by Matthew J. Swanson


The only thing that got me out of my California King this morning was the excitement of driving into the West Side to buy heroin. I've been out of the smack game for quite some time now, but I'm sure the protocol is roughly the same " just find a guy in a long white t-shirt standing around with no other conceivable purpose. I do a number of drugs, and they all serve their own purpose. Heroin seemed to have that life-ruining purpose years ago, but now I need it in a stop-caring-about-stuff capacity because it's the first day to record the new inevitably shitty record for my band's all important nobody cares about us anymore period. Some say that it's not a good idea to start dabbling again with a drug with such chemically addictive capabilities, but I'm not the guy I was five years ago " I can control my shit, so I should be fine, and like I said, it's the only way I'll be able to just play and not care that I'm nothing more than the guitar player for another one of Alistair's "artistic visions."

When we started Lehmi County Airport, it was the most exciting time of my life " all of our lives. I can honestly say that the moment we knew we could make great songs together, even though we were living together in a dump in Logan Square, those were better times than when we got "the money." When I met Alistair Radcliff, he was playing and singing a Syd Barrett song in a Potbelly, up in the scaffolding, or whatever, and it was like when you fall for a chick. He was captivating all those nimrods in the joint, waiting for their God damned sour dough, and I actually said out loud, "This motherfucker is going to make me rich."

The drummer, Lester Clayton, was a black guy I had met a week or two earlier when he came by to install my cable. I had a beat up drum kit in the apartment, and when he was done, he asked if he could play for a second. I said, "Yeah, go nuts," and he did. Holy crap. I got out my guitar, and we fucked around for hours, rolling doobs, playing, and things just clicked. I think he blew off the rest of his calls for the day, which was probably for the best because when that guy gets going on the pot, he's incapacitated except for his playing, in which case he's an animal, really pushing the guys he plays with to new heights.

Just thinking about those days makes me pumped to play, but not with these guys. For the last few years, after the success of ". . . And Sometimes Why," it has really become like work. And the saddest part is that I don't even see these guys in between tours and recording. Before "Sometimes," we would get shit-assed drunk together every few nights, but now these guys have families. That's really the problem, I think; Allistair has this whole new worldview and writes songs about his fucking kids. Don't get me wrong, that stuff's important, but nobody wants to hear songs about it. Tell me a good song about someone's damn kid, besides "Isn't She Lovely." And Les isn't much fun either these days. Yeah, he's still banging lots of chicks, something I don't think he'll ever stop doing, but I just hate that he doesn't care what we're doing musically. An artist like that guy should give a shit, and I think he did at one time, but now he just goes along with whatever the fuck Allistair wants to do.

I've been trying to find other musical outlets ever since my diminished role in this band, and I'm pretty pleased with how the first album for my side project metal band, Bruticus, came out. Those guys are fun to play with, but lately it has dawned on me that I shouldn't have to find other people to play with " I play with the perfect guys, and we're in a pretty successful band, only I want them how they were before they got so fucking gay. And even more than missing the days when I loved the music we made, I miss hanging out with those guys. Allistair always invites me to his kids' fricking Christenings or circumcisions, or whatever it is they're doing, but I'm always too damned hung over to make an appearance, and even if I did, seeing the domesticated, watered-down version of such a talent would just depress the shit out of me.

So, yeah, it's a perfect day for some good old heroin. Just enough to make me not care and to make the guitar sound better, and not so much where I'm just drooling all over it. Just enough where I don't care that Allistair, a guy I loved like a brother and respected as far as musicians go more than just about anyone, is now kind of, and I hate to say this, a dork. And just enough where it doesn't bother me that Les, a guy who at one time was more passionate than any of us about the band, now allows himself to be a tool and goes along with everything Al wants. Fuck it. Maybe so much God damned heroin to the point where I pass out and have an excuse not to record another awful record with those guys ever again.

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