History Part 2

(Continued from part 1)

More Shows in Morgantown & the LKM Auditorium

Things went pretty well with me for the next few months. Shaun and I worked hard on writing new material and we practiced about once per week, usually on Saturdays. We were getting better and better and I was having the time of my life. Everything revolved around music and playing live shows. We continued with the philosophy of not playing more than once per month so that people wouldn’t get tired of us. I don’t remember playing a show in March; we may have skipped that month altogether. This also made each show we played that much better because we weren’t doing it so much that we ourselves were getting sick of it.

In the spring of 1995 Billy Reynolds was in school in Morgantown, West Virginia. He would come in every other weekend and would practice and play shows with Dirt Bear. He also made some attempts to set up some shows in Morgantown at a club called The Nyabinghi. Well, he got a show setup with his band (Dirt Bear) and a couple other local Morgantown bands and we all went with to see them play on March 5th. Those who went, if memory serves me right, were Aaron Flanagan, Scott Robinson, Billy Reynolds, Brian Pauley, Andy Masker, Brian Dills, Shaun Fox, Dana White, Mia Ross, Holly, Brent Mullins, Larry White and some others. The show was okay but it was cold as hell in there.  It was a pretty cool trip nonetheless. I rode up with Scott Robinson which allowed us to hang out for a couple hours and talk which was kinda cool.

We did play again in April though and we actually played two shows that month. One show we played on April 7th with three bands; Ritual Youth, Special Interest Group, and Mumble. Jeremy knew these bands and we did it as a favor to them. By that time we were drawing in crowds of probably two hundred or more people. We still weren’t at the Dirt Bear level of drawing in three hundred people but we were getting close.  There was real satisfaction in that for us; a payoff to our hard work.

It was so cool because we got there, unloaded our stuff, and then waited for people to show up. I would walk around outside the place, meeting my friends, talking, and hanging out. Almost everyone would still be outside when the other bands played. We’d listen to see when they were finished and then we’d go in and set our stuff up. I’d notice then that everyone who had been outside were now coming inside and then the crowd would go nuts while we played. After we were finished (if were weren’t the last band) almost everyone would go home during the last band. It’s a really satisfying feeling to know that people actually came and shelled out five bucks to watch you play.

Unfortunately one of the bands we played with didn’t go over well and started yelling at the crowd.  That didn’t play out well for them.  Most people went outside.  We’d learned our lesson from the prior fall when we’d done something similar.

This guys really didn’t like us much.  They said a few nasty things (like we did a  good Helmet impersonation) and some other stuff I can’t recall. We agreed to do the show as a favor but when the crowd walked out they were upset with us. It wasn’t our fault; we had no part in it. I had been in their situation before but I never acted like that, especially not with bands who helped us out. I never disrespected the people who helped us out. We never played with those guys again.

The other show we played in April was with Steve McConihay’s band, Trout and Jason Bayes’ (Okey’s friend) new band (watch the video). Steve and I had a lot of history and I wanted to help him if I could. This show did not go down without a hitch though. For some reason we were unable to get Brian Pauley’s P.A. system. I think he was out of town or something. I don’t really remember exactly why but I know we couldn’t physically get to it. So when Steve set this show up, or it might have been Brian Pauley, Jason Bayes’ band was supposed to bring their P.A. system. They had a really nice P.A. (Jason’s dad had died and he’d gotten a shitload of cash from that) so it was going to be a great setup.

The only problem was that they called Scott Robinson and said they were not going to be able to bring their P.A. Of course this call came at the last minute and we had to rush around for a P.A. system. We had our own but it was a really small system we’d bought from that snake church. It did not have the power to fill the LKM with any amount of respectable sound. Eventually we rounded up several small P.A. systems from our friends and we were able to put together a decent system. We put them all together and it didn’t sound too bad actually. We were upset about it but things happen and the show had to go on.

Trout played first and there was no sign of Jason Bayes’ band during their set. Then we played second and the place went nuts. I remember Adam thanking all the people who’d helped us get the P.A. together that night. What he said was true; if not for them we’d never have had the show. We killed that night; people were going nuts and seemed to be into us. We had a great show. Near the end of our set Jason’s band finally showed up with their P.A. system! I’m not sure why they told us they couldn’t bring it; we assumed they lied.  Giving the benefit of the doubt might prove otherwise.

So we decided to just pack all of our stuff up after our set, including our P.A. Everybody else took theirs with them as well. After our set I remember cleaning up our stuff and watching Jason’s band set up. Okey was sound checking the drums and people were walking out.  I think the place pretty much cleared out after that; I’m not entirely sure since we left too.  Unfortunate for those guys.  We were still upset about the P.A. fiasco.

The other cool thing about the night was that we got on television. The news showed up and filmed us playing a song. It was during The Contortionist as I remember. It was the first song of our set; we’d just started playing and this guy came up on stage with a camera. I didn’t look into the camera though, that would have been too cheesy. None of us did, not even Jeremy. He told me later that he’d just kept his head down and continued to play. I did the same. It was cool to see us on television, even if it was just for a few seconds. I have that show on videotape and I also have the news segment that aired. So I can watch the footage from the cameraman as well as watch our own footage of the cameraman. Our fifteen minutes of fame, I guess.

All in all it was a great show and I’m very glad we played it, despite the P.A. incident.

Andy Masker’s Party

In April, 1995 Andy Masker had a party at his house. There were three big parties that I have fond memories of; Andy’s party, Joey Collier’s party, and Brian Pauley’s party. Andy’s party was first and it was pretty fun. I picked up a six pack of Budweiser bottles and also some beer for Shaun. We eventually found our way to Andy’s house and started drinking and hanging out.

During the show that night I had talked to the girl with the tattoo again. Back in February I found out her name was Traci and I also started to notice her more and more. I remember seeing her at the show that night with a camera and asking her if she was going to take any pictures of my band. She had no idea who my band was and I was somewhat disappointed. I’d hoped that she would remember me by then but obviously not.

When I walked into Andy’s house that night she was sitting in the living room at the top of the steps, already buzzing pretty well. She called down to me and said ‘I know who you are now!’ and laughed. I thought that may have been a good sign. I proceeded to put my alcohol into the refrigerator and hope that no one drank any of my beers. I think Phil Conifer (drummer for Sevin) ended up bugging me until I gave him a beer but I drank the other five and was feeling fine.

I remember talking to all my friends about various things, including the show and the scene. Eventually I ended up in the basement trying to sleep while Matt Kennedy yelled at Flanagan from across the room in the dark. He was so drunk and just wouldn’t shut up. It was a great party all in all; lots of fun.

Joey Collier’s Party

On April 29, 1995 we all went to see Ronnie Stricklen’s new band, The Happy Foundation. Joey Collier was the singer and was a friend of Andy Masker. They played a show that evening at The Pit and then Joey invited all of us to a party at his house afterward. A punk band from out of state called “Plastic Martyr” played with them and they came to the party afterward as well.

Joey was married but his marriage was on the rocks. Joey was pissed about the whole thing and didn’t care if his wife didn’t like the idea of thirty or forty people partying in their house or not. (She wasn’t completely moved out at that time.)

So after the show Shaun Fox and I stopped at a store and bought some beer. We found Joey’s apartment and proceeded to party. Dirt Bear (Brian Pauley, Billy Reynolds, Andy Masker), Sevin (Ray Davis, Phil Conifer, Joey Clagg, Brian Spangler), Flood (me, Adam Triplett, Jeremy Spears, and Shaun Fox), Aaron Flanagan, Mia Ross & the guys from Plastic Martyr were there, as best as I can remember. There were a lot of other people there who I didn’t know.

Once again fate or coincidence put me in the same room with Traci, my future wife. I had learned from Sean Beckner and crew that her last name was Colella. She stayed in the living room with Mia Ross for most of the evening and talked with the people in there. I spent most of my time in Joey’s kitchen and talking to the people in there.

Eventually Traci made her way into the kitchen and started joking around with Fields. Now Fields was this little guy with bleach blond hair that was extremely shy. He also played drums for The Happy Foundation. Since he was easily embarrassed Traci was messing around with him and calling him names, etc., basically just trying to embarrass him.

During this I would throw in a few comments here and there but I really didn’t strike up much conversation with Traci. Eventually she left and we all continued drinking. Sometime throughout the night I remember sitting down in the living room against the wall and talking with one of the guys from Plastic Martyr. I’m a happy drunk, so I was getting along fine with this guy. By the end of the night I was having a conversation in the kitchen with this friend of Billy’s I’d never met before. I also remember that somebody had broken a Vanilla Ice CD and I ended up with a piece of it. I kept it and I think I still have it today; just a little reminder of that night.

Toward the wee hours of the morning probably around four or five o’clock, I started getting hungry. Fields prepared macaroni and cheese and it was probably the best I’d ever eaten (of course I was drunk when I ate it so anything would have tasted great). I think that Shaun and I finally left around 6:00 that morning. I had sobered up almost completely and felt I was okay to drive home. We came back to my house and crashed.

Chum at Ropers and the LKM Auditorium

On April 15, 1995 I went to see Chum play at a bar in Huntington called Roper’s. I think Shaun Fox came but I can’t remember if Jeremy or Adam came. Neither Sevin, Flood, or Dirt Bear played that show. I think Dead Ant Farm played the show too, along with some other local bands that weren’t all that great. At least I remember Matt Wheeler, the drummer for Dead Ant Farm, being there. I thought the guys in that band were okay but we just never seemed to interact with them a lot. I met Justin Gordon (the bass player) at a party at Mia Ross’ house several years after the Nitro scene fell apart and he seemed pretty cool. We played pool together in the basement while Mia’s friends listened to rap upstairs.

Unfortunately I remember very little about the show before Chum came on but my memory of Chum’s set is still pretty vivid. Burl Ives (a famous singer/songwriter) had died on April fourteenth and John Lancaster, the singer for Chum, dedicated their show to him. I thought that was pretty cool. The drummer, Chuck, played with his back to the crowd. I guess he saw Brad Wilk (drummer, Rage Against the Machine) do it at Lollapalooza and decided it would be cool. Their set went over extremely well and they performed as well as they always did.

Sometime after that show we ended up going to Gumby’s one night to see a show. I think it may have been a Chum show but, regardless, their drummer, Chuck, was there. I handed him a tape of four of our songs and asked him if he’d be interested in playing an all-ages show with us at the LKM. I later received a call from Chuck saying they would definitely be interested. Now keep in mind that we idolized Chum and it was a huge honor for them to even listen to our tape. We set the show up for May and then we waited around impatiently for the day to arrive.

Our Show with Chum at the LKM

On May 26, 1995 the Chum show went down but not without a hitch. Chum was late because of van trouble and we thought they might not even show up. They finally did show, meeting us as the Nitro McDonald’s, and then we lead them to the LKM as I breathed a sigh of relief. A couple of the guys were drinking beer and the management of the LKM wasn’t happy with that. They got rid of the beer and then proceeded to set their stuff up. Some time before Chris Allen had asked me if they could play on the show. I told him no at first but he said they only wanted to play three songs. Three songs and they would exit the stage. The show had originally been set up with Dirt Bear playing first, Flood playing second, and Chum headlining. Normally we stuck to only three bands per show but I gave in to Chris and told them they could play first but only three songs.

That was a mistake I never made again. Freaktent took forever to setup and then everything starting running late. By the time they started we were already behind. Freaktent played their three songs and that was supposed to be it. Johnny Sizemore, their guitar player, started to take his guitar off since they had played their limit. Chris Allen, on the other hand, decided that they weren’t finished. He continued to play. Johnny and Shane Parsons I believe really didn’t know what was going on. They knew they were supposed to only play three songs but I guess they thought maybe something had changed since Chris was still playing.

I was livid. I walked back to the sound table and asked Scott what was going on. He said he didn’t know. I told him that after they played this song to shut them down. I waited until they finished their fourth song and then Chris tried to play a fifth song. By that time Scott had shut them down and I ran upon to the stage, not sure what I would do. Unfortunately I tripped on my way up and looked like a fool but by that point I didn’t care. I jumped up onto the stage and started yelling. ‘What the fuck is going on here!?’ I yelled. ‘We agreed to three songs only!’ I told them. Johnny and Shane looked at me like they were confused. I think they were. Chris Allen ignored me and continued to pack up his bass. I continued to yell at Chris but he kept his back to me and then jumped down into the crowd and walked out of the building. I don’t know what he was thinking but our relationship with him was a bit damaged after that.  What’s strange is that he ended up coming to most of our shows and seemed to really be a fan.  I had trouble figuring that guy out sometimes.

Brian Pauley was there when I went on my tirade and he thought it was funny to see me so livid. Johnny and Shane told me they didn’t know Chris was going to do that and I believe they were sincere. However, any time we had a show scheduled with three bands and somebody asked me if they could get on the bill I politely told them no. I told them that if they wanted to play with us on our next show to call me and we would absolutely play with them. I wasn’t trying to be difficult but we’d been burned that time and didn’t want it to happen again. They accepted that explanation and I think we ended up playing with a few of those bands later on.

By the time Chum got on stage they were only able to play a small portion of their set and then the management of the LKM shut us down at 11:00. I was so embarrassed. I was angry with Chris for running over but I was angrier at myself for allowing it to happen in the first place.  I had pretty much coordinated the whole thing and I looked like a fool. Chum was cool about the whole thing but I never got the chance to play with them again. I still regret that.

Staging a Boycott of “The Pit”

While all this was going on we were waging a battle with the owner of “The Pit”. A retired female army sergeant named Debra had bought “The Cat Box” and was running it as an all-ages venue called “The Pit”. We planned on playing there when we got time but we were so booked at the LKM that we knew we couldn’t get in before May or June. Debra had made the decision to steal as much business away from the LKM as she could; she’d bought the place and needed to make her money back. Can’t really fault her for having business sense.  The thing was that the LKM didn’t really need the money to survive; they hosted square dancing, bingo and other stuff like that. In fact, that was its main function. The all-ages shows were just a boost in profit for them.

Debra started scheduling shows at The Pit during Dirt Bear, Flood, and Sevin shows. The problem was that Dirt Bear, Flood, and Sevin were some of the biggest bands in the scene at that time and we were also very close. So if one of these bands had a show scheduled then the other two bands either played the show with them or they were there to see their show.

So Debra’s approach was to schedule other bands at “The Pit” during one of our shows at the LKM. At the time this pissed us off because we wanted everyone to come to our shows; we weren’t competing with any other bands. They were our friends for the most part. This plan never worked because attendance at these shows was poor; everybody was at the LKM. Sevin actually canceled a show at The Pit when they found out Flood was playing at the LKM the same night. They told us that they wanted to see our show and they didn’t want to try to compete against us.

So our bright idea at the time was to boycott “The Pit” until she realized that we would play wherever we wanted to and when we wanted to. At that time I guess we felt we made the rules. I guess it was a form of collusion but it worked; eventually after she held shows that all of twenty people attended, she changed her approach. We agreed to play a show at “The Pit” in July of 1995. It would be The Provos reunion show and we knew it would be a hit. More on that later.

Looking back on it now I see her motivation; she need to make money in order to survive. We weren’t really thinking about that; our main concern was to get as many people as possible into whatever venue we were playing. We also didn’t want to compete with other bands for business. Our approach was to play both places but to alternate them; we felt that was fair for everybody. When we found out she was deliberately trying to schedule shows to directly compete with ours it did make us angry because then it became a matter of trying to pit bands against each other. Music isn’t a competition and it was taking our music – our art, really – commercializing it, and turning it into a race for cash. I guess we shouldn’t have taken it so personally; it was probably just business to her.  It’s also easy to be idealistic when you don’t have rent due every month.  It’s the way of the world.

In the end I respected her initiative and her interest in local music. There weren’t a whole lot of people in the area who would run an all-ages venue and we shouldn’t have dismissed her so quickly. She was doing the right thing ultimately and I think in hindsight we could have worked things out a little sooner without so much drama. But we only had so much experience to go on; we were young and things were simpler for us. In the end it all worked itself out and we had the opportunity to play both places.

Alcohol…It’s a Son of a Bitch, Y’all

Even though I had recently been introduced to alcohol I didn’t really get drunk too many times and that’s remained pretty much the same throughout my life. I drank again in February and maybe April. Most often if I drank it was at Matt and Adam’s apartment with a bunch of our friends. We had a blast. I drank my personal record of nine beers there. (At least that was my record before my honeymoon later on.) I ended up passing out that night.

On one of these drunken occasions I remember Matt Kennedy and I eating saltine crackers as if they were potato chips. He kept swearing up and down they were potato chips. It probably doesn’t sound too funny now but at the time it was hilarious. The floor was covered with saltine crumbs. That was the nice thing about partying at someone else’s house; I didn’t have to clean anything up. 🙂

That’s where we met Scareville. Scareville was this red-headed guy that Adam met at school. I think his name was Shawn or something. He was a pretty cool guy and he came to a lot of our shows and hung out with us a lot. I wonder what happened to him. Anyway, Scareville was into a lot of anti-religious artwork and that seemed to be a recurring theme in his art. I think he did a lot for shock value. He also did some work with animal bones but I’ll get into that later when I discuss the farm show. All in all I liked Scareville, despite his strange traits. He was a peaceful, laid back, artsy sort of guy who was fun to hang around with.

Flood at Players

On May 27, 1995 we played our first 18 and older bar show at a bar in Huntington, West Virginia called Players. It was a decent show and probably about a hundred people or so showed up. This was a pretty decent turnout considering a number of our fans were under 18 and couldn’t attend. This was a crowd made up mainly of Marshall University students who there just to drink and had no idea who we were. There were also a number of older people there, as there always tends to be in bars, who just need somewhere to get drunk and not be alone, I guess.

We played the show with Dirt Bear and they went on after us. Adam also got very drunk. The redneck bar across from Players was called Ropers and Adam was yelling profanities and insults at the patrons. Although I agreed with him I started to get a little worried that we might all get our asses kicked by a bunch of “good ol’ boys” so we packed him into his car and his girlfriend Christy (who was not drunk) drove him home.

Roller Rink Show I

It was June 2, 1995 when we played the first Roller Rink Show. Joey Clagg, who played bass with Sevin, had scheduled a show in Huntington at a roller rink that belonged to his friend’s dad. Joey invited Flood, Dirt Bear, and a band called Watership Down to play. His band, Sevin, would also play. That wasn’t the best show in the world; we got stuck playing last and apparently Watership Down did something to piss us off. Honestly I really don’t remember what it was now. I think they refused to play last and then played forever or something silly like that. We played well and most of our dedicated fans stayed through the whole thing (maybe 20-30 people).

Honestly I think that we might have gotten along with Watership Down if we had had the opportunity to meet them and get to know them. Years later, when I was planning the Nitro Reunion for 2003 I was contacted by Jeremy Brightbill, the singer/guitar player for Watership Down. He was pretty cool and never mentioned anything about the little “rivalry” that we had, if you could even call it that. In fact, right after Flood broke up I was playing for a short while with Brian Pauley and Jeremy had his amp at Brian’s house. It had blown a fuse so I put a new fuse in it and got it working. Brian told me later on that Jeremy was surprised that I’d helped him since he thought that everybody in Flood hated Watership Down.  Years of perspective now teach me how silly all that rivalry stuff is.

Songs For The Fruitbat, The Cave Records Compilation CD

In June of 1995 Flood recorded four songs for a compilation record. The compilation CD was called Songs For the Fruitbat and was being produced by Andy Masker and Steve McConihay. They came up with the money to buy a mixing board and to get the CDs pressed so they started their own small record label. Flood, Sevin, Dirt Bear and Trout all recorded four songs each for the compilation CD.

Flood recorded the four songs for the compilation within about two or three days. We ran into a little snag during the process because my equalizer pedal died right in the middle of recording. Nobody locally had the pedal in stock (it was Charleston West Virginia, after all) so I had to go to the Pied Piper in Huntington buy a new one. I didn’t like Pied Piper or the hour long drive to get there but I did it because we were in a bind. We finished the songs and I’m still quite proud of them today. I can still hear a slight difference in the two songs we recording with the new EQ pedal compared to the two songs were recorded with the old EQ pedal. I guess the electronics were slightly different and I could only get the settings so close to the old pedal’s settings. I’m probably the only one who notices though. There are only a few things that I would have done differently but I still think the songs sound great.

In order to help recoup the costs of buying the recording equipment and pressing the CDs, Steve and Andy decided to hold a release party for the CD. All four bands on the CD would play and we would sell the CDs for $10 a piece. There was some talk about having someone from the record industry there to hear the bands and the CD but that never really materialized. In hindsight, I’d say that was a pretty far-fetched idea. Steve and Andy also had some deals set up with local record stores so that we could sell the CDs there as well. The CD even got some airplay on the local Marshall University radio station. Unfortunately I didn’t get to hear that but it was cool knowing that we were still being played on the radio, regardless of the size of the station.

The Farm Show (a.k.a. Bobstock)

On June 24, 1995 we played the infamous Farm Show, otherwise known as Bobstock. What a blast that was! It was truly an experience I’ll never forget. Bob Webb, who owned Common Grounds Coffee House, was putting together this benefit for Great Oaks Farm. I still to this day don’t know what the hell Great Oaks Farm really is, other than some fields, some woods, and a few buildings. Maybe they grew weed there, who knows? We didn’t care at the time. This benefit was going to raise money for them and would last for three days, that much I knew. It really was Bob’s Woodstock, in my opinion, hence the nickname “Bobstock”. When we heard about it we couldn’t resist, despite the fact that we wouldn’t get paid. As I’d said before, it wasn’t about the money. We knew it would be a blast and to be a part of such a huge event (relatively speaking) was worth the time and effort. All that mattered was being able to play to an audience.

I don’t want to make Bob out to be cheap because he did pay, better than most all ages club owners. His policy was to split half the door with the bands and the LKM would only split one-third with the bands (they kept the remaining two-thirds for themselves). Bob would have monthly rent shows which no one got paid for but that was cool because we needed a place to play and the Nitro cops were making it harder and harder to play in Nitro. We didn’t want to lose all of our venues; we’d been there before and it was tough.

Shaun, Adam, Jeremy, and I all went to the meeting Bob had set up to get everyone prepared. We met at Great Oaks Farm where the weekend-long show would be held. Bob briefed everyone on what would happen, and when everybody would play.

The event was to start on Friday evening, last all day Saturday, and into most of the day Sunday. People could pay per day (about $10.00) or could pay for the entire weekend (about $15.00). It’s funny that back then it seemed like a fortune. You could bring a tent and stay out in this huge field just down and to the right of the stage. There were probably about twenty or thirty tents in that field the whole weekend but most people just came on Saturday. This festival was supposed to be a “drug-free weekend” but everybody knew that was bullshit. Nobody planned on staying drug or alcohol free that weekend and nobody did. I’m sure Bob knew this but he had to promote it as he did in order to keep the heat off of himself.

Shaun and I did not want to spend the entire weekend there but Jeremy and Adam did. Some of the people who were involved with the event showed up Thursday night and didn’t leave until Sunday. I think both Jeremy Spears and Adam Triplett were there from Thursday night until Sunday. There was no way in hell I was going to do that; not showering for three days didn’t appeal to me. So Dave Hively and I showed up on Friday evening after I got off work to check out some of the bands. Since I was playing on the bill I got in free and I told the hippies taking money that Dave was with the band too.

The next day did prove to be better-much better, actually. Shaun and Jeremy both rode with me to the show and Dave drove himself. It was threatening rain pretty much all day so we were pretty bummed. I hoped it wasn’t going to rain but we took the tarp for the music equipment just in case. Sure enough, on the way there it started to pour. I pulled off the highway, covered everything, tied the tarp down, and we trekked on.

It finally stopped raining and then the sun came out when we got there. I remember exactly what band was playing; Union 411, Brian and John Dill’s band. (Jeremy would later go on to play with them in a band called “10 Gauge” after Flood broke up.) I still have a picture I clipped from the newspaper that was taken from the stage facing toward the crowd during the Union 411 set. In the foreground was Brian and John and in the background were my friends and I, as well as the rest of the audience. I remember I wore a hat that day and I was bending the bill in my hand when I got there. That’s all in the picture. It’s strange to look at yourself from another point of view like that.

We walked around, talked to friends, and just hung out until it was time to play. There was some kind of Jamaican chef there from the “Hey Mon Caf” who was serving green chicken; that was about all there was to eat. We ate green chicken, walked around some more, took a hike through the woods, talked to our friends, and watched some of the bands for the next few hours. It was pretty much what we did at the other shows except outdoors.

Matt Kenney always thought he was a funny guy and just one joke short of a comedian. So one day while we were at he and Adam’s apartment we told him that he should do stand up at the Farm Show. Well, when the day came he delivered, sort of. I think it was around 3:00 or 4:00 that day, right before Dirt Bear, Flood, and Sevin played when Matt picked up the microphone and started in with some story. Unfortunately it wasn’t really that funny and then it just got worse as it went on. He started to choke and I could tell he was sweating bullets. He stuttered around up on stage for another few minutes and then made a hasty retreat. We still ripped him about that for months afterward, it became a running joke.  Hindsight tells me that was a little mean but he did brag about being a stand-up comedian.  We liked Matt so we just did it in good nature.

We finally got on the stage around 5:00 P.M. What sucked was that it had been threatening rain the whole day but didn’t actually rain until right when we got on stage. The stage was covered so it wasn’t a problem for us and our equipment but it was a problem for our audience. The really cool thing about it was that nobody left when we played, despite the fact they were getting soaked. They all stayed through the whole set. They were really dedicated.

We played our set, which went off well, and then the rain stopped near the end. Adam’s parents showed up at the show which was pretty cool for him. It was funny; even though Adam was an “adult” he was still afraid to do certain things in front of his parents. In one of our songs he yelled the word “fuck”. Shaun and I wondered if he’d have the balls to say it with his parents watching and sure enough, he didn’t. It wasn’t a big deal; we just thought it was funny. We got our stuff off the stage and then proceeded to store it for the night because we weren’t planning on going anywhere. We had a lot of partying to do right there at Great Oaks Farm!

Parking at the festival was limited because it was a farm and there weren’t parking lots. Bob had to handle this situation by having everyone park in a school parking lot about a quarter of a mile down the road and then run shuttles back and forth. Since I was in a band playing on the show and I had to drive our equipment and instruments in I was able to bring my truck. This was perfect because I could come and go as I pleased. After we played I took advantage of this by pooling our money together and heading off to the store for beer.

I drove down to this little store about a mile from the farm with Dave Hively and we bought two twelve packs of Budweiser which we loaded into a duffel bag. This would allow us to smuggle it in. I drove back and carried the duffel bag into Scareville’s tent, all the while trying to keep the beers from “clinking” together and alerting anyone that I had alcohol. I didn’t want everybody coming in and stealing my beer so I made a deal with him; if he kept the beer a secret he could drink as much as he wanted. That worked for both of us. Since I had 24 beers there I knew Scareville couldn’t drink all of them so left plenty for Dave and me.

So we started drinking and watching the other bands play. What a night. Dave actually didn’t drink more than one or two and ended up pretty much baby sitting me that night. I don’t remember everything that happened, not because I was too drunk to remember but simply because of the passage of time. There are many things I do remember, however. I remember watching a band we knew called Falooda. They were cool guys. Their singer/guitar player was a guy named Ameen and he was the only one I really knew by name. Their gig was that they would tune their guitars differently. One would tune a half step below the other so they were always out of tune and it sounded kinda terrible.  Or kinda cool, depending on your frame of mind.  They were different, at least.

I also remember hanging out with Adam during part of that night. He told me that he and Christy were going to get married. Not anytime soon but they had decided to do it eventually. That never panned out and they ended up breaking up about a year later, well after the demise of Flood.

The cops showed up for some reason or another; it’s conjecture at this point. I remember seeing the lights flashing and getting completely paranoid about it. Dave, who somehow ended up becoming my babysitter for the night, was able to calm me down somewhat after a few minutes. Don’t ask me why I was so paranoid; I was twenty-one years old and of legal age to drink but I just wasn’t thinking straight. I hoped that they weren’t going to bust up the whole party because there was no way I could drive myself home.

Well, they didn’t and they finally left after a few minutes. They knew that everybody was drunk and that nobody should be driving home and the party continued. I remember sitting behind the stage as some other band played and a girl belly danced.  Sometime later on Scareville and I began mocking a band called “Dead Dolls” I think.  They were evidently a Christian band so it was a perfect excuse for Scareville to rip on them (he was pretty anti-religious).  I was laughing my ass off at our “shenanigans” but I heard later there were others who weren’t. I understand that another band who was friendly with Dead Dolls was severely pissed and ready to kick our asses. Luckily we made it out without any incident because there was no way I could have defended myself in the state I was in. I would have had to just curl in the fetal position and wait for the pounding to stop.  Kids.

I also remember meeting up with Shaun Fox again and asking him if he’d taken care of our instruments. Shaun had been wandering around the farm as well but I can’t remember if he’d been drinking. He told me he had taken car of the equipment and I was so relieved because I was still paranoid for some reason. I remember telling him how he and I took care of the band and some other bullshit. ‘You and I keep this band together man,’ I told him in slurred words. He just laughed and then I was off again to walk around drunk with Dave.

So I left with Dave and continued to walk around drunk as hell. We were starting get hungry and there was nothing to eat. The green chicken guy was gone and I wasn’t about to eat anymore of that anyway. Finally Dave and I decided to drive to Hardee’s and get some roast beef because we knew they were open twenty-four hours. I, of course, would not even have thought about driving. I had never driven drunk and never planned on it. But Dave hadn’t even had a beer so he drove my truck to the Hardee’s in Charleston, about thirty or forty minutes away.

I passed out in the passenger seat for most of the trip there. We got there and I ate a couple roast beef sandwiches. I still remember sitting in the lobby and talking to Dave while a couple cops sat a few tables down from us. I guess I wasn’t too paranoid at that point. I was coming down pretty hard and was too tired to worry. We then drove back to the farm and almost everybody was partied out and asleep. Only a few hard asses were still awake, yelling and screaming in the night. Dave and I knew it was time to sleep; we’d both had enough. By that time it was probably three or four in the morning. I don’t remember if we ever made any plans on where we were going to sleep after the show. Everybody was asleep for the most part so I didn’t know whose tent was whose. Plus, everything was muddy as hell from the rain that had fallen while we played that day.

So Dave and I decided to sleep in the back of my trunk. I had my sleeping bag with me so I unrolled it and laid it out on the bed of my truck. I had a snap-on cover that covered the truck bed and I snapped that on over top. That would keep the dew off us as well as any rain that might fall. It was still warm so we really didn’t need any covers over top of us and the sleeping bag that we were lying on cushioned the hard truck bed. We crawled in, our heads facing the cab and our feet sticking out the back, and crashed.

I remember thinking before I fell asleep how wonderful life was. I was sobering up by then and I felt young, happy, and snug in the back of that truck. We were clean (no mud in the truck as there was in the tents), I was with my best friend, and I had just had so much fun. My band had played well and we’d seen our true fans stand out in the rain for us. I knew that we would be protected from the dew and the rain and would have a great night’s sleep.

I awoke to a hot and humid Sunday morning with almost no hangover. Dave and I got our stuff together and then hopped in the truck and headed back home. That would be the last time I ever went to a farm show; by the next year Flood was a thing of the past and my life had changed dramatically. I still look back on the Farm Show with a fondness that I can’t really describe. I’ll never forget the experience; it was one that will truly last a lifetime.

The Provos Reunion Show

The Provos had been defunct for about two years; Jason Little had joined the Navy and Billy Reynolds had been to college in both Tennessee and West Virginia. Jason was coming back in for a visit that summer and he, Brian Pauley, and Billy Reynolds planned a Provos reunion show. We were asked to play on it and I believe Sevin played as well. We knew it would be a great show.

On July 8, 1995 we showed up at The Pit in Nitro, West Virginia. Our boycott had come to an end and we were excited about playing a new place; the LKM was raping us on the door and we’d played the hell out of that place. The bill consisted of Sevin, Flood, The Provos, and a band called Dementia. Dementia was a band that I wasn’t really into but their singer was a pretty cool guy. Shaun Moore (of I.N.R.I. fame), played guitar for them. They had a female bass player who was a pharmacist by day. She had some expensive equipment but I guess she could afford it.

Dementia played first because they were essentially the low man on the totem pole. There was maybe fifteen people watching them and probably three hundred outside smoking, talking, and hanging out. We were scheduled to play second, followed by Sevin, and then The Provos would headline. I stood outside and talked to my friends during Dementia’s set. After we heard them finish up and begin packing their stuff up I rounded up the other members of my band and told them it was time for us to play. We went inside and started to set up.

One of my most vivid memories from that show was right before we played. I was rolling my amp toward the stage and I noticed that the volume level in the building was increasing. I turned around only to see people pouring in through the front door. That was a great experience.  The place went from fifteen people to about three hundred people in a matter of minutes. By the time our stuff was set up the place was full and people were ready to rock.

A week before the show I had been at Pied Piper looking for a head for the Peavy 4×12 speaker cabinet I had bought. I found a Fender Bassman head there for $120.00. I usually never did business with Pied Piper but I knew the salesman. His name was Butch Hatfield and he had formerly worked for Gorby’s music. I liked Butch and I knew he wouldn’t rip me off. So I called Steve McConihay and asked his advice on buying it. He told me to buy it and he didn’t steer me wrong; it was a great amp.

The Provos reunion show was the first show that I played with my new amp. Shaun had bought an amp a week or two before the show so we both had new, powerful equipment. When we played that night we sounded incredibly more powerful than usual. It was a fun show and I thought we did a good job. We played a new song that night and it went over very well.

During the show I remember some kind of an altercation occurred. Fighting was so rare at shows that it was virtually non-existent. I remember seeing the squabble and getting pissed that people were fighting. I stopped playing hoping that would draw attention to the fight an people would break it up. Nobody else seemed to notice I’d stopped so I found out quickly that it did no good. I continued to play and then the fight was broken up before any punches were thrown. Other than that the show went off magnificently.

The other bands were great and I had a lot of fun watching them. The Provos went over extremely well despite their almost two year hiatus. I guess everybody still remembered the flea market days after all. I sometimes wonder if people talk about Flood and the other Nitro bands now. I wonder if kids playing in the scene now look back at bands like Sevin, Flood, and Dirt Bear like we used to look at Camel Beast when we started. Maybe they don’t even remember us.  Overall it was another great show and another great experience in my life.

Roller Rink Show II

July was a busy month for us; we played the Provos reunion show, and we were scheduled to play in Huntington at another roller rink show, and then at The Coffee House the week after that. We agree to play so much in one month because the shows were all in different places. I don’t think we ever played that many time in a month before that or ever again. It was fun but we didn’t get much time to practice or write new songs that month.

On July 14th, 1995, we played the second show of the month in Huntington at the same roller rink as before. We made sure this time that we absolutely would not get screwed again as we had during the last show. The line up consisted of Flood, Sevin, Dirt Bear, Falooda, & Big Daddy Stick. I don’t remember which order we all played in but I do know that we didn’t play last.

About a week before this show Shaun and I made up an assload of Flood stickers. We ended up at Kinko’s one night at about midnight cutting stickers into squares. We then spent a couple hours laminating them at Shaun’s house. After it was all done we had probably three or four hundred stickers to give away. People love stickers and it’s a great way to generate interest in the band.

I walked around that roller rink before the show started and handed out almost every sticker we had. Everybody wanted them and I was able to do a lot of public relations and promote the band. It’s funny how I am so introverted but had no problem going up to strangers and offering them stickers. There was a lot of time to kill before the show so we ended up walking down to the local Kroger and buying something to drink. Well, the mistake I made was buying a gallon of Sunny Delight orange drink. That shit gave me gas pains that made me double over. It was horrible. When we got on stage later on my stomach hurt like terribly.

I also remember before the show that some friend of Phil Conifer (Phil was the drummer for Sevin) wanted me to buy him some whiskey. I refused because I didn’t know him. I would have bought it for Phil but not for someone I didn’t know. That was one thing that sucked about being one of the only twenty-one year olds in the scene. Everybody else was nineteen or twenty and couldn’t buy alcohol. Ray Davis and I were twenty-one and were often hounded to buy alcohol. I usually bought it for my band mates and/or close friends for parties after we played and for my brother but that was it.

Overall that show went very well. We sold every tape we had and people still wanted more. I think that was a direct result of the effort I’d made in giving away stickers and talking to people. I’m not usually an outgoing person but I felt comfortable around all those people and I really felt strongly about promoting the band. We played well and the crowd response was great. What was really cool was when John Lancaster and Chuck from Chum showed up to check us out. Since we all idolized Chum it was a great honor for them to take the time out to come and see us. They showed up toward the end of our set and listened to the last few songs we played. They told us to stop by their place and hang out after we were finished which we did.

After we played we went to John and Chuck’s house after the show was over (or maybe3 after our set was over). I do remember going but it just escapes me when. All we did was hang out for a bit and Jeremy and Chuck smoked some weed. We watched a video tape of Chuck playing drums in high school at some assembly. It was pretty funny. They seemed like normal guys.

The Squatweiller Show, Brian Pauley’s Party

Another week passed and we were again looking at another live show. This time it was at the Coffee House Common Grounds and would be with Sevin, Dirt Bear, Trout, and a band called Squatweiller from somewhere down south. That night would prove to be a night to remember, that’s for sure.

Brian Pauley and I ended up talking to Mia and Traci and he invited them the party he was having at his house after the show. They said they couldn’t come because somebody they went to school with had died in a motorcycle accident and the wake was that night. As it turned out they skipped the wake and came to the party which made me very happy. I guess as kids that’s easier to do than it is when we become adults. I think they skipped the wake because it was just too sad of an occasion. I also don’t know exactly how well they knew this guy either.

Trout played last and then we all left and went to Brian Pauley’s (after we bought beer). I began drinking and ended up having five beers that night, plenty to get me hammered. We partied for a while and started to get really drunk. When you went to a party like that you kept a close eye on your beer in the fridge because if you didn’t some other jerk would drink it or they would try to bum it off of you.

I waited for my time to get Traci alone so that something could happen. We didn’t really do anything that night but it was the start of our relationship; after that night we began dating. Also, and probably not entirely coincidentally, it was the beginning of the end of Flood.

All Things Must End

The Cave Records CD Release Show

By the fall of 1995 the strength of the band was diminishing. I was admittedly spending more and more time with Traci. However, I never ditched practice, I never ditched a show, and I never brought her to practice either. What was happening was Shaun and I weren’t hanging out together as much. Jeremy and I never really did hang out together as much as Shaun and I did and Adam was usually with his girlfriend when he wasn’t playing. Regardless, the strain on our relationship was beginning to show.

In October of 1995 we played the CD release show for the CD that we recorded back in June. The show went great and we sold a ton of CDs. It was great to play the show and, despite the fact that we were just a local band, the whole thing made me feel kinda important. I remember showing up there and checking to make sure everyone else from the band had shown up. Shaun had ridden with me so I found Jeremy and then Adam. I felt a sense of being part of a group, a group that was doing something special. I know it sounds corny now but it was a nice feeling back then. The CD release show would prove to be one of the last really good shows that we would play.

After the CD release show we drove to Huntington to see Chum play. We didn’t get to see a lot of their set because the CD release show lasted for longer than expected but we were able to see some of it. The other reason we wanted to go was because Gumby’s had been shut down several months before and was finally being reopened under new management. It had been basically gutted and redesigned during the few months it was shut down and we heard rumors that it was very nice.

It turned out that it was nice. They changed the name to “The Drop Shop”, added a tall stage, and they cut out the floor of the upstairs so that it created a balcony. We stuck around for the show and then we eventually went home. We were hoping that there would be some good shows there later on. It would turn out that someone else would buy it, changed the name to “Gyrationz” and turn it into a dance club. Traci and I went there later on one night and it was a shame to see frat boys and sorority girls dancing and grinding on the same stage that so many great bands had played on.

The Death of “The Pit”, The Birth and Death of “The Zoo”

Sometime around the fall of 1995 Debra had had enough with the city of Nitro. The cops would harass us and her constantly when we had shows. They hated all the “weird” kids hanging out on the sidewalk in front of the venue before and during the show. They would send out their “police officers” to try to scare the crowd into going back inside. They would threaten curfew violations and other bullshit. They would tell you that you had to go back in but the truth was if you were over eighteen that rule didn’t apply.

One of their complaints was that the old people who shopped at the Family Dollar store were intimated by all the weird kids sitting around outside. Also they claimed that old people would ask the kids to move for them and they would refuse. I think that was bullshit; I never ever saw anybody be rude to any old person walking down that sidewalk. I never saw any kids ever do anything illegal nor accost anyone on the sidewalk or anywhere else. It was a lie and it didn’t hold water.

Nitro was a small town, very “Mayberry” in nature. Eventually it ended up with Debra and some of the kids marching on city hall and demonstrating their case as to why The Pit should be allowed to operate but in the end it failed; The Pit closed around the end of 1995. The saga was chronicled in the local newspaper.

By that time we were playing mostly at Common Grounds and we were starting to play newer venues in Huntington. I didn’t want to see it close but I knew nothing could last in Nitro. The LKM could stay afloat because of the other events they hosted. Debra bought another building in Cross Lanes and named it “The Zoo” but neighbors soon started to complain and it eventually went under. I never played at “The Zoo” nor did I attend any shows there. We weren’t avoiding it; we were just booked up elsewhere. By the time we were open she had shut down, this time for good. I give her an A for effort but in small town West Virginia all good things are doomed to die.

Promo Pack “Photo Shoot”

In October we took promo photos for promo packs that we would give to clubs where we wanted to play. It was a funny thing and we took some photos that looked really cheesy. We had some good photos too and we put together a pretty good promo pack. Unfortunately we never really got to use these promo packs. I’m not sure we ever even sent them to a club. It was fun though, posing in the trunk of a huge Cadillac, around the school grounds at Capitol High School and other places.

Winston-Salem, NC

In the fall of 1995, November I believe, we played our first show out of West Virginia. It was in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. That show would also prove to be our last show played out of state as well. A lot of stuff happened during that show and it was a trying time. I had invited Traci to come along with us. Evidently the others weren’t too hip on that idea. I did it anyway and I still don’t think I would have changed anything now. What’s done is done and what would happen would have happened regardless.

Brian Pauley set up the show, I believe, and we were to drive down with Dirt Bear and play. We were looking forward to it because we’d never played outside West Virginia before and we wanted the opportunity to find out what other people thought of our music.

On the day we were to play the weather was getting bad. We were all at Shaun’s house and his dad kept telling us that the weather was supposed to turn to snow and that the turnpike would be bad. We decided to go anyway after some arguing amongst ourselves. The trip down was okay but we got lost after we got to Winston-Salem. Some guy led us around the city and then eventually got us to the all-ages club where we were supposed to play. We didn’t have any cash to give the guy but Brian Pauley gave him some Cave Records CDs for helping us.

We played the show and it went off without a hitch. Dirt Bear sounded great too. The local band wasn’t anything too great but they weren’t really too bad either. After our set was over some dude yelled out ‘you suck!’ and Adam got upset over it. He lived in a world of his own really and at that point in time Flood was that world. He was so upset that somebody didn’t like us. I didn’t like it either but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

The Beginning of the End?

There were a few more parties that we went to before the end of the year. Travis Walker had a party that really wasn’t all that great. I didn’t drink anything really except a beer or two and then just hung around for a while. His mom came home while everybody was there but she seemed cool about the whole thing.

After that Aaron Flanagan had a party at his house. I don’t remember too much from that one either but I just remember that when Traci and I left Billy Reynolds was on the front porch, lying in a puddle of his own puke. He was so drunk that I couldn’t understand a word that he said. I’ve never seen Billy that drunk before.

Also in November we played a show at this little place called D-Macs. That show was awful. We waited forever for the other bands to finish and there was almost no one there to begin with. I was starving and it was so cold in that place. Finally we set up our stuff and started playing. It didn’t really go well, nobody really cared.  Tough crowd.

One of the last shows that we played was at Marshall University in Huntington, WV. This guy named Matt wanted to set up a show called the “Rally For Education”. It was some kind of fund-raising thing so we agreed to play it. Jeremy rode with me and after we got there we found that, other than the bands who were playing, there wasn’t a soul there. Nobody at all.

So we played the show and I took a lot of pictures. I knew that Flood was coming to an end so I wanted to get as many photos as I could before it was over. The show went okay, at least as far as our playing went, but it was basically a practice session. After the show I took our stuff back to the house and I went to see Traci. Again, I was glad to see her after the show because the show didn’t really go well for us. It was a shame to play so many bad shows after we’d played so many good shows just a few months before.

Flood’s Last Show

I had been wrestling for some time with the situation that I was in with Flood. I loved playing in the band but relations were strained. There was definitely some tension because I was spending more time with Traci. I remember one evening when we were supposed to practice and I looked at my truck and how dirty it was. I was thinking how happy I would be if I just had time to wash it instead of going to practice. I would never have thought that in the past but I wasn’t having fun with Flood anymore. I couldn’t take the negative attitudes and the fighting.

So, after much thought I decided to quit the band. It was an agonizing decision and one that I hoped I would never have to make. Flood was my life for years and I hated to leave it but I just couldn’t go on the way it was. I decided to do this in December and we had one more show to play. We had this show at the LKM; they were still around and still having shows but had to keep everybody inside so they didn’t get harassed by Barney Fife and the rest of “Nitro’s Finest”. I decided to play this last show and then tell everyone that I was quitting afterward.

We played that show and it went great. I was very glad that it did because I was going out on top, so to speak. We had several bad shows and this time it was great. At least we played well.  I remember a few things from that show, I remember Adam announcing some of the songs and hearing people cheer. That was nice, people actually knew the songs by name. Also I remember watching Jeremy play and thinking how much I was going to miss playing in the band. I remember watching the crowd and how they loved our songs and our live shows. It was a bittersweet moment. I was leaving something that I had poured my heart and soul into for several years, something that I truly loved.

But, despite all that, I still had a decision to make. After the show was over I talked to Shaun. I had already told Adam before the show started and he said he was thinking the same thing too. He wanted to try out for Karma to Burn. When I told Shaun he was quiet and didn’t say much. I know he was pissed off but I told him that I didn’t have any fun with it any more. I think I wanted someone to say, “we’ll work it out”, or “what’s wrong?”, or anything; I don’t know, really. I just wanted someone to say that it was important for me to stay and that they wanted the band to stay together.

No one did and I left that show never to play in Flood again. The rest of the guys tried to get another guitar player but it didn’t work out. Flood eventually broke up within a couple weeks. I don’t think they ever played another show after I left.

When I look back at my life I remember 1995 as maybe the best year ever. I enjoyed life so much that year; my future looked bright, I met a great girl, my band was hot, and playing music was completely and totally enjoyable. I was surrounded by friends and my responsibilities were next to none. I was living freely and enjoying every minute of it. I’ve had good years before and since but 1995 stands out in my mind as the most memorable of them all.

Flood Almost Reunited

No more than maybe a month after I quit the band I received a phone call from Shaun one night. He was drunk and started talking about how great Flood was and how we should get back together. The attempt to continue Flood hadn’t worked out and they had eventually broken up. As much as I knew I needed to quit (or needed things to change) I would have felt horrible to see the other guys up there playing the songs I helped write. It would be hard to watch somebody walk right into a band that I’d devoted my life to for so many years, despite my decision to leave.

Shaun wanted to get together and talk about getting back together. By that time I’d decided what I wanted from a band fun, to do it as a hobby. I didn’t plan to make a career out of it. I knew that might not be the most popular opinion though. I wrote down a list of issues that I wanted to discuss and we eventually met at Adam Triplett’s apartment one night.

We met and we discussed a lot. I got a lot of stuff off my chest and so did everybody else. I told them I only wanted to play as a hobby but Shaun and Adam wanted to try to make a career out of it. Jeremy had completely different intentions; he had been asked to join a new band manned by Brian and John Dills. They were called “10 Gauge” and he was excited about playing with them. Jeremy had decided that he was finished with Flood and that was pretty much the last straw. All of us wanted something different and it ended up that Flood would remain alive only in our recordings and memories (and on this site, I guess). We left there that night knowing that the end had come for us and there was no going back. Before we left we said we’d still like to be able to get together, have a few drinks, and talk about the old days. We all thought that would be nice and we all said we would. But like so many other things that never happened.

Trying to Start a New Band

In the spring of 1996 I attempted to start another band. Dirt Bear had broken up and so had Sevin. Flood had been gone for several months. So Brian Pauley, Joey Clagg, and I all talked and we thought we would try to maybe start another band from the ashes of our old bands. We got together once or twice to see if we could make something happen but it never panned out. We wrote a really lame song and then never pursued things after that. I think our musical tastes were too different to play in a band together.

With the exception of a little project I had going on in 2003 I haven’t played in another band. While I’m still really the same person In a lot of ways my life is different now. With a wife, two kids, and a career I just don’t have time to devote to a new band. Mostly it’s just shift in priorities. Maybe one day I’ll play in another band but if I don’t I’ll always have Flood and the Nitro Scene memories.

###
Guess what? I also write horror and thriller novels. Click here to learn more...


2 Replies to “History Part 2”

    1. Thanks, Ian. I wrote this a long while back and while it’s not as smooth as my writing is today, it’s got the heart of my twenty-something self running all through it. I was young enough then to remember the details and, more importantly, the emotions that came with those strange days.

      Hard to believe 20+ years have passed. Could we go back now and convince our teenaged selves of just how fast those years would go by? That middle age and kids and bills and all that shit would hit us?

      Probably not. But that’s what made those days so spectactular.

      Take care, man. Thanks for stopping by.

      Brian

Leave a Reply