We used to hang out on the steps in front of the FNAC or the church across the street, clad in different shades of black, black lace and combat boots, waiting for something to happen. Time never seemed to be a rushed back then, boredom a given, but just sitting and waiting was a normal pastime. Waiting for a new album or a new show to be announced, a new person to walk by and capture our attention, a new adventure to pop up. We would nonchalantly complain about how nothing ever happened in our city, about plans to form a world-famous band, and about the best way to get drunk, but always from our church step pulpit, a stop on the way to other stops. No one had cell phones, so the church or FNAC steps were the meeting points. One by one we would gather there after school, rummage through the CDs at the store wondering if we should really spend our little money on the one album with the one song we knew we liked, or save it up for the next big thing? Or should we just club together and buy some hash and smoke it in the park?
Adolescence is a mess, but it contained a real sense of belonging for me too. A bunch of outcasts together on the same plane, taking steps together before the next turning. Music brought us together initially, and then we moved on towards a bigger sense of friendship and love. Some relationships turned sour, some bonded stronger than others, some people left, disappeared, others joined us, a little hesitantly at first, and then became part of us. Us: together, against the boredom, the normalcy, the day in day out trappings of life. Now we are all spread out all over the world, families and new homes, new loves, old flames, friends forever, and friends no more. Sometimes during a conversation over the phone or email or messenger or in person a name will pop up and we will wonder what happened to him or her. Remember that one friend who came out and we just said “oh cool, good for you!”? That must have been so hard for him in such a tough crowd of metallers, and I’m sure he was shunned by some, but it never surprised me or my close friends. I wonder what became of him? Or the girl who said she was a psychic witch with her emerald green eyes that hid so much fear? Did she end up having the child and living a normal life away from the big city and all of the evils that it contained? Or the one with all the violent and extreme “ideals”, did he simmer down or lose himself in hatred? We may have all been in the same mosh pit together or stagedived from the same death metal stage, but that doesn’t mean we all were the same, or even agreed with each other. With life comes certain realizations and we all move in different directions, towards different ideals and dreams.
Many of us are still connected though, through mile long ties and strings that refuse to break despite time and distance and life. We reminisce about days gone by, chat about the present and the future over food and drinks and through the invisible wires of the internet. Months, sometimes years, go by without a proper conversation, but time doesn’t change much, just adds a few more wrinkles and takes away a few more brain cells. These people all had a role in helping me become who I am today, sitting in the same classroom, smoking the same cigarettes, drinking the same beers, and listening to the same music. If you think metal and rock are just brutal noise then think again, it brings people together as tightly as any other music. We needed the brutality and the beauty behind it to convey our fears and misunderstandings and angst. Some got trapped, some were released. For some it was just a phase, and for some of us the music was life and we still get excited about certain bands, and love new ones. We are now the adults in the crowd, the ones we used to look at and say “that’s us in a million years time”.
Do you remember L’Entrepôt, le Rail Théâtre, le Lion, l’Exca, le Champollion? Do you remember le Jardin des Plantes and le Star Rock Café? Piling into a room together, smoking cigarettes and listening to Emperor and Burzum, Kurt Cobain on the walls, Alice in Chains in the cassette player? Do you remember rolling down hills at the Bastille, The Cure playing in your ears from your walkman, drinking wine at Berlioz, and headbanging to Metallica at L’Usine? Randomly hanging out with Oasis at the Drac Ouest, and playing football with Impaled Nazarene in the backyard of the Rail Theatre. Hanging out of car windows, drunk, while coming down from the mountains at 3am, not a care in the world, no fears, just happiness, that elated feeling of being on top of the world with your best friends. So many memories, so many concert tickets and stories and photos stuck into old journals, trapped away in little drawers in my memory.
There are bands I don’t listen to anymore, bands that served a purpose during adolescence, like Cannibal Corpse or Deicide, and others that I will never, ever stop listening to, like The Cure or Slayer. And you know what? This music has brought me together with people in all places that I have visited and lived in… A common interest found here and there, and it was even the basis of my first conversation with my partner, the love of my life. Music creates the strongest bonds and memories and I will always be grateful for the ones that it has created for me… Kurt, Layne, Lemmy, Bowie (and so many others), you may not be here anymore, but you did way more than just make music. And that goes to all of you who are still here, still creating, still inspiring. You may be dark and you may be morbid, but you still make our lives just that little bit better.
Nostalgia tends to fuel me and my writing, I know, but I often wonder for how long these memories will be so vivid, and I worry that one day they will fade away into some kind of oblivion. Music and writing them down keeps them alive.
I've always taken many, many photos, and scanned some of the negatives in a while back. There are many, many more to do, but if you were there, you might be HERE.