Thursday, May 23, 2013

JOE SMITH - Tape - 2001

   This is another band that I feel like I could write a book about: the internal dramas, the external dramas, the lasting friendships it created, the jail time, the utter depression, the failure, the success (however one defines success) and so much more. I won't go that far though.
   To begin, Joe Smith is a man from north Georgia who spent a lot of time sleeping on our couches, drinking a lot of beer and playing guitar every waking second of the day. When he wasn't playing in bands (like DRILLER KILLERS and THE SPADES), he was usually being misunderstood and berated by his friends. Unsurprisingly, he moved away from Chattanooga and settled in Gainesville, FL for a while. In his short time there, he started a band that shattered all of the preconceived notions of his friends back home as he delivered hook after hook-filled song. He called that band JOE SMITH and wasted no time recording their songs and setting up a tour. The cast was rounded out by Cinque on bass, Bill on drums and Ski on 2nd guitar (not on the recording though).
   The songs, I believe, were intended to be released by No Idea Records in some form, but like most bands with Chattanooga roots, many of the usual (and unusual) trials and tribulations kept the band from staying together long enough to see that through. The night before their first (and only) tour, Bill's back went out and he dropped off of the tour. Never ones to be discouraged, they moved Ski to drums and left town as scheduled. In Pensacola, FL, they ran into me and talked me into jumping in the van with them as their third (!!!) roadie. That night, they played an unforgettable generator show on a beach by the tracks along with THIS BIKE IS A PIPEBOMB and a then unknown 2-piece band called AGAINST ME. When TBIAPB said "This is a new song called 'Trains And Cops'", a freight train started whizzing down the tracks, as if on cue. The train passed by for the entirety of the song and as the last note of the guitar was fading out, the last car flew by. It was perfect. That night, Cinque and I walked around town, pushing each other in a wheelchair and came upon hundreds of beers in a dumpster. We filled up the wheelchair, giggling, and headed back to the punk house with our bounty.
   Tour went on and a couple of days later, we found ourselves at a house show in Atlanta with a ton of skinheads. Early in the night, I found myself alone with one of the skins by the keg. As I was filling my cup, he asked "Do you guys have any good tapes in your van? ....Maybe some SKREWDRIVER or any other white power stuff?" I found myself visibly shaking and thinking "Great, we have to kill these people." I looked up and the skin was laughing. "I'm just fuckin' with you, man. We're not racist. Do you have any good mix tapes?"
   The rest of the night turned out to be pretty fun and like any good punk show, there were punks passed out on the lawn by the end of the night. I'm not sure why this happened (well, actually I do), but I ended up falling asleep on the sidewalk right by the busy street. I was rustled awake a short time later and opened my eyes to red and blue flashing lights. I was looking into Joey's face though and not the face of a cop. Joey urged me to go back to sleep in the van. I crawled into the loft and fell asleep again after taking two bites of a burrito (also provided by Joey). I awoke in the morning to find out that the cops were summoned by an alarm set off in the school across the street when Ski and Heather (our new friend who lived at the house) decided to break in. Now, they were in jail and we needed to get to Chattanooga. There was talk of calling the whole thing off, but then we got a message from Ski saying that we should just move on without him and I could play drums. So, we jumped back in the van and I learned the songs by listening to this tape over and over on the 2 hour drive to Chattanooga. We played that night and it was 100% mediocre. Tour continues! I ended up playing for the rest of the tour without serious injury, jail time or any other serious maladies.
   Here's the rest in short sentence fragments with little to no detail, because like I said earlier, I could write a book about this tour: Long drives at night while drinking beer. Joey only being able to ride in the van if he had a 40 and a Gameboy. Total crushing depression. Cody driving for the entire tour while drinking 64 ounces of soda daily. Ed providing words of wisdom and, when that failed, tackling me. More total crushing depression. Watching AGAINST ME in Whitesburg, KY and hearing Cinque say "This band is going to be absurdly famous". It's weird to me that I can barely even remember where we went. It was all caught up in a haze of the heaviest sadness I had ever felt (from the uncertainties of my future mixed with a quarter life crisis) and a tidal wave of dumpstered swill.
   By the end of the tour, the band was basically dead. Back in Gainesville, we played a homecoming show with THE FLESHIES and then Cinque and I hitched up to Chattanooga (basically making it in one ride with an insane, speed-addled trucker who named his first born d'Artagnan, after his D&D character's name). Joey stayed for a bit and then drifted back up to north Georgia. Ed stayed in Gainesville and you can still find him there, being completely awesome. Cody drifted up to his homeland of Fargo and now, fittingly, drives for a living....and demolishes cars, I think. Ski got outta jail, lived in Atlanta for a while to deal with court stuff, moved back to G'ville and then moved up to Minneapolis where he now stays. Heather picked me up hitchhiking a couple of months after this tour and had absolutely no recollection of who I was. Now, we're great friends.
    I can't listen to these songs without thinking about that time. Joey far surpassed all of our expectations and wrote incredibly catchy, heartfelt, beautiful punk songs about our lives and the great people we lost too early in the game. I wish that these songs had gotten the proper release that they deserved, but it never happened. I hope that now you'll be able to enjoy it as much as I have over the years.

"Everyone I know has given a piece of their heart"

Thanks to Joey, Cinque and Bill for writing these songs.
Thanks to Joey, Cinque, Ski, Ed, Cody and Dutchess for getting me in the van and changing my life. 

p.s. first song is a little cut off in the beginning because that's how my tape is. 


Ski said...

Thanks for the post, I've been listening to this almost nonstop since it went up! I miss these songs. It was actually Amy Mayfield who got arrested with me, and some other guy I don't remember. The show was at Heather's house, and I stayed with her after I got out, now we're long distance best friends! I wrote a song about this tour for Totally Chaos called "Compromising Behavior". That should be on this blog too. One more thing (I to could write a book about this band), we went on a mini south tour before this with Hot Water Music and Gunmoll, it was kinda bizarre! Again, thanks for opening the floodgates of memory!

Harvester said...

Thanks for the refresher. My brain was shot on this tour...especially that night.

Josh Mayfield said...

Just found this. cool. I wore my tape out. I believe all of this was unmixed as well, true Chattanooga style. I saw you guys on that HWM tour in Nashville. Me, Shank, and Mike Pack came up on the guest list. Anthony may have been there too? Great times. Damn, that was a long time ago!!!