Requiem For A Drummer

When I visited my drummer friend during the summer of 2014 to sober up and record, little did I know I would never see him again.  He was sick, his liver shot after years of alcohol and heroin use, and living in the guest house of a defunct vegetable and herb farm in Merlin, Oregon.  He lived upstairs from the abandoned kitchen, where the workers would dry, jar, and label the various products when the operation was running.  It had been years, and the place was pleasantly moribund.  He lived in a loft-style space littered with computer parts, drums, and all manner of undefinable junk.  I arrived bloated and strung-out, puffy from years of drinking, after leaving Arizona in the middle of the night during a party in Clarkdale.  This drunken chick I was with was talking all kinds of shit, and out of the blue I just walked out of the party, a mile back to my van, and left in the middle of the night, my arms and legs still covered in blue candlewax from this little girl who decided to paint me with blueberry candlewax, one of the kids of someone at the party.  The kids liked me and I let ’em.  There was endless beer and the people were cool, but the shit-talking put me over the edge, and I walked out and drove to Oregon, still sticky on arrival with blueberry-scented candlewax, like some kind of bloated, fruity-scented Braveheart.  I took a shower and slept on the dusty bed full of dry bug corpses, across the loft from my friend.  He had been my drummer in L.A. from ’05-’06, but had to leave town when his health began to get the best of him.  I would stay with him in Oregon for a month, finishing Your Arms Inside Me, which I’d begun in Clarkdale, and Is It For Real?, which was completed from start to finish in that loft-space above the empty kitchen.  I left a month later, sober for an entire month, with 2 albums finished and a better friend than I’d started with, which is very rare indeed.  5 months later, he’d be dead.

 

It was 2 1/2 years ago I left, and I didn’t find out about it until today, and it makes me very sad.  He was the drummer on “Sin on Wheels,” which was a rehearsal recording we made in L.A., which turned out to be just interesting enough to put on the Sideburns in the Sun collection, one of those tracks that makes the album worthwhile, since it’s not available anywhere else.  We played one of the best shows I will ever play, at Pappy & Harriett’s in the California desert, near Joshua Tree, a roadhouse oasis in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by motorcycles, pickup trucks, and the black, endless desert.  The room was packed with ranchers, bikers, and Marines.  No L.A. hipsters anywhere.  It was one of the best shows I ever played.  We all got high on shrooms afterwards, and stayed up til dawn, tripping on the rocks.  I stayed out there for several days, since I was living in my car (van life is a step up, or was), and even then, 11 years ago, was tired of camping in town.  If you think by now I should have learned my lesson, you don’t know anything about me, or anything to do with it.

 

I left L.A., and didn’t see Kyle again until the Slow-Burning Fun sessions at the beginning of ’09.  That album was recorded under the auspices of a weird little control freak in North Hollywood, and Kyle saw what was happening in an instant, and made the whole thing fun again.  Check out “The Princess of No Return,” “Tragic Neurons,” or “Licking The Fist That Feeds.”  That’s Kyle.  I can’t listen to that album, because associations, but it’s going to be up for free for awhile.  All the albums he was on or helped with, which are linked throughout this message, will be free indefinitely.  You won’t be able to pay, with the exception of Sideburns in the Sun, which has always been a name-yr-price deal and always will be, so please do take them.  In honor of my drunken junky friend, who was brilliant, funny, and understood everything.

 

And to whom I might just owe my life, because without his hospitality, I may very well have not been able to quit drinking.  I have been trying to quit since 2001, so 13 years of constant relapsing, but as of now have been sober for almost 3 years.  I don’t want to get dramatic.  Just, thanks man.  Thank you.  Rest in peace.  You are missed.

 

Your friend,
Nathan
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