By Marc Adam Kahn (Thirteen Reasons)
Music has always been a blessing and a curse for me. The not-so-lighthearted concept of duality is one that has always remained a constant throughout my life. It’s funny, the first memory of music that I have is my father singing in the car while we were taking road trips. He would blast the stereo (usually artists like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Little Feat or The Rolling Stones) and sing along the best he could. I remember being slightly enthralled, but also slightly embarrassed, because he didn’t care what passing vehicles noticed. He would blast the music and sing at the top of his lungs.
Music was introduced to me early (I was under the age of 5 when the road trips began). My father and I would even make up songs about people in cars. “Fluorescent Orange at a Red Light” was one about the lady applying nail polish next to us, not seeing the red light turn to green. Silly stuff like that.
My father was a huge blues and southern rock fan. He took me to concerts, festivals, and even bars from a very young age. I remember weekends with him were so awesome that I didn’t want to go back to my life with my mother.
My parents divorced when I was two, and my mother fucking hated my father, big time! She would trash him as soon as I got home, sometimes going off on tirades for hours, saying things like…“your father is such a good-time Charlie while he makes you think your mother is a big piece of shit huh?” Yeah thanks Mom, I’m six years old and I’m not your shrink!
So, when my father dropped me off after an amazing weekend at a festival or the shore, I went walking through a not-so-inviting door. I went from super elevated to sad little boy real fast. This went on for years, and got worse each year. She would even punish me so that I couldn’t see my dad.
There was also other stuff like constant sickness, unusual troubles (telling me my childhood friend’s older brother molested me), mental problems, etc…things kids didn’t actually have (surely there are exceptions) but I, the confused, quiet little boy had them because my mom thought so. We all figured this out too late, but hey, troubled beginnings, right? I think Eminem’s mom was a similar case.
Anyway, around 1989, my mother was married to this mob bookie when I was around seven years old. I remember this one night, she was extra jazzed and going through screaming fits. My father came to the door on his scheduled day to pick me up. Phone in hand and venting to her friend on the other line, she opens the door to my father. Note that she is considerably distraught and angry.
Door opens, my father says, “Full moon, Elise?” And SLAM!!! She swings the door in his face and says to me, “Your father is a fucking piece of shit loser,” etc etc. That night didn’t go so well. And yes, it was a full moon. I didn’t end up seeing my dad that night, but this is important for later on.
Fast forward a bit. I think that the first CD that I bought myself from Tower Records was Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue. It was probably around 1990. My dad had given me the money for doing chores or helping him fix stuff around the house. This was another adventure that my father and I used to embark upon…the record store.
I remember how much I loved these places. The magic of all the different artwork and what lies beneath the album covers. The music over the loud speaker, the checkout counter, and the (most certainly interesting) band dude or dudette at the checkout counter.
I loved hard rock n roll. I gravitated towards it. I loved singers and guitar players. My dad loved the blues and southern rock, and so did I. The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd were some of my favorites, but I was a hard rocker from an early age…
Metallica, Hendrix, GNR, Motley Crue. Soon after my initiation into rock, I remember getting into the ‘90s sound, big time! Nirvana, Soundgarden, REM and Green Day were some of my favorite bands at the time.
I started playing my dad’s white Mexican Strat and red Ibanez Ex Series. My uncle (Bruce) also was a big influence on my musical tastes. He gave me his guitar, and I started playing seriously. I loved that guitar. It was a 1980s black Guild flyer. He introduced me to Bowie, Frampton, and Prince…some of the more experimental sounds that had a big influence on my musical background.
Around the age of 12, I started to get into some of the darker elements…NIN, Marilyn Manson, Tool, and White Zombie.
The turmoil grew at home, and so did my anger and resentment of my parents. I absolutely escaped through metal, but also always had a very spiritual side. I fell in love with Meso American and Native American cultures, and loved astronomy. I remember loving bands like Sepultura and Sublime. Polar opposites, but they both tapped into a very raw form of cosmic energy that resonated with me. I could feel what Max and Igor Cavalera were tuning into when they hit that disruptive low A in “Roots.” Same with Bradley and “Garden Grove.” The end riff of that tune still plays in my head to this day.
There was surely a musical spirit that existed, and I was going to find it myself. If these notes could help me process and escape what I was feeling, that’s all that mattered to me. Elation and deflation. Rambunctious fury and somber longing.
I went through very marked periods of bi-polar situations in my early childhood through young adult life. Life to me was a rollercoaster that I was going to ride off its rails. I’d either crash and burn or take the rainbow up to Asgard. I did not have a single care in the world. The happy-go-lucky kid, whose spirit was constantly crushed by his lunatic mother, checked the fuck out!
Coming up in Chapter 2 of My Rock and Roll Journey…“Promethium X, CKY, Bad Seeds”