Tales from the A.H. Files

Chapter 1: The Band Gun

Had we made the decision to stay near home and nurture our modest following, we might have escaped the inevitable deflowering that befalls all bands who choose to chase their deluded dreams and tour the country in hopes of becoming something more than nothing. Our daily dealing with not just obnoxious, drunken punk rockers (as seen in rarely viewed footage from the oft-bootlegged “Apocalypse Hoboken – Live from the Autonomous Zone), but with unscrupulous or simply dangerously-corn-fed promoters and gas station attendants led us to a pawn shop in one of the seedier parts of Kansas City (are there any other parts there?) in search of the one means of protection that would not only please my flag-waving NRA-member dad, but occasionally give us the upper hand in our voluntary homelessness.

We bought a nickel-plated, snub-nosed .38 – we called it The Band Gun.

Sure, it seemed like silly novelty at first – like working at an ice cream shoppe or writing a song from a woman’s point of view (wait, didn’t Ian MacKaye do both??) but it soon came apparent that The Band Gun would indeed be as necessary as a pack of guitar strings, a decent snare, or a singer who actually appeared onstage.

Our first dalliance with the punk rock underworld occurred rather quickly, as we had chosen to momentarily step outside of the civilized world and play Little Rock, Arkansas. If ever it were decided that someone would actually seek and find Osama Bin Laden, I would expect you’d find him in a bombed-out crevice in a mountainous region of Afghanistan, or somewhere in Little Rock, Arkansas.
We played a club which I’m sure had a name, a stage, and maybe even a patron. Because we were booked by an AGENT (unlike, say, your comparably unimportant band), we were GUARANTEED to make money, regardless of whether the show succeeded or not (or indeed, in spite of the zero flyers hanging in record stores and a headlining band named after a Sublime song). At this particular show (it was not a gig – we don’t do “gigs”. This isn’t fucking jazz) we may have played for three girls at the back who fiddled with their purses in hopes of finding a better show there (or perhaps that was their gig).

At the night’s conclusion, it was clear that no one was speaking to us – we pulled the van up to the side door and proceeded to load out our gear and contemplated snagging a few mikes to see if anyone was watching. But then it happened. The big man from upstairs (and if you can’t already visualize him, you obviously haven’t played Metro or dined-in at Harold’s Chicken Shack) sauntered downstairs, obviously perturbed that he had to go over the figures with us in a vain attempt to shame us into leaving empty-handed, as expenses ran somewhere in the hundreds while the door consisted of change and I believe a button. I calmly explained that we were guaranteed fifty dollars gas money, and that the twelve hour trip to Little Rock was already a bust, so if we could just have the scratch, we were already loaded out and we’d wait until Wednesday to perhaps eat.

And then Sean stepped up to the plate. For those of you who don’t know Sean (or what happened to his Probe – yow! That’s another story!), he has the calm demeanor of a Radio Shack employee but is nicknamed TNT for his capacity to “go off”. So, old man chicken stain explains that he’d just assume wipe his ass with our rider (we had a rider???) than pay us a dime out of his pocket. And then I heard the click.

Yeah – total “Pulp Fiction”, with Sean pressing The Band Gun into Fatty’s acne-scarred cheek. Obviously, we weren’t the only band to have a Band Gun (we were to later learn that most bands carry a full arsenal before venturing south), so the man barely flinched. Sean, rarely at a loss for words, growled a well-considered polemic through clenched teeth directly into the promoters ear –

“Give us the money, dick, or I’m gonna unload in your face”

We all tried our stoic best not to giggle, as Sean was probably doing something illegal in states other than Arkansas, and unloading in someone’s face can have a lot of meanings – all funny, but then finally we saw a little bead of sweat emerge from the man’s considerable brow.

“How much was that again?”

“Fifty dollars”

“Tammy, can you get these boys their money? I have a sandwich waiting upstairs”, and just like that he was gone and Tammy was counting out singles from the cashbox. Sean tucked the gun into his waistband and turned away to leave, and like a chump I ended up still standing there, stuffing the wad of cash into my pocket as Tammy strutted away, stopping only to pick the panties out of her ass.

We never played Little Rock, Arkansas again, and Sean never slept a night on tour without The Band Gun. He eventually named it, but we never did catch the name as he whispered sweet nothings down the barrel before we curled up to sleep.

I wonder what ever happened to our band gun.