Aug 28, 2013


A friend found the cassette tape pictured below and an old VHS of some friends band playing at my high school and sent it to me in the mail. It arrived yesterday and I was excited until I realized that I no longer own a VCR or Cassette Player.  It's not very often I think about this band or that period so long ago in my life.  

There's sort of an interesting story about this tape. I was at Lollapalooza in 1993 when I was in high school.  I was this 16 year old kid walking around with my long scraggly hair and an Obituary shirt. Some similarly looking guys that were clearly several years older than I was approached me with fliers for a concert. At this point I'd only been to a handful of shows, but only big concerts (like the one I was at). I'd never been to a night club show.  The flier was for these guys' band Thanatopsis and a well known nationally touring death metal band aptly named Death at a club in San Francisco called The Stone.  I'd never even thought about bands like that playing concerts in clubs that I could go to. The two guys from Thanatopsis were trying to promote the show but also, sell advance tickets to the show. Many clubs that let local bands play have a system known as "pay to play". Basically you pay the club to play, and they give you tickets to sell so that you can make your money back. It's kind of a bullshit deal for bands but it covers the club's ass if no one shows up. In order to get the tickets I had to go to their house in Oakland to buy them.  My good friend and band mate at the time Todd was more into the metal scene than me and I knew he would want to go so I told him about the opportunity to get tickets for Death and we quickly got into his 79' Subaru and went to meet Thanatopsis.

Todd (r) in Thanatopsis
circa mid 90's
They lived in a dank warehouse loft space in a not-so-nice area of Oakland.  It was somewhat of culture shock for me.  Their loft apartment smelled like spilled beer and bong water, but they were really hospitable and were happy to sell us the tickets.  They gave us a copy of their demo with the tickets. On the way home we listened to the demo and were amazed. It was awesome. Unique progressive yet aggressive death metal. Perfect fit to open for a band like Death. We went to the show, which was another cultural first as we took the wrong train stop and had to walk across downtown San Francisco in the evening.  The show was awesome. The whole idea of seeing a band I was a huge fan of, on a small stage, up close like that blew me away.  After that I was a show-going metal scenester.  A new world of local bands opened up to me.   We followed Thanatopsis to just about every bay area show they played. We became relatively good friends with them and Todd went on to try out to be their singer at one point. He ended up getting the job which was surprising because he was so young, in that we were like 17 at the time and they were 22/23 years old.
  Todd went on to play shows and record a couple albums with them. This led to him being in a couple other well known bands in the local scene in the mid-late 90's.  It inspired me to do the same. I played in a few bands in high school and eventually joined up with what became Fingertight which went on to sign a deal with Columbia records and tour the country.   

I'm not saying this time in my life or his encounter with some metal dudes trying to sell tickets for their show directly effected my career as a musician but it definitely opened a door to a new world and it's something I will never forget. To wrap it all up in a nice poetic tortilla, the highlight of my career was probably being in the lineup on the last touring version of Lollapalooza in 2003.   

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