The One-Bumblebee Band…

It feels really good to be reunited with the drums… The thing is though, not having the drums gave me more space to give love to the other instruments. So of course i became inspired, and said, ‘Lemme just do some full songs.’ i am just a punk kid, and am not at the point of virtuosity (which you can see if you’ve been paying attention to these posts- HA!)

i felt inspired, and got the guitar, bass AND drums out to do some D.C. hardcore (or harDCore). i wore out the Flex Your Head compilation (blurry cover vinyl edition), and there were a couple of songs i felt would be really fun to play. i don’t have the crunch of the early D.C. bands (interestingly, i sound like i’m playing Cali skate punk, with an east coast accent- the best of both punk worlds, i guess).

i don’t drink alcohol or do any type of drugs- i don’t even take so much as an asprin, nor do i do caffeine…. except for the time i laid there in the hospital for two months in an immense amount of pain, and i had to take a gang of painkillers and muscle relaxants. i don’t wish the feeling of morphine, dilaudid (or any narcotics) on anybody. i was so out of it, and had intense nightmares a few times. Also, i couldn’t go to the bathroom.

As i said, i wish that on no one. i was extremely fortunate to not have developed a dependency or addiction. i ran out of the prescription, and never reordered, because i didn’t need to. i am saying all of this to say that for all intents and purposes, i would be considered ‘straight edge’, save the time in the hospital (and i’m sure some reactionaries out there would call me a traitor for even using drugs in the hospital. Whoever thinks that way, good luck with having survived a massive traumatic accident and a limb amputation with no meds). i don’t call myself straight edge, and despite being drug and alcohol free i don’t judge others for partaking.

i love me some straight edge punk though. i mean, ‘Master Of Puppets’ is one of the greatest straight edge-themed metal songs of all time (despite it being written and performed by a band who were alternately called Alcoholica). i was once in a band in the 90s where we were all ‘straight edge’. And of course, even though there were prior songs and artists which eschewed the drug-addled life, there was the (reluctant) foreparent of straight edge hardcore, Minor Threat. Flex Your Head featured other straight edge bands like Government issue and SOA.

One of those songs is ‘Waste Of Time’ by Youth Brigade. As i said, i don’t judge people for partaking, but yo, i love this song. Always have. It definitely was not a waste to do this song. All the instruments got some love- Jerome (the guitar) and his bass and drum siblings.

Help me to name them.

Another song from the compilation i did was ‘Nic Fit’ by The Untouchables. i love the song but i honestly have little idea what Alec MacKaye is singing (save a few words)- so i took what (i guess) were some lyrics from the Sonic Youth cover, and made up a few of my own. Also, i think on the OG Danny Ingram is playing on an open high hat, but i’m playing it on closed.

i actually started this one out on drums, then played everything else around it. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…

Crass is one of my most favoritest punk bands of all time (Bad Brains is, to this day, number one for me). They are easily in the top five. The foreparents of the anarcho-punk movement (which is some of my favoritest type of punk), they were a collective that fused art and music, challenging the capitalist ideology/ethos (and all which fall under the umbrella of it, such as patriarchy, imperialism, neoliberalism, commercial media and consumerism).

i love that (being a staunch anticapitalist myself) i don’t even necessarily agree with all of Crass’ viewpoints- they’re Anarchist and i’m a Nkrumahist-Tureist. i mean, there have been a number of Anarchist individuals and organizations who have definitely struggled with Crass on particular positions. There are many shades of particular objectives and ideologies. That said, i have no qualms with paying respects to a band who contributed to my burgeoning ideological development as a teenager. The first person i need to thank is actually Ronald Reagan. i saw him at 10 years old and he inspired me to begin developing even then, an intense hatred for capitalism. i just didn’t have the words for it.

On the music front, one of my favorite things about Crass is Pete Wright. i absolutely love his bass playing, and sadly i don’t really hear anyone talk about him. i honestly can’t even pick a favorite, but ‘Do They Owe Us A Living’ (both versions) and ‘Darling’ (which i do here, but only the bass) are a couple off the dome.

An even bigger thing i love about Crass is that even though they were tagged with the ‘punk’ label they heavily critiqued ‘punk culture’ as being conformist and nihilistic. As someone who identifies as a punk kid (because it was punk that shaped the person i am today), i actually can’t be mad at their sentiment. Also, their primary influences were blues, jazz and various aspects of ‘counterculture’ visual art.

i hope i do his playing at least a modicum of justice. Especially since the bass kept trying to fall!

The final contribution to today’s post is another Crass song, ‘Shaved Women’. This song is interesting because it really does ask us to look dialectically and question our position on particular things. The song does refer to women in France who were seen as ‘collaborators’ to the nazis during the war. After the allied forces won, those women had their heads shaved as a form of public humiliation. Due to the band’s consistent antipatriarchy/antimisogyny messaging, it does force the listener to ask if the women were willing collaborators (for sleeping with nazis), or were they forced to do so in order to survive? Were they assaulted (or worse)? People do things every day of their lives in order to survive (such as have their labor exploited); so we are forced to ask ourselves, how ‘low’ is one willing to go just to feed our ‘screaming babies’ and ourselves? Sexual violence has historically been a major factor in war (which Crass actually did songs about). So would this situation be any different?

The other widely held interpretation is calling to question women who shave their bodies (and adhere to other patriarchal beauty standards). Are these women collaborating with the enemy? The desire to fulfill unrealistic standards (and the consumerism it entails) contributes to the “decadence” that occurs, while “people die.” The more we consume, the quicker it leads to our death.

But! If that’s all we know, do we understand the role of being a collaborator?

Questions, questions…

Crass were pretty open in stating their contradictions. They called for the listener to make up their minds about how something was interpreted. That’s not always necessarily the best thing, considering there are too many people who don’t actually listen to messages, and react to something based on a surface-level reading. However, i do understand what the band means when they say that, especially since they were pretty open about where they stood, when they were a solidly functioning collective.

i am playing Jerome, along with the yet to be named bass and drums…. along with vocals, and a couple of train samples. i’m certainly no Eve Libertine, but… i don’t have to be.

i’m just a bumblebee.

So there you have it… el uno abejorro banda musical, lejos de la colmena por el día. i hope it’s not too bad.

(This post is dedicated to Cicely, Eli and Shamole)

Metallica Fridays (no. 7): This Time… On Bass!

Look, before we even start i am going to get this out of the way. i’m sure you can tell i am NOT Clifford Lee Burton, Jason Curtis Newsted or Roberto Agustín Miguel Santiago Samuel Trujillo Veracruz.

THERE! Next post…

(But seriously though)

How do i even attempt to reach such heights as those three? Well, by not trying to BE them, and knowing my limitations, just do what i do. It’s better than feeling sad that i’m not there (yet), and not doing anything at all. i can play tiny portions of a couple of Metallica songs on guitar- and if i’m not at the level of the bassists, do you really think i’m even at a modicum of the level of Hammett or Hetfield??!!

Interestingly, a lot of people started out learning guitar to their songs. But like with the drums, that wasn’t my experience. i have begun to get over my fear that this type of thing is impossible. As i keep saying, i am a basic player. However, that doesn’t mean i can’t navigate my way around a song. i looked at it in two ways: (a. what songs would be really fun to play, and (b. what songs would be possible to do at my skill level.

If you’ve been following these posts regularly i’m sure you’re aware of one of the songs.

‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’.

i definitely didn’t play the bass line note for note. i can’t read music (and i haven’t really watched any tutorials on it) so i played it how i heard the notes in my head, so listening to it over again i am chuckling a bit at how a few of the notes sound kind of off, despite actually tuning it before i played. i’m sure i’m also playing it in a much more difficult way than it could/should be played.

All you pro bassists out there, don’t be mad at me! Y’all could give me some tips though (wink). i hope Cliff won’t be too mad with me…

i don’t know about you, but watching me play the bass with a straight face for a whole four or five minute song is kinda boring. So i asked myself, ‘How can i make this fun?’

i jumped in the fire and made a little music video.

Metallica has no shortage of dope riffs, but this song has some of my favorite in their whole catalog. Every single riff in this song is so good. The solo is excellent (i know that Kirk has publicly stated dissatisfaction with the album’s solos as a whole), and i am a major fan of the 16th note ‘disco’ beat in metal and punk. The song also has one of my favorite bass lines on the album. Y’all already know i am a Load/St. Anger fanboi (and yes, Justice and Puppets are my 2nd and 3rd favorite of theirs), but you cannot deny the impact a bunch of dudes not yet 21 made on the thrash scene with Kill ‘Em All, and how far advanced they became by the time of Ride The Lightning‘s release.

Lars has claimed that the song was their attempt at ‘Run To The Hills’ (of which the intro riff is my favorite metal riff of all time)- and i only see it a little bit. They messed around a bit with the song on Garage Days, and even played live with drummer Nicko McBrain. But if that song inspired them to make them dope riffs, well okay then. i’m definitely not a fan of the original lyrics (sorrynotsorry), and the reworked lyrics are silly; the song is fun to play though, and working out a ‘music video’ was fun as well.

ima punk ima punk ima punkpunkpunk (bass edition)

It might be a few days before i get back on the drums (as i am waiting for some materials to do some further soundproofing)… i miss playing- a lot, but playing other things, that’s fun too!

i don’t have a lot of space (or a lot of money), so i feel like i accomplished something with building a mini studio (with the help of Casey, who is much more tech oriented than i am. i have been extremely grateful for his knowledge, and his assistance). i’m using a Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD audio interface (for the drums and keys), and a Spark 40 amp (which is technically a practice amp, but again, i don’t have money like that to get both a bass and guitar amp. The Spark works for both). For vocals, i have a Shure SM7b.

Now that you know the equipment, you can now hear what it does (HA)! Today, i’m playing some punk rock on the Ibanez GSR105EX 5-string bass. The interesting thing about the bass is that i kind of play it like a guitar, and i play the guitar kind of like the bass. i cannot tell you why. i know i also don’t play songs like how they’re ‘supposed’ to be played; my guess is because i’m just playing by ear, as opposed to reading the tabs… but then again, from what i hear a whole gang of tab books are wrong.

Recording all of this was an interesting process. Usually when i film drum stuff it’s recorded directly from the phone (until i get a better/more dedicated camera some day). i realize that filming piano stuff isn’t that easy, because there’s no good place to put the camera. In terms of guitar or bass, the Spark app is on the phone, so i have to record the song, then film myself playing to what i played. It’s not ideal, but if i’m gonna be on film then that’s what i gotta do for now. (i may opt for just audio later, who knows?). i know there is a way to film through the Spark app, but i haven’t explored that yet.

One thing that’s a bit different about this post is that you also see my legs… well the one and a half of them. Say hi… i see my legs all the time, but i don’t look in the mirror much, so i don’t see ALL of me. So seeing this is kinda interesting and strange. i have to prop the right leg (her name is Mbuya) on a pillow, so the guitar or bass won’t fall.


i was doing some writing and cleaning, and i was listening to Agnostic Front’s United Blood EP (which to me is one of the greatest hardcore records of all time) and i said to myself, i’m gonna play some AF. i remember being 15 years old and seeing them for the first time at CBGBs- someone gave me their wristband, and the rest is history. i had a few of their albums at that point, but Victim In Pain was the one i wore out.

So the title track it is.

This next song is definitely one of my favorite hardcore songs of all time, from another record i wore out. i had Out Of Step on vinyl, and the Minor Threat compilation on cassette. The folks i was in my first band with, we actually met at a Fugazi show. We covered the song ‘Minor Threat’ in that band (where i played guitar).

And now, i play ‘I Don’t Wanna Hear It’ on bass. It comes full circle.

And finally… we actually have a repeat here- but not really. A number of posts ago i played drums to the final live performance of (the) Ramones’ ‘Pinhead’. Here, i’m playing bass to the album version. In between, there are posters of the film Freaks, which the song is based off of. i haven’t seen it in almost 20 years, but i remember that it was a big deal, because it’s one of the few movies that have folks in the disabled community as clear protagonists. That of course was a big deal at the time it was made. Does the film (and its promotion) have contradictions? Of course. Still, the film industry hasn’t greenlit many films with disabled actors as primary characters to this day; and when they do, the stories tend to be tragic.

Yes, i know i play it more like Johnny than Dee Dee… i have met Dee Dee though. He was quite nice.