The Birth of Grunge- “91”- And The Death of Drums- “Taon II”

by ION

The Birth of Grunge- "91"- And The Death of Drums- "Taon II" by ION

(In the Tempo of the Dog, please…)

“Can’t smoke, can’t drink, can’t dance, can’t sing,
can’t punk, can’t folk, can’t fight, can’t fall anymore…”

– “Taon II”

All that is not entirely true.

I can still sing.

And punk.

And fall…

like you wouldn’t believe.

Listen to this track while reading the text.

I wrote a book about this falling. It’s called The Band of Time. It was written here in the high desert- California, near Joshua Tree, and it took 3 months to write and over a year in just thinking. These 2 songs were written here, too, but they took about 30 minutes and virtually no thinking… songs are the best thing in the world- the best object- no worthier waste of time (or life) in this world. Next is books. Then film. Unfortunately, songs don’t sell themselves anymore, so I thought a novel mode of entry into the music world would be to have a book, a novel, like Kerouac’s On the Road, acting as a sonic journal of sorts, that would follow the highly unusual, highly unstable creation of my first album in 12 years- Band of Time.

The book, like the album, took many twists turning into something I could never have conceived of from the first word. The first note.
Aside from the poetic and psychological elements of the creative life, this book is essentially a study of symbols. Of numbers. And of predestination. It is also a true story. Aside from some dramatic augmentation, it is all true. 90%.
Strange, but true. And the other 10% is just calling Harry, “Henry,” and saying he died in Vietnam, when in reality, he just doesn’t want to see you anymore. Yet you keep looking for him. He’s an expert hider, Henry…also, a first rate sniper. But, you love him…it’s very complicated. Very painful. But that’s war, for you. For me. So…back to the story and the songs, leaving Henry in Vietnam for a little while-

I uncovered a very real, very interesting connecting thread between Jim Morrison and Jack Kerouac. Their birth and death numbers at first. For some reason I did single integer arithmetic, so 8-10-1974 would be 8 and 1 to equal 9, plus 0, is 9, plus 1 is 10, to equal 1, zero having no value. Then 1 and 7 to get 8, plus 4 would be 12. Or, 3. Just straight across summing. No carryovers. 1 through 9. And I did this for Kerouac’s birth and death numbers, and they both equal 2. That’s highly coincidental, I thought. Then I did this with Jim’s numbers, and they both equal 1. Beyond coincidence here. And I thought a great story would be where I, being a writer and musician, would be number 3. And there would be a pattern that revealed my death date based on Kerouac’s and Morrison’s deaths, and I had to record my 9 album opus before then. Before 2021. 66 years after the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. I have the 9 albums. I have the rock ‘n’ roll. But, do I have the luxury of time, though, is the question.

And this led to many more connections- bizarre, highly symmetrical ones- with Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick, and The Zodiac calendar, being the central elements. And they all revolve around the birth of the counterculture. Rock ‘n’ roll. Subversive literature and cinema. Time travel, the nature of what has been called The Devil. 666. And 999. And 3…AC/DC, Motley Crue, Metallica, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, John Lennon, the moon landing, War of the Worlds. Orion.

It’s the only long form narrative I saw fit to follow through on, because it was a mystery book. But one to which I did not know the ending. A real life mystery. For the writer, as well. Just like how the album came about. Day one, I had one song, no home anymore, no family anymore, no friends anymore, no money, no smokes, no drugs, no wine, no future…just one song. “Sirens on the Shore.”

Unlike that one song, “91,” is just over 2 minutes long, and was relatively painless. Relatively.
When I happened upon the central riff, I knew it was good. Real good. This is typically when “the voices” come out. When I’m on to something good.
Now, you have 2 choices when this happens: You drop what you’re doing and hope the voices dissipate, scatter, or you keep going, knowing the voices multiply. Get louder. I have developed a working relationship with the voices, so I worked on the song until it was done. “They” may have even added a word or 2, because the lyrics came easy. No effort. It’s a conversation between 2 old friends- “moving in the Tempo of the Dog…” grunge in full bloom and the rest of our lives ahead of us (whether we like it or not.) The final door in The Shining…and just where does this go?

Oh, right…hell.

And there are no drums in hell, apparently.

I had to use a 20 year old shaker, my lap, and a whole lot of distortion for the recording…scrapping. Scraping by. Sang the last vocal at 7 in the morning. The desert won’t let you sleep when it’s on to something good.

No complaints.

’91 was a good year.

Very good.

“Taon II,” came about much the same way.

“When we’re in the rhythm, nothin’s in the kingdom, only what we’re singin’ since the beginning of time, when we came down to earth…”

Tao.

What has to be done.

It’s done.

And it’s good.

Thank you.

I could not have done anything without you.

With all my love,

The Midnight Son, The Elektric One in The Band of Time, John, Christian, William, ION, Aya-

Your son, your brother, your father, husband, lover, and friend,

Whoever I Am.

Until the very last note.

Until The End when we look upon what we have done, and wonder…

How the hell did we do that?

And more importantly,

Why?

Oh, right…

for the hell of it.

(Insert loud power chord)

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Artist’s Note
Rock, Tribal, Grunge, Punk, Blues

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