The Quest For Real Country Music

27. The New Weapon

September 29th 2016 8:58 pm

I was just coming into my own as a guitarist. Still with a main focus on writing I did what I could to incorporate an Angus Young lick in here and there but we were playing balls out rock and roll and the sound required more than my mediocre pentatonic runs. I was hesitant of giving Rennebohm the chance to play, my last memory of him was being passed out for a complete ten hour drive only to disappear into the night and never be in contact with again. It wasn’t the level of dedication my project demanded. But with the invite, Rennebohm was found in Calgary and made his way to the Medicine Hat bus depot to be picked up by Mitch and Myself. They sparked a jay together. Trav was initially my contact and friend but in the disconnect he chummed up with Mitch. We spent his first and second nights in town staying out. Mitch would spend his days fracking for Trican Well Services and reconsidering his musical future, unbeknownst to us, while I played rhythm guitar to Rennebohm formulating solos overtop. The work was being put in and Rennebohm slowly being incorporated into our sound. Mitch was elsewhere.

In talks to being granted our first Canadian tour supporting a chart-topping act, Mitch quit. No convincing otherwise. Done. Time to move on. I remember bawling my eyes out in Tyson’s bedroom/office. That prick, all this work. Agent options, dropped. Label options, dropped. Momentum, killed. Done. We worked away at salvaging its remains, I stayed true to Tyson, Derek, and Harris for as long as I could before admitting it was time to move on.

I called my long distance love, Savanna to tell her I was moving even further up the road to Calgary. Rennebohm had a lead on a drummer that turned out to be crazier than coon-shit. He rented us his basement suite and we lived on scraps. We’d take macaroni from Rennebohm’s parents house, still in a gray area of whether or not he was welcomed, and mix it was mushroom soup. We worked for a Temp agency picking up odd construction jobs and living off of what wasn’t spent on beer. I never bought weed and Rennebohm enjoyed sharing. Or, he never complained about it. We auditioned a bassist and entered a Medicine Hat college battle of the bands. Our big return. A handful of new originals, we bombed it. No congruency and unrehearsed. Tyson and Harris came for support but Derek and Mitch didn’t show. Poor losing bittered the drummer, he was also in the beginning stages of divorce. He kicked the three of us out of my band and closed the door to our basement suite accommodations.

I maintained a good relationship with Tyson. He would touch base every now and again about ‘getting us all back together’, ‘talking to Mitch’, ‘working with Derek’. We had a special connection through the years and complimenting styles. His harmonies were strong and he was a stable character. My relationship with Mitch weakened as the one with Rennebohm grew. We were out of a band and a place to live. I spent my last thirty dollars  on fuel to move back to Medicine Hat, everything I owned packed into my yellow Mustang. Calgary bassist, Dan Rose, was originally from The Hat but taking post secondary education in Calgary. I had a way of convincing my peers to quit school and join my musical journey. He put his psychology degree on hold and moved back in with his parents.

The New Weapon. Named after a nickname Rennebohm and I created for a 7%, dollar-a-can beer made by Bow Valley Brewing Company and a staple in our diets. We started from scratch. It was liberating. Being in the same room with the best of both worlds. My chemistry with two brothers I played with for years and the newfound dedication of Dan Rose. We met every night in the dingy basement of Café Caprice – a bistro/sushi shop, given the full-reigns of the place. Free beers and meals. We came from the basement with a new identity. It was hard and it honoured metal sensibilities. My voice was stronger than ever and characterizing into a guttural harshness. Tyson was smooth with the back-ups and rhythm, Dan locked in and complimented Derek’s beating. We gained back management. As much as I was at the bottom again, it felt like the rise would be quick.

The writing process was group based. Every element was a defining importance so it became virtually impossible for me to create a completed work on the acoustic and bring it to the table. My songwriting was becoming influenced by old Nirvana and Kristofferson. The muse needed to be honoured and I began throwing around the idea of a simple acoustic album. Something to separate my creative ego from The New Weapon’s writing process. I borrowed two-thousand dollars from Savanna, her having stayed true to me for four years at this point. I booked a week in studio.

It was a transitional period. I was still drinking a lot but moved away from marijuana usage. Sexually pent up and being paid attention to by a girl that worked at a print shop in Medicine Hat, Rachel. She supported The New Weapon movement, showing up at shows, printing tickets and posters for free. I was receiving phone calls from Savanna’s aunt asking how much longer I was going to do this music thing – in hindsight, she knew something and was looking out for me but they weren’t her feelings to express. I was crazy in love with Savanna but being worn down by Rachel. I’d shoot her straight that nothing could happen but would still manipulate her attention. I needed her affection but couldn’t give anything in return and she was quickly seeing the game I was playing. We’d meet at Ralph’s Country Bar and Steakhouse and dance every song until 2 am. She’d invite me in for tea to sober up after I’d drive her home half in the bag and fall asleep on the couch. It just couldn’t continue. We agreed to move forward in a platonic manner.

She sang. Nothing that was pursued but something that was there. My solo recording date was nearing, using The New Weapon minus Derek as the backing band, there was room for a female vocalist and lead guitarist. I knew damn well the tension it would create but sadistically invited Rachel to perform on my record. I knew damn well the tension it would create but called on Rennebohm. We drove from Medicine Hat to Regina, I was slowly falling in love with another woman. The recording process was rushed, semi-written songs and underproduced. Self gratifying initiative. I pressed a thousand copies.

It continued. Rachel and I found ways to spend time together, loopholes in ‘not cheating’ but allowing an attraction to grow. I told myself whatever I needed to hear. The New Weapon was still victim to my lead guitar and the idea of having Rennebohm make us a five piece was discussed. I could focus on being a front man and he could take care of the flash. Having just recorded on my solo record he once again accepted the invite into another denomination of my musical endeavour. I asked Rachel if he could rent out her extra room, this way going over to her house was to visit Trav, not her. Rennebohm again, took the bus to Medicine Hat. I picked him up and we sparked a jay.

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Our sound evolved. Rennebohm wanted to focus completely on originals. I wanted to build our account to be able to do so. I continued to book nightclubs where a setlist would require songs to keep a crowd moving. Our original sound did this but couldn’t fill a three hour slot. We’d fill the space with everything from Steve Miller to Velvet Revolver. It wasn’t fun and Rennebohm was of a different vision. This was the beginning of another blow-out. Creative direction. That bled into the performances, I’d turn his amp down in the middle of a solo, he’d threaten to kick my ass if I ever tried such a thing again. I’d try such a thing again. We’d go toe to toe in parking lots. We’d hurt each other something fierce but we’d keep plugging away like an ending marriage.

I received my first outside cut from Canadian Idol contestant, Tyler Lewis, rerecording my track “Jesus Christ and Johnny Cash”. It brought in a little money but nothing to relieve the hardships.

I was the most financially unstable I’ve ever been. Laying it all on the line broke me. I was fighting with band members due to the stresses and juggling three hearts. Missing my long distance relationship and toying with another’s emotions. I sold under one hundred copies of my debut solo album. I sat on my living room floor with my life in shambles. Broke and alone. Album boxes lining the walls. Nobody to blame but myself.

I got up and walked over to the unopened boxes. I grabbed five albums and went outside.

Down my walkway to the sidewalk and up to my neighbours door. I had yet to have met them but we’d said a hello once or twice. I knocked.

They answered assuming I needed something. I assumed they did.

I introduced myself and let them know why my new record should be a part of their collection.