Music

Enema of the State – 20th Anniversary

Enema of the State – blink-182 – 1999

Back in 1999, I was a fourteen year old kid still listening mostly to stuff his parents liked and occasionally venturing into classic rock. I was testing the waters of a handful of different bands like Everclear, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and some other bands that I had heard on the radio before. I was starting to look for something that spoke to me and who I was at that age.

Along comes a little band called Blink-182 and their racy album with a porn star on the cover. I didn’t know much about it at the beginning until All the Small Things hit the radio and MTV. It blew the roof off music at the time. We were living in the Lou Perlman era of popular music. Boy bands were being cranked out of a factory and that was the thing most accessible for a lot of us, but we needed something else. Blink came along with their fun lyrics, Tom’s unlikely singing voice, and an accessible form of punk rock that would create a rift between kids who liked that, and purists who only believed in bands like The Dead Kennedys or Screeching Weasel.

I finally got a chance to pick up this parental advisory stickered opus and my musical world was blown right open. I didn’t just hear songs that I could toss to the side. I heard a way music was being played that called to me. I grew up avoiding rock completely. I didn’t even think Green Day was something I should listen. For some reason the bright tones, fast guitar, and drums of Enema of the State pulled me in. From track to track to track, I was enthralled.

I eventually bought a red electric Squier stratocaster from the music shop in town. It was one of those deals that came with a small 13″ amp and was just enough to get started. I got home with it and called my best friend Patrick to tell him what I did.

He had done the exact same thing and bought a bass.

It was a match that worked for us and we will always have that musical camaraderie that I don’t think I’ll ever find anywhere else. We learned every song that we were capable of on that album. We played All the Small Things until we could play it in our sleep. We enlisted our friend Jason to play drums and before we knew it, we were in a band, learning songs, and trying to be as good as all the bands we were learning about.

I found MxPx and Green Day first, then Sum 41 came along and just about every band on Drive-Thru Records followed. Pop-punk wasn’t just a genre. It was the music that I could identify with. It didn’t spend all of it’s time on politics, anarchy, or global turmoil. In the pop-punk/emo world, you could hear songs about things that actually mattered on a micro level. Not only that, it was perfect for high school me.

Enema of the State is still one of my favorite albums of all time. The difference in Mark and Tom’s voices give each song a different flair. Tom’s guitar playing is fast and aggressive, but it’s also bright and melodic. Mark’s bass is a perfect accompaniment to it. It goes without saying that Travis Barker is one of the greatest drummers in the world and his skills are on full display here. What luck it was for this “crappy punk rock” band to get Travis on their drums.

I have a Tom Delonge signature strat in my closet that I got for Christmas at 16. It still has a warm place in my heart. I took that guitar everywhere. I bled on that guitar at shows that my band played when I nicked my finger on the strings. I wrote an album with Patrick and Jason with it. It’s a treasure to me and despite my musical tastes developing to a place where it doesn’t do everything I need, I still love it. It’s a gorgeous, bright yellow music machine.

Blink-182 is still around these days with Matt Skiba as the guitarist in place of Tom. I love Matt Skiba. I think he’s great. But this isn’t my Blink. The combo of Mark and Tom was something special, and it created a few very special albums that worked. New Blink is fine, but it’s missing a crucial element in the sound that I can’t put my finger on. There is something about Tom’s playing that will always be missing. Same goes for Tom’s band, Angels and Airwaves. It’s missing something in the melody that Mark always brought to the table.

I’m feeling very nostalgic as I listen to this stuff. I miss my high school days, and playing music in the garage. All I can really do now is play when I get an opportunity and maybe introduce Sam to this stuff some day. If he wants to play music, I’ll be right there to support whatever grabs his attention. I know when Blink got me, I was never the same. A world opened and I wanted to see what I could find. Sam is going to find a door to his own world, and I’m pretty pumped to see what’s behind it.

Hamilton

I saw Hamilton last night and it lived up to all the hype.

To give you a bit of history on my journey to this amazing moment, I’ll go back about a year. A good friend of mine told me that he had been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and was really digging it. I had heard that the musical was amazing and remarkably well done, but I had never really bothered to look into it much more than that. I’ve been to musicals before and enjoyed them. I’d even worked at a theatre for a time and ran lights for a show. How could this musical truly be any different?

Then I listened to it. 

I have never been a fan of rap, hip-hop, or R&B, but I have always been a fan of good music. It’s not that those genres aren’t good, it’s just never the first thing I seek out. Hamilton is full of it, and I loved every bit of it. The story is so well told using this medium and these chosen genres of music. It’s both an uplifting and tragic tale told in two acts with striking differences in their portrayal. The rise and fall of one of America’s most forgotten founding fathers. I listened to the whole thing at work … twice. I was humming songs on the way home and had managed to get myself obsessed with it. 

The only real bummer about listening to it rather than *seeing* it, is that you miss all the visual queues, dancing, even characters with the music. There were times on the soundtrack where I wasn’t really sure who was actually singing because I’m not that great at recognizing individual voices and remembering who they belong to. Though the story is just as powerful when you listen blind, there is a layer added to it when you get to see it performed live.

The road crew on this thing was amazing. Anytime I hear about a touring show, I always have a small worry that the people performing are somehow sub-par compared to those on Broadway. I couldn’t be more wrong. These people were top notch performers. Their voices were powerful and familiar to me even after having listened to the soundtrack so many times. The goal wasn’t to find a sound-alike person, but rather a strong performer who could carry the role as it was intended. They knocked it out of the park. The major standout to me was the woman who played Eliza Hamilton. She had one of the most beautiful voices that I’ve ever heard.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to see this show. There are people who wait years to get into it. We were able to get a couple of abandoned tickets from some friends of ours so we could go. I’ll forever be thankful for them offering those up, because this truly was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us. The likelihood of us ever making our way to New York or Chicago just to see a play is so low. Our best bet was to see it when it came here. 

If you ever get a chance to see this show you should do it. It was beautiful in so many different ways. I laughed and I cried through the whole thing. I’m not the biggest Hamilton (the man) fan as he was a bit of a big government pseudo-monarchist, but that doesn’t make his story any less incredible. It’s worth checking out. It’s a story of an orphaned immigrant with all of the odds stacked against him who fought his way up the ladder despite constant opposition. There’s something to admire there no matter how you feel about his politics. 

Go see Hamilton. You won’t regret it. 

In Desperate Need of Vitamin D, But This Will Have To Do

There has been a significant lack of sunshine in the Northeast part of the US for the past MONTH, and I am definitely needing some valuable vitamin D. I think I know what Superman feels like when his powers have been sapped from being off planet too long. It’s been snowing here for the past 2 weeks and hasn’t really let up much at all. The sun has had about 5 minutes to poke through the never-ending overcast that continues to blanket the state, and it looks like there is no end in sight. Spring can’t get here soon enough.

Today IS Valentine’s Day though! It’s a day to spend with your loved ones, whether that be a significant other or not, and just appreciate who each other is. I celebrated Valentine’s Day yesterday with Steph up in Pittsburgh where we registered for some wedding gifts and had an awesome time at the Melting Pot stuffing our faces until they had to roll us out. It was snowy up there too, but we spent most of our time inside picking through all the kitchen stuff at Macy’s and choosing our china patterns and crystal. I’ve never had china before so I didn’t really know a whole lot about it, but Steph explained it all to me. I also got to use the little scanner thing they give you to pick out the stuff you want. Now THAT was fun. It was running Windows Mobile, which surprised me. I know, I’m a nerd.

Then, on top of all that Valentine’s Day awesomeness, Angels & Airwaves went off and released their new album for free for the masses! I know this has been done before, but this time it was a band that I’m actually really into. It’s amazing too! Tom Delonge and his crew have done it again. This one is called “Love” and it’s clear through the album that he firmly believes that love is the answer to everything. He’s right. I love that he released it on Valentine’s Day too. I donated a few bucks to them because everybody who makes something this awesome deserves some compensation, and I hope that a lot of other people donated too. These guys work hard to bring us the music we want, and at least this way we know that our money is going straight to them and not into the pockets of some crooked record producer at the top of a shiny tower. He’s probably petting a cat and laughing sinisterly too. Don’t give your money to that.

Anyway, I’m so freaking tired right now and I can’t figure out why. Maybe some Vitamin D supplements will help with my happy, but I still don’t think it’s a substitute for real live sunshine. That would be nice.

The Hero Returns

030825-N-4943L-002I wrote a post on this blog on February 22, 2005 detailing the downfall of my favorite band in the whole world: Blink 182. I can’t even explain to you how devastated I was that the band that made me want to play music, wasn’t going to be playing music together anymore. It’s kind of like my whole musical life fell apart right there. Not only did I not have my old band, Eveningside, I lost the band that made me want to play guitar in the first place. That was not a fun day for me, and I thought it was all over. And it was….until now.

Last night on the 51st grammy awards, Blink 182 came out on stage together and announced that they were back! I actually didn’t even get to see this! I wasn’t paying any attention to the grammy’s last night becuase, let’s face it, they are LAME most of the time. I actually got a call from my wonderful mom this morning on the way to work. She told me and I nearly jumped out of my seat in joy! It was completely unexpected and I totally didn’t believe her at first, but then I just let myself give in to the thought that my favorite band may be back in business. The first thing I did once I got to work was google it and there it was! Blink 182 is back and plans to pick up right where they left off.

blink182I thought for sure that they would never be back together again. Mark had +44 and was doing so well, and so was Tom with Angels & Airwaves. I loved both of those bands, but neither of them were as good as Blink ever was. Tom and Mark have a chemistry in music that allows them to create some of the coolest songs I’ve ever heard. It’s kind of like having a music soul mate. I feel that way about my friend Patrick. No matter how long we go without talking to each other, or how different we become from one another, we will ALWAYS have our music. I could pick up a guitar and play with him like it was yesterday. I don’t know that I’ll ever find someone else that I can click with like that.

I’m super excited for what the future holds with the newly reformed Blink. I’m so glad they were able to set aside their differences and come back to their roots. I have no idea what to expect, but I know that I’ll love it. I loved the last CD they did, even though they did take a darker turn. They’ve all been through so much in the last four years that I’m sure they will have plenty of material. I’m just glad they can be friends again. They were best friends before the fallout and when something that dramatic happens it’s hard to pick up the pieces. I’m so glad they did.

Here’s to you, Blink 182! Teach me how to rock again.

The Great Disaster

I find myself in a very inconvenient spot right now, and that is a spot without any internet whatsoever. I never really realize how much I lean on the internet until I don’t have it at all. To make matters worse, the TV is also not working at the moment. It is doing nothing to help me cope with the situation other than the peaceful fuzz that actually is can work pretty good as a sleep aid. At least for me, but I’m weird like that. Just in case you are wondering how on earth I am writing a blog post, the computer still works and I’m using it to document my internet-less moment.

It’s been down for a while now and I was sitting around trying to find something else to do but I just can’t seem to find anything. It’s not there aren’t things to do, I just don’t feel like doing any of the things that I could be doing. I really need to clean up my desk, or clean my bathroom, or clean … well, everything in general. I did manage to go get the mail and enjoy a few minutes of sunshine. Man, I just can’t get enough of that stuff.

The mailbox was especially kind today and greeted me with a few Netflix movies, one of them being Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds live! I’m actually watching it right now and it’s freakin’ awesome! The guy is a magician on the guitar. I wish I could learn to play as good as he can, but I just think some people are born with more talent than others. I really wish that I could sing…at all. It’s fun playing guitar, but some things just can’t be expressed with only musical notes. I feel like 10 people reading this just went, “Whoa! Yes they can!” Well, maybe your right, but you can’t really get specific without some good words to accentuate the feeling of your music.

Speaking of music, I started playing guitar since the internet went down and am really enjoying myself. I’ve been trying to master two songs right now and am getting somewhere. I’ve got them down on guitar but I’m entertaining myself by trying to sing them decently too so I can enjoy playing them when I’m alone. In case you are curious, the songs are “Walk Through Hell” by Say Anything, and “The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe. I know that “The Freshmen” is an old song, but some songs are just classic and deserve to be learned. It’s got a really sweet little acoustic riff in it and I love it.

I guess I’ll let you guys go now and I’ll continue to enjoy my Dave Matthews DVD. Not that I was holding you here or anything, because I’m pretty sure I can’t do that. Unless, of course, I’ve captivated you so much with my brilliant words that you can’t seem to pull yourself away from the computer screen. In that case, I release you! Later!

Say Anything!

My good buddy Patrick has introduce me to what has become one of my favorite bands ever: Say Anything. These guys are incredible. It did take me a bit to get into them because they are all over the place in terms of musical style, but that really adds to their appeal. I’ve found a few videos on YouTube of their lead singer, Max Bemis, playing a few of their songs. I guess it’s from something he did with MTV at some point. These are acoustic, but the real version are freakin’ rockin’ huge :). So check this one out as a sample, because I love it. I hope you will too 🙂