Shadow On The Sun

Very little is blog-worthy these days but this one’s a gotta be said.

Early this morning, shortly before waking up, I had a fabulous dream. Myself, Dave Abbott and Paul Reynen were absolutely burning through some blues jams as part of a warm-up/soundcheck. I have no idea what were playing or where the show was taking place. Doesn’t matter. The feeling was there, the jams were the best ever and smiles all around. In the dream, Paul may or may not have been wearing his Soundgarden t-shirt he wore to several gigs in the last few months of his life. I remember specifically that I was playing in a style reminiscent of Mitch Mitchell just thrashing away through fills and having a grand old time for a bit before settling into the unmistakable deep pocket of a medium tempo, good-feelin’ blues tune in whatever key. Like all good jams, nothing was said, someone had simply played the first note and that was all it took to state to the others what was about to happen.

I then kind of woke up and was feeling pretty good – something that rarely happens in the morning. There I was, laying in bed, woke up before the alarm went off, slowly gathering the thoughts in my mind….  I was sure that it was Friday, traffic would be light, the cafeteria at work would have some excellent chow, seven straight months of rain and cold temps were finally over, and maybe I’d get lucky and the weeds would stop growing like, well, weeds. Yes sir, it was as good a day as I could hope for.

Then Adrienne walks in the bedroom and asks if I am awake. That is never a good thing. She either needs me to button or zip some article of clothing or there is horrific news to be shared. It was the latter. She tells me Chris Cornell has died.

Let that sink in for a beat.

Another beat.

Yet another beat.

Trying to process this information is fucking with me.

So I lay in bed a while longer. Then get up and get ready for work; Adrienne says she’s sorry she had to be the one to tell me. I said it’s ok. It’s not like she killed him and it’s sure as fuck a better way to get awful news than to see some Facebook post from an imbecile who just wants to be first to spread bad news.

Driving to work I realize one of my favorite singers of all time has died. I also realize traffic is the same as usual. And the clincher? Today isn’t Friday – it’s Thursday. I’m sure the cafeteria will be serving Chef’s Surprise.

 

I have many found memories of Soundgarden, Audioslave and Chris Cornell.

Back in the day, if a song wasn’t on the radio we only heard about it through word of mouth – and none of the kids I was actively hanging around with was into Soundgarden when they first came out and Soundgarden wasn’t radio friendly. My first awareness of the band was in P.E. class in high school; one of the other guys was wearing a shirt that said LOUDER THAN FUCK. I didn’t care for that particular guy so naturally I made no attempt to follow up on his musical tastes.

Fast forward a bit and I am borrowing my brother’s pick up truck to drive to work or school or do some errand. Now, my brother’s truck was basically a rolling boom box. He put every penny of his hard-earned paycheck into speakers, amps, wires, whatever, to make the absolute best sounding stereo on the block. Hell, even before he could really drive he was up to his shoulders in car audio gear.

Anyway, I am driving the truck and the CD in the player is “Badmotorfinger”. I’m cruising around in Cupertino and I remember distinctly being at the intersection of De Anza Blvd. and Bollinger at night and “Rusty Cage” is playing. I am floored. What the fuck is this and where has it been all my life? Thank god I am in the rolling boom box for my first taste because I turn that mother fucker up LOUDER THAN FUCK!

Holy Jesus what just happened? Seriously. This is the best goddamned thing since sliced bread. I drive a bit further and consider listening to that song again, that life-changing piece of audible art one more time when – fuck me – “Outshined” kicks in. You mean this band isn’t a one-hit wonder????!!!!! These mother fuckers deliver the goods on two tracks in a row?!?!?!?! OMG. Thank god for the rolling boom box.

Badmotorfinger had me hooked. Soundgarden is the shit. They entered the coveted space that is the short list of bands that my young brain found acceptable. Right next to the heavies like Rush, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin….. Soundgarden. Go figure.

Roll forward a few years and I am playing more and more cover band gigs. “Fell On Black Days” and “Black Hole Sun” are in the set list. “Spoonman” is another tune I play once in a while. I remember hearing other cover bands do “Outshined” and “Hunger Strike” around this time. Incredible. I’ve always wanted to play more Soundgarden in cover bands but frankly their songs are just too damn difficult for most of the singers I know to cover well. Chris Cornell is a beast of a vocalist.

Shortly after ‘Down On The Upside’ came out, I was driving home from mom’s house in San Jose to my apartment in Sunnyvale when I heard  “Rhinosaur” on the radio and made a snap decision to stop at a record store on El Camino and buy the CD. This was a big fucking deal considering I was broke at the time. Stopping on a whim to make an impulse purchase of a CD was a huge deal. But I did it and do not regret making that stop. And years later when a great CD cleanse takes place, this CD makes the cut and is one of the few out of hundreds of CDs I owned that I actually kept a physical copy of for a rainy day. (Don’t fret – all the rest were ripped to iTunes; only a few discs with sentimental value were kept).

Remember music videos? Soundgarden had some great ones. I remember watching VH1 hoping to catch one of their tunes. I could very easily fall down a rabbit hole of good old days memories here…..

Roll forward a few more years, I am living in Wisconsin and fuck me if Audioslave doesn’t come on the scene. This band hit me like a ton of bricks. The songs, the sounds, the production values, the heavy riffs. “Cochise” was a goddamned monster and “Show Me How to Live” is one of my all time favorite tracks period. Seriously. This shit was incredible. The video for “Show Me….” is bad ass. The riff. The vocals. Oh those vocals. Incredible. The drums. The recording production. Top notch. I cannot even express how important this band was to me at that time. I had first heard about the possible melding of Chris Cornell and Rage Against The Machine while doing a cover gig in Palo Alto. I think Keith and Mark had mentioned it. Those details are fuzzy but end result was a super group that tickled me just right.

I was in a cover band in Wisconsin named The Creeps; luckily for me this band played hard rock and metal covers so getting “Cochise” and “Show Me How To Live” on the set list weren’t too difficult to do. The vocals could be extremely challenging but Marty Rock came through delivering a fantastic rendition of Cornell’s performance and any time we played those covers I was grinning on the inside like a kid who just won a lifetime supply of Legos. And Marty did those great Cornell vocals inside bars that were so thick with smoke one could barely breathe much less sing…. I was so stoked to have that song on the band’s play list…. Thanks for doing that one, guys.

“Show Me….” was an anthem I quietly used for myself for a long time. I can still put that track on anytime and get pumped. I can put it on loop and drive from Canada to Mexico. Such a mother fucker of a song. And you know what? It doesn’t necessarily affect anyone else that way. That’s the beauty of music; it is highly personal for all of us for different reasons. I was just thinking I wish I could remember the first time I heard this track but I can’t. No loss. It’s here and it’s part of my story.

Remember when The Simpsons used an Audioslave track during a scene with guest star Matt Dillon? I do. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1112081/?ref_=_6

I fucked up. I never saw Soundgarden, Audioslave, or Chris Cornell live. I have excuses; they all suck, but are valid to me. This is another learning experience I need to take to heart.

How about Audioslave’s “Live in Cuba” video? Fuck me. That shit is awesome. I can remember watching that late at night, cranking it through the speakers connected to my home audio/video system – LOUDER THAN FUCK. Unbelievable.

At some point I was in New Jersey for a business trip and the Audioslave track “Doesn’t Remind Me” was on the radio. I sat in a rental car in a parking lot listening to that track. The weather was ferocious; 95 degrees and matching humidity. Reminded me of another Audioslave track “Jewel Of Summertime”. I didn’t want to be there but the fellows in Audioslave were keeping me company and I felt better.

Roll forward a few more years and Chris Cornell’s solo stuff enters my conciousness. Damn. This guy is so talented. For whatever reason, the song “Can’t Change Me” is in heavy rotation on my iPhone and iPod. I think this is because it’s one of the few tunes I was able to ‘borrow’ from Limewire and was one of a few tunes that I transferred to a new iPhone…. And listened to over and over and over and over. Man, what a voice.

Speaking of iPhones, as soon as the ability to make customized ringtones came about guess what the first ringtone I made was? “Rusty Cage” became the ringtone for my brother, Dan, in homage to his turning me on to what would become one of my favorite bands.

At some point I bought the ‘Songbook’ album as a gift for Adrienne. Chris Cornell and an acoustic guitar. Done and done. Awesome shit. That cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You”? Pure gold.

I remember talking about Soundgarden at great length with my friend Paul. He could be critical but honest and he liked Soundgarden -they passed his test of what constitutes as cool and that gives them even greater weight in my mind.

It’s amazing to look back and see what an impression and effect a person I’ve never met has had on me. What I’ve noted above are but a small sampling of the ways that Chris Cornell and I are tied together through the common language of music. My life is better thanks to Chris Cornell and the talented folks he worked with.

I’d like to thank you, Chris Cornell, for showing me how to live louder than fuck.

https://youtu.be/vVXIK1xCRpY

 

 

Comfortably Numb

Click any picture anywhere on this page to see it full size….

IMG_7184

Not sure where to start with this one.

Have you ever looked at my Facebook profile – specifically the “About” portion that lists my workplaces?

Dave Abbott Band
I sit on stage between Paul and Dave.

This is what I have had listed as my workplace for several years.

This is what I have had listed as my “workplace” for several years.

A certain bond is formed among musicians who truly connect on a musical level. It’s incredibly rare (at least in my experience) to truly feel at peace playing with a musician who I know and trust will always be there. I felt that musical kinship with my good friends, Paul Reynen and Dave Abbott.

DAB

L-R: Dave Abbott, Andy King, Paul Reynen

Paul left this world over the weekend and the loss is slowly starting to sink in for me. If you understand the importance of the bass in a rock band, particularly a power trio, then you might have an inkling of my state of mind. And if you understand what it is like to play with a really, really talented bassist you know how epically bummed out I am right now.

Paul at Mt View Gig

Paul at Mt View Gig

Being a drummer, I always have a built in relationship with the bassist – whether I like the person or not because drums and bass go hand in hand. When the two lock in together both musically and personally, it’s like peanut butter and chocolate.

Dave doing whatever the fuck he wants while Andy and Paul hold it together.

Dave doing whatever the fuck he wants while Andy and Paul hold it together.

Over the past 25 years or so, Paul and I fell into our respective roles as a musical peanut butter cup: me – the peanut butter; Paul – the chocolate providing the solid outside shell that held the whole thing together. Even if we were pissed off at each other, the music was always consistent – all because the shell was holding it all together. Dave could solo all night and Paul would be right there, I-IV-V ad infinitum, unwavering.

Dave Solo

Dave Solo

As a musician I learned a lot from Paul over the years. The number one thing was that life isn’t a drum solo. The second thing was everything can be played slower than I ever imagined. If I’d speed up or play too many fills and get a nasty look from Paul. This happened quite often when I was first started playing with Paul. Over the years the nasty looks diminished as I matured as a musician – on some occasions I’d even get praise from Paul! Holy smokes! Wow! I had the opportunity to share with Paul that I felt some other bands I played with in the past played everything to fast and I had to ask them to slow down to which he said he simply laughed and said “So you’re the ‘Paul’ of the other bands! Ha!” He was proud to have trained me well in all things slow!

Andy and Paul w/DAB

Andy and Paul w/DAB

Paul had a rocky life with lots of ups and downs both personally and professionally. He was a cancer survivor among other things. He had a few challenging relationships. His job was a source of stress.

P1050830

He was emotionally disconnected from it all.

dab4

Being disconnected was not a good thing for his mental health or for the mental health of those around him, but it allowed his musical performances to be rock solid and consistent. Whether he was angry or falling over laughing, the parts he played were always spot on.

Paul - Goofy

Paul – he loved to mainline Red Bull

Regardless of anything else going on around him, he was good at serving the music and making others sound good (just ask Dave!). Which is amazing considering (I have to be honest for a moment here) he was one of the most selfish people I’ve ever met.

Not even giving the courtesy of a reach around...

Not even giving the courtesy of a reach around…

Luckily for me I learned about his selfishness on our very first gig together. I had arrived at the gig early and Paul showed up a few minutes after me. Coming from a good upbringing and a solid background of healthy relationships with musicians up to that point (I was 19, by the way), I helped him unload his bass rig from his truck and help him get all is gear  inside. I then went out to my truck to get my drums and bring them in and naively asked Paul if he would help me as I had helped him. His response was something to the effect of “No can do. I’m already a jaded musician who knows better than to help others.” And thus began one of the weirdest relationships I’ve ever had with another human being. I genuinely liked this guy, but I wouldn’t be helping him with moving gear ever again. Ever. It’s a damn good thing he could play the bass so fucking well.

Paul at Mt View Gig

Paul at Mt View Gig

His selfishness ruined what could have been a huge win for him. I’m the guy in the band that always has a running truck, I’ve got a trailer, I have loaded and unloaded gear for pretty much every other musician I have worked with. I’ve let people store gear in my trailer, home and garage. I’ve cleaned up after musicians too drunk to remember to grab their guitar at the end of the night. Paul’s gear never had to ride home in the rain in his open bed truck if he had just acquiesced and been even the tiniest bit a team player off the stage.

Look carefully and you'll see Paul "helping" Dave set up the PA for a gig… (I kid, I kid)

Look carefully and you’ll see Paul “helping” Dave set up the PA for a gig…

But he served the music so goddamn well despite himself. He had the chops and personality to be a lead bassist and he certainly had the gear to overpower anyone else on the stage if he chose to – and yet he didn’t. There was something about music that got through his selfish barrier. He got “it”. He was the guy I wanted to be on stage with. He was the guy who never played a wrong note. He was the guy who had the ability to play so slooooooooow it hurt followed by a string of speedy riffs that would boggle the mind. He played it all extremely well and he only played what was needed, when it was needed. Incredible.

DAB - Paul and Dave up front

DAB – Paul and Dave up front

In the end, Paul, Dave and I had played so many gigs together we could start and stop on a dime, hear a single note and know what song Dave wanted to play next, give a nod and know instinctively to go to the bridge, or with a look in the middle of a guitar solo know that we will be dropping from a rocking straight ahead steam roller blaring away at fortissimo into an extra-lazy half-time-feel reggae pianissimo jaunt.

Dave, Andy, Paul

Dave, Andy, Paul

That kind of non-verbal communication is where Paul and I did our best bonding, where we had some of the closest moments of friendship. While I treasure those moments, I really wish we had had better deeper personal conversations so that I could really get to know my friend as well as he deserved to be known….

Mind meld in progress….

Mind meld in progress….

I am finding it really difficult to say goodbye to 20+ years of winks, nods, inside jokes, shared adventures, and camaraderie. Some of the absolute best laughs I have had in my life were a direct result of Paul. That guy’s sense of humor was appropriately congruent with mine as to make time spent together absolutely worth it – with the music being the icing on the cake.

This was in 2014; could have as easily been 1994. I was really hoping it would be us in 2034.

This was in 2014. Could have as easily been 1994; I was really hoping it would be us in 2034.

I really thought that the three of us would be playing the same old songs together for another 20 years. I wanted that. I was able to clearly envision it. “Stranglehold”. “War Pigs”. “La Grange”. “Too Rollin Stoned.” The music was a constant in my life. We’d get together for a few hours every few weeks and entertain some people in a bar. Easy as that. We never rehearsed – we just played gigs. For me, that is the perfect band. The selfish part of me wanted these musical moments to happen forever. I am blessed with the opportunity to play with many talented musicians but Paul on bass and Dave on guitar was my dream team. I used to turn down gigs Dave offered if Paul couldn’t make it. Paul was that important to me.

Goodnight

Goodnight

I am presenting a single side of a multifaceted person. I don’t scratch the surface here but I did want to say a few words out of respect for the person I knew for 20+ years. Obviously there is a lot more to say, some of it falttering to Paul, some of it not so much but, at least for me, the good far outweighed the bad and that is what I will spend my time reminiscing about.

Miss ya, dude.

This is a scene I will never have the pleasure of seeing ever again…..

This is a scene I will never have the pleasure of seeing again…..

 

Here’s a few pics – click any picture anywhere on this page to see it full size….