Saturday, June 18, 2011

95 – Struggle- Six Feet Deep

This is the only spot on the top 100 in which I knew the band members. Therefore I have to make a disclaimer here- interpretations of events are my own.

It was 1992. I was working at Marco’s Pizza as a delivery guy…err… “service representative”. I was getting turned on to a lot of different styles of music thanks to Living Words bookstore and Heaven’s Metal magazine. It was on one of those music buying jags that I frequently took that I saw a flyer up on a bulletin board- Living Sacrifice was coming to Euclid. Well, I didn’t get to see too many Christian concerts, and metal shows generally didn’t make it past California or New York. Occasionally a place in Columbus would bring a band in, but that was 3 hours away. There was no way I was missing this show.

Someone forgot to tell my manager at Marco’s that I had a concert to attend. I worked lunch most days, and I should have been able to get out with plenty of time to drive to Euclid. Think again. I left work at 7PM, and the concert was at 7:30. I went home long enough to change my shirt and get my ticket, and then I broke all kinds of laws to get there by 7:40. The opening band, Weeping Prophet, had already taken the stage.

In between bands I went to the lobby to check out their merchandise table. As I signed up for their mailing list I noticed that several addresses ahead of me had Elyria as a hometown. This was cool. I had to figure out a way to meet these guys, although I had no idea who they were. Somehow I had to make this work.

The hand of fate intervened for me. The promoter had a drawing for free stuff which I had entered. The winners of most of the free stuff? A group of guys in the front row, whose names matched the names on the mailing list, the guys from Elyria. After Circle of Dust played their second or third ever set, I found the guys in the lobby. Myk, Mike, Tom, Matt, Joanne, Cheryl, Lesley, Leslie… I think they were all there, possibly some others whose names I can’t remember. But Myk, Mike Tom and Matt for sure. After discussing some bands and shamelessly mentioning that I too was from Elyria, Ohio, they mentioned that they had a Bible study going, and would I like to come? Hmm… hell yeah I wanted to come.

This was my introduction to the band Six Feet Deep, a hardcore band from my hometown. I went to the Bible study, which was led by Johnny, another musician who was from Los Angeles. He married a woman named Tracy I believe, and they moved back to Tracy’s hometown of Amherst. I was certainly the odd man out in this group of Christians, where the average tattoo rate was probably three per person and the body piercing… let’s just say more than me. Of course, it isn’t hard to get more than zero. But it wasn’t a clique thing, which is what I feared. Instead , it was all about the Bible and the fellowship. They were friendly and welcomed me in, and I was able to cross “Become friends with a punk band” off my bucket list.

I began attending their band rehearsals. It was fascinating to watch songs progress from simple guitar lick to fully finished with lyrics. I remember one in particular, a song based on Psalm 69 called “Valley of Salt”. They played one groove over and over… and over… and over, but the end result was a great tune. They weren’t just about playing fast, but matching fast and hard playing with hooks and grooves. My favorite song of theirs, “Out of the Wreck”, even featured a little rap. (If one of the guys in the band is reading this, does this song exist anywhere? My demo tape has long since worn out.)

They eventually were signed to REX Records, a Christian label which specialized in metal and hard rock acts, and recorded their first full-length album Struggle. And for the first time in my life, my name was listed in the “special thanks to…” section of an album. They worked hard to get to this point, and I rejoiced with them.

We hung out together, eating breakfast at Country Kitchen after Bible study many times. I drove some of them to Michigan for a concert one Saturday afternoon, where I got an intimate look at the drummer as he mooned our car down a Michigan highway. The relationships I formed were what I envisioned church to be in my idealistic mind. (Except for the mooning.) But time marches on. In 1993 I decided to move out of town and pursue a master’s degree in theology. Somewhere along the line the Bible study group scattered to the four winds. Marriage entered the picture for some. I soon lost track of this little group of Christians whose presence in my life for that short year made a world of difference to me.

I ran into Matt at the Record Exchange several years later and he updated me on the whereabouts of the group. A couple of the guys formed a new group called Brandston, and later on Swarm of Bats. A couple of the guys were out of music altogether. Unfortunately, one woman, a very talented photographer who was one of the nicest women you were ever going to meet, had been killed in a car accident. Not sure who was still attending church and who wasn’t, but at the time I ran into Matt I wasn’t, so who was I to judge?

So to Myk, Mike, Matt, Matt, Tom, Johnny, John, Leslie, Lesley, Cheryl, Joanne, Tracy, Amy, and whoever else whose name is slipping my mind, thank you. You made a crappy year of my life a little more enjoyable and full of life and fun. And Cherie, God rest your soul, you were a very fun woman who I miss. I wish you were still with us.

Sometimes the album becomes more about the context in which I hear it than the album itself.


Blogger Tom said...

I'm glad my mooning has etched its way into your mind. Miss ya homie

11:50 PM  

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