We’ve looked at the genesis of my not-quite-musical capabilities leading up to the failure-to-launch career of The Jason Only Project and the mentally challenged exploits of all that is Baug. Now, as we continue this wordy journey through my noise making evolution, we return to a band which I’ve discussed here previously, Rahne.
I was at a rehearsal studio recently to interview local band Cherry Hill for the Las Vegas Weekly. These guys have been around the Las Vegas music scene as long as I have, so we shared a number of common experiences with venues, gigs, studios, etc. from back in the day. I figure some of those remembrances are as good a place to start as anywhere.
As I mentioned in the last post about Rahne, the band was plagued by issues from the start, beginning with the, um, lack of stable band membership outside of yours truly. Despite only releasing approximately less than 15 songs publicly across two cassette-only albums (“Beautiful Sadness” and “Dead Air”), one cassette single (hell if I remember the song) and one live cassette (“The Anti-Goths Live”), I actually wrote and, for the most part, recorded about 50 original songs during the 18 months or so that Rahne existed. The original demo tape I handed to first drummer Phoenix Ladd must have had 15 songs on it by itself. I guess my point here is that I spent a lot of time writing and recording, but not so much building the band, networking or rehearsing. And I think that project never reached its full potential because of it. Well, and because of other factors …
When Rahne was just a two-piece group backed by a tape machine, we could practice anywhere. Usually it was in the University District apartment I shared with best bud Jason Feinberg, which also doubled as headquarters for the multi-band collective to which we both belonged, Still Hour Productions (itself a story for another blog post). Sometimes it was at bassist Sterling’s cinder-block-walled apartment a few blocks away. But when Brian Pfiefer and Ryan Couevas joined the band on drums and second guitar, respectively, we had to find a new place to practice.
We bounced around various hourly rehearsal studios, including a stint at the Noiz Factory, a ramshackle space in Vegas’ warehouse district. It was there that Sterling’s drug problems became more of a problem than even before. The weathered musician had some issues — I recall him always having to borrow bass gear because he often had to pawn his stuff, presumably to pay for his habits — and by the time the full band was paying for practice space, he’d waste our time/money by showing up … and then passing out. After a while, we brought our friend Dru Broils, bassist of Morgana Athena, to rehearsals with us, where he’d often fill in on bass when Sterling was incapacitated. This was some mild foreshadowing, of course, because eventually that group of musicians — in a different configuration — would comprise four-fifths of Morgana’s lineup a year later.
Not much new material was debuted in the four-piece Rahne lineup. All of our music, up to that point, was developed in one way: I wrote and recorded songs, and then gave them to the guys to learn. It was very Smashing Pumpkins in that way. But once the final lineup was in place, we really only “wrote” as a group one new song, “Asphyxiation,” which was this quasi-metal thing that came together during a jam at our pal Dave Taylor’s grandparents’ house, and I think we only practiced it that one time before debuting it at a show. Otherwise, I delivered one more song to the band during the fall of 1996, “Salvation,” for which Ryan came up with about the most awesome Church rip-off guitar riff ever, and one day, I’ll grow the balls to ask him permission to use it again.
We only played a handful of shows throughout the end of ’96 and beginning of ’97, culminating in a tech-problem-plagued spring show at Cafe Espresso Roma in which we played with Morgana Athena. At the end of the show, I pretty much declared the band “dead.” At least one or two of the other guys were going to quit anyway, so it worked out, and of course, there’s some minor irony in the fact that Rahne broke up after playing its first show with Morgana Athena, after which the latter essentially swallowed the former.
Admittedly, I was going through some personal issues at the time that didn’t help things, and after a fairly major life adjustment a few months later, the next chapter of my musical journey was ready to unfold. But that’s for Part Four of this series. Until then, I leave you with a live performance of one of Rahne’s earliest songs, “Jesus Hitler,” from our show at Backstage at Boomer’s in December 1996. When Rahne started, all of my songs were about either religion or Nazis, so this is pretty much the apex of combining the two. As raw as it is, I kinda think I was at my peak lyrically (I rhymed “wants” and “cunts,” come on!), so, you know, try to sit through all four minutes of it (there’s a pay off at the end):