Love to my music family
(is that Vince from the Mighty Boosh???)
My memories of high school are not so precious. Year 8, I had one friend and she was probably the most unpopular girl in the school. I’m not sure why. Most of us had all gone to primary school together and she was reasonably liked then, but come the start of high school, everyone hated her. I’m generally pretty oblivious to trends so I didn’t catch on. As a result, I soon became just as unpopular – despised even.
Most days, we were chased home from school – a nice 5km (perhaps that was the start of my ultra running).
The one positive thing I remember about year 8 was that was the first time I sat on a drum kit. We had some crazy music teacher who made it compulsory for us to learn to juggle before we were actually allowed to play the drum kit.
My friend and I were so hated at this school. It was the final straw when I turned up with blue hair one day and was sent home. I unenrolled myself. Told my Dad I didn’t believe in God and should not be forced to go to a Catholic school where they valued kids by their inability to have a voice and an opinion rather than their academic ability.
He was horrified.
Next semester I started at Salisbury East High School. I enrolled myself in music and when the teacher asked what instrument I played I told him drums (I didn’t mention that up until then I had only been able to look at the drums while juggling).
Life was pretty different from there on in.
I still wasn’t Ms Popularity.
I had died my long hair green because I wanted to look like the chic from White Zombie. For some reason that started the trend of the older boys throwing fruit at me and singing Silverchair’s “Freak” every morning.
My mum promised me one day things would be different. One day, I would meet other people who valued passion, drive and individuality. But until then, I had the music room to hide out in.
We played Metallica covers in our lunch breaks and didn’t care that everyone on the outside of that music room pretty much wanted to kick our arses (or throw fruit at us).
One Saturday afternoon, my uncle got me free tickets to go see Magic Dirt at the Adelaide Uni Bar. I was 14. I still didn’t really have any friends (in fact I had just been beaten up on the school oval by my “best friend”).
I was sitting out the front of the Uni Bar waiting for it to open. This girl with long dread locks in pig tails came skipping over to me. She had made a collage for Adalita. She showed it to me. She was the coolest person I had ever met. Her name is Angie and she changed my life forever.
In the years that followed Angie started an unofficial gang of misfit female musicians. Everyone was so supportive, so interesting and so talented.
the “misfits” in Vegas
Sisters in the Grand Canyon
Through Angie, I met Scarlett – the second person to change my life. Scarlett and I instantly had a kindred bond and before I knew it, we were sculling a bottle of vodka or gin and a six pack of whatever was on special before we’d hit the town. We were both runners so we’d run to Shotz from the train station. Whoever got there first would get to the bar and order as many $1 beers as the bar staff would allow and the other would grab a table and fill it (Uni student budget days). When the warm beers were finished it was off to watch some bands.
Sunday morning we’d wake up at my place. I’d jump on the drums and Scarlett would get on my guitar and we’d jam.
The precise sequence of events is a little vague due to the amount of drinks we were consuming but our Sunday jams lead to the formation of Autonomy – my first band.
Sam “Bass Beats” came to join the party and together we rocked out some amazing music.
As cheesy as it sounds, that was the point in time when I realised my mum was right. I eventually found that place where drive and individuality were valued and diversity all the more appreciated.
(My first band and my first shitty drum kit)
Autonomy was an alternative rock band and I got it in my head that I wanted to play metal. I thought I was pretty close to the best female drummer at that point in Adelaide (I know that is arrogant but that was what I thought at the time). I made a list of the male drummers who I thought were better than me. There were about five of them that I really looked up to. They were all playing in metal bands and so I knew, if I was going to beat those boys, I had to play metal too.
I asked Tanya, Sam’s girlfriend, if she wanted to join a metal band. She was super excited. The next week we had a jam with her friend Will. Will came to practice with his sunglasses on. He didn’t look at me or talk to me once and he had a bull tattooed on his head. I was terrified.
Ten years later, I can’t believe how much that jam changed my entire life.
Tanya and Will are two of the most precious people in my life.
For a long time, Tanya and I were amongst the very few females playing in metal bands. Looking back, I realise now how lucky I was to have Tanya on my team, fighting the fight. It must be so hard for those women who have to do it on their own.
Don’t get me wrong, the majority of guys in metal are super big sweet hearts. They are encouraging and supportive. But the few dicks that are in the metal scene are major dicks and unfortunately, during my time in the Adelaide metal scene, those dicks controlled most of that scene.
Whilst I have made many special friends in music, the one friend who made a half descent musician out of me is dear Will.
Tanya, Will and I spent the next seven years making music together in various bands. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity you two gave me to the make the music my heart was desperate to create.
I have the tattoo on my leg that will always remind me of those amazing years – particularly those years with Ocean of Despair.
(Ocean of Despair)
When I moved to Melbourne, I was in a really dark place. I had lost myself. I was pretty much a raging alcoholic and I had lost my way. Then I joined PsyEcho as a vocalist.
It was my first time fronting a band and the boys were so kind to me. I really loved the music we created but even more so, the friendships that were forged. I was on my own in Melbourne – no relatives, but the music family knows no borders. I’ll never forget rocking up to band practice on my birthday and Ray had baked me a birthday cake in the shape of a microphone.
And then there was Shut up and Choke Me.
What a great way to end a musical career.
These boys all have hearts so big, so sincere. I have been a pretty half arsed singer the last six months. My running and my job have slowly taken over my life at my band’s expense. Not once have these guys complained. When I told them I was going to run across the desert for charity they didn’t worry about me missing practice. Instead, they wanted to get involved, wanted to help and wanted to give.
(Shut up and Choke Me at the Adelaide BRR Fundraiser Gig)
My music family – it stretches across two states now (plus dear Angie in the UK).
Sometimes I think music is a terrible hobby. There is no other interest in life in which you give away so much of your soul, only to have it spat on by critics.
But we don’t create music for the critics. We create it for ourselves. It is who we are. It is what we live and breathe.
But we also create it for others who are part of this family. There is no greater joy than writing an amazing riff and looking around the jam room (even Jay’s) at your fellow muso’s faces. The friendships you will make when your soul is stripped bare, it’s bleeding, it’s torn to shreds and instead of crumbling in a ball, you decide you will make a song out of your sorrow – and your fellow musicians offer their support and you create something beautiful.
There are too many of you to mention by name, but to each and every one of you in this music family, I love you and thank you.