Overheard in a Stall:
Denver 's Biggest Act is Quitting the Scene
I'm old and increasingly subject to the battles between my colon and the things it harbors.
I found myself in the men's room stall at the Bluebird theater moments before the The Strung Outs were to begin their first hometown set since their triumphant 67/70 (67 gigs in 70 days) Tour of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
If you haven't heard of the Strung Outs you live in a cave and eat bat droppings. The Strung Outs are the biggest band not only in Denver , but the entire Rocky Mountain Region, including parts of seven states. They've been written up in Spin , Rolling Stone , New Music Express , the Chicago Tribune , and the Loveland Reporter Herald garnering such hyperbolic praise as, “Their delicately ferocious riffing left me moribund. The melismatic prowess of lead singer Stanley Jacklightly tickled me in places my husband dares not prowl. And the outfits! Too cabalistic for the written word”
(Glengarry News , Ontario ).
Begun on a dare by Jacklightly and his on again, off again partner Kevin Dollop in a Colorado State University dorm room, the Strung Outs have spent the previous seven years creeping into the national scene while so dominating the local music world that they actually had to quit playing clubs and theatres because the crowds were, as the Denver Post claims, “Too heavy, too horny, and too damn passionate to stay out of trouble.” And cause trouble their fans did: collapsing the stage at Herman's Hideaway, smuggling underage orphans into the Gothic, and, in an unforgettable Labor Day performance at the Fillmore, sacrificing a live ox.
Their most popular lyric, “Don't stray too far from reality,” has become a catchphrase for the teen set while their three fingered salute is a greeting used by Iraqi soldiers to indicate compatriotism.
The 67/70 Tour was their high-point so far. In a stroke of genius, they avoided large markets and focused instead on generally neglected venues in the suburbs and small towns. Playing a schedule that would destroy a normal group, The Strung Outs wowed the press and gained fans in theaters across three countries. They sold over ten thousand copies of the most recent CD, Drawn, while surviving the entire trip without a single arrest, nervous breakdown or paternity lawsuit.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to squeeze a loaf of rye bread into a toilet.
Lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Stanley Jacklightly stomps into the bathroom, slams the door behind him and starts shouting into a cell phone:
Stanley Jacklightly: Contract? Fuck the contract! I'm through with this band!
(He pauses while the earpiece chirps indignantly. I pull my feet up so he won't see me in the stall.)
SJ: NO, it doesn't have ANYthing to do with the fact that we didn't make it onto the Local Shakedown Compilation. Anyway, that thing was put together by some guy who currently isn't even involved with 1190. Yes, it's an insult but there are bigger things to worry about than getting snubbed by an 8000 watt radio station. I'm quitting music to tour the world with George Bush.
Animated chirping from the earpiece.
SJ: No, let me finish. Fuck Bush. In an era when the United States is slaughtering children, won't let two people get married, and allows this gap-toothed moron to start wars on the basis of garbage intelligence I refuse to dance on stage like a jumping bean. I'm going to follow Bush wherever he goes. Just like the Deadheads followed Jerry, except I'm going to protest the bastard.
The earpiece chirps curiously.
SJ: I'll survive just fine. The same way Deadheads did; I'll sell crap. Listen, where there's Bush there are protesters. I'm going to sell weed and pipes to those people. Maybe I'll make beads. I'll also make signs, write songs in various languages. You know, “Bush es una puta, va te faire foutre!”. More than anything, I'm going to make a living off the hatred that man breeds. In doing so I will dismantle his whole fucking house of cards.
(Squatting on the toilet has helped loosen the bindings on my bowels. Things begin to shift.)
The earpiece tries to soothe Stanley .
SJ: Love? Fuck love. I don't care about that positive vibe bullshit. Positive is what lets these bastards pull out our teeth. It's simple math. A good liberal is tolerant. A good conservative is a fucking nazi. The conservative will kick down the liberal's front door. While you, the liberal, chant pacifist mantras, the nazi is attaching electrodes to your wife's tongue. The asshole always wins. It's the way it works. We're in a world where money, aristocracy and evangelical lunatics make the rules. But I'm making the rules now. How the hell do you think Dr. Landy cured Brian Wilson? He did it be being crazier than his patient, by jumping on tables during dinner and generally freaking him out into sanity. That's what I'm going to do to the American electorate.
(I groan, knowing my cover is about to be blown, and release the captive. A cloud of bliss comes over me, the splash echoes off the walls.)
SJ: Shit. There's someone in here. I gotta go play this stupid show. But don't you forget. I'm going to stop these warlock bastards or die trying. And then, screw Denver , the world will remember me for something worthwhile.
--Strapping Danforth, June, 2004