Wednesday, April 08, 2009

April 8, 1994: One of the Most Important Days of My Life

15 years ago today the world learned that Kurt Cobain had taken his own life (allegedly) in his Seattle home. As someone whose devotion to Kurt Cobain in the early 1990s was second only to his devotion to God (and, if I'm brutally honest with myself, there were probably times when I was more devoted to Kurt), it was a rough day.

It was a Friday, and I had to work a short shift—from 4:00 until 8:00—at the Wendy's on the corner of Shelby Street and US 31 in Indianapolis. I heard the news on the radio as I was driving to work. I needed to talk to somebody, but I couldn't. (In 1994 few 17-year-olds had cell phones.) Instead, I was stuck at work, holding back my tears as I maintained the Superbar.

After work, I went looking for Tim Gober, a close friend and fellow Nirvana devotee. I finally found him at our friend Smitty's house. (As I recall, Smitty wasn't terribly upset but said that he would have been had Eddie Vedder, rather than Kurt Cobain, been found dead. We eventually forgave him.)

That night, sitting at Smitty's kitchen table listening to the radio play one Nirvana tune after the next, Tim and I decided to start a band. We'd been thinking about doing so for several months. During our 1993–94 winter break—in between morning and afternoon swimming practices—we made several trips to Guitars & More in Greenwood. That January, I bought a bass guitar, Tim bought a regular guitar, and we both bought practice amps. Tim took a few guitar lessons, and I tried teaching myself to play bass (drawing on knowledge from ten years of piano lessons and a brief stint as the first-chair French horn player in the Perry Meridian High School symphonic band). Come April, we weren't ready to start a band, but we couldn't wait any longer. Kurt was dead, and we had to pick up where he'd left off. (Seriously, we said that to each other.)

The following week Tim and I began practicing as a two-piece, writing songs, and looking for a drummer. Within a few weeks, Tim had convinced Brian Fuzzell, our class's best rock 'n' roll percussionist, to join the band on an interim basis. Brian was in another band with friends from another school, and these friends actually knew how to play their instruments. But Brian's primary band had been together for one-and-a-half years and had written one-and-a-half songs. When Tim and I first practiced with Brian on May 5, 1994, we'd already written three. (They were horrible songs, but there were three of them. Click here to download "Dead Frog," the first of those three songs. I warned you; it's awful.) Two months later Tim, Brian, and I played our first show, a six-song set at the TA Skate Shop on the east side of Indianapolis. We booked the show as Liquid Refreshment and played the show as Liquid Diet. By the end of the summer Brian's other band had dissolved.

For the next six years, the band (later known as Drywall and the National Biscuit Company and, in another incarnation, as Pink Mongoose and Three Hit Combo) was my top priority. It was more important to me than school. The band played a role in every close friendship I made between 1995 and 2000 and is responsible for many of the friendships that I maintain still today. Had it not been for the band, I'm not sure that Ashlee and I would have gotten to know each other; and I know at least one other married couple that wouldn't be together if not for Liquid Diet/Drywall/NBC/Pink Mongoose/Three Hit Combo. And were it not for Kurt Cobain committing suicide (allegedly), who knows if Tim and I would have been motivated to start a band in the first place.


Blogger Matt Wittlief said...

RIP, Kurt.

I was on a college visit at Concordia - River Forest, where I ultimately attended. After my campus visit, if I recall, we drove up to Wisconsin to meet with my cousins. They broke the news to me. I was devastated, but didn't feel like I could really show my emotion.

We left for Indy the next day and arrived that evening. I immediately got in touch with Chris Elmore and met up with other friends at his house. I remember driving on Stop 11 with "Breed" cranked as loud as it could get. I was crying.

I had already started a band at that time and (sort of) played one show. Our first real show was on July 10 playing with a band named Liquid Diet.

My story is pretty similar to Josh's after that point.

Miss you, buddy. Miss Kurt too. I love reading your blog.

3:38 PM  

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