrong here I’m not suggesting I was in a select group, or that what I experienced was so much different to others. I’m just suggesting that until the age of eighteen alcohol was a banned substance and many saw it as something they must try the minute they became legal. I was different, I’d been drinking solid for nearly two years, the actual number of years attributed to me made no difference to me getting alcohol.
Something that was changing as I reached the coming of age was my attitudes towards everything around me. I never, well not to my knowledge, disrespected Steve or Jim, and I believe that because Steve never asked me to leave his house, but I did form an unhealthy disrespect for many of the things and people around me.
One of those areas of disrespect became obvious was in my songs. Improved is a subjective term but I also believe in that time they did in fact improve. However my words also became a lot angrier but unlike the earlier songs I wrote which were really just a bunch of interconnecting swear words my songs developed intent and purpose. Now anger is something that seems to go hand in hand with heavy metal, and even more so with genres like speed metal where the music can be as aggressive as lyrics, so instead of writing songs that just said fuck you, fuck off, fuck the world, I began writing songs about people.
As you can guess many of the songs quickly and so damn effortlessly became about my father, his beliefs, his teachings and his treatment, in fact they so easily became about him that it became difficult to not write about him.
In today’s society it has almost become fashionable for a person to see a doctor, a head shrink, call them what you will, when they have issues like I had while growing up, but in the 80’s it was often somewhat taboo to be seen visiting such a person. For someone like me it was unheard of, partly because of my age, but also because in the circles I travelled needing help was a weakness, often weakness never discussed but a weakness none the less. So instead of seeing someone who might have been able to help me make sense of what I was thinking and feeling I wrote about them.
Many of the songs became angry expressions about what I had seen, heard or experienced and while they rhymed better, flowed better and sounded more like a collection of words that belonged together to tell a story, they were still very angry. On stage when I sung the words I’d spit them with venom, I’d play the guitar harder, Willy would pound the drums harder, Travis and Dennis would play harder and the music got faster. It all made for a good show and the fans were lapping it up but it was also making for one twisted lead singer and song writer.
Although Willy and I were the main contributors to the song writing both Travis and Dennis chipped in with different breaks, solos and tunes but it was my lyrics that always seemed to get used. When we entered the studio to record our first album we had fifteen original tunes, by the time the album was recorded we’d cut it down to ten songs and each one of them contained songs about my past.
I wasn’t the only one that held the opinion that it was a good album, especially for a debut, but there was no mistaking it’s darkness. We got good reviews from local magazines, we got good reviews for national magazines, we also got some interest from several overseas magazines and we were getting radio play. The album was powerful, it was solid and it was to me the finest thing I had created in my life. I was far from coming out of any darkness I had put myself in but I could see the sunshine.
What I didn’t realise it was that just seeing the sunshine was not enough, things were falling down around me and all I could do was blame everyone else. It took me a while to see that when the band broke up it was mainly because I kept returning to my dark place whenever I started song writing. How long I spent in the dark place was completely random, sometimes it lasted minutes, sometimes hours, sometimes days and no one could bring my out. In the end they stopped trying.
Travis left first and in an angry couldn’t give a fuck state I vowed to replace him without even asking why. After three weeks of inaction Dennis left citing that it mattered not how good our album was, if we were not playing it to people, we were not a band. Again anger was stronger than thought and I ignored him. While both Travis and Dennis had been more than just players I vowed that they could be replaced and Willy and I pushed on wards, however on wards pretty much just consisted of heading back to our rehearsal room and getting drunk, and for me stoned.
But it wasn’t until Willy left that I suddenly woke up.