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Danko Jones


I've Always Been a Rocker

Posted: 07/26/2013 8:35 am

Ever since I could remember, I've been a gluttonous fiend for music. Even though I started out as a hard rock/metal kid, once I discovered The Bad Brains and their album, "Rock For Light," I realized limitations placed on music were artificial and it stirred a musical chaos in my head. After that, nothing was off the table -- from Nick Drake and Nomeansno to The Birthday Party and Otis Redding. To a certain extent, I still am despite investigative fires having been cooled off and satiated.

But no matter how far I musically stray from my original favourites, I can never break away. It's in moments of reminiscence that I start to dig back through my childhood favourites. No matter what musical phase I go through, no matter what new band I'm suddenly taken with and become its biggest fan, I will always love the albums by the bands that won me over as a kid. These are the albums that found me at a time when I was most impressionable and are too ingrained in my psyche to simply let go and forget. If push comes to shove and desert islands force selections, I'd choose "Ride The Lightning" over "A Love Supreme" every time.

Of course, many have said similar things about the music that touched them when they were growing up but the sad thing is, not much is left of those days and most can't be proven if need be. A ripped up ticket stub or a warped cassette is all that's left from dingy basements providing little verification of the fandom harnessed in possessing such a relic.

Long before the advent of videotape, how many kids thought ahead of time to ask their parents for the neighbour's Super 8 camera, and film them as a keepsake when they dressed up like Alice Cooper for Halloween? Were there even photocopy machines in use back then to archive fan letters mailed in stalker-like fashion to say, Wings or Black Sabbath? Too bad there were no iPhones to capture the experience of camping out for first row tickets to The Stones show either. Perhaps a faded Polaroid or soft-focused instamatic print is all the tiny proof that remains. Lost keepsakes can keep people up at night and continue onward to wreak havoc in adulthood unconsciously chasing each's personal "Rosebud."

I never had much success holding on to mementos. My mom was anything but a hoarder and I was always encouraged to purge. Lost toys and tokens from childhood are a big reason why I am largely responsible for keeping eBay in business today. But there is one relic from my childhood that I refused to part with that substantiates all claims that I've been a rocker my whole life.

While summer vacations are seen as a welcome break for most kids, I equated summer vacations with an equal amount of delight and anxiety; delighted that I didn't have to go to school for a few months but with parental units working full-time, apprehensive as to how and where I would be shuffled off to spend the time off.

Sensing early on that I wasn't quite the outdoorsman, my mother carted me off to art camp one year where we were given primitive Super 8 cameras to fool around with for two weeks. While most kids shot cute racing car videos or made little Plasticine figures come to life, I drew a cartoon of my favourite band at the time -- Mötley Crüe.

I loved Mötley Crüe. I loved them because they were the baddest, loudest most evil-looking band in the universe. They wore makeup, had songs like "Bastard" and "God Bless The Children Of The Beast" and their album, "Shout At The Devil," had backward messages and a pentagram. They also scared the shit out of my mom. Of course, I later realized that the "In The Beginning" intro was inspired by David Bowie's "Future Legend" and "Helter Skelter" was actually a Beatles cover, two definitely more benign sources than first imagined.

A few weeks after the camp session, I watched my finished Mötley Crüe cartoon on a friend's projector. Afterwards I put it in a box and quietly forgot about it until January 11, 2011 when I just happened to be on "The Sixx Sense," Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx's radio show. I guess meeting the man face-to-face awakened dormant memories and the first thing I did when I got back home was dig through old boxes searching for it. I found it and did what any person does nowadays -- I uploaded it on YouTube for everyone to see.

I am so glad I made this when I did. I was never NOT a rocker and this proves it. I knew I loved rock the moment I heard it. And I can thank Nikki Sixx for reinforcing and inspiring it. This remains the greatest achievement of my entire childhood.

This is my "Rosebud." Enjoy.

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