This is a continuation of Friday's blog about the band Strip Mind and why this little known band has had a large (mostly negative) effect on my life
STRIP MIND...and me:
**HOW NOT TO PROTECT YOUR HEARING**
What most people may not know about me is my lack of hearing out of my left ear. I am down a full 30 – 40% in that ear. This is not however the result of an illness or genetic issue. This I blame fully on Strip Mind and their in-store performance I went to in 1994 that changed my life.
Friday's tale of woe and the elderly I hope imparted the understanding that I really enjoyed this band. My 10-year old sense of humor did and still does sometimes control what I like and they had a X-Mas song called “Jingle My Bells”…Jingle…My…Bells. Okay, I think it’s funny.
Being 19, it was difficult for me to get into a lot of clubs where bands that I really wanted to see would be playing. Strip Mind had played a few shows at the, sadly now closed, club Axis and I missed them each time. So imagine my joy when I discovered that they would be having an in-store appearance, signing, and playing a short set at the Tower Records on Newbury Street in Boston. I was ecstatic about finally being able to meet this band that had helped me, for a brief moment, control the elderly. I guess not so much control as get them to glare at me angrily.
I left work an hour before my shift was up to make sure that I would be able to meet the band and get a good spot cleared out for the show. I arrived about two and a half hours before the band even arrived. It was one of the first and only times I was ever early for something. I spent the bulk of that two and a half hours, looking through the nearly endless CD bins at this, a much better music store, and watching the crew set up the large Marshall amps for the show. I must have seemed like such a groupie as I was wandering around the store carrying a copy of Strip Mind’s album in my hand for two hours waiting for them to arrive. I was such a pathetic little fan boy.
When the signing started, strangely I was not the first in line even though normal people (ie. people not like me) didn’t start arriving until 30 minutes before the event. I was pushed aside by security who, believe it or not, allowed about 40 beatiful, big-breasted, mostly blonde haired women cut in front of me. I would have been upset, had I not been 19, single, and truly enjoying the view.
When I did make it to the table, I meekly gave them my CD, which they signed. (I still have it) and also signed a poster (which I unfortunately lost). On the poster, Sully signed it “Hey Josh, What’s in Your Mouth”, which when I first read it sounded a bit strange. Did he like me, like me or did he write that on everyone’s poster. When I came out of these strange thoughts, I remembered it was the album’s title and all was once again right with the world. Although…if you remember…I do like a bad boy…
Anyways, when the band took the makeshift stage to begin their 5-7 song performance, I found myself pretty near to the front, in fact, I was actually standing right next to a large stack of speakers. I was young, naïve, and as most people at age 19 do, thought I was nigh-invulnerable to any harm. Needless to say, I did not have any earplugs or ear protection at all.
The band started the short set with “Bastard”, the same way the album did. There was a near instantaneous surge of people working their way to be closer to the band. At the time, I was nowhere near as large and imposing as I am now (In other words fat). I probably weighed in at 170 or so, which on my frame, made me very lanky and easily tipped over.
During the surge, my entire body was pressed into one of the racks of speaker with my left ear resting snugly in the direct center of the amplifier. I came to learn, during this that music when pushed through an amplifier and magnified by the fact that my ear was right on top of said amplifier, turns into individual beeps and boops, and then becomes only muffled noise.
Mercifully, I was able to pull away from the speaker after only a few seconds of feeling like I lived inside of sound (not as much fun as you might think). I staggered through the crowd to sit down on the floor at the back of the store, and semi-heard the rest of the song, worried about what kind of affect this might have on me. After about 2 more songs I bravely, or stupidly, I got up and pushed my way back nearer to the front to watch the remaining 4 songs the band played.
When I got outside after the show, the normal ringing that occurs in everyone’s ears after a particularly loud concert or dance club experience was there. I had, by this time, been to plenty of shows, so I knew that this was an inevitable occurrence of being a fan of the metal. I also was sure that it would last a day maybe two at the most.
Nine days later and the ringing and muffled sounds had not stopped. I think this may have been when I realized I had a problem. To make a long, boring part of the story shorter, I went to the doctor, had some hearing tests, and found out I had lost around 40% of the hearing in my left ear and would have chronic tinnitus (the ringing).
If there is something to be taken from this story it is this. The best way to protect your hearing is not to become a fanboy of bands originally named after pornstars, it'll only make you deaf.