In high school, I was in a band.
I was in a band called “Phake,” a name that came along as a semi-ironic joke and managed to stick. We went through five names in two years. We weren’t good. But we weren’t bad. We were okay, actually. Nothing more, nothing less. Just okay.
We thought ourselves a punk/hardcore band – a group of kids that loved Bad Religion and Snapcase and the like – and we tried to replicate the sound. I was the singer, though I couldn’t sing, so I screamed like any good little hardcore singer would scream. I thought I was Karl Buechner, a vegetarian straight-edge superstar.
I wasn’t. I was just an emo-ass kid who thought he was tragically lyrical. I wore my heart on my sleeve.
We had squabbles. We unfairly kicked a founding member out and cycled through bass players until we were sick. We changed our sound at least three times. We won a battle of the bands. We played in barns. We played at the Pomp Room. And we stopped playing about six shows after we should have.
We weren’t good. Not yet, at least. It turns out that the five members of the band all vastly improved over time. We cut our teeth on that band. We learned from our mistakes, practiced, moved away and grew because of it.
My best friends were in Phake, and several of my other closest friends followed us like superfans.
And this is why I still find these memories sacred. I was never a talented musician, and I probably never will be. We created forgettable music, music that never quite headlined, music that sounded a little too forced and a little too amateur.
But the brotherhood was without equal, and the fact that we created music – our own music, from our heads, though it wasn’t anything special – is invaluable; our creation, our minds, melding together.
There are tens of thousands of garage bands, plugging away, creating music that is sometimes original and sometimes brilliant, though oftentimes pedestrian and basic. There are millions more who would join together if they had the chance or the talent, forming thousands more bands to create more music.
For the most part, very little of it is heard. Music is created and killed, forgotten forever, lost in the air, beaten against the garage door and let go. To chronicle each band, to sample each song would be impossible, and therein lies one of the most distressing facts of garage bands. For the most part, none of it will last.
Though we thought we were creating music that would be remembered for as long as we were around, we were wrong. Our music – and that of nearly every unknown band that has ever picked up instruments and crated music – is nearly gone, with only a few cassette tapes to remember it by. I’m willing to guess a lot of bands don’t even get it all recorded. So much creativity, all lost.
So yeah. I was in a band once. An only partially talented, amateur-hour, high school pseudo-punk hardcore band. I find it embarrassing now, how little we know. How raw we were. How much we had to learn and how willing we were to put it all out there regardless of our ability to pull it off. I blush when I think of the list of horrible name we went by. My face turns bright red when I’m asked about it.
You’ve probably never heard of us – in fact, I’d be surprised if you had.
The music itself is lost forever. But the brotherhood still remains.