My first guitar came from Service Merchandise in the mid 80s. I would guess I was in 4th or 5th grade at the time. I paid for it myself thanks to the earnings from working a paper route. I still have that guitar, in fact, it's lying next to my bed missing the pick gaurd and the pickups, but I still play it accousticly.
Somewhere around 7th or 8th grade, I stopped playing my guitar until about halfway through High School I was inspired by my soon to become best friend. At the time, I hated the kid. He wore a dopey jean jacket with a butterfly embroidered on one sleeve and a flower on the other. Across the back in yellow thread was the familiar advertising slogun, 'Enjoy Coca-Cola'. I decided to call this fellow Dopey.
We was another one of the rejects that didn't have anyone to sit with during lunch. Since we were all socially inept, we spent a lot of time trying to belittle each other to make ourselves feel better. Well, I chose Dopey as the fellow to beat on as he was very passive and took it all.
I forget what made me look at him differently. Maybe it was the day he brought his skateboard, maybe it was something he said. Either way, I slowly let my gaurd down around him. He had a guitar and had been playing many years thanks to his father's influence. When he played, he had talent I was jealous of. How can this 'dopey' fellow be so good at something?
I picked my guitar back up at that point and we would have endless nights of taking turns playing guitar. I began to respect him as a person too. This was unusual as I was very insecure in those days. I didn't have many friends, and those I did, didn't respect me. I grew up jaded and afraid, but maintained a stone face about it all.
Dopey, who I began refering to by his given name of Matt, I fell deeply in love with. I went from treating him like others treated me to fully respecting him. He was a big influence to my life at that point. He wound up moving away with his father, and we spend endless hours on the phone and wrote letters several times throughout each week. We'd even play guitar over the phone.
When I went to college, I took more interest in what was called industrial music then. I had been listening to Ministry for a couple years and some others, so I expanded in to the rest of the alternative/industrial artist. I decided to get a radio show, which would be the cause of my stage name Exit.
Matt was at this time had moved from Virginia to Montana. He came to visit once in which we played guitar and I showed him the early 99 material. He was already my biggest fan from some tapes I had sent and we spent some night drunken singing the old 99 songs. Well, he returned to Montana, I flunked out of college due to my lack of interest in being there.
I wound up back in Oswego, NY where I convinced Matt to return so that he could be in the band with me. He did. Unfortunately, some asshole with some control issues made it very difficult. That would be me. Matt came, and I refused to give him full artistic license with 99 as it was 'my baby'. I suggested he do his own project and we could then help each other out with each others projects. He started one, but a rift of betrayal formed in Matt's heart. He came to be in 99 and wanted nothing more. I didn't feel that guitar belonged in 99, and he was a guitarist.
The worst fact slowly was emerging throught this time. Matt had schizophrenia. Neither of us knew it at the time, but he was progessively becoming more unstable. This created more tension in our 'marriage'. We were dubbed the married couple by friends because we would agrue constantly. Matt slid further in to a dangerous mindset.
One night, I awoke to the smell of gas thoughout the 3 room apartment we shared. In the center was a gas heating stove. I heard Matt fiddling with it and recognized the sound of the gas coming from the burners from the gas stove. It was pitch black, and my bedroom was only a curtain away from this stove. I asked Matt what he was doing and he said casually, 'Oh, I'm just trying to blow up the apartment.'
He was trying. He didn't succeed. After I confronted him about the fact that I might not like that happening, he said that he would have let me know to get out. Considering that he was flicking was holding a lighter as he was trying to disable the pilot light and turn on the gas from the stove, I wasn't so sure that he would have.
It was during those turbulent times that most of the music in 99 was created. I still had brought Matt back to live with me years later, but eventually, he was too unstable to try and help. He went to California and got some much needed help and medication which has helped him a lot. I speak to him perhaps once a year now if that, but my heart so damaged from this period of my life that I have a hard time just talking with him.
Well, this post has veered far away from my intention. I was formally announcing the existance of One Cent Left, which is what I'm calling what I've been writing as of late. I just made a quick recording of 'Open' and also publically released the demo of 'Again' on this site.
This latest addition is in truth a subconsious reflection of those past days, when I would play this simple pattern while on my bed and drift to sleep.