Friday, November 28, 2014

PUNK BAND (B)

What was weird to acquaintances of Mekkar is that he seems to grasp music sounds better than human voices. Those who are close to him know that he even catches slight changes and musical nuances in a heightened way. It is no surprise to the other band members when Mekkar removed his shoes and socks for band practice. He would usually also be barefoot on the cleaner stages for gigs. Mekkar explained it as being better able to feel the music in his feet and body. Similar to a deaf Beethoven, who still used his hands and fingers to master the piano. Mekkar needed to be in the spirit of the resonance because he is a rhythmatic person by nature anyway. Not to forget, Mekkar is related to and partially named after a shaman. He has trouble describing this sensation that he experienced and found almost no one who could relate to the particular phenomenon he described. Mekkar said that he was sensitive to vibrations, rhythms, and other things like moving vehicles under his feet. He went onto to say it was much less when he wore his footwear. Mekkar thought this anomaly became more intense after he had suffered the hearing loss. Comparable to a blind person having increased other senses, which become better over time.

The teen claimed that he had always had a little of this ability throughout his life. Thus, the reason why Mekkar could play strands of tunes through hearing and feeling despite a limited knowledge of cords and score comprehension. Mekkar also did realize that he would need to expand his horizons in those weak areas for the band’s sake. A much later demonstration revealed this ability when he jammed a bit with another teenage group. The only axe available there was a bass guitar with a couple of broken strings. They asked Mekkar to join them for their rehearsal until that regular band member showed up. Later on, they all complimented Mekkar on his savvy saying he did a good job filling in with such a messed up guitar. Alf, on the other hand, has responded to his older brothers’ explanations and told him to his face repeatedly with, “That interpretation is so untrue!” That is, regarding Mekkar and his sensing of music through his feet and up. It would make Mekkar hot tempered and he wanted to brawl with Alf when he said stuff like that. For the good of their band the scuffle between the two brothers never came to fruition.

Now, Timo was a most interesting character. According to Mekkar, Timo was the most fanatical person in the group. Especially, when related to make believe icons and comic book character themes. Timo was extremely into Batman and many things which had a Caped Crusader flavor to it. His guitar, the Axe, was in the shape of a gadget that Batman would have used. Everything, it seemed, in Timo’s existence revolved around Superheroes and the 1960’s American television series Batman mystique in particular. Mekkar thought the whole theme was truly ridiculous. Timo even modified his classic vehicle to resemble like the Batmobile pictured in the comic books he collected. There was even had a mostly black colored with yellow trim refrigerator. Mekkar’s bandmate referred to it as the Batfrig and it was always stocked full of alcohol. It was a good thing the Batfrig had a small amount of yellow coloring. Sometimes, it was hard to find, when the lights were off and one is so hammered. That is, when Timo and the guys would have a case of the beer goggles and feeling like booze hounds. In that condition they still were able to locate the chilled alcohol box. There were a great number of items collected that decorated Timo’s apartment which matched the superhero motif. Timo also followed Wonder Woman only because he was attracted to her in real life. At least, the actresses who embodied the super heroine in full costume.

Axeman, as Mekkar like to call him, Timo would go off every so often on his guitar solos in the middle of a gig. This was customary in songs of that decade, but not punk music. The rub was Timo would run outside in front of the joint while still continuing to jam on his axe. The rest of the band continued on, in tune, with the music as well. During those escapades, the Axeman would approach people outside the venue. It was especially certain if there any hot women that might be passing by or about to enter in. Mekkar quipped that Timo did this just to show off and impress the females. Trouble was, it seemed to work well and the business owner’s usually approved because of its success as a marketing ploy to bring in more people. Similar to an on-site media promotion. It was easy for their group to book shows, but the main reason wasn’t because of great overall musical skill. However, they knew a lot of people who showed up, on a regular basis, to see them play at a club. Teammates and fans of their two different local teams frequently arrived on the scene. A few opposing players would drop by, if the club was right and close enough. Other friends in the music scene might turn up. The small venue owners loved the band for their attraction ability. It was almost a guaranteed packed house to increase profits for the proprietor, on those nights the band performed. 

The really cool thing about the Axeman’s guitar was its rarity and technology wise slightly ahead of its time. A relative of Timo’s personally fashioned all of his stringed instruments to be wireless up to a specific distance away from the source. His devices could be used without the need to be connected to an amplifier via a cord or cable. The amps were adapted as well, with little distortion, to handle this special capability. Mekkar never could recall an instance where the sounds, played by Timo, cut out. What was special is that these alterations wouldn’t become more commonplace for awhile. The problem was there were only a limited number of doctored equipment pieces at his disposal. So, he was extremely careful and gentle with his gear and avoided even scratching them. Any thought of damaging the equipment was totally out of the question. There was no imitation of famous rock n’ roll musicians like Pete Townshend smashing his guitar into pieces on stage. Also, there never would be any lighting of the axe on fire like Jimi Hendrix either. None of them could afford the continual replacement of instruments, along with the many accessories, as a result of those displays of raw emotion.

Timo was so protective and guarded regarding all of his musical items too. He didn’t want anyone else near it or touch it. Also, it was forbidden, for anyone besides Timo, to move his instruments in any way. That also applied to the setup process before and the subsequent takedown after gigs. Timo took care of his stuff himself and preferred it in that manner. He was like a hockey netminder in that sense. Mekkar thought it based on Timo’s athlete and musician superstitions. No one else understood the reasoning, thus no one else ever brought up the subject. The rest of the group and everyone that hung around them, in time, got used to it and accepted this as normal behavior. In the vein as the sports world, many athletes have their own irrational behavior and rituals that they believe help them perform better. Mekkar wanted his papa to do the same for his instruments too. Henrik was an electronics master and could have easily completed the conversions. However, his papa didn’t have the time and this request made by Mekkar was low on Henrik’s project priority list.

The group never recorded any original songs or covered anyone else’s songs in the studio. No pressings or vinyl records were produced by the band. Mekkar also doubts that anyone made any bootleg records from their gigs, however it is possible. They weren’t originally in this band to develop and grow into a future monstrosity to go on tours or make big cash with this project. This was just for fun, not another job, as they already had employment outside of sports. Frankly, only Timo was the only one of the four who excelled with enough musical talent to eventually make money in the scene after his hockey playing days ended.   

Their contracted pay was based on the number of paying patrons brought into the venue. A bonus was given when the crowd exceeded the expected certain minimum level. Well, the group was at least simply good enough to get gigs and run an alcohol tab at the clubs and dives they performed at. Mekkar remembered the funny thing was this usually was in exchange for actual cash. To explain it further the compensation was arranged in a certain way and rarely, if ever, covered them and their closest buddies’ drink tab. If the four local team hockey players in the band didn’t bring a lot of people, the band would have owed much more out of pocket. Fortunately, it takes only a few friends who then bring along their buddies that can rapidly add to the numbers and the tab is surpassed easily. Even acquaintances of the crew were encouraged to bring a high ratio of females along with them. Combine the massive consumption of booze, the motley crew of the band members’ buddies, and the added amount of women along for the ride. The result usually surpassed the prearranged reimbursement for services rendered. In other words, the band and their entourage always seemed to far exceed the tab limits and then some. They were required to make up the difference at the end of the night with cash. So, it was good they all had jobs to pay for the difference.

The whole experience was viewed by all of them in the group as just a fun hobby for a limited amount of time. Mekkar felt it was just a needed break and distraction from the rigors of sports. Well, just until they had to cease the crew to continue each one of their potential sporting careers going forward. Mekkar said it best, “It was fun the short time it lasted. Now, it is time to move up to higher levels because we know others are watching.”