By Brian Jarrett
I’d been wanting for some time to write about my experience with the Nitro music scene back in West Virginia during the early nineties; that experience has stuck with me throughout the subsequent years and it’s something that I still hold near and dear to me. During this time I made a lot of memories, a lot of friends, and I found out who I really was. Even now, so many years later, I look back at those times and feel very, very fortunate to have been able to be a part of something so cool.
So, for about the past six years I’ve been working sporadically on my autobiography. This entire body of work is probably only about 60-70% complete, but my Nitro scene experiences have been pretty much covered. I decided that I’d make the bulk of the Nitro days text available on the site for others to read.
This is my Nitro Music Scene, as experienced by me, written when I was a much younger man. Your experiences, if you were there, may vary. Hopefully this work will, if nothing else, remind you of a time you might not have thought of for a while. It may even remind you why those days were so much fun.
My Introduction to the Scene
The Hurricane Show
My introduction to the local music scene began in the spring of 1993 when I got my chance to go to a local show. I went with Steve McConihay and Shaun Fox. Shaun I had met some months earlier at Brian Burdette’s house but this was the first time I had been formally introduced to him. Shaun was several years younger than me but he seemed pretty cool. We all went in Steve’s mom’s car, with Steve behind the wheel. On the way up there Steve got pissed off at somebody and was tailgating them and flashing his lights. I guess that was just Steve.
Anyway, we finally made it to this show. It was held at the Hurricane High School auditorium. I don’t remember a lot about the show but I remember that I loved being there and I had a great time. The show started about twenty minutes late because they had to wait for the cops to show up and chaperone.
I thought a few bands weren’t so good, a few were really good. A band called Freaktent played and I thought they were awesome. I would see more of them in the future. A band called Dead Ant Farm played as well. Both would prove to be bands we would later interact with. There was also a band called Green, I remember. Little did I know at the time that their drummer was dating the girl who would eventually become my wife. Funny how things work out that way.
I remember leaving that show (which became known afterward simply as “The Hurricane Show”) and thinking about how cool it was. I wanted to do what they did; I wanted to play live in front of a crowd. I wanted to write songs that rocked and I wanted to play really loudly. I wanted to be well known within the local music scene. I would have all those things and those things would be just was good as I hoped they would be. These things would provide memories that would last my entire life.
The Okey Parsons “Experience”
Shaun Fox, Steve McConihay, and I placed an ad for a drummer in a local ad publication right around the beginning of the summer of 1993. We received a call from a guy named Okey Parsons who lived in St. Albans and we ended up meeting him at his friend Nathan’s house to discuss forming a band. Both Okey and Nathan lived in St. Albans and right beside the house he lived in there was a vacant house that his parents owned. They hadn’t torn it down yet so that was where Nathan, Okey, and their friends played music.
We ended up practicing with Okey there a couple times. Okey had a couple more friends; a guitar player named Jason Bayes, another guitar player who’s name I can’t remember, and a singer named Shannon Stowers. On only a few occasions did we practice there as a five piece band but when we did we only played cover tunes. It sounded decent given our experience level I guess but looking back on it now we kinda sucked. You’ll have that when you’re just starting out.
One day after we practiced Okey invited us to hang out with he and his friends so we could all get to know each other a little better. They all had this friend-some guy maybe in his late twenties-who knew the guy who had bought the old St. Albans high school. A new school had been built and the city had sold the old building to this guy. The owner lived out of the state I believe so he just let this friend of his use the place. It had no electric hooked up to it so they used a small generator to power some of the rooms.
My parents were out of town so I drove my dad’s Toyota Corolla (I think I was low on gas or something) to St. Albans to meet up with Okey, and Steve McConihay. I think Shaun Fox rode with me. By the time we got there it was dark. It was weird being at that building that used to be a school but was now basically a party pad. They let us in and we met up with Okey. He introduced us to everybody else who was there. Jason Bayes, Nathan, and about ten or fifteen other people. There were a couple girls but mostly it was guys. I remember walking into this one room where they evidently spent most of their time. They had a cooler with beer, and a television playing porno in one corner. I remember seeing the guy who knew the building’s owner sitting on an old couch in that room. This guy was hanging out with people considerably younger than him and doing nothing but drinking beer and watching porn. Maybe this guy had it all figured out.
We spent a while in this room just talking to everybody, then the cops showed up outside. Apparently this was a routine thing from the way everybody talked. The story was that the cops were always harassing them but they couldn’t run them out because the building was not public property. So the cops would yell up at the kids (we were on the second floor) and they would yell back at them. I remember them telling the cops that the building was private property and the owner had given them the keys. Eventually they got tired of us so they gave up and left.
We didn’t explore too much of the building, after all it was a school and there are a lot of rooms in a school. We ended up in another room with Okey. It was a room where they practiced and he had his drum set in there. They flipped on the lights (you couldn’t turn on too many because the generator would only put out so much power) and we took a look around. It was a classroom, complete with desks and everything, and it was huge. Not a bad place to play at all. Hell, they even had the drums set up on a riser.
The evening didn’t consist of much more than that. Once, I believe, the generator went out and somebody went to get gas for it. I remember Okey saying that they had found some kind of apparent satanic ceremony remains in one of the rooms. He took us to the room and we did see a pentagram on the wall. It appeared that they had tried to clean it up some but you could still see it. I can’t remember if Okey said they found some kind of dead animal in there but I think he did. That kinda creeped me out. It was a surreal feeling being in that school. It was completely dark throughout that entire building with the exception of the one room lit by the generator. I wondered what those other rooms must have looked like, what it would have been like to walk through that school at night. It was kind of scary actually, especially with the whole pentagram thing (combined with an over-active imagination).
Finally we left and went back home. It still is a little weird thinking about that night. I wonder if that building is still there or if that guy still owns it. It was an interesting night, that’s for sure; one I’ll never forget.
We ended up only practicing with Okey a couple more times. We loosely called ourselves a band but we had no name, no songs written and no shows lined up. This “band” consisted of Okey Parson, Shannon Stowers, Steve McConihay, Shaun Fox, and me. Shannon only came by once or twice so we never really had a singer during this period. I think we may have played together for a month or two but that might be stretching it. On one occasion we met Okey at his dad’s house. We never really ended up playing, we went to some local show that was going on which ended up being kinda lame. We came back to his house but Steve had to leave. So he left his amp there so he wouldn’t have to carry back there again the next time we went to practice.
A day to two later there was a dispute over picking up Steve’s amp from Okey’s house. That was the first crack in the wall with Shaun and my relationship with Steve. It took only a couple more blow ups like that and Shaun and I never played with Steve McConihay in a band again.
It all pretty much fell apart when Okey told us that he was quitting to go play with this cover band called Bone Dance. It was also a real pain in the ass to get Shannon Stowers to practice because he didn’t have a car and didn’t seem to be too motivated to find one. We would end up auditioning Shannon for another band at a later date. We would also run into Okey Parsons and Jason Bayes again as well. The Charleston music scene was kinda small after all.
The Nitro Flea Market
Shaun and I missed the first Nitro Flea Market show because we couldn’t find the place. However, we made the second one and we went to countless others after that. I had only gone to one local show before and that had been the Hurricane show earlier in 1993. I was extremely excited to be going to this show because I wanted so badly to be in a band and playing live. It was a very cool experience from start to finish, just as I had hoped. I was also able to snag an audio copy of the show from Scott Robinson and Brian Pauley. Freaktent-who had played at the Hurricane show I went to earlier-played at this show and they were great.
I actually still remember a lot of details about that particular show; even the shorts I had on. It was a pair of black sweat pant shorts and some crappy t-shirt. I probably looked like an ass clown but I was young; I had just turned 19 in February so I guess that’s my excuse. I remember walking through the warehouse and seeing the bands playing to my right. I saw, just in front of the stage, about 25 people or so watching the bands. I remember thinking of how cool this whole thing was and how glad I was to be there, to be a part of something so great. I didn’t know at the time that I was onto something before a lot of other people; it wouldn’t be long until I couldn’t count the number of people in the audience.
Basically Shaun and I just hung around and talked to a few people. Like I said, I think there were maybe twenty five people there, give or take a few. By the time the shows ended in early 1994 there were a couple hundred people at the shows. Most of the details of each show after the first one are muddled together in my head. It’s a shame you can’t remember every little detail but that’s how it goes. Quite a few interesting and funny things went on at the shows. They were a blast and I met a lot of cool people there. The flea market didn’t officially shut down until around the beginning of 1994 so they only lasted about six or eight months but I’ll have memories for years from these events.
The funniest story, at least it’s funny now, from the flea market happened to me. One night we were at a show. I can’t remember who was playing. It might have been the Provos because I remember that Jason Little was there as well. We all had to go to the bathroom but they had been shut down because Shaun Moore and his crew trashed the bathrooms at a previous show. Several of us, Brian Pauley, Steve McConihay, Shaun Fox, a few others, and I all walked around the side of the building in order to take a piss.
We all finished and made our way back to the main door of the flea market. Several people had already made it back to the crowd of thirty or so standing by the door. Steve McConihay was about ten or twenty feet in front of me so I, feeling funny and full of youthful energy, decided to run after Steve and jump on his back. You know, just one of those stupid things people do. Well, I started running after Steve, making this loud yelling noise all the while. People had already started to turn around in order to see what the commotion was.
Unfortunately I was running through a parking lot right by a group of loading docks. The ground sloped downward toward the loading dock but there was a three or four inch step up which I didn’t see. I ran, full force, and tripped on this little step. I instantly flew through the air, unable to stop myself, bracing for the impact on the concrete. I quickly hit the ground like a ton of bricks, scraping my hands and my knees on the concrete. I knew the pain was coming and when it did I yelled. By that time anybody who hadn’t been looking was now looking at the jackass on the ground. Small pebbles were buried in my hands and knees, blood ran freely from the wounds, and I was in excruciating pain.
Somebody asked me if I was okay (they were good people for the most part) and I said yes, despite the fact that I hurt all over. I was definitely not okay. I got up and walked back over to the crowd. By that time people were laughing since they knew I was okay and I laughed at myself despite the pain. I ripped the knees out of my jeans and scraped a good deal of skin off my hands. That fall was a joke for the next year between all of us. It started the next day when Shaun said that I’d cried that night putting alcohol on the wounds at his house. I took it in stride and played along with it; hell it was funny.
The Provos played quite often at the Flea Market. They would normally play once a month (which was the pattern my band would establish as well) so that people wouldn’t get burned out and not come to the shows. The shows were cheap as hell when they played because they would charge only a dollar. That was enough to pay the security guard that the owner hired to be there during the shows.
One night they played with this death metal band. I can’t remember their name but that doesn’t really matter. For some reason they got pissed off because they weren’t getting paid much so they threatened to beat the snot out of Brian Pauley, or so we were told. Luckily it didn’t happen.
John E. Sizemore played for Freaktent, who I’ve mentioned before. We first saw them at the Hurricane Show and then at subsequent Nitro shows. I remember the first time I met him I was overwhelmed. I loved his guitar playing and he was a big influence on me early on in my experiments with a band. He did really cool things with a guitar, had cool hair, and was just…cool. I knew I would never be quite as cool as that but it was a good start. One night I met him and said a few words to him. I still have one of his guitar picks that somebody picked up for me.
Eventually John quit Freaktent and started “The Electric Sex Band” who I thought were pretty good. We went to see them one night at the Flea Market; actually it was their debut show. I believe John E.’s cousin started playing for Freaktent and then they started playing every weekend there. We learned a valuable lesson from that: never play too often at the same place; people don’t come. Their attitude is that they can go see them any time so why go? They can skip one night and go the next. If you play less often, for instance once a month like we did, then people know that if they miss that show it’ll be a month or so before the next one. People make it a point, if they’re fans, not to miss the show. Of course it sucks not being able to play out more than once a month but I guess it’s a trade-off.
I hate to be critical but Freaktent really wasn’t as good without John E, at least in my opinion. He just had a unique sound. Eventually John came back to Freaktent and they played with us on January 27, 1995 (their first show with John E. back in the fold). That was a great show, one I’ll go into in more detail later on.
One night I went to a show with Steve McConihay and his brother Mike. Some other guys were there too; Brian Pauley, Dave Hively, Matt Kennedy, and others. It was a fun show because this band called I.N.R.I. played. It consisted of Shaun Moore, a guy named Ian Shriver, and their friend who I think was a security guard somewhere. I still remember our group heckling them to no end. Seems kinda mean now but I guess at the time we thought it was funny. If they would have charged us we’d have probably scattered.
There was this girl named Wendy who was new at our school and she went to shows in Nitro as well. Wendy was rumored to have been a little crazy or a little sleazy or a little of both. She kept trying to come onto Matt Kennedy and this guy named D.J. Sanders. Most people called her Weird Wendy and we kept telling Matt that he should try to score with her but he wanted no part of it. He even gave her a ride home one night and I think she came onto him but he dissed her. We gave him shit about it but I still wonder why he didn’t move on it. I think he was still not over his old girlfriend.
It’s funny now as I write this just how much I still remember from the Flea Market. Those were some grand days but they were only a precursor to the real fun. Eventually the Flea Market would pale in comparison to the scene we were about to create just down the road in Nitro and then into Charleston and Huntington.
The Charleston Music Fest
The First Annual Charleston Music Fest was actually the first and last music fest. Some guy put it all together around the end of the summer of 1993. It featured local bands, some good, some bad, and it seemed to have all the earmarks of a good time. Shaun and I decided to go because it looked fun and because the Provos were playing on it. Jason Little had already left to join the Navy so Steve McConihay was filling in on guitar. Steve took this very seriously.
Steve used to play with Jason Little, Brian Pauley, and Billy Reynolds a couple years earlier. Tensions flared between them and they fell out of favor with each other. However, when Billy and Brian asked Steve to fill in for Jason on the Charleston Music Fest he was all over it. He didn’t even have to learn the songs; he’d figured them all out beforehand. He had a Fender Telecaster he’d traded for a while back (Steve changed music equipment more than he changed his underwear), the wireless transmitter, the effects pedals, the amps, and the attitude to do this one up right. He was so excited about playing the Music Fest. I understood it because I wanted to play it as well. I wanted to play it as badly as he did. Unfortunately I didn’t have a band at the time but Shaun and I were working on that. Still, I was a bit jealous.
I remember pulling up to Laidley Field, a small stadium in Charleston, in the Timex (what I called my 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier) with Shaun Fox. Quicksand playing on the CD player. I remember listening to their album “Slip” just like it was yesterday.
I have to give Steve credit, he pulled it off pretty much without a hitch. He was all over the place with that wireless and then totally cheesed out by walking into the stands and kissing his girlfriend Toni Hall. He was riding high on an adrenaline rush, I guess. They played a bunch of Provos songs and a Rage Against the Machine song (before they were really, really popular).
The crowd at the Music Fest was rather eclectic. There were metal heads, heavy metal rednecks, punks, goth kids, and Nitro kids. A bunch of people had come from the Flea Market crowd and as soon as the Provos came on they all jumped the retaining wall and started a huge mosh pit. The security guys in yellow shirts were taken aback and they ended up getting trampled in the pit. It was funny to watch. I still remember seeing Shaun Moore-our resident Marilyn Manson type goth guy-plant one hand on the retaining wall and then jump over the wall and onto the field below. Eventually security broke it up.
After the Provos show was over I remember thinking how cool it was. They had played in front of a ton of people and they had gone over so well. Steve was riding high on adrenaline and excitement and I wanted to have played so badly I could taste it. I caught up with Steve after they finished and told him they did a great job. I remember speaking briefly with Billy Reynolds and thinking how cool that was. Billy was almost like a rock star to me, as stupid as that sounds now, and it was cool just to meet him. Billy is now a dentist and he remembers the Nitro days well.
All in all it was a good time; the sun was hot, the music was loud, and the future lay ahead of me for the grasping. I was going to have a band and we were going to be great, I just knew it. I was prepared to work hard to make it a reality. It was a small pond but I think we achieved some measure of success at least.
Building The Scene
Shaun and I had been looking for a drummer for a while. One day Shaun told me he’d met this drummer at a party. They were playing some Alice In Chains’ songs and he said this kid was really good so I asked Shaun if he was available. Shaun said he was playing in a band currently but probably wouldn’t mind getting out of it. So we ended up going to his house shortly after that and playing a little practice session with him.
I liked Jeremy as soon as I met him. He was big, really big, and he looked five years older than he really was. He was fourteen years old when we met him but he turned fifteen right after that. Still really young. I was the oldest at eighteen and Shaun was sixteen. Jeremy had only been playing drums for about a year but his skill level was phenomenal. He played like he’d been playing for twice as long. And the scary thing was that he kept getting better and better. By the time Flood disbanded Jeremy had been playing for about three years and he was incredible. This was even more amazing because he was so lazy (no offense Jeremy). He never practiced at home but he just kept getting better and better. He was born for drums.
I don’t remember many details about the first practice. I think we played some cover tunes to feel each other out but we didn’t try to play any original stuff first off. We all had a positive experience after the first practice and by the next weekend we were practicing once or twice a week. We started to put together original stuff first off; we never intended to be a cover band. Of course the original stuff sucked but it got a lot better as time went on. We practiced in Jeremy’s attic which was a small, hot, cramped place that barely had enough room for movement. I just could stand up with about an inch to spare above my head. It wasn’t until Brian Pauley came to hear us play and offered to let us play in his garage that we had a decent practice area.
Brian Pauley, and the rest of the Provos, were pretty well known in the local area. We looked up to them because they were good and they put on a good live show. They had actually recorded and written a bunch of songs which was a lot more than I had ever done. I guess I kind of looked up to them and, as funny as it sounds now. I wanted to be friends with them because it would make mean that I was actually part of a cool group for a change. I hadn’t really talked to Brian very often so when I found out that Brian wanted to come and hear some of our music I was excited.
So Brian came over and we played the stuff we had and he actually liked it. Now, this stuff we were playing really sucked ass but I guess he could either see through it or he was completely deaf. Either way, he offered us the use of his garage for practicing which was incredible to us at the time. The attic that we practiced in at Jeremy’s house maintained a temperature of about 120 degrees. So to have the opportunity to practice in Brian’s garage was wonderful. Plus it meant that we were closer into getting into that “cool” crowd of talented bands and cool people where things could happen, at least on the local level.
Practicing at Brian’s was nice. He had a one car garage that had been converted into a practice room and there was plenty of room for everything. It wasn’t heated though which sucked in the winter. We started to get to know Brian during this time and we would hang out there with him a lot. There was always somebody there at his house so it was pretty much our central hang out place besides local shows.
We started auditioning singers as soon as we felt we had enough material to actually start a band. We tried out four singers, one being Shannon Stowers with whom we played during the summer at Okey’s, and the others were local guys that Shaun and Jeremy went to school with. Actually one of them was D.J. Sanders, the guy that Weird Wendy had been going out with. The last guy we tried was Carl Lucas who had played with Brian Pauley and Billy Reynolds in Last Rites, a thrash metal band that existed before The Provos were formed. Carl was willing to do it and he would actually show up. So, after a little bit of discussion, Carl joined our band.
The Great Big World
We searched for a band name that would be different and we came up with The Great Big World. It as different but we were split on the approval of the name. Carl and Jeremy didn’t like it, Shaun and I did. We eventually went with it and we played throughout the year as The Great Big World. We wouldn’t play a live show, however, until May of 1994 and we would never play a show as The Great Big World.
We met Andy for the first time in the fall of 1993, or at least that was the first time we ever talked to him. We actually had an encounter with him earlier, during the summer of 1993 during a show at the flea market. During this show Andy was playing with his band, Buddhashrooms, and was having some real problems. Evidently he was having issues with his guitar sound or something and was bitching up a storm.
Of course Steve and I took this opportunity to make fun of him (we were young and silly). He was bitching and saying things like ‘the fucking sound sucks in here’ and ‘this guitar sucks’ and more. Steve and I were yelling all kinds of stuff like ‘play the fucking song’ and ‘buy a new guitar’ in response to his bitching. He would hear us and tell us to ‘shut the fuck up’ but he had no idea who was yelling at him. I remember him yelling ‘who said that?’ and Steve and I were almost rolling out of our chairs. My sides felt like they were going to split. Sounds silly now but it was funny at the time.
Later on after we got to know Andy he said he was having a bad night and he wasn’t normally like that. He was right; Andy turned out to be a great guy and we would play a lot of shows with him over the next couple years. Steve and I told him about what we did and I remember him laughing and saying ‘so that’s who was yelling at me’.
Halloween Havoc is a memory I’ll treasure forever. Actually the show in and of itself wasn’t a real standout but the memories I took away were actually very good. Obviously the show occurred in October (hence the name “Halloween Havoc”). I can’t remember whose idea it was to go but Steve McConihay, Dave Hively, and I rode in Dave’s car. Billy Reynolds, Brian Pauley, and Andy Masker drove up in Andy’s car. We all drove the hour-long drive to Huntington and ended up driving through some pretty crappy areas of the city until we found the place (with the help of directions from a helpful cop).
We parked along the street beside a derelict, run-down warehouse in the “forgotten” area of Huntington. We almost missed it since it was such a hole in the wall. The windows were busted out it looked as if the place had been deserted for some time. But when we got to the door somebody was there to take our money and stamp our hands. We walked into the main area and saw a handful of people in there, probably less than forty. There was a huge flat bed delivery truck parked inside the warehouse and the bed of the truck was being used as the stage. There was a band playing and they sounded awful. I’m not sure if it was the sound in there or the band. I can’t even remember their names now.
I do remember a little bit about one of the bands. I remember this singer introducing a song with ‘this next song is about serial killers, from their point of view’. Coincidentally we wound up seeing them again at Gumby’s a few months later.
I think the main reason we went was because we knew this kid who was a really good guitar player and had practiced with Brian Pauley once or twice after the Provos broke up. They all played thrash metal so it wasn’t that entertaining for me at the time. I remember a guy with a “skullet” trying to start a mosh pit with his girlfriend. It didn’t really take off. Probably too cold.
The coolest thing really about the show was this guy who was firing a flame thrower every so often into the air. He would stand up, set down his beer, and fire up the flame thrower. I could feel the heat radiating off this thing when he would fire it. Every time he did Billy Reynolds would stand up and cheer. The guy started firing that flame thrower more and more as the night went on. I don’t know if it was a result of the beer or Billy’s cheering or maybe a little of both.
The only other thing I remember about the show was driving back home in Dave’s car and trying to find a way to get a Les Paul. They were expensive and I didn’t have much money. I would eventually get one, then trade it in for another, a couple years later.
Brian Pauley and The Buddhashrooms
Right after the break up of the Provos Jason Little went into the Navy and Billy Reynolds went to school in Nashville. It seemed like the end of an era; we had seen a lot of Provos shows in 1993 and it was a real shame to see them go away. Provos shows were cool because they were cheap ($1.00 at the door) and they were a good band. You always had fun at their shows. Now it was over and we had no idea what kind of replacement we would have, if any.
Enter Buddhashrooms. The Buddhashrooms had reformed and had gotten a new singer named Chris Klinger. They needed a drummer and Brian Pauley stepped in to take that spot since he had nothing else to do now. The Dills brothers, Brian & John, made up the rest of the band. Brian played bass and John played guitar. They weren’t really too bad actually and Brian played with them for several months. We went to see a couple show where they played and it was cool.
The Dills boys were good guys as I found out later when I met them. I mostly talked to Brian Dills because John was kind of touch and go with the scene. Sometimes he was around sometimes he wasn’t. I only met Chris Klinger once or twice. He had a shaved head with this little tuft of hair left up front. Shaun called it a “shrub”. He seemed okay though and he was actually kind of funny. One night they were playing and there was a female security guard working. She came up and made a request of him for something I don’t remember and then as she was walking John or Brian Dills did something to fuck with him. He yelled ‘bitch’ just as the security guard was walking away. She turned around, pissed off, and said asked him what he said. He immediately told her it was a misunderstanding and that he was talking to somebody else. He apologized and I think she believed him because she smiled. I think she knew but she was just fucking with him.
At one of these shows Billy Reynolds was in from college and came to the show. It hadn’t been too long since The Provos’ breakup and people were still hungry for more. So Billy started playing some Provos stuff and then it turned into an improv session. Shaun Moore was sweeping the floor and Billy noticed this. He starts singing ‘Shaun Moore, sweeping the floor…his brother’s gay, his brother’s gay’ or something like that. Suddenly this kid stands up and says ‘Hey, I’m his brother!’. We all started laughing and Billy apologized to the guy. The guy’s name was Jimmy, Jimmy Moore, and-much to Billy’s surprise-Shaun Moore really did have a brother. Except it appeared that he wasn’t gay. Billy was a little embarrassed but it was a funny, funny experience.
It wasn’t long before Brian quit Buddhashrooms. Brian changed bands more than Steve McConihay changed guitar equipment and he was then out on his own again with no band. By that time we had already snagged Jeremy Spears and were playing as The Great Big World. That’s about the time Dirt Bear came into existence.
The Formation of Dirt Bear
Dirt Bear came about as a joke band at first. With a name like Dirt Bear that was pretty much obvious. Billy was coming back into West Virginia about every other week and he decided that maybe he and Brian Pauley could still play in a band of some kind. Andy Masker, who used to play with Buddhashrooms, got into the picture and Dirt Bear was formed. They got the name from a bear Andy had once had. The story went something like this: Andy was a little kid at church with his bear. Somebody stole and then threw it in the trash. I guess somebody threw trash and dirt on top of it and by the time Andy found it it was covered with trash and dirt. People started making fun of him and talking about his “dirt bear” and the rest is history. At least that’s the story I heard. They decided that Dirt Bear would be the perfect name for their joke band and they started writing joke songs like “Making Out With a Fetter” and “Sykodelic”. Dirt Bear would go from a joke band to a full-fledged legitimate band in the scene within six months. They debuted on the same show as my band the following year, but there’s more on that later.
Building the Band
Locating a New Venue
In early 1994 Shaun, Jeremy, Carl, and I were starting to get better as a band. We wanted to play very badly at the flea market but that would prove to be impossible. I believe it was sometime in January or February that the flea market shows shut down for good. The owner had decided to rent out both halves, including the half we played in, of the building and we were suddenly without a place to play. It was a big blow to the local all-ages music scene and we were very worried that another place would not be available for us to play. Brian Pauley and others searched for new venues and finally found one in Nitro, West Virginia. It was a place called Jar Bugs. Brian set us up to play there in March of 1994. We as a band didnt feel we were really ready but we knew we couldn’t wait forever to play live. We had to pick a point and dive in. So, we decided to practice hard and hope for the best.
Turned out we didn’t have to worry about that because Jar Bugs closed down shortly before our show was scheduled. It was a blessing and a curse; it bought us more time to practice but we still did not have a place to play. It was very depressing actually. I’d had so much fun at the flea market shows and it now appeared that we would never have a place to play a local show ourselves.
Well, often times things aren’t as bad as they seem. Shortly after Jar Bugs shut down Brian Pauley got in touch with a place called the LKM Auditorium. The LKM specialized in bingo, square dancing but they opened up their building to us on Friday and Saturday nights for shows. It came at a price though; gone were the days of $1.00 and $2.00 shows. Admission was now $5.00 and the LKM kept two-thirds of the door money. That deal sucked for the bands and fans in a lot of ways but it was the only deal in town so we took it. However, it wasn’t all bad; the LKM was an extremely nice place to play. It had a three foot tall stage, lights, and a hall that would hold 480 people. For Christ’s sake it had a disco ball! We hoped that people would pay the $5.00 and still come to the shows. That proved to be a non-issue; more people would come to the LKM than ever did to the flea market.
Recording our first E.P.
In March of 1994 we were still calling ourselves The Great Big World and we had four original songs finished. We recorded those four songs on Steve McConihay’s four track recorder in Brian Pauley’s garage in March of 1994. The songs sucked but we worked really hard on them and they were really only good for helping us to learn how to play together in a band and how to write songs.
The other good thing that came out of recording that little E.P. was that we got some experience recording. It was difficult because every time you fucked up you had to start over again. We finally got all the songs recorded and mixed and, at the time, we were quite proud of it. We’d tried to set up a show at The Nitro Flea Market on March 18, 1994 but that show never went down. As I said the flea market was shut down shortly before our show would have happened.
Why Playing Birthday Parties Sucks
Also in the spring of 1994, after I bought the Peavey Deuce 2×12 combo amp I believe, Jeremy got us a gig to play this birthday show. It was for some friend of his and they were having it at the grade school in Quick, West Virginia. The rest of us didn’t really want to do it but we did it for Jeremy and we figured it would be good practice. Jeremy was all excited about it, despite the fact that we told him that playing parties sucked. He changed his tune after the party when he discovered how lame it was to play to only 10 or 20 people.
I don’t remember much about the show itself. We showed up, set up our equipment, and started playing. Carl ended up talking some kind of gibberish and throwing a bible across the room. I found out about that later but, not being too religious, I guess I didnt think much of it. Ultimately I thought it was funny, mostly funny that people were shocked. Despite the fact that the kids who were there gave us a good response it was still a pretty lame show for me. Birthday parties are a lame gig in general. After we packed our stuff up Jeremy said he never wanted to play a party again. We all said ‘I told you so’ and we never played another party again. Of course, we played some shows that were even worse but at least they weren’t parties.
We saw several good bands in the spring of 1994. One of these bands was a local band called Chum. Chum was extremely heavy and very tight; I mean they were dead on. They sounded professional and it wasnt until later that I found out they were local. Ultimately they never went anywhere and that was a shame. I guess they didn’t have the initiative or maybe the backing from the record label; I don’t really know the details. The show was awesome and I bought their tape that night. I still have both of their tapes and they are still excellent. We would later meet up with Chum and even play a show with them. Also, almost five years after the demise of Chum I bought their two E.P.s on CD which I’d wanted to do for a very long time.
The other band we saw was Glory Journal, a local band from Morgantown, WV. Steve had encouraged me to buy their CD some time back and when we heard they were coming to Gumby’s we thought we should go see them. So Steve McConihay, Andy Masker, Travis Walker, and I went to see them. They werent Gumby’s material and I dont know why they were booked there but they played anyway. They were relatively well-received by the crowd, despite the fact that they weren’t heavy. The crowd was actually quite respectful. I bought their newest CD there and talked to the singer for a bit. According to Buckie Davis (see comments below) their original singer quit and moved to Washington D.C. to further his art. If memory serves the new singer told me he’d stepped in to fill the vacant spot on vocals. It was a nice night and I really did have a lot of fun.
Promoting Our First Show
So the way to do it was the old-fashioned way; a bunch of flyers and a staple gun. One night Andy Masker, Shaun Fox, and I went out to put up flyers for our show in May. We started putting them up all over Nitro since that was where we were going to have the show and a few other places as well. Finally, later on that night, we ended up at South Charleston High School. Andy had gone to school there and he thought it would be a good idea to put up some flyers around the campus. So after we got there we got out of the car and started posting flyers around the school. We had some tape with us as well and I had my dad’s staple gun. We stapled them to trees and taped them to doors, basically put them anywhere they’d stick.
As we were taping a flyer to the front door of the school we saw the janitor walk up to the door. We knew we were going to get kicked out and I figured he’d talk some shit and then we’d just get back into the car. Then he would tear down everything we’d just put up, making it all wasted effort. However, when the guy came to the door and asked us what was going on we told him we were posting flyers for a show we were playing. He then said ‘do you guys want to put some up inside?’
I was completely surprised. We said we would and he let the three of us in. We went through the halls and taped up fliers to lockers, on walls, etc. and then we went to the front for the janitor to let us out. I remember him telling us he used to play in a band so I’m sure thats why he let us in; he could emphathize with us. We thanked him for letting us put the flyers up and for basically being cool about the whole thing. It was a nice experience; I still remember walking through that school in the dark, and taping up flyers onto strangers’ lockers. For some reason that part is really vivid. The rest is just an old memory. Its weird how my memories become almost surreal the older I get.
Stick at Gumbys
Sometime in April of 1994, I believe it was, we went to Gumby’s in Huntington, West Virginia and saw a band called Stick. Steve McConihay, Shaun Fox, and I went. Somehow we were able to get Shaun into the club even though he was underage. It must have been good luck or just a bad doorman. Shaun’s mom called Gumby’s and asked if they would let him in with a note from her. They agreed. When we got there Shaun presented the note and the doorman said he didnt know anything about it. Then he said he guessed it was okay and Shaun was in.
Stick was heavy as hell and they really had an impact on us. We had seen one of their videos on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball (when they still played music videos) and we really liked them. At one point Steve bumped into the singer and spilled beer on him. It was funny as hell. Steve was partially drunk and after they collided he looked up and said ‘hey, you’re in Stick!’ They guy laughed and he was cool as hell about the whole thing. We talked to him for five minutes or so and then he had to split.
After the Stick show Shaun and I decided that was the direction we wanted to take the band. We talked it over with Carl and Jeremy and then decided on a new band name to replace The Great Big World. We went with Flood, an idea Shaun and I got from looking over our CD collections. We looked at some Nine Inch Nails CDs and found that they were produced by a guy called Flood. We thought the name was cool so we used it for our band name.
Our First Live Show
Brian got a show set up with Dirt Bear, Noise Box, The Electric Sex Band, and Flood for May 23, 1994 at the LKM Auditorium. Dirt Bear had become a decent band and was becoming less and less the joke band they started out as. This would be Dirt Bear’s first live show as well as Flood’s first live show. Noise Box had been around for a while though and we hoped they would help to bring in some people.
We had been playing for a while with Carl and we were all into our new songs. We had four new songs that were very heavy and sounded much different than the lighter songs we wrote as The Great Big World. We didn’t have enough new songs to play an entire set but it turned out that we didn’t have to.
In April of 1994, singer and songwriter for Nirvana Kurt Cobain killed himself with a shotgun blast to the head. It was a pretty unbelievable thing and it hit everybody harder than I thought it would. Cobain had been the major reason that cheese metal went by the wayside and real rock music came back. It was a shame because he was so talented but so fucked up at the same time. He wasn’t much of a guitar player but he could write songs like nobody else.
So we decided to do the LKM show as a tribute show to Cobain and Nirvana. We all decided to play a few Nirvana songs at this show. Since the newly created Flood only had four new original songs we used the Nirvana songs to add to our set list and this allowed us to play the show in May. We played three Nirvana songs, Come As You Are, Pennyroyal Tea, & Even In His Youth. All the bands decided which Nirvana songs they were going to cover beforehand so that no two bands covered the same song.
On May 23, 1994 I played my first live show at the LKM. I had been very unsure of how it would be and how well we would do. We practiced very hard and we had the Nirvana songs as well as our originals pretty much down pat. I had been worried that I might freeze up or really make some huge, embarrassing mistake while playing live. It’s weird now to think back to how important is was to me. It seems more in perspective now because I guess I see how small of an event a local live show is. But to me at that time it was the world. It was imperative that we did well; our reputation counted on it.
It turned out that I really had nothing to worry about. I don’t remember in what order we all played but I do remember that everybody sounded great. All the Nirvana covers went off well and it was a fitting tribute really. Dirt Bear didn’t seem to go over extremely well for some odd reason but that would all change after the next few shows. Flood played all of our originals and only screwed up the first song we played. We were very nervous and we played the song about ten times faster than it should have been. Toward the end of the first song I ended up screwing up but we finished the song and nobody seemed to notice.
It was weird the first time that I played live in front of a crowd. Im guessing there were maybe 150 to 200 people at that first show we played and that was a pretty good turnout for a local show. We would soon find out that the turnout would be even higher later on. I was very nervous as we waited to play. We’d practiced a zillion times but we’d never played live so I didnt know what would happen. We started our first song and the butterflies that had been flying around in my stomach for the previous hour went away by the end of the song. Once the nervousness was gone it was a blast just playing the songs.
The crowd really seemed to like us. People were cheering, screaming, moshing, and having an all-around good time. I remember some guy in the audience apparently memorized. He kept staring up at me and it gave a weird feeling. Nobody had ever really paid that kind of attention to me and it was somewhat unnerving. It gave me a glimpse of what it’s like to be a rock star. Or at least what I think it would be like to be a rock star.
I remember after the show I stayed the night at Steve McConihay’s house. Andy Masker was there as well. Steve was living in Dunbar at the time since his mom’s cancer had resurfaced. She grew up in Dunbar and wanted to move back there after she got sick again. She knew it was terminal and that this was her last chance. So, they moved into a house in Dunbar but kept the old house in Big Chimney, renting it out to pay the bills. We stayed up for a while just talking about playing music, playing live shows, religion, the possibility of an afterlife and other things that young adults grapple with. I remember Andy-whose father was a preacher-said that he believed in life after death because the idea of nothing coming after this life was completely frightening to him. He said he’d have no hope if he didn’t believe. I guess that’s a pretty strong reason for belief; its scary as hell to think about your own death. Steve didn’t have much belief in it and neither did I. I think we were both agnostics, even at that age.
We also talked about the show and the reaction of the fans. As I said, there had been this guy in the audience who had been watching me intently during the entire show. I guess it kinda creeped me out at the time; I kinda felt like I had experienced a miniature version of fame and had some idea of what real rock stars go through. I was also young and didn’t understand things quite as well back then; it wouldn’t freak me out at all now. Im not saying it was a big deal, just a little weird. I remember lying there on the floor trying to go to sleep with visions of the show running through my head. It was a like a movie; the crowd was in front of me, my band was beside me, and the exhilaration of the whole experience was still vivid and powerful. Reluctantly I did finally fall asleep.
The Cat Box
Right about the time the LKM starting putting on shows in early 1994 another place, literally a block away from the LKM, starting doing the same thing. This place was called the Cat Box and was located in the same place that Jar Bugs had been. The same exact building, actually. Right beside the Cat Box was a little music store called Cat’s Back Records. It was ran by some fat woman who could be a real bitch at times. We found that out one night in a big way.
Anyway, after our show at the LKM we agreed to play a show at the Cat Box on June 3, 1994. Admission was cheaper there than it was at the LKM; only $3.00 at the door and she kept 50% of the door instead of the 66% the LKM took. We played that show with Dirt Bear, Who Cares, and Slip. Who Cares was a band that we saw at the Charleston music festival that previous summer. I had gotten in touch with them and set them up on the show. Slip was Ronnie Stricklen’s band.
That show, in contrast to the LKM show, was a fucking disaster. It really brought us down from our proverbial high horses and showed us that we had a long way to go as a band. First off I had problems with my guitar. I had replaced the pickups in it and some of my soldering had some loose. Luckily I had a backup with me but it was a cheap guitar that I bought at a pawn shop and it came out of tune VERY easily. I found that out after we played our first song.
Since we were all very green we didn’t really know too much about playing live. It really is a skill in and of itself. Instead of checking my tuning before starting the song I just started, then found out my guitar was out of tune. I tried to tune it by ear but there was too much noise and natural reverb and I couldn’t really hear it. So I had to then go get my tuner out of my guitar case, bend down, plug it in, and then get that piece of shit tuned up. It felt like an eternity; the whole time my face was red, hot, and burning from embarrassment. I vowed at that point that I would never let that happen again. It was a great learning experience and it never happened to us again.
After ten minutes of embarrassing tuning we started playing again. As I said before we only had four original Flood songs. We still had four original Great Big World songs. Since we stupidly agreed to do the show before we were ready we had to play a few of those songs and, let me tell you, that was the first and last time those songs were ever played live.
We made it through the show but the crowd response wasn’t what it had been at the LKM a few weeks ago. That would prove to be a recurring theme at our live shows throughout 1994. Although some people were moshing and applauding it was a very different atmosphere than our debut show. We had bitten off more than we could chew and had paid the embarrassing price for it. We decided to wait for a while before playing again, at least until we had an entire set of originals. No more Great Big World songs-period.
Buying a P.A. System
After playing several shows and saving all the money we finally had a few hundred dollars. We decided to buy a P.A. system since we didnt have one ourselves and we had to borrow Brian Pauley’s all the time. We scraped up enough money (with $80.00 that I threw in myself) and we bought a P.A. system from a church. We were tipped off to the sale by a guy named Shawn we used to go to school with.
Anyway, he set up the meeting with us and somebody from the church. We got there and waited on them to show and when they did it was like something out of Deliverance. This guy was about five feet tall with a four foot tall wife and two mutant kids running around. I wondered not so jokingly if he was going to pull out a burlap sack with snakes and start holding them into the air while speaking in tongues. It was the damndest thing. We gave them the money, packed up the P.A. and got the hell out of there. They were nice enough to give us a few microphones and the stands they built for the speakers. The stands were black and made out of two by fours and plywood. They read Gospel Dwellersacross the front. The speakers were labeled Gospel Dwellers as well. We decided to leave it just the way it was; it was funny and reminded us of our meeting with the church people. I thought it was a funny sight in April when we were playing a live show with our P.A. (Brian had been out of town so we couldn’t use his) and we were playing on stage with the Gospel Dwellers equipment in front of us. Nice irony.
Finding a New Place to Practice
We had been practicing at Brian Pauley’s house for some time now and we didn’t want to wear out our welcome so we wanted to find a place to play. We had played in Jeremy’s attic for a while but it was so cramped that it made practicing difficult. It was also very hot in the summer as there was no air conditioning. Now that we had our own P.A. system we could practice on our own and not have to use Brian’s anymore. It was important to us to become independent if we wanted to become contemporaries.
Our seach halted briefly when Jeremy’s dad, Jerry, decided to clean out a storage shed behind his house. He said he’d turn it into a room for us to practice in. He did, and we moved our stuff into it in August of 1994. Right around that time (August 13,14,15) we recorded our first album as Flood. We called the album Spate, which was Carl’s idea. Now if you’re not familiar with the word spate its a synonym for Flood. We thought it was clever at the time.
Anyway, we had written four more new songs since the show in May and we were really wanting to get them recorded. Overall the tape isn’t too bad and we were quite proud of our effort. We also needed some tapes to sell at our shows because we needed some cash. We hadn’t played that many shows so our band fund was pretty low, especially after we bought the P.A. system. Shaun and I designed the album cover, an image from an old sci-fi movie. I typed up all the words, since I’d written virtually all the lyrics on the album, and I reduced the size, arranged everything, and made photocopies where I worked. It looked pretty shitty by today’s standards (no one had a computer that I could have prepared all this on) but it worked. We actually sold a bunch of tapes over the next few months.
The shed behind Jeremy’s house turned out to be a pretty decent place to play. At least for a while. It didn’t take the good people of Clendenin long to start calling the cops on us. After only a few practice sessions we were forced to abandon the practice room due to a few compaints. The cops were cool about it and one of them even played in a band himself when he was young. He knew what we were going through but he still had to tell us to stop playing. They never wrote us any tickets which was a good thing but we were screwed nonetheless.
In response to this problem we started practicing at Shaun Fox’s house. That’s where we practiced until the end. It was nice because we practiced in his family room so we had nothing to worry about as far as weather and neighbors were concerned. They lived so far out away from everything that no one could even hear. Plus she cooked for us every time we were there; that’s always cool.
Our Last Show with Carl Lucas
On September 23, 1994 we played our last show with Carl Lucas. We played at the LKM Auditorium with a band called Malicious Intent and I believe Freaktent might have played. Or maybe it was Noisebox, I’m not sure. Regardless, it was a painful experience. I thought we played well and we even played a couple new songs. However, for some reason the crowd just wasn’t digging us that night. They just sat there and watched, not getting up to mosh or anything. Maybe we sucked that night, who knows?
Well, Carl wasn’t used to that I guess and he got severely pissed. He started yelling at the crowd, telling them they were a bunch of pussies, get up and mosh, stuff like that. After the show he didn’t show up to practice for about a month. By that time it was almost October. Jeremy went driving around with Carl one night around this time and he told Carl that we were practicing that following day. Carl said he’d be there but he never showed. We practiced for a while and then when we took a break we discussed the situation with Carl. It was Jeremy actually who brought up the prospect of kicking him out of the band. I hadn’t expected that from Jeremy since he was closer to Carl than any of us. I also hadn’t considered kicking him out until Jeremy brought up the possibility but immediately it seemed like the only solution, given the circumstances.
I agreed with Jeremy and so did Shaun so the decision had been made. Then came the hard part; telling him. Nobody wanted that job and, being the young kids that we were, we didn’t tell him until a month later when he called us about practicing. By then he’d waited two months to call us and ask us when we were going to practice. We told him in a round about way that he was out of the band and he was extremely pissed. It was basically Jeremy who broke the news; Shaun and I were a little afraid to. I guess we were young and that kind of thing was difficult for us; we just weren’t used to it.
Eventually Carl got over it and even admitted that he would have kicked himself out of the band if the shoe had been on the other foot. Of course that took a long time, probably a year. He even came to one of our shows at the Coffee House and I spoke with him for a while there. It was unfortunate that it had to happen the way it did but I guess life’s like that.
Steve Suggests a Singer for Flood
Steve McConihay went to West Virginia State College for several years and, while he was there, he met a guy name Adam Triplett. Adam was a singer looking for a band. Steve was a guitar player looking for a singer. I can’t remember the exact details but Steve talked to Adam about singing in a band. When Steve eventually brought up my band, Flood, Adam became interested. Steve then put him in touch with us. We found out that Adam had wanted to sing for us for a while. He had actually been at the show where Carl blew up and had remarked to a friend that he would sing for our band some day.
Steve introduced us to Adam sometime during November of 1994. Adam was living with a guy named Billy Lewis in an apartment in Cross Lanes, West Virginia. He was working as a cook at Shoney’s and worked some really fucked up hours. Getting time to practice with him was a problem at first but he eventually quit that job and got one with more tolerable hours. He was also a student of WV State College studying art.
We met with Adam for the first time at his apartment. Billy Lewis was there and little did I know at that time how close my connection to him would be. He was my future wife’s ex-boyfriend. Small world. I hadn’t even met her at that point. We stayed the night at Adam and Billy’s apartment, talking until early in the morning about music, art, and other things. Sometime during the night there was a storm and the gutter fell off or the shutters slamming scaring the shit out of everybody sleeping. All except me who could sleep through a war. Adam agreed that night that he would try out for our band. It took one tryout to get him into the band. He was awesome and he was exactly what we needed to get back on the good side of our fans.
Things progressed well with Adam. Often he had to work at Shoney’s on the weekends so we practiced with him about every other weekend. That was fine because we wrote all the music and then Adam added the lyrics or made suggestions afterward. We practiced our asses off and Shaun and I wrote some killer new songs, in my opinion at least. Some of the best songs we ever wrote were written during that time period. We knew that the new music was so much better we hoped that the crowd would be responsive to Adam. We worked hard to tighten up our songs and get everything as perfect as possible.
We were ready; we’d locked in the new line up and songs and we’d polished them to near perfection. Now that we’d had some performance experience behind us we felt solid and relatively experienced. We felt that if anything was going to happen for us as Flood in the local scene now was the time.
1995: When It All Came Together
1995 started out with a bang. We had just kicked Carl Lucas out of the band the previous November and we were starting to make progress with Adam Triplett as our new singer. By the beginning of January we had almost completely replaced our old set list with new, better written, songs. This was perfect for us to bring in a new singer since we weren’t trying to get Adam to learn old stuff. All the lyrics for our older songs had been written by me but Adam wrote lyrics and we wanted him to write his own lyrics to our new songs. The problem with Adam was, I found out later, that he wrote his own lyrics but he ad-libbed them each time we performed. It was never the same thing twice. I know it irked Shaun a little but a lot of things irked Shaun. It wasn’t a major issue with me though; he pretty much always came through with something when we played live so I just took care of the guitar parts.
Our first show with Adam Triplett
We knew that if we were to succeed we’d have to find someone who could sing well and had a good rapport with the crowd. We thought we’d found that in Adam so we practiced with him for some time, gave him copies of the music, and we wrote a ton of new stuff. We planned on blowing the crowd away this time since their last impression of us was a little sour. That wasn’t good and we knew it. We had to come back better than ever with new songs and a new singer. Ultimately we hoped we’d walk away with a bigger fan base when it was all said and done.
We practiced and practiced, fine-tuned the songs, played them until we were sick of them, and then finally we thought we were ready to play again. We set the date for the show to January 27, 1995; about four months after the LKM show when Carl went off on the audience. We hoped that a four month hiatus would help to generate interest in the “new” Flood. People were excited and were anticipating the show, at least from what I understood. We also set the show up with Dirt Bear, Freak Tent, and the Buddhashrooms, all of which we knew would help bring people in. We knew the show would go over well because of this; we just weren’t sure what the reaction to the new Flood would be like. The audience had liked us before and then they appeared to lose interest. We hoped that this trend was about to change.
It did. When January 27th rolled around we were pumped. The weather was shitty; rainy and cold, but despite this, we were still excited. Luckily the rain stopped long enough for us to get our instruments to the LKM without having to cover them with a tarp. After we got there we unpacked our stuff and carried it inside. Unpacking musical equipment is hard work; there’s so much stuff and it’s so heavy. No wonder professional musicians have roadies.
I remember vividly the process of unloading the equipment. I pulled my truck behind the building and began carrying things in. I remember seeing people from other bands carrying their stuff, as well as other people’s equipment sitting around. All this was very surreal; I realized then that I was actually a part of all this. I was actually on stage myself now, not watching someone else do it. When you find something you like it’s not just one aspect of that thing you like; I liked everything about playing in a band including the act of carrying my stuff inside. I know it sounds strange but it’s true. It was an awesome feeling to be walking inside that building from the back-not the front-carrying equipment I would use on stage. After everything was unloaded it was just a matter of waiting for people to arrive.
And arrive they did. By the time the people had been counted through the door we found out there were about 380 paying customers. That didn’t include the bands, the people who got in free with the bands, etc. So my estimate is that there were maybe 400 people there altogether. It was packed. We were very excited but we didn’t want to be the first band. Going first sucks because the crowd sometimes isn’t warmed up and some people don’t show up until late. Also it was Adam’s first show with us and we wanted to try to ease him in as much as possible.
So we asked Freak Tent if they would play first but Chris Allen (their bass player) wouldn’t budge. Since they had gone first four months earlier when Carl had to leave early they weren’t going to do it again. ‘Fair is fair’ he said and I couldn’t really argue with him despite the how I felt about it. So we just decided to go out there, play the hell out of our new songs and see what happened. We had really spent some time cleaning them up and getting them polished for the show. Overall we sounded better than we ever had. We were only playing two old songs that we had written with Carl; the rest were new songs written after we kicked Carl out. The crowd was going to see that the new Flood was something to keep their eye on, hopefully. We were determined to make sure of that.
I’m glad now that I had enough foresight to document this period in my life. I had our first and second show on video tape (even if the first show only showed Jeremy’s drum set in the frame throughout the entire show) and I knew that I needed this one on tape as well. I hoped it would be good and on that assumption I had asked Brian Pauley to bring his parents’ video camera along. Therefore I now have virtually the entire set on tape. Several people took turns filming our set and somebody turned the camera off for one or two songs but we have most of it on tape. I requested the video camera at several other shows as well. In hindsight I wish I would have recorded every show. I also wish I would have had someone snapping photographs while we played. I have lots of pictures though, mostly just of the people we hung around with and places we went.
There was something funny that happened before the show. About a month earlier we had Dana White make some T-shirts for us that we thought were great. The caption on the front of the shirt stated ‘I Hate Flood’. On the back was a statement made in the form of a critic’s review that stated:
“This band sucks.” – Rolling Stone Magazine
Now, the whole idea was to poke fun at ourselves. If I remember correctly I came up with the Rolling Stone quote on the back of the shirt; I think Adam had the ‘I Hate Flood’ idea. Our hope was that everyone would go around with a shirt saying ‘I Hate Flood’ and it would be hilarious. The shirts actually sold out and I saw several people wearing them later on. Adam Triplett decided to wear one on stage that night. I thought that was pretty funny and was also good advertising.
Well, before the show Adam was walking around and Jimmy Moore stopped him. Jimmy was Shaun Moore’s brother; Shaun Moore from I.N.R.I.. Apparently Jimmy was a big fan of ours from when Carl still sang for the band. He had no clue that Adam was our new singer. What he did know was that he was pissed off that somebody was wearing a shirt that said ‘I Hate Flood’. He confronted Adam and asked him why he was wearing a shirt like that. Adam explained to him that he sang for Flood and that we had made the shirts ourselves as a joke. Jimmy then found the humor in the whole thing. That’s just how Jimmy was. I admired him for standing up for us, as strange as that might sound.
At around seven or eight o’clock everything was ready to go. The P.A. system was set up, our equipment was set up, and we were on stage, ready to go. It’s an incredible feeling to play in a band in front of 400 people. I can only imagine what it’s like to play for thousands. We’d played several shows (plus the birthday party) and most of our pre-show jitters had been overcome through experience. But this show was a little different. Since it had been four months since we last played live there was a little feeling of nervousness for all of us. When I watch the tape I still think that I can see Adam’s nervousness on his face. This was, after all, his first show with Flood and his first real live performance. Jeremy, Shaun, and I were pretty solid though and we told him not to worry. We’d all be on, all he had to do was sing.
I still remember how we started the show off. The lights dimmed, people gathered around, and I saw the biggest crowd that I had ever played for standing in front of me. It was awesome. People were pumped, yelling, and ready to rock. I turned my volume up (this was my first show with my Les Paul studio guitar), turned on all my pedals, and let the feedback flow forth. Jeremy made some noise on the drums and Shaun created some noise with his bass. We let that ring for several seconds, getting the crowd anxious and restless. Adam had this cool echo on his voice and he just started making some noises with that big echo. We had planned the whole thing from the beginning and we were waiting on a four count from Jeremy on the high-hat symbol. Finally, amidst the flood of noise I heard the count on the high-hat.
Jeremy hit the hi-hat cymbal, then snare, and then we all started playing. The song was called “Accident”, named after the method I’d used to write the main riff of the song. One night I was just sitting around playing and accidentally came up with the main riff for the song. The sound was loud, the adrenaline was flowing, and the people were going nuts! They reacted immediately, moshing, jumping, dancing, yelling, and crowd surfing. The nervousness went away within a minute or so and then it was just a matter of having fun and remembering to pay attention to what I was doing. Playing live requires a good deal of mental work; one has to pay attention to what’s going on or a wrong note is played or a change is out of sync and the show suffers.
We played the whole set pretty much without a hitch. We slowed down in the middle of the set with “Palomar”, a song named after a mountain with a telescope on it. We then picked things up and ended the set with “Lungfish”, a fast, choppy, and catchy song that people instantly loved. Our stops were precise, our timing was on, our songs had gotten much better, and people never stopped moving through the whole set. It was probably the most memorable show I’ve ever played in my life.
When we got off the stage after that set I was buzzing with excitement. I knew we had played well; all our hard work had paid off. We went to the Nitro McDonald’s to grab something to eat right after our set, during Freaktent’s set actually. While there, Travis Walker, Andy Masker’s friend, congratulated us on the show and told us how good it was. His comments on our improvement stuck with me. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was still buzzing about the show and about how well we did. I hoped that show was indicative of how things would go for us in the future and, for the most part, it was.
After we ate we went back to the show and watched Dirt Bear. They were great, as usual, and they got the crowd into the show even more. The local scene in 1994 and 1995 really belonged to Dirt Bear. Eventually it would be shared by Flood and Sevin but, even then, Dirt Bear would still remain a slightly bigger crowd attraction. That was fine because we all used that to our advantage later on by riding their coattails a bit. Not to mention they were our friends and we were very happy to see them succeed.
After the show something else happened. It’s funny how things work out, how destiny is unfolding before you but you don’t even realize it. I remember seeing Scott Robinson in the back of the room. He had been running sound for all of us that night. He was talking to this pretty girl so I decided to walk back there and see what was going on. As I approached I saw the girl had her pants unbuttoned and was showing Scott a tattoo that she had. She showed it to me and then she buttoned up, wrapped up the conversation, and walked away. I figured I’d never see her again so I tried not to think much of it right afterward and we packed our stuff up and we prepared to leave.
After the show Jeremy and Adam went home and Shaun stayed with me at my house. We watched the videotape of the show and we were very impressed with it. We identified the things we could have done better and the things we did right. We were impressed with Adam’s performance; he’d done a great job and we felt we were off to a great start with him as our singer. We did what we’d set out to do: put on the best show we possibly could.
As I lay there that night trying to fall asleep I thought about how wonderful my life was. I remembered all the details of the show and I wondered how life could get any better. For some reason I remembered the girl with the tattoo that night and her image seemed to be lodged in my brain somehow. I thought it would be a shame that I’d never see her again but I was used to it; I figured I’d get over it. I didn’t know it then but I would most definitely see her again. In fact, she would become my wife.
Common Grounds Coffee House
During February we played a show at Common Grounds. Common Grounds was an underage club that was ran by this guy named Bob Webb. In order to pay the rent for the new place that he’d moved the club to he had what he called “rent parties”. Bands would play for free so that Bob could use the money to pay the rent on the place. Now keep in mind that this place was a haven for modern-day hippies, tree-huggers, vegans, and that sort of crew. They would sit around, listen to poetry, drink iced coffee, and listen to acoustic guitars and spoken word poetry. That place was their kind of scene.
The old place would only accommodate acoustic music, nothing loud. Well, when it came down to it that didn’t pay the rent so Bob contacted the electric bands (Flood, Sevin, Dirt Bear, etc.) from the Nitro area and asked us all to play. We agreed because it was good publicity for us and we needed more practice anyway. We played the show but I honestly can’t remember exactly how it went. I almost don’t remember playing it. It went well but I think we played last and we had to really cut our set down if I remember correctly.
I do remember meeting the girl with the tattoo that I met at the show the previous month. I remember she was with a girl named Mia Ross and that she was taller than I remembered from our first meeting. I noticed her and remembered her, but at that point I still had no clue as to what would happen later on. I don’t think we even exchanged words at that point.
Recording our First Album with Adam
Since we had a lot of new songs and a new singer we decided to record again in February. We put together a new album with all new songs and Adam called it Halo Arrangements and Alternate Wall Fixtures. I really don’t know where he came up with that name but it sounded cool so we went with it. We recorded again on the four-track recorder and it sounded pretty good, for a four-track recorder at least. We went with a different approach this time and recorded each instrument on a different track instead of recording everything on one track. It was impossible to add any other tracks but our songs were pretty much straight-forward and didn’t require a bunch of layering. The main benefit was that if one of us messed up we could just record our own track over again.
Scott had stolen a compressor from a local music store operated by a bunch of assholes we couldn’t stand and he used it on Adam’s voice in the studio when we played live and recorded later on during the summer. It evened out the high and low volume of Adam’s voice and made the recordings sound better. Unfortunately at the time we recorded Halo Arrangements we didn’t have that so there are points in the song where his voice is louder than everything else and places where you can hardly hear him. The recording is good overall and I’m still pretty proud of it, all things considered.
Adam designed the artwork for the front cover and we made a trip to Kinko’s to have them print off color copies. We all decided it was better to spend the money on color copies; it looked much better than black and white. We sold a shitload of those tapes when we brought them to shows. I think we sold them for five bucks and we sold out at every show. That was a pretty good feeling to know people would not only pay to come to our shows but would also buy our music. We sold those tapes for months and probably altogether sold 150 or 200. The tapes were costing us about $2.00 to make so it was a pretty decent profit to put back into the band fund.
I always wonder where those tapes are now, what those people did with them years after the scene fell apart and all the bands broke up. I can imagine those tapes stuffed in a box somewhere, thrown away, or saved as a treasured reminder of someone’s youth. I’m sure I’ll never know what happened to all those tapes but I’d like to think that someone out there, when they’re feeling nostalgic, pops that tape in and re-experiences those days, at least for a short while. I think that would be a very cool legacy to leave behind.
More Shows in Morgantown & the LKM Auditorium
Things went pretty well with me for the next few months. Shaun and I worked hard on writing new material and we practiced about once per week, usually on Saturdays. We were getting better and better and I was having the time of my life. Everything revolved around music and playing live shows. We continued with the philosophy of not playing more than once per month so that people wouldn’t get tired of us. I don’t remember playing a show in March; we may have skipped that month altogether. This also made each show we played that much better because we weren’t doing it so much that we ourselves were getting sick of it.
In the spring of 1995 Billy Reynolds was in school in Morgantown, West Virginia. He would come in every other weekend and would practice and play shows with Dirt Bear. He also made some attempts to set up some shows in Morgantown at a club called The Nyabinghi. Well, he got a show setup with his band (Dirt Bear) and a couple other local Morgantown bands and we all went with to see them play on March 5th. Those who went, if memory serves me right, were Aaron Flanagan, Scott Robinson, Billy Reynolds, Brian Pauley, Andy Masker, Brian Dills, Shaun Fox, Dana White, Mia Ross, Holly, Brent Mullins, Larry White and some others. The show was okay but it was cold as hell in there. It was a pretty cool trip nonetheless. I rode up with Scott Robinson which allowed us to hang out for a couple hours and talk which was kinda cool.
We did play again in April though and we actually played two shows that month. One show we played on April 7th with three bands; Ritual Youth, Special Interest Group, and Mumble. Jeremy knew these bands and we did it as a favor to them. By that time we were drawing in crowds of probably two hundred or more people. We still weren’t at the Dirt Bear level of drawing in three hundred people but we were getting close. There was real satisfaction in that for us; a payoff to our hard work.
It was so cool because we got there, unloaded our stuff, and then waited for people to show up. I would walk around outside the place, meeting my friends, talking, and hanging out. Almost everyone would still be outside when the other bands played. We’d listen to see when they were finished and then we’d go in and set our stuff up. I’d notice then that everyone who had been outside were now coming inside and then the crowd would go nuts while we played. After we were finished (if were weren’t the last band) almost everyone would go home during the last band. It’s a really satisfying feeling to know that people actually came and shelled out five bucks to watch you play.
Unfortunately one of the bands we played with didn’t go over well and started yelling at the crowd. That didn’t play out well for them. Most people went outside. We’d learned our lesson from the prior fall when we’d done something similar.
This guys really didn’t like us much. They said a few nasty things (like we did a good Helmet impersonation) and some other stuff I can’t recall. We agreed to do the show as a favor but when the crowd walked out they were upset with us. It wasn’t our fault; we had no part in it. I had been in their situation before but I never acted like that, especially not with bands who helped us out. I never disrespected the people who helped us out. We never played with those guys again.
The other show we played in April was with Steve McConihay’s band, Trout and Jason Bayes’ (Okey’s friend) new band. Steve and I had a lot of history and I wanted to help him if I could. This show did not go down without a hitch though. For some reason we were unable to get Brian Pauley’s P.A. system. I think he was out of town or something. I don’t really remember exactly why but I know we couldn’t physically get to it. So when Steve set this show up, or it might have been Brian Pauley, Jason Bayes’ band was supposed to bring their P.A. system. They had a really nice P.A. (Jason’s dad had died and he’d gotten a shitload of cash from that) so it was going to be a great setup.
The only problem was that they called Scott Robinson and said they were not going to be able to bring their P.A. Of course this call came at the last minute and we had to rush around for a P.A. system. We had our own but it was a really small system we’d bought from that snake church. It did not have the power to fill the LKM with any amount of respectable sound. Eventually we rounded up several small P.A. systems from our friends and we were able to put together a decent system. We put them all together and it didn’t sound too bad actually. We were upset about it but things happen and the show had to go on.
Trout played first and there was no sign of Jason Bayes’ band during their set. Then we played second and the place went nuts. I remember Adam thanking all the people who’d helped us get the P.A. together that night. What he said was true; if not for them we’d never have had the show. We killed that night; people were going nuts and seemed to be into us. We had a great show. Near the end of our set Jason’s band finally showed up with their P.A. system! I’m not sure why they told us they couldn’t bring it; we assumed they lied. Giving the benefit of the doubt might prove otherwise.
So we decided to just pack all of our stuff up after our set, including our P.A. Everybody else took theirs with them as well. After our set I remember cleaning up our stuff and watching Jason’s band set up. Okey was sound checking the drums and people were walking out. I think the place pretty much cleared out after that; I’m not entirely sure since we left too. Unfortunate for those guys. We were still upset about the P.A. fiasco.
The other cool thing about the night was that we got on television. The news showed up and filmed us playing a song. It was during The Contortionist as I remember. It was the first song of our set; we’d just started playing and this guy came up on stage with a camera. I didn’t look into the camera though, that would have been too cheesy. None of us did, not even Jeremy. He told me later that he’d just kept his head down and continued to play. I did the same. It was cool to see us on television, even if it was just for a few seconds. I have that show on videotape and I also have the news segment that aired. So I can watch the footage from the cameraman as well as watch our own footage of the cameraman. Our fifteen minutes of fame, I guess.
All in all it was a great show and I’m very glad we played it, despite the P.A. incident.
Andy Masker’s Party
In April, 1995 Andy Masker had a party at his house. There were three big parties that I have fond memories of; Andy’s party, Joey Collier’s party, and Brian Pauley’s party. Andy’s party was first and it was pretty fun. I picked up a six pack of Budweiser bottles and also some beer for Shaun. We eventually found our way to Andy’s house and started drinking and hanging out.
During the show that night I had talked to the girl with the tattoo again. Back in February I found out her name was Traci and I also started to notice her more and more. I remember seeing her at the show that night with a camera and asking her if she was going to take any pictures of my band. She had no idea who my band was and I was somewhat disappointed. I’d hoped that she would remember me by then but obviously not.
When I walked into Andy’s house that night she was sitting in the living room at the top of the steps, already buzzing pretty well. She called down to me and said ‘I know who you are now!’ and laughed. I thought that may have been a good sign. I proceeded to put my alcohol into the refrigerator and hope that no one drank any of my beers. I think Phil Conifer (drummer for Sevin) ended up bugging me until I gave him a beer but I drank the other five and was feeling fine.
I remember talking to all my friends about various things, including the show and the scene. Eventually I ended up in the basement trying to sleep while Matt Kennedy yelled at Flanagan from across the room in the dark. He was so drunk and just wouldn’t shut up. It was a great party all in all; lots of fun.
Joey Collier’s Party
On April 29, 1995 we all went to see Ronnie Stricklen’s new band, The Happy Foundation. Joey Collier was the singer and was a friend of Andy Masker. They played a show that evening at The Pit and then Joey invited all of us to a party at his house afterward. A punk band from out of state called “Plastic Martyr” played with them and they came to the party afterward as well.
Joey was married but his marriage was on the rocks. Joey was pissed about the whole thing and didn’t care if his wife didn’t like the idea of thirty or forty people partying in their house or not. (She wasn’t completely moved out at that time.)
So after the show Shaun Fox and I stopped at a store and bought some beer. We found Joey’s apartment and proceeded to party. Dirt Bear (Brian Pauley, Billy Reynolds, Andy Masker), Sevin (Ray Davis, Phil Conifer, Joey Clagg, Brian Spangler), Flood (me, Adam Triplett, Jeremy Spears, and Shaun Fox), Aaron Flanagan, Mia Ross & the guys from Plastic Martyr were there, as best as I can remember. There were a lot of other people there who I didn’t know.
Once again fate or coincidence put me in the same room with Traci, my future wife. I had learned from Sean Beckner and crew that her last name was Colella. She stayed in the living room with Mia Ross for most of the evening and talked with the people in there. I spent most of my time in Joey’s kitchen and talking to the people in there.
Eventually Traci made her way into the kitchen and started joking around with Fields. Now Fields was this little guy with bleach blond hair that was extremely shy. He also played drums for The Happy Foundation. Since he was easily embarrassed Traci was messing around with him and calling him names, etc., basically just trying to embarrass him.
During this I would throw in a few comments here and there but I really didn’t strike up much conversation with Traci. Eventually she left and we all continued drinking. Sometime throughout the night I remember sitting down in the living room against the wall and talking with one of the guys from Plastic Martyr. I’m a happy drunk, so I was getting along fine with this guy. By the end of the night I was having a conversation in the kitchen with this friend of Billy’s I’d never met before. I also remember that somebody had broken a Vanilla Ice CD and I ended up with a piece of it. I kept it and I think I still have it today; just a little reminder of that night.
Toward the wee hours of the morning probably around four or five o’clock, I started getting hungry. Fields prepared macaroni and cheese and it was probably the best I’d ever eaten (of course I was drunk when I ate it so anything would have tasted great). I think that Shaun and I finally left around 6:00 that morning. I had sobered up almost completely and felt I was okay to drive home. We came back to my house and crashed.
Chum at Ropers and the LKM Auditorium
On April 15, 1995 I went to see Chum play at a bar in Huntington called Roper’s. I think Shaun Fox came but I can’t remember if Jeremy or Adam came. Neither Sevin, Flood, or Dirt Bear played that show. I think Dead Ant Farm played the show too, along with some other local bands that weren’t all that great. At least I remember Matt Wheeler, the drummer for Dead Ant Farm, being there. I thought the guys in that band were okay but we just never seemed to interact with them a lot. I met Justin Gordon (the bass player) at a party at Mia Ross’ house several years after the Nitro scene fell apart and he seemed pretty cool. We played pool together in the basement while Mia’s friends listened to rap upstairs.
Unfortunately I remember very little about the show before Chum came on but my memory of Chum’s set is still pretty vivid. Burl Ives (a famous singer/songwriter) had died on April fourteenth and John Lancaster, the singer for Chum, dedicated their show to him. I thought that was pretty cool. The drummer, Chuck, played with his back to the crowd. I guess he saw Brad Wilk (drummer, Rage Against the Machine) do it at Lollapalooza and decided it would be cool. Their set went over extremely well and they performed as well as they always did.
Sometime after that show we ended up going to Gumby’s one night to see a show. I think it may have been a Chum show but, regardless, their drummer, Chuck, was there. I handed him a tape of four of our songs and asked him if he’d be interested in playing an all-ages show with us at the LKM. I later received a call from Chuck saying they would definitely be interested. Now keep in mind that we idolized Chum and it was a huge honor for them to even listen to our tape. We set the show up for May and then we waited around impatiently for the day to arrive.
Our Show with Chum at the LKM
On May 26, 1995 the Chum show went down but not without a hitch. Chum was late because of van trouble and we thought they might not even show up. They finally did show, meeting us as the Nitro McDonald’s, and then we lead them to the LKM as I breathed a sigh of relief. A couple of the guys were drinking beer and the management of the LKM wasn’t happy with that. They got rid of the beer and then proceeded to set their stuff up. Some time before Chris Allen had asked me if they could play on the show. I told him no at first but he said they only wanted to play three songs. Three songs and they would exit the stage. The show had originally been set up with Dirt Bear playing first, Flood playing second, and Chum headlining. Normally we stuck to only three bands per show but I gave in to Chris and told them they could play first but only three songs.
That was a mistake I never made again. Freaktent took forever to setup and then everything starting running late. By the time they started we were already behind. Freaktent played their three songs and that was supposed to be it. Johnny Sizemore, their guitar player, started to take his guitar off since they had played their limit. Chris Allen, on the other hand, decided that they weren’t finished. He continued to play. Johnny and Shane Parsons I believe really didn’t know what was going on. They knew they were supposed to only play three songs but I guess they thought maybe something had changed since Chris was still playing.
I was livid. I walked back to the sound table and asked Scott what was going on. He said he didn’t know. I told him that after they played this song to shut them down. I waited until they finished their fourth song and then Chris tried to play a fifth song. By that time Scott had shut them down and I ran upon to the stage, not sure what I would do. Unfortunately I tripped on my way up and looked like a fool but by that point I didn’t care. I jumped up onto the stage and started yelling. ‘What the fuck is going on here!?’ I yelled. ‘We agreed to three songs only!’ I told them. Johnny and Shane looked at me like they were confused. I think they were. Chris Allen ignored me and continued to pack up his bass. I continued to yell at Chris but he kept his back to me and then jumped down into the crowd and walked out of the building. I don’t know what he was thinking but our relationship with him was a bit damaged after that. What’s strange is that he ended up coming to most of our shows and seemed to really be a fan. I had trouble figuring that guy out sometimes.
Brian Pauley was there when I went on my tirade and he thought it was funny to see me so livid. Johnny and Shane told me they didn’t know Chris was going to do that and I believe they were sincere. However, any time we had a show scheduled with three bands and somebody asked me if they could get on the bill I politely told them no. I told them that if they wanted to play with us on our next show to call me and we would absolutely play with them. I wasn’t trying to be difficult but we’d been burned that time and didn’t want it to happen again. They accepted that explanation and I think we ended up playing with a few of those bands later on.
By the time Chum got on stage they were only able to play a small portion of their set and then the management of the LKM shut us down at 11:00. I was so embarrassed. I was angry with Chris for running over but I was angrier at myself for allowing it to happen in the first place. I had pretty much coordinated the whole thing and I looked like a fool. Chum was cool about the whole thing but I never got the chance to play with them again. I still regret that.
Staging a Boycott of “The Pit”
While all this was going on we were waging a battle with the owner of “The Pit”. A retired female army sergeant named Debra had bought “The Cat Box” and was running it as an all-ages venue called “The Pit”. We planned on playing there when we got time but we were so booked at the LKM that we knew we couldn’t get in before May or June. Debra had made the decision to steal as much business away from the LKM as she could; she’d bought the place and needed to make her money back. Can’t really fault her for having business sense. The thing was that the LKM didn’t really need the money to survive; they hosted square dancing, bingo and other stuff like that. In fact, that was its main function. The all-ages shows were just a boost in profit for them.
Debra started scheduling shows at The Pit during Dirt Bear, Flood, and Sevin shows. The problem was that Dirt Bear, Flood, and Sevin were some of the biggest bands in the scene at that time and we were also very close. So if one of these bands had a show scheduled then the other two bands either played the show with them or they were there to see their show.
So Debra’s approach was to schedule other bands at “The Pit” during one of our shows at the LKM. At the time this pissed us off because we wanted everyone to come to our shows; we weren’t competing with any other bands. They were our friends for the most part. This plan never worked because attendance at these shows was poor; everybody was at the LKM. Sevin actually canceled a show at The Pit when they found out Flood was playing at the LKM the same night. They told us that they wanted to see our show and they didn’t want to try to compete against us.
So our bright idea at the time was to boycott “The Pit” until she realized that we would play wherever we wanted to and when we wanted to. At that time I guess we felt we made the rules. I guess it was a form of collusion but it worked; eventually after she held shows that all of twenty people attended, she changed her approach. We agreed to play a show at “The Pit” in July of 1995. It would be The Provos reunion show and we knew it would be a hit. More on that later.
Looking back on it now I see her motivation; she need to make money in order to survive. We weren’t really thinking about that; our main concern was to get as many people as possible into whatever venue we were playing. We also didn’t want to compete with other bands for business. Our approach was to play both places but to alternate them; we felt that was fair for everybody. When we found out she was deliberately trying to schedule shows to directly compete with ours it did make us angry because then it became a matter of trying to pit bands against each other. Music isn’t a competition and it was taking our music – our art, really – commercializing it, and turning it into a race for cash. I guess we shouldn’t have taken it so personally; it was probably just business to her. It’s also easy to be idealistic when you don’t have rent due every month. It’s the way of the world.
In the end I respected her initiative and her interest in local music. There weren’t a whole lot of people in the area who would run an all-ages venue and we shouldn’t have dismissed her so quickly. She was doing the right thing ultimately and I think in hindsight we could have worked things out a little sooner without so much drama. But we only had so much experience to go on; we were young and things were simpler for us. In the end it all worked itself out and we had the opportunity to play both places.
Alcohol…It’s a Son of a Bitch, Y’all
Even though I had recently been introduced to alcohol I didn’t really get drunk too many times and that’s remained pretty much the same throughout my life. I drank again in February and maybe April. Most often if I drank it was at Matt and Adam’s apartment with a bunch of our friends. We had a blast. I drank my personal record of nine beers there. (At least that was my record before my honeymoon later on.) I ended up passing out that night.
On one of these drunken occasions I remember Matt Kennedy and I eating saltine crackers as if they were potato chips. He kept swearing up and down they were potato chips. It probably doesn’t sound too funny now but at the time it was hilarious. The floor was covered with saltine crumbs. That was the nice thing about partying at someone else’s house; I didn’t have to clean anything up. 🙂
That’s where we met Scareville. Scareville was this red-headed guy that Adam met at school. I think his name was Shawn or something. He was a pretty cool guy and he came to a lot of our shows and hung out with us a lot. I wonder what happened to him. Anyway, Scareville was into a lot of anti-religious artwork and that seemed to be a recurring theme in his art. I think he did a lot for shock value. He also did some work with animal bones but I’ll get into that later when I discuss the farm show. All in all I liked Scareville, despite his strange traits. He was a peaceful, laid back, artsy sort of guy who was fun to hang around with.
Flood at Players
On May 27, 1995 we played our first 18 and older bar show at a bar in Huntington, West Virginia called Players. It was a decent show and probably about a hundred people or so showed up. This was a pretty decent turnout considering a number of our fans were under 18 and couldn’t attend. This was a crowd made up mainly of Marshall University students who there just to drink and had no idea who we were. There were also a number of older people there, as there always tends to be in bars, who just need somewhere to get drunk and not be alone, I guess.
We played the show with Dirt Bear and they went on after us. Adam also got very drunk. The redneck bar across from Players was called Ropers and Adam was yelling profanities and insults at the patrons. Although I agreed with him I started to get a little worried that we might all get our asses kicked by a bunch of “good ol’ boys” so we packed him into his car and his girlfriend Christy (who was not drunk) drove him home.
Roller Rink Show I
It was June 2, 1995 when we played the first Roller Rink Show. Joey Clagg, who played bass with Sevin, had scheduled a show in Huntington at a roller rink that belonged to his friend’s dad. Joey invited Flood, Dirt Bear, and a band called Watership Down to play. His band, Sevin, would also play. That wasn’t the best show in the world; we got stuck playing last and apparently Watership Down did something to piss us off. Honestly I really don’t remember what it was now. I think they refused to play last and then played forever or something silly like that. We played well and most of our dedicated fans stayed through the whole thing (maybe 20-30 people).
Honestly I think that we might have gotten along with Watership Down if we had had the opportunity to meet them and get to know them. Years later, when I was planning the Nitro Reunion for 2003 I was contacted by Jeremy Brightbill, the singer/guitar player for Watership Down. He was pretty cool and never mentioned anything about the little “rivalry” that we had, if you could even call it that. In fact, right after Flood broke up I was playing for a short while with Brian Pauley and Jeremy had his amp at Brian’s house. It had blown a fuse so I put a new fuse in it and got it working. Brian told me later on that Jeremy was surprised that I’d helped him since he thought that everybody in Flood hated Watership Down. Years of perspective now teach me how silly all that rivalry stuff is.
Songs For The Fruitbat, The Cave Records Compilation CD
In June of 1995 Flood recorded four songs for a compilation record. The compilation CD was called Songs For the Fruitbat and was being produced by Andy Masker and Steve McConihay. They came up with the money to buy a mixing board and to get the CDs pressed so they started their own small record label. Flood, Sevin, Dirt Bear and Trout all recorded four songs each for the compilation CD.
Flood recorded the four songs for the compilation within about two or three days. We ran into a little snag during the process because my equalizer pedal died right in the middle of recording. Nobody locally had the pedal in stock (it was Charleston West Virginia, after all) so I had to go to the Pied Piper in Huntington buy a new one. I didn’t like Pied Piper or the hour long drive to get there but I did it because we were in a bind. We finished the songs and I’m still quite proud of them today. I can still hear a slight difference in the two songs we recording with the new EQ pedal compared to the two songs were recorded with the old EQ pedal. I guess the electronics were slightly different and I could only get the settings so close to the old pedal’s settings. I’m probably the only one who notices though. There are only a few things that I would have done differently but I still think the songs sound great.
In order to help recoup the costs of buying the recording equipment and pressing the CDs, Steve and Andy decided to hold a release party for the CD. All four bands on the CD would play and we would sell the CDs for $10 a piece. There was some talk about having someone from the record industry there to hear the bands and the CD but that never really materialized. In hindsight, I’d say that was a pretty far-fetched idea. Steve and Andy also had some deals set up with local record stores so that we could sell the CDs there as well. The CD even got some airplay on the local Marshall University radio station. Unfortunately I didn’t get to hear that but it was cool knowing that we were still being played on the radio, regardless of the size of the station.
The Farm Show (a.k.a. Bobstock)
On June 24, 1995 we played the infamous Farm Show, otherwise known as Bobstock. What a blast that was! It was truly an experience I’ll never forget. Bob Webb, who owned Common Grounds Coffee House, was putting together this benefit for Great Oaks Farm. I still to this day don’t know what the hell Great Oaks Farm really is, other than some fields, some woods, and a few buildings. Maybe they grew weed there, who knows? We didn’t care at the time. This benefit was going to raise money for them and would last for three days, that much I knew. It really was Bob’s Woodstock, in my opinion, hence the nickname “Bobstock”. When we heard about it we couldn’t resist, despite the fact that we wouldn’t get paid. As I’d said before, it wasn’t about the money. We knew it would be a blast and to be a part of such a huge event (relatively speaking) was worth the time and effort. All that mattered was being able to play to an audience.
I don’t want to make Bob out to be cheap because he did pay, better than most all ages club owners. His policy was to split half the door with the bands and the LKM would only split one-third with the bands (they kept the remaining two-thirds for themselves). Bob would have monthly rent shows which no one got paid for but that was cool because we needed a place to play and the Nitro cops were making it harder and harder to play in Nitro. We didn’t want to lose all of our venues; we’d been there before and it was tough.
Shaun, Adam, Jeremy, and I all went to the meeting Bob had set up to get everyone prepared. We met at Great Oaks Farm where the weekend-long show would be held. Bob briefed everyone on what would happen, and when everybody would play.
The event was to start on Friday evening, last all day Saturday, and into most of the day Sunday. People could pay per day (about $10.00) or could pay for the entire weekend (about $15.00). It’s funny that back then it seemed like a fortune. You could bring a tent and stay out in this huge field just down and to the right of the stage. There were probably about twenty or thirty tents in that field the whole weekend but most people just came on Saturday. This festival was supposed to be a “drug-free weekend” but everybody knew that was bullshit. Nobody planned on staying drug or alcohol free that weekend and nobody did. I’m sure Bob knew this but he had to promote it as he did in order to keep the heat off of himself.
Shaun and I did not want to spend the entire weekend there but Jeremy and Adam did. Some of the people who were involved with the event showed up Thursday night and didn’t leave until Sunday. I think both Jeremy Spears and Adam Triplett were there from Thursday night until Sunday. There was no way in hell I was going to do that; not showering for three days didn’t appeal to me. So Dave Hively and I showed up on Friday evening after I got off work to check out some of the bands. Since I was playing on the bill I got in free and I told the hippies taking money that Dave was with the band too.
The next day did prove to be better-much better, actually. Shaun and Jeremy both rode with me to the show and Dave drove himself. It was threatening rain pretty much all day so we were pretty bummed. I hoped it wasn’t going to rain but we took the tarp for the music equipment just in case. Sure enough, on the way there it started to pour. I pulled off the highway, covered everything, tied the tarp down, and we trekked on.
It finally stopped raining and then the sun came out when we got there. I remember exactly what band was playing; Union 411, Brian and John Dill’s band. (Jeremy would later go on to play with them in a band called “10 Gauge” after Flood broke up.) I still have a picture I clipped from the newspaper that was taken from the stage facing toward the crowd during the Union 411 set. In the foreground was Brian and John and in the background were my friends and I, as well as the rest of the audience. I remember I wore a hat that day and I was bending the bill in my hand when I got there. That’s all in the picture. It’s strange to look at yourself from another point of view like that.
We walked around, talked to friends, and just hung out until it was time to play. There was some kind of Jamaican chef there from the “Hey Mon Caf” who was serving green chicken; that was about all there was to eat. We ate green chicken, walked around some more, took a hike through the woods, talked to our friends, and watched some of the bands for the next few hours. It was pretty much what we did at the other shows except outdoors.
Matt Kenney always thought he was a funny guy and just one joke short of a comedian. So one day while we were at he and Adam’s apartment we told him that he should do stand up at the Farm Show. Well, when the day came he delivered, sort of. I think it was around 3:00 or 4:00 that day, right before Dirt Bear, Flood, and Sevin played when Matt picked up the microphone and started in with some story. Unfortunately it wasn’t really that funny and then it just got worse as it went on. He started to choke and I could tell he was sweating bullets. He stuttered around up on stage for another few minutes and then made a hasty retreat. We still ripped him about that for months afterward, it became a running joke. Hindsight tells me that was a little mean but he did brag about being a stand-up comedian. We liked Matt so we just did it in good nature.
We finally got on the stage around 5:00 P.M. What sucked was that it had been threatening rain the whole day but didn’t actually rain until right when we got on stage. The stage was covered so it wasn’t a problem for us and our equipment but it was a problem for our audience. The really cool thing about it was that nobody left when we played, despite the fact they were getting soaked. They all stayed through the whole set. They were really dedicated.
We played our set, which went off well, and then the rain stopped near the end. Adam’s parents showed up at the show which was pretty cool for him. It was funny; even though Adam was an “adult” he was still afraid to do certain things in front of his parents. In one of our songs he yelled the word “fuck”. Shaun and I wondered if he’d have the balls to say it with his parents watching and sure enough, he didn’t. It wasn’t a big deal; we just thought it was funny. We got our stuff off the stage and then proceeded to store it for the night because we weren’t planning on going anywhere. We had a lot of partying to do right there at Great Oaks Farm!
Parking at the festival was limited because it was a farm and there weren’t parking lots. Bob had to handle this situation by having everyone park in a school parking lot about a quarter of a mile down the road and then run shuttles back and forth. Since I was in a band playing on the show and I had to drive our equipment and instruments in I was able to bring my truck. This was perfect because I could come and go as I pleased. After we played I took advantage of this by pooling our money together and heading off to the store for beer.
I drove down to this little store about a mile from the farm with Dave Hively and we bought two twelve packs of Budweiser which we loaded into a duffel bag. This would allow us to smuggle it in. I drove back and carried the duffel bag into Scareville’s tent, all the while trying to keep the beers from “clinking” together and alerting anyone that I had alcohol. I didn’t want everybody coming in and stealing my beer so I made a deal with him; if he kept the beer a secret he could drink as much as he wanted. That worked for both of us. Since I had 24 beers there I knew Scareville couldn’t drink all of them so left plenty for Dave and me.
So we started drinking and watching the other bands play. What a night. Dave actually didn’t drink more than one or two and ended up pretty much baby sitting me that night. I don’t remember everything that happened, not because I was too drunk to remember but simply because of the passage of time. There are many things I do remember, however. I remember watching a band we knew called Falooda. They were cool guys. Their singer/guitar player was a guy named Ameen and he was the only one I really knew by name. Their gig was that they would tune their guitars differently. One would tune a half step below the other so they were always out of tune and it sounded kinda terrible. Or kinda cool, depending on your frame of mind. They were different, at least.
I also remember hanging out with Adam during part of that night. He told me that he and Christy were going to get married. Not anytime soon but they had decided to do it eventually. That never panned out and they ended up breaking up about a year later, well after the demise of Flood.
The cops showed up for some reason or another; it’s conjecture at this point. I remember seeing the lights flashing and getting completely paranoid about it. Dave, who somehow ended up becoming my babysitter for the night, was able to calm me down somewhat after a few minutes. Don’t ask me why I was so paranoid; I was twenty-one years old and of legal age to drink but I just wasn’t thinking straight. I hoped that they weren’t going to bust up the whole party because there was no way I could drive myself home.
Well, they didn’t and they finally left after a few minutes. They knew that everybody was drunk and that nobody should be driving home and the party continued. I remember sitting behind the stage as some other band played and a girl belly danced. Sometime later on Scareville and I began mocking a band called “Dead Dolls” I think. They were evidently a Christian band so it was a perfect excuse for Scareville to rip on them (he was pretty anti-religious). I was laughing my ass off at our “shenanigans” but I heard later there were others who weren’t. I understand that another band who was friendly with Dead Dolls was severely pissed and ready to kick our asses. Luckily we made it out without any incident because there was no way I could have defended myself in the state I was in. I would have had to just curl in the fetal position and wait for the pounding to stop. Kids.
I also remember meeting up with Shaun Fox again and asking him if he’d taken care of our instruments. Shaun had been wandering around the farm as well but I can’t remember if he’d been drinking. He told me he had taken car of the equipment and I was so relieved because I was still paranoid for some reason. I remember telling him how he and I took care of the band and some other bullshit. ‘You and I keep this band together man,’ I told him in slurred words. He just laughed and then I was off again to walk around drunk with Dave.
So I left with Dave and continued to walk around drunk as hell. We were starting get hungry and there was nothing to eat. The green chicken guy was gone and I wasn’t about to eat anymore of that anyway. Finally Dave and I decided to drive to Hardee’s and get some roast beef because we knew they were open twenty-four hours. I, of course, would not even have thought about driving. I had never driven drunk and never planned on it. But Dave hadn’t even had a beer so he drove my truck to the Hardee’s in Charleston, about thirty or forty minutes away.
I passed out in the passenger seat for most of the trip there. We got there and I ate a couple roast beef sandwiches. I still remember sitting in the lobby and talking to Dave while a couple cops sat a few tables down from us. I guess I wasn’t too paranoid at that point. I was coming down pretty hard and was too tired to worry. We then drove back to the farm and almost everybody was partied out and asleep. Only a few hard asses were still awake, yelling and screaming in the night. Dave and I knew it was time to sleep; we’d both had enough. By that time it was probably three or four in the morning. I don’t remember if we ever made any plans on where we were going to sleep after the show. Everybody was asleep for the most part so I didn’t know whose tent was whose. Plus, everything was muddy as hell from the rain that had fallen while we played that day.
So Dave and I decided to sleep in the back of my trunk. I had my sleeping bag with me so I unrolled it and laid it out on the bed of my truck. I had a snap-on cover that covered the truck bed and I snapped that on over top. That would keep the dew off us as well as any rain that might fall. It was still warm so we really didn’t need any covers over top of us and the sleeping bag that we were lying on cushioned the hard truck bed. We crawled in, our heads facing the cab and our feet sticking out the back, and crashed.
I remember thinking before I fell asleep how wonderful life was. I was sobering up by then and I felt young, happy, and snug in the back of that truck. We were clean (no mud in the truck as there was in the tents), I was with my best friend, and I had just had so much fun. My band had played well and we’d seen our true fans stand out in the rain for us. I knew that we would be protected from the dew and the rain and would have a great night’s sleep.
I awoke to a hot and humid Sunday morning with almost no hangover. Dave and I got our stuff together and then hopped in the truck and headed back home. That would be the last time I ever went to a farm show; by the next year Flood was a thing of the past and my life had changed dramatically. I still look back on the Farm Show with a fondness that I can’t really describe. I’ll never forget the experience; it was one that will truly last a lifetime.
The Provos Reunion Show
The Provos had been defunct for about two years; Jason Little had joined the Navy and Billy Reynolds had been to college in both Tennessee and West Virginia. Jason was coming back in for a visit that summer and he, Brian Pauley, and Billy Reynolds planned a Provos reunion show. We were asked to play on it and I believe Sevin played as well. We knew it would be a great show.
On July 8, 1995 we showed up at The Pit in Nitro, West Virginia. Our boycott had come to an end and we were excited about playing a new place; the LKM was raping us on the door and we’d played the hell out of that place. The bill consisted of Sevin, Flood, The Provos, and a band called Dementia. Dementia was a band that I wasn’t really into but their singer was a pretty cool guy. Shaun Moore (of I.N.R.I. fame), played guitar for them. They had a female bass player who was a pharmacist by day. She had some expensive equipment but I guess she could afford it.
Dementia played first because they were essentially the low man on the totem pole. There was maybe fifteen people watching them and probably three hundred outside smoking, talking, and hanging out. We were scheduled to play second, followed by Sevin, and then The Provos would headline. I stood outside and talked to my friends during Dementia’s set. After we heard them finish up and begin packing their stuff up I rounded up the other members of my band and told them it was time for us to play. We went inside and started to set up.
One of my most vivid memories from that show was right before we played. I was rolling my amp toward the stage and I noticed that the volume level in the building was increasing. I turned around only to see people pouring in through the front door. That was a great experience. The place went from fifteen people to about three hundred people in a matter of minutes. By the time our stuff was set up the place was full and people were ready to rock.
A week before the show I had been at Pied Piper looking for a head for the Peavy 4×12 speaker cabinet I had bought. I found a Fender Bassman head there for $120.00. I usually never did business with Pied Piper but I knew the salesman. His name was Butch Hatfield and he had formerly worked for Gorby’s music. I liked Butch and I knew he wouldn’t rip me off. So I called Steve McConihay and asked his advice on buying it. He told me to buy it and he didn’t steer me wrong; it was a great amp.
The Provos reunion show was the first show that I played with my new amp. Shaun had bought an amp a week or two before the show so we both had new, powerful equipment. When we played that night we sounded incredibly more powerful than usual. It was a fun show and I thought we did a good job. We played a new song that night and it went over very well.
During the show I remember some kind of an altercation occurred. Fighting was so rare at shows that it was virtually non-existent. I remember seeing the squabble and getting pissed that people were fighting. I stopped playing hoping that would draw attention to the fight an people would break it up. Nobody else seemed to notice I’d stopped so I found out quickly that it did no good. I continued to play and then the fight was broken up before any punches were thrown. Other than that the show went off magnificently.
The other bands were great and I had a lot of fun watching them. The Provos went over extremely well despite their almost two year hiatus. I guess everybody still remembered the flea market days after all. I sometimes wonder if people talk about Flood and the other Nitro bands now. I wonder if kids playing in the scene now look back at bands like Sevin, Flood, and Dirt Bear like we used to look at Camel Beast when we started. Maybe they don’t even remember us. Overall it was another great show and another great experience in my life.
Roller Rink Show II
July was a busy month for us; we played the Provos reunion show, and we were scheduled to play in Huntington at another roller rink show, and then at The Coffee House the week after that. We agree to play so much in one month because the shows were all in different places. I don’t think we ever played that many time in a month before that or ever again. It was fun but we didn’t get much time to practice or write new songs that month.
On July 14th, 1995, we played the second show of the month in Huntington at the same roller rink as before. We made sure this time that we absolutely would not get screwed again as we had during the last show. The line up consisted of Flood, Sevin, Dirt Bear, Falooda, & Big Daddy Stick. I don’t remember which order we all played in but I do know that we didn’t play last.
About a week before this show Shaun and I made up an assload of Flood stickers. We ended up at Kinko’s one night at about midnight cutting stickers into squares. We then spent a couple hours laminating them at Shaun’s house. After it was all done we had probably three or four hundred stickers to give away. People love stickers and it’s a great way to generate interest in the band.
I walked around that roller rink before the show started and handed out almost every sticker we had. Everybody wanted them and I was able to do a lot of public relations and promote the band. It’s funny how I am so introverted but had no problem going up to strangers and offering them stickers. There was a lot of time to kill before the show so we ended up walking down to the local Kroger and buying something to drink. Well, the mistake I made was buying a gallon of Sunny Delight orange drink. That shit gave me gas pains that made me double over. It was horrible. When we got on stage later on my stomach hurt like terribly.
I also remember before the show that some friend of Phil Conifer (Phil was the drummer for Sevin) wanted me to buy him some whiskey. I refused because I didn’t know him. I would have bought it for Phil but not for someone I didn’t know. That was one thing that sucked about being one of the only twenty-one year olds in the scene. Everybody else was nineteen or twenty and couldn’t buy alcohol. Ray Davis and I were twenty-one and were often hounded to buy alcohol. I usually bought it for my band mates and/or close friends for parties after we played and for my brother but that was it.
Overall that show went very well. We sold every tape we had and people still wanted more. I think that was a direct result of the effort I’d made in giving away stickers and talking to people. I’m not usually an outgoing person but I felt comfortable around all those people and I really felt strongly about promoting the band. We played well and the crowd response was great. What was really cool was when John Lancaster and Chuck from Chum showed up to check us out. Since we all idolized Chum it was a great honor for them to take the time out to come and see us. They showed up toward the end of our set and listened to the last few songs we played. They told us to stop by their place and hang out after we were finished which we did.
After we played we went to John and Chuck’s house after the show was over (or maybe3 after our set was over). I do remember going but it just escapes me when. All we did was hang out for a bit and Jeremy and Chuck smoked some weed. We watched a video tape of Chuck playing drums in high school at some assembly. It was pretty funny. They seemed like normal guys.
The Squatweiller Show, Brian Pauley’s Party
Another week passed and we were again looking at another live show. This time it was at the Coffee House Common Grounds and would be with Sevin, Dirt Bear, Trout, and a band called Squatweiller from somewhere down south. That night would prove to be a night to remember, that’s for sure.
Brian Pauley and I ended up talking to Mia and Traci and he invited them the party he was having at his house after the show. They said they couldn’t come because somebody they went to school with had died in a motorcycle accident and the wake was that night. As it turned out they skipped the wake and came to the party which made me very happy. I guess as kids that’s easier to do than it is when we become adults. I think they skipped the wake because it was just too sad of an occasion. I also don’t know exactly how well they knew this guy either.
Trout played last and then we all left and went to Brian Pauley’s (after we bought beer). I began drinking and ended up having five beers that night, plenty to get me hammered. We partied for a while and started to get really drunk. When you went to a party like that you kept a close eye on your beer in the fridge because if you didn’t some other jerk would drink it or they would try to bum it off of you.
I waited for my time to get Traci alone so that something could happen. We didn’t really do anything that night but it was the start of our relationship; after that night we began dating. Also, and probably not entirely coincidentally, it was the beginning of the end of Flood.
All Things Must End
The Cave Records CD Release Show
By the fall of 1995 the strength of the band was diminishing. I was admittedly spending more and more time with Traci. However, I never ditched practice, I never ditched a show, and I never brought her to practice either. What was happening was Shaun and I weren’t hanging out together as much. Jeremy and I never really did hang out together as much as Shaun and I did and Adam was usually with his girlfriend when he wasn’t playing. Regardless, the strain on our relationship was beginning to show.
In October of 1995 we played the CD release show for the CD that we recorded back in June. The show went great and we sold a ton of CDs. It was great to play the show and, despite the fact that we were just a local band, the whole thing made me feel kinda important. I remember showing up there and checking to make sure everyone else from the band had shown up. Shaun had ridden with me so I found Jeremy and then Adam. I felt a sense of being part of a group, a group that was doing something special. I know it sounds corny now but it was a nice feeling back then. The CD release show would prove to be one of the last really good shows that we would play.
After the CD release show we drove to Huntington to see Chum play. We didn’t get to see a lot of their set because the CD release show lasted for longer than expected but we were able to see some of it. The other reason we wanted to go was because Gumby’s had been shut down several months before and was finally being reopened under new management. It had been basically gutted and redesigned during the few months it was shut down and we heard rumors that it was very nice.
It turned out that it was nice. They changed the name to “The Drop Shop”, added a tall stage, and they cut out the floor of the upstairs so that it created a balcony. We stuck around for the show and then we eventually went home. We were hoping that there would be some good shows there later on. It would turn out that someone else would buy it, changed the name to “Gyrationz” and turn it into a dance club. Traci and I went there later on one night and it was a shame to see frat boys and sorority girls dancing and grinding on the same stage that so many great bands had played on.
The Death of “The Pit”, The Birth and Death of “The Zoo”
Sometime around the fall of 1995 Debra had had enough with the city of Nitro. The cops would harass us and her constantly when we had shows. They hated all the “weird” kids hanging out on the sidewalk in front of the venue before and during the show. They would send out their “police officers” to try to scare the crowd into going back inside. They would threaten curfew violations and other bullshit. They would tell you that you had to go back in but the truth was if you were over eighteen that rule didn’t apply.
One of their complaints was that the old people who shopped at the Family Dollar store were intimated by all the weird kids sitting around outside. Also they claimed that old people would ask the kids to move for them and they would refuse. I think that was bullshit; I never ever saw anybody be rude to any old person walking down that sidewalk. I never saw any kids ever do anything illegal nor accost anyone on the sidewalk or anywhere else. It was a lie and it didn’t hold water.
Nitro was a small town, very “Mayberry” in nature. Eventually it ended up with Debra and some of the kids marching on city hall and demonstrating their case as to why The Pit should be allowed to operate but in the end it failed; The Pit closed around the end of 1995. The saga was chronicled in the local newspaper.
By that time we were playing mostly at Common Grounds and we were starting to play newer venues in Huntington. I didn’t want to see it close but I knew nothing could last in Nitro. The LKM could stay afloat because of the other events they hosted. Debra bought another building in Cross Lanes and named it “The Zoo” but neighbors soon started to complain and it eventually went under. I never played at “The Zoo” nor did I attend any shows there. We weren’t avoiding it; we were just booked up elsewhere. By the time we were open she had shut down, this time for good. I give her an A for effort but in small town West Virginia all good things are doomed to die.
Promo Pack “Photo Shoot”
In October we took promo photos for promo packs that we would give to clubs where we wanted to play. It was a funny thing and we took some photos that looked really cheesy. We had some good photos too and we put together a pretty good promo pack. Unfortunately we never really got to use these promo packs. I’m not sure we ever even sent them to a club. It was fun though, posing in the trunk of a huge Cadillac, around the school grounds at Capitol High School and other places.
In the fall of 1995, November I believe, we played our first show out of West Virginia. It was in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. That show would also prove to be our last show played out of state as well. A lot of stuff happened during that show and it was a trying time. I had invited Traci to come along with us. Evidently the others weren’t too hip on that idea. I did it anyway and I still don’t think I would have changed anything now. What’s done is done and what would happen would have happened regardless.
Brian Pauley set up the show, I believe, and we were to drive down with Dirt Bear and play. We were looking forward to it because we’d never played outside West Virginia before and we wanted the opportunity to find out what other people thought of our music.
On the day we were to play the weather was getting bad. We were all at Shaun’s house and his dad kept telling us that the weather was supposed to turn to snow and that the turnpike would be bad. We decided to go anyway after some arguing amongst ourselves. The trip down was okay but we got lost after we got to Winston-Salem. Some guy led us around the city and then eventually got us to the all-ages club where we were supposed to play. We didn’t have any cash to give the guy but Brian Pauley gave him some Cave Records CDs for helping us.
We played the show and it went off without a hitch. Dirt Bear sounded great too. The local band wasn’t anything too great but they weren’t really too bad either. After our set was over some dude yelled out ‘you suck!’ and Adam got upset over it. He lived in a world of his own really and at that point in time Flood was that world. He was so upset that somebody didn’t like us. I didn’t like it either but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
The Beginning of the End?
There were a few more parties that we went to before the end of the year. Travis Walker had a party that really wasn’t all that great. I didn’t drink anything really except a beer or two and then just hung around for a while. His mom came home while everybody was there but she seemed cool about the whole thing.
After that Aaron Flanagan had a party at his house. I don’t remember too much from that one either but I just remember that when Traci and I left Billy Reynolds was on the front porch, lying in a puddle of his own puke. He was so drunk that I couldn’t understand a word that he said. I’ve never seen Billy that drunk before.
Also in November we played a show at this little place called D-Macs. That show was awful. We waited forever for the other bands to finish and there was almost no one there to begin with. I was starving and it was so cold in that place. Finally we set up our stuff and started playing. It didn’t really go well, nobody really cared. Tough crowd.
One of the last shows that we played was at Marshall University in Huntington, WV. This guy named Matt wanted to set up a show called the “Rally For Education”. It was some kind of fund-raising thing so we agreed to play it. Jeremy rode with me and after we got there we found that, other than the bands who were playing, there wasn’t a soul there. Nobody at all.
So we played the show and I took a lot of pictures. I knew that Flood was coming to an end so I wanted to get as many photos as I could before it was over. The show went okay, at least as far as our playing went, but it was basically a practice session. After the show I took our stuff back to the house and I went to see Traci. Again, I was glad to see her after the show because the show didn’t really go well for us. It was a shame to play so many bad shows after we’d played so many good shows just a few months before.
Flood’s Last Show
I had been wrestling for some time with the situation that I was in with Flood. I loved playing in the band but relations were strained. There was definitely some tension because I was spending more time with Traci. I remember one evening when we were supposed to practice and I looked at my truck and how dirty it was. I was thinking how happy I would be if I just had time to wash it instead of going to practice. I would never have thought that in the past but I wasn’t having fun with Flood anymore. I couldn’t take the negative attitudes and the fighting.
So, after much thought I decided to quit the band. It was an agonizing decision and one that I hoped I would never have to make. Flood was my life for years and I hated to leave it but I just couldn’t go on the way it was. I decided to do this in December and we had one more show to play. We had this show at the LKM; they were still around and still having shows but had to keep everybody inside so they didn’t get harassed by Barney Fife and the rest of “Nitro’s Finest”. I decided to play this last show and then tell everyone that I was quitting afterward.
We played that show and it went great. I was very glad that it did because I was going out on top, so to speak. We had several bad shows and this time it was great. At least we played well. I remember a few things from that show, I remember Adam announcing some of the songs and hearing people cheer. That was nice, people actually knew the songs by name. Also I remember watching Jeremy play and thinking how much I was going to miss playing in the band. I remember watching the crowd and how they loved our songs and our live shows. It was a bittersweet moment. I was leaving something that I had poured my heart and soul into for several years, something that I truly loved.
But, despite all that, I still had a decision to make. After the show was over I talked to Shaun. I had already told Adam before the show started and he said he was thinking the same thing too. He wanted to try out for Karma to Burn. When I told Shaun he was quiet and didn’t say much. I know he was pissed off but I told him that I didn’t have any fun with it any more. I think I wanted someone to say, “we’ll work it out”, or “what’s wrong?”, or anything; I don’t know, really. I just wanted someone to say that it was important for me to stay and that they wanted the band to stay together.
No one did and I left that show never to play in Flood again. The rest of the guys tried to get another guitar player but it didn’t work out. Flood eventually broke up within a couple weeks. I don’t think they ever played another show after I left.
When I look back at my life I remember 1995 as maybe the best year ever. I enjoyed life so much that year; my future looked bright, I met a great girl, my band was hot, and playing music was completely and totally enjoyable. I was surrounded by friends and my responsibilities were next to none. I was living freely and enjoying every minute of it. I’ve had good years before and since but 1995 stands out in my mind as the most memorable of them all.
Flood Almost Reunited
No more than maybe a month after I quit the band I received a phone call from Shaun one night. He was drunk and started talking about how great Flood was and how we should get back together. The attempt to continue Flood hadn’t worked out and they had eventually broken up. As much as I knew I needed to quit (or needed things to change) I would have felt horrible to see the other guys up there playing the songs I helped write. It would be hard to watch somebody walk right into a band that I’d devoted my life to for so many years, despite my decision to leave.
Shaun wanted to get together and talk about getting back together. By that time I’d decided what I wanted from a band fun, to do it as a hobby. I didn’t plan to make a career out of it. I knew that might not be the most popular opinion though. I wrote down a list of issues that I wanted to discuss and we eventually met at Adam Triplett’s apartment one night.
We met and we discussed a lot. I got a lot of stuff off my chest and so did everybody else. I told them I only wanted to play as a hobby but Shaun and Adam wanted to try to make a career out of it. Jeremy had completely different intentions; he had been asked to join a new band manned by Brian and John Dills. They were called “10 Gauge” and he was excited about playing with them. Jeremy had decided that he was finished with Flood and that was pretty much the last straw. All of us wanted something different and it ended up that Flood would remain alive only in our recordings and memories (and on this site, I guess). We left there that night knowing that the end had come for us and there was no going back. Before we left we said we’d still like to be able to get together, have a few drinks, and talk about the old days. We all thought that would be nice and we all said we would. But like so many other things that never happened.
Trying to Start a New Band
In the spring of 1996 I attempted to start another band. Dirt Bear had broken up and so had Sevin. Flood had been gone for several months. So Brian Pauley, Joey Clagg, and I all talked and we thought we would try to maybe start another band from the ashes of our old bands. We got together once or twice to see if we could make something happen but it never panned out. We wrote a really lame song and then never pursued things after that. I think our musical tastes were too different to play in a band together.