Tag Archives: the HO

Zebu

One of the best bands I have been in was Zebu. It wasn’t the most musically competent, but it was definitely the best band. Zebu was a guitar, bass and drums power trio with an all for one and one for all ethos defined by Pat Mello and Joey Schaaf, two veteran punk rock musicians. We bitched, argued and performed the good and bad together and our shows were no-holds-barred, on-the-edge affairs that always moved rooms and people. Total rock ‘n’ roll release. The only other band that came close was the Ho, but that was The Who’s material.

Zebu used to have pot and Oly beer fueled jams/rehearsals that produced almost all our material. Some of our more epic numbers were worked out from ideas brought in by Pat or me, but things usually started with a guitar riff or a pop/punk chord change, slammed into overdrive by the insane bass playing of Pat and urgent and often disfunctional drumming of Joey (the Tom Jones of drumming). This mix quickly dictated the direction of the music, with Pat and Joey picking spots to take for their own. The lyrics and melodies came fast and furious and this kept the intensity intact. We used to rely on tapes of these sessions to figure out what the heck we had done. Then we put work into the songs. We rehearsed a lot. We had to because Joey, at this point deep into his stoner phase, was either forgetting his parts or inventing new ones, thinking they were old ones. I remember hating it at times. Just one of the seeds of our eventual undoing.

I found an Old VHS of a 1999 set that ran 90+ minutes, with the last 30+ simplay making up songs on the spot and posted it on instagram

Alternatively described as ‘a cross between the Minutemen and the Who’ and ‘the Pink Floyd of punk rock’, Zebu was criminally under-recorded. We did a great four song studio recording that captured our ‘pop/punk’ thing but omitted the trippy punk/freejam side of the equation. A handful of live board tapes captured some of that, but with unfortunate sound quality.

Zebu 2007Zebu’s heyday was 1997-2001. We still get together every once in while for a reunion show when the three of us are in Oakland at the same time. The last one was in 2006, after four years off, and it kicked ass. We made ten special Zebu reunion CDrs for that show. Each one had one song that the other nine did not. Those sold out quick. This past October, we got together for a private jam over at Jack Canada’s house. It was like the old days, small sweaty space, loud as hell and cheap beer. I wasn’t expecting much to come of it, but the energy of the Zebu was not to be denied. We absolutely rocked, wrote several great songs, long since forgotten. Too bad the tape wasn’t rolling…

Long ride the wild Zebu.

 

 

 

How I met Pete Townshend (part III)

The Conversation

Shit! What do I say? I was silent for a few moments as I was a bit distracted by Pete’s gaze. He has very intense blue eyes. They search. He is obviously interested in people. Behind Blue Eyes and all that.

I finally started in by thanking Pete for his inspiration. That he was one of the main reasons I picked up the guitar in the first place and continue to this day. That perhaps my parents were not so much in debt to him as I was since they’ve never really understood the whole process to begin with. I have no idea why I said that. It just came out. No comment from Pete.

I told him about seeing The Who in NYC at Madison Square Garden in the fall of 1979. How when the the bright white lights lit up the crowd during Won’t Get Fooled Again there was a certain 16 year old boy standing on a railing above the crowd, his arms stretched toward the ceiling in ecstasy – just about 50 feet from stage left at eye level – when Pete Townshend had suddenly pointed at him. He grinned and mentioned that he “vaguely remembered those shows” (Pete was quite a drinker in those days).

I told him that I had seen the show last night in Berkeley, which had prompted me to seek him out today and that I very much enjoyed the reach of his new work. That it was important he was still taking risks, however good or bad they might be or be received. He very much appreciated that.

I then mentioned that I too was a musician playing original music and doing all I could toward that end – the same as he.

At this, I asked him, “Would you sign my favorite guitar?”

He did not hesitate with his answer,

“Sure.”

A sharpie pen was produced and the guitar signed, just below the tailpiece where it would be rather safe from wear and tear.

Until now, Pete’s entourage had stayed respectfully away, but was starting to shuffle a bit. As Pete made a turn to leave, I thanked him again and said,

“Hey Pete, keep on pushing.”

He turned back and said,

“I intend to.”

*** *** ***

It has been over ten years now and I don’t play the guitar as much. Mostly because I love my Telecasters, but also because I don’t like hauling it to gigs.

I have used it for shows with the HO! (a punk rock, tongue-in-cheek, Live at Leeds era Who cover band) as a backup to my red Gibson SG and for the songs that needed a capo. In fact, at our “last show ever” the SG got damaged and for My Generation, I went to the PT signed Les Paul Special and proceeded to bash it around on the stage and snapped the bottom straplock off of it in true Pete fashion. It’s a working guitar, dammit. You can witness this at the end of this promo trailer:

I still use it for recording and every once in a while I take it out when I feel like jacking up some power chords though my Hiwatt head. It always feels right.

A friend asked recently if I ever worried about losing the guitar.

I believe my response was, “It doesn’t really matter because I’ll always have the story.”