Back in the summer of 1995, when I
was 14 years of age, I fell in love with music. I’d loved
music for a while before my break before the eighth grade, but
I’d never been in love with it. That’s a cliché
distinction people make all the time. I’m making it now.

Todd Weiser

My dad’s influences had worked their way on to me —
Bob Seger, Queen, Billy Squier. My brother’s influences moved
on to me — The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Guns
’n’ Roses. I even found my own modern favorites —
Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day. I bought their albums and
listened to them on my living room carpet, a pair of giant black
headphones enveloping my head. They were loves. Not obsessions.

I have meaningful musical memories from before 1995, like my
first concerts attended with my parents (The Monkees, Heart, Weird
Al Yankovic), memorizing the words to the Red Hot Chili
Peppers’ indecent “Sir Psycho Sexy” (all eight
minutes of its alluring explicitness) and penning the initials KC
on my hand after Kurt took his life. I remember these moments like
they were yesterday and I’m certain they’ve shaped the
person I am today. However, my musical breakthrough did not come
until my true obsessions took hold. And that started on a summer
day in Pontiac.

It was a Saturday. June 24, 1995, was the exact date. The 89X
Birthday Blast, a radio station music festival. Patti Smith played.
As did Hum (remember “Stars?” It still rocks), Rusty,
Love Battery and a slew of other bands you’ve probably never
heard of, or just don’t remember. It was Silverchair’s
(hit song was “Tomorrow”) third North American show.
Big deal at the time. I think.

The two bands I latched onto that day were the Suicide Machines,
a local ska-punk band, and the Hardship Post, a Nova Scotia Sub Pop
records (think Nirvana) indie-rock triplet. The Suicide Machines
could make for a column of their own, as they would later take over
the lives of my clique of friends and bring us into the local ska
scene, then punk scene and finally hardcore scene. But looking
back, those were fads in my life. Fun fads, but still only fads.
The Hardship Post’s sole album, Somebody Spoke, remains in my
CD player today.

Later that year a vibrant, earnest, R.E.M.-like single hit the
radio and MTV. Entitled “Mighty K.C.” it was written as
a tribute to Kurt Cobain. This band’s odd moniker was For
Squirrels. Yet, the video did not pay tribute to Cobain as the song
did, instead serving as a memorial to lead singer Jack Vigliatura,
bassist Bill White and manager Tim Bender.

Returning home to Florida from a show at New York’s famous
CBGB’s, their van blew a wheel, overturned and killed the two
band members, while injuring the others. For Squirrels’ debut
album on Sony was to be released almost a month later. Not knowing
the backstory, but loving the post-grunge sound, I bought the
album. For Squirrels’ sole album, Example, remains in my CD
player today.

The Hardship Post and For Squirrels really share nothing in
common besides their one-and-done histories. The Hardship
Post’s Sloan-like, lovesick poppiness made it onto the radio
with one track, “Watchin’ You.” It defined the
band: simple and irresistibly catchy. A few seven-inches came
before Somebody Spoke, but nothing exists after that album. Their
fate remains a mystery to me. Even the Internet, our one-touch
source for everything ever, barely acknowledges them. One member
was kicked out and replaced by a female bassist, forming the New
Hardship Post and then they vanished.

For Squirrels have found longer life than their Canadian
counterparts, thanks mostly to ForSquirrels.net and its continued
loving promotion of the band and its one-release progeny Subrosa.
However, Vigliatura’s lyrics and vocals were so much a part
of For Squirrels that they could never be the same. His chant of
“And by the grace of God go I into the great unknown / Things
are gonna change in our favor” is still haunting yet
comforting today.

Why, nine years after their music was first released, do I still
find time nearly every week to give each record a spin? If the
music is really as good as I think it is, shouldn’t everyone
know who they are?

As we seniors near graduation, many of us hold onto nostalgic
memories with full force. Nostalgia gives us comfort, joy and
ultimately sadness. This column reeks of it. The Hardship Post and
For Squirrels may fit into my boyhood musings, but they persist in
my life today for different reasons. Good music should last
forever.

And in the case of these two bands, I hope it does.

This is Todd’s last column for the institution known as
Daily Arts. Only Verbal Kint can wrap it up: “And like that
… he’s gone.” Todd, a.k.a. Keyser Soze, can
forever be reached at

“mailto:tweiser@umich.edu”>tweiser@umich.edu.

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