Grand River Collegiate Institute

#737: Nothing But A Good Time: The VHS Archives

I’m breathless because I found all my VHS tapes.  Every last one of them!

The first one to go in the player is the most important to me.

In 1989, Bob and I made a music video for “Nothing But A Good Time” by Poison for a highschool project.  Until now I’ve only been able to describe it to you.  In Getting More Tale #455: How to Make a Music Video (The Old-Fashioned Way) I went into as much detail as possible into how two kids made a music video.  That was fun but it was disappointing that I couldn’t show you the finished product.

Ladies and Gentlemen, filmed on location in Kitchener (1988 and 1989), here is “Nothing But A Good Time” by Poison, as interpreted by Mike and Bob!  Get a good look at the town and Grand River Collegiate Institute as it was 30 years ago.

God damn I’ve been waiting a long time for this!

 


In 1988-1989, a teenage LeBrain and his buddy Bob were very active in the school film program.  We both took the highschool film course, and loved it.  I remember writing an essay comparing the early and later films of Steven Speilberg, and scoring 98% or 99% on it.  I just loved film and still do today, but Bob and I had our eyes on a different prize.  We wanted to make a music video.

We both had guitars, and another kid in the film club named John had a camera.  A kid from drama class named Dave offered to be the drummer.   We didn’t have any drums (or even sticks), but that’s OK; Journey used the “no drums” thing as a gimmick in their video for “Separate Ways”.  Taking that as inspiration, I got Dave to hit rocks and tables with chopsticks.  We tried to access the drum kit in the school music room but it was booked.  We could still do it, thanks to Journey.  We could make an awesome music video!

It was our vision, so Bob and I got together one Saturday afternoon and spent several hours planning and doing rough storyboards.

 

POISONThe Charlie Awards were film awards for highschool kids, and Bob and I sought to enter our video that year.   It was fall, and we began planning.  The first thing we needed to do was pick a song.  Wanting something upbeat that would allow us to run around a lot and make rock poses, we chose Poison’s “Nothin’ But A Good Time”.  There was only one problem, which was that neither of us owned the album.  So, I conned my dad out of the $10 to buy a copy at A&A Records & Tapes.   I told him it was for a school project, which is true, but I didn’t tell him it was for a non-credit school project.  Nor did I tell him the tape would then become part of my permanent music collection!

Bob and I plotted out what we needed to film.  We wanted an intro similar to what Poison did in their very fun video (although this opening has since been edited out, probably due to “Rock and Roll All Nite” playing in the background of it).  We got an English teacher, Mr. Payette, to help us out.  In the school cafeteria, Bob’s character was sweeping the floor, playing air guitar and lip-synching to Van Halen’s “Jump”.  Then Mr. Payette stormed in!  “I pay you to clean the equipment, not play with it!” he yelled, nailing his part in just one take.  Bob, not used to a nice guy like Mr. Payette yelling, was visibly having trouble keeping a straight face:  but it worked!  In the next shot, we utilized jump-cuts to have Bob’s leather jacket, sunglasses and guitar suddenly appear on him.  And then the song began.

Since we had no idea how to make a music video and synch up the cassette audio afterwards, we had to figure it out as we went.  We wound up shooting the “band” miming the video multiple times in many locations.  Rockway Gardens in Kitchener was one such location.  The school stage was another.  We also did an incredible scene in a Geography class that was just terrific.  We wanted a really angry looking teacher for that one, so we asked the Science teacher Mr. Marrow.  He was a nice guy, but he sure could look mad when he needed to!  For this shot, we taped a Samantha Fox swimsuit poster to one of the geography maps.  Marrow pulled the map down, only to reveal Miss Fox!  He then gave the camera a glare and stormed out.  It was great.  We filmed some guitar solos at the same time.

We spent a few months filming shots for the video, gathering scenes from different locations.  We took some inspiration from the Beatles and had all of us rolling down a hill, jumping around on rocks, me doing several power slides…all kinds of rock and roll.  Still winging it, we figured we would have more than enough great shots when it came time to editing.

We did not expect editing to be easy and it was not.  Not in the least.  At our disposal, we had a state of the art VHS editing suite.  The school board owned it, and each high school got to keep it for a couple weeks a year.  We had access to the suite in early ’89, around March.  Bob and I stayed late at school every day for two weeks trying to get the video done by the deadline.  We also had permission to skip a few classes.  Still figuring things out as we went, we did not realize that the audio synch was a huge problem.

Bob pieced together the editing technique we would use.  He chose a “master take” of us miming on the drummer Dave’s front lawn.  This was a good master to use, because the audio was excellent.  Bob was pumping the song through his car stereo, so we had a nice loud audio track to edit to.  Then, when the video was done, we’d overdub the original song from the Poison cassette onto the video.  Although it was hard work, the video pretty much edited itself.  Bob and I both had plenty of shots we wanted to include, so it was just a matter of inserting them at the appropriate points.  We had seen so many music videos over the years that cutting it was like second nature, once we figured out how to do it.

That’s when we ran into the audio synch issue.

Cut completed, we dubbed in the brand new clean audio direct from the Poison tape.  By about halfway through the song, we started noticing problems.  Even though every shot was perfectly synced in with the “master track”, the clean audio overdub was not.  We struggled and struggled, trying to cue it up differently, and make it synch.  We just couldn’t do it.  By the end of the song, each line of the lyrics was off synch with our lips by at least one line.  We called in the film teacher to help us.  That’s when we learned something that we didn’t know about cassettes.

“Where is the original audio coming from on this video?” she asked.  We explained that Bob had a great car deck, so we used that for our master take.

“That’s the problem then,” she said, telling us something we did not want to hear.  “Car tape decks and regular cassette recorders often run at slightly different speeds,” she explained.  “That’s why your audio is off.  Either the car deck is playing the song fast, or this tape deck here is playing it slow, or both.”

There was nothing we could do with the technology at hand.  We had no way to slightly speed up the cassette so it would match the video.  And we were out of time on the editing suite.  It had to go back, and if we couldn’t change the tape speed then we’d be stuck with a video we couldn’t synch up.

Using what little time we had left, we re-edited the end of the video slightly, to try and bring the words back into sync where they were the most glaring.  We were able to fix some shots, but we were out of time and had to declare the project finished.

Bob and I attended the Charlie awards and saw some really amazing video work.  In particular there was some clay animation that was brilliant, but there were also plenty of videos that were not nearly as good as ours.  We got a special mention, but did not win a Charlie award, because of the audio synch.  It was bittersweet, but Bob and I were both really proud of that video.


 

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#704: Battle of the Bands

A kinda-sorta retelling from a different perspective of Part 258:  Uncle Meat

GETTING MORE TALE #704: Battle of the Bands

Poor George.  He really wanted to be in a band.  Rob Szabo had a band.  He was just starting out with one of the neighbour kids.  He even had two original tunes (I remember one was called “The Stroll” and I can still hum it).  George really wanted to be in Rob’s band.  He hung out at their basement rehearsals and watched them play.  Rob would teach him things.  They needed a bass player.

George secretly saved his money, and eventually bought a bass.  Rob was horrified.  He didn’t want George in his band, he wanted a musician who already knew how to play music.  He didn’t want to have to teach the bass player how to play bass.  He also felt terribly guilty, because George bought the bass specifically because Rob needed a bass player!

I can remember George playing Rob’s tape to the girl he liked.  “That’s us!” he said.  “That’s my band.”  He wasn’t on the recording at all.

Like a kid who didn’t know how to break up with his girlfriend, Rob took a while to tell George he was “out” of the band.  When he did, George was not deterred.  He just went it alone.  He taught himself how to play by playing along to records.  He studied Steve Harris and Gene Simmons who quickly became his favourite bassist.  He practiced all the time.  I know, because we could hear him from our house.  We laughed about it, because George also attempted to sing.

He eventually got pretty good at bass; good enough anyway for the bar band scene.  He would never be any good at singing, although that hardly stopped him, and you have to respect that.

In the summer time, George took his amp outside and played for anybody who happened to be around.  He loved to play, “Guess this song from the bassline!”  Not an easy game when I didn’t know many songs yet myself.  I had a few albums, but I’d only been into rock and roll for a couple years.  Every bassline sounded the same to me.

“Guess this one”!  Durm durm durm durm.  Durm durm durm durm.

“Uhh, I dunno, ‘Shout It Out Loud’?”

“No, it’s ‘Love Gun!'”

George finished highschool, but I was just beginning.  It was there I saw my first Battle of the Bands.  I sat with Bob Schipper, Rob Daniels and the gang at lunch watching the bands play.  Rob Szabo had a band called Under 550 — the total body weight of the four members.  Even in highschool, it was obvious Rob had real talent.  There were all the other bands, and then there was Under 550.  He was levels above the others.  He could play “YYZ”.  I’d never even heard of “YYZ” (though I’d seen those letters on my parents’ luggage tags).  There was only one clear winner and that was Under 550.  It was obvious to everyone.  They would be going to the regionals at the Humanities Theatre.

Rob Szabo on the left

Bob and I got our tickets.  We went with neighborhood friends Scott Peddle and Todd Meyer.  The four of us sat together and waited giddily.  Not only was Rob Szabo playing, but so was George.  He joined a band called Zephyr (no relation to the other Zephyr), and they were on the bill.  I planned my catcalls.

George always told me he wanted to play “I Love It Loud”, and introduce it by saying to the crowd:  “How do you like your music?  Well I love it loud!”  I hoped and prayed he was going to do that.

Each band got two songs.  We waited through noise bands like Stomach Acid and F.U.H.Q., who had the plug pulled early for swearing.  We waited through boring acoustic and pop crapola.  There was one group that rocked really fucking hard.  I wasn’t into thrash, and these guys were heavy.  A group of bangers came down to the front row and started banging their heads to the thrash!  You could see the long hair flailing.  I didn’t know the singer, but many years later I found out his name was Eric.  But nobody calls him Eric.  Today they just call him Uncle Meat.  The Legendary Uncle Meat.

Meat

Truth is, his band was too scary for a 14 year old me!

On came Zephyr.  “You suck George!” I yelled, with Scott joining me.  He ignored us, or couldn’t hear us.  It didn’t matter, Scott and I were laughing so hard!

Sadly, George did not play “I Love It Loud”.  Zephyr disbanded a little after, with George again going solo.

Rob stacked the deck for the regionals.  Under 550 added a lead singer, and became Over 550 for this one night.  Though they didn’t win, they ranked high.  Uncle Meat and George went home empty-handed, but with memories etched forever.

The winners of that event? The now-somewhat-but-not-really-legendary Gordie Gordo and the G Men, featuring Sausagefester Scottie G, on the not-very-well played guitar! $100 dollar first prize which went promptly towards a mic stand.

We laughed on the way home at our witty catcalls like “Don’t fall over George!”

And that, friends, is why my highschool years were better than yours.

 

 

#670: Censor This Too! – The Star Chamber

GETTING MORE TALE #670: Censor This Too! – The Star Chamber

This is the sequel to Getting More Tale #669: Censor This! In a footnote to that story, we discussed the evil, corrupt English department at Grand River Collegiate Institute in the school year 1990-1991.  With music as part and parcel of everything I do, here is the students’ revenge.

This story was written by myself and Andrew “Abbis” anonymously.  (You may remember “Abbis” was the subject of a Zeppelin-esque song I co-wrote called “Abbis’ Stomp”.)

Context:  A brilliant young student named Danny was accused of plagiarism for his independent study on part of Milton’s Paradise Lost.  The entire English department were united in their belief that he had cheated, not realizing this young dark-skinned kid with a strange sounding last name was actually just really gifted.  In a parallel to Paradise Lost, Danny soon found himself in a hell of his own.  The school treated him shamefully, but could not prove he cheated.  Instead of the A+ he deserved, he got a “no report”.  This was his final year of highschool, and he wanted that A+ to get into the university program he had applied to.

This story was our revenge on his behalf.

I take a lot of pride in our creative little rebellion. This was about as misbehaved as we got.  Our scathing story The Star Chamber (an obvious mashup of MacBeth and Star Wars) was published in the underground school newspaper, in June of 1991, exactly as you see it below.  Pay attention for a Zeppelin reference and plenty of Shakespeare.  My character is an homage to Han Solo named…Guitar Solo.

Please enjoy.

THE STAR CHAMBER
(The Uncensored Version)

BY: Robin Hood and his Merry Men

 

A long time ago, in a Collegiate Institute far, far away, a battle was being waged between the forces of Good and English.  The leader of the rebel forces, Danny “The Terror” Skywalker, had for months been a thorn in the side of the English Empire…

ACT I, SCENE I

In the caverns of Smithers the Hutt.

Enter with a flourish and really neato special effects, Darth Chamber and his English entourage.

DARTH:  (To Smithers) By Jupiter!  We must capture that foul wretch known to all as Danny “The Terror” Skywalker.

SMITHERS:  I say yea my Lord.

Exuent Darth and entourage with an even bigger flourish.

END OF SCENE

ACT I, SCENE II

Enter Danny, his faithful companion Guitar Solo at his side, zipping through space in the Tarachan Falcon.

Their favourite album, “Ten Classic Books in Ten Minutes” is suddenly drowned out by the wail of an intergalactic police siren.

Enter Robo Bolt, with colours and drums.

DANNY:  What hast thou pulled me over for, sucka?

ROBO:  Dost thou thinks that “E.N.G.-S.U.K.S.” is an appropriate licence plate for thine vehicle?

DANNY:  What say you?  Thou art a strange fellow.

ROBO:  Your horrid image doth unfix my hair!

DANNY:  Methinks thou art (and I quote Willie Shakespeare) “a coward, a rascal, an eater of broken meats, a beggar, and a lily livered knave”.

ROBO:  Draw thine sword, I’ll make a sop’ o’ the moonshine of you!  (they draw and fight, Guitar Solo slain by accident.)

GUITAR:  To be…or not to be.  What a stupid question!  GAHK!!!  (he dies.  Robo is then slain.)

ROBO:  I am slain, I am slain, dead, defunct, kicking the bucket, etc. etc. etc.  (he dies.)

DANNY:  What have I done, o Lord, o nature?  What evil spirit hast possessed me?

Exit Danny, delirious from the battle.

END OF SCENE

ACT I, SCENE III

Enter Darth Chamber having been notified of Robo’s death, mad, and garlanded with wild flowers.

DARTH:  Oh what foul deed, what evil, for my fair fair Robo.  He is killed.  (Enter Danny, furious with rage upon sighting Darth.)  Draw, or surely thou shalt perish!

DANNY:  Have at you, bud!

Enter Smithers from behind.

Smithers strikes Danny over the head with Roget’s Unabridged Dictionary, knocking him unconscious.

END OF SCENE AND ACT

ACT II, SCENE I

Later in the Star Chamber.

First trumpet.
Second trumpet.
Third trumpet.
       Trumpet answers within.
Enter Darth Chamber and Smithers, armed, a trumpet before them, attendants, the Fool, Edgar, Edmund, Oberon, The Duke of Cornwall, Elvis, drums and colours, Danny Skywalker in chains, Gloucester wandering around outside.

DARTH:  Hark, four-score and seven years ago this treasonous wretch, Danny Skywalker, hath committed the ultimate crime against the English Empire.  May his trunk be devoured by butterflies.  By Jupiter!  Behold his foul deed.  (cries of astonishment within)  He hast plagiarised the almighty Milton!!!

DANNY:  Oh Hell!  Oh spite me!  What manner of accusation is this?

DARTH:  Silence scurvy knave.  (Darth to attendants) Place him in…(drum solo)…the machine!

SMITHERS:  Goody goody gosh!  By the fairies, Darth is mighty!

FOOL:  (sings)  O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better than this rain water out o’ door.  For he’s buying a Stairway to Heaven.

Exuent all.  Death march, colours and banners.

END OF SCENE

ACT II, SCENE II

Enter with a flourish, Darth Chamber and Smithers the Hutt, with entourage carrying fluorescent banners with matching tights, led by an Old Man.  Danny strapped to the machine.

The machine, a relic left over from the late 20th century, known as a “Dunking Machine” is filled with water, with Danny strapped to a chair above it.

DARTH:  By Jupiter!  My seated heart dost knock at my ribs.  For the time is near o’ blossom.

SMITHERS:  Skywalker thy trial begins!  If thou float’est, thou art guilty of plagiarism and shalt be sentenced to die…slowly.  First we shall tear all the of the hair from thine body, then soak you in lemon juice, and Kraft salad oil.  Then we shall take you out to the Dune Sea you shall be eaten alive by the almighty Mouth, while’st being garnished with tomatoes and olives!  But if thou sink’est and die’est, we shall know that thou art innocent and we shall let’est you go.

DANNY:  Sorry, but I’ve got a prior engagement.

Enter Abbis Man’s ghost.  (See last issue — ed.)

Abbis Man runs onto the stage, dropkicks Darth, hits Smithers with the D.D.T. and frees Danny from the machine.

DANNY:  Thanks bud!

ABBIS:  No problem, let’s get a beer!

Exuent, too tired to flourish.

DARTH:  Gosh darn it!  Methinks this ending really sucks!

Exuent Darth and all remaining.

END OF SCENE AND ACT

EPILOGUE

Danny and Abbis Man, having formed a powerful alliance, travel to Earth where they take on aliases and fight crime as Siskel and Ebert.

 

#405: Brett-Lore (Excerpts)

BRETT LORE

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#405: Brett-Lore (Excerpts)

All artwork created by: Various denizens of Grand River Collegiate Institute, circa 1989-1991.

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Part 258: Uncle Meat

Uncle Meat is former co-worker, now friend. He worked at one of the other record store locations for about a year. Back in Part 78, he told his side of the story, but I thought I should return the love.

MEAT

RECORD STORE TALES Part 258:  Uncle Meat

My first encounter with the man known as Uncle Meat (his parents still call him Eric) happened in 1987.  I didn’t meet Meat in 1987; I met Meat officially in the 1990’s when he was hired at one of our stores.  As we chatted about people we both knew, we pieced it together:  Both of us were friends with a talented local singer/songwriter named Rob Szabo.   Way back in the 80’s, Rob was in a band then called Under 550, and they won the Battle of the Bands at Grand River Collegiate Institute in ’87.  I remember they knocked out a version of Rush’s “YYZ”.  They were sent to the next round, to battle it out regionally at the Center In the Square.

They added a lead vocalist for the big competition, and temporarily changed their name to Over 550.  550 lbs was the total combined body weight of the band.  They were just under 550 lbs, until they added the singer.  Get it?  They were up against a neighbor of ours, George, who was playing bass in a band called Zephyr.  Also in the running were such luminaries as Stomach Acid, and F.U.H.Q.

It was when discussing this gig that Uncle Meat and I realized we were both in the same place at the same time — except he was on the stage and I was in the crowd!  I have a distinct memory of watching a very heavy thrash metal band.  They were just too heavy for most in attendance, but they had chops and a good singer.  That singer was Meat.  One thing I’ll never forget about his set is this:  a whole row of long-hairs ran down in front of the stage during the first song, and banged their heads through it all.  When Meat had played his two songs, they went back to their seats.  I’d never seen anything like it before, at that tender age of 15.


Spring 1991 – Uncle Meat singing “Fairies Wear Boots” with Heavy Cutting

Many years later, I worked a shift at the store with Uncle Meat, and that was our first “official” meeting.  I remember that it was a pre-Christmas shift, and I was helping out another store.  It was the two of us and Meat’s arch-nemesis, a girl who did not get along with him at all.  (The story of why was recounted in Top Five Discs That Got Us In Shit.)  It was a fun shift, busy as hell, and I remember stopping at an HMV store on my way home and picking up a Savatage CD (their then-latest, Wake Of Magellan).

Here I am, almost three decades later, remembering that night in ’87 like it was yesterday.  I could tell you details like what jacket I was wearing (a dark blue leather one).  I could tell you who I went with: Bob, Scott, and Todd Meyer.  I couldn’t tell you who won anymore, but I do know this:  It was fate.  It was fate that Meat and I should meet.  When we work together on a project, it’s peanut butter and jam.  Thanks for friendship Uncle Meat, and thanks for contributing so much to mikeladano.com.


Same night, same gig: Szabo on axe shreds some Judas Priest.
Listen to that fucking singer!

Part 206: Rock Video Night!

MUCH

RECORD STORE TALES Part 206:  Rock Video Night!

Last time on Record Store Tales, we talked about Andy and Ashleigh and the discovery of great rock bands such as Rush, Max Webster, and Van Halen.  Andy was even more curious now about what great rock was out there.

Rock music is about so much more than just the songs.  There’s the concerts, the live experience.  There’s the history of the bands, the stories and the context.  And there were the music videos.  How could one possibly talk about a great band like Van Halen without mentioning groundbreaking, defining music videos that they made?  Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, I decided the best way to explain these things was to have a Rock Video Night at my place.

90% of my video collection was from the Pepsi Power Hour.  Back in the days before YouTube, a channel like MuchMusic would have an hour or two a week devoted to the heaviest videos in rock, and I tried to record the show every week.  I had amassed a large collection of VHS tapes, probably about 120 hours of music videos, interviews and concerts altogether.  That’s not including the hundred or so officially released video tapes that I bought over the years.  We had a lot to watch so I had to hone down the set list for the evening.

Since I am and always have been OCD about my music collection, I had a meticulously typed list of every track on every video that I made.  I carefully planned the evening’s entertainment.  There were some videos that I know these kids had to see.  They were all one musical generation younger than me.  They grew up on videos like “Jeremy” and “Fell on Black Days”, not “Jump” or “Go For Soda”.  I had to make them understand my time, when it was OK to have sword fights and dwarves and laser guns in your videos.

Ash and Andy arrived along with my other employees Braddy D and Chris P.  The set of videos that I chose to share with them that evening included:

SAVATAGE – “Hall of the Mountain King”.  Summary:  Dwarf seeks Mountain King’s gold.  Must try to steal it without waking him, while band is playing in the same caverns.  Not sure why the King doesn’t hear Jon Oliva singing.  (below)

VAN HALEN – “Oh Pretty Woman”.  Summary:  Lady in distress has been kidnapped by two dwarves.  A hunchback in a treehouse (David Lee Roth) telephones a samurai (Michael Anthony), Tarzan (Alex Van Halen),  a cowboy (Eddie Van Halen), and Napoleon Bonaparte (David Lee Roth) to save her.  (below)

ARMORED SAINT – “Can U Deliver”. Summary:  Band driving a Buick with armor and an anti-aircraft cannon seek a glowy sword.  Band plays concert in front of rocker dudes and scantily clad babes while wearing leather armor.  (below)

GRIM REAPER – “Fear No Evil”.  Summary:  Band drive a DIY armored APC on a quest to free long-haired slaves from an evil half-man half-something with Wolverine claws. (below)

MIKE LADANO, BOB SCHIPPER and DAVE KIDD – “Nothing But A Good Time”.  Summary:  A highschool video I made, lip synching to “Nothing But A Good Time” by Poison.  We had our English teacher do the schtick at the beginning where he plays the prick boss who gives the kid a hard time before the song comes on.  We made it in ’89 and it was our school’s selection to send to the annual regional Film Awards! (no video until I get a USB VCR!)

Rock Video Night was a great success in many regards.  The kids had a great time finally seeing David Lee Roth doing the splits in “Jump”.  Ash was still not won over by the rock, but that’s OK.  What wasn’t OK is that I had really sour stomach issues that night!  I tried so hard to be a good host, and I kept excusing myself, but…they tell me the smell was wafting down from the upstairs bathroom.

So, Rock Video Night ended on a rather stinky note.

NEXT TIME ON RECORD STORE TALES…

Make ’em say uhhh!