Part Deu

Shit Hits The Fan

May 1990 - I souped up my work by trying to finish the Wild album, which I played all the instruments on. It was different, in a new direction, and without the hassles of other band members in some ways I felt more at ease. I would use cassette tapes as the backing music and play guitar and sing the songs live. During May and the first of June I also wrote an album dedicated to my son called Symphony For Raven, or as it was initially called, Symphonic Raven.

Summer 1990 - My girlfriend and I decided we needed to present the bands and possibly some of the indie labels we were making contact with to larger labels and distributors, agents and promoters, and see if we could possibly get some interest in hopes of getting a paying development contract. Spec deals were common during this time for people who brought bands to labels, allowing the original agent (us) to get a finders fee, some points on future sales and publishing, and retain the band in order to book bigger and better shows. We decided the best way would be a one day showcase, possibly a large event like an open air, or in a large venue, and invite industry in as VIP's. Rockfest was born, and after checking carefully, we found no one at the time owned the rights to the name. We began to formulate our plans.

As the summer progressed we honed our plans for Rockfest. First, we thought about an open-air festival, and we both agreed thats what it would become in years to come. First though we decided to shun corporate sponsors and concentrate on promoting the bands and getting the word out to labels and media. Philbro and I also worked on new songs and attempted to put a band together, but could not find capable people to fill it out. Finally, Philbro went to play with Anthony Abbott in No Control.

I booked a small regional tour for Obsessive Compulsive. We hit the road in a really worn out van, blew all four tires, got asked to leave one club, didn't get paid at one, got shorted at another. Basically the tour was a complete disaster and I spent my last four dollars on fuel to get the band and the van home. We had fun though

Fall 1990 - My girlfriend and I purchase a house near Hiram Georgia. I begin booking more shows for other bands in Atlanta trying to earn some money, and also start booking more touring bands coming through town. I'm out way too much at night, using way too much gasoline traveling and making way too little money. Stress becomes a major factor.

Towards the end of 1990. We finalize plans to hold Rockfest in the biggest inside venue we can find in Atlanta. We go to check out a new place called the International Ballroom.

January 1991 - We sign the agreement to host Rockfest in May at the International Ballroom. We start lining up bands, most of whom I was either booking shows for or trying to get signed. For the first half of 1991, I did practically no work on my own music, which in hindsight was not a good thing, at all. I was concentrating on putting together the Rockfest showcase and getting my contacts at labels and media in place.

February/March 1991 - First press kits for Rockfest go out to the media. My girlfriend has designed a great logo for the event and we've put together a very nice portfolio for labels that includes posters, business cards, lineup one-sheets and information on the event. We're spending alot of time, money, and effort on promoting the event. Mailing expenses are going through the roof!

April 1991 - Lineup is finalized for Rockfest 1991. We do the final round of sending out demo tapes to record labels, some 100+ in all, inviting them all to the concert. Bands on the bill include Kim Philips, Chu-Chu, The Painkillers, Violent Sky, No Control, Cryin' Shame, The Sewer Ratz and The Plague.

May 1991 - On the 3rd we host the first Rockfest. The show draws close to 700 of the public and over 300 entertainment industry VIP's. The show goes well until Cryin' Shame plays 15 minutes over their allotted time and I have to cut them off. My friend Andy Webster played guitar in the band and he was thoroughly pissed. I hated to do it but I felt it wasn't fair to the other bands. Today, I'd let it roll. All the other bands had great sets, and a few label people chatted me up. After it was all over, and I estimate my girlfriend and I spent well over 400 hours putting the thing together, after expenses for the venue, VIP room and ticket giveaways, we made $98.

Summer 1991 - I sign the Sewer Ratz and The Plague to management deals in hopes of setting up a tour with those two bands. It never gets off the ground. I book The Plague in a recording studio and we never finish the recordings.

Fall 1991 - I book The Painkillers into Avondale Studios to do an album for them to release on the Underground Records label. It quickly becomes a fiasco as I cannot even afford the gas to get to the studio to oversee the project. The recordings are never completed.

As 1991 ends, we are completely broke and in danger of losing our house. I am racing all over town going to concerts I've booked and trying to collect commissions. One night in December I go to six different clubs and collect a total of $24 for my efforts. The next night after a Painkillers show I get a DUI without being drunk for refusing to take a sobriety test and go to jail. 1991 does not end well.

February / spring 1992 - I'm sentenced to 72 days in jail in Cobb County for my DUI. My girlfriend has had enough, packs up and her and Raven leave. After my sentence is over in April. I've got the house all to myself. This sets off a period of self-abuse which is to produce several life threatening events, and I get thrown out of every nightclub I enter in Atlanta. One night I end up sleeping in the woods behind Magruders, lose my shoes and decide I need to quit drinking. I go back to the club the next night, the bouncer Ziggy throws me out, which over the next few months he would do often.

May 1992 - For the better part of 10 years now I had had terrible acid reflux. So bad that at times I could not sleep. The stress and drinking had caught up with me when one night in May I managed to get some of the stomach acid out by spitting it up. The next morning it had ate a hole in the porcelain of the sink down to the metal. I put my guitar in hock to get the money to go to the doctor. He told me I had intensive erosion of my esophagus which signified a precancerous condition. He also said the acid had ate a small hole in the top of my stomach and it was in danger of rupturing. He advised me to go to a surgeon and wrote me a script for Zantac. I decided stomach cancer was not a very rock n roll way to die and took the last of my money and bought a fifth of Jack Daniels. I woke up the next morning in Jacksonville Florida with two women I did not know. Don't ask me how I got there, I don't know. The girls lent me the money for a bus ticket back to Atlanta.

June 1992 - Philbro and I put together a great band with bass prodigy Mark Spellman. I decided to concentrate on my own music while throttling back on managing other bands. I was at this time however, attempting to get the bands Electric Skin and Ritual signed to other labels, I also secured the International Ballroom for Rockfest 1992.

July 1992 - Nikki (sticky) Kitchens and Sonja Chester became talent agents for me and started helping me book and promote bands. They also helped me to coordinate locally for Rockfest 1992.

August 22nd - Rockfest 1992 would feature Electric Skin, Gangster, Vagrant Justice, Skin Disciple, Freak Magnet, Ritual and myself, playing under my own name, since I was trying to get signed myself. Without anyone's help I didn't do half the solicitations as for Rockfest 1991. I also had to have the bands sell tickets this time to cover the expenses of putting on the event. A couple of the bands told me they sold all their tickets but at pony-up time right before the concert one of the bands sold none and the other one ticket. I lost over $300 on the event. The VIP room was backstage this time and was rollicking, more label A&R people showed up for Rockfest '92 than did for '91. I ended the concert with probably one of the worst shows I've ever done in my life and completely cleared out the building.

Throughout the rest of the summer and into October Philbro, Mark and I played gigs around Atlanta and threw house parties. I lucked up and got a call to come to New York to interview for a job with Atlantic Records. While there, my girlfriend went to our house and threw everyone out and changed the locks on the doors. She answered the phone when I called to check on things and told me she had the police there and was throwing my band and all these groupies out of "her" house. The mortgage was in her name so basically I was getting evicted. When I came back from New York she had the police show up and I had one day to get my stuff out, which I put in storage. Since we no longer had a place to practice, my band broke up and most of the files I had concerning the bands I was booking and managing ended up missing so that business went out the window. I was also homeless, so I lived for a few days at the time with friends throughout Atlanta.

Late October 1992 - While bumming on the streets, I meet up with three other no-place-to-live-nothing-to-lose dudes and we decide to form a band. We also decide Atlanta sucks for rock and roll and after my tales of the big apple, we buy a used toyota van for $500 and head for NYC.

Things start off good in New York when we luck up on day one and find a garage in Korea town where the band can both live and practice. The owner has a small grocery next door and tells us no loud music until after he closes in the evenings. Within a week, everyone in my band disappears and this shady dope-dealing character starts coming around asking me where the other guys are and saying we owe him money.

The third week in town I can't afford the rent on the garage and the owner kicks me out. While sitting in a local pub drinking my last dollars, a fellow patron mentions he and his "family" run a trucking business near the bowery, and that there is an abandoned warehouse next door that has a door on the roof that I can probably get into. The warehouse, with no electricity and no heat becomes my home. I run an extension cord from the loading dock of the trucking firm next door and have enough juice to run a light and a radio.

3rd week November 1992 - New York Housing Authority gives me a notice to vacant the premises. There was some kind of squatting law that stated I actually had time to do this, but I don't wait around for the hearing. I sell the van (which now has only reverse gear) to the same guy who owns the garage we first stayed at when we got to town, pawn my amplifier, and buy a bus ticket for myself and my guitar (my only possession left) back to Atlanta. The whole experience took a little more than six weeks and I am almost froze to death

I arrive back in Atlanta and am told by my dad not to even think of coming home, that I've completely messed my entire life up and that I need to get a job and some responsibility. I move in with Jeff (juke-box) Jordan, an old friend from WEA who still works in the promo cage there. So begins the worst period of drinking in my life and for six months that's about all I do. I spend my nights at a dance club called Berlin, where finally they ask me not to come back when I snag the bartender's water pitcher and start guzzling.

Winter 1993 - I started distributing products for indie labels and bands out of Jeff and I's house. Quickly the catalog rises to over 300 titles, most of which I stock at Jeff's, which quickly come to resemble and out-of-control record warehouse. I start looking for a place to move my business. Before this happens though, I quickly notice that if the stuff don't sell, I have to foot the bill to send it back, and this becomes a serious problem.

Spring 1993 - While in the process of getting thrown out of Kings Head Pub at a Still Rain show, I spot an old girlfriend (Hound Dog) who rescues me from the melee. Her and I discuss future projects and she agrees to help me fund Rockfest 2003, which I plan on holding in a bigger and better place than the International Ballroom.

I secured the Center Stage Theatre for $1200, half-down, nonrefundable, for use of the place and the house PA. I round up seven bands and begin to promote the show. The day before the show, two tickets have been sold and the booking agent says the rest of the money must be paid or no show. I have no money because basically no tickets have been sold so the first attempt at Rockfest 1993 does not happen. Some of the bands had already left from out-of-state to come and play the show. My ride down to the venue does not show on the day of the cancelled concert so I am not there to tell the bands the show will not go on. My answering machine is rife with death threats. I am officially the most hated man in rock n roll.

Summer 1993 - I hatch the plan to open my own club so that the aforesaid debacle does not happen again. I rent a former nuclear fall-out shelter at the corner of Marietta Street and Northside Drive in Atlanta. Hound Dog, Big Daddy, and Rockin' Rodney pitch in to help me get the club started. I call it Gothic and set to building a huge stage, lighting rig, bar, and warehouse area for the Underground Records catalog. The fall-out shelter is 30,000 square feet and underground with 60 foot high ceilings, all made out of concrete. Rodney and I build living quarters in the back of the place and promptly move in every street urchin and punk it seems in downtown Atlanta. I begin doing shows and raves at the place, without a license, and realize I need to tone it down after Yvonne Monet announced one of the raves on her dance show The Beat Factory on 99X FM radio and over 600 people show up. I start plans for dual Rockfest showcases, one at Gothic and one at The Masquarade, another downtown Atlanta music club.

I go to the Georgia Jam at Lakewood Amplitheatre to hand out flyers for Rockfest '93. After managing to get thrown out twice before finding my seat, I go back to Gothic to find Rockin' Rodney on a massive drunk, totally trashing the place. This goes on for a couple of days until after we have a show at the club, Rodney hits me up for $200 for suppplies. I say no and he REALLY trashes the place. So much I fear for my equipment and stock that I have to call the APD. They come and tell Rodney either he goes inside and goes to bed or he goes to jail. I come back the next day to find Rodney has used the 10 gallons of black paint I had to paint the area behind the bar with to paint heiroglyphics on the floor and walls. Rodney moves out.

Late summer 1993 - An old school chum of mine, Scary Jerry, moves in to help run the club. I had hired a promotions manager named Lynn Buffkin to help do radio and show promotions for the labels and bands I was marketing and distributing. There are now over 500 labels and indie artists in the catalog and it's way beyond my means to manage. I'm getting ripped off left and right by stores and other distros who take the products on consignment but never pay me. I've begun booking shows down the street at a new place called The Somber Reptile. For a very short span of a few months, you could walk between the clubs of Gothic, The Somber Reptile, The Wreck Room and PJ's, all within three blocks of one another, for a night of high energy rock n roll. I notice the temperature on the thermometer I have shows 128 degrees with no air flow in Gothic during the day. Sweat box from hell is putting it lightly.

Fall 1993 / Winter 1994 - To take advantage of the giant stage and decent lighting at Gothic, I try to put a band together to be the house band. This quickly ends up in shambles and I am forced to honor the gigs I have booked at Gothic and around Atlanta by performing by myself onstage behind backing tapes. It wasn't the first time I'd done this, wouldn't be the last. Rockfest falls apart and I cannot pay the rent on the club space. I get evicted.

Spring 1994 - I had taken a job at Kinkos to try and pay back Hound Dog and Big Daddy for their investment in the club the year before, and to get up money to send back the thousands of pieces of product that did not sell to the bands and labels which had consigned them to me. More problems began to arise after I hired a couple of people to help promote and sell the music products. People started complaining about not getting stuff they'd ordered and inventories did not add up. By this time I had the stuff stored all over the place and it was hell even figuring out where everything was. It would take me the better part of the next decade plus to pay back people who never got stuff they ordered. I was becoming disillusioned with the whole music business.

Summer 1994 - One bright spot though was Rockfest 1994. I set up a club showcase at The Somber Reptile and worked out a deal with a farmer out on Highway 61 near where my girlfriend and I used to live (which is now a sports complex of some kind) to use his pasture for a day in exchange for 50% of the gate proceeds. I did not have anyone to help me PR or otherwise besides IOU's the day of the shows for flyering and taking me to shows to promote, but I was glad for the opportunity to continue the event.

The gigs went off with Shrunken Head and Attixs playing the Somber date August 12th, while Dime and Halo headlined the open air August 13th. Both shows went very well, and thanks to massive flyering at major concerts for two months prior to the show, the outdoor event drew close to 5,000 people. I divided my part with the production crew and bands evenly. After it was all said and done I made enough to pay my child support for a few months. The costs of the paper for the flyers and paying someone to help me put them out, some security for the open air, had to be paid with my part of the proceeeds. There wasn't any profit really. After the 1993 disaster though, it was a relief to finally have a pair of good events for Rockfest 1994.

Fall 1994 - Distribution wise things had become a complete mess. Stores were ordering a good bit of stuff, but my main suppliers, both Caroline and RED, required me to buy hundreds of dollars of stuff just to get a shipment. With no money and people ordering $20 or $30 dollars of stuff at the time, back orders were becoming a major problem. On top of this I was still accepting new products from bands and labels and it was taking me forever just to stock and catalog the stuff. By this time my email list for my newsletter, The Underground Sound, was in the hundreds of thousands. So instead of doing print catalogs, which for the most part I could no longer afford, I was sending catalogs via email. I had also noticed something called The World Wide Web through the Netscape browser and began to design the first Underground Records website using html, which would go up on America Online, my ISP at the time, by year's end.

In late 1994, I hooked up with Phil Calvin and Anthony Abbott to form the group Powercock. We wrote enough material for one EP which never got fully recorded. In retrospect, we were a great band, with original jams that just seemed to gel into massive walls of sound. I booked us two shows to start, one at the Masquerade, which went over very well. Though it was a small audience, it seemed everyone there came up to us and said it was one of the best shows they'd ever seen. I felt the band would go somewhere. I set up studio time, but it seemed the other guys were too busy with other projects. Finally, at what was supposed to be our second gig, neither Philbro or Anthony showed, I was able to rouse a bass player friend called Wild Bill and paid him to do the gig, plus my roomate at the time, Jeff "Jukebox" Jordan talked his brother into playing the show. The last two songs Philbro and Anthony did show up, and Philbro took the stage to play the closing songs.

Winter 1995 - Over the winter I had moved all my stuff to Adairsville, where I could mess up the house cutting holes in the walls and stuff for a recording studio. I set up some shelves and finally got all the distribution stuff halfway organized. I was resorting to picking up aluminum cans to try and get the money to do returns to bands and labels. People and labels were disappearing left and right, stuff costing alot to ship was coming back and I couldn't find the owners (to this day I am still trying to track down people and return stuff from this time period). There was minus cash flow. So I decided to work on some music.

I stretched out and did some improvision and experimentation for an album which I didn't release, called Ezine, named for what was taking up most of my time around then. I spent the rest of the winter and early spring trying to find players for a group, but nothing around here was easy, I was out in a rural area with no driver's license, so people had to come to me and that wasn't working too well.

On Valentine's Day 1995 I would get a small break. Internet service and content provider Compuserve offered me a section in the Recording Industry Forum. There I had a file library where I put The Underground Sound ezines, audio files, band interviews, album materials, marketing campaigns for new catalog products, posters and flyers, and other entertainment related materials. It also had a live chat room, where I would do live interviews and converse with people networking with me on promoting new music through the Agents Of The Underground program. For a few years the forum would be a popular destination for Compuserve, and then after AOL bought Compuserve, the world wide web was coming on so for a while people coming in off the internet could use and see the forum. In the mid-late 90's, I was able to meet thousands of people and promote countless bands, abels, and their music through the forum.

Spring 1995 - Still trying to either get paid for or get back the product I had sent out to record stores throughout the US on consignment, which amounts were way up in the thousands. Increasingly, I was having trouble finding people who had sent me stuff so I could return it. Around this time I also ran out of any money to print the Underground Sound printzine, which I had been using as a promotional vehicle to stores and media. A copier I had bought to print out the zine was burning out, so in early May, one of the last big runs of the printzine was sent out, mainly to record stores and indie bookstores. I still had a sizeable list of subscribers, but money ran out to buy the paper and pay for postage. The last change I had I did a flyer and sent it to record labels, other zines and bands to see if anyone wanted to take out ads in the printzine. No responses from the mailer, printed or email.

Summer 1995 - I tried in any way I could to put together a reliable band in the summer of 1995. Nothing else was working out, I was having serious problems paying my telephone and power bill. For new material I wrote what I still consider one of my favorite albums, reworked materials I had been playing with for a while, plus a few brand new compositions which ended up being Marathon Sex Machine. A few demo sessions I put on cassette and along with live practice session of Powercock I sent out around Atlanta trying to find an agent. Philbro and Anthony said they were still in it for Powercock, but when I set up practice sessions for Rockfest on July 1st at the Somber Reptile, neither showed.

July 1st, 1995 was the date for Rockfest 1995 at the Somber Reptile in downtown Atlanta. I had gotten some serious bites for a band I had been shopping around to labels the past couple of months called Slip. In June they had actually played a showcase, along with Electrolux, for the VP of A&R at Virgin Records at the Wreck Room on Marietta Street in Atlanta. When Rockfest came around, a decent amount of major and indie label personnel made it to the show, along with a good showing of media people, to see Burt, Slip, Dice and Shrunken Head. It seemed things were looking up. Yet the next week, no one would take my calls. By this time Underground Records had no money in the bank and I had very little income to do anything but pay rent (most of the time) and buy a little food. My record company basically had ceased to exist as a business entity. If I had been prone to depression, I'd been deep.

During the late summer of 1995, I decided it was time to seek a better place to be. I thought about what to do and I knew I needed to go somewhere where there were people to jam with and the music industry had some kind of presence better than metro Atlanta (downtown Atlanta was OK, but I was over an hours away from there with no way to get there). I had already froze my ass off in New York City and lost everything. So I decided to go somewhere where it wasn't so damn cold and damp. I decided to go to Los Angeles.

Fall 1995 - I scrapped up enough money for a round trip to Los Angeles via Greyhound Bus. In 1995 it was around $100. I went out and for about three days I looked for a place to live and sized things up, and met my first batch of Hollywood rejects. I made contact with an apartment building owner on Sunset Blvd. who had been in bands back in the 50's and 60's. I could get a decent pad there for $600 a month, last month and first month plus current month would be what I needed, and he had about a dozen empty pads. I said it'd be after the first of the year, and he said if they were available he'd work with me. I felt like I needed to be in LA as I rode the big dog back to GA and began to scrap up some cashola.

Winter 1996 - I had written quite a few albums worth of material I had planned to demo and take with me to LA in late winter to try and put a band together. I tried in vain to get someone from Georgia who had a car to ride out to LA with me so I could take the majority of my equipment, but it was a lost cause. Then and now, I find it hard to believe someone who wanted to give the West Coast a shot didn't stand up and make the break. I was advertising to put together a new band called Pit Boss and head out to the coast. Got a few inquiries, but mostly weirdos who seemed to have alternate motives. I couldn't believe this shit!

While preparing to move, work came calling in the form of THE WORD, that ancient Book Of Prophecy, which was my duty as a being to deliver. It was put on me that it was time. Knowing it was to come from the west, for some time, I placed it online and quietly began to promote it through bulletin boards, irc and usenet. Looking back, and forward, it is The Word which gets me though.

So, March comes around and I have a bus ticket and money to rent my apartment in Los Angeles. I sold my PA and my amplifiers to Rootdog (Anthony Abbott), who promised to never sell them and come out to LA soon (neither happened) and in March had Roach Pealor drop me off at the Big Dog station, where I had my axe, some effects, some clothes and some cash, and headed out to LA.

March 1996 - First night in LA I stayed in Hollywood and went out to see if I could make some connections on the scene. I had a meeting the next day with the guy at the apartments. I took my money with me in a suit wallet because I didn't trust the hotels there in Hollywood. I met a street urchin who knew every club bouncer, promoter and stripper in Hollywood. I bought him a pint of vodka and he took me on the rounds. I felt good and was ready to get my apartment the next day. I left dude at the Rainbow after buying him a few rounds and went out, got me a bite to eat and went back to the hotel. When I got back, I realized my wallet was gone, as was all my cash. I had about $200 left in travelers's checks I stashed in my luggage. All I can think of is on Sunset I bent down to tie my shoe right before my hotel and my knee must have pushed the wallet up out of the inner suit pocket, and when I stood up it slipped out of my jacket. It was not a good scene.

I had enough money for the hotel for a couple of days. My friends who lived out in the southern California area offered no help, seemed like I was trying to get over on them when I told them what happened and asked if I could crash a night or two at their pad. All rejected my pleas. I asked the apartment owner if he'd hold my place for a few days, and he said no. I guess he'd heard that stuff enough from people who had no plan on getting real. Day three in Hollywood, I had $39 bucks and had to pawn my equipment for a couple more days at the hotel. That came and went. Within a week, I was homeless on the streets of Hollywood, with my stuff in a shopping cart. I suppose if I'd been thinking right, I'd used the pawn money for a ticket back home, but it was too early to give up.

This began a really strange week, where I spent the night in a cave under a parking lot off Santa Monica with prostitutes, junkies and winos. I walked the streets of Hollywood during the day looking for work and some place to crash. Around day 10, after I had passed out mid-day and was close to complete dehydration, I asked if I could rest under an awning at a hotel in old Hollywood called The Windsor. Mariam was the desk clerk there, and I had enough money left for a room that night, well, she actually gave me about half of what I needed. She said they'd throw me out the next day, but they were looking for desk clerks and she'd speak to the guy and see if they still had the opening.

It came back they didn't have any positions at that hotel, but they owned a few more across old Hollywood, and I could train with the night clerk there, for the first night, and then transfer to a place called The Vine Lodge if all worked out, the next night. First night there, the Crips and the Bloods had a shootout. With the Bloods showing up in a mercedes and opening fire on the whole place it seemed, trying to get a pimp, who they said had stolen some of their girls. Matt, the clerk, and I hid under the desk while the bullets flew down the lobby. When the LAPD came, neither Matt nor I had seen anything, and didn't know anyone by the name they gave staying in the building. When the law dogs left, the pimp came down and gave us some cash and said whenever he was there, we could come to his room. The next day I took my stuff in my shopping cart, over to the Vine Lodge, right under Capital Records. At least I felt "closer" to the music industry.

Spring 1996 - Achieving some kind of stability, working at the Vine Lodge and doing some pr and booking work for a few local bands, I start looking around for musicians for the band. Find lots of potential in Los Angeles, hundreds of times more than back in Atlanta. I tried out for a few bands, either playing or doing vocals. Lack of equipment causes some problems. Finally managed to find the right players, got some 2nd and 3rd hand gear, and System X was off!

We jammed on songs I had originally written for the albums Tweak and Hardcore over the past few months in town. Joe Diaz, the bass player had a fairly new van and by early summer after a few local gigs I booked us a tour using rehearsal demos that would take us from Southern California up the coast and into Vancouver Canada, then back down again. I hooked up with fellow Southern Cal band Defrokked, Massachusetts namesakers Big Dig, Chicago's Hell Patrol and my own band System X to do the first Underground Tour 1996. From late June till mid-August we played over 30 club gigs up and down the coast and actually managed to break even. I was looking forward to going into the studio to cut the first System X album. We also had over 10 hours of live stuff we cut on the road which we planned to do as a promo EP to book gigs for the tour behind the first album, to save time and have shows ready while still recording and immediately afterwards, even before the discs had been pressed.

Fall 1996 - While trying to sort out the songs to record, the other guitarist and vocalist for System X decided he doesn't have enough songs in the set that will go on the album. So while we wait for him to write some songs the band fragments. After about six weeks I told the rest of band we either go into the studio, play some gigs, or call it quits. Everyone has their own problems, so it's finally decided we call it quits, which totally sucks. Mark Rice, the drummer, owns the gear we recorded the live stuff on. I ask him for a copy of the stuff, and never get it. I immediately begin to put together a new band, Pit Boss. We do two gigs and split up. I try to reform System X with Joe, and it basically goes nowhere. I've got alot of new music, but no band. I pawn my equipment to keep my apartment, and still lose it and my place to stay. I move into a girlfriend's closet. She's an escort. It makes life interesting, at least.

After a few weeks of the closet, I run across some missionaries recruiting people to help them work on an old hospital called The Queen Of Angels they'd bought to turn into their church. A free room in exchange for remodeling and upkeep duties. Feeling grateful at this point just to be alive, I thought to give back a little and in the process start The Word entering into more of the mainstream spiritual population. So I take a room, start helping out, and spreading The Word. Since it doesn't match with their religion's idea of what's proper, I am ridiculed, yet I gain respect from a few, a few who really knew.

December 1996 - Finally get another place of my own in downtown LA. Get a decent job doing computer consulting, and buy a new Marshall stack plus a rack full of outboard gear. Decided to reform Pit Boss and begin to put out ads for players. Solo wise I write Electro Punk, bridging the worlds of LA and Atlanta. 1996 ends without a new band.

Winter 1997 - I move into a one room flat above Al's Bar in downtown Los Angeles. It gives me an opportunity to connect with bands who played the club, and I begin solo recording some of the stuff I'd been working on over the past year. It goes slow, and over all never gets finished. I used some of the demos to score players for my new band, Pit Boss, and has spring comes on we play a few dates around Southern California. Around this time I give up my room at the Queen Of Angels since I'm not there hardly anymore to help out.

February 1997 - I also put together the first Rockfest 1997 as a label showcase at Al's which had the great bands Capsule and Lucy's Crush for a few months away. When it went down, suprisingly turnout on both ends, public and industry, was light. Probably due to the fact I had to send invites via email because I didn't have postage for press kits, had very little money for flyers, no vehicle to take them out to the metro areas (it took forever on the bus and subway), and the usual not making ends meet (a girlfriend at the time, who was studying psychiatry, told me I was the poster child for ADD, I laughed about it but years later she'd probably be proved right).

Spring/Summer 1997 - I had met Robert "Rooster" Rampley, a member of an independent industrial project out in the Valley. He had the know-how to do e-commerce carts for the internet. He and I started Uground.Net, which had the Underground Records Catalog available for purchasing online. We weren't the first with a large music catalog online (but we were close), yet overall we received good marks for the catalog and service. I found it hard to concentrate on keeping the catalog updated, and after a few years Robert got tired of having to deal with that and the fact I was always behind on paying him his commissions. Overall though I have to really thank Robert for his efforts, if things had been different, we might have been some of those dot-com millionaires down the not-so-far-away road.

By late spring, once again using rehearsal tapes, I had booked Pit Boss for the second Underground Tour; this time out we'd be playing with San Francisco's Stoners, a band I had worked with some in the past called The Feds, and another band I had been booking shows for called Hi-Jinx. I had booked over 50 gigs for this tour, and it would take us into Arizona and Nevada, along with retracing and replaying some of the venues from the 1996 tour, plus a few more in the same circuit. By mid June I had the lineup finally complete, we did a couple of rehearsals, then Pit Boss rented a van and hit the road.

Things went well until the second week. Our bass player had a bad habit of stealing people's drinks after our set when the clubs usually had a DJ and the people were either on the dance floor, or a bigger band was playing and while they'd be watching the band, he'd be slamming their drinks. By the seventh gig we had already been dismissed from one club and gotten into a rile at another. While playing a place called The Horseshoe Inn near Sacramento, we were confronted by an irate patron claiming we had stolen his pitcher of beer. A melee insued and a table went through a window. We got away, but didn't get our pay for the gig, plus the owner had our itenerary, and he called ahead to all the clubs, three out of the next five cancelled us, probably fearing we'd trash their clubs too. Things settled down until we played our first gig in Nevada, when the stealing drinks thing happened again and we once again got into a fight. I fired the bass player (who amazingly left without much said) and the band did the next week's worth of gigs without a bassist.

The rest of the band wanted to veto the rest of the tour, but we had a few guarantees and it didn't sound that bad without a bass player. The bassist for Hi-Jinx said he'd cover the job, but he never jelled with our more punk band, he was more into prog rock. We managed to do 16 additional gigs of the tour before Hi-Jinx left the tour for other commitments back east. Without a bass player the rest of the band quit and demanded I use the van to take them back to California. I told them to go to hell. I played two more dates using players from the other bands, who didn't know the songs and we sounded like shit. Depressed and thoroughly pissed I drove back to Los Angeles by myself in late July. Immediately I started putting together a new version of System X.

Suprisingly, things went pretty well. I used the demos from the previous lineup's rehearsal and got a few gigs quick. In early August we got an offer to open some shows for national acts. I thought we were on our way. There was a problem in that the drummer of the band had a pregnant girlfriend who said she'd disown him if he went out on the road with a band, and her expecting. I figured we could get a drummer easily, even a paid one, since we had national gigs coming up, paying gigs. There were arguments about money, I wanted everything equal, but our keyboardist wanted extra money for "arrangements" since we were using midi triggered stuff. We had one more gig so it was decided we'd do that and then use another drummer who was interested in jamming for the opening gigs.

Well, our last gig with that our drummer before the switch ended in disaster. We made $56, and while I was collecting our pay, our drummer was supposed to be watching my gear, which I'd loaded out into the van. I came out and, not only was my gear gone, my Marshall and my effects rack, about 3 grand worth of stuff, but the drummer was in a car accross the parking lot getting head from some girl who was not his fiance, who had caused us enough grief. I ended up getting arrested for whipping my drummer's ass.

I had a friend in another band offer to loan me his equipment for the road until I could replace mine. I held drummer tryouts, but with less than 11 days left until our date to open some shows, nothing jelled. I had to cancel the first set of gigs and try to get it together to join the tour in the third week. The rest of my band quit, unless I could come up with a drummer on my own, and I was left with nothing really. I had to cancel the rest of the gigs, and lose all face. It was bad.

I had to sell my hair, which was down to my waist, a rich deep brown, almost all one length, to a wig maker, because I was broke and needed money for survival. As it started to grow back it was all grey! I guess the last few years were starting to show. It was also ratty and thin. I said to hell with it, and kept it shaved. I tossed around the idea of starting Underground Records back up in Los Angeles as a distro and booking form, but without juice (money) it was hard to get that battery firing. I was down to slumming at TK Nagamo's condo in Little Tokyo. I was pissed.

Late Summer 1997 - Having lost almost all my gear and my band falling apart. I asked myself what the hell I was doing putting up with all this, making myself go through with this. Raven was now seven years old and I hadn't seen him in 2 years. It was a critical time in my career, I was in the right place, finally after 18 years I had some interest in me as a songwriter and live performer; yet the loss of the opening gigs, my gear being stolen and my band falling apart was really tough.

I decided to take a break from Los Angeles and go home for a while and spend time with Raven. In hindsight, maybe I should have toughed it out and got a fresh group of players (or at least a drummer) and made some things happen for real before I left for a vacation. It absolutely was a critical time to be leaving LA and putting on hold what the better part of my life I had spent trying to accomplish.

Yet, today, I do not regret it at all. I had a seven year old son who loved me very much. While some people are so driven, and self-centered, they would not have moved back to Georgia, I felt it was my responsibility as a parent to get to know my son and be there for him as he moved into the tough years of adolescence and teenager. Once he and I both knew one another, I'd be back to kick ass and take names.

So I managed to score a 1982 Tercel from a buddy of mine who lived in the American Hotel above Al's Bar on my floor for $300. I went to get my California drivers license renewed since it would expire while I was gone and then, the redneck curse came home.

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