Considering I thought I would never make it this far, it’s not all that bad. Looking back 18 years ago, out of college and well on my way to being a professional, I was on a roll. One late night in Saratoga I stumbled upon a band through a hazed glass window on Caroline Street in Saratoga Springs, NY. Through the glass you could barely see people spinning around and dancing while musicians were playing on a narrowed stage along the backside of the wall. My friends and I went in but shortly there after they were all but done with the music they were hearing so that evening we went our separate ways and I started to really enjoy this little Grateful Dead cover band. Of course those who know me know it was Half Step.
Getting to know Half Step was such a new experience that I had no time to think about what I was doing and where I was headed. I knew that playing was fun but what bout listening and learning. I was used to listening while playing and enjoyed that very much but what if I were to just listen for once, so I did, and I didn’t like it. I could hear things I didn’t care for and things that just hurt my ears so the before too long the little Carvin 1648 was plugged into a snake and set up out front. I had no idea what I was doing then and I am still learning today but it the story that make it interesting and back then, I never thought I would make it to 30. I had become The Undertaper and really there was no turning back. There are some recordings still out there from when we started recording board tapes.
It wasn’t the smoke filled rooms or the drugs that made me think I would never make it, it was the long trips and sleepless nights as we eventually began traveling. I never took part in the drugs, I mean how could I, I had to drive home or at least make it to where we were all staying. I never really even tried to figure out how to function on all the amenities that seem to make the nights bearable for some and a darn right necessity for others but one thing I did learn pretty quickly only after a couple of years was that I didn’t want anything to do with it and the only thing that kept me going was the music and a large cup of coffee at the end of the night.
After a while from working Wednesday through Sunday, I began to actually make no money what so ever. I mean I made money but that money went in the gas tank and at the time I did smoke so that expense too didn’t help. And I needed a social life so I did buy a beer everyone and a while but there was really never any extra to feed back into what I enjoyed doing. Mixing the band was so much fun and with a PA that was repaired nightly the extreme was experienced each and every night. One night I finally ended up pushing the PA so hard at Aiko’s that I blew one of the fuses for the tweeter. I popped off the cover and recognized the problem right away. A simple fix, I told the guys, and ran out side to my car. I popped off the interior light cover of my 81 Chevy Citation and ran back in with the bulb. Not sure if it was the same or not but it worked like a champ and that was when I learned that they light up for a reason when you are pushing them too hard.
Since the money was not even enough to get by, outside of a regular job, and organization began to fall short I somehow managed to work with another band after one of their members had subbed in for Juan shortly after his Jaw was wired shut. There were a couple of sub ins while he couldn’t sing but this guy grabbed me and said that he could use a sound guy for his band too. A soundguy? Surely he wasn’t referring to me as one and I was hoping he wasn’t because I remember not knowing what one was. He played keys for a band called Loader at the time and said he had a show down at The Big House down in Albany. They had all the equipment, just like Half Step did, so it would be a simple little show outside of the bar for the people seated at the tables for dinner. This was the first time I had met Rob Beaulieu and got to know Nick Landess, Rick Annen and Eugene Datri.
The Setup was clean and simple only everything was newer and for some reason sounded a little better. The equipment for Half Step had a bunch of shows under its belt and was well worn out. Most of the equipment from Half Step was Carvin including the power amps, soundboard and tops so when I got to use a Mackie 1604VLZ and a Lexicon MPX 100, things changed a little. The processing was only the beginning as the tops were JBL and the subs were JBL 18’s. Subs, I never used subs before and this was awesome. I even got a stage name. My new name was Yahoon Calhoun…. who the fuck knows, it was Eugenes thing and eventually it just was shortened to just Hoon.
It wasn’t too long after that an album came out from that little band. By then the name had changed to Raisinhead and some of the members had began to change a little. I got to know some amazing players and the sound of the band was actually evolving. I hadn’t worked with Half Step in a while now and unfortunately I never really kept in touch back then. Some things went down and some of the members weren’t playing anymore, for a while they actually broke up. But it was this new direction that I was headed in that was starting to make me think, I might actually make it past 30.
In mid 2000 Raisinhead had really started to take off. We had new members and people were actually showing up to shows. I was actually making some money for once. Money that I was spending right away but not on cigarette and beer. I was now able to buy some audio gear! I began to work some shows for Club Caroline after Aiko’s had shut down and thats when I met Lo Faber of God Street Wine. He had been touring as The Lo Faber Band and had grabbed some guys rom the Ominous Seapods. The first night I ran sound for them I went out and got a new sound board. That little 1604VLZ wasn’t cutting it and not because it didn’t sound good but because there were more than 16 chances on stage. I now had a Volkswagen Camper full of equipment that I could use to run sound and even though it belonged to Raisinhead, I used it giving some of the money back to the band for its use.
Eventually the Volkswagen Westfalia Bus turned into the old Ominous Seapods one ton Chevy tour van and that van turned into another van and so on. Things were expanding so fast that I was back to not making any money. Once again my expenses started to exceed my income. For a couple of years I had to report a loss but eventually I broke even and upgraded that old Mackie 24×8 to another Mackie 24×8 and outboard gear began to build itself up too. I actually owned stuff now and it was fun once again. It wasn’t that I didn’t mind not making any money or only clearing enough to cover expenses, I needed to start thinking about what I was going to do with my life outside of music.
Since my college education wasn’t being utilized to its fullest, I needed to find something for the day so if the night fell short, I could rely on my day income. I had some work as a delivery guy for a parts store and eventually picked up a working for sub contracting outfit that worked exclusively for the local cable company that everyone hates indulging myself but that job was just awful in the end and since my education had brought me to becoming a Funeral Director, I was going to have to figure something new out.
But before figuring everything out I decided to buy a house and at least get something under my belt before things got to crazy. I needed a place to rest my head and eventually I was resting my head next to Lauren, not to far after the purchase of the house I might add. We were married in August of 2012 and that was the year I had left my job and began a new one. Eventually after working with a bunch of bands and getting to know a lot of amazing people, people who are talented beyond all belief, I started working as a SEO specialist at a local internet marketing company and in June of 2014 Amelia was born. Now there are three heads in the bed. Some day she will learn that this is mommy and daddy’s bed, but until then, I am ok with it.
I also added a console to my collection that I would have not ever thought possible and have become fully digital. Midas was never a thought in my mind until now and it was the best thing I have added to my sound shaping undertaping.
So hear I am, almost 40, still kicking it and loving every step of the way. I made it past 30 and looking back, I wouldn’t change a damn thing.