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Monday, August 9, 2010

Warships

Up to this point I have primarily written about my Nashville experience, but I had an entire external hard drive worth of musical doodads and humdingers long before I moved below the Mason-Dixon line. So, to catch y'all up to speed I'll give you a small primer in Tres Crow's musical history.

I came to the University of Michigan in the fall of 1998 with one goal in mind (other than those obvious other things *wink wink nudge nudge*): to start a band and become a huge rock star. For those of you who may not remember, in the fall of 1998 the biggest rock star in the world was Fred Durst of the now very much passe nu-metal outfit Limp Bizkit. I, being only 17 at the time, was not immune to the narcotic testosterone-fueled pull of a tiny Napoleonic b-boy wannabe shouting about broken hearts and how society'd done 'im wrong, and so I, like just about every other Midwestern boy of my age, was a huge Limp Bizkit fan (and by extension, Korn, Deftones, Coal Chamber, etc., etc.). This is to say that in the fall of 1998, I wanted to form a hard rock band and become a huge rock star.

Being the hyper-naive and idealistic individual that I was at the time I thought that one could simply will something into existence. So after two years in college and nothing to show for it except several broken starts at forming bands, I was beginning to get desperate and frustrated.

After yet another night of jamming by myself I did what all good, middle-class boys do when they are bummed out...I called my mom. I am not unaware of the extra special dose of patheticness at this juncture in the story, but I feel that it is important to give due where due is due, and in this case due is most certainly due to my mom for offering me a simple, but ultimately profound piece of advice. She told me to stop bitching and put up some flyers around campus stating exactly what I was looking for. She was right.

The very next day I put up about ten of the worst looking Microsoft Word flyers a college kid ever placed on light poles and somehow, despite the godawful quality of my flyer design, I received exactly four emails, one from each of the four future members of Oblivion.

By the start of Winter semester 2000 the line-up of the band was complete and practices were begun in earnest, in the living room of the ground floor apartment I shared with two other people (who must be commended for putting up with the screeching and scrawing of a nascent band's first tepid attempts at rock glory).

Oblivion (which is an admittedly stupid name) was a band that made a ton of mistakes. We were young and stupid and arrogant as hell, and we tied ourselves together and believed whole-heartedly in our collective vision, and played show after show after show with the same intensity as the first one. We believed in miracles. We believed that five dudes from three different parts of the country could somehow find each other and make music and believe in that music so much that it would be enough to carry them out of the wastelands of Southeast Michigan into the top of the charts and onto television and into the magazines. We made two full length albums, which we financed entirely ourselves, sometimes with money, sometimes with Jagermeister. We lived in the same house together for two of our four years, and we practiced four nights a week and jammed on acoustic guitars all the other ones, and played over 100 shows and bled on guitars and ruined voices and lifted heavy-ass amps up hundreds of flights of stairs. We did all of these things so that we could become rock stars and live in mansions and talk about charities at the Oscars. We did these things so we could have models for wives and all of the food and drink we could ever want. We did these things so we could dance on the ashes of the world as we burned that motherf**ker down.

But things didn't quite turn out that way. We broke up. I left for Nashville. Ben went back to NYC. Nate went back to Kentucky. I was bitter. I think we all were.

But these years later, it's occurred to me that maybe we weren't playing our music in empty coffee shops and packed clubs because we really wanted any of those things. Maybe we always knew we didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting carried out of Michigan on a wave of popular support. Maybe we always knew things would end up exactly the way they did. Maybe we were playing for all the reasons we couldn't make it in the first place: we were young, stupid, and arrogant, and we wanted to shout it from the roof tops. Maybe we were filled to the bursting with an idea, an idea of ourselves and the world and how all the puzzle pieces fit and we believed that this idea could actually change something. Maybe we were drunk on beer and love and our fraternity, and we knew that our grip was slipping on all of this and if we didn't hold on real tight we would let go and never get it back.

Maybe we were playing because young people are crazy, and were young and we didn't know any other way to be.

Regardless, the music I made with these four guys, and the people we surrounded ourselves with have provided me with a lifetime of memories and I wouldn't give any of it back. Though I struggle sometimes with the pestering demon of failure, I find more and more that those days spent practicing in a disgusting basement and sitting on the porch and talking about how "big" we were gonna be are some of the headiest times of my life. I was headed exactly where I was supposed to go, and though it seemed often that I was on the wrong road, I wasn't. I just didn't realize it.

Now I kinda do. Kind of.

"Warships" was the flagship song from Oblivion's first record, titled "...". The music was a collaborative affair but the lyrics came from a long, free-form poem I wrote after 9-11 about the American wardrum I could hear booming from every rooftop. I was deeply worried about the violence inherent in our response, since violence often begets violence and so on and so forth, and I desperately wished for some other way. If there was, it got quickly squashed under the grinding wheels of tanks as we went first into Afghanistan and then Iraq. But, for whatever it's worth, this song stands as one naive 21-yr-old's rebuke of violence. Of course, it is ironic that I scream repeatedly throughout a song about non-violence, but I think 25 years after the inception of Hardcore punk it's no longer really all that shocking for screaming to be employed on a wide array of topics other than anarchy and revolution.

Ed. note: For those of you who swayed politely at your desks while listening to the soothing recordings of Noble Three, Greenland, and Tres Crow, be duly warned. I was a lot more...how should I say?...full of "spirit" when I was younger. Which is to say, Oblivion is not your mama's folk act.


Warships

Music By Oblivion
Lyrics by Tres Crow

I had a feeling that this would not go well
It did
I don’t suspect that I could be the one
Eight years old and already a prophet

Campus-wide I spread out my wings
Flap my hands all to take off

I can see clearly now that the smoke is all gone
Hypocrisy now we all suffer

I had a feeling that this would not go well
It didn’t
I don’t suspect that I could be the one to breed
And to take off

I can see clearly now that the smoke is all gone
Hypocrisy now we all suffer

I’m sorry for all your tears
Ages ago I did not think that I could be here now I am
But it's not fair, it's not fair
Ages ago I did not think that I could be here
Now I am now what?

Lyrics reprinted by permission Shire Reckoning Publishing House




2 comments:

Misopogon said...

Um, you forgot to mention that musically Oblivion was really really really good. Badly in need of a producer and a direction, but still really really good at making rock music.

Tres Crow said...

I didn't forget so much as I left that for the other 30 posts I'm going to be doing in the future. But thanks for mentioning it. ;-)