I remember the moment that I knew it was over. It didn’t hit me like a lightning bolt and it certainly wasn’t the result of some life changing epiphany in which I was visited by Elvis returning from his intergalactic peace mission. It just happened. A tired, worn out, wheezing thought that rolled through my head, slouched down in the middle of my cerebellum, took a swig of whatever awful rotgut had kept it going for so long, belched and wheezed “I don’t want to do this anymore’. And looking round at the rest of the band, seeing the same bored expression in each of their eyes, I knew we were done.
For five years we’d given it our all, poured every single thing we’d had into trying to make our semi-rotted, stitched together carcass of minimal musical talent succeed and we’d failed spectacularly. In true Spinal Tap tradition we’d been through countless drummers, but where theirs had succumbed to spontaneous combustion and freak gardening accidents, ours had fallen by the wayside due to time honoured musical differences, traumatic brain injury and opiate addiction. We’d weathered the rhythmic onslaught and fought on, playing show after show to five people and the other bands on the bill while deluding ourselves into believing that spending time in a freezing cold rehearsal room, rehashing the same old songs over and over again in order to open someone else’s gig was somehow ‘fun’. It had become a habit. A dirty, terrible obsession that was slowly consuming us, and after half a decade of pandering to its every whim, it was time to pull the plug.
Don’t get me wrong, it hadn’t always been that way. In the beginning, it had been an exhilarating, intoxicating ride. Creating “music” that screamed, howled and rallied against all that we collectively despised was the antithesis of the working week and granted the collective freedom that we misguidedly believed society had sought to deny us. Filled with venom and vitriol, our music was loud, fast and straightforward, we were a punk rock band with delusions of metal glory and a for an too brief moment, it was magnificent. We submerged and submersed ourselves in barked vocals, blistering riffs, pounding snare beats, sweat, rage, beer and a seemingly endless cloud of illicit smoke. Buried in its embrace, the world outside of our practice space became the enemy, we started to believe the lies that we told ourselves and succumbed to the age old myth that it was “us against them”. It infected and affected everything that we did and tried to do, as we convinced ourselves that the reason we weren’t getting shows and a chance of recorded “fame” was because we weren’t part of the “trendy” cliques that ruled over the punk rock scene with a rod of iron. Our outsider mentality became our safety blanket, drew us closer together, made us bitter, jealous and judgemental, and with no-one else to direct our spite at, we eventually began, in the best passive aggressive manner of twenty something punk rockers, to channel it toward each other and in doing so, began the countdown to our own extinction.
And yet, in the middle of this nihilistic sea of self-loathing, we somehow became a pretty good live band. Up there in the heat of battle, the tunes weren’t as important as the speed and energy with which they were delivered, and in a blinding orgy of nudity and self-harm that resulted in concussions, dislocated shoulders and more bruises, ligament and muscle damage than I care to remember, I lost myself. The music became less important than the physicality of performance, became secondary to the inevitable intoxicating waves of pain and humiliation that boosted my adrenaline and fed my need to flagellate and punish myself, which as enjoyable as it was at first, became like everything else, a routine designed to shock that ultimately ate away at what little remained of my soul. I began to hate myself, to hate the band and worst of all, to hate those who’d embarked on the journey with me. It had to end. And on that last night, as I threw myself at some unsuspecting schmuck in the crowd, I looked around at my comrades in arms and knew that they felt exactly the same as I did. When the last song faded out and the lights went up, we didn’t have to talk about it, we didn’t have to sit down and discuss it. We all knew it was over. The dreams and ideas that had promised so much and delivered so little and had ended up becoming a waking nightmare were over. I was spent. They were spent. We were spent. It was over.
It was over . I made a vow, there and then, that I’d never do it again. And I never have.
Tim Mass Movement