KEVIN AND “BOOBY” TEAR THE ROOF OFF!

(From Chapter 5 of NO ONE CARES ABOUT CRAZY PEOPLE)

Kevin was in a frenzy for us to get to the airport parking garage when I picked him up for the last few days of winter break 2000. He was back home from a visit to his new Interlochen room-mate, who lived Jacksonville, Florida. Kevin had a surprise for me.

He dumped his guitar and backpack into the rear seat of the van, foraged in the backpack, then barreled into the front seat brandishing a CD in its jewel box, which he ripped open. I had hardly got the motor started when Kev shoved the disk into the car player and shouted, “I want you to hear this!”

I left the car in parking gear and we listened as the music started to play. Kevin turned up the volume and then peered intensely at me.

The songs were punk. But what punk! Six driving pieces of blazing force and disciplined musicianship—guitar, bass, drums and vocals. I had never been a fan of punk, but this was something else, something beyond. The songs surged forth, alternately seditious, playful, and charged with young-male defiance, typically toward a girl who’d thrown the young male over. “I won’t change myself for anyone,” the lyrics ran, and, “Why do we pretend that we were made for each other?” and “Why did you lie to get your way?” (When Pedant Father suggested a few days later that she had lied to get her way to get her way, Kevin shot Pedant Father a sidelong you-are-so-out-of-it look, and Pedant Father kept himself out of advice-giving after that.) The lyrics contained the requisite quotient of alienated-youth trashmouth; yet the songs were not dark at all. The words seemed to be present mainly to provide a superstructure on which to mold the magnificent music.

The longest and best of the six pieces was a fireworks display titled “Epistemological Commentary.” Kevin took his longest solo in that one, and it was out of this world: an intricate display of fast scale-running, up and down and up and down again; but shaped into an exhilarating musical idea. Kevin shifted chords upward near the end, and his guitar turned into a calliope, tootling away in some celestial circus of joy everlasting.

I didn’t say anything when it was over and the disk slid out of its slot. I didn’t want to trivialize what I’d just heard with some inane boilerplate comment. I think that I ended up just shaking my head, and putting my hand on my son’s shoulder. The only sound was of the van’s engine humming in the chilly parking lot.

Kevin had his lopsided grin working. He nodded. He understood.

At 16, he had just lived out a kid’s fantasy of a professional band’s studio session. In Jacksonville (this had been planned) Kev and his roommate Peter Rogers, a gifted classical and rock bassist, had rented a recording studio and a control board, which they worked themselves. They invited a third musician, a young, dynamic drummer named Scott Shad. Scott was a member of Inspection Twelve, a Jacksonville band on the cusp of its national debut with a CD titled “In Recovery.”

On New Year’s Eve, as Kevin told the story, the trio entered the soundproofed room, set the volume and tonal controls, and began playing. They recorded and re-recorded and edited throughout the night—a detail that richly flavored Kevin’s fantasy-come-true. By morning they had nailed it. They ran off several copies of the master, with the intention of sending them out to record companies. And they awarded themselves a suitably macho punk band name: Booby.

They sent their CD off to several places including an emerging musicians’ go-to website, garageband.com. It took the site about four months to begin posting the songs.

Subject: The rave reviews

Date: Sun, 06 May 2001 07:52:35 -0400

From: Ron Powers <ropo@sover.net>

To: Kevin Powers <hoist@hotmail.com>

Kev,

I assume you’ve been checking out the reviews of “Epistemological

Commentary” on garageband. They’re mostly over the top! I love the one

that says, “I’ve listened to a heap of songs on GB and this is the best

Punk song I have heard on the site thus far! This song rocks! That

guitar line is so damn cool I can barely stand it. . .” and on and on.

It must give you a tremendous rush to read this kind of praise. I also

notice that you’ve made the Qualifying Round and that your Punk ranking

is 100. I think you’re still on the way up, and next Wednesday should

give you a real boost from reviewers. Pass the word to Peter–you guys

are stupendous!

Love,

Dad

NOTE: “Epistemological Commentary” is the third track on the accompanying links. I will post the remaining three tracks later.

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