Wednesday, September 28, 2016

THE YOUNG MEN / HUFF STUFF MAGAZINE / NEON PISS


   This one has been a tough one to get around to writing and going into it right now, I'm not even exactly sure what I'm going to say. Our friend Barker Gee took his own life in Conway, Arkansas on June 21st this year and I'm still waiting for him to pop out of the bushes with that big dumb grin on his face and say "haw haw!! GOTCHA!"....and just walk off smoking a cigarette like nothing happened. To say that it's devastating to our community of friends is the understatement of the year. I hate it so much.
   I have too many stories to share about Barker. They're all darkness and light. Some of them are side splittingly funny. Others are so crushingly sad that if I think about them too much, I can't do anything but cry. He had a spark that is rare for the people you meet in this life. (I've now been sitting here staring at the screen for 20 minutes with my fingers on the keyboard thinking about everything....every interaction...and I just don't know what to say, still.)
   Once, our old band NEON PISS was driving up to Portland to play a show. I was driving and Barker was in the back seat asking if he could smoke in the car again (no). The mix tape I made was playing when "Tabletop Hop" by THE YOUNG MEN came on. Barker yelled "Whoa! You put this on your tape??!!? Hell yeah!" When the guitar solo - his guitar solo - came on, he yelled "Turn it all the way up!!" I did and he played air guitar to it. The whole thing was so ridiculous and endearing and we all just laughed like idiots.
   THE YOUNG MEN was Barker, Jamie, Ren and Skip. They started after BENT OUTTA SHAPE split up and (predictably) did not get the respect they deserved following the foot print that BENT left behind. Barker put this tape out years after the band split up and it's a bunch of stuff they never got around to releasing. The tape includes 10 songs from "The Chris Pierce Sessions", 3 songs I know very little about and their 4 song demo. "Alabam'" from the demo is easily my favorite song about my home state written by someone who never lived there.
   HUFF STUFF MAGAZINE was a short lived Oakland band featuring Barker on guitar and vocals, Stevo on bass and Brad on drums. One time, Barker called me and asked if I had ever listened to their demo tape. I said "Yeah....once." He said "Well, listen to it a few more times. We need you to play drums for us at Thrillhouse tonight." I did listen to it some more but  then I showed up too late and missed the entire show. I heard that they just grabbed someone from the audience to play. Regardless, through the repeated listening, I realized that the tape is excellent. You can still order their LP here. At a recent memorial for Barker, I noticed that almost every time I paid attention to what was on the stereo, it was the HUFF STUFF record.
    At some point while NP was still a band, Barker took off to New York to get clean. While he was there, he started playing some music with Aaron Cometbus and was supposed to get some dude from FUGAZI in the band too. I don't think that ever happened, but he sent me an email one day telling me about what he was up to on the East Coast. He sent me an mp3 of his new band and said "Don't ever let anyone hear this!!" Sorry Barker. Someone already put this song online anyway.
   I'm including the NEON PISS LP. 45. demo tape and weird "rarities" CD that we sold at our last show because I realized you can't download it for free on our Bandcamp page. I don't know how to log into that page anymore, so here's everything for free. Also included is the rough mix of "Siege Mentality" off of our LP. I threw this one in because Barker whispers "There is no God"during a break in the song towards the end. On the LP, it got mixed really far down, but on this mix, it's pretty prominent. It's one of my favorite things on the LP because it was an off the cuff thing that Barker decided to throw in without really talking to us about it. There's also a practice space recording of a later song that never got fully worked out that Barker wrote. (haha! I just remembered that this song is already included in the rarities CD. Ooops!)




From John No's piece about this video in the memorial zine edited by Janelle Hessig: 
"Barker cracked an egg into the pan as the camera rolled and it had TWO YOLKS - Which is always freaky but of course it happens from time to time....then he cracked the second egg and it had two yolks AGAIN! This time, we were like "Holy shit!" and started laughing pretty hard so his cigarette fell into the pan. He left it in there, kept cooking the eggs and lit another cigarette and then put that one out into the pan. Barker ate most of it and promptly puked."

Barker at Kurt Cobain's house. Photo by me.

THANKS:
Alex Turner for finding the things I don't have.
Caitlin Kelly for repressing the YM tape for the memorial and being a perfect angel.
Barker Gee for being such a singular, weird, engaging and loving human freak in this world. 

2 comments:

Dk said...

I can't begin to imagine how difficult it must have been to start writing about (and putting together musical finger prints) of such a close friend. Thank you for pushing through the a lot of that pain and sadness to share with us these warm and generous memories. Through them and the music he has left planted on this planet, I think we all grew to know him a little bit better than we originally had. Thank you, Greg. Thank you Barker. R.I.P. dear fellow.

JoeyP said...

So sorry for everyone close to Barker who's dealing with this loss. Thanks so much for uploading this