Wednesday, May 1, 2013

still my love remains the same

so, two weeks ago, this happened:

and i responded thusly:

what dave was hinting at - especially with "hiatus" in there - can only mean one thing: a possible moist reunion.

which is something i've been dreaming about for over ten years now.

in light of this possibility (nothing hard and fast has been announced yet), let me take a blog post here to explain just why this one band means so much to me. i know this is familiar ground, and i've told variations on this story in previous blog posts; indulge me here, mostly because i want to reframe it now, and because i do have new readers who might not understand.

those of you who love music like i do (and that's probably a lot of you -- i attract my people) have got a band whose music changed your life, or saved it, or whatever, so you'll likely understand where i'm coming from, even if you don't know moist. but this is my story:

i didn't experience any sort of tumultuous childhood. i grew up in a beautiful house on a farm in the country with a family that loved me, and any sort of hardship i suffered was nothing out of the ordinary (bullied heavily by other kids; parents divorced the week after my twelfth birthday; therapy shortly thereafter). but i was always the kind who was into escapism ("caitlin's usually off in her own little world" was a usual comment from my teachers on my report cards), and once the turbulence of adolescence hit - hormonal changes combined with a move to the city and both my parents remarrying, creating blended families on both sides - i was ripe and ready for a way out. and though my immediate family had never been musically inclined, i began to get into semi-current rock music thanks to both my stepsister and my high school best friend, listening to mix tapes full of bands like beastie boys, the offspring and veruca salt. my favourite rock radio station, 103.7 the river out of nearby brockville, introduced me to a canadian rock band called the tea party that swiftly became my favourite; "heaven coming down" was a monster single in summer 1999, and i was so in love with it that i recorded a shitty version off the radio via cassette and listened to that damn thing at least 20 times a day. (four years later, the tea party would be my second-ever interview as a fledgling music journalist, and i would go on to interview them twice more after that. mind = blown.)

so there: that came close to what i was looking for, but i knew there was a deeper level. i knew there was something there that would help me find myself -- something that would speak to me and for me no matter how i was feeling. then came some random night while i was lying on my stomach on my bedroom floor, trying (and failing) to do my math homework, with 103.1 on in the background as my usual soundtrack. then the opening chords of this song began, and my life changed.

moist weren't a new band to me. this was late 2000; their singles "breathe" and "underground" has been all over the radio that summer due to the recent release of their album mercedes five and dime. truthfully, i hadn't thought too much of them -- the singer had a great voice, but the songs didn't have the hard edge to grab me with. "resurrection", though, that was a different story. i remember sitting bolt upright and falling silent throughout the rest of the song, staring at the radio, then realizing that i had to get to know this band. i had to get their albums. this was mine.

and though i didn't know it then, my life with the rock stars had been decided on that night when i was sixteen years old.

fast-forward almost two years to early 2002. moist had quickly taken over my life, with me listening to their albums near-constantly and plastering photos of them in my high school locker and scribbling their song lyrics all over my binders. however, i had resigned myself to the sad fact that i wouldn't get to see them play live, as they had been on a proclaimed "hiatus" since 2000. my timing sucked. but on the flip side, frontman david usher was doing a solo thing, so i quickly hitched my fangirl caravan onto his posse of travelling fanatics (many of whom were also old moist fans). i went all over the place with the posse, usually toting a neon yellow sign for spastic keyboardist kevin, my favourite member of the band who had also been in moist (even back then, i knew the importance of having a schtick for both getting recognition and attention). it was a summer and fall to absolutely fucking remember and, as i noted above, it set me on the path that would ultimately decide a huge portion of my identity.

i moved to toronto because of the bands. that's the most straightforward way to put it. in my senior year of high school, i'd gotten letters of acceptance from university of western ontario (in london) and mcmaster university (in hamilton) but i held out until i got that magic note from the university of toronto. sure, it would be the toughest of the three, but that didn't matter to me -- my only driving ambition was to get to the city where the rock stars lived, be they moist or david's band or any of the other big names that i knew and loved. i wanted to be in that scene, be as close to it as possible. i wanted to be known. i wanted to be somebody. and toronto was where it all came together.

my very first tattoo was done on my 19th birthday, and it was the moist logo on my left shoulder blade. a few years later, i asked bassist jeff if he would transcribe the notation for the "believe me" bass line so i could get it tattooed, and he obliged my happy fangirl heart. if you've ever wanted to hear my tattoo, pay close attention to the bass part that starts this song:

that's what i've got inked around my upper left arm forever, and it's probably my favourite of all my tattoos.

here's another classic, from all the way back in 1997 (and probably their darkest video, though the majority of their songs have dark edges, which is what i always loved about them):

sadlarious fact!: the cigarette shown at 1:51 was dropped by a production assistant by day/drummer by night who, almost ten years later, would become my boyfriend of five years/most recent ex. (it is continually so fucking weird to realize that many of the guys i know now were a part of this very scene in the late 90's. something in my brain just refuses to compute this. but like i said, i did want to be a part of everything, and the toronto music scene is absolutely, ridiculously incestuous. everybody knows everybody. blessing and a curse and also a huge reason why i tried to escape to vancouver six years ago.)

anyway, over the years and after some 40-odd shows, i quietly faded out from the david usher fangirl posse. i can't remember if dave just took an extended period of time between solo albums, or if my interest just waned into the background, or what. but other things began and ended in my life - school, friendships, life experiences - and by the time i considered getting back into it, i felt a bit too old, a bit too past everything. upon recollection, it felt wholly like my adolescence, like a childish pursuit, and i had since moved on to more complicated adult things. (you know.)

to get back to the main point: i have never see moist live, and if this is actually happening, then it'll be the fulfilment of a dream i've had since i was a teenager.

but the main thing is that to me, their music is representative of the time before.

see, back when i was a sheltered teenage fangirl growing up in kingston, ontario, the boys in the bands were nothing less than demigods on a distant pedestal. they were the creators of the music that soundtracked my life, and thus they were absolutely untouchable. they were ciphers, holograms, cartoon characters. to me, they didn't exist outside of stereo speakers and music videos and pictures plastered inside my high school locker. for me, this was the time before.

it was before i came into my own, as a friend at the time put it -- came of age, as it were. it was before i moved away from home and struck out on my own. it was before i lost my virginity to a musician in a hotel room in new york city. it was before i ever went on the road with multiple indie bands over the years, learning that my heart belongs in a van full of rock stars touring across the country. it was before they made me cry in pretty much every public place possible (buses, trains, coffee shops, washrooms, stairwells, hotel lobbies, airplanes). it was before the chain-smoking, the binge-drinking, the eating disorder, and the self-hatred because i felt that if they didn't like me enough then i shouldn't like me enough either. it was before all the promises made and promises broken and me silently screaming get out of my apartment get out of my life just get the fuck out. (i would still listen to their music, though.) it was before i learned that i can't fix them, and i can't save them. (i would still try, though.) it was before i got all of these symbols and words inked under my skin forever, as reminders, as nascent apologies. it was before toronto, and vancouver, and montreal, and westchester, and flagstaff, and albuquerque, and las vegas, and hamilton, and back to toronto always. it was before i acquiesced to the knowledge that they are my people, that this is all i know, and that this is the only thing i want in this world -- because it may hurt like hell when it's bad, but when it's good, to me, there is nothing so fucking euphoric.

basically, it was before i realized that the people who made the music playing in my headphones and onstage in front of me were human, and before i found out that they can break my heart -- and, to a surprising extent, that i actually have the power to break theirs.

but my favourite band has never broken my heart, thank god, and their music still reminds me of a time when the rock stars were just posters on my bedroom wall and song lyrics that i understood - and that understood me - completely. it was a time when the music pulled me through. and sometimes, in the confusion and tumult of adulthood, that reminder of a simpler, more innocent time is all you really need.

i wanted more than this.
i expected more than this.

[ music | moist, "place" ]


Jendra Berri said...

I recall the year you didn't want to do Anime North because you were going to follow David Usher around the province that summer.

Also, I remember when we were living together the time you went missing for two days and I was on the verge of deciding whether to file a missing persons report/call your mother when you called and said you went on tour with a band and would be home in a couple days.

Roomies always see things from an inside point of view, yes?

Caitlin H. said...

my father still has not forgiven me for that disappearing act.

Nav said...

You're a great writer, Caitlin.

Caitlin H. said...

:) thanks. it helps to have had a pretty weird life so far.

Lilac said...

I can completely relate to this. I was a huge Moist fan in the late 90s, didn't get to see them live until I was 30. I did enjoy David Usher solo shows in the meantime. They are such a giving band, still have the ability to make me incredibly happy after all these years. I am wearing a "we are silver " shirt as I write this..I would have killed for this shirt when I was 16!
You are an excellent writer, by the way.