This year marks 20 years since I started my first rock band ever. My friend, Greg Axelrad, and I called ourselves “Umbrella Sauce”.

We played covers from Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Megadeath, Metallica, Pearl Jam, and any other band from the early 90′s that had their guitar tabs in Guitar World or Bass Player Magazine. Band practices consisted of arguing over what songs we should play (since I played bass, I always wanted to play Chili Peppers and Primus, while Greg was always trying to get me to learn Dream Theater), watching Headbanger’s Ball (back when they had music videos on Mtv), eating Pizza Hut, drinking our weight in Pepsi, and watching live Van Halen and Chili Peppers videos on VHS.

I had a short scale bass I bought from my friend Sammy Shulman for fifty bucks, and played through my mom’s ghetto blaster. My dad was/is somewhat of an electronics nerd, so we had various cables laying around the house. I spliced a 1/4″ cable (what you use to plug a guitar in) with an RCA cable (what you use to plug things into ghetto blasters). I didn’t know how to use a soldering iron, so I just wrapped the connections up as tight as I could and used electrical tape to keep the wires from touching each other…pretty fancy stuff.

We played our first and only gig at the BHMS 6th grade talent show. We got this kid on our basketball team, Mike Brown, (who had the most amazing mullet) to play drums, and our favorite teacher, Mr. Pagnanni to sing for us. We played Lithium by Nirvana, and I Could Have Lied by the Chili Peppers.

I remember Greg and I were at the mall about a week before the big talent show, and some hip looking older lady came up to us and said, “You kids look cool! Have you ever thought about starting a band?” Well hot corn!! We told her about the amazing show we were going to play the next week, and it turns out she worked as a talent agent or something like that. She gave us her card, and promised to come to the talent show and turn us into rock stars! Of course she never showed. That small experience really stuck with me though, and I think about it every time anyone “talks the talk” or starts making promises and flashing business cards or name dropping or anything like that.

So much has happened with bands and music since i was twelve, and even though it’s been 20 years, every day when I wake up it still feels like the journey is just beginning:)

-joel

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