No Crackpots !
Many years ago my older brother Erick and I packed up his van with a set of drums, a Marshall amp and a beat up old electric guitar and headed south to Toronto. We had decided that the only way we were going to achieve our dream of being rock stars was to leave South Porcupine, our small home town in the northern part of the province. We’d had our successes playing the club circuit in and around that area but it was time to move on and conquer the big city. We believed that in Toronto we would have more opportunities to find a good bass player, management and a chance at eventually scoring a record deal with a major label.
Down in Toronto the music scene was thriving. Hoards of 80’s hair metal bar bands were plying their trade with seemingly great success. The rock clubs were filled with big haired rocker chicks and long haired metal heads in studded leather jackets. Both guys and girls sported spandex or genitalia clutching jeans and the females weren’t always the only ones wearing lipstick and eyeliner. It seemed like everyone was waiting for the next “big thing” as they perpetually partied the days and nights away. The future looked promising for a young guy with rock star dreams!
So Erick and I set out trying to find a bass player. We placed an ad in The Toronto Star a few times and also the Toronto Sun, if I remember correctly. We were pleased to get some phone calls from people who were interested in the position, and with our youthful excitement in full bloom, we began to arrange auditions with these people. But we were in for a rude awakening!……..Yeah, sure there were a lot more bassists to choose from here in the T.O. than there were back home in Nowhere’sville, but it seemed that most of these guys were only focused on projecting a cool or outrageous image and had apparently neglected to learn how to play bass! At first we thought it was just a fluke that we were getting these “not so good” bassists auditioning for us and we were extremely amused by their personalities and that they appeared to believe that they could actually play bass, but eventually the novelty wore thin and we started getting pissed off with these so called “bassists” for wasting our time. After a while we even changed our Toronto Star newspaper advertisement to specifically say, “NO CRACKPOTS” so as to discourage the “talentless” from applying. The problem is, a Crackpot doesn’t know he’s a Crackpot. This will be clear to anyone who’s watched American Idol. Every year at the beginning of the season, the show will travel city to city across the USA to audition unknown singers. Of course you get some mediocre singers, a few good singers, some average singers, even some great singers, but then you also get those damn CRACKPOTS. Well, let’s just say that we got 80 to 90 percent Crackpots on any given day. So like any desperate musician would do, we hired a Crackpot, played some live shows with the Crackpot, then fired the Crackpot, then looked for a more talented Crackpot and hired him for a while… On and on this went for a few years, upgrading each successive bass player as time went by. If you can’t beat ‘em , join’em , right? And that’s what we did. It was a necessary compromise because apparently all the good bass players were already taken by the more established bands. It was a trying time, but our luck was destined to change.
Fortunately for Erick and me, we had an ace card up our sleeve. Marck, our younger brother who had been playing bass for years and was in his own band at the time, had decided to move to Toronto to join us. Finally we’d have an excellent bass player who had the same musical vision as us! With Marck joining me and Erick, we changed the name of the band, first to IT and later to Damn Wicked. After making a 3 song demo that captured the interest of Sonic Unyon, the most renowned Indie record label in Canada at that time, we kicked the band into overdrive, worked on our new songs, did hundreds of wild and wicked live shows across the province and developed the Damn Wicked sound further. Around the same period, Steve Thompson the ex- manager of Ronnie Hawkins called us up wanting us to join his company. With the belief that his name and network of music industry connections could lead us to big things, we accepted, but after a short time we realized that he didn`t share the same vision as we did, so we cut ties with him. It was the best choice we could have made, allowing us to take sole control of our direction and destiny. Now freed of the management that tried to restrain, contain and misdirect us from our vision, we took the band to an even higher level. We played more shows than ever before and as a result our band was tighter than it’s ever been!
Thinking back to all those dirty, dingy, smelly hotel rooms that we’ve endured after so many gigs, the endless miles of highways we’ve travelled to get to our next show and the headbanger’s whiplash that is inevitable the morning after, I realize that being in a rock band is just as AC/DC’s Bon Scott said long ago, “it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock’n’roll.” It might not be such a long way though if it weren’t for the Crackpots!
I look forward to the next part of this crazy, sometimes difficult, but always interesting and exciting musical journey. I hope you’ll join us on that journey.
If you`d like to hear the most recent milestone of that journey click here to listen to our most recent album, “Damn Wicked EP” Thank you for being a listener and making this incredible adventure worthwhile! [shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”459952″]