In The Van On Comeback Road Part 12

author: Nolan Whyte date: 05/30/2006 category: fiction
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Mark, Jason and I have our Wednesday night practice and work hard on the three songs we had finished the week before. Jason and I lead Mark, our fledgling drummer through a few more. Luckily he's an old school metal fan, so he handles 'Sweet Leaf' with no difficulty, and is able to pick up 'Rough Go,' one of my newer songs in a few tries. After we clear out of the rehearsal studio we head into a Tim Horton's for doughnuts and coffee, and a plan to settle the name controversy. Once we get situated at a table, we each pull out pieces of paper, which we hold close to our chests. "Okay, we've each got a list of ten suggestions," I say to start the discussion off. "We each have three outright vetoes. I'll go first. The Terry Wilson Band." Jason raises his hand. "Veto." I expected him to veto it, which is why I started off with it. I'm happy to let Jason waste one of his vetoes on it. I'm a manipulative son of a bitch that way. All the same, I act offended by his hasty dismissal of using my name. "Just like that?" I say, looking hurt. "Yeah man, just like that," he says, looking at his coffee and not at me. "This is a band. You're not a solo guy." I shrug. "Okay, whatever. We'll just go around the circle. Jason, what's your first suggestion?" "Corporation of Dissent." Mark, blowing on his cup of tea, makes a face. "I don't care much for that one." "Same here," I say. "Anytime you say 'Corporation' it reminds me of a bad storyline they used to have in pro wrestling." Jason gives me a condescending grin. "Dude, you watch wrestling?" "I have been known to watch wrestling. So what? I appreciate the athleticism. Mark, what's at the top of your list?" The Scotsman looks at his crumpled list and scratches his head. "I've not got many good ones. Um, I thought Passover has kinda like, a cool ring to it." Jason and I glance at each other. "I don't think we should use anything with any religious overtones," I say. "I don't think it really speaks to the material we perform." "Yeah," Jason says, "and I think it sounds a bit seventies, anyway." "Okay, next," I say, looking at my list. "I'd like it if we could find something with a really classic, hard-ass rock and roll sound to it. Something that shows we're a band out on the road, dying for what we do. So, in the spirit of that, I suggest: The Roadkill Heroes." Mark nods. "That's not too bad." "Yeah, I can see what you're going for," says Jason, "like we're on the road so much it's killing us, and that kind of thing. The only complaint I have is that when someone says 'roadkill' I have a tendency to think of a mashed up skunk on the highway. I don't know if that's the image we want to project." We sit in silence for a moment, before I suggest "Maybe we could keep it as a maybe." Jason shrugs. "Yeah, let's come back to it. Okay, I've got The Nettles. Or The Stinging Nettles." Mark screws up his face. "Nettles? What, like the weed?" "Okay," I say. "That's getting better, but I don't think it quite there." Jason puts his list face down on the table. "It's better than 'Roadkill.'" "Maybe," I say, "but I'm still not going to call my band The Nettles. Think bad-ass, you know? Like The Sex Pistols, The Misfits. The Nettles? No way, man." "So are you vetoing it?" "I don't think I should have to veto something that dumb." "Hey, I thought we had a rule where we wouldn't call the other names dumb." Mark nods. "That's right, Terry. You can say you don't like it, but you can't say it's stupid." "Okay. I'm sorry. Mark, give us your next one." He checks his list and smiles up at us. "Rock Of Abraham." I sigh and wish it were still legal to smoke in Toronto coffee shops. "Okay, that also has a religious tinge to it, which I'd really like to avoid." Jason leans across the table with a concerned look on his face. "Mark, are you religious or something?" Mark looks embarrassed. "No, I'm no' religious, I just think there's a certain?um?rock and roll sound to some names that have a religious reference, ken? Like Black Sabbath." "Okay," I say, not wanted to make Mark feel foolish. That's the problem with choosing band names: most of the process is rejecting the other members' suggestions. "All the same, I'd still like to stay away from religious themes. Anyway, I'm not aware of any rocks in the story of Abraham anyway. Shall we move on? My next one is Lightspeed." Jason looks at me. His expression seems to grow snider with every suggestion I make. "Lightspeed what?" I smile. "Lightspeed nothing. Just?Lightspeed." "Cheesy." Mark nods. "I think so too." "Okay, it was just an idea. Jason?" Jason grins like he's found the cure for cancer. "Pleasureville." Mark laughs. "There's a massage parlor in Glasgow called Pleasureville." I laugh too. "Didn't we have a rule about no band names based on massage parlors?" Jason looks pissed "Nobody here knows it's a massage parlor. Besides, I think it's got kind of a rock and roll feel to it." I nod. "Yeah, the feel of a rock and roll tug joint. Besides, it reminds me of Pleasantville, and I hated that movie. Next." Mark goes next. "My next one is Death To Everything." "What?" "Seriously. Death to Everything. It sounds bad-ass, doesn't it?" Jason looked unimpressed. "It sounds like a hardcore band, or death metal or something like that." I concur. "Yeah. If we called ourselves that it would have to be intentionally ironic, you know?" "Yeah, like those pussies in Massive Attack," Jason says. "Their name makes them sound like Napalm Death, but they actually sound more like a relaxation tape." Mark nods. "Okay, so we scratch Death to Everything." I check my list. "Next, I've got The Visions." Jason shakes his head. "Sounds like a used television shop." For the next twenty minutes we fly through our lists, arguing about the names, criticizing the suggestions and eventually criticizing each other more and more. "Broken Vessels." "The Subterraneans." "Marshalling Forces." "Canadian Hate Machine." (Kind of like Leonard Cohen meets Nine Inch Nails) "Surrealism at Work." "Tom Waits For No One." We all start getting a bit chippy, mocking the living shit out of each other's dumb-ass ideas, until at last we get to the final round and at last Mark drops a half decent suggestion on the table. "I used to work in an appliance repair shop," he starts. "You know, fridges and stoves and the like. Most washing machines have a little transmission inside, and there's something in there, little teeth like, called clutch dogs. I always thought that would make a cool name for a band. The Clutch Dogs." There is a moment of silence. Jason and I look at each other. I give him a nod. "I think it's okay," he says. "I think it's rock and roll," I say. "It sounds dirty, like machine parts, and desperate, like the clutch player in the big game. And dogs? Yeah. Clutch Dogs are rock and roll." Mark smiles and nods. "I always thought so." We clear out with our plans set: we rehearse until we have a solid set, and we start gigging, playing every single show we can get until people start to know our name. Soon, people will know who The Clutch Dogs are. A Note To The Readers: In The Van On Comeback Road will continue to appear on Ultimate-Guitar.com as frequently as I am able to get chapters written. However, I'm in the process of changing jobs and changing cities right now and there may be some delays. Please be patient, because Terry's adventures are sure to continue. Gratefully and Sincerely, 2006 Nolan Whyte
More Nolan Whyte columns:
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