My brother was my first bassist, kind of. I taught him single grooves along to “Closing Time” by Semisonic and we met with The Bacherts for the first time in their parents basement. It wasn’t Jarid’s thing, he lasted one rehearsal. I still fantasize about having him on this path with me. Bassless, we continued.
Windthorst had a good feel about it. Making the evening drives from Kennedy, thirty minutes away, to rehearse I became quickly acquainted with The Bachert’s family friends, school mates and past graduates still hanging around town. Having always had back-up with my brother, we also did our fair share of recreational fighting. Jarid more on the ice, and myself more off the ice. The latter, usually spawned from young lust finding its way through the loose concept of commitment.
Mitch was a loose cannon. A mother of a hockey player and everybody’s best friend, except mine. He caught me warming up my hands with his on again off again girlfriend at a late autumn outdoor bonfire and formulated his opinion. There was contention between us until he finally moved away to work in the mountains at a ski resort making snow. And learning to play the bass. Whether it was an effort to patch bad blood or strictly the dire need for a complete rhythm section, Tyson issued Mitch an audition upon returning to Windthorst for Christmas break. I was unnerved but knew that it was nothing more than him showing his investment in our collective wellbeing. Mitch arrived, instructed to learn “Closing Time”. We never spoke, Tyson assumed leadership and moved through the motions of the trial. I had years of piano training under my belt and musically knew there was nothing there, besides, the guy lived ten hours away in the mountains. In fact, I should have given him credit knowing damn well who’s band he was auditioning for. Mitch left and I said the decision was up the the other two-thirds of our trio. Again, knowing a ten hour commute wasn’t plausible for rehearsals. The idea of Mitch on bass would fade out and my class remained in tact.
The crazy bugger made rehearsals. Ten hours. One way. Scheduling six to eight hour Saturday marathon practices followed by a three hour Sunday jam. Every weekend. I pandered to the concept and filled my role but we were becoming a tight-knit group despite my hostility. Mitch was the guy, a dedication I’ve never experienced from someone in all the hockey, baseball, volleyball and band teams I’ve been a part of. He had zero formal training and was slowly weening himself from a full time job.
I graduated and Mitch quit his job. He took a gig running late night pizzas around Regina and moved in with his on-again girlfriend, whom I continued to be mighty attracted to. I did a year of studies at the University of Saskatchewan and would catch rides home for rehearsals, as I had yet to purchase my yellow mustang. I began writing and demoing on a four-track Tascam. Mitch and I both patiently waiting for Tyson to finish high school, his brother drummer two years younger.
Tyson graduated and was accepted into Business at DeVry Calgary. I transferred credits to the University of Regina to be closer to a budding love, Savanna, and my bassist, Mitch. Derek was only in grade ten but a playboy. We had him playing nightclubs and hooking up with bar servers years before his eighteenth birthday. Always having multiple girlfriends, we jointly made up lies and covered Derek’s ass as the rock and roll lifestyle kept him practicing.
I took a job serving tables at Moxie’s Grill and Bar, hooked up through Savanna’s brother’s girlfriend Robyn. Lame. Restaurant manager, Kerry, got off on riding my ass about everything from the length of time I’d return to a table after delivering the first drink to check if there was the perfect amount of rimmer on their signature caesars to how I rolled utensils in a napkin. I’d intentionally not ring in well-done steaks on a jam packed Friday night to a table of ten just to see him lose his shit. He’d be forced to give a massive discount, free desserts and wine to a group that would never return. Fuck him.
Starting my shift around four in the afternoon, I was greeted by a new bartender on a random weekday slot. He loosely resembled Iggy the Iguana from Under The Umbrella Tree but with a mushroom-y swoop haircut. A transplant from Calgary due to discord with his family’s religion.
“My name’s Travis Rennebohm, I’ll be your new bartender for this evening.”
Weird son of a bitch, I thought. But personable. We soon bonded on the grounds of a mutual distain for management. It floated around that I had a band and Travis informed me that he was a, quote-unquote, lead guitarist. I was stringing single quarter-notes together and filling our instrumental sections for three years by this point, handing off that responsibility was welcomed and I asked if I could hear him play – we were headed up to Calgary in a couple weeks to “record” with a classmate of Tyson’s that had a keen intrest in becoming a producer. Following our shift, I followed Trav to his apartment – drugs and booze everywhere. He played a Fernandez and had hammer-ons and pull-offs cased. He indulged in what was laying on the coffee table. He showed up late, drug induced, for his shift the following day and was fired on the spot. A well used “Fuck You” and Travis was no longer my co-worker. But he was now my lead guitarist.