The Insulation Warehouse

Hang on a minute…You know what? That’s not right about Kate. We did see her a few more times. I think about a week or 2 after that first rehearsal with Kate, we did another one in Midgett’s basement. Same line up. Same everybody. Same tunes, a few more. Definitely more yankin’ around. I wanted to cook up a few more atmospheric dance floor dirges like the one we came up with before, so I was tryin to play like that. We spent a lot of time playin Kick In The Eye by Bauhaus. It’s a disco song. It has a funky bass line and a great solid backbeat. There are two different versions. The one on the album has a kind of swampy overdriven guitar and the one on the single has a harsh clean clanging guitar tone. I would alternate between those two styles . It sounded good and was fun to play. When Midgett sang it, it kind of sounded like Morrissey.

Here’s the problem. I fuckin’ hate The Smiths. I think they are the most un-rock and roll thing to ever happen. It’s like somebody watched The Outsiders and decided to start a Soc band; Let’s dress like nerds and play this garbage music. I waited for a time when it would appeal to me. I waited patiently for some new maturity to get me on the train. It never happened. I have two exceptions: Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me and How Soon Is Now. The rest of it you can keep. The first Morrissey solo album was pretty good too, and then he petered out for me. I don’t think I would listen to any of that now. I’m just saying, at the time, those two Smiths songs and solo Morrissey album didn’t totally gag me. Not long before this, The Talking Heads released their last album, Naked. Kurt Loder claimed that Johnny Marr played on the album. I listened to that album and I think Marr’s contribution must have been minimal because the album doesn’t blow.

We had a couple folky tunes we were doing. Both covers, such as Bauhaus’ Crowds and original numbers like the Midgett/Kilroy composition, Black Line In Your Halo, which Jamie immediately started to refer to as Black Line On Your Dildo. He was great like that. So quick. Midgett would say “ I need a something to rhyme with ‘hollow hills’ and without missing a beat, Jamie would leap up, stroking an imaginary massive cock and yell, “12 INCH DILLS!” Anyway, these folky things were easy to do because they were just a few chords, but they also kind of stunk, because there wasn’t anything good for the rhythm section to do. Just a hi hat and root notes? It sounds good, but it’s kind of boring once you’ve blasted out in a rock and roll way, or had some kind of danceable groove goin’. We sounded ok that day, but there wasn’t a new rush of creativity like there had been at the last (which was our first) get together. Midgett sounded better on the slow, quiet tunes.  Kate sounded better on the dreary dance pop, but she seemed more reserved this time around and I think she was also only there for a short part of the rehearsal. Neither of them had anything to do while the other was singing. It was like two very different singers sharing a backing band. It didn’t meld. Again, we drifted into playing this A minor reggae/rock/bordering on ska jam and when we did so, we sprang to life. It was super corny and not remotely gothic. Midget and Kate stared at the ceiling, bored until we stopped.

We took a couple weeks off after that. I think maybe summer had started. The summer before my senior year of high school. I called Jamie and said “Hey man, you want to play some music……without Midgett?” He was like, “Dude, you read my mind. My dad has a garage he keeps all his insulation shit in. We might be able to play there.” I was super excited. We came up with a date and time. I called Erik, the drummer. I told him our idea about dumping Midgett (from his own band and never telling him) and convening at the insulation garage. When I told him the address, he got double excited. It was literally a block and a half from his house.

The day came, and the insulation warehouse ended up being really cool. It had it’s own parking lot and although, as I said, it was not far from peoples’ houses, it wasn’t attached to any of them. It wasn’t part of any row of houses. This neighborhood I’m talking about, the very eastern part of Wissinoming, is right on the edge of the city, butted up against I-95. Beyond that, there is only the river, then New Jersey. There were a lot of garages around and it was right near the Frankford Arsenal, which was where everybody’s great aunts worked during World War 2, building bombs to kill people in other places while waiting for their boyfriends to come back from other places. It was still in use, but on a much quieter scale, so the semi industrial quality of the neighborhood felt remote and free. There WAS a bunch of fiberglass insulation in a pile on one side of the garage and we damned sure didn’t want to come into contact with any of that, but the place was huge, so we just set up right in the middle. Erik got his drums set up on a small rug so they wouldn’t slide around. Then after beating on them for a few minutes, he said, “Alright, I gotta go get Kate at Bridge & Pratt” (the train station). Aw fuck, really? I thought. That sucks. I was just gettin ready to rock. “ Oh, O.K.” I said.

I think Jamie and I waited a long time for them to come back. The whole time his fingers climbed up and down the neck of his white P bass, playin all kinds of riffs. I asked him to slow down, so I could see what he was doin, and try to play along. He was gettin really good really fast. I said, “Are these songs?” He told me they were just riffs he was workin on but that yeah, they could become songs if me and Erik played along and somebody wrote some lyrics and sang them.

He told me about all these bands he was into. He liked The Doors and Pink Floyd and Bauhaus and Christian Death just fine, but he was getting into these Bay Area punk bands on a label called Lookout! Records. He had a bunch of 45s with a small hole that you play at 33 RPM(he called them “seven inches”) and they had two songs on each side. He said he got them from Maximum Rock & Roll. I thought he was describing a type of music like how The Who are Maximum R&B, but he was talking about a newsprint magazine that came out monthly(?) that had reviews and interviews with a million fuckin bands. He was talking about bands called Crimpshrine, Prosthetic Head, Plaid Retina, Kamala & The Carnivores, Christ on Parade, Alice Donut, Steel Pole Bathtub, and Neurosis, and Nausea and Born Against.

I didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about. I knew about major label bands and punk bands, but to me, punk bands were bands like The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash, The Misfits, Dead Kennedys, and Dag Nasty and I was starting to drift away from all that heavy shit anyway. I was embracing art rock, worshipping all phases of Bowie and looking to cultivate a New Wave sensibility. He kept saying DIY. We could do this! We could make one of these stupid records. We could record it, get 300 of them pressed, get it reviewed, take out an ad in Maximum Rock and Roll and charge $3 for each one. “Postage paid” he kept saying. I nodded my head like I knew what that meant. I was wondering how we’d record it and he was already counting our profits.

Jamie and I kept on playing and finally Erik and Kate showed up. Kate was dressed like a gothic Native American. There was white fringe involved. Instead of hair, she had long dreadlocks made out of black yarn. She had eye make up like Siouxie, but better. We gave her the microphone and played the one song that we did really well. Kate sang it just fine, but seemed bored or self conscious or both. I was having a blast. We started playing some of the riffs we worked on while we were waiting. Erik joined in and it was loud and fun and heavy. I asked Kate if she had any poems she could sing to these works in progress. She didn’t. In fact, she didn’t even have her notebook with her. She sat off to the side, looking bored until she declared she had to roll, and asked Erik to take her back to the train station. Erik said “Sure! I just have to take my drums home first.”

They left and Jamie & I loaded our shit back into my Cutlass Supreme, locked up, and headed west, back to our neighborhoods. He sat thinking for a minute and asked me, “Yo, why’s Erik dress like a skinhead? He’s not white power, is he?!”

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