Postrockstar State of the Union Part 1: Who is behind Postrockstar?

Hello Postrockstar faithful! In an effort to switch things up around here, I thought I would do something a new and write an actual blog style post.  Earlier this week Postrockstar writer Erich and myself traded ideas regarding our future vision for the site. If you’ve been following us since our humble beginnings you’ve probably noticed a lot has changed around here. Full reviews are a rare occurrence, writers have come and gone and the site’s appearance has been stagnant for quite some time. In the interest of full transparency between ourselves and our readers, I want to touch on all of that as well as future plans for Postrockstar going forward.

 But before I get to that I want to sort of remove the veil from who we are as people, which I don’t think we’ve ever talked about aside from our terribly outdated “about us” section. This State of the Union address if you will is going to be broken into three parts as it may get a little wordy.

I’ve known Erich since 2001 and in that time I’ve always felt as if he were an older, much wiser brother figure to me. We met through our appreciation for the band cKy, which he was the leader of their “Alliance”, a tight-knit street team composed of people who wanted to change the music industry for the better. cKy was a band that in their prime were right on the cusp of infiltrating mainstream music but always came up just a little short. They are innovators and pioneers who inspired and connected a generation of  angry young music lovers fed up with what they were hearing on the radio. In an era that lacked the amazing music discovery tools we have now (bandcamp, spotify, last.fm) cKy was a breath of fresh air that was difficult to pigeonhole into one particular genre. While his motivational words of wisdom sort of guided me through my teenage years into adulthood, for the last five or so years of my life, Erich has been my go to for advice when I’m feeling lost. I value his opinion as if he were a family member and was thrilled when he wanted to be a part of Postrockstar.

I’m hoping that my blog inspires Erich to write his own and tell you more about himself because his life is far more interesting than my own. He is the most genuine friend I have.

I grew up in a musically diverse family. My Mom raised me on country western, 80’s hair metal and 90’s alternative.  Weekend trips to my Grandparents house would result in copious amounts of oldies and classic rock.  Though I didn’t really get to know him well until the final year or so of his life in 1995-96, my Uncle was an ultra talented guitarist that had  the same connection with rock and heavy metal asI have with Post-Rock. I remember being 8 or 9 years old and he would always say “DREAM THEATER!!!!” in a high pitch voiced. Back then I didn’t know what he was talking about, but it always made me laugh. The most frustrating thing about him not being here today is not being able to share that love for the same type of music that I gained in my older years after he passed.  He would have loved Post-Rock. Cloudkicker would have blew his fucking mind.

I despise the notion of rejecting genres as “bad” because they don’t fit your personal taste. Developing my own musical tastes as I grew up allowed me to appreciate all types of music in the current day.  I remember being nine years old spending my summer off from school playing basketball in the driveway listening to Kube 93.3 FM, a Seattle R&B station. “Waterfalls” by TLC and “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey w/ Boys2Men were my jams in 1995. Despite the first CD I ever owned being “Tragic Kingdom” by No Doubt, I found my way into rap and hip hop in 1997. I kept Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Tha Dogg Father” and 2Pac’s “R U Still Down? (Remember Me)” albums hidden from my Mom, knowing she would certainly take them away the same way she did with my copies of Green Day’s “Dookie” and Adam Sandler’s “What The Hell Happened to Me?”, two albums that no 10 year old should have had in their possession.  And then came 1998-2000, the years I wish I could erase from my musical history.

It takes a brave man to admit he was once a juggalo, and that’s exactly what I was as a stupid 12-14 year old.  I didn’t know any better. They were two rapping evil clowns and for whatever reason that appealed to me. The end of my Juggalo days came in the most humiliating fashion possible and I’m not afraid to share it with you. One of the clowns, Violent J, was a guest on a nightly radio show called Loveline. I was the very first caller on the show and proceeded to nervously ask him a question in a high pitched voice only to be caught off guard in a moment I have repeatedly been grilled about my friends for the last ten years. You can hear it here at the 6:30 mark:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpR3jtOk_2A&w=420&h=315]

That experience caused me to do a complete 180 and I finally got on the path that led me to where I am today. In 2000-2001 bands like P.O.D , Adema, Mudvayne and System of a Down were getting popular and I found myself getting into the nu-metal scene. It was easy to enjoy a genre so many of my friends were into, but I wasn’t completely satisfied. All of those bands filled my urge for heavy guitars and creativity, but to be completely honest few bands managed to hold my attention for more than a few weeks at a time. There was always a band quick to rise through the ranks with a radio hit only to lose my interest as soon as I realized their album was three radio tracks and eight filler songs. That still rings true with a lot of mainstream music today.

 In 2000 one particular song stuck with me. It was used as background music during a segment on the MTV show “Jackass”. I had no clue what the song was at the time and I found myself watching reruns of the episode just to hear that minute or so of this unique song. Little did I know I was on a collision course with cKy, who would ultimately change my teenage years for the better.

As an avid gamer, I was huge into the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. I got Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 the day it came out for gamecube. Looking back at it, the soundtrack was killer. The Ramones, Motorhead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Reverend Horton Heat just to name a few. But there was one song that grabbed my intention with it’s infectiously catchy guitar work and epic breakdowns. That song was “96 Quite Bitter Beings” by cKy and it captured my imagination like no other song had before. I was hooked and through that song and the power of the internet, the stars aligned. Discovering that the song I told you about earlier from Jackass was actually one of theirs (“Disengage The Simulator”) only made my discovery that much more beautiful.  This was a band that actually communicated with their fans, answering questions daily on the “ask cky” section of their website and each member posting regularly on their unofficial message board. My love for this band blossomed and I met others with a similar passion.

It was through cKy that I began to discover music that made me think, that inspired me and that played with my emotions. Bands who created music with finely detailed craftsmanship where passion in music shined through. These weren’t bands trying to churn out radio hits, they were trying to be the best at what they do. First it was Dream Theater, who I was introduced to by some of the more musically inclined cKy fans. Then it was melodic death metal  introduced to me by Jess Margera, drummer of cKy. Bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquility and Amon Amarth absolutely blew my mind.  Of course there were others too: Dimmu Borgir, Dillenger Escape Plan, Lacuna Coil, HIM, The 69 Eyes, Children of Bodom, the list goes on.

Like most kids, I was bullied throughout high school for being different up until my Senior year, so I grew quite fond of talking to no one and wearing headphones, opting to connect to music rather than people that I would only be around for a short time.  I didn’t care, music was what drove me to be the person that I wanted to be.  I graduated High School in 2004 as a music snob. While others were listening to Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd, I was rocking the likes of Agalloch, Opeth, Porcupine Tree and Anathema on my mini disc player. I had every Dream Theater album memorized, knew every cKy track in existence right down to basement demos and was quickly amassing a large collection of prog-rock and death metal.  And then I was introduced to the bands that quickly changed everything I knew about music: Sigur Ros, Pelican, Red Sparowes and Isis.

Sigur Ros quickly became my latest obsession and Red Sparowes were very enjoyable, but Isis remained hit or miss at first. I loved the music but was so damn put off by the vocals. They were so different from anything else I had heard in the death-metal realm. Those vocals tend to be brutal and harsh. This was just some guy huffing and puffing, yelling seemingly incoherently. I didn’t get it. And then came Jesu. My internet cKy friends were all over these guys and again it was just another band I didn’t fully understand.  Even though these two bands didn’t appeal to me, they led me to an important band which ended up being the key to unlocking the post-rock realm to me:  Pelican. More on that in a bit.

To be honest, I don’t remember much of my life between 2005 and 2008. My Grandfather, who was my father figure and taught me everything I needed to know about the real world passed in 2006 after two long years of struggling with diabetes complications. I wasn’t much of a person during those years. I was an empty shell looking for direction. Music and video games was my life. I bounced around a lot between genres, trying to rediscover myself. I had another fling with the rap scene (Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, Rick Ross, Mike Jones etc) , briefly enjoyed a little bit of country (Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood) and really found myself bouncing around genres and never staying in one place too long.

2009 and 2010 were amazing years where I got back on track in my personal life and I was able to rediscover my prog-rock roots and really start to shape the musical preferences I have today.  I traveled the country, filming 12 cKy concerts in the process with my two closest friends as I rekindled my obsession with the only band I have tattooed on my body. It was during this time I was really starting to get my feet wet in the post-rock genre. Sigur Ros had made their way up to my top 5 favorite bands of all time I finally was beginning to really appreciate and love Isis and Jesu. Like I mentioned earlier, Pelican was easily my favorite of the heavier post-rock bands and through them I discovered the likes of Explosions in the Sky, God is an Astronaut, This Will Destroy You and Caspian. This was all I knew in terms of Post-Rock until 2011, when my life changed for the immediate better.

This blog will continue on Tuesday….