Friday, November 28, 2014

PUNK BAND (A)

Mekkar had already seen quite a few concerts of many varieties in his young life. Plus, he was a lover of music also. He had visited a large number of venues, both big and small, in many different countries. Some of these occurred when he would accompany with his mama to her modeling assignments or with travelling hockey teams.

Sirga would appear to work for modeling photo sessions, runway fashion shows, and what have you. When Mekkar was younger, being around that type of environment was exciting. On a few occasions, Sirga even got criticism from others related to the set and it almost result in a fistfight. Everyone there Sirga would have won those encounters easily since she was six foot two inches tall and adept at brawling. Sirga quipped at times that she could some things really well – drink, fight, ____, and do a little modeling. Yet, there were many times other models would go out of the way to be nice to the young boy as it was not a common thing in those days. Some of the well known models even brought Mekkar treats. The youngster didn’t know who they were or anything regarding if the ladies were famous or not. Mekkar was focused on the goodies that he was receiving. As the developing Mekkar got older, the photo and stage sets were not interesting anymore. He became more independent and would leave his mama’s side to journey and explore whatever place they had arrived in. Mekkar, at this time, often would go to watch live music to get away from what he considered as the madhouse fashion industry his mama was part of.

The native from the north had joined the legions of teens with the advent of punk rock in the 1970’s by attending counter culture alternative punk rock band shows. Outfits like the Clash, The Damned, Dead Kennedy’s, Iggy Pop & the Stooges, The Ramones, The Saints, Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, Stiff Little Fingers, The Voidoids, The Vibrators, the Buzzcocks, U.K. Subs, Generation X, Dead Kennedys,  Ebba Grön, the Rude Kids, Eppu Normaali, and many more countless diverse punk groups. Even a couple of bands from Hungary that he doesn’t remember the names of anymore. Mekkar was able view some of the bands live when they were still obscure. The Arctic Warrior even colored a part of his hair with a canary yellow streak on the left side of his head over the ear. It happened after going to a Sham 69 large outdoor gig near London and identifying himself as part of the Sham Army fan base.

This was a time where the teenage Mekkar began to develop an attitude that distrusted the overwhelming, all inclusive establishment as many his age do. He partially broke away and became a punk rebel in many ways. This posture was displayed in many areas especially in his expansion of chosen music genres listened to. Alf, his younger brother, and older best friend Lasse also followed Mekkar’s nonconformist path. The advantage was Mekkar had been exposed to the type first; otherwise, he would have followed one of them. The adolescent also checked out other groups during this period such as ACDC, Aerosmith, The Angels (Angel City), Black Sabbath, Blondie, the Commodores, David Bowie, Jefferson Starship, Kansas, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, Rod Stewart, Rolling Stones, The Who, Hanoi Rocks, Raga Rockers, and hundreds of others at home and overseas. He was exposed to a host of styles and languages as well. The sound to Mekkar was always more important than the lyrics.

Hey, Mekkar’s mama is the one that helped him obtain a top quality fake identification card. That ID would give him entry into music locations as some clubs had minimum age requirements. The limits applied even to non alcohol consuming patrons. He didn’t need the high price drinks from the clubs anyway. He would be already buzzed by the time he arrived after slamming booze his mama got him earlier. It was normal in their regional traditions for young teens to drink with the parents. At least, she could observe and somewhat control the amounts being consumed by Mekkar. Sirga would tell her son before they would separate and go their own way, “Go and enjoy yourself at the shows and stay out of trouble. I don’t want to have to bail you out of jail.” He knew that he could take a cab afterward back to the hotel where they were registered to rejoin his mama. On some occasions Mekkar and Sirga would set up a plan beforehand to meet at a specific location by a certain time. The place was usually close enough for Mekkar to reach by foot. Then, it was time to travel back home and do it all over again later on.

Sirga grew up and admired the tunes of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Kinks, and a part of the first British wave of rock n’ roll in the 1960’s that soon afterward invaded North America. Her sons liked those groups but also had a disposition for heavier music such as later classic rock and so on. When Mekkar was younger his mama took him to concerts of the Beatles & Elvis (her two favorites). She wanted to take her best friend - but the person who usually watches Mekkar was also at those two same concerts. So, Mekkar's mama was not amused and dragged him along against her will. Sirga continued to give him grief about it as Mekkar grew up. The youngster now only remembers the introductions and sticking of his fingers in his ears due to all of the screaming, yelling, crying young girls during those concerts.

Both Alf & Mekkar still to this day recall words to obscure songs from records, tapes, compact discs, radio, etc. sources. The reason was their mama would have the record player operating repeatedly while she was home. Sirga would play Kinks records until they wore out and then replace them. It was part of her own process to accelerate her learning of the English language. The young Mekkar was unhappy when he had to accompany his mama on a side trip to visit Elvis’ home, Graceland. In those days, when they still conducted on-site tours. The boy was bored stiff throughout the experience and appreciates it more now for nostalgic reasons, even though many details have been forgotten. 

It made perfect sense for Mekkar to start a band since all the potential members lived in the same big city together. It didn’t matter that some of the pack were not originally from the area. Besides that, Mekkar was inspired to form the group after attending over hundreds of distinct gigs during the decade alone. All the members were influenced by a fair amount of other bands from the international outlaw scene and colorful spectacles of the time. He just fell in love with the rawness of the punk sound. Alf, Lasse, and Mekkar had practiced together a bit with their instruments in the barn on the property back home. They all moved down south at various points for sports and now were back with each other again. This was not the arctic anymore, but it was like old times. They were adventures and it was time to spread their wings. Mekkar thought there were more available options and opportunity in the large metropolis. The crew had chosen a name for their ensemble. Yet, there was a need for a lead guitarist as none of them were close to being qualified. Fortunately, Mekkar was aware of a local hockey player that he played with and against in the ranks. Timo was not only an aspiring athlete but was also an up and coming studio axe man around the city. He was good enough to be asked to perform in a slew of recording sessions with quite a few other musicians.

Mekkar had heard him jam out previously and was of the opinion that he kicked it good. Not long afterward, he ran into Timo as part of a crowd at a local concert. He invited Timo to join the fledgling crew. Timo agreed and had access to a warehouse nearby the sports house. The building was prefect for practicing their raw noise with no one around to complain and at no cost to them also. It was exciting because the newest member also had contacts related to booking gigs. The tribe of four youngsters had to manage all things related to the band, themselves. All of them understood the basic reason for forming a group was not for money. Of course, that would have been nice. The real purpose was to get more women, have fun, and have another excuse to party. It was something different from sports for a change. The Arctic Warrior was convinced that chicks love people affiliated with music and especially members of a band. Mekkar figured it must be an aspect related to sound waves or vibes. They only had a couple of their own songs that they created and performed mostly covers. Even some popular songs in their own unique style. It was similar to punk rebel rock at its phoenix and during peak period of the overall world wide movement. There was plenty of material to choose from and inspiration to be garnered by or they could make it up as they go.

Sirga hated that music genre. She thought it was too fast, had no substance, obnoxious, and just plainly sounded like garbage. Both of her son’s musical tastes definitely did not completely match hers. Mekkar’s mama didn’t hesitate in telling them either. Especially when they were back home practicing in the barn. On those occasions, the audience consisted of animals. Maybe it was a good thing that Mekkar was unable to gauge their reaction. It didn’t seem to irritate the beasts too much in his opinion. Of course, Mekkar’s cocky reasoning claimed, at the very least, the sound didn’t put the animals to sleep.

The foursome had Mekkar’s younger brother Alf as the drummer. Alf basically got stuck there in the beginning back home because he was the youngest and the age trend determined his placement. The fact is, nobody else wanted to bang the drums. Plus, he showed a knack for it, which helped. The positive was his six foot one inch height despite being about three and a half years more youthful than the rest of the band. Alf’s height at such a young age benefited him and he appeared to most outsiders as rivaling Mekkar in age. Lasse was the lead vocalist while playing the bass guitar at the same time. He was the best of the group by far to audibly carry a note. An added benefit was that Lasse at this time was physically fit and not an individual to mess with. He stood at around six foot four inches tall and a weighed a muscular two hundred and forty pounds. He always wished to take his shirt off during their gigs unlike the rest of them. Mekkar thought it was to show off his physique to impress women in the crowd. At the beginning of their set Lasse would usually fling his t-shirt toward a hot girl in the crowd. It was an intentional directional and targeted toss. Lasse hoped he could score with her later in the night.

It was characteristic during gigs of the time for foolish drunk people in the rowdy crowds, to take swings at various front men in punk bands. Adolescent fury and aggression was the order of the day. So, it was a positive to have a singer who could kick some butt, if necessary, to protect them on stage. Truth was the whole group was made up of hockey players who are known for their toughness. All of the four could brawl pretty well. Even Alf could, but didn’t prefer to scrap like the others, if he could avoid it. This happened on occasion when a few rambunctious individuals in the audience would start a commotion in their direction. If someone desired to start trouble directly with the group, they were always ready to end it right then and there. No prisoners would be taken, only a beat down. Beforehand, Mekkar like to spew out his venom as a warning, “Don’t mess with us or we whip your rear ends hard! We don’t care who you think you are.” When that sort of rabid activity materialized, usually their set commenced for the night. Mekkar’s band was normally just a warm up band that attempted to get the crowd riled up and into the mood. The whole idea was to blend into the scene and match the flowing booze with fast, sharp, high tempo minimal punk riffs.

The one who originally came up with the idea to form this group was the rhythm guitarist, Mekkar. He was self taught and at the beginning knew only the basics. He could easily handle three cord punk scores. When stayed at a friend’s home, for a short time, he improved his guitar skills from just being a hack and thrashing out like a buzz saw. Mekkar filled in during practice sessions in the basement, to keep them on beat, because the drummer was frequently late. Both Alf and Lasse always teased Mekkar and said, “Don’t ever give him a microphone on stage because he can’t sing on key for anything. He doesn’t even hit the right notes in his native music ditties or when listening to his favorite bands.” They cringed every time after often overhearing Mekkar sing along to various songs. It was all due to Mekkar’s habit of singing out loud in the shower or in his car. The Arctic native was bold enough not to care if anyone else heard him or not.

Lasse and Alf were the better singers in the bunch in Mekkar’s opinion and the other member was good enough to sing in a backup role only. If he knew most of the words to a particular song Mekkar would sometimes mouth it silently. He would do this while hammering his strings because he was aware that his audible music voice sucked. Mekkar never sang out loud during performances as he didn’t want to throw everyone else off their rhythm and ruin it for all of them. This off key and lack of tone phenomenon was blamed on an earlier sports injury where Mekkar broke his jaw. The worse part was that a portion of the bone went upward and also damaged his left eardrum. Mekkar’s hearing has never been the same as before the trauma occurred. Constant drainage and fluid buildup issues have affected that left ear ever since. A number of early concussions didn’t help matters either.