The Bacherts, Mitch and Myself performed under the name Spent. It came from an anticlimactic moment at a Boston Pizza expressing how we were feeling post performance. I had a handful of songs written withs sexual overtones – it was the AC/DC and Sum 41 influence. I know.
Mitch’s dad gave us a late-eighties Dodge Ram. We loaded it with our gear and an incoherent lead guitarist and drove up to Calgary to record for the first time. Tyson awaiting our arrival he gave us the heads up that engineer Matt was gay. It was a defining moment as I had only been exposed to closed-off, small-town notions of homosexuality.
We approached recording in the traditional bed track layering approach with Matt at the helm. We did more partying and drinking than recording. We loaded the van up with alcohol and drove head on into shopping carts, launching them out of the Forest Lawn Shopping Centre parking lot. We headed back to the home studio to record bass tracks. Travis and I went to get grass. I had only taken part in the recreational drugs once at this point at a grad party with Grant Dubé – thought I saw a mountain lion and broke into Nathan Barbour’s grandma’s house to sleep in the downstairs bed. I was a relatively innocent farm kid – weed had yet to become my thing.
We procrastinated leaving to get Derek home for school having already skipped two days and found ourselves making the red-eye. I was driving, Mitch and Derek were drinking and Trav was again comatose on top of the gear in the far back. That was the last I saw Travis for years. He just disappeared.
Our Calgary demos paved the way for actual studio time, we released a five song demo and filled Regina venues. We put 104.9 The Wolf’s logo on our album release posters without permission and sold out The Exchange. We played Savanna’s high school dance and met a new Travis. Trav Harris. A pleasant slender computer wiz. Dabbling in live sound, website design, circuit building, logo creation, and loyalty. One of the most important people to come into my musical career.
Shit was feeding back. At this point we were still doing our own guerilla sound, a muffled vocal underneath an overpowering drum kit. Derek had yet to discover dynamics, breaking snares and sticks at almost every show. Tyson’s harmonies over powered mine so I had to learn to scream. I played an Epiphone SG out of a Fender Reverb (an amp I wish I’d have never pawned) but Tys had a Custom Les Paul and a Mesa Boogie Stack. He overpowered my guitar as well. We accommodated to Mitch’s heart by setting up a microphone but never having it only come through the monitors, never the front of house. Harris was present at our load-in for the Greenall High School Dance as he was working on the school’s computer system after class and offered assistance in our set-up.
Sound checks continued to give me anxiety. The combination of honouring our start time, being up against the clock and not having a clue what we were doing was the catalyst. Harris was calm and collected, he took control of the runaway frequencies and dialled us in. My voice was crisp coming through the monitors, the bass was punchy, and the electric guitars were at a complimenting volume. Derek still bashed his kit above it all. I replaced Travs, offering Harris the opportunity to replicate the sound the following weekend.
Spent took every gig that came our way. We were quickly becoming the go-to entertainment in our corner of the province. I fulfilled managerial duties. Buying Mark Makoway’s Indie Band Bible, I started to see an art to the business and was enjoying marketing my group as much as writing for it. Cold calling venue owners, shaking hands and moving everything forward. Harris was making us a website and we were playing as much as possible around Tyson’s parent’s willingness to book him flights. Rodeos, Nightclubs, Small Town Bars, Acoustic Patios. Drifter’s Bar and Grill, Kendal, Saskatchewan.
“You boys available for our Coyote Ugly Night?” A call I received to my first Rogers flip-phone.
Coyote Ugly Night. Sign me up. Letting Derek know almost gave him a hemorrhage he was so excited. For whatever reason we saw playing for strippers as hitting the big-time. Tyson booked his flight home from Calgary and I called up Harris. He and Derek were both underage but we kept that to ourselves, as we always did.
The night was degeneracy. The band made up for Harris’ sobriety. He had never drank and was committed to the abstinence. Not only did we have a full time sound-tech we now had a full time driver. The dilapidated bar housed rock and roll fuelled nudity. Free pouring tequila down farmers throats after a good harvest. Old boys with their shirts off, dance floor grinding, public urination, and ham sandwiches. I was screaming Def Leppard covers. Derek drummed with a girl on his lap. Mitch didn’t even care to play the correct notes anymore; just slamming away at his four strings. Harris was composed, unaffected by the lechery. I traded an autographed 8×10 photo for a girl to flash him. He was immune. He was there to do a job and that he did. I kicked my mic stand over, he rushed to the stage to have it prepared for the coming chorus. The crowd was jumping onstage, he was ushering them off. He was in his glory and we were a runaway train.
This style of performance management continued for years. Tyson and Mitch enrolled in Global Marketing and Tourism in Medicine Hat College, joined by Derek following his graduation. I quit my job at an air seeder manufacturing plant outside of Regina to join them. Harris had us as a new corrupt family and followed the trend. Finally, for the first time in four years we were all living together in the same city. A band house gave rehearsal space, Derek continued to juggle girlfriends, and Harris co-managed the project with me. We found official management and began running in circles with the who’s who of the Canadian Rock Scene. Finally the years of slugging it out was paying off but something was missing, musicianship wise. We needed that flash to take it to the next level. Mitch knew just the guy, whom he remained in contact with. Travis Rennebohm.