Musings of a Lead Guitarist (part four)
February 26, 2003
Sometime around the Valentine’s day, Bad Press played a frat party with a really wild band called the BURNING COUCHES. These guys were really funny, kind of a Red Hot Chili Peppers band before the Peppers were that big. They got their name from the celebratory excercise that students would do at the end of each school semester, which was to set their couches on fire. Silly, isn’t it? We became good friends with these guys and played a bunch of shows with them through out the year. The nicest looking women would come to their shows, mainly due to front man, Tim Carr, who was a chick-magnet.
Since we were spending more and more time playing and hanging around Santa Barbara, Beach let us stay with him or one of his girlfriends or one of his pals. He lived right off campus on Sabado Tarde street in an apartment complex called the EL CID. There was always a fresh keg in full effect at the EL CID. Beach’s girlfriend at the time, Lauren, lived across the street and she was super cool. She was like one of the guys, so much in fact, that we joked that she probably had “a pair.” She also had a bunch of female roommates and a bunch of us were always hanging out, listening to Elvis Costello’s Blood and Chocolate and eating burritos. Beach would set up drums and amps at the drop of a hat and we would play a show with his band, Free Beer. One time, we were playing a show and (this story was relayed to me, by the way) appearently, a couple of guys were walking down the street when a convertible car with 4 gorgeous women pulled up to them and asked if they wanted to party with them that night, do some “shots” and “you know, whatever…” The girls giggled and one of the guys said they were totally up for it. Then his friend said,” Wait…sorry, we can’t make it; Bad Press are playing the El Cid tonight.” Such was the life in Santa Barbara back then.
Beach also had the funniest, but strangest friends. They also had really odd names like “Friuty”, “Spaz”, “Puck”, “Squid”, “Psycho” and “Dan-O.” I never learned any of their real names but i really didn’t matter much because they were always pretty much drunk whenever i saw them. An old friend of ours from L.A., Ted Colton, would drive us up with our gear sometimes and the last time we just told him to dump us off at beaches. And by the time march rolled around, it was all rock and roll, beer, Mexican food and the beach. I would often think to myself that this couldn’t be right, that people were starving in the world, nations were at war for decades and here i was, kicking it on some girl’s beach desk, basking in the sun, Corona in hand and not a worry in the world.
After one of our shows, this really nice woman came up to me. She had very long blonde hair, huge breasts and seemed wound kind of tight. She got right to the point,”I want your bass player. What’s his name. I want him.” I started laughing, because girls were drawn to Chris like Bears were drawn to honey. But she seemed so determined that i felt compelled to introduce her to him. Chris was loading his amp off the stage when we walked about 10ft. from him and stopped. “O.K., it’s on you now…there he is.” She walked over to him and, before she could utter one word from her mouth Chris said,” Hi, Little Red Riding-hood, I’m the big bad wolf; you mind if i walk you to Grandma’s house?” Of course, we didn’t see Chris for the rest of the night…
Although their fling didn’t last too long, the woman in question, Kris, would go on to be a close friend of mine for years to come. We both shared a real love for E. Costello’s music but she was a fanatic! (when i met Mr. Costello, three years later, i couldn’t help but think of my friend) Kris got me into all kinds of music, particularly, Billy Bragg. I had never heard of him but she convinced me to buy a ticket and so we went to see him and Michelle Shocked at the Wiltern Theater (in Los Angeles) and it was a pretty amazing show. I remember a woman from the audience shout to Billy, “Nice Butt!”, to which Billy answered, “Nice, but what?”, but, you know, in that REALLY unbelievably thick Cockney accent (Who says the Socialist don’t a a sense of humor?)
Around the summer of ’88, we picked up a roadie named Allen Armejo, who was as crazy as they come. This guy would still a party’s keg when our party ran out of beer; he would switch the kegs when people weren’t looking! But he was a great guy, just very wild and was drunk ALL THE TIME. You’ve heard of drinking and driving? Well, Allen use to do that except, his version of it actually included the drink in his hand WHILE HE DROVE! (more on this in a moment) So, we were making a lot of new friends and two in particular, Jamie and Mary, were a couple of cool music fans from Petaluma, California. Petaluma was famous MESA Boogie guitar amps, if you didn’t know. It was a northern Cal sea-town south of San Francisco. Jamie and Mary were going to school and also managed the local pizza parlor, which they were quite liberal in sliding us free slices, which we welcomed with open arms (and mouths.)
So, one night after a show, Allen and i decided to drive to the local liquor store and get some more beer. As we pulled out of the drive way to turn the corner, i noticed that this knucklehead was drinking a bottle of MGD WHILE HE’S STEERING. Before i could even tell him to put it away we passed a cop, but the cop was on bicycle so Allen figured he was in the clear and sped off. Bad idea. The cop radioed nearby patrol cars, which were JUST AROUND THE CORNER and the next thing we knew, we were being chased by 2 then 4 then 6 police cars. I begged Allen to stop the car. He said, “Dude, i can outrun smokey.” I cringed and sunk deeper into the seat. We finally turned into a dead end and, with nowhere to go, Allen turned the engine off. We were immediately surrounded by about 30 cops with rifles drawn and aiming right at us. I figured this was it, this was the way i was going to die; with a fool like Allen, getting shot by cops. But we had some strange luck on our side that night.
The first thing the cops made us do was to get out of the car, put our hands high in the sky and walk backwards while counting to twenty-five. These cops had a sense of humor, i thought to myself. We were frisked and then taken to the University station, which was only 3 blocks away. I was very cooperative except i lied when they asked if i knew Allen, because he was spewing expletives at the cops, non-stop. He wouldn’t shut up. I told the Sargent that Allen worked for our band but we didn’t know him that well. The cop believed me, as i was so scared i was shaking. Allen, on the other hand, called the cops a “bunch of pussies” and “total fags” and every stupid thing you would never want to say to a cop when you’re in their custody. And as much as Allen baited them, they actually let us go and gave us $100 tickets for drinking in public. They didn’t even give Allen a “Driving Under the Influence” (DUI) ticket, which would have cost him over $1,000. They let me go first. I RAN out of that place and didn’t stop until i saw Rusty and Garfield at the Pizza place, with Jamie and Mary. They told me everyone got worried when Allen and i didn’t come back from the store. I hadn’t realized it but 3 hours had passed and it was now 1am. They asked me what happened. I tried to tell them the whole story but they were laughing too hard for me to even finish it.