As I finalize Ghost Notes and Songs from Memory over the next few months, I’m going to blog regularly on the Refreshments.
In January 1994, our new band was practicing in Dusty’s basement, writing songs like “Mexico,” having fun, drinking beer, and generally keeping one eye peeled for our first gig.
Brian came to practice one night with news: Flathead, a great Tempe band that played regularly around town, needed an opening act for an upcoming weeknight gig at Long Wong’s. Would we do it?
It would be easy to say we jumped at the chance, but I remember hesitating. Brian had only been in the band for a month or so, and there was some concern whether we had enough songs to fill a set. We only had a week or so to get ready.
Every band comes to this point. “Are we ready?” We decided to take the Flathead gig. Hell, going into these things half-cocked is half of the fun, right? It leaves a nice little space where magic can happen. We practiced, and drank, and practiced.
We all agreed to wear safety orange for our big night, “So that nothing would go wrong,” as Roger explained from the stage. I seem to remember Brian wearing a bright orange turtleneck, bought for him from the band fund since he had no orange in his wardrobe. We took the stage and played our set, which included “Mexico,” “Banditos,” “Psychosis,” “Carefree,” “Interstate,” “My Penis,” “Nada,” “Girly,” “Suckerpunch,” “European Swallow,” “Down Together,” and probably “Feeling.” (This list is mostly surmised from my sense of when we wrote these songs. “Don’t Wanna Know” was written well before our first gig, but I don’t think we’d worked it out yet. “Blue Collar Suicide” was written before this too, but we didn’t get it ready until just before we recorded Fizzy. “Mekong,” I’m fairly certain, came later.)
Our set was a bit rushed--as it would be for years--but otherwise it went off without a hitch. We rolled from one song to the next, Roger explaining the concept of our safety orange to the crowd, commenting on the heat under the stage lights. The place was full (this is Wongs; it didn’t take much), and everyone seemed to have at least as good a time as we did. The response to the gig confirmed our suspicions: people would like this thing we were conjuring up in Dusty’s basement. All we had to do was get in front of them, and they would like it. We couldn’t wait to do it again.
And that was the way All You Can Eat made its debut to the world.
“Wait a second,” you say. “Who's ‘All You Can Eat’?”
I could tell you, but then I'd blow my blog for next week.