Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Once upon a time I was in a band.

Well, once upon a time I was in several bands. All at once. I never had time for anything else and I basically spent all my free time in the cesspool that is Downtown Music. But that all came later.

While browsing through Spotify at work a few weeks back, I stumbled down a hole of mid-to-late 90's radio songs. These were songs that I loved when I was in my first band in 1995. I'd listen to the radio while doing homework and there was always a blank tape in the tape deck. If I heard a song that I loved, I'd immediately hit record. I didn't have the money to buy CD's all the time, so taping songs from the radio seemed like the best way to go.

The first band I was ever in happened that same year when I was 15. I had gotten an acoustic guitar for Christmas when I was 12 (my brother got an electric guitar the same year which was always weird to me, since he showed no interest in learning, but...) and slowly learned how to play. Eventually, I was good enough to sing and change between basic chords at the same time, so I got some friends together and we got a band going. I continually borrowed my brother's guitar, and my other friends had their parents get some equipment for them at one of those rent-to-own places.

I don't remember who came up with the name Ronaldo* and the Smoothies, but we thought it was hilarious and rolled with it. We were all 15 and a name that was "witty at first, but got less funny each time you heard it," was just the way to go.

*The original spelling was "Renaldo," but I brought it up on the soccer podcast that I do in which we were talking about Christiano Ronaldo. Just to piss off my friend Oz, I retroactively decided that we were named after the Portuguese soccer player who would have been 10 years old at the time.*

We had wildly different tastes in music and no one could really agree on what to do. We weren't good enough to write songs, so we started playing covers. We learned "Day Tripper" by The Beatles, "Polly" by Nirvana and "Wild Thing" by Every Band That Ever Existed and played a show on New Year's Eve 1995. After that, we got a bass player and started getting serious. Well, you know, as serious as 15-year-old kids with nothing else going on can get.

There was a lot of arguing about what songs to learn and I had no idea what to do. My mom suggested that we all come up with three songs that we wanted to play, and we all had to learn them. It sounded like a nice compromise, so I threw it out at practice one afternoon and gave everyone note cards to write down their choices.

It didn't go very well.

Nick, the other guitarist, only wanted to play Beatles songs and NOTHING by Oasis.

Jon, the drummer, only wanted to learn Oasis songs and NOTHING by The Beatles.

(This was the most frustrating to me, because they were essentially the same band just 30 years removed from each other.)

Dave, the bass player, wanted to learn a lot of Primus and Rage Against the Machine.

I wanted to learn stuff that was popular on the radio at the time. I lived on the East Side of Salt Lake City, didn't have cable or older brothers, so X96 and Q99 was what I depended on for music.

I wanted to learn another Nirvana song, "Shine" by Collective Soul and "In the Meantime" by Spacehog. No, really. I tried to find someone with a keyboard so we could do that last one properly. Unfortunately, all of my ideas were shot down. We did eventually learn "Breed" by Nirvana because it was the only other song I could play well enough to sing at the same time.

The four of us plugged away for a little while longer, but didn't really get anywhere. I was (and still am) a terrible singer, Nick had a girlfriend and didn't really like practicing as much as I wanted to (I was a little bit like Jimmy Mattingly only without the talent) and Jon had baseball practice all the time.

Eventually we parted ways with Nick and brought my friend Terrell on as a lead singer. After a few months of playing cover sets at barbecues, graduation parties and Jon's church block party we actually started writing our own songs. But that's a story for another time.

Someday, "The Secret History of Trevor Hale" will continue, but for now I'll leave you with the playlist that inspired this whole, way-too-long, why-the-fuck-did-I-read-that? post.

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