|We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. With the obvious exception of that pale kid with the rat tail over there, of course.|
-- I had surmounted the first hurdle that keeps most rock bands from ever getting around to being famous, which was deciding on a rad band name. If I didn't tell you right now that I was a nine year old boy when I came up with it, you'd know it by the time you heard the name: The Bloody Rats.
|Don't be alarmed. Most people need a cold compress after hearing it for the first time.|
Whether the rats were themselves bleeding or simply spattered with the blood of the less fortunate was immaterial to me. The important thing was that the words "bloody" and "rats" sounded cool, and they sounded even cooler when put together. That's all I needed, and I didn't care that they combined to form a phrase that was essentially meaningless.
|I was neither the first nor last to take this approach.|
-- I had extensively studied some of the most influential musicians and rockers of my generation, to know exactly how to wear fingerless gloves and bedazzled leather jackets while totally rocking out.
-- I had no instruments, but you'd understand why that made little difference once you saw me pantomime playing an electric guitar using an old axe handle I'd come by in my childhood. I attempted to paint "BR" high on the handle, to further drive home the essential brand recognition that The Bloody Rats would need in order to engender endorsement deals and eventually be able to sit back and collect royalties on every box of Bloody Rats Breakfast Cereal (TM) sold, but the paint quickly wore off.
|"Paint-peeling" was certainly one way to describe my music.|
-- I had a band member, in the form of my friend Wanda from next door. Wanda complemented my axe handle mastery by playing an aluminum baseball bat. What she lacked in garishly painted denim jackets she made up for by foretelling the face-concealing likes of Slipknot or Mushroomhead, opting to wear a mask while we performed. I am certain this was out of recognition of the sheer radness of doing so and not from shame. Ever the pioneers, Wanda and I found the perfect mask for her, which we thought made her look a bit like Optimus Prime. It was the plastic cup I'd pulled out of an old jock strap I'd used while in little league baseball; turned upside-down, it fit perfectly over her nose and under her chin.
|Adding a vaguely cheese-scented air of mystery to the baseball bat solo.|
-- Lots of Bon Jovi. I should mention at this time that The Bloody Rats were also pioneers in the field of not having any actual original songs of their own. We did covers; we just did them radly.
|Shut up, Dictionary.com. Syntax corrections are so not rock and roll.|
|There are kids out there working on this very same dream right now, with drastically different setlists.|
So I began composing music. That I had no training nor ability to read music was lost on me, and frankly, these things are but trifles in the life of a world-famous-musician-to-be, even one who admittedly can't be bothered to learn the lyrics to even his favorite songs.
So, with no ability to write down the sounds I wanted my songs to make, I took to my trusty cassette tape player with a blank tape, hit Record, and proceeded to hum, sing and beatbox all of the sounds I wanted to remember for my eventual Grammy-eligible solo album. For months I returned to the tape and added new bits of chorus or intro music as my muse visited me. At no point did I sound like my jaw had just been injected with a massive dose of Novocaine, nor that I had just received my lips in the mail that day. When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would receive this cassette one day far into the future, perhaps courtesy of my estate as a way to help fans gain a deeper appreciation of the musical genius they so adored in their youth, absolutely no one on the staff would confuse it for evidence of animal cruelty by someone forcing their cat to gargle Listerine. Because my ability to make a perfect simulacrum of bending guitar notes with my mouth was just that strong.
|Approaching the strength of the shelf I'd need to hold all of the awards I knew were coming.|
As my interests began to evolve in junior high school, I made the perfectly reasonable decision to incorporate hip-hop into my burgeoning musical oeuvre. The world had shown that it was ready for suburban white kids to flex their rap skills before audiences of millions, so who was I to deny them that thrill when I eventually took to the stage?
|Following in the footsteps of giants.|
So I wrote a rap about not getting along with my sister, and then approached her to see if she'd be comfortable appearing on stage with me on tour, in front of thousands of screaming fans, to deliver the one line I'd written for her in the song. She was fine with it, so at least we didn't have to get any lawyers involved. The exchange, as I remember it, was:
"I think I'm right!"
"And I think she's wrong,
No matter day or night,
We NEVER get along!"
"I'm up front, leading the pack,
Everyone's runnin' but no one's lookin' back,
I'm intimate with my fans, we never like to part,
But while I'm still on stage, we take it apart! Take it apart!
TAKE-TAKE-TAKE IT APART!
TAKE-TAKE-TAKE IT APART!
I said TAKE-TAKE-TAKE IT APART!"
Even at a tender age I'd discarded meter as being too pedestrian. Nah, my tastes leaned more toward the experimental, the dangerous. Given that the phrase "take it apart" makes up roughly 40% of all spoken words in "Take It Apart," it simply adds to my mystique as an artist that at no point in the song did I ever explain what that meant.
Besides, I'd discarded the cassette-deck style of remembering harmonies, but that did nothing to stop them from coming to me in a torrent of inspiration. In the margins of many of my rap lyric sheets are such tone-descriptive passages as "bucka bucka BOW butt-utt-utt-utt BWOW-uh bu-WOW..." with some words written slightly higher on the page than others so I'd remember where to really punch a high note on my axe handle.
Now twenty-five years removed from this electrical storm of ideas and prodigious musical talent, I am still undiscovered. "Take It Apart" failed to crack the Billboard Top 100, or even to truly exist as a song. I have never been taken to court by the members of Bon Jovi for playing their songs as my own to sold-out screaming crowds. My demo tape consisting of me making guitar-mouth sounds still exists, but mainly as corroboration that I had a mental problem in my youth which went undiagnosed. And The Bloody Rats now exists only as the greatest image ever painted onto denim.
|Nice try, Real World, but you can't hope to compete.|
It survives, and thrives, no matter how many times Life rears up and kicks me in the balls.
|Because I'm prepared.|