Blogs » On Another Note » Enter Paul Nasty (My Musical Roots, Part 1)

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I decided to write a bit about the people and musical artists that helped make me who I am today. It’s not something that I’ll always do, just when the fancy strikes me. But I got an email today reminding me that one of my favorite bands is going to play today. It’s a member of the band that makes them that much more special…. Paul Nasty.

I first met Paul as an adolescent when I moved into town. It was in some sort of science class, and since he arrived late, he didn’t have a choice but to sit in the desk in front of me, and in the very first row. I watched as this tall, lanky, scraggly youth in a faded t shirt that read “Agnostic Front”, ripped black jeans and combat boots settled into a desk he looked much too tall for. Class began, and the class opened their books. He then whipped around to look at me and said “Can I borrow a pencil?” not seeming to care what the outcome was. I gave him one, and he whipped back around. Ten minutes into class I looked over to see the notes he was writing, but he had spent the time doodling logos of bands and writing snippets of lyrics. When it came time to divide into partners for a lab, I had the choice of partnering with the nice quiet smart complacent kid… or Paul. Poor smart kid never had a chance, I had to learn more about him, like most things that don’t belong, I felt I had met a kindred spirit.

I don’t think I have to explain to many who have been in my place what it felt like. I was a new kid, in a new town, with a school that was bigger than any I had ever seen. 5A they told me, the biggest they got. I wondered the hall, subject to sneers from people when I asked for a direction to a class, and stares from people who had basically all gone to school together for years. The only other person who seemed to get the same negative reaction as me at the time… was Paul.

We became friends… in a fairly quick time. It took a few weeks, asking dumb questions when he would mention a band I never have heard of, or why he decided to shave his head and leave one lock of hair on the right side of his scalp. Once I asked him to draw the same logos on my book he drew on his… he looked at me strangely, but he did it, and I used those logos to investigate the bands he listened to… I wanted to understand the music that made him such an outcast.

The day came when I asked him to make me a mix tape of music he liked. His eyes lit up when I said it… “Yeah?” he asked. “Yeah,” I said. A few days later he came back with a tape… It said “Kreator” but he told me he just taped over one of his brother’s cassettes. He didn’t write down any of the songs or bands he put on it, he said, but if I had any questions… to just ask him.

I took home the tape, got in my room, and popped it into my stereo. The words “satan, satan, satan,” echoed loudly followed by a wall of sound that I up until that point never knew could exist poured into my room. My sister knocked on the door. I answered it. “What the heck are you listening to?” I didn’t know, but I knew things were different from that point on. The songs got easier to listen to after that one. Some were actually melodic, some were catchy and I was singing along before the song ended.

I went to school the next day, and all we did was talk about the tape. It was punk rock, Paul said. It’s made by people around our age some of them can barely play their instruments sometimes, but hey doesn’t it sound crazy? Yes it does. He gave me more bands to check out: Black Flag, The Exploited, The Germs, Dead Kennedys, etc. and I did.

The thing about punk rock (and there is a difference to real punk in the streets and underground records from that which is played on the radio and MTV), is that most people like me who become fanatics are introduced to it at very important times in their lives. I was an outcast in my school, not by anything I did, but by the time my parents decided to move into the city. I needed to go somewhere. I needed to fill the basic human need to belong to something. I found it easily in music, just as I had as a kid learning to peck at the piano by myself. I liked the rebellion, I liked the look, and I liked the fact that it said “NO” to what society wanted it to do.

I see that in kids today… When they get into the real music. They see the scene and say “I want that, I need that.” They began to collect as much music as they can, they find an anthem for themselves. They eventually grab their own guitars, and form their own bands from like minded kids, and then, another punk rock band is born, playing parties, singing the songs they like and not what the stupid block rock top 40 cover bands are doing. THAT’s punk rock. That’s why the genre hasn’t died, even though the critics and mainstream music wishes it would. The kids who are involved with it see it as a genuine movement. Eventually some of them move on, and trade in their skateboards and guitars for minivans, but they are replaced with more bands and younger kids, and the cycle begins anew. (and then there are old jerks like me and Paul who never go away)

Speaking of Paul… let me give you the Reader’s Digest version of what happened to him… Paul and I, and the rest of our merry band of misfits… went through high school with a variety of adventures. (which my wife says I should make into a book one day) Some good and hilarious… some stupid, dangerous, and not so much fun. I will spare his family and myself the drama of reliving much of our past… but he didn’t get the name “Paul Nasty” by being an angel. We each began playing in our own bands and played in a few projects together. I always took for granted the next time I would see him, and one day just accepted the fact he moved away.

He plays in a hardcore band now called “Pride Kills”. They are based in Houston Texas and signed on Thorp Records. Paul has gotten to live his dream as a drummer and has toured the country and world. His band has opened shows for all his heroes in old bands that we listened to growing up, and I can’t think of a better guy this could have happened to. His band is coming to Victoria tonight, and I sure hope I can be there.

If I wouldn’t have met that lanky unkempt kid in Mrs. Anderson’s science class, there is no telling how I would have turned out. Maybe I would’ve sat next to the quiet smart kid and been happy with complacency. No band… No tours… No songs of my own… No passion to drive me to play music… scary thought.

Knock ‘em dead Paul.

Pride Kills CD cover