My Awkward Assocation with Punk Rock Part 3

I ostensibly moved to Atlanta because the drummer in my last band had moved there a year early.  He, however, had a job at CNN lined up, whereas I had nothing at all.

Not long after I moved, one of the bands from my hometown came to Atlanta to play a show.  I went to said show and got to see a few people I went to high school with that I'd now known for nearly a decade.  The band, Party of Helicopters, was pretty well known in the "scene," if you will, so their show was a big deal.  It was at this show that I met the king of the scene.

I don't know if such creatures exist anymore, now that we have the internet.  I mean, we had it then, too, but most people I knew were still on dial-up, so it wasn't exactly the go to way of staying in touch or getting music.  I honestly don't remember what the king of the scene in Atlanta's name was.  For some reason, I want to say Matt.

Anyway, we met at that one show and he was nice enough and since I was new in town, it was cool to have someone to talk to that was into the same things as me (or, in this case, one thing that I was into).

Not long after that, another band from my hometown came to Atlanta to play.  This was a little bit different because I was no only friends with these guys from high school, they were also some of my best friends.  They came to my place before the show, we all hung out after the show, they stayed at my place while they were in town.

There van ended up breaking down when they tried to leave, so they stayed a few days longer while it was getting fixed.  The king of the scene even managed to set them up with another show.  I think the Party of Helicopters was there again for that show, so afterwards it was this fairly big group of "indie" people hanging out.  At this point, the king of the scene seemed to assume that, since I knew all these bands from my hometown and I liked a lot of the same music, I was going to be a part of the "scene."

I distinctly remember having a conversation with the king about some upcoming event.  Honestly, I remember it as being a phone conversation about an event that was either that night or the next.  I told him I was going to miss said event and I don't believe I had a reason for missing aside from the fact that I just really didn't care.

He told me that it was the type of thing that I "had" to go to.  I remember him saying that much.  I don't remember how direct he was, but at the very least the implication was that if I wanted to be a member of the "scene," then I had to go to "scene" based events.

Needless to say, that was my last experience in the "scene."

There's something to be said for the timing of that.  It happened the summer of 2000, and I was spending

more and more time online.  It was the heyday of Napster.  I didn't need to go to shows to discover music.  Hell, I didn't need to know anyone to discover music.

Two years later, I moved to Los Angeles.  The first few years were difficult for me with regards to music.  I met a lot of people and made some great friends, but none of them listened to the same things that I did.  I began going to shows by myself, which ultimately wasn't nearly as pathetic as I thought it would be.

During those years, my tastes began to change, aligning with where I'm at now.  I still listen to the recorded in a basement, angst and anger punk rock, but it's not my go to music.  It's music of a mood.  It's no longer my every day music.

These days, my music has softened.  I'm indie rock.  That's probably the best way to put it, as much as that might pain me.  I listen to earnest rock music by bands that don't have mainstream success.  The songs are more accessible, but still challenging, probably more so, even.  I listen to more singing than yelling, although I still enjoy some quality yelling.

Slowly but surely, I met people who were into at least some of the same bands I listened to.  Nicole quickly came on board with a lot of my music.  We started going to shows.  We started going to shows with friends.  The Troubadour was the greatest place on earth.

Even this started to tapper off after a while.  I got old.  A show that went until 1 AM on a week day was exhausting.  My feet hurt from standing.  I wasn't the angry young man I was two decades ago.  And I'm fine with that.

These days, I listen to Pandora and Soma FM to hear new music.  My friends on Facebook talk about their favorite new bands.  I share with Nicole the bands I think she'll like and keep the others to myself.  Every once in a while, if it's a band we both really like a lot, we'll make the drive into the city to see them.  We'll stay up late.

I'm not punk rock.  I don't know that I ever was.  But I had fun dabbling.  I had fun dabbling and it got me to where I am now.

It was worth it.

My Awkward Association with Punk Rock Part 1

Like most kids, I grew up listening to Top 40.  I listened to Casey Kasem's (and later, Rick Dees') countdown show every Sunday, if I could.  My parents listened to a lot of ABBA and Neil Diamond, so that was always in the peripheral.  That was pretty much how it was through the 5th grade, aside from one blip: some small time college band called R.E.M.

My brother introduced me to R.E.M. for one reason and one reason only: they had a song about Superman.  It would be years before I even realized the song was a cover.

For some reason, once I reached middle school, I started borrowing tapes from my brother (yes, tapes).  There was more R.E.M., of course.  The B-52s.  Depeche Mode.  The Sundays.  They Might Be Giants.  Nine Inch Nails.  Jane's Addiction.  Mostly "progressive" music that would either become or lead to "alternative" music.

I remember my friends at the time thought everything I listened to was weird.

I entered high school in the fall of 1990.  That first year I mostly continued listening to my weird progressive music.  I was an angsty kid, and at the time it was as close to angsty as I could find (aside from metal, but I didn't know any metal kids, so it was a complete mystery to me.  My metal phase would come much later).

In the fall of '92, things changed.  I was still angsty, and suddenly there was music for exactly that emotion: grunge.  For about two years, it was the majority of what I listened to.  I know it sounds stupid, but it spoke to me.  It said the same things I was saying.

In the winter of '93, I joined a band.  We called ourselves oral groove (yes, lower case).  Our biggest influence was probably Ned's Atomic Dustbin, although I was clearly trying to be Eddie Vedder, at least for the first year.

Being in a band exposed me to more music (like the aforementioned Ned's).  Aside from the flavor of the day, we each liked different rock music, from metal to hair bands to hippie jam bands.  None of us really listened to anything that might have been called punk rock, not really, not then.  But we did seem to push each other to find new bands outside the growing alternative mainstream.  The Afghan Whigs and Quicksand were two notable finds.

Grunge was the first cultural phenomenon I got on board with early on, and the first one I watched expand like crazy and ultimately become co-opted.  I'm not saying I wasn't part of that, but it was strange to watch.  As grunge became alternative, it was watered down, and very quickly third and fourth generation bands were mimicking the same sound.

Alternative music also lacked the angst that grunge had.  It veered into hippie territory.  I was far too disgruntled for that.  I had to look elsewhere.

I can still remember sitting in my parents living room watching the video for "Unsung" on MTV.  Helmet were four dorky guys with short hair playing heavy music and I broke my cassette of their second album, "Meantime" I played it so much.  The last part of my senior year, Helmet had unseated many of the grunge bands.

And then I graduated.

Musically, I took Pearl Jam, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, R.E.M., Weezer, Helmet, and the Afghan Whigs with me.  Say what you want about Pearl Jam, but they were always the grunge band that got me.  I didn't have the refined pallet to appreciate Nirvana the way I do now.

I had a good mix going.  Weezer hadn't really taken off yet, but I bought their first album as soon as I heard "Undone."  The Afghan Whigs was a band that my friends and I absolutely loved, and that no one else we knew seemed to care about.  It was the same way with Ned's, although they were more of a pure alternative band.

Two bands happened to me the fall of my freshman year of college that completely changed the way that I thought about music.  Those bands were Jawbox and Sunny Day Real Estate.

Oh, and I also started playing guitar.  Suddenly I was much more involved in creating music, and if mainstream music had turned me off before, it was even worse now.  The lack of integrity in mainstream music became very apparent when I started creating my own.

The final element of my musical awakening, if you will, came from a discovery that was, funny enough, facilitated by the internet.  Back then the internet was, for me, mostly about BBS forums and record label web sites; there were no such things as MP3s.  But internet gave me the information I needed for something very important: mail order records.

Armed with catalogs I'd printed out from web sites, addresses from the same, and a record player I'd had for at least a decade, I began my submersion into the world of underground music.

Abusing Nostalgia: Letter to a College Roommate

Oh, this is classic.

I don't know the date on this, but it would have been sometime during the summer of '94.  This is the letter I wrote to the guy who would be my roommate my freshman year.  It appears to be in response to a letter he sent me.

There are a few cringe worthy moments in here, but a lot of it is still true.

I only ended up living with this guy for the first semester; he transferred to another dorm after that.  He said the dorm we lived in was too loud, which was so very true.  That dorm was insane.  My RA was nice enough to not write down that my roommate had left, so for the remainder of the year I had the room to myself.  It was pretty sweet.


Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you, but I’m kind of busy and sometimes I can be lazy. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

Anyway, I guess I’ll list off some things about me in the same way you did. Here goes:

My family consists of my mom, dad, and older brother, who is twenty-four and will be a middle school science teacher in the fall. My father’s name is David, he works at a place called Kevin Coleman. He gets jobs for the mentally and physically handicapped. My mom’s name is Sherry. She works at Tallmadge (a city two cities over from Kent) High School as a teacher for students with learning disabilities. Oh, yeah, my brother’s name is Chris.

As for myself, my full name is Kyle Gerrit Vanderneut. My middle name comes from a second cousin of mine who lives in Holland. That should give you a clue that I’m Dutch. I’ve never been to the Netherlands, but I really want to go eventually. At the moment, I’m debating over whether or not to bring my wooden shoes with me to college. Yes, I’m that into my heritage. Although the only person who could speak the language fluently, my dad’s aunt, died recently, so that kind of sets my interest back a bit.

I’ve played soccer since I was five and it’s one of the few things I’m very passionate about. The other is writing. Unfortunately, I want to go on to get my Master’s in English, which means I have to get really good grades, which means I don’t have time for soccer. Otherwise, I would have played. I played varsity for three years in high school. It’s a great game and the World Cup being held here drove me absolutely nuts with joy. Blasted Brazilians, knocked out the U.S. and the Netherlands!

Probably my third passion (soccer and writing being the first two) would be music. A friend of mine once told me that I get more out of music than anyone she knows. I’m currently in a band called Oral Groove. It’s a five man band with two guitars, a bass, drums, and me, the lead singer. Three of our members are underclassmen, so we’re breaking up with the end of the summer. I’m going to look for a band to join at Ashland. From what I was told at orientation, it shouldn’t be to hard to find one.

My five favorite bands, at the moment, are Pearl Jam, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, R.E.M., Weezer, and the Beastie Boys. Yes, the Beastie Boys can be considered rap, but they aren’t your usual kind of rap. They can’t be they’re the only rap band that I like.

I’m currently learning how to play guitar, but I don’t own one. I might have one by the time I leave, so maybe you could teach me? I played the sax for about two years, but I really don’t remember all that much.

In high school I had the soccer team in the fall, and the Drama Guild in the Winter and Spring. I was also on the school newspaper and the literary magazine. I’m in two international organizations Quill and Scroll and the Thespians.

I only watch three programs on TV - Batman the Animated Series, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and the X-Men. If you can’t tell, I’m into comic books. I’ve got somewhere around two thousand. It’s expensive, immature, and insane, but I like it.

Oh, yes, you and I are definitely having a James Bond marathon. Bond movies are awesome! I can’t wait for the new ones - Pearce Bronson is going to be perfect!

I’m going to bring a CD player and portable dual cassette tape recorder which is CD compatible. I’d bring my stereo, but it’s kind of big and the only thing it can do that my portable can’t is play records. I do own a few records, however, so if you have a great deal of them and want me to bring my stereo, that’s not a problem.

I could probably get a small fridge around here for a cheaper price than at Ashland. This is a college town, after all. So just tell me if you want me to get one, and we can split the price or whatever. Oh, and I think bunk beds are the way to go. If I tried to make a loft I’d end up nailing my hand to the bed.

Well, I’ve rambled on long enough. Write me back with a list of stuff that you’re going to take down and I’ll see what we need. If I don’t hear from you soon, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks!