- Written by Kurt Tischer
- Category: ROOT
At age 12, I persuaded my father to buy me a drum kit and get me into drum lessons, which I pursued with a great degree of dedication and interest. It was here that I learned what makes a drum kit sound good. It wasn't me. Still, my experience with the drums would prove to be a valuable asset in the years to come, as it provided me with a keener sense of timing and syncopation, and later a better idea of what drums should sound like through a PA system and recorded.
So, it was... onward with the guitar. At age 14, rather than continue with private lessons, I decided to try the course offered at my local Junior High School. Man, was I in for a surprise! For the last seven years I had been playing the guitar left-handed. The instructor was a bit anal, and had the class room arranged in a horseshoe, so the guitar necks of any lefties would be interfering with the right-handed guy. So I asked, "Why not just put me on the end?". The teacher's response was something along the lines of needing to be able to keep track of everyone, which was BS. I was the only left-handed kid in the class, how could she NOT know who I am? She probably didn't want to bother with the additional time it would take to create left-handed chord charts and reverse in her mind the fingering she would be seeing on the neck of my guitar. No bother really, I was already ambidextrous in several other ways. I just sucked it up and chalked it up to one more way that a predominantly right-handed world would force its will upon me. Surprisingly however, right-handed technique came very quickly and after a little while, much more naturally, which I personally find surprising because I am naturally left-handed. I remained ambidextrous on the guitar for a little while, but eventually lost my left-handed playing abilities through neglect. Oh yeah, for the time that I played the drums and to this day, I still play a pseudo-lefty style, on a right-handed kit with my left-hand on the hi-hat.
It wasn't long after that, still at age 14, that I found a couple of like-minded guys and formed a band called "The Underground". (But hasn't everyone been in a band called "The Underground"?) Anyway, we kicked ass! We rocked! We were tight for a bunch of little rebels playing Prog-Rock and Metal. We were getting gigs at clubs all over Cleveland at 14 years old and we played up the kid factor big time. "The Underground - 14 year old Prog-Rock Progeny!" We were good and people were truly impressed at our musicianship at that age. I really miss that band because behind all the partying and facade that was happening at the time, I was dead serious about what I was doing. We were a well oiled machine and I was really proud of what we were doing and the image we were creating. A power trio brimming with adolescent testosterone and pulling off some of the coolest stuff at the time...Triumph, Rush, Zeppelin, and some kick ass originals, too. By the time we were 17 or 18 years old, unbeknownst to us, our drummer, Tom, had other plans and hastily (at least from our point of view) left the band, left town, left everything to get married and make a life in sunny South Carolina.
Joe and I tried making it work with other drummers, but overall, the magic was just gone, the wind taken out of our sails. After 4 years together, when we played music we functioned as a single entity, each almost knowing what the others were going to do before doing it, especially when improvising. Both of us eventually moved on to other bands and I was becoming increasingly interested in the production side of the business, especially multi-track recording, concert sound, staging, and lighting.
When I was 18, I got my first monitor engineering job at a club called "Silky's". It was a good gig because it was great experience. I was working for bands like "Parris", later to be known as "Poison". "RATT" and "Great White" were also among some of the up and coming acts that played there. I quickly moved from monitors to house, taking every opportunity to mix every show for every band that wasn't carrying their own engineer.
After performing in several bands that had limited success and a few decent audio engineering positions at various Cleveland area clubs, I decided to go into business for myself, so in 1988, "3rd Ear Productions" was born. I put together a few club sized PA systems and must have worked for nearly every band at nearly every club in the area within the first six months of the company's inception.
It wasn't long before I hooked up with a metal act called "Bronx" (originally Jeff Bodean, Pat Baker, Tiny Hardin, Tom Schlund). These guys kicked ass and I loved them, but my time with them didn't last long. After about a year, I got a spur of the moment phone call from their manager notifying me of their decision to let me go, about 5 minutes before leaving for a show that had been booked with them two months in advance, truck loaded and ready to go. Obviously, the timing of the call was quite rude and inappropriate and I was very pissed off, but I wasn't going to let it take me down. In fact, I didn't even miss a beat. Once word had spread that I no longer had a steady gig, the phone began ringing off the hook. No more than five days later, I would hitch a ride on a 6 year wave.
1989 - Enter "Captured" (originally Frank Romano, Sam Romano, Fred Flory, Mike Burke, David Drotos). Contrary to how the name sounds, they were not a Journey tribute act. Though some Journey tunes were among the songs in their set list, they were actually a 70's and 80's cover band that had literally "captured" the sound of every rock and metal band they emulated from Journey, to Queen, to Van Halen, to Zeppelin, and everything in between. Unplugged shows became common - some of which I would perform as a sixth member, singing tunes like "Hard Luck Woman" by Kiss, and "I Never Cry" by Alice Cooper. Because all of the core members had a common influence in Black Sabbath and further fueled by the voice of Fred Flory, who can lay down the Ozzy Ozbourne almost as if the Ozzman himself, a Black Sabbath tribute act known as "Sabra Cadabra" would also rise to the occasion of paying homage to the quintessential fathers of heavy metal. The Sabra Cadabra set was like a dark castle with rats and bats that Fred would bite the heads off and spit blood from. There was one show that I remember very well that caused quite a controversy and uprising. The band had placed a painted statue of the Virgin Mary on stage as a prop, which already had a couple of ladies in the crowd a bit upset. But when Fred's bat biting, blood spitting skit took place, Fred turned his head and drooled the blood all over the statue! It was then that the two women came out of the crowd, walked right up and pulled the "bloody Mary" from the stage! The band also had a collection of original material that no one could touch. The Captured years truly captured my heart. They were some of the best years of my life, and to this day I consider the band members and the vast majority of the many people I met as a result, "true" friends who will never be forgotten.
Also during this time, I took on a job as house engineer at the Cleveland Cafe. Interestingly enough, I was actually working for the same guy who Bronx had hired in my place several years earlier. It was here that I did shows for some bands who were making a come back, such as "Quiet Riot", "Slaughter", and "LA Guns".
Both the Cleveland Cafe and Captured called it quits at about the same time, but again, I would not miss a beat. I was immediately called upon to run house sound at a place called "Chances" and for the next three years would be a steady gig. In addition, Captured's departure from the Cleveland music scene eventually caught the ear of bassist, Eroc Sosinski of "Wish You Were Here" a very popular Pink Floyd tribute act. So when their long time soundman, Mike Smalley decided to call it quits, I got the call.
From 1996 to 1999, I slowed down on renting PA systems to focus more on my work with Wish You Were Here and at Chances, and to build my recording studio.
In 2000, a very odd thing happened which has undoubtedly changed my life forever. I was accosted by the IRS, an event which led me down the rabbit hole into the "Alice in Wonderland" world known as U.S. tax law and U.S. tax lies. What I have learned has been unnerving and angering, yet which compels me to inform my friends and colleagues regarding the true, LIMITED nature of the federal income tax and withholding laws, and educating people about the most monumental fraud in human history. People who wish to begin to understand what I am saying here, should visit www.freedomtofascism.com, www.petermacshow.com, www.americanradioshow.us, www.whatistaxed.com, www.larkenrose.com, www.marcstevens.net.
Consequently, in 2004 my attempts to point a particular tax issue out to those handling the financial affairs of "Wish You Were Here" and to remedy the situation within that organization (a matter that could have been handled for everyone in short order) created a rift that resulted in a parting of company and an end to what was otherwise a very good relationship. I cannot do anything about the cognitive dissonance and closed-mindedness of those around me. I can't force people to accept the truth even when it can be shown in cold, hard facts. And even when a person does accept the truth, what they do with it after they have it is up to them. But if they are connected to me in business it is better that we part ways as my principles cannot allow me to deal with someone who not only refuses to examine the truth, but who also fails to do the right thing when the truth is exposed. I'm not saying that one must become an activist, but certainly one could at least fix their own behavior in regard to these issues.
Today I continue to serve a variety of clientele in my studio, and have become more involved in concert sound, building and providing systems for festivals and club installations, while focusing some of my energy on writing and producing new original material under the band moniker, "Temple 8".