I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement

I had this pay ritual that I did every other Friday. After picking up my check and depositing it, I would go to this retro diner in Downtown Des Moines call Stella's and have lunch. This would involve a Swiss and grilled Orion burger with neutron fries and one of their chocolate shakes. Oh and a pack of Black Jack gum for the road. It's hard to explain to those that haven't lived in a small city, just how limiting the experience can be. They can all go on and on about how rough it was to be a punk rocker with shows every weekend and countless shops that chattered to their tastes. In the last ten years or so Des Moines has greatly changed but back in the early 90s it was still pretty much devoid of underground culture. They were a few place that did stock records, clothing and books but their stock was limited and you usually really had to work to find these places.

Back then a majority of them were located in the Drake area that runs up and down University from 23rd to 42nd st. I was thinking about this a while back, no area of Des Moines has shaped my life like this area. When I first got into the scene there were 3 or 4 records stores in the area, the communist book store which was the only place in town where you could find the REsearch and orhwe books on underground culture, a punker house called YoVille that was pretty much the center of the scene in Des Moines and a couple of pizza places that we wasted hours playing pool and drinking. Of course later the neighborhood would host Safari and Hairy Mary's but by the early 90s, the importance of YoVille had faded and there was only  two record stores left but I usually would hit them at least once a week.

Next I would head to Valley West Mall to get cigars and then I would sit in the Valley Pub and get warmed up for what the night might bring. It was during one of these Paydays that I met two people that would play a part in the development of The Have Nots. One was Pat Douglas who I was introduced to because we shared an interest in early LA punk and the other was the feature bassist of The Have Nots. It's just random events that happen. I was rather tight and was pulling out of the parking lot when I saw these two kids standing across the street. What drew my attention was one of them was wearing a Misfits shirt. Now maybe I should explain that do to the weakness of the scene, whenever you saw someone that looked remotely punk, you introduced yourself. The fact is that a number of my long term friendships started this way.

At any rate, it wasn't Brian wearing the shirt, it was the other kid and I guess I just basically pulled up in front, rolled down the passenger window and shouted out, "You like the Misfits?". For one reason or other this worked it's way into me giving these two kids a ride and spending the night hanging out with them. Brian and the other were full on Mall Rats and I guess the reason they were hanging out across the street is because they got banned from the Mall. So they would stand across the street in hopes of meeting up with their friends. Though threw out the night I have been told that I was a complete asshole to Brian, it was the start of a friendship that has lasted over 20 years. Though if you asked him, I'm sure he'd still say I treat him the same way.

The band thing didn't really come up until a few years later when Brian got a bass and began hosting jams in the basement below his parent's garage. They had a huge house and a big screen TV. Brian had pretty much free range of the basement and it was kind of teenage crash pad that on any given night would be occupied with 10 to 20 wayward kids. We would often invade the basement and take over much to Brian's dismay but such was my way and the group of malcontents that I hung out with.

I'm not sure how I first heard about the jams at DuBay's, it's kind of muddle together because for some reason I think working with Dave G happened at the same time which I'll cover later. Though I remember being there one night rather drunk after a show at the old Hairy Mary's and him and few other pound out noise. I remember being a little bummed because I had totally passed up a chance to play with Brian and Pat earlier. Now it looked like they were in fact going to form a band. As luck would have it, those playing with Brian would go on to form bands without him. I believe Penis was one of them and they played a few shows at the old Mary's before moving on to other projects that the names of which escape me at this time.

I did play a few times with Brian and Pat but couldn't seem to find the sound that I was looking for. That doesn't mean that we didn't try time and time again off and on for the next few years with a number of different drummers with Brian on Bass and Pat Douglas on Guitar. We just couldn't keep a drummer interested and I really just explain the sound in my head to Pat. Though it was fun, it was also very frustrating and for the most part a waste of time.

Around 92 or 93 I met this punk named Dave Gitman. He was a bright talented guitarist with one main problem he was way into drugs. It really started to take over he's life after a while and I'm unsure just what the hell happened to him. I lived with him for a while and we started playing a little off and on. He brought in his friend Trevor Powell on bass, who actually has been in a few touring bands from Sioux Falls, SD like resin and his friend Brian Seamann on Drums. What came out was a very aggressive and odd mix that was at times along the lines of Big Black. I often wonder how it would worked out if Dave could just put the pipe down long enough to focus on the band. Everyone abounded this project like rats from a sinking ship. Dave did play with a local heavy band for a while but it didn't last. The whole thing can to an end when I moved out of the house.

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