I got around to starting something close to a real band when I was seventeen. I recruited three other skate punk types I knew from high school who could actually play their instruments. Well, at least they knew their way around them well enough to play rudimentary punk rock stuff.
The dude who had drunkenly kissed me in a previous episode was the lead singer. He was fantastic, Dionysus: as I’ve already stated, the kid knew how to move like Jagger, so it wasn’t all that important whether he could sing or not. The guitarist was this shredder hessian kid one year younger than me named Billy and the drummer was a perpetually stoned beach bum by the name of Nicky. It was a pretty solid lineup, and Nicky’s mom never got home until late so we could usually have band practice there.
We weren’t half bad, Dionysus. As far as teenaged punk bands go, I’d say that we had all the right ingredients: hormonal nonchalance, power chords, funny haircuts, ripped jeans, sleeveless T-shirts, and lots and lots of pimples. (The pimples are key.) We called ourselves The Crooks, not because we were criminally inclined, but rather because we had a running adolescent joke going about the curvature of our boy bits. Don’t try to figure that one out, Dionysus–there’s no reason to it.
We only had four songs, but I figured we’d probably leave a musical legacy somewhere between The Adolescents and Black Flag (pre-Rollins and Rollins era combined). I had recently had the epiphany that you really just needed three chords and a few lines and thirty seconds to spare to make a proper punk song, and I figured that I was at least confident enough to do that. So all the songwriting (I use that term loosely) duties fell to me.
But what do seventeen year olds have to write about, Dionysus? We had barely experienced life in any real capacity at all. There were the typical teenage topics of girls and school and parents to draw from, but those were old hat and had been done to death. But we were just brimming with angst and hormones and adolescent rebellion.
Our first song was entitled “Fuck You, Dom Kulas” and was dedicated to/composed about a particular motorcycle cop who used to roust us at the local skatepark. He would always come out of nowhere and swoop down on us unsuspecting kids so that he could write us all costly citations for skating without helmets and pads.
Protective gear ain’t punk, Dionysus.
We hated this fucking guy so much and it seemed only fitting that we pen a song in his honor. So we did. The lyrics were as follows:
Fuck you Dom Kulas, stick your tickets up your ass
Fuck you Dom Kulas, I hope you fucking crash
Fuck you Dom Kulas, gonna knock you off your bike
Fuck you Dom Kulas, go take a fucking hike
Lyrically, it was on par with bathroom stall poetry at the very least, I’d reckon. Musically, it had a pretty killer bass line and some cool drum fills and clocked in at a minute and a half. It was perfect.
Although that was our magnum opus, we had a few other tunes as well. The ones I recall are “Can It,” (about telling people to can it and also totally reminiscent of/ripping off Circle Jerks), “Jack Daniels Threw Me off The Wagon And I Broke My Hip” (about drinking), and “I Sold My Soul On eBay” (about satan and his love of online auction-houses). It was a solid set, indeed.
We’d play these same songs over and over a couple times a week until we got bored or decided that we wanted to go skate or something. But we had all these big plans, Dionysus. We were going to play shows. We were going to put out a record (seven-inch vinyl because that was the most punk rock). We were going to invent time travel and go back to 1979 and invent hardcore. But somehow, we just never got around to it.
The best laid plans of Crooks and punx
Go often lame
And leave us nothing but band buttons
For promised fame
The only concrete thing The Crooks ever accomplished was getting our name on a bunch of punk pins. I found a company and sent away for an order of a hundred pins in a design that I came up with myself: our band name in neon green with a black background and pink polka dots. I checked the mail everyday for two weeks until they came, nearly dying of anticipation in the process.
Bands who had their own pins were, like, the real deal, Dionysus: You couldn’t have pins unless you were a true honest-to-god punk band and because we had pins now we totally were and if you don’t agree then you’re a fucking poseur so either wear the fucking button or fuck off you dick.
I gave those buttons out to every last god damn person I knew on the face of the planet, Dionysus.* I would see friends wearing them at school and feel like the raddest guy on the planet. I had gone from an awkward fat kid who was too afraid to start a real band to an awkward skinny kid who was still too afraid to have a real band but was savvy enough to get buttons made for his not-so-real band.
I was making progress, Dionysus.
Alas, we would never play a show or record any of those songs. My first band came to an end over intraband squabbling over our artistic direction: Norm and Billy thought that we should play Stitches and Le Shok covers because people would probably dig that more**, while I thought that we should play our own stuff because I had a fucking punk rock legacy to lay down, dig? Nicky was too stoned to care either way, so it was curtains for The Crooks.
But I can still play every single one of those songs, Dionysus. How’s that for a legacy?
</3 Sir Rateval Hurtlinge
P.S. All of the erstwhile members of that ill-fated band would go on to play in other bands, all of which were a great deal more popular than The Crooks.
P.P.S. I still can’t play a single Stitches or Le Shok song.
*Which must have been less than one hundred because I still find those pins in my belongings fairly regularly.
**In hindsight, they had a valid point.