If you are reading this, I’m surprised to be honest. It must be because you know me personally. If not I’m even more surprised why you’d care to read what I have to say. This is the story of someone who literally put all they had into trying to “make it” in the music industry and yet found the harsh reality of finding out how much heartbreak comes with it. Is it worth it? Yes I believe so, and always will. It’s just if you choose this as the path you choose to follow, get ready for the most intense rollercoaster ride you’ll ever ride.
So the first question is when did I get the bug to want to have a career playing music? Well the easy answer is at my first real big concert in 2009, but honestly I think the seed was planted big time in 2003.
Until 2003, as a kid I was raised with mostly Country, and a babysitter that had an obsession with boy bands like ‘The Backstreet Boys’ and ‘*NSYNC,” and as a toddler I did “perform” a Chris Leduex song for a old women and her friends. So I think that I was always born to want to be an entertainer. What can I say? I love the attention. When I was 6-9 I had that babysitter who was obsessed with the boy bands, so naturally I fell into that music in the late 90’s, early 2000’s. I remember one of the first rock bands my Mom showed me when I was about 6 was ‘The Rolling Stones’ and I loved their music since the first time I heard it, I fell in love hugely with the sound of a distorted electric guitar, and always wanted to be a guitarist deep down, but could never do it because I have a mild case of Cerebral Palsy on my left side.
But I feel the first time I heard music that I could feel was my own style of music, and not my parents music was in 2003. I was 10 years old and my best friend Kasey told me his sisters had this CD I needed to hear. It was “the best band in the world.” The CD was “Hybrid Theory” by Linkin Park. I instantly fell in love with the mixture of the metal and hard rock elements, mixed with Mike Shinoda’s rapping, and I mean Chester Bennington’s vocals? Come on, fucking legendary! For the next year Kasey and I listened to that album non stop. I remember my parents hating it because of the screaming on the album. My parents wondered what happened to me and my nice friend Kasey. All of a sudden we were skateboarding and listening to Linkin Park non stop. That was the first time I thought “Hey, these rockstars are pretty cool dudes.” From then on Pop would not enter my ears by my own choice.
The year after we were obsessed with Hybrid Theory the new thing that all my friends were getting into was this album by a band called ‘Good Charlotte’ called “The Young and the Hopeless.” That became my introduction into any sort of punk rock, though I wouldn’t get into real punk rock until many years down the road. So that year our new obsession was all these pop punk bands: New Found Glory, Blink-182, Sum 41, Simple Plan, Yellowcard. Also “Meteora” by ‘Linkin Park ‘ also came out that year which was a big album for my friends and I that year.
That next year that was late 2004-05 my best friend and I kinda went separate ways unfortunately, so I was lonely a lot. Didn’t have too many people showing me new music. I remember a few years previous my Mom got the Greatest Hits album of Jimi Hendrix, which I liked but didn’t pay that much attention. Until this day in early 2005 I was at my little towns only record store and for some reason I choose to buy “Are You Experienced?” by ‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience.’ Than after that I had a obsession with all the Jimi Hendrix music I could get my hands on for the next 3 years. I had a uncle who was also obsessed with anything Hendrix so when I would visit there he would give me these rare live CD’s and DVD’s. I think that was the first time I really wanted badly to be a musician. That year my parents would show me footage of Woodstock. So I found out about: The Who, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, and the list goes on and on..
I grew up with my father as a drummer as a baby he would play with some Classic Rock cover bands, but I mostly grew up watching my Dad play drums in our church, but by late 2005 my Dad really wasn’t playing too much and the drums were gathering dust in our barn, so I decided to carry them into our garage, try to set them up and learn how to play drums. My Dad would come down and try to give me lessons, but I’m not very good with listening to my Dad.
A few months later I decided I wanted to start my first “band” at 13 as the drummer/lead vocalist with a friend of mine who moved 2 hours away and I would often talk to on “MSN Messenger.” Anyone remember that? He told me he played guitar, but I only saw him about 2 times a year, so that was the only time we’d practice. Which was just getting together and making noise, really. So that was my first attempt to have a band. My parents even had band shirts made. I think I just liked people to think that I played in a band.
But the real bug where I became tunnel vision on becoming a musician wasn’t until the summer of 2009 when I was 17 years old. So during late 8th grade all through high school the new music fad was hardcore, post-hardcore, metalcore bands. You know like: Chiodos, Underoath, Alesana, Silverstein. A Day to Remember, Escape the Fate and on and on.
It was our dream to go to Warped Tour. That was like Heaven for all us oily scene kids. It didn’t work out in 2008, but 2009 we successfully talked my parents into taking us to the Boise, Idaho stop on Warped Tour. My best friend and my favorite band at the time was a band called ‘Chiodos.’ It was when they came and hit the main stage that I was full on that I wanted to do what the band was doing. But I wasn’t paying attention to the drummer too much, I was drawn into the interaction between the crowd and frontman, Craig Owens. Everyone was watching him, and the rest of the bands, who were majority of the crowd looking at and idolizing: the frontman. Well that was it, I wasn’t gonna focus on the drums anymore. I wasn’t that good of a drummer anyways. My new thing was I wanted to be a Lead Vocalist in a band, and I want to make people feel the way that those bands made the crowd feel.
So it was a few months after going to that Warped Tour. My Junior year of High School started, and I was so ready mentally to start a band. The only problem was in my high school there were very few guitarists, bass players, or drummers, and the really good ones wouldn’t want to play with me. The only thing they heard from me was some recordings I did with my first “band” ‘The Dead End,’ and those were really embarrassingly bad. Well I was in this drama class and we went on the annual trip to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, where we go and just watch a bunch of these professional plays. Well one day, they let us go to this mall for about 4 hrs. First thing I did was go to GameStop and buy the whole box set of Rock Band 2. It was something I wanted forever. My good friend Dan had it, and I had ‘Guitar Hero: World Tour’ which had the whole band set up, but too me Rock Band 2 had better music, graphics, the “ instruments” were better built. I carried that box around the mall for the next 4 hours, the thing must of been 40 lbs. When I got home I set that thing up and whenever I wasn’t at school I was singing or screaming along to that game. It showed me a lot of great new bands, and that is where I got the basic technic for learning how to sing and match the pitch of the artist.
By the beginning of 2010 a friend of mine that I’ve known since 2nd grade moved back into the town. He was a band geek I guess you can say, he could play many horn instruments, really smart, nerdy type kid, no offense Tommy, but he also played bass. One night while being my recluse self in my room singing to Rock Band alone I thought of a idea, a stupid one looking back. To have a band where I have different people help out on different songs. Why that was stupid is there was only 1 guitarist who would play with me and 1 bassist, the 3 drummers in the school were way too good to play with me. So I did realize the only bassist I could think of was Tommy, which was great! Tommy was my best friend, played Rock Band with me a few times and thought I had a good voice, so I texted Tommy and told him my idea and he was instantly down. Tommy told me for guitar I should get this kid Casey Marino for a few songs on guitar. He had no fingers on one hand but he could hold the puck in between his thumb and hand and he could play real good like that. It soon dawned us he was pretty much the only guitarist that would play with us, and we were all great friends. We called our band ‘My Friend Z.’ Casey is also a solid drummer, and he does a song or 2 on drums on my new solo album, and there was a few times are friend Ethan Osterloh (Who comes back in this story later) would come up and play guitar and Casey would switch to drums, and I could just focus on singing, but I don’t think Ethan was feeling it, we weren’t really writing anything we’d just do these random jams, and we’ve never been in a real band before (besides High School Band) so it was all over the place. The core guys was always Tommy, Casey and myself doing drums and vocals which was pretty chaotic because I would focus hard on one of those then the other one would fall to shit.
I remember the first time that we got together for a practice they turned on their tiny practice amps that they had. We looked at each other like “What do we do?” We knew we wanted to write our own songs, but no one had any riff ideas or anything. I think we probably just went upstairs and wound up playing Rock Band instead. Tommy found this website where it has the guitar tone and strumming patterns made in its large library of ‘samples’ I guess you can call it, but you type in the chord progressions. So I made a few songs that way came up with lyrics and vocal melodies for them and the guys learned how to play them, so then we had about 5 songs, but they weren’t finished I would simply just make a verse and chorus. I wasn’t paying enough attention to music to notice all the different changes great songs have: breaks, bridges, pre-choruses, etc. So we played those songs for about 7 months. Senior year of High School rolls around and a friend of ours who graduated the previous year and moved away during the summer moves back into this town and this guy is a phenomenal drummer. He was one of the main drummers in the High School Band and had played in Rock/ Pop Punk bands since he was in Junior High, Tommy and I run into him at one of our High School Football games, which is really kind of crazy I was there cause I never went to those things. Anyway we’re just talking catching up with him and one of us asks if he would want to come up and jam with us, which to our surprise he said “Yeah sure man, sounds like fun.”
So we get together with Collie and I was just blown away with how it sounded with a great drummer. However Collie didn’t look pleased, he looked stressed. He told us straight up that the songs need a lot of work. So he asked if we know any covers. Casey goes “I know how to play American Idiot by Green Day.” So next thing you know we got about 4 covers which we can do pretty damn good (American Idiot, Brainstew by Green Day, Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones, and Collie played a song on the acoustic guitar and sang called ‘Remembering Sunday’ by All Time Low. I did the girl vocal part haha) My Mom came in and asked us if we wanted her to book us our first gig at this venue you can rent out for your own events. We all agreed, and started working hard on these 4 songs we could do. The original plan was do 5 including 1 original, but Collie told us it wasn’t ready and to bag it, so we did. It was at this time you start to see the common problems that there always seems to be in a band: people not wanting to be at practice, saying “I got my part down, I don’t need to practice.” Which yeah, you do. You have to practice as a full unit to get tight as a band, but we always came together for the show. We had 2 shows in that band, both times you were nervous at how tight we were gonna be until the week before and our hearts were in it. That show we played those 4 songs twice. Tommy’s then sister Maggie, opened up that show playing some cover songs on her acoustic guitar. Then we came on, played our set twice and I must say we rocked it! Even looking back now, I think we still sounded real tight. Big props to Collie for putting the hammer down, keeping it together, and teaching us how to be in a real band. We all felt good about the performance, went back to my place, or should I say my parents place and smoked cigars in the garage, yeah we were cool haha.
2 months go by and we’ve been working on finishing our first finished song with Collie helping us writing it. When Collie tells us he’s deciding to move away. We were devastated. Collie was the rock that kept it together, basically the Captain steering us inexperienced members on the right path. We went back to being a 3 piece again for a while, and it definitely felt a lot more weak. Finally Casey and Tommy come up to me and says we should get this kid named Josh Connolly to play bass and Tommy will switch to drums. So we go pick up Josh, and I know he can play guitar pretty well too. We try to play with Tommy on drums, and Tommy I love you to death dude, but you really couldn’t keep a beat on the drums. So I spoke up and said, “Hey Tommy why don’t you get back on bass, Josh play guitar, and Casey get on drums,” and boom it worked out great! We sounded really good again. We got our second and last gig playing for a bunch of my classmates and my graduation party. This time we did 8 songs that we played twice, and we did play that 1 original song called “I Don’t Know if the Beast Can Do the Job” which was a quote from this character my Dad played on my friend Cody’s video book report for ‘Call of the Wild’ and my Dad just really hammed it up and was really funny.
So after that show Josh moved away for a bit, so we stop for a bit, then when Josh does come back Tommy and Casey come to me and tell me they want to kick Josh out of the band because he was always bragging about how high or drunk he was the night before, which I didn’t care, but they found it annoying. So Casey kicked him out, and while it was happening I was hiding in the bathroom like a chicken shit. That’s embarrassing to admit, but I’m letting it all out. So then they say we should get our friend Johnny Green really nice guy, but he was just really new with playing guitar. Eventually they let me bring Josh back in and have Johnny on rhythm. But Summer was soon ending and Tommy and I would be heading different ways from the guys going to College. Tommy was only gonna be an hour and a half away in a town called La Grande, OR. Going to Eastern Oregon University, but I was going clear across the state to Eugene, OR. To go to Lane Community College. The plan was to do one more show at my parents place for a farewell show, but I guess I just didn’t feel we were ready to play live with Johnny. So I just pretty much quit the band.
I remember I went down to our local big rodeo in my hometown of Joseph Oregon. Every last week of July is the “Chief Joseph Days,” which is the most famous thing about Joseph. I ran into a family friend who was living in Eugene. He was a radio DJ and had a band down there and recommended that I should get on the Eugene Music Craigslist. There’s always bands looking for singers or vice versa. So I take his advice about 3 weeks before I’m to move down to Eugene I post an ad on Craigslist saying I’m looking for a band and put a link of a live video of ‘My Friend Z.’ I got 2 replies the very first one was from a guy named Jered Kappenman, 2nd was from a guy named Tim Eastland, which is funny cause he would join our band about a year and a half later.
Jered told me he was 27 which at the time I thought was pretty old, now I’m not even a year away from it. He said that he had a “studio” he had good connections for gigs. Since he was the first one who messaged me I called him up and talked to him. I remember he said “Well we could sound kind of like Alkaline Trio.” Which is funny cause when we got together and started naturally making music it sounded nothing even close to Alkaline Trio. I almost backed out from meeting Jered because I never met a stranger over the internet and feared of getting raped. That’s true!
So I moved to Eugene the 2nd of September. I remember my Mom being pissed at me cause I was more excited about starting this new band than going to college. I met up with Jered and our first bass player James John who was 22 at the time and just one hell of a bass player, I must say. I took my parents to meet them because still, that whole rape thing haha. I met them at a KFC across from where there “studio” was. My parents had good vibes and knew these were good guys and said good bye to me. The moment I joined this band was the moment I was a free man on my very own. But still so much like a young teen. We go across to the studio, and it’s a small storage unit, with sound reducing panels and rock n roll posters all around it. During the winter we bought a plug in heater that would shut down the power of the whole building and we’d get the other bands banging on our door “What the fuck man! We’re trying to record.” But anyways Jered and James start jamming and I am overwhelmed with how good these guys were. I felt I shouldn’t even be playing with guys this good. Plus they actually have big professional amps and good equipment. So I just do these weak ass screams. Finally I ask if I could hop on the drum set they had in there and that will help me think of melodies. Which they were pretty impressed with my drumming actually. I think after that first practice they were considering me for a drummer rather than a vocalist. During our third practice we had our garage door open on the storage unit, and this Korean guy walked by. Jered heard about him from one of the other bands in the storage unit that he was a great drummer. His name was Jung Moon and he was a Foreign Exchange student from South Korea, and Jered asked if he wanted to jam with us, and he said “Oh yeah, let me get my drum sticks, and just like that magic happened, Jung became our drummer and the guys were able to see that I could be a decent vocalist. We had the basic foundation that luckily would be in every line up we had a bass player who played like he wanted to be a lead guitarist but still would never switch from bass who had great stage presence and wanted to be notice and entertain, a technical drummer who fits in perfectly with the song, Jered who comes up with the most catchy cool riffs around, and me who just always had a notebook full of lyrics and my duty 99% of the time was to come up with the vocal melody. We decided to name the band ‘Black Hare’ because James was into the Chinese zodiac and 2011 which is the year we formed was the year of the metal Hare. So you think what’s the color of the genre metal? Black, so we called it Black Hare for that reason. I actually wasn’t crazy about it at first, but it tends to grow on you pretty fast. There was something magical about that old storage unit. We wrote basically our whole first album material within the first 4 months. I found that Jered and I were a great writing team as we wrote about 95% of the material together.
The first 5 shows were all entertaining in there own way to say the least. On November 11, 2011 we had our first gig, conveniently just about 3 blocks down from our practice space. A place called “The Astoria Bar” which was weird, cause it wasn’t in Astoria, it was in Eugene. I remember being real nervous about my first show in a bar. I didn’t know what to expect from the audience. Me only being 19 I wasn’t allowed in the bar until we were to go on and play and that’s how it was with most bars, and then when your done playing ‘Get the hell out of here!’ So for this show it was 3 bands that my other band mates played in. Jung and me were the only ones who were just in Black Hare at the time, but that would soon change. So as the first band is playing I’m still at my apartment. Most likely just pacing back and forth listening to music as I do, waiting for the call from Jered that we were about to go on. The first band to play that night was a band Jered started a few months before he started Black Hare called ‘Traumavision.’ (Jered was in 3 bands at the time: ‘Takin’ by Tigers’, which both him and James were in, and at that time was a their main project, Black Hare obviously, and Traumavision.) ‘Traumavision’ was an awesome band who I would still love to see get back together for a show, hell, I’ll even drum if they can’t find a drummer. Traumavision was a female fronted real grungy type band. Fronted by Sarah Armento who was a really cool shy girl, but had vocals like Courtney Love. Funny thing is the bass player and drummer for Traumavision at the time was also in the other band that played with us.
So between bands one of the guys from the other band invited his friend who was a DJ who went by the name of ‘DJ Golem’ to DJ in between bands setting up, which I thought was awesome, and DJ Golem was a super nice guy and was nothing but supportive to me and told me he saw something in me, and that I would go places. So after Traumavision we were up. Right before we went on, I was so nervous for some reason I had to go over next door to a donut shop to run in their bathroom. But we got up there and played and there was something magical about that crowd that night. The crowd just absolutely loved us and we had everyone’s attention in there, which is rare at a bar. We would go on to play there a few times after that and never had a crowd like that there again. That show was such a success I had people just come outside to talk to me and build me up. I think my band members started to feel then that we may really have something good here!
The last band to play that night was a band called ‘Power 4′ which was a more blues rock band that James played bass in. The Lead Singer/Lead Guitarist was the bass player for ‘Traumavision’ and the drummer for ‘Takin’ by Tigers,’ (Small world right?) and the drummer for ‘Power 4’ was also the drummer for ‘Traumavision.’ So now I think your caught up with that. That night they had a new guitarist they were breaking in, who was I think roommates with one of the band members, the guy went by ‘Spike’ who has always been nice to me. That night he got HAMMERED before the band even went on to play. James said he had to turn off Spike’s amp because he obviously couldn’t play that good being that drunk, and he didn’t even notice. So that was a fun night. I expected all shows to go like that, which obviously, not the case. Each show is different, each crowd is different. So if you’re a band playing bars get rid of that mindset that everywhere you go people are gonna worship you. I’ve seen AMAZING bands get ignored at bars.
The 2nd show was the exact same line-up at a place called “Diablos Downtown Lounge” on January 5, 2012. Obviously in downtown, no shit. This time around my Mom just told me to just come in act casual and sit at a booth, and no one should bother you. Which is what I did and I wasn’t bothered by any employees and could watch the whole show. As we enter this place obviously about an hour early there is a Transvestite show going on here. Now at this point, being only 19 raised in a small conservative town and not even ever been drunk at that point, I was a little freaked out. Not that I have anything against them. I was a little traumatized when my Mom reaches out with money to give one of them and they came up and did a little show for my Mom. The place was pretty packed for that. The bands were to go on after. Well guess what? When that show ended so did about 85% of the people did too. This time ‘Power 4’ started the show. SURPRISE: Spike wasn’t there haha. Than DJ Golem playing between bands setting up. Than Traumavision went up next and I believe they had the best crowd response that night, and well deserved they killed it, and of course there is always one overly excited drunk guy rocking out harder than anyone else. (There is always one, and here’s a tip: if no one else is feeling your music, focus on the overly excited drunk guy. If one person is getting down it’s worth it.) Then we went on last, and what everyone thinks is “You’re going on last? Cool headliner!” But as you find the last spot in most shows as a small unknown band is the worst. Most of the crowd has already left, as you get older you’ll even notice some of your friends leaving before you play if it gets too late. That night we definitely played to a smaller crowd than the other bands, and the people were respectful, not zoned in as they were at the Astoria, going crazy about us, but they didn’t hate us. We even had a 9 song set by our 2nd gig. Those first 6 months we were shitting out songs, and they were good!
So those 2 shows I viewed as a success and was happy with the way that people were receiving us. The next 2 shows is where it becomes funny. In those early days our mentality was to play as many shows as possible, anywhere that would take us. Which we learned is NOT the way to do it. Do research on the place, if it looks like it’s not gonna be your style of a crowd don’t play it.
So I believe by this time ‘Power 4’ had disbanded, so the next 2 shows we just played with Traumavision. Our next show would be in Roseburg, OR. at a place called the “Jersey Lilly.” Jered said that ‘Lidless Eye’ a awesome local metal band had a great show there. However they’re from Roseburg, so they could get all their friends there. Us and Traumavision though we didn’t know anyone in Roseburg and we were the only 2 bands playing, so no local act to bring in a crowd, that’s another bad move. Anyway this time ‘The Hare’ went on first and let’s just say there was some people there when we first started but not after haha. If you are a metal band and while you’re setting up and notice most the crowd is in Cowboy attire and look like they just got done with a hard day on the farm it is NOT gonna go over well, which obviously is what I noticed as we were setting up. Our bass player was laughing while we were playing cause he could here to middle age couples talking amongst each other going “What’s this? This ain’t good!” Of course they got up and left, and so did the rest of the redneck customers. So during the last song we were playing to the bartenders. Looking back the owners were extremely nice to let us play our whole set and not making us stop like one other bar did, and they even paid us pretty damn well. I felt bad for Traumavision though, who had a new bassist and drummer. Their bassist was a nice guy, who no offense Anthony, but was a little awkward, named Anthony Elkins (Who you’ll hear about later in the story) and Jung decided to help them out and drum for them. Anyway, Traumavision had to play to just the bartenders, who even started vacuuming while they were still playing.
The next show was a bit better, but not much. Us and Traumavision again. This place was a real dive in Eugene. A Irish pub called “Mulligans.” It’s one of those places that doesn’t have a stage, that make you set up by the bathroom. This time Traumavision went first, it was only fair with what they went through. The crowd enjoyed them and Anthony brought a lot of his friends who liked both bands. Their set was a success. I noticed the crowd looked a little redneck-y, but not as bad. We started playing and the crowd actually seemed to enjoy us. However the owner and bartender didn’t seem like very big fans, they started passing out ear plugs to the customers, and after about the 3rd song the bartender comes up to us and goes “I CAN’T HEAR THE DAMN CUSTOMERS! EITHER TURN DOWN OR GET THE HELL OFF!” So we turned down, but we felt kicked in the balls. The excitement of the show was gone, now we were just playing to get our set done and get out of there.
Later that month Jung would be the first out of many to quit. He said back then it was because he was too busy in College and too many things going on, but years later while we were having beers he told me he didn’t really like metal, he was just playing with us because he liked us as people. So we tried a few drummers. James quit Takin’ by Tigers along with their drummer which now meant ‘Black Hare’ was now his main band. So Jered and the singer were trying out drummers when a guy named Tracy (A.K.A. Taz) Daken came to audition for them. They played trying out Taz about 2 or 3 times and then Jered started really losing his drive for Takin’ by Tigers, so he told Taz “You know what? I really think you should try drumming for my other band.” So Takin’ by Tigers disbanded and Jered brought in Taz.
Taz was a vet over in Iraq. He got shot up a few times had a metal knee and had stories upon stories that you would not believe. If it was very apparent when we first met him he still acted like he was still in the military and was a bit intense. I remember when Jung met him he took us aside and said “I’m afraid this guy is going to get angry and hurt you,” but even though he got angry sometimes he’d never hurt us, we are brothers. But we didn’t listen to Jung, honestly the fact we had a gig coming up, which was a place Jered and James have played a few times and were ranting and raving over, probably might of had to do with us going “Fuck it. Let’s try him.” Than Taz ended up being our longest staying drummer.
Our 4th gig was our first of many gigs at the “Black Forest.” Black Hare would go on to play Black Forest about 15-16 times. It was really like a place we could call home. This was also our first show not playing with Traumavision, we decided we needed to play with different bands. So that night we went first and it was as magical as that first show, everyone was cheering and paying attention to us. It was amazing! We left that show feeling like a million bucks, everyone was so stoked with what just went down. I remember then we went back to the Archery Storage Units to put our equipment back in there. We ended up just sitting and talking for hours, Taz told us a ton of his crazy war stories, and a brotherhood was born.
Taz was much more hands on I guess you can say. Jung was a great drummer, but we’d ask him “What do you think about that part?” And he’d go “I don’t know, I’m just the drummer.” With Taz he was very more vocal when it came to writing songs and giving us brutally honest opinions, and even coming in with guitar riff ideas, he especially wrote a lot of the guitar riffs for our second album “Seasons.”
For a few months we tried Traumavision bassist Anthony Elkins on Rhythm Guitar and played a few shows with him, but the band agreed that we just weren’t blending with him, so we decided to let him go. Soon we were starting to play A LOT of gigs, like a gig or 2 gigs a week. We soon booked a show to start out our summer shows in my hometown of Enterprise, Oregon at a cool old dance hall called “The Odd Fellows Hall.” To get to Enterprise we had to drive to a town called Hermiston where a friend of Taz lives who has a little recording studio in this shack where he also lives. So Taz tells him that we’re coming down that way and would he be interested in recording our first debut album. His friend, whose name is Eric Kent, said that he would record us simply just for a big bag of weed. Well we found him that big bag of weed and headed down there early June 2012.
We got into Hermiston late. We went to his shack which was behind his parents house and loaded up our equipment in there and they smoked with him, at this point I didn’t smoke weed, which is funny because I later became a pretty big pothead. He had no room for us to sleep in his studio, so he said we could sleep in this big barn. So we set up our sleeping bags and slept in there and I remember it was kind of a creepy vibe, like a horror movie vibe in that barn haha. The next morning Drill Sargent Taz got us bright and early in the morning. It was time to record our album. So we got to work, we recorded about 6 songs until we had to pack up and head to our show in Enterprise with Eric coming along.
We played to a lot of my old classmates who I graduated with who were there for the summer. It was great, they treated us like kings, cheered, moshed, bought our demos, stickers, shirts. We actually made enough money from that to pay for our whole trip down, which was a 8 hour trip! After that we stayed over at my parents house that I grew up in, which was unfortunately the last time I would ever get to be in it, until I took watched over the new owners animals recently. The next morning as early as possible we were on the road back to Hermiston to finish this album, we had about 5 more songs to do, and some band members had to be to work the next day. So you know, I’m thinking how is that gonna work out, but some how we managed to have those 5 songs done by like 6:30 PM and drove about 6 hours back to Eugene. That album was rushed obviously, and it kind of shows, but there really is a charm to the rawness of it. Like it’s raw as hell, vocals off keys on a lot of it, but some how a lot of the songs worked. To me it has the charm of old punk records, or even the first few E.P’s by Soundgarden.
That album did seem to do something for us. We were getting support from these amateur promoters. Hate to say that but they were. I can’t tell you how many times we got a slot on a festival where certain members of big bands were playing in the headlining band of the festival, and the festival never happened. We got a few radio interviews from it, but it was mostly on a few internet radio stations in a guys bedroom as he took bong rips during the breaks. I’ll never forget the first real radio interview we had with KMUZ in Salem, OR. Taz said to me before hand “Zack, you’re the frontman you do the most talking,” and I was SO insanely awkward. So awkward the DJ’s looked around awkwardly after I spoke. I even remember the DJ asked “Whose the lady man of the group,” and since I was the only member who didn’t have a girlfriend Jered said “That would be Zack,” and the DJ laughs and goes “I’m sorry, but he is not the ladies man.”
After the first album was recorded and released we went right into writing material for what would be our second album. I mean, there was literally no break about a week or 2 after recording Taz messages us with a guitar riff and says “This was a riff my old band in the 90’s use to play, and then the chorus is like this and we pause and scream ‘YEAH!’ So then I had some lyrics and a melody that I used for the song for a while but threw them away because they just simply sucked. Pretty soon everyone was back to writing stuff, and we had 8 new songs that would later turn into our sophomore album: “Seasons.”
So we started playing these songs live before recording them. Watching the audiences response to them and a lot of them went pretty well. I remember were they went over best was a venue in the middle of nowhere in Sumner, Washington called “The Live Room.” Both times we played there we opened for this band that was like a Jr. High/High School prodigy band. Kids around 13-16 that were just amazing called “Insuburban Avenue!” They we’re obviously just all born with a gift. This venue seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere with a Subway next door and that seemed to be it for miles. However Insuburban Avenue would fill this place with all their friends and their fans just loved us! I mean to the point we had a big line to our merch table with all these kids wanting our CD! The second time we played there we had the biggest mosh pit we ever had as a band and even a crowd surfer. Felt good to know that I evoked the excitement in these kids that ‘Chiodos’ evoked on me years before, and it really made me want to play more All age shows. I thought we need to play for the kids, they’re our target audience. Unfortunately, all age shows are often hard to come by.
But not all our shows were glorious like that, here are 2 example of the absolute worst shows. In September 2012 we were set to play this show at a bar called “The Nauti Mermaid” on the Oregon Coast in Lincoln City. We played this show with a band we made friends with playing at a show in Portland. They were called “Mohawk Yard” and they were awesome! More hard rock bluesy type band and they played a lot of ‘Foo Fighters’ covers. Each band was suppose to play 2 hours, and from what I could hear the crowd was responding well to them, so I thought they should respond to us well too, were more heavy my screams are metal type screams, while his was more grungy. So we go in there to set up and on the wall we’re we perform in front of are records of Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, I look into the crowd and see a lot of camo hats and start to get that “This ain’t gonna be good” feeling. We start playing and by our third song we pretty much scared all the customers away just like in Roseburg, but this time the owner wasn’t so nice. She comes up to us and goes “What the hell are you guys doing!?” Uhh..this is our set this is how we play haha. She goes “You scared away all my customers..Do you got anything more calm.” So we played our cover of “Come As You Are” by Nirvana and our slow song for my good friend who died in a car crash in high school called “A Song For KCO” and then as Mohawk Yard came back in the owner goes to the Singer “Did you book these guys!?” And he goes “No they invited us to this show.” “Well, they just scared away all my customers.” So I go “Come on guys let’s get off the stage,” and Jered said “Come on, man! Don’t be a pussy,” and I said “No man, I’m done with this place” and walked away pissed off, so the band got off too. Taz then asks her if we could get paid for driving fucking 4 hours for this shit and she told us to e-mail the booker and he may pay us, but she wasn’t going to pay us, so we left pissed the fuck off and broke. We did e-mail the booker who obviously didn’t even listen to our music, and he felt terrible about what happened and he did pay us and paid us well. So like I said “DO RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BOOK!”
Another bad show was a show that didn’t..even..happen. We were scheduled to play at a show at this place called “Club M.I.D.A.S” in Chehallis, Washington. Our GPS lead us to this little strip mall and we get out and our looking all over this place. Somehow we end up walking through this Mexican wedding with a mariachi band playing and everything and we go “Uh..This is the wrong place.” So we come to find out the venue is at the back of this strip mall. This show was put together by a promotion company who made a big mistake. This place is a venue that is just a music venue not a bar, so there’s not a draw unless there is a good show and they got two out of town bands to play this show. That’s a problem because no one knows who the fuck we are. So we go in and it has one of the coolest stages I’ve ever seen. Each member gets like there own rising platform. But the shows about to start and the only other people there are the other band that was to play and their girlfriends. The owner comes up and says “I’m sorry guys, doing this show with no one here would just cost us too much money, we can’t do it.” Then after that the promoter and the owner got into a screaming match out in the parking lot. The promoter walks by us and goes “Sorry guys, I guess the owner of this place is a FUCKING BITCH!!” So we didn’t get paid for that 8 hour journey either and didn’t even get to play. So, don’t make the mistakes we made, if you’re playing out of town you should always have at least one local band for a draw.
By early 2013 we were really wanting a Rhythm Guitarist who could really fit our sound and jell with us and make our sound more powerful. I will always feel Black Hare’s Power ain’t fully there unless we have 5 members, and when that 5th member jells with us, it just shoots our sound in to the stratosphere. James recommends we try a guitarist who was the Lead Guitarist in one of his previous bands called ‘Behind the Wire.’ That guy was Tim Eastland, the same guy who almost 2 years ago responded to my ad after Jered. We brought him and IT WORKED! He added to our sound and fit in perfectly with our personalities and was just a easy going guy.
During the writing of these 8 songs I had a big change in my life, my parents got divorced, sending me and also my Dad in a major downward spiral of depression. They soon said they couldn’t help me pay my rent, which why should they? I was 20 and on my own, I was always some how able to pay rent. It helped that James moved in with me around September 2012 and was there almost a year, so I only had to pay $250 a month. But I was so broke I’d only eat like one meal a day, which would some times be a lunchable haha, or a candy bar. I started loosing a lot of weight (which I gained as soon as I started seeing my Dad a lot again) I was looking pretty damn good, slim in fact, but in my mind shit was hitting the fan, and honestly I wrote some decent lyrics because of it though.
We were playing shows while we were teaching Tim how to play these songs, so Tim didn’t play with us live, but there was one song that was already there, that his rhythm playing just really brought to life, which was our song “Black Sea.” So we go “Okay, we need to record this ASAP and release it as a single!” So Jered started looking up new studios, looking for one that could really put out a professional sounding production. He came across “Telo Studio’s” and met up with this guy named Chris Crude. We really wanted a good drum sound, and he showed us some recordings he did, and it sounded great, so we were in. I believe we went into Telos to record “Black Sea” either late February or early March of 2013, and it just came so naturally. I did one take for that song and SOME HOW I still enjoy my vocal performance on that recording. Though not perfect, it was unique, and became our most streamed song on the internet. On April 2013 we released a music video for it depicting what life was like as a touring band. That song alone seemed to open a lot of doors for us. After that we kind of scared Tim with how we were talking about our want to tour, to try to get a record label, the whole nine yards, and a week later he called us and just said “Sorry guys, I just don’t feel as invested in the band as you guys do.” Which is fair. So went back to being a 4 piece again.
By about April 2013 it was apparent James was getting sick of the band. He didn’t like metal, and hated when people called us metal. He was more into blues rock, softer stuff. But he would complain about different band mates around us, if he was with me he’d say “We need a better guitarist than Jered, and Taz is getting old, he’s gonna have to stop soon.” And when he was with Jered or Taz he’d say “We need to get rid of Zack, because I’ve talked to a bunch of people who say our instrumentals are good but our vocalist sucks.” Which at the time they were right, back then I could scream great but my clean vocals were off key all the DAMN TIME, and looking back I wasn’t very good and I was more cocky than I should of been. It was in July after a show in Portland, OR playing for a local musician festival that James told us he’d finish the album with us but he was gonna be leaving, and all that stuff about me and people saying I can’t sing came out, and man that was the worst thing I ever heard, this is all I care about besides my family and friends. Then Taz also says that he is going to quit after completing the album. I remember going home and just laying on my bed just not wanting to talk to anyone. It seemed the band had fallen apart. I couldn’t even celebrate that show, which was a good show too!
We still had some gigs lined up that we were set to do. The last one with James being for my 21st birthday in a strip club in Redmond, OR. Called “Big T’s.” We played this show with our friends ‘Open Defiance’ and ‘The High Desert Hooligans’ both from the Central Oregon area. The name of this show was the “Get Zacky Trashed Party.” So you can imagine how it was gonna turn out for me. We were obviously the first band to go on because after that the bands wanted to get me trashed. I remember as we were setting up the bouncer I guys “I don’t want no dead space and if I go like this (does slit throat hand gesture) you’re done.” Yeah kind of a intense guy. Well we played our set and we killed it, bouncer didn’t have to kill us. Next thing I know Taz got me a lap dance with a dancer on stage in front of everyone and everyone cheering. Jered even tried to take a picture of it, but the stripper screamed “Hey! NO PICTURES!” After that my friend Eric, the Lead Vocalist/Rhythm Guitarist of ‘Open Defiance’ orders me 4 shots of Jager and tells me to down all them, which I did, and I remember rocking out a little bit to the ‘Hooligans,’ but after that..darkness. Apparently people kept feeding me more shots all night. So you could imagine how sick I got. They had about 7 people help me outside where I puked in a bush, they then threw me in the van, and James drove me and him home in his van. That night all differences were set aside. Though I also puked in his van, which I had to clean up extremely hung over, was a lot of fun.
We went in to Telos Studio to start recording “Seasons,” But there was definitely some tension in the air between James and us, and even though Taz said he was leaving there was no tension there. For the first album we just recorded live, the band in a room all playing together. Me in the vocal booth/control room with Eric. This time around we wanted that polished sound so we recorded everything separately. Taz did his track in 8 hours, Jered did his tracks in about 8 hours on another day. James was unamused, we’d all be excited about a take and we’d go “James what did you think?” And he’d shrug his shoulders, pouting. Taz then told us that he was wanting to stay in the band, which was such a relief. We were trying out other drummers and it just didn’t work the same. We then had a short session day where James recorded 3 songs and he killed it, his bass playing was phenomenal, but as he played there was no expression on his face, no excitement. It was about a week later he got into a argument about a comment James said to Jered’s girlfriend, which led to Jered kicking James out early. James asked us to take his bass tracks off the songs he did.
Taz told Jered “I don’t want you to have to do it all, so I’ll learn the bass parts,” and about 3 weeks later Taz went in there, not being a bassist, and laid down those bass tracks and blew our minds. Then the trouble began. The songs were ready for vocals but I wasn’t, I thought I was, but I wasn’t. We’d go in there 3 different times and come out with nothing because the producer Chris said I was flat or off key, which looking back I was big time, but I was naive then, and I really cringe looking back on those sessions. He then told me I should see this vocal coach who is amazing named Marieke Schuurs. She was amazing and became my vocal coach for about the next 2 years, and every time I went to her I felt like I was 1 year ahead where I was before I went. So I went to her once then tried to record again, but it was another failure besides one song we got done: “Parallax.”
By December 2013 Jered and I were getting fed up, we wanted to release this album, and I’ll admit right now I should of took Chris’s advice and waited to record and I feel bad for it now. However Jered and I demanded to get the recording files and took it to “Sprout City Studios” in Eugene to record all my vocals which I did in one night. Which I know now is much to quick for vocals. It takes longer than everything else. Taz listened to it and wasn’t too stoked on a lot of the vocals, but dumb 21 year old me didn’t want to record again, so we sent it off to mixing with Russell at Sprout, and mastering with Thaddeus at Sprout.
The album did seem to be more popular with our fans, but also got some brutally honest negative reviews on some online sites. Mostly bad talking my vocals. That hurt me so bad, man! I’m a sensitive guy, it would be like someone coming up to you and saying your baby is ugly and it’s your fault. So that’s when I decided I got 2 options: 1. Give up on singing and say it was all a mistake. Or 2. Work incredibly hard to get better as a vocalist by practicing every other night and getting lessons with Marieke. Thank God I chose option 2.
Another thing I want to warn upcoming bands about is like ‘Cyprus Hill’ says: “There’s a lot of sharks out there, trying to take a bite.” In the music industry that couldn’t be more true. Jered made a list of all these record labels that he would e-mail, one of them was this distribution company the CEO e-mailed Jered back and goes “Nice dark and heavy stuff I really like it!” He then explained to us that his company will distribute your album through a major label, and get contracts for TV shows, movies, video games etc. But he wanted $10,000 to do it all. We should of took that as a sign, record labels do that, not lone wolf’s. My cousin Robert even warned me against it, but we were so naive and hungry to make it, we didn’t listen to anyone.
We proceeded to try to get a business loan to pay for this $10,000 deal, but the bank would not loan to us, so we had to tell him we couldn’t do it, than he went down $6,000, which was warmer, but we still couldn’t do it. He then went on down to $3,000, which made us go “Wow! He must really believe in us!” So Jered started saving up money to get the $3,000, I didn’t really put in much money because deep down I was skeptical about the whole thing, but Jered soon came up with the $3,000 and so we sent it over to the guy, and signed his contracts, we felt things were happening for us, and we couldn’t believe it was actually happening.
Another red flag that should of told us something was fishy was they didn’t release our album on the release date they told us, and it came out about 2 weeks late. But they said it was a coding problem we did, and who knows, maybe it was. Soon he was sending us contracts saying MTV was interested on playing our songs for a TV show, and each entry would pay us anywhere from $5,000-$15,000. I’ll never forget hearing that, I was alone at my Mom’s house and I ran around the house screaming “I DID IT!? I MADE IT!” Unfortunately, that was not the case, nothing happened with those contracts, and I’m pretty sure they’re fake. We also got contracts saying our songs “MAY” get played in a documentary for Dennis Rodman, “May” being a keywoard in the contract, that would make it so you couldn’t take legal action, also the company was a Canadian company, and Canada doesn’t have any contract laws. He also showed us that we were charting on internet radio stations, going up to #42 on the rock charts, and our songs were playing on these stations, however they were ghost stations, no one was actually listening to them. We decided to just let it go, and move on and do all our promotion ourselves and suck up the $3,000 loss because it could of been a lot worse. This is the first time I said something about it in the public and it’s a little nerve racking. But once again I have not mentioned the company or person involved, so I believe he should respect that if he was to read this, and perhaps he did talk to these companies and they just decided to not use our music, it’s a possibility. But I don’t think so. So watch out for who you can trust, there ain’t many.
So with James quitting we had time to not play shows for a while. Which was nice, don’t get me wrong there’s nothing more I love than playing to a audience who loves your music, but a lot of the shows we played people weren’t paying much attention. After the release of “Seasons” we tried out 2 bassists, and Mr. Michael Deeds was the 2nd bassist we tried and our last one we tried. Mike was from a very small town outside of Eugene called ‘Marcola’ and he’s now become a high school teacher, he is a tatted up guy, kind of looks like a mini James Hetfield. Jered played with him for probably 2 months before he even introduced him to Taz and I, so the first time he got together with us in February of 2014 he knew the material and killed it, and he was such a cool funny guy, we knew he was the guy instantly, our new bassist.
We broke Mike in to our fans by doing a new photo shoot to show the new Black Hare. Taz had a idea for another music video and his idea fit perfectly for our song “Nite Lite” Which seemed to be getting the best response on the album. The video starred me playing the role of a alcoholic who lived in a desolate cabin, where he then starts throwing bottles and staggers and collapses in the yard were the rest of the band came and picked me up and brought me to the light I guess you can stay. That was our first video showing Mike playing bass and I’m still real proud of that video and Taz’s awesome video editing on that. The camera’s we used was Kinsey’s (Jered’s girlfriend) high quality photography camera and a smart phone that Taz had. Taz would often have a new smart phone like every 2 weeks.
We practiced for about 5 months before we played a show with Mike. It was almost about a year since ‘Black Hare’ played a show. I remember the booker of Black Forest said “Oh, I didn’t know you guys were still a band” when we booked a show with the Forest. Taz had decided to get an electric kit and sell his acoustic set. Which in a metal band is a ballsy thing to do, but it was fun to practice to and a very high quality one so the drums sounded good, not like a $300 electric kit, he spent some bucks on this set, it made some people tilt their head though. The first show we played was at a DIY all age venue called “The Boreal” and though there was not many people there and the guys running it seemed a bit angry at us for that, we rocked it and played great. Then our next show we played the Eugene Hempfest the day before my 22nd birthday. At this time recreational marijuana was still illegal and this was a show to educate the people on Marijuana…and maybe to smoke it a bit too. We were definitely the most heavy band there. The band before us sounded like ‘The Beach Boys,’ the band after us sounded like ‘The Grateful Dead,’ but surprisingly we were really well received! I remember one guy coming up to me and saying “Man, I haven’t heard something that loud and rocking since I first heard Led Zeppelin!” Which was one hell of a compliment. That was the first time I met Darby O’Connor who would later on become our longest lasting rhythm guitar player. Then that night we celebrated my birthday up at some park, drinking (obviously) and I remember we climbed on top of a roof and I don’t know, smoked some weed I’m sure.
We still had some weird shows still like that, though these days we were much more cautious with the shows that we booked. But one show we did for our bassist Mike who booked the show. Every year the town of Marcola would have a festival with music, dancers and such in front of their Fire Department. So we got there and looked around, mostly elder people. The feeling of “This is not going to go so well” set in. But at least by this time I can have a few beers to not give as much of a fuck. So we went on after some belly dancers, yup we weren’t in Kansas anymore. As I expected everyone left besides Mike’s wife and a few friends that he invited. That first show Jessica, Mike’s wife didn’t seem very impressed, but we would gain on her, especially when we started getting better. But that night we made up for it with a show at the Black Forest, where we played with our buddies Open Defiance and played to a great memorable crowd. I remember my cousin Robert died that night, so the high of the concert was soon to be over.
So one day in August 2014 I was driving with my Mom and I remember we were in Sisters, Oregon. Probably to see some of my Aunt’s on my Dad’s side. When I got a call from Jered, he said “Hey man, I got huge news! I got us a show at the Whisky a Go-Go opening for Alien Ant Farm!” If you don’t know what the Whisky a Go-Go is it’s a music venue on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California. Bands such as The Doors, Van Halen, Motley Crue, all got their start there, and if you don’t know who Alien Ant Farm is type in “Alien Ant Farm-Smooth Criminal” in YouTube or whatever you’ll have heard it before, that was their big hit, making their first album “Anthology” go platinum. When I heard the news I could hardly speak I just go “No fucking way!! Are you joking?”
There was one person who didn’t share the rest of the bands excitement, and that was Taz. He wasn’t a fan of the typical “Southern California type people” and also to play the Whisky was pay to play, about $500 to get in the slot, but they gave you a bunch of tickets and if you managed to sell them all you wouldn’t be paying to play, but that wasn’t gonna happen, right? Normally we would be against pay to play if it wasn’t the Whisky and the fact you don’t know who will be there. But Taz said he would do it because the rest of the band was excited about it.
Well about a week or two we get a message from Taz in what we call our “Man Cave,” Which is a private Facebook page just for the band members to connect and talk to each other. He told us that he could tell that we were getting to the point where we would want to tour, and he knew we wanted to take this band as far as we could, and since he missed a lot of his son growing up he wished to spend time with the family. He quit maybe 3 weeks before we were suppose to play Whisky. I thought we weren’t going to be able to play and I was heartbroken.
Jered then recommended that we try this drummer who we tried out the first time Taz said he was gonna quit. His name is Cody King. The first time we tried him I thought he was playing a little too busy for us, but this time around he came in and knew the in’s and outs to about 7 songs and played more organically. It was no doubt that he was in, and also the fact that we would be ready to play the Whisky! Cody was a shy guy, a bit awkward and unusual, had a hard time keeping jobs, but it’s obvious what he was meant to do is play drums and write songs.
While we were preparing to get ready for our big journey Mike came up with a idea to have an online auction to help us raise money to get us to Hollywood. Surprisingly a tattoo shop called “Whiteaker Tattoo Collective” donated some art pieces and tattoo gift certificates. Also, Mike got Matt McJunkins, bass player of “A Perfect Circle” and “Puscifer” to donate a free bass lesson to whoever was the highest bidder. Yes it did happen, and I don’t know how the fuck Mike did it. He has a way with making friends.
Mike’s boss lent us his work van to get to L.A. This thing was a mini van not a big band van. So we were squished in, and drove about 16 hours from Eugene to L.A. I’ll never forget entering L.A. seriously to a boy who grew up in a small town of 2,000 people LA felt like I was in something out of fucking Star Wars. We went a day early to do the normal tourist shit obviously, checking out landmarks like “The Rainbow” and “The Viper Room.” The next time we went to the rainbow we saw a legend, so keep reading.
Next thing you know we woke up in our hotel room in Santa Monica and the day was here. I remember first thing we did was head on down to check out Venice Beach, and then we were off to the Whisky. The girl who booked us was a awesome lady named Erika, who gave us a very warm welcome. We got our own green room backstage which was awesome, you look on the walls and there’s these signatures of tons of bands that played there. You name it, it was up there. Mike even made a joke that “Jim Morrison probably puked in this corner.” So I go down to check out the venue area and Alien Ant Farm is getting on to do their sound check with their two biggest songs: “Movies” and of course “Smooth Criminal” Which if you don’t know is a Michael Jackson cover that they totally Nu-Metalfy and it became a massive hit for them. I remember thinking “God! This is the coolest thing ever! I’m watching AAF play ‘Smooth Criminal’ during a sound check, how many can say that?”
Next thing you know they call our name to sound check and I’m frantically looking for Jered, luckily found him quick. We were the first band to play, and I’m walking down the stairs to the stage and I’m looking at this picture on the wall of Jim Morrison, one of my heroes, and I just go “Can’t believe this happening!” We went on about 6:00 PM and I remember we opened with our song “Chaotic Sphere” and first thing I do when I pick up the mic is go, “Whisky! THIS WORLD IS FULL OF FUCKING ASSHOLES!!” then Jered started playing the main riff. I really should of started more shows like that. The crowd was pretty small because most people didn’t show up until later, but the crowd we had loved us and cheered really loud when we said we came all the way from Eugene. We played pretty good, besides one song towards the end when I tripped on Jered’s cable and pulled it out and the rest of the song he was trying to figure out what went wrong So Mike, Cody, and I kept playing and finished up the song, and people seemed to cheer louder for that. Even the sound guy said “Way to be professional guys!” So after that we just got to enjoy the rest of the show and it was a amazing night to say the least. We even got to talk to Dryden Mitchell, the Lead Singer of Alien Ant Farm and he was a extremely down to earth guy. After watching some of the bands who played after us I decided to go up to the green room and Mike and Darby (Who got backstage access by being our roadie) were talking with Dryden so I instantly text Jered and say “Dryden! Get up here!” Jered was up there I swear in less than a minute and he talked to us about his experience with being a new father.
After that show we headed on down to Lancaster, California. Mike set up a show to help us pay to get home at this place called “The Moose Lodge.” We got into Lancaster early and decided to check out the venue and it looked like an elks lodge, and we go in and it was mostly full of elderly veterans, but at night the people our age comes on down.
We went and checked into this cheap motel and right away we noticed the place looked pretty sketchy. The people looked like they were dealing drugs, the hot tub was Luke warm. This place was so sketchy we took turns looking out the window watching our van. We then played the show at “The Moose Lodge” Which we didn’t play to too many people that night, was kind of good to humble us after playing the Whisky the night before, but we made great friends with the band that put the show together named “Order 66.” They were great dudes, and Graham the Lead Singer even offered us to stay in his leaving room, but we said we had a hotel room and told him where and they all said “You guys got to get out of there that’s a bad neighborhood.” They then proceeded to tell us a story of one of their friends who delivered a pizza there and a guy opened the door in a thong and a guy was tied up to the wall in bondage gear, apparently the guy was really nice and tipped well though haha. So needless to say we got out of there, I believe Order 66 even followed us back to that hotel to make sure we didn’t get jumped the minute we were there while Mike went into the front office to cancel our stay. Luckily, our good friend Toni who came in her own car with Mike’s wife and Jered’s girlfriend and Darby came with them but rode home with us, anyway she was so nice and got us a hotel room at the Holiday Inn where they were staying. (Graham is now in a band called “Blacklist 9” which is bad ass and they just got signed to “Eclipse Records!” Congrats again, bro!)
Southern California was a trip man, we went to some gas stations and when you go into the store the clerk is behind a bulletproof glass. You could tell that we weren’t in Oregon anymore. At one of those gas stations someone had to of found Mike’s pee in a bottle he left there. We were really crammed in the mini van with Darby in the van. I remember Darby saying “Guys I’m setting on my lower back.” There was some other funny things that happened on that trip like Jered’s coffee spilling on his seat and him not knowing it spilled then all of a sudden he goes “GUYS! MY ASS IS HOT! MY ASS IS HOT!!” We got home about probably 2:00 AM that night.
The Whisky show did seem to help us get taken more serious in Eugene. We got one of the best gigs of the year: a Halloween gig at the Black Forest, and the Forest is ALWAYS packed on Halloween. That Halloween show was AMAZING! All the bands killed it and the crowd was phenomenal! The best crowd we ever played for at the Forest. Our friends ‘Fallen Theory’ played that night and they are a awesome band, ‘Engraved’ and ‘Black Out’ played too and killed it. There was a joke we said that “Black Out always plays at the end of the night.”
In November we got word again that we landed a gig at the Whisky again in January opening for Industrial Metal band “Powerman 5,000. We were big fans of Powerman so we agreed to it instantly and was extremely excited for it. After we got back from LA the first time we started practicing with Darby playing the Rhythm Guitar and once again IT WORKED! It really brought out the power in our songs, completed the potential we had. The mixture between his Gibson Les Paul and Marshall Amp mixed with Jered’s Les Paul on his Crate Shockwave was a hell of a mixture.
So in mid January we headed back down to LA, this time we didn’t have the mini van, so we took two cars and I must say it was much more comfortable. Mike and Darby rode in Mike’s car, and Jered, Cody, and I rode in Jered’s car. We were so excited to get back down to LA and there wasn’t a better time to be down there. In January it was getting really cold in Eugene so the LA weather felt amazing.
We spent one day doing the same thing we did the first time doing tourist shit, going to The Rainbow. We were there just drinking, hanging out, and decided to go leave and check out some other places when we got a text from Erika our booker at the Whisky who said “Get back to the Rainbow, I hear Lemmy (The Lead Vocalist/ Bass Player and main guy in the Classic Hard Rock band “Motörhead.”) is going to be going there.” So we headed back there and there was a young girl who was about 22 or so getting ready for Lemmy putting Motörhead on the jukebox. Soon members of the emo king band ‘Black Veil Brides’ came into the Rainbow they must of heard that Lemmy was gonna be there too. Then the Rock God himself came in and he looked pretty fragile, this was about 9 months before he died. He was super skinny, looked weak and was walking with a cain. He sat in front of his favorite video game machine that The Rainbow would later give him on his last days, and he played that game all night with that girl who put the songs on the Jukebox on his lap. I remember the bassist of Black Veil Brides going up to Lemmy and saying “Look Lemmy where playing this festival in Europe together,” and Lemmy just glanced at him for a second, didn’t say a word and went back to playing his game in silence. Though I knew he was a man with a soft heart under that tough exterior because a group of kids came in and he happily took a group picture with them, but no one else really had the balls to go up to try to talk to Lemmy, plus he looked like he didn’t want to be bothered. So I just snuck a picture, and admired being about 5 feet from a Rock Legend. He then left with that girl who was on his lap. The funny thing was I didn’t see them actually say a word to each other. You don’t have to say anything when you’re Lemmy. We also met some of Powerman 5,000’s roadies that night and talked with them and had a drink.
The next day was the big day again at the Whisky. We headed on down there and walked in and Powerman’s equipment was on the floor and of course me being me I trip over one and knock it over, and Mike goes “Goddammit Zack! It doesn’t matter where we are, your clumsiness is always there.” So we watched Powerman soundcheck with their most popular song “When Worlds Collide” Which once again was awesome to see as a sound check, that would never get old. Then one of the roadies said “Awesome!! The shows sold out tonight!” And I was just like “Wait..What!?” So I started to get really nervous and Mike could see that and said “Zack, you want to go to the bar next door and do a shot?” And I said “Uhh..Yeah let’s do that!” So we went to this sports bar that was next door and they had a Seahawks game on and we walk in and we see huge Hollywood actor, David Spade in a booth wearing Seahawks attire with Chris Farley’s brother, and you can definitely tell that they were brothers. So we get a shot and one of us try to build up the nerve to talk to David Spade. Finally Mike said “I’m gonna go give him a ticket,” and off Mike went. He gave him two tickets and he said Spade was really polite and smiled and said “Thank you,” but of course he didn’t come. Probably not his style of music anyways. So we went back to our green room and across from our room was the office where “Spider One” the Lead Vocalist of Powerman was talking to the manager. Jered and I went up to him and said “Hey man! Excited for the show tonight!” And he said “Yeah guys, should be a good night!” And took off to his VIP green room, and we go “Alright, we talked to him!” We played first again and this crowd was a little harder to please than AAF’s crowd but we played great, it was only Darby’s second gig with us and he killed it too! We definitely won a lot of them over and we actually had people buy our merch and take pictures. This time Toni brought our tough women friend Celestia, who is tougher than just about any man. She grabbed Spider One by the arm and drug him over to take a picture with Jered and I, he then said “Good show you guys!” And left, leaving Jered and I going “Did you hear that!? He said good show!” Though I honestly don’t think he actually watched our band. We then got a group photo with him later on. John 5 was also there and was often hanging backstage with Powerman and their crew. John 5 is a great guitarist who has played guitar for the likes of Rob Zombie, and Marilyn Manson. Jered and I were even standing in front of him watching one of the other bands. Again Celestia asked if he’d take a picture with Jered and I, Which he said he would at the end of the bands set. But when we looked back he was gone. Other bands to play that night was “Hed P.E.” Who had the biggest mosh pit and a HUGE following in LA, and “Knee High Fox” Who was fronted by Spider One’s girlfriend. We also made friends with the 2 local bands that played: “State Line Empire” and “7 Days.” Also forgot to mention the two members we became close friends to of “Order 66,” Graham and Don the Lead Guitarist, came down to watch us play and we had a good night with them.
Also that night Mike got us this company called “Buzz TV Hollywood” to come film our set with a whole crew of cameramen, then they did a interview with us outside of the Whisky! I don’t know if Mike payed for it, but I’m guessing he must of, which I thank him, cause that’s one of my favorite videos to go back and watch. What a great night!
This time around the Whisky was the only show we had, so we headed back on home the day after. So going back a little in the story, in about September 2014 we started talking with this lady named Terri Wilson who is the best promoter in Eugene, who was gonna try to get us a show at the WOW Hall, the prime medium size venue, the best venue for a band our size. I think the two Whisky shows helped WOW Hall give us a shot because when we got back we got a message from Terri saying “You guys got a WOW Hall show March 23rd!” I was so excited because the best shows I saw in Eugene when I first moved there was at the WOW Hall and I knew the stage and sound system was just amazing in there. So we started promoting and selling tickets for that right away when we got home.
After the Whisky, what would tend to happen to me is I would want to “celebrate” that the experience happened to me. So for about 2 months in 2015 after coming back from California I was on major party mode, and was kinda going down the wrong road until it all comes to a stop and you get sick of being hungover all the time and realize this wasn’t going to make any family member proud. So I grew out of that a bit, or not doing it so much.
We played the WOW Hall on March 23, 2015 to an AMAZING crowd, who cheered louder than almost any crowd we had, did mosh pits, took videos and pictures and we got to headline that show and all the people stayed to watch us! We played with two great bands that night: “Dead Kingmaker” and “Black Bell” with whom we became great friends with, especially the Lead Singer/Rhythm Guitarist, Ash Biggs, and Keyboardist, Jared Tillford. I thought we messed up quiet a bit that night, and my voice started cracking half way in the set because I went to hard singing at our practice earlier in the day, but still a lot of our fans come up to us still and go “Man! I won’t ever forget that WOW Hall show! It was amazing!” I thought there was a good amount of screw ups, but still a lot of people viewed that show as our “Queen at Live Aid” performance.
Things were starting to look really good, with all these great shows, a growing fan base, it seemed like possibly a record label being interested in us could be over the horizon, or so I thought. Then the band decided that they got sick of having to pay for Cody’s meals whenever we went out of town and not being able to help with gas, so Jered and Mike called him and kicked him out of the band professionally and very civil. Then cue us becoming the “Whose drumming now band.”
We had a gig coming up in May of 2015 at the Black Forest, and once again we were worried that we would have to cancel the show. Luckily Jered found this guy named Jesse, who we never got his last name, on Craigslist, just like 97% of our members. We went to this guys house outside of Eugene and it was obviously this guy had money some how, we never figured out how, that’s fine, it’s none of our business, but he had a real nice big house and huge shop that he completely sound proofed and had a mixer, his own PA, lights, and a long band van. That’s all it took to make Jered wet. The first time I kind of thought his style of drumming was too different, but Jered told me give him more tries, which was great advice cause each time it got better, better, and soon it was amazing and we’d be able to play the Forest. Jesse was a experienced musician, even touring with a band that played the whole Warped Tour, we were blessed to be playing with him, we really were.
So we played 3 shows with Jesse and we were super tight and unfortunately there was not very many people at any of these three shows. So he talked about playing less shows and work on releasing recordings and videos which I agreed with him on. He then later on told us he planned on moving to Las Vegas and maybe starting a little toy business, so in a DUMB decision we decided to proceed without Jesse because we figured he was going to leave anyway and we were looking for someone who was gonna be in the long hall for the band, which we were naive and thought we could find easy HAHAHA. I don’t think Jesse did ever move to Vegas, I think it was a excuse because not to point fingers or anything, but he wasn’t happy with how Darby would drink and get a loose mouth and say things he thought inappropriate. At the time Darby was a pretty bad alcoholic, but he was a functioning alcoholic. He could drink all day and still play guitar and not mess up at all.
So after that we played with a guy named Jake Fitzgerald for a few months, he was a really quiet guy with long hair. Looked like your average real metalhead. He liked death metal and old punk. It was hard to tell if he liked playing with us, he didn’t show no emotion of excitement. He was just a chill guy, and a damn good drummer. But I was starting to realize we had great chemistry with Cody that we haven’t had with anyone else besides Taz, so I talked the band into giving Cody a second chance.
So we invited Cody back which he accepted right away, and when we got back playing together it was like he never left! It was just automatically tight it was amazing! He even brought us a new song idea he called “Rum, Wenches and Gold,” because it had a very pirate feel vibe to it. There was something different about Cody this time. He wasn’t the shy guy from before, he had much more of a cockiness to him and wanted to sing back up, which no offense if you’re reading this Cody, but I didn’t think you could really sing, and you probably didn’t think I sang that good either, whatever man, water way under the bridge now. So with the first show with Cody back was at a new venue called “Old Nicks” in Eugene, which would soon become a haven to metal and punk bands. I really wanted to play “Rum, Wenches and Gold” as the opener for that show, so the band learned it and the night before the show we were practicing and it was flawless, however when we opened the show with it Darby kept going into this one part early which made it sound like shit to the point I had to start it over and say “Let’s try that shit again.” So we tried it again and we fucked up again to the point I stopped it again and said “Okay uh..Let’s skip that song. Sorry we normally don’t suck this much.” It was one of the most embarrassing moments on stage for me, a bum was up front shit talking us even. I don’t know what it was, maybe it’s because Darby brought a girl to the show that he really liked and got distracted, however the rest of the show went over great and I feel we redeemed ourselves. But do you really redeem yourself when it’s your opening song? That night for the first time since Taz left we had a band meeting after a show, it obviously needed to happen. I was so embarrassed by that show I ended up drinking too much that night, going home and drinking with my friend the down stairs neighbor, my friend Justin, who made me feel better and fed me beers.
However our next show was a Halloween show again, well the day before Halloween 2015 and this time we played “Rum” perfectly and honestly had one of the most flawless performances that we ever had, unfortunately there wasn’t too many people at this little bar in Medford, OR. But some of the ones that were there are still big fans of ours and I still talk to to this day. We then decided it was time to get started on this E.P. we’ve been talking about for the past year. I thought the one thing preventing us from reaching a record label was our previous recordings. So we decided to get our fans favorite live songs and re-record them and make them the best quality we could put out. We decided to make a E.P. Because it seems peoples attention spans are so short these days that making a full album would be a waste of our time.
We started recording about November 2015. We started with the drums as you often do. However this day Cody couldn’t get to his Snare and floor Tom because it was locked in his Dad’s car and his Dad wasn’t home, so he had to use Darby’s snare and floor tom, and Darby ain’t a drummer so the floor tom was not tuned properly and after about the 3rd song the belt of the snare snapped and started sounding like a garbage can, but we proceeded with recording anyway which was a big mistake and pretty much unfortunately would later on ruin our friendship with Darby.
We then worked on recording the other instruments and vocals for the next 4-5 months. And Darby started mixing with me being there every session just because I liked the process of how recording goes, and I can give him my input right there on the spot. We tried EQing the shit out of the drums but we just couldn’t fix the snare on the 3 songs, and the Floor Tom drove me nuts. We took it to Sprout City, where Darby and I thought we were gonna master it. Maybe tweak mixes a little I thought, but Russell the sound engineer said we should really re-record the drums which everyone but Darby felt necessary. But I get Darby’s frustration he worked endless hours on it, and he did not like wasting any of his time. One thing that pissed him off was if he felt his time was wasted. But we made a mistake proceeding with the recordings when we shouldn’t have. But we’ll get back to this later, because there was a lot of shit that happened during this time.
So back to after Cody gets done recording, he’s in the band a little bit longer. But the straw that broke the camels back was one night I let him spend the night at my place and I had to leave to go to my hometown for a while, because at that point I was spending two weeks working for my Dad doing construction in my hometown than driving 8 hours back to Eugene to spend 2 weeks there, and I did this for a few years. You can imagine the mileage I racked up on my car. Anyway, I had to go, and he asked “Can I stay here a while today?” And I said “No sorry man, I don’t like people in my apartment when I’m gone.” So he walked out with me. I later on hear from my downstairs neighbor that Cody was hanging around there asking him for money to get food, and even trying to find my hide-a-key to get in my apartment. So I got pissed off and this time I kicked him out of the band. That wasn’t cool with me, but the band suffered for that.
We went into 2016 trying out different drummers, who just didn’t want to commit, than we found an amazing drummer from this 19 year old kid named Ari Preston. Jered apparently heard about him at a music store in Cottage Grove, a town about 25 minutes outside of Eugene where Jered’s older brother lives. Once again when we first played with him I thought he may not be the right fit, because he was a busy drummer and he got off a bit, but the second time we tried him it was so much better we were like “Yup! You the guy!” We played three shows with Ari and things were looking good, we were as tight as ever, and then once again we scared another great guy off with our intense drive to want to “make it” and he just really wanted to jam. I tried so hard to convince him to stay, but he just didn’t want to.
All of a sudden the craziest thing happened, an old classmate of Jered’s from High School messaged him and said he moved back to Eugene and was wondering if we needed a drummer. This was hours after Ari quit. We go “Yeah, you ain’t gonna believe this our drummer just quit. Let’s jam.” The guys name is Jonathon Heltzel and he is the most energetic human being that you will ever come across in your life. Think of your most hyper friend..Multiply it by 10, that’s Jonathon. He has this YouTube stream he still does called “The Sketch Squad” and that night he sent us a link to his stream I thought he was funny, you can tell instantly his energy was through the roof, and he picked up a guitar and just started shredding on it. I’m like “Shit! If he can play drums like he can play guitar this will be great!” So there we were starting from square one and we were getting sick.
I also forgot to mention way back before we played our second show at the Whisky Jessica, Mike’s wife told us she was pregnant. We were so excited for them, and Mike assured us it wouldn’t affect the band. Well, little Logan Deeds was born in October 2015 I believe it was. Michael still played with us until he announced after a show with Ari about February 2016 that he had to quit the band because he couldn’t manage work, being a Dad, and the band, so we understood. However about a week later we got word we got a gig opening up for a band called “Dope” who I listened to in High School, they’re not that well known but they got a dedicated fan base. We were to play with them at the Hawthorne Theater in Portland, OR. Which is a prime medium venue in Portland. Once again, a big deal for a band our size. When we got that gig Mike said “Okay I’ll play with you guys until that show and then I’ll quit,” Which was about 8 months away, so Mike stayed true to his word and kept playing with us for 8 months. So the goal was goal to get Jonathon ready for this big show.
So we started jamming with Jonathon I think around May of 2016, and honestly the first time was pretty rough. He hadn’t drummed in a long time and he’d get off a lot, so once again I had my doubts. But just like Ari each practice got better and better to the point where we go “Okay this is working,” and we would definitely be ready for the dope show, and we got to do a warm-up show like a week before the Dope show at the Black Forest, and that unfortunately was the last show we played with Darby.
The second time I ever met Jonathon we were hanging out and Jered just left him at my place and we get to talking he said he was living with a guy but they had a physical conflict and he’s living in his mini van outside of the guys house and he needs to get out of there. So I feel bad for him and tell him he can park his van at the complex and live in his van there because I like my own space.
Well the next day we go to pick up his van and head back to my apartment, next thing I know he says he wants to show me his streaming set up, so he brings his TV, computers, guitar, amp everything into my apartment, spends all day hanging out, and at the end of the night I don’t have the heart to make him sleep in his van so I let him sleep in my living room. Then he lived in my living room for about a month, got a job at Sykes for a while. It was kind of hard because he stays up until like 4:00 AM playing his games streaming and being hyper, and I lived in a one bedroom apartment. Me living there seemed enough, so I told him I like my own space, and eventually he met a girl online and moved in with her right away. We also learned the liquor plus Jonathon equals bad news. One night one of the neighbors gave him a shot of whiskey, plus I think he had some beers too, he was going up and down the street yelling “CHECK OUT SKETCH SQUAD!! I’M PLAYING GAMES FOR KIDS WITH DISEASES!” And I guy comes out of his house and goes “Hey! Shut the hell up man! My kids are trying to sleep!” And Jonathon goes “FUCK YOUR KIDS BRO!! I’M PLAYING GAMES FOR KIDS WITH DISEASES! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING!? YOU WANT TO GO! YOU WANNA GO RIGHT NOW!!” Man the people I met in my life could be a hit TV show.
So back to the recordings, the band decided to re-do the drum tracks and we were going to have Taz record them, cause no one still knew these songs better than him. So even Darby was like “Okay, go for it.” So we sent Taz the tracks and he’d send us his tracks and we’d approve or disapprove and we had Darby in the chat, but he left the group. Later saying it was because we were chatting about different stuff. But Jered and I took it as “Well, I guess Darby is letting us take the reigns,” and at this point Mike was planning on quitting soon anyway so he just trusted us with the production. We got great drum tracks and sent it to Russell to mix it because Darby didn’t want to. We invited Darby to mixing sessions but he didn’t come and perhaps he was busy, I don’t remember. So Jered and I finished doing the mixing with Russell and sending it to Thaddeus of Sprout City to master it, and we loved it, everyone we showed it to loved it, including Mike. Now this is where I’ll admit we were really douchey was we didn’t show Darby before we released it online, and when we released it he wasn’t pleased with the cymbals, and I remember I was drinking a little that night, so I was easily irritable so I caused a big fight that shouldn’t of happened, then Jered got involved and said “Darby I think you’re ruining the joy in this band,” and Darby said “Fuck you! I’m gonna come get my stuff. You guys will hear from my lawyers.” Which we honestly thought he was bluffing us. The next day when he came to get his stuff he gave us a “Cease and desist letter,” but he typed it, it was signed his name, so once again thought he was just trying to scare us. We refused to take the album down we worked over a year on it and we released it on September 5, 2016, the 5th year anniversary of Black Hare. About a week later he gave us a C and D letter this time signed by a lawyer, we still didn’t think a court would take this since we don’t actually make any money.
So we went on with our lives. We played the “Dope” show as a 4 piece and played phenomenal and had the best Portland crowd we ever had, they were much more welcoming than Hollywood, and we got to see Dope’s sound check which was..dope. People bought merch, asked for autographs and pictures, it helped distract me from the drama that was going on.
However every night I had the worst paranoia in the world that someone was going to knock on the door and give me a subpoena. I was a freaking wreck with emotions about losing one my best friends and wishing I could change things. Eventually Jered called me one night, it happened, Jered got a subpoena, my paranoia was through the roof and I said “If I don’t get a subpoena I’m not going. I’m just done with this shit.” The nightmares, the constant fear of someone knocking on my door, it was destroying me to the point I couldn’t get out of bed. I never got a subpoena so I didn’t go, but Jered obviously had to go and Mike went there to back him up, but when Darby and Jered stated their cases the judge heard enough and didn’t have to hear Mike’s testimony and we won the case, we were able to keep our E.P. Online and I am still proud of it.
So after all that drama, Mike was officially done with the band. Luckily one of my classmates I went to school with all the way since pre-school moved to Eugene who was a multi-instrumentalist in late 2016, and he saw our ad on Craigslist again saying we were looking for a bassist. So he said he could play bass. The only problem was he didn’t own a bass, he was normally a guitarist. So I’m hanging out with him after he just moved here and I go with him to this music store where he picks up a bass that was cheap, but sounded real good for like $300. He then got a amp from our old high school friends Dad, and then pretty much just like that he was in the band, I knew he’d be good enough. We had to start from scratch all over again, but Ethan was a quick learner and soon we were a tight band again!
It was great having Ethan in Eugene he’d always be within walking distance to my place usually and I’d go and hang out with him and his girlfriend, Savanna, and for a long time our old friend I’ve known since elementary school was living with him, named Harry.
One day in late January 2017 I decided to try skateboarding again with Ethan, who never quit skating. So we go to this Skate park, Ethan drops in and does a nice wave ride around the bull, so I drop in like I did when I was a kid and was going up the other ramp, was just going to pivot and come back down, something that would of been easy to me when I was 12. Well I leaned to far back and the board flew away from under me and I landed on my left arm good. I remember there being a ring in my ear, I was in pain, but I thought I could walk it off. Ethan goes “Dude! You okay?” I go “ Yeah I think so,” then I take off my jacket and you can see my bone lifting my skin on my arm and I just roll my eyes and go “Oh fuck! My arm ain’t suppose to do that!” Ethan goes “Shit! It may be dislocated! You got to go to the hospital!” And I’m like “shit really? Well ok.” So we walk to my car and I’m just thinking my Mom is going to kill me when she hears this, I told her I was going to a skate park and she actually said “Well we’re going on a vacation next month, so don’t break your arm,” and here I was with a broken arm. Ethan couldn’t drive because he didn’t have a license at the time, so I had to drive myself. I knew it was really bad when I couldn’t get my left arm on the steering wheel.
So we get to the emergency room and I’m trying to figure out how the parking ticket machine works while holding me arm for like 5 minutes until I’m like “Screw it! If they give me a ticket I’ll fight it.” So we go into the E.R. and I go up to the front person and say “I think I dislocated my arm.” So he got all my info and had me sit in the waiting room for two hours next to a girl whose face was all bloody and she was crying and her Mom was on the phone saying “Well, we had a good discussion about her making good choices.” Then a crazy dude came in and created a scene freaking out about something I just remember him in the end being like “YOU DON’T NEED TO GET SECURITY! I’LL WALK MYSELF OUT!” And then he was outside yelling cuss words. Finally they saw me, did x-rays and I said “Is it dislocated?” They said “No it’s broke clear across.” So I called Mom and said “Remember how you said not to break my arm at the skate park? Well guess where I am.” My parents came the next day, my Mom SUPER pissed off at me, and long story short I had to get surgery and now have a metal rod in my left arm with about 7 screws. Thank God that I’m only the singer, That was just some of the adventures with Ethan. But no other adventure ended in injury.
So anyway, back to the music side of things, we were working on new songs a bit, but only one we played live to the public. A song called “Frozen Wallet, Empty Toes” That Ethan wrote that really brought out a punky vibe to Black Hare, and I think it was the best song we performed together live. Our first performance with Ethan was not until May 2017. It was at a awesome music store in Eugene called “CD World” and it was for the “Kids Rock Organization” a organization raising money for kids who want to learn instruments. Their wasn’t really anyone there unfortunately besides the band that played before: “Axis Salvation” (Now “Plushie”) who were young guys that I knew because I went to the church they went to when I first moved to Eugene the Lead Singer/Lead Guitarists Dad was the preacher. So we played to them and his Dad and Grandma. They were very respectful, of course they knew me. John, his Dad, had pretty much watched me transition into manhood.
Black Hare would go on to play 3 shows that summer: one in Winston, OR with some amazing metal bands that as Ethan says “Out-metaled us.” Then we played at the Black Forest for the last time, because unfortunately the building they were in sold and they had to leave and have yet to open up a new location, which is so sad since I’ve played there so much and have seen great bands there. That night we played with a awesome band from Colorado named “Hydraform” and we became good friends with them that night, and also played with a awesome local Eugene band who are still rocking it “Hyper Sloth.” The last show Ms. Terri Wilson got for us once again was at the WOW Hall! Oh man, we were so excited to play there again!
This time around we had a smaller crowd, but it still was a awesome crowd who loved us and there was still mosh pits. Once again we played with our friends in “Black Bell” and “Dead Kingmaker.” This time adding an awesome band of guys who have been in the Eugene scene a long time, a awesome band named “Vial…Experiment.”
Things were looking good and I was thinking maybe 2018 may be the year where we were going to do the gigs again like we did in 2015, but unfortunately right before Christmas I was home working with my Dad when I got a text from Jonathon that basically said “Shit hit the fan, I had to get out of my Mom’s house. I moved to California with Amanda. (his girlfriend at the time)” We just go “Wow! Really? Again. What are we doing wrong?” Though we knew Jonathon was a free spirit and had been known to drop everything and just move away before. So we practiced a few times with Ethan on the drums, but soon no one wanted to practice we were so tired of the pattern of getting tight, then someone leaving, then starting all over again with a new person, and that really stumped us from writing new music for about 3-4 years.
In February 2018 my Mom was just done with me wasting my time on holding on to Black Hare. She could see that it was a car stuck in the mud at that point, and Jered had started a new band where he was the Lead Singer/Lead Guitarist called “Mine the Fold,” who just released there first album, check it out it’s dope! That February Jered and I recorded a acoustic album with acoustic versions of some of our favorite songs and put it all over the internet. I don’t know if many people know it exists, it’s called “Half the Hare: Raw and Acoustic.” Check it out, it was my very first recording project where I recorded it all and mixed it all, and I’m still proud of it.
Mom was sick that I was broke and this band had stopped progressing so she said “If you want to stay down there get a job by March or come here and work, Dad and I are not gonna let you drive back and forth across the state anymore.” So I decided I would really try to get a job in Eugene by March, if I don’t that’s a sign I was to leave, but the decision to leave came before March 1st. I could tell that my purpose in Eugene was done for a while and the band seemed done or needed a long hybernation. We’re still not technically broken up, we don’t know what the future holds, we still may someday get back together.
In March my friends held a going away party for me which was awesome, and too much alcohol was had. Was a great way to say “Goodbye for now.” The next day I had to move my stuff with my parents hungover as hell and that was tough, but then we were done and I said goodbye to my apartment of 6 years and it was tough man, I loved that place. I visited Eugene for New Years this year and it was so weird that someone else was living in that apartment now. Chokes me up a bit still. But we headed on down to my hometown of Joseph, OR and I tell you what, my parents were extremely happy.
Since I moved here I still work with my Dad doing construction, I started a business taking care of people’s animals and homes when they go on vacation, and during the summer I worked at the “Chamber of Commerce Information Center” in Joseph, telling people how to get places, about the businesses etc. and now I even applied to be the mailman, so I guess this is growing up.
When I moved back home, writing music was the last thing on my mind. I was suffered some major depression at first, wondering if I had made the right decision. I recorded some vocal covers to keep myself busy music wise, and practiced in my room. I tried to get together a band but the guitarist moved to Portland, but he just moved back, so it still might happen! But after a few months I figured I’d just do somethings on my own. I found the instrumental tracks for our second album “Seasons” so since I’ve hated my vocal takes on that album for so long I decided a good recording project would be to re-record the vocals that album. So I spent a few months doing that then released it on the internet, and it’s gotten great reception, Spotify says it’s our “Most Popular Release.”
In about August I realized there was some great songs in the past I made and recorded with GarageBand and that I could do a whole album doing that. I knew doing a full album was risky because of people’s short attention span, but with my new obsession of collecting vinyl LP’s I wanted to do a full album. I put 2 covers on there “Breed” by Nirvana, and “I Don’t Know” by Ozzy Osbourne and I learned how to buy publishing rights to put covers on your albums. I also found a guy on YouTube who made great heavy metal instrumentals so I asked him how much he would charge to make me one, he said $50. Are you kidding me? That’s a hell of a deal, so I had him make me two and those two songs are my favorites on the album: “The Nightmare Called Life” and “I Give Up.” The album is all over the place with different genres because I didn’t have a goal for how I wanted the album to sound. It’s just a mix of songs I felt like making and recorded them. I released the album all over the internet on January 11, 2019, about a week ago, and I am so proud of it! Now I think I’ll take another little break from writing songs and do some covers for a while.
Well if you made it this far you have reached the end. If anyone actually ever reads to this point I am so grateful for you. If you choose to pursue music I hope your experience is a bit less bumpy then my ride. Long live BLACK HARE! Thanks guys, Zack.
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