By Shaun Soho (Crash Midnight)
I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock from the 60s and 70s. Boston’s debut album was one of the first things I can remember listening to over and over. Trying to sing along with Brad Delp was an obsession of mine (especially having no formal vocal training at the time). I’d work for hours trying to figure out how to hit some of those crazy notes. That shit kept me busy for a while.
There’s certain stuff that does stick out. I remember hearing “Paradise City” for the first time when I was a kid, and Van Halen’s “Jump.” Those are the kind of songs that, looking back, you can have this real vivid memory of where you were and what you were doing when you first began listening to them.
I got into trouble all the time as a kid. I hated listening to adults, especially teachers and those kind of disciplinary figures. I just always wanted to be doing what I felt like or what interested me, and most of the time that wasn’t what was on their particular agendas. I ended up getting redirected into sports and playing the drums for a while; that kept my attention at the time. I always had so much energy that, if I wasn’t diverting it into something constructive, I’d end up raising hell or setting something on fire…which reminds me, I fucking loved Def Leppard’s Pyromania album back then.
I ended up falling out of playing drums when I got into high school. I was listening to the classic rock stations in Boston (WZLX and WROR) religiously, but not playing music myself. The thing about those classic rock stations (even the ones that play a decent variety) they all end up lapping themselves after a while playing the same songs over and over.
I had a brief fling with the 90s Alt/Grunge sound before really developing a distaste for it. As I started liking less and less of what was on the modern rock radio at the time, and tuning out of those stations, that got me back into those more classic rock stations. Since a lot of those classic rock bands weren’t making much new music (or their old stuff was just so much better) the only way to get more of the sound I really liked was to ditch radio and start digging deeper into the catalogs of those older bands. I remember pouring through everything that the Stones, Zeppelin and Aerosmith ever did. That sort of inclination or mentality to tear through everything I could find on bands I was into really set the stage for later on when I discovered classic punk rock.
So maybe a year or so out of high school, I picked up guitar, probably for the same reason that most guys do – to get a girl, or because they saw Ace Frehley firing fucking rockets out of his headstock or whatever. It was cool. I got a crash course in everything that happened in the punk scene from the 70s and 80s, glam metal, and then found myself sort of rediscovering some of those seminal bands for me, like Guns N’ Roses and early Van Halen.
I played around with the flash and vocal range of those 80s metal guys before getting bored with how contrived so many of those songs and hairdos were. Metal never really did it for me anyway. I always loved blues-based rock n’ roll and the more blues-based punk. It had this grit that a lot of the bloated 70s rock shit just didn’t have.
What got me into punk, I’d say, was mostly our bass player, Bo, putting it on everywhere we fucking went, but it also came from checking out the influences of some of the bands that were my biggest heroes, and seeing so many of those classic punk influences in their music. Like I said, when I was into a band, I’d dive in deep and find out all the guys that influenced them, see what everyone I could talk to was saying about them, or even just hear what their fans had to say about the state of music in general.
This was the early 2000s, the era of completely generic rock bands. I’m not going to name names, but you guys all know the sound that I’m talking about. It was like they were able to take all the worst stuff from previous decades and put it all together…the 80s lack of substance, the 90s sheer boredom, and the early 2000s lack of musical ability. Everyone I talked to hated modern rock radio, and everything I read from fans of the bands that I liked echoed that sentiment. That was the state music was in when we started Crash Midnight.
Bo was in the same boat as me. We were both fed up with disappointing bullshit. You just had band after band writing compromised garbage about absolutely nothing and everything all at the same time. It was like these songs were written by a committee of people in some goddamn board room saying…
“What’s the most generic, non-offensive, non-confrontational, phony crap we can put out, with only a loose dedication to even being here in the first place?”
We’d just had enough of bands coming out and not being anything close to what we wanted to hear, so finally, we were like, fuck it! If nobody else is going to make music we want to listen to then we’ll fucking do it ourselves!
That’s how this shit started. We were on a complete rip, ready to go take on anything we could find, and leave a scar on this bland thing that the rock music industry had become. We put up an ad for a guitarist, and that’s when this kid named Alex split from his hometown in Ohio and took off for the east coast. He arrived in Boston, 18 years old and without a clue about what he was walking into…
Stay tuned for chapter 2 of “My Rock and Roll Journey” – Alex Donaldson…A Cautionary Tale Of Misspent Youth