Soundtrack to Life – "As The Footsteps Die Out Forever" (Part 2 of 2)

(Continued from part 1, which can be found here.)

Some folk never forget certain days. Where they were when they heard about JFK. How they remember 9-11. Me, I’ll never forget January 8, 2000.

Mom had a tendency to get ill once a year. When she did so, it was always in a big way. So, when she got sick this time around, we thought nothing of it. Similar symptoms, she’d had this before. She’d also wrenched her back at work, so she was essentially couchbound for the majority of the day. It had been a relatively cold day, Tim and Pat were at work, and I was busy chatting online. Pat came in rather suddenly, he’d gotten off early for work. He tried to call, but I was tying up the line. It was an annoyance for him then, but he’d soon realize that maybe it was for the best. He woke Mom up so she could get Tim. Something wasn’t right. She was talking about vivid dreams, and how she could have sworn one of Pat’s friends had gone to get him. He questioned her health, and as always, she insisted she was alright. She wasn’t herself though. Something was very off. Pat made her swear that she’d go to the doctor after picking up Tim.
“Okay, just let me go splash some water on my face.” she said. Pat and I exchanged worried glances, neither one knowing that those would be the last words we’d ever hear her speak.

A “thud” came from the bathroom, and after knocking with no response, Pat let himself in. He quickly told me to call 911 and tell them what had happened. I got off the phone with the dispatcher and wandered back in the vicinity of the bathroom. It was eerily silent. Then, words rang out that will never escape my memory.

“JOOOOOEEEE!!!! She’s not breathing!”

I ran to the phone, muttering something along the lines of “Oh Christ!” over and over again. I got the dispatcher back on the line and told them about the change in the situation. I grabbed a pair of boots and told Pat I was running for help. I barely noticed that the laces weren’t tied or the heaping amount of snow quickly filling the boots as I dashed across the yard to our neighbors, The Bertrams. They were at the door in a flash thankfully, and I told them of what was happening. Sally and Barry Sr. were there immediately. Sally and Pat kept tabs on Mom as Barry waited by the door. Myself, I ran to the bottom of the driveway, pacing back and forth and repeating “This can’t be fuckin’ happening.”, waiting for the ambulance to arrive. 5 minutes becomes an eternity when the life of a loved one hangs in the balance. A jogger trotted past with a bewildered look at the ashen-faced young man, barely dressed for the weather.

When the ambulance arrived, I cleared a path for the gurney, and then stayed in the kitchen as the EMTs, out of sight, attempted to resusitate my mother. I couldn’t watch. I couldn’t see her like that. It wasn’t right! They loaded her into the ambulance as we called our relatives. They were there promptly to take us to St. Joseph’s. I remember Sally hugging me and telling me I’d have to be strong, as if she already knew.

Waiting for the ambulance was hell. But sitting in that waiting room was even worse. Surrounded by loved ones, hoping for the best but fearing the worst. It was now right around 2 o’ clock. Dad would be leaving work soon. How were we supposed to contact him? All you can do is sit, wait, and hope for the best. The doctor’s arrival cut the tension, and as I looked up at him from my seat, I could read the expression on his face

“I’m sorry. We did all that we could…..”

Something shattered then. I remember hearing static and seeing things go gray. Perhaps this is how the mind deals with such things. I just hung my head. Just sat there, still, face to the floor but staring at nothing. All I could focus on was the fact that I wasn’t crying. The most important woman in my life was gone and I’d never see her again. Not one tear. Maybe it was my upbringing, I’m not wholly certain, but I couldn’t bring myself to cry. It’s a fucked up feeling knowing that this is where you’re supposed to emote and you just can’t do it. We gathered our stuff from our house, figuring that staying with the relatives tonight would be best. It was…. otherworldly. I just moved automatically, as if it was the next thing to do. Not thinking about what I was doing, just doing it.

I sat listlessly as my aunts discussed ministers and funeral homes. Suddenly, there was Dad. He burst into the room, bawling. He gave us all a big hug, and now was the time for me to finally break down. I’d never seen him like this, never before. This man had stood as a marble pillar in my life, never wavering. And yet, here he was, sobbing like a child. It really hit me then. Despite the war that had been going on for the past 6 years, he still loved her. In fact, his love for her was stronger than that any of us had. We were born with her a part of our lives, so we had to love her by default. My father, Michael Nichols, didn’t have that love thrust upon him. Of everyone in the room, he was the only one who had the choice of loving her, and he did. He chose to have this woman be a part of his life, just as she had chosen him to be a part of hers. Despite the rugged final years, by god, he still loved her.

The funeral was simply amazing, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone complain about a slipshod funeral before. It just doesn’t happen I guess. People came from all around to pay tribute to this wonderful woman, and sympathy to the family she’d left behind. It was overwhelming. I saw relatives that I’d supposedly met when I was only knee-high, people who’d I’d never even known she’d touched in her life, and of course, all of our close associates; friends and family alike. It’s in times of crisis such as these that you learn who your friends are, and sure enough, I had a small gathering of my best and most loyal friends there. Being one of her sons, I had the privilege of carrying her to her final resting place….

It’s been 5 years now, and I can’t help but wonder what would be different if she were still with us today. I guess we all wonder these things about our lost loved one. Still, she was a cornerstone of my life. Would she be proud of where I am in life and who I’ve become? Would she support many of the decisions I’ve made along the way? What may or may not have happened if she were still alive and well? Well, I can tell you for certain, I wouldn’t be sitting here in the middle of the night, sans distractions and audience writing about her. And I know that despite this tragedy, it opened the door for the greatest experience of my entire life. But I’ll save that story for another time.

As I was saying earlier, people in this society don’t care much for emotional people anymore. In this society, it’s becoming a rule that nobody is allowed to get offended at anything anymore. PC, whiny, and emo are just a few of the tags given to those who have a distaste for certain humor that is supposed to be funny. Guess I fall into that category then. Never was a big fan of “Your Mama” jokes to begin with, and only one person ever dared cross that line with me after her death. I call this man “friend” and I nearly obliterated him in the school parking lot before he realized the thoughtlessness of the act. Yes, I’m a little touchy on the subject. Does it make me emo? Maybe. Does it mean I’m easily offended? Only cuz I choose to be. Does it make me a Momma’s Boy? You bet your ass.

I remember, before her service, the minister asked if anyone in the family had a final dedication to her, a song they’d like to sing at the wake. Had the rhythm not been so upbeat, and the vocals were notably more mellow, I probably would have done it. Every time I see this band live, every time they do this song, I go wild in the pit and wind up with tears in my eyes. It’s the only song that really comes to mind when I think of this amazing woman and the life she led. Because if there’s one thing she’d want, it would be that we not wait up for her.

“As The Footsteps Die Out Forever”
by Catch-22
She was diagnosed on a Friday,
the kids were almost home,
the kids were on their way back home from school,
lying face down in the gutter
of unaccomplished dreams and broken memories of things to come,
“Sorry ma’am, I really am. I had to break the news.
I had to make the phone call to tell you that you’re due,
you know where,
I’ll tell you when,
and I suggest you start living these next three weeks, the best way that you can.”

Every night for three long weeks,
she’d roam the hallways half asleep
and as the footsteps fade away
in my mind, I could swear, I could swear, I heard her say:
“Don’t wait for me,
I’ve got a lot to do
I’ve got a lot to be
and in the end maybe I’ll see you there.”

Lost her strength on a saturday.
Spent the day in bed.
Yeah, I’m fine, it’s just the flu she said
with a smile, but when they turned their backs,
the tears would flow.
She knew she only
had a while to live
to breathe
to see
to be
to bleed
to stand on her own two weakened feet
“and so I pray everyday: don’t take my mother away”

Every night for three long weeks,
she’d roam the hallways half asleep
and as the footsteps fade away
in my mind, I could swear, I could swear, I heard her say:
“Don’t wait for me,
I’ve got a lot to do
I’ve got a lot to be
and in the end maybe I’ll see you there.”

Every night for three long weeks,
she’d roam the hallways half asleep
and as the footsteps fade away
in my mind, I could swear, I could swear, I heard her say:
“Don’t wait for me,
I’ve got a lot to do
I’ve got a lot to be
and in the end maybe I’ll see you there.”
And in the end you know i’ll see you there
and in the end i’ll see you there

“Don’t wait for me,
I’ve got a lot to do
I’ve got a lot to be
and in the end maybe I’ll see you there.”

Rest in Peace, Mom. From your loving son; Joe.

Soundtrack to Life – "As The Footsteps Die Out Forever" (Part 1 of 2)

Well well well. We’ve had our share of new comers to the board since the summer of 2003. Lotta new faces I’m seein’. So, lemme introduce ya to this little column you’re reading. This is Soundtrack to Life. What’s it about? Simple really. Music is a big part of this community, and tends to play heavily into most young lives. Face it, every now and then you’ll be listening to the radio or playing through your old CDs when you hear a particular tune and harken back to when you first heard it. Maybe you remember that summer. Maybe it reminds you of someone. Or maybe you can remember an exact instance in which that song was being played. Much like in the movies, a lot of events in our lives just wouldn’t be the same without that score in the background. That’s what this column is about. The memories we attach to our favorite songs. Though in the coming weeks, provided you keep an eye on this column, you’ll be reading about some of the stories from my life and what songs I’ve attached to them. Everyone is welcome however, to send in their own stories, so hopefully it won’t just be me prattling on every week. Past guest columnists include Aki, Hawaiian Bryan, and Mike-O. If you want to remain anonymous, that’s fine, but if you want your name known, then you will be given full credit for your story. I just ask for something of substance. I don’t want any “This one time, I was fuckin’ this chick, and we were listening to ‘The Minute Waltz’, and it was great.” Silly, dramatic, serious, I don’t care so long as it has considerable substance and discernable link between story and song. On that note, let’s begin.


Soundtrack to Life
“As The Footsteps Die Out Forever” by Catch 22
Momma’s Boy

The story I’m about to tell you is one I’ve never told before. Not to speech class, not to my friends, not in my blog, not even in my personal journals. It’s a world premier of sorts. See, I don’t like being an emotional guy. About the extent of my emotions I ever let show range from happy to pissed, that’s about it. I can’t really bring myself to discuss heavy emotion, especially in person. I do it mostly in my personal writings, and that’s it. Hell, I’ve never even yelled at anyone. Never cut loose. Raised my voice, and that’s about it. Then again, in this day and age, you’re hardly allowed those kinds of emotions. People don’t like emotional people. This story brings a lot to the surface. It’s a little long, so I believe I’m gonna have to do this in two parts.

I never liked playing excessively active games with the neighbor kids. As a result, I was a frequent subject to ridicule and taunting. When you’re young, you aren’t used to facing the injustices of the cruel world out there, so you demand things right themselves. For me, I was a bit of a tattle tale, and I always ran to Mom when the other kids picked on me. It earned me a nickname that you don’t want on the playground, not at that age, and especially if you’re a boy. Momma’s boy. I hated them for that label. Hated being called the Momma’s boy, and hated myself for knowing deep down that I deserved it. Today however, it’s a title I wear proudly.

Cynthia Ann Nichols was, in some aspects, what you’d call an ordinary mother. Great cook, loved to tend her flower and vegetable gardens, absolutely loved watching birds and coming up with ways to attract the rarer species into our backyard, and to a slight extent a Soccer Mom (yeah, I had soccer practice when I was younger, fuck off). Her knowlege of nature and plant life helped my brothers and I on numerous school projects, a lot of it I still carry with me today. All that and an excellent bowler and award winning pool player amidst the area leagues. It was always fun schooling my friends on the pool tables at the arcades and bowling alleys. Always when they asked how I learned to play, I’d tell ’em my mom taught me. Skating, nature walks, mini-golf, whatever the adventure of the day, my mom led the expedition.

One could argue I get my sense of humor from her. Always quick with a bad joke. Her and my dad both. It’s probably the reason they got along as well as they did when they met. She’d laugh at her own jokes all the time, Leo women tend to do that, but she’d also come up with absolutely bizarre ideas. Who’d think to dump marbles in the shoes of their eldest son after he’d passed out drinking that evening? Monty Python, John Cleese, The Muppets, George Carlin, M*A*S*H*, Letterman; all comedy that we shared a fondness for.

Her battles of wits with my little bro were often a topic of conversation. She had her “My Son is Crazy” picture collection of Tim. Boy can make the goofiest damn faces you’ve ever seen. Not just the goofy faces naturally, but the odd things he’d do often made him a target for Mom’s camera. Sitting in cooking pots, hanging a bean bag chair off his head, lord knows how many bizarre haridos. And she kept them all. All the pictures that could conceivably be incriminating, all kept in their seperate file. She had to have some ammo against his non-stop barage of “old” jokes. The classic we always mention, is when she walked into the living room and stopped.
“How did I just forget what I was gonna do?” she asked.
“I’ll take Because I’m Old for $500, Alex.” he snapped back, and took off like a shot.

It was right about the time that I entered Middleschool that the war began however……

Pat, being the eldest son, was often singled out by Dad. Dad berated him for his failing grades and lax attitude toward school time and again. It hadn’t really been note worthy before, but his tirades were becoming more and more frequent for even more insignificant things. I think Mom knew all along and she just needed another set of eyes to bring the problem into light. Pat had begun studying the effects of alcoholism on families, and ours was a classic case. Pat was the Scapegoat, the one for which all things are to blame. Tim, my younger brother, was the Mascot, the one who tried to keep everyone looking at the lighter side of things through bizarre behavior. Myself, The Refferee, the one trying to maintain peace within the family. And there was my mom, left to face a harsh fact about the one she loved.

The next few years were turbulent, at best. I watched my peers turn on me for being a nice guy, and my family was falling apart at the seams. Before long, my parents didn’t even share a bedroom anymore. My dad took the bedroom, and my mother quietly moved to the living room. They’d never talk unless it was to exchange orders and demands. My father had become the beligerent tyrant, and my mother the peaceful nurturer. The whole household had sided with her, as it was obvious that it was Father with the problem. He fired back with his own accusations, but they held little or no relevance. She fought back in her own little way, leaving library books on alcoholism lying about, researching it on the internet and printing it out, sniping all the small shots she could without a full blown argument. I remember 7th grade being the gift exchanging part of the war. Mom and Dad, vying for our favor with gifts and trips. I know a lot of you probably wish you got this kind of attention. The diversions were nice, but it was tearing me up inside. Mom didn’t have to try. I believed her. I knew Dad had a problem. It hurts watching the ones you love attempting to defame one another. But still, I always knew, even if the worst happened and they got a divorce, my mom would always be there to watch over us. She was the one whom we’d wind up with.

From grade 6 to my senior year this war was waged. That makes 6 years. It takes a toll on a fellow. I hated the people at school for just being jerks to myself and my peers. And I hated going home every day, afraid that I’d walk into another battle. But, in 1999, the papers were being finalized. I hated to admit it, but it was for the best that my parents were getting a divorce. It’s not a healthy environment to grow up in. Pat fell deeper into depression and became an alcoholic himself, despite his complaints about how what Dad was doing was wrong. Tim had taken to his own experimental phase. And I refused to even touch anything that might wind me up like any one of them. And there I was, once again. The Momma’s Boy. I stayed away from the partying, usually kept to myself, and my mother and I would exchange snide comments about the mess going on in the basement. She was my only ally in that house, and we kept each other sane. The divorce was finalized as of December 31, 1999.

(to be continued…)

Wasted Words 19

Recommended download: Remembering NeverFrom My Cold Dead Hands

Wow, look at that. It’s on time this week. I’m getting back to a semi-regular schedule this week, thankfully. I’ve got some short album reviews this week, as well as a few small news bits. Enjoy.

SilversteinWhen Broken Is Easily Fixed: One word for this album, amazing. I’ll admit, these days it seems that screamo/hardcore bands are a dime a dozen. Everyone’s doing it. Well, not everyone is doing it as well as Silverstein. I’ve noticed something with most of the screamo bands that are out there today. You either get a vocalist with excellent screams and mediocre singing, or you get a vocalist with excellent singing and mediocre screams. Shane Told, Silverstein vocalist, offers up the top notch shit in both areas. These guys offer up the best in aggressive, energetic, emotion-laced hardcore. This is truly one of the best albums I’ve purchased since Avenged Sevenfold’s Waking the Fallen. This is the perfect album for fans of A Static Lullaby, Finch, Thrice, and Story of the Year.
Recommended tracks: Giving Up, Smashed Into Pieces

AlexisonfireS/T: Proof that screamo/hardcore isn’t dying out anytime soon. On their debut album, Alexisonfire dish out 11 tracks of pure, nonstop energy. The harsh, throat scratching screams backed by mind-blowing instrumentals makes for a winning combination. They have excellent lyrics as well. Lyrics which make the listener think, and at times will have you wondering “what the hell were they thinking about when they wrote this.” Granted, they’re not exactly doing anything new or innovative, but one listen to this album and you’ll know they’re definitely not just another screamo band. For fans of A Static Lullaby, From Autumn to Ashes, and Funeral for a Friend.
Recommended tracks: 44.Caliber Love Letter, The Kennedy Curse

VauxThere Must Be Some Way to Stop Them: After first hearing Ride Out Bitch, then seeing them perform at Warped Tour 03, I’ve been meaning to pick up their album. But instead, I waited. What the hell was I thinking? I tried to come up with a way to describe this bands sound, and this is the best I came up with; Grungy garage rock and Hardcore had a hot and steamy one night stand, and Vaux is the bastard child that came afterwards. I think the first line of the first track says it all though, “This is the anthem of the year and I’m fucking gold.” There’s really nothing more to say other than give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, after listening to this album the only thing I was lacking was an explanation to why it took me so long to finally buy it. For fans of Snapcase and The Bronx.
Recommended tracks: Set It To Blow, Ride Out Bitch

Keep an eye out for the Rock Against Bush Volume 1 album, which is being released in April on Fat Wreck Chords. The compilation will contain 26 songs, 18 of those will be unreleased. There will be unreleased songs from Alkaline Trio, The Ataris, Against Me, Anti-Flag, NOFX, and others.

The Warped Tour Internet presale has begun. The cost is $23.74, which gets you a ticket to the event as well as a copy of the Warped Tour 2004 Compilation CD. Warped Tour

That’s it for this week. Stick a fork in me because I’m done. Thanks for reading.

Wasted Words 18

Recommended download: ThrowdownFamily

So, who watched the Super Bowl Sunday? Not me, as I couldn’t care less about football. I sure have heard a lot about the half-time show and Janet Jackson incident. Personally, I don’t understand what everyone’s getting so upset about. It’s a breast, and it wasn’t even fully exposed. She was wearing a nipple shield which prevented most of it from even being seen. Now the FCC are talking about dishing out fines. Give me a break. Kids see nearly the same stuff in the lingerie section of the JC Penny’s catalog, or even worse things in their fathers stash of Hustler magazine (trust me, I know). Oh, and don’t get me started on Justin Timberlake. He’s claiming it was unintentional, which is a total bullshit cop-out. If you’re gonna pull something like this at least have the balls to own up to it rather than apologizing and claiming it was accidental.

A good tour to look out for this summer will be No Doubt & Blink 182s CO-headlining tour. Apparently there’s still other supporting bands that will be added, though none have been announced as of yet. The tour kicks off on June 1 in Indianapolis, Indiana. I know I’ll be there to catch this odd pairing of bands.

Speaking of odd combinations, Dashboard Confessional will be heading out on tour with Thrice and the Get Up Kids. The tour is set to begin May.

An update on Further Seems Forever: It was noted a few weeks ago that the vocalist, Jason Gleason, would be leaving the band. Apparently he is sticking around long enough to finish the album the band is working on, then he will be moving on. This sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it?

Along with several reissues, Bad Religion have a new album on the way. Titled The Empire Strikes First, the album is expected to be released on June 8.

Sorry so short this week, I’m running late again. It’s been a very tiresome week for me due to some changes that took place.

Thanks for reading. Until next week, I’m out.

Wasted Words 17

Recommended download: A Static LullabyLove to Hate, Hate to Me

Hello everyone. Welcome to your weekly dose of Wasted Words. The column’s a bit late, due to a pretty hectic week taking place within my life. I’m sure you when you all logged on to and saw my article wasn’t up on Wednesday night, you panicked, right? Right. I’m so glad it’s Thursday and getting closer to my weekend off of work. Saturday, I’ll be attending the Dead Leaf Festival. It’s an all day show which will feature many local Muncie bands as well as some not-so-local bands. The headlining band is Florida Death Metal band, Monstrosity. Death Metal isn’t usually my thing, but it’ll be interesting to see how these guys are. If nothing else, I’m sure the pit will be pretty brutal. Oblique will also be playing. This should be a great way to end a pretty eventful week. Anyway, enough about my BS, on with the news.

April 6 will be a great day to go out and by some CD’s. Why, you ask? Because Epitaph is releasing completely remixed and remastered Bad Religion albums. The albums to be reissued include, 1982s How Could Hell Be Any Worse, 1987s Suffer, 1989s No Control(this album will own you), 1990s Against the Grain, and 1992s Generator. The band will also be releasing a DVD on the same date, titled Along the Way

Good news for Vaux. The band recently inked a deal with Atlantic records. If you’ve not checked this band out, I highly recommend doing so. Set it to Blow would be a good song to start out with.

These days, it seems everyone’s doing an acoustic album. Godsmack, apparently, is no different. Look for their acoustic EP to be released on March 16.

Hip-Hop act, The Pharcyde, will be releasing their first album in four years. The album, titled Humboldt Beginnings, is set for release sometime in April. For those who don’t remember this group, they had a decent bit of commercial success with two of their singles. Passing Me By from 1992s Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde and Runnin’ from 1995’s Labcabincalifornia, both of which are excellent songs from excellent albums. Oh Shit, I’m the Type of Nigga, and On the D.L. are also some great songs by these guys.

Despite what most people would call a flop, with their first album Devil’s Night, D12 are set to release a second album. Title, D12 World, the album is set for release in April and will feature cameos by 50 Cent among others. I wouldn’t call their first album a flop, but I suppose by industry standards, it was. I, personally, thought it was a great album. Check it out.

Okay, what is it with all these artists going to jail? Mystikal is arrested for rape. Tony Yayo is back in jail only two weeks after being released. He was caught with a forged passport. C Murder was arrested and found guilty of murder. Turk, from the Hot Boys, was arrested with attempted murder after shooting two police officers. Michael Jackson…well, we all know what’s going on there. Can’t forget about R Kelly’s situation. Now, R&B singer Faith Evans was arrested for drug possession. Is this the new fad or something? Is it cool to go to jail now? Coming from someone who’s been there, no, it’s definitely not cool to go to jail. It sucks, really. Be good damnit!

Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m out.

Wasted Words 16

Recommended download: H2OGuilty By Association

So it’s 4:30 am and I’m dead tired. But, the show must go on! Right? Right. No new music this week. No new DVDs, though I did rent Freddy vs. Jason. Good movie to rent, but I doubt I’ll be buying it. Rented Manhunt for Playstation 2. Same deal…good enough to rent, but not to buy. Games like this just have to purpose after beating it for the first time. Sorry, that’s all the witty introduction you get this week. Enjoy the rest of the article.

Something to look forward to next month. The Ataris are releasing a live album, titled Live At The Metro. It was recorded last October at Chicago’s Metro. The album will consist of 19 tracks. The first 12 tracks are all live tracks which were recorded at the show, and the remainder of the album will be acoustic tracks. Here’s a track list for the album…

Live tracks:
Unopened Letter to the World
IOU One Galaxy
So Long, Astoria
Between You & Me
Your Boyfriend Sucks
Song #13
All You Can Ever Learn Is What You Already Know
The Saddest Song
The Boys of Summer
Astro Zombies

Acoustic tracks:
My Hotel Year
The Hero Dies in This One
Fast Times at Dropout High
A New England
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding
San Dimas High School Football Rules

Chicago band, Numb, are in the studio recording their new EP Highschool Sweetheart. Currently, on the bands website, you can listen to clips of the five tracks that will be included on the EP. I recommend Elipses and Step.

Reality TV is really popular these days. It seems like there’s a new one popping up every week. Well, now there’s a new one. A British reality TV show, called I’m a Celebrity….Get Me Out of Here. The show will feature Sex Pistols frontman, Johnny Rotten. Apparently, the concept of the show is celebrities “roughing it” in the Australian Outback. Yay. I’m sure a lot of people will tune in. The guy won’t allow Rhino record company to include a copy of Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols in their compilation(No Thanks! The ’70s Punk Rebellion) but he’ll take part in a reality television series? What a fucking joke.

For those of you who are not yet aware, The Vandals were added to the 2004 Warped Tour lineup.

Absolute have posted a statement released by Jason Gleason, frontman of Further Seems Forever. It appears that the band is calling it quits. You can read the letter here. Sucks, but life will go on. Unfortunately, this article won’t.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m out.

Wasted Words 15

Recommended Download: The UnseenSo This Is Freedom?

So here I am again, typing my last minute column. Seems to be the norm as of late. Nothing really exciting has happened in the past week. I haven’t watched any new movies or purchased any new albums. So what else is there? I guess I could toss out a few paragraphs on B2K splitting up or Britney getting married. But who would give a shit? I, for one, sure as hell don’t. So why is it that everywhere I turn, this is what I see and hear? Because we are a nation full of nosey fuckers, that’s why. Most people are so caught up and concerned with what’s going on in other peoples personal lives, that they can’t keep their own life in check. Hell, our own beloved president is even guilty of this. He’d much rather spend some-odd billion dollars on going to war and helping out another country, instead of putting some of that money into improving our educational systems, or helping the homeless. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m sick of all these nibshits. Just for once, I’d like to turn on the news or MTV and hear some real news, as opposed to who Fred Durst is stalking this week or Ben Affleck and J’Lo breaking up for the umpteenth time. Unless that means J’Lo will be banging on my door in the middle of the night, looking for a shoulder to cry on and a night of hot, sweaty, meaningless sex, then I don’t care. Get your own personal life people and let other people live theirs. Sorry for the rant, but this tabloid news bullshit just gets old. Onto more important things.

Britney Spears was spotted leaving the hotel with…..just kidding.

Want to do something to help out music? Sick of the same old bullshit clouding the airwaves? Well, then, one of the most important things you can do to help out music, is to support your local scene. Go to shows. Buy merchandise, whether it be a T-shirt, a demo, or even a sticker. Pitch in and help out. Why should you do this? Because local, unsigned bands are the future of music. Think about what would have happened if no one went to see AFI, Rancid, or even Metallica when they first started playing shows. We’d be without some great bands. Granted, I personally could do without Metallica right now, but you get my point. Not only that, but most local shows are better than a lot of bigger shows. They tend to take place in smaller venues, such as a bar or a night club. There’s a lot more interaction between the artists and the fans, which makes it a bit more intimate, for lack of a better word. It’s cool to get to talk to the band members after their set, shake their hands and congratulate them on a good show, or maybe even buy them a beer. You can also make a lot of new friends and acquaintances, as I have done. Here’s a list of several local bands from my area that I either follow or have seen play. Feel free to post some bands from your own area.

Oblique – Alt-Metal – I’ve followed this band for about a year now, and have seen them play quite a few times. Each time seeing them only gets better than the last. Not only that, but Chad(vocals) and Nick(bass) are pretty chill guys. I’m sure the rest of the band is too, but they’re the two I’ve spoken with. Recommended if you like Tool, Perfect Circle, or Therapy.

Numb – Chicago Emocore – So they’re not actually a local band from my area, rather from Chicago. I’ve followed their music for several months now, after seeing them play at the Black Summerfest in New Castle, Indiana. I recently saw them play for the second time, at a local bar called The Speakeasy. They put on a hell of a show, with Tony(vocals) taking a leap off of the balcony, through strands of Christmas lights and into the drunken crowd. His stunt got them banned from the bar, but damn it was great. Look for their new demo out soon.

The Retreads – Punk Rock – I’ve only seen these guys play once, but they were great. I’ve got two of their albums, Dumb Kids and Highway to Hellsinki. The first was more of a pop-punk record, while Highway…(my fav) is more of a faster, classic rock n roll influenced punk sound.

Losing September – Alternative/Emo – They don’t play many shows in my area, but I did see them play a few months ago. It was an outside show and everyone was freezing their ass’s off, but it was worth it. Good show, decent sound. They’ve just recently recorded a new disc as well.

Hellwinkle – Indiana’s Heavy Groove, loud, rude, melodic, power trio – In their own words from the bands web site. These guys have been at it since 1992 and have become a very important part of the local Muncie scene. I saw them play last winter at the Dead Leaf Festival and they put on a great show. I’ll be seeing them play again at the end of the month, when the Festival takes place again.

Mantis – Rock n Roll mother fucker – I’ve yet to see these guys play. Every time I’m planning on it, something fucks it up. I have heard a few songs by them, and I can’t wait to finally see their live show, which I will do at the end of the month at the Dead Leaf Festival.

HG – Metal/Hardcore – Unfortunately, this band broke up before I had the opportunity to see them play a live show. I downloaded their EP though, and it’s some good shit to bang your head to. Tommy(bass) can still be found screaming his heart out during his guest spot with Oblique on their track, Mason.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m out.

Wasted Words 14

Recommended Download: AtmosphereTrying to Find a Balance

Hello all. So the Holidays are done and over with. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Years. I know I did. Part of me is sad that they’re over, and part of me feels a bit of relief. It seems like you spend months and months preparing for Christmas, and then it comes and goes with the snap of a finger. But, alas, life goes on and so does this article.

I’ve picked up a lot of new music since my last proper article. Before Christmas I picked up From Autumn to Ashes, Too Bad You’re Beautiful. It’s a great album, though quite a bit harder than their latest album, The Fiction We Live. For Christmas, I got three different CD’s. Thrice, Identity Crisis and Illusion of Safety. Both are awesome, though their newest album, The Artist in the Ambulance, is still my favorite. I also got Avenged Sevenfold’s debut album, Sounding the Seventh Trumpet. I don’t know how to put into words how great this band really is. You have to listen to really comprehend, I guess. The other day I bought Killswitch Engage’s latest album, Alive or Just Breathing. I’ve debated on buying this album for a while now, and after listening to it, I don’t know what I was waiting for. Excellent metalcore. Check out My Last Serenade, it’s a great song. Yesterday, I picked up NOFX’s The Decline and The Essential Clash, both used. Though considered an actual album on the band’s web site, The Decline is really just one eighteen minute long song. A good, eighteen minute long song.

I watched a few new movies over the past couple weeks as well. The other night I rented Jeepers Creepers 2 and Swat. Both of them were pretty decent movies. I wasn’t sure if I liked Jeepers Creepers 2 better than the first one or not. I’m kinda torn between the both of them. It’s basically your typical slasher flick, but still worth at least one watch. I wouldn’t buy it though. Swat is a story involving an international fugitive who is arrested, and one national news offers a large amount of money to anyone who can free him from jail. From gangs to ordinary citizens, everyone comes out to try and get the reward. The swat team is called in to help keep him from escaping. My only complaint about the movie is that the plot was so predictable. It didn’t require any thinking at all to figure out who was gonna do what. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean. Friday, I purchased American Wedding. This is probably the funniest movie I’ve seen in a while. It’s a shame that it’s the last one they’re going to make. I suppose, all good things must come to an end. It was only a matter of time before the same jokes were repeated and it would eventually get old. Oh, and Stiffler is my idle. For real.

In some news that made my day, Avenged Sevenfold have been added to the 2004 Warped Tour lineup. I’ve been waiting for this to happen since the first three bands were announced. If I only see this band over the summer, I’ll be happy. There are still more bands to be announced for the tour, but you can view the current lineup by clicking the link.
Warped Tour

According to Rolling Stone magazine, on their upcoming album, Blondie will include a tribute to the late Joey Ramone. The tribute track is titled Hello Joe, and was written by Deborah Harry after Joey’s death in 2001. Rolling Stone

Some upcoming albums in the next couple of months. Ferret records band, Remembering Never, will release their sophomore album, Women and Children Die First on January 27. The Lostprophets will release Start Something on February 3. If it’s anywhere near as good as their first album, then I’m sure this album will be great. On February 24, Blindside will release their album, About a Burning Fire. Another great album worth looking forward to. Bad Religion is also in the studio working on a new album, which should be excellent. No word on a release date yet though. You can catch them on the 2004 Warped Tour though.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m out.

Wasted Words 13: Ten Favorite Albums of 2003

Not that I feel the need to explain myself, but I’ll do it anyway. Keep in mind this is my list of personal favorites for the year. I’m sure other people’s opinions will differ quite a bit from my own, and that’s cool. Feel free to post a comment and voice your opinion. Think my list is great? Tell me! Think my list sucks ass? Well, tell me that too. Hell, post your own personal list. I think that would be great. Seriously. The writers here at Baloola Palooza put a lot of time, effort, and a lot of times emotion into their columns. Comments are welcome and greatly appreciated. Anyway, on with the list. Here are my ten favorite albums of 2003.

10.) Anti-FlagThe Terror State: Anti-Flag comes out swinging on their latest effort. The album begins with a lyrical attack on Mr. President, that being their single, Turncoat. Anti-Flag albums have always varied in their sounds. Die For Your Government carried more of a street-punk sound. A New Kind Of Army ventured into some melodies, while Underground Network carried the catchy, melodic punk rock sound often associated with Fat Wreck. This album carries that tradition, and ventures into different sounds. While it’s still a fierce, angry punk rock album, there are some songs which sound a bit too radio friendly for Anti-Flag. Subject matter considered, however, I wouldn’t worry too much about seeing them on TRL.
RecommendedRank-N-File, Post-War Breakout

9.) MestMest: 2003 must’ve been the year for pop-punk bands to get serious and try different things. Mest’s follow-up to Destination Unknown slows down the tempo and darkens up the lyrics. While some songs still feature the same bouncy, pop-punk sound as found on previous efforts, other songs are toned down and almost sad. Rooftops takes a trip back in time and revisits growing up, while Until I Met You talks of being in a relationship with someone you just can’t get along with. Their single, the acoustic driven Jaded(These Years), which features Benji Madden of Good Charlotte, helped cast Mest further into the mainstream this year.
RecommendedBurning Bridges, Chance Of A Lifetime

8.) NOFXThe War on Errorism: With this album, NOFX cover a wide varieties of topics. From the current state of Punk music(Seperation of Church and Skate), politics(Idiots Are Taking Over), and even a love song(Two Jealous Agains). Of course, it wouldn’t be a NOFX album without some humor tossed in(She’s Nubs). While some topics have changed, most of it is still the same great NOFX sound of fast melodic punk, and mixing in a bit of ska here and there.
RecommendedMattersville, Seperation of Church and Skate
Click here for a full review.

7.) The All-American RejectsSelf-titled: Okay, so it was originally released in 2002, but it was re-released in 2003 so it made my list. When I first heard the song, Swing, Swing, I wasn’t too impressed. However, upon hearing the song several times, it grew on me and I couldn’t seem to get it’s catchy tune out of my head. While the lyrics can be overly sappy at times, Tyson’s voice and the overall greatness of each song more than makes up for it.
RecommendedMy Paper Heart, One More Sad Song

6.) Blink 182Blink 182: I never thought it could happen, but Mark, Tom, and Travis got serious. Not only that, but it works well for them! I’m still a big fan of their previous work, but this album took them to a whole new level in my book. I’m all for trying new things and experimenting, and that’s what this album is all about. They’ve added pianos, thrown in some acoustic guitars, programmed drum beats, and cover more serious topics. A lot of people compare this album to that of Box Car Racer, which is Tom & Travis’s side project. While I too am guilty of this, I really feel this album can stand all on it’s own.
RecommendedI Miss You, Stockholm Syndrome

5.) ThriceThe Artist in the Ambulance: If I could sum this album up with just one word, I’d say amazing. The band definitely came out strong on their major label debut, proving that signing to a major isn’t always a bad thing. If anything, the band improved compared to their previous efforts. This album is a brilliant blend of hardcore vocals, melodies, and metal riffs.
RecommendedSilhouette, Under A Killing Moon

4.) RancidIndestructible: Amidst all of the talk of deals with Warner Bros. and selling out, their arose a great album, which punched all the nay-sayers right in their mouth. The Rancid boys took all of the pain, heartache, anger, and aggression from the past few years, put it all into these songs and created a masterpiece. In my opinion, the only way you’d find a better Rancid album would be to pick up …And Out Come The Wolves.
RecommendedRed Hot Moon, Indestructable
Click here for a full review.

3.) Rise AgainstRevolutions Per Minute: Take some melodic punk rock, add in some hardcore, a hell of a lot of emotion, and a Journey cover. What do you end up with? Thirty-seven minutes of pure bliss called Revolutions Per Minutes. This album is perfect for fans of Bad Religion and Thrice.
RecommendedBlack Masks & Gasoline, Like The Angel
Click here for a full review.

2.) AFISing The Sorrow: 2003 was the breakout year for this band, if that’s what you want to call it. Having already a huge fan following, the release of their major label debut threw them right into the mainstream. While STS has quite a different sound from their previous offerings, it’s still AFI, and at their best no less. AFI has some of the best lyrics I’ve ever heard, and Davey delivers each line with great emotion. It definitely makes every song on the album a must-hear.
RecommendedDancing Through Sunday, Paper Airplanes(makeshift wings)

1.) Avenged SevenfoldWaking the Fallen: Before purchasing this album, I had never listened to this band. After listening to this masterpiece, they’re now one of my favorite bands. This album is truly metalcore at it’s finest. From the screaming vocals to the Iron Maiden-like guitar riffs, this album hits you hard and fast leaving you wanting more. The eight minute and 58 second long epic, I Won’t See You Tonight Part 1, might just make power-ballads cool again. The song is, dare I say, beautiful. I would recommend checking this album out if you’re a fan of Killswitch Engage, Poison the Well, or old-school metal.
RecommendedUnholy Confessions, Clairvoyant Disease, Second Heartbeat

Honorable mention:
ThursdayWar All The Time
Death By StereoInto the Valley of Death
The AtarisSo Long, Astoria
From Autumn To AshesThe Fiction We Live

Thanks for reading. Until next year, I’m out. Happy New Year.

Wasted Words 12: Holiday Edition

In tribute to the holiday season, I’m straying from the normal musical topics of my columns.

So the Holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving has passed. We’re onto Christmas and soon after we’ll be ringing in the new year. Minus the cold weather and snow, I’ve always loved this time of year. Spending time with the family. Going to holiday dinners and seeing grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that you don’t get to see often. That’s what has always made the holiday season so great for me. I won’t lie, the Christmas gifts are a nice addition, but they’re not what makes this time so special. Family, it’s what it’s all about. I remember as a kid, we would drive around town looking at all the Christmas lights. My parents would play that awful Christmas music. I hated it! The music, I mean. The lights were great. There was one Christmas song that I liked, which was Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer. Every time I heard it on the radio, I’d call her up on the telephone and tell her it was on so that she could listen to it. She got such a kick out of that, as did I. Setting up the Christmas tree together was always fun too. Untangling all of the lights that had been packed away for the past year. Placing the ornaments on the branches, with each one seeming to bring back a memory or two. Remember those shiny “ice cycles” that you put all over the tree? Those were fun, but made one hell of a mess. Oh, and can’t forget putting the lights on the tree and turning them on, only to find out that a bulb was out and they wouldn’t work. Talk about frustrating! But when you’re a kid, you didn’t have to worry much about that. Let the parents handle it, right?

Going to see Santa was always fun. Here you are, sitting on some strange mans lap, telling him about all the toys you want. What does he do when you’re done? Gives you a candy cane, of course. Sounds like an evening with Michael Jackson, I know. But it’s a lot more innocent than it sounds.

We can’t forget about the anticipation of the big day either. You know, when Santa Clause drops by, slides down your chimney, and leaves you a big pile of toys. It seemed like the closer it actually got to Christmas Day, the further away it seemed. The presents already wrapped under the tree didn’t make the wait much easier. On Christmas Eve, my brother and I would beg my parents to allow us to open one gift before going to bed. Sometimes it worked, most the time it didn’t. I guess we thought it would help us sleep better if we could open just one gift. Yeah, right. As far as I can remember, I probably averaged about three to four hours of sleep on Christmas Eve. I’d lay there and try to go to sleep, but it wouldn’t happen. Late in the evening (or early in the morning, however you look at it), I would get out of bed to see if the big guy had been there yet. If he hadn’t, I’d stroll back to bed and try to catch some sleep. See, me and my brother had an agreement as far as getting up to get our gifts from Santa. If he got up and the presents were out, he’d wake me up. If I found the presents and he was sleeping, I would wake him up. Teamwork my friends, teamwork. Upon getting up, we’d check out each others swag, whether it was the latest Ninja Turtle action figure, or the latest Nintendo game.

Christmas Day usually went something like this for me and my family…my brothers and I would get out of bed around 5:00 am, play with our toys that Santa had left for us for a few hours, then wake our parents up to show them what had been left for us. Little did we know there was a big secret about those gifts that Santa left, but we’ll discuss that later. My mom would then cook breakfast and we would all eat. After breakfast, we’d all open a new clothing outfit so that we could wear them to my grandparents house for Christmas dinner. My dad didn’t like opening all of our gifts that morning. Instead, he opted to save them until after dinner at the grandparents. He claimed it was to make Christmas last longer for us all. We didn’t care much for doing it that way, but that’s how he wanted it. After opening our new clothes, we’d all get cleaned up and head to my grandparents. We would spend the day there, eating dinner, spending time with the rest of the family and opening gifts. We would also sing those dreaded Christmas songs that I hat…err, loved so much. Well, I pretended to like them anyway, for grandmas sake. She always enjoyed singing them together. I don’t know how many of us kids actually enjoyed singing those songs, but we all went along with it. After leaving my Grandparents house, we would head home and open up the rest of our gifts that were waiting for us.

Looking back at holidays of the past, a lot of things have changed. The secret of Santa Clause is out of the bag. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and GI Joe’s have turned into compact discs and clothes. The day full of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents has turned into my mother, my two brothers, my daughter, and myself. Things seem so different at Christmas time these days. Several years ago, around this same time of year, my grandmother passed away. Remember those Christmas songs I hated singing on Christmas Day? I’d give about anything to be singing those same songs alongside my grandmother right now. No longer do we pile up in the car and go to grandmas house anymore. After my grandmother passed away, it seems that no one sees any reason to get together for the holidays. It’s sad really. This past March, my father passed away after just turning forty-nine years old. This is the first Christmas we will spend without him here. As much as I hated waiting all day long to open the rest of our gifts, I wish he was here right now to tell us to wait. I’d put off opening all of my gifts for an eternity if he could be here right now. I’d give anything to go back to how things used to be. Believing in the magic of Santa Clause. Going to grandmas house and spending time with the rest of the family. Having to wake my dad up from his Christmas morning nap so that we could open up that one clothing outfit. Oh, how I miss it all.

I’m twenty-four years old now, and I’ve started my own family. All of the things I enjoyed as a child, I now get to pass on to my daughter, Ashley. We put our Christmas tree up as a family, just as we did when I was a kid. She loves the Christmas lights, so we drive around searching for the houses with the most lights. She sits in her car seat and yells “pretty” as we drive by each house. Of course, I’m still not too fond of Christmas songs, so you won’t find any in my CD changer any time soon. She knows who Santa Clause is now, and she’ll wake up on Christmas morning to find the toys that he leaves for her. She sat on Santa’s lap at the mall the other day, and did so without screaming her head off as she did last year. Of all the things I will teach her about Christmas, one thing stands above all else. The importance of family. Not just at the holidays, however, but all year long. Most people, myself included, tend to take for granted the people who love them most. Most of us assume they’ll always be there, until one day we wake up and they’re not. An old Cinderella song comes to mind. I know what you’re saying…What does cheesy hair-metal have to do with family and Christmas time? Nothing really, other than as the song says, you don’t know what you’ve got, ’til it’s gone. So this holiday season, hug your loved ones a little tighter. Tell them you love them a few extra times. Call that friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while and let them know how much they mean to you. Take care, and Happy Holidays.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m out.