1. Bugs We Stepped On As Boys
Four years ago in 2009, I started my freshmen year of high school. It’s weird looking back at who I was. I was loud and rambunctious. I worshiped Sonic Youth and constantly attempted to make everybody listen to them. I was spineless, and a fairly shitty student. But there I was, at this hub of activity. Within months of my first day, connections were made and, importantly, information was exchanged. I had forced into my mind that musical scenes were the shit, citing New York in the 1970s and Chapel Hill in the 1990s has prime examples. I had to have one, or so I thought. Ridgewood had one already, and I was off by 4 or 5 years. Fuck, right?
Well, not quite. There was SUNY Purchase to still account for. I had some mutual friends who went to Purchase and always seemed to report back what music was being listened to, being covered, being written. It was a near wealth of music up there, and all the Facebook photos seemed to prove the same thing: this place is awesome.
Eventually, some of the music trickled down. There were heroes to be found in these clearly cared for songs. Cameron Wisch lead his Zona Mexicana to dizzying heights, exchanging one particular time signature for another, only to crash into a totally different one. Chalk Talk squaked against their clean-as-can-be guitars with a snark all their own. Weird Korea just wanted to freak the fuck out, and did. These were propelled into anthems for us, and these people canonized into saints.
But really, they were merely college kids. They had class like I did, except they went to an art college, and I learned about King Phillip and his ill-fated Armada. They were all young, maybe not even of legal age to buy booze. So why did we focus on this college’s music scene, when there were plenty of other colleges to pay attention to?
Because Dave Benton went there, and Dave Benton is cool. After starting a number of bands in Ridgewood, Dave went to SUNY and played in a band called Sports. They were shouty, but fun and outright. I thought they were the best of the SUNY Purchase bands, but I was pretty much the only one. Jackson told me to listen to Dave’s new band, the strange-named Sirs.
2. Let’s Face It, We’re Dead
I am not a real believer of a religious experience, but I had one. Picture a basement. It’s dirty and it’s dark, but that’s expected. Now, light about 50 packs of cigarettes. Wait 20 minutes, then open all the doors and windows and let the smoke out. Don’t worry, it will still smell terrible-that is the plan. Paint everything gray. Now paint over that. I don’t know, with other colors. Any colors. Cool. Now get some stickers plastered, break the bathroom and install some seats from cars in there. Perfect.
That’s the Meatlocker in Montclair. Sirs came there in July 2010, and we saw them after waiting for so long. With Kyle Seely’s precise bombast paired against Dave’s and Justin Jurgen’s guitars all while skeetering on Hart Seely’s bass lines, that basement became a temple. Bodies were thrown around in a communal “hey, isn’t this amazing?!?” I lost my hearing for three days afterwards.
Sirs became the pinnacle for the kids in my school. They were loud, yet had something to say. They were funny, yet serious in the music they played. They were perfect. With a lineup change of Dave Benton for Mike Caridi, they became even more deadly. The leads were faster, and Justin’s screams stood out as the voice for Sirs. (Fear not, Dave did pretty well for himself too)
And they recorded great, too. With each release, Sirs played with better and better clarity. No longer the homogenized song soup of the early days, you could hear each bass drum kick and the difference between the two Telecasters. And Justin’s voice got better and better the more he screamed. Ironic, really.
3. Undertakers Whistling Their Hearts Out
Sirs announced today that they’re ending operations after their tour. Four years on, and I’m a freshmen again. Still loud, but overall, I’ve changed. I’m not trying to indulge myself though, but rather bring up a point-that everything is in cycles.
Look at Minor Threat. They released two EP’s, an album and a final EP. Look at Sirs- an album, sure, but two EP’s, an other album, and a final EP. It seems like a desirable run. Sirs was a beautiful band with a beautiful sound, a sound I can bookend between two freshman years. Time will tell when other great bands I grew up with will call it a day. Bands like Toasted Plastic, Spook Houses and even Titus Andronicus have seemingly hit the apex of their careers, and it would be understandable if they were to end. We’re getting old after all. But that’s ok. We’re gonna be great.
Thank you Sirs!!