Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Forged For Everyone - The Glee and Gloam of Glass House

Hospitality is a virtue into which I place great value. For someone to open their doors to their private quarters and welcome another’s entry is a quality I do not harbor as the host might harbor me, and thus, my obligation to reciprocate their generosity weighs upon me like the rain in the clouds. It is for this belief that I have indentured myself to exercise great sentiment as I undertake the recounting of the deceased local band Glass House’s story. Many artists, including myself, craft their poetry in reflection of stories and experiences to which they alone can relate. Although, art is intrinsically interpretable to the viewer, which allows the esoterism of certain artists to survive consumer scrutiny. Local music figures such as Vincent Randazzo, for example, seem to draw most lyrics from introspection and past events - his album’s are a contemplative experience, surely. Even so, Vincent’s music has not suffered in popularity because of this. And on the same note, I am equally indulged by someone sharing with me the wonderments of their minds as I am by their sharing with me of the things that make them just as human as I am. In this story, however, we focus moreso on the latter of these qualities, once again, for the sake of hospitality’s virtue.
“Just where did I go wrong? I guess I see why. I said that you were small and you went out to cry. She was busy workin it, but yer jerkin it, into yer old gym sock, but I must say that, I’m not surprised. You’re caught up in a lie.” If you click that link, you should be blessed to see a performance of the song Porn. Maybe lyrics such as this avert you from Glass House, maybe they just don’t tickle your fancy, or maybe you’re straight-up offended. To the last outcome, I say, “Go fuck yourself,” and to the former two, I suggest you keep watching that video. One of the songs they play in that set is sure to appeal to your emotions, be they humors or sorrows or otherwise. And for this effect, the ensemble’s dynamic is greatly integral - each personality and the style with which perform and compose conglomerates into a universally understood conveyance. Consider Glass House a sentimental unifier, a sonic asylum.
We were truly gifted to have such bards in our midst. Bands that endure, however, require patience, and I believe that impatience is what most often fiddles the sores on the relationships between bandmates, and prevents them from healing, prevents them from turning into the scars that will one day be ogled for the story they tell. Glass House, as far as I could discern, had fewer scars to bare than most bands in the graveyard, for interpersonal turbulence was not their catalyst into disbandment. No, it was something much different, something for which no one can reprimand them. That is because it was the strength of their bonds that ultimately separated them. So what justice need I allot them differently? It’s hard to say, harder to write, and that’s why I’ve spent so much time simply digesting the nature of Glass House instead of regurgitating it onto the page.
“I played in a couple different groups in Australia, but Glass House has a really special dynamic where we can be absolutely ruthless to each other, but by the next practice we’ll get over it,” says Bryce, the primary bassist of Glass House. “By ruthless I mean if someone writes a shitty part everyone says it is, and then we try something else.” One could argue that Bryce is the reason for Glass House’s disintegration, even though during his first leave, Monterey’s Bass God, Zack Gattis (presently a member of the funk-punk surf-rock band Nuclear Fuzz) adopted his place. It was not just consequence of Bryce moving to Australia. It was consequence of the affection - whose caliber I cannot accurately estimate - that was upheld for Bryce by Glass House’s frontwoman, Meagan Hoch.
“I met Bryce when we started the band,” Meagan explains upon my inquiry, though, as expected, she didn’t reveal much. “I didn’t actually get to know him until six months into playing music with the boys. At this point it was just me and Wesley with a different guitarist and drummer. [Bryce] was the only bassist we really knew at Carmel High.” A stoic young woman, I have previously described this one as looking like the grunge era’s Nordic shieldmaiden. This reticent palate she provides is an optimal platform from which to offer their listeners the hospitality I keep referencing, for I do not necessarily look at her and think Man, what a unique character, but rather, Man, what could this character be made out of? The only window to her personage is the music she writes. And the music she writes is friendly in its own way, relatable, relevant to the lives of any millennial; an embrace of all the people, and all their struggles, who embrace her music, as much as it is an attempt to console the self.
I would normally be disinclined to imply that any single individual of a musical project is its director. Wesley Kise is the thoughtful guitarist of Glass House, who reminds me for some reason of a young comic-book hero’s alter ego. Wesley has equipped me with some striking wisdoms about the robust, crystalline voice that shadows the stage in its melancholic exhaustion. “Well, ya know she’s all quiet and introverted,” Wesley explains of Hoch, “but at practice she decided the end result of almost everything. And there’s good reason for that. She kinda just has this natural ear for writing music… We’d be stoked on this stupid breakdown or groove change in a song and she’d just gimme this look that said, ‘Change it.’ Ha ha ha! Then I would and she’d either gimme the look again, or just a little nod. Sometimes she’d feel bad about telling us what we couldn’t play like we were gonna rebel or some shit, but I’m honestly so glad we had her making the decisions.”
Meagan, however, holds a more modest opinion of her position. “I’m lucky, ha ha!” she admits of Wesley, “He knows exactly where I want things and I don’t have to say a thing. He fills the space with something way more creative than I had envisioned. When we write songs, mostly Wesley and I meet up… then Bagel and Bryce add some more dimension, and that’s how our songs are made.”
Wesley had a wealth of insight, however much it dissents from his companion’s outlooks. He seemed more than capable of articulating the origins of the group’s talents. While Meagan presents a firm grip on human nature, and Bryce has as much to say as he does to play, and Bagel provides the stopping power of their music, Wesley describes himself as, “...more technically mindful because I had the most training, and to a certain degree that helps. But…” he digressed, “...at the end of the day, no matter what style of music you’re playing, if you have it in you and can keep going, technique means almost nothing.” Surely there is truth to this. While some bands, like Animals as Leaders, thrive on the premise of masterful technicality, the detrimental singing techniques of Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin is one of Wesley’s greatest influences) and many punk bands have exhibited that technicality is meaningless. “That’s what the rest of them have got a shit ton of,” Wesley elaborates, “Drive. Especially Bagel. He has more energy than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Bagel. That name caught your eye, didn’t it? This charismatic and pensive musician, though far more humble than his hairy, meaty composure would suggest, plays the drums in Glass House, his instrumental influence having been cited primarily as metal music. After having interviewed Wesley, who responded exceedingly well to stark questions, I approached Bagel with an inquiry of his reaction to the light in which his bandmates see him. To this, he replied, “Can you ask me about something else? I don't really want to talk about myself.” At this, I grinned. He did begin to divulge some details of himself, however. “Wesley and I were polar opposites when I began,” says Bagel. He implies, however, that Wesley’s esteem was not ill-placed. “A couple years ago, I would have never thought that I would play music at all - much less play shows in a band.” He then added, “But I’d say technical skill matters a lot more then Wesley would think. He should give himself more credit.” And from there we descended into a challenging discussion about the musical definition of technicality.
I tried to learn more about Bryce, too, from Bagel, but the only remark he made of the bassist before I spoke with the man himself was that he became more liberal over time… “That might just be college, though,” he added. So, I approached Bryce next, and I was nothing less than satisfied with his level of retention and elaboration during our conversation. It was Bryce who captured for me the companionship that solidified this group, the image of whose members in my mind became more quiet, more introverted over time. In recollection of his camaraderie, Bryce shared, “One of my favorite times… actually, just chilling with Bagel and Wesley up in Sacramento was really nice. I hadn't really hung out with them for like a year since I was in Australia and that was really nice from just driving around to me and Bagel reading on a park bench silently for like half an hour and then discussing the nature of everything, it was a great time.” Sounds like what I do when I return home to my old friends, and I believe it was this quality of exodus to and return from strange and distant lands that captured my fascination with Bryce’s tale. Every piece of this tale he could share of the return home, I like to think ties his throat in knots and pushes up behind his eyes. “...one of the Allegro’s shows, we were playing the song Last Night by The Strokes and there were only like 30 people there but most of them were singing along and it was so cool, the energy in the place was awesome.” Despite the value Bryce clearly holds for the intimacy forged between him and his bandmates, however, they had not always been anything more than a manufactory of music. “Before I went to Australia, we honestly didn't hang out much together. Bagel would always be off doing his own thing and although Wesley and Meag used to hang out all the time… Wesley got a girlfriend.” And it wasn’t all rosy during his return either, with ample fodder for contemplation to arrest his journey home. Besides the struggles of acclimation between the cultures of Burgerland and Dinosaur Island, the struggles of time’s passage and home’s abstraction, there too was interpersonal development from which one could likely draw many dramatic dialogues, but let’s reduce it to what Bryce said. “When I got back though, the group dynamic was really different and it fucked with me hella. Like Bagel and Wesley were best friends, and them and Meag had gotten really close. I think my return also fucked with them because I just showed up and took a bunch of Meag's time.”
And times have only continued to alter. Presently, well, there is no Glass House. Minus one traditional member was survivable. However, minus two, including the frontwoman, was an epitaph for their collective gravestone. The band is retired, I should say. To speak of death, like of demons, tends to invite it, and although this is silly superstition, I like to believe that, given the foreseeable circumstances, it is but a retirement, and although most people retire permanently, they are not rendered entirely incapable of their trade until, well, death. Retirees tend to revisit the things that occupied their time and filled their bellies for so many years, like how my Grandpa conducts a Sea Cadet program (the Navy for teenagers) in the very recruitment center that once contained a firing range to which he was namesake. “The music scene here is wild,” Meagan claims of Melbourne, Australia’s second city in Victoria, where she now resides indefinitely. “It’s a great platform for local bands… The community shows large support for its music scene. Especially with the abundance of venues. [And] with the drinking age being 18. It’s a lot easier to find shows.” Perhaps such fertile sod for music is striking to locals of Monterey Bay’s vicinity, where the soil is more sand than peat, but this is merely the nature of big cities and the media industries they produce. I asked if she’d be playing with Bryce, which she confirmed would occur after some inspiration streams her way, and also did she claim that Wesley would visit for two months and likely produce content as well. “He’s my best friend,” she says, probably with a smile, “so we’re stoked he’s coming along for part of the ride.”
The terminal of Glass House speaks largely for itself. The future, as far as can be discerned, will never yield a new incarnation of the ensemble, so it is their past that is all they left to us. There are few stories in general unworthy of remembrance, and fewer stories of bands that are unworthy of remembrance. However, what is memorable is not always pleasant, or personal. Music can be enjoyed without pleasantry, (I mentioned one of my favorite metal bands Seance in another post) or without relevance to the lives of any given community’s average citizen. The remarkable thing about Glass House, who just so happens to hail from the hills beneath whose shadows we probably all reside, is that they have undergone a quest that I doubt any band I meet or they meet in the coming years can recall. But I have already detailed the shattering of the Glass House. So what of the blower and his workshop in which the house was created, piece by piece?
As mentioned in brief before, the conception of this punk band for non-punks initially sparked at Carmel High School, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. This town is similar in some ways to Coronado, California, as I have gathered, which would render it quite unfriendly towards the alternative crowd. However, with wealth (and wealth is plentiful in Carmel even for those who don’t possess it, but merely live immersed in it - I know from personal experience) there comes a lot of free time, a lot of financial liberation, and a lot of boredom and emptiness, remedied by the incessant and attricious indulgence of artistic endeavors. This is what I did, when I found myself plastered with a cringe and perpetually shivering down my spine for the six years I lived amongst (but not as a member of) the excessively wealthy. So, I would hypothesize that this contributed, at least in a substantial degree, to Meagan Hoch and friends’ desire to seek for themselves a solace that did not require vacating to the far side of the entire Pacific Ocean (that's really fucking big). Instead, they found a place within their own habitat that allowed them some of the growth they would need. Meagan explains, upon hearing my skepticism of Carmel as a healthy artistic environment, that, “There was a club called The Singer-Songwriter’s Guild that made sharing our music much easier. The genre then was more like soft Coldplay songs and less yelling, haha! There’s something about playing with a group of people and having that input from others that makes creating something together much more fulfilling.”
Wesley broadens the understanding of their history. “Meagan and I have been playing and writing music now for like, four years, but Glass House started like two years ago,” he says. After Bryce phased into the jam sessions as, supposedly, Carmel High’s only talented bass player  “...we decided we wanted to make a band, and we kinda played around with different configurations, but it didn’t really start until Bagel came into the picture. Which was two years ago.” There again, the so-called ‘polar opposite’ of the football-plushie that is Bagel has attributed to him the energy produced from the conquest of friction that ultimately powered Glass House’s development. And based on the surely simplified explanations of their past that I was so kindly awarded, one might predict that friction was a common restriction to the band’s movement. However, if anything, it is testament to the physical laws of our universe that govern not only the manners in which increments energy interact, but also the manners in which people - the most unreasonable, irrational, chaotic monsters on God’s green earth - interact with each other and the world around them. Glass House is a product of the differences between its constituents, and as such, one is reminded that, ultimately, every force in the universe is acting against your own - every division of energy, including your person, competes with every other, only complimenting each other when it is convenient to their arrangement. Damn, was it convenient to Glass House’s arrangement! If we wanna stay in this heady vein of thought, we might also remind ourselves that movement cannot be had without first overcoming friction and the byproducts of this effort. First, this friction lead a high-schooler jam session towards fruition as a cohesive unit, fed by the dancing shadows around them and the constant offering of their audience to, “Come closer! Everyone! Come closer!” Perhaps from this proximity they indulge so wholeheartedly is produced the friction that spurs them to creation.
Sometimes it just spurs them into memory. Bagel recalled to me a couple of his favorite stories with the band after I inquired of a certain photograph posted to their Facebook. It featured, from left-to-right, Zack Gattis, Bagel, a friend of the band, Wesley, and Meagan, all plastered with enriched countenances and standing outside in nothing but their underwear. “Hahaha, that’s from Underground Forest,” explained Bagel. “Well, when we were playing a show it would usually be in a small space, so that shit would get hot. And when it gets hot you peel off layers. But for us it became kinda a competition, to see who would go the furthest.”
“Was anyone drunk?” I ask, “or is this just normal of Monterey folk?”
“Actually we were sober!” he laughs, presumably, because of his emoji usage. “Which probably makes it worse… We even went all the way at practice once. You can ask Meag about that one.” I didn’t ask Meag, I pressed Bagel and was rewarded in short. “Wesley’s Mom walked in on us while we were practicing naked that time…” as though there is a repertoire of other times they did this. “Fucking great. Definitely can’t hide behind a drumset. She looked, popped her head in, saw what was going on, stopped saying what she was going to say, and closed the door,” laughing emoji.
So perhaps, on that note, Glass House isn’t always so hospitable. I guess it depends on the kinda person you are. I only find myself reaching the conclusion of this story and yearning for more, staring through the barred doors of the House, imagining that someday, the bar might be lifted, and if so, that it is not converted into a Starbucks. Stay cool, Glass House, even though that name does not necessarily encompass your quartet any longer, and I wish you not only artistic success, but strong companionship, and many opportunities in the future - perhaps with different groups, in different places - to summon an audience to within an arm’s reach of you as they sing along and strip off their sweat-soiled shirts and move to the music that you (or perhaps mostly Meagan) spawned, that you offered to us, like a cup of Earl Grey or a dark stout, so we may hear your qualms and your tales and be reminded that we are not alone. Thank you, Glass House.

Also, on an unrelated note, I beg of you to go on Thursdays to Planet Gemini on Fremont Street in Monterey, especially on this Thursday, for Mental Musk, who headlines the weekly show (and fucking shreds up their instruments every time), is featuring a special guest, 831sound’s very own founder and Fresno-born trap rapper, Kae9mm (whose music can be streamed on Soundcloud). Let’s try to pack that big floor this week! Spread the word! How often do you see rappers performing around here for fuck’s sake!?

Also, also, Glass House isn’t around anymore, so I’m not sure how efficacious it is to share their social media, but here’s their Facebook if you wanna check it out.

Thank you more than I can expatiate for taking the time to read my bullshit, and for waiting for me to figure out how to write this rather sympathetic piece. Future pieces will not ordinarily take so long, but I don’t really have any deadlines or scheduling for this piece of my daily agenda so it happens when it happens. And if you’d like to contact me for some reason, shoot an e-mail to widmer.wyatt@gmail.com and I’ll probably respond because of how evanescently warm I feel inside anytime somebody conveys to me their appreciation of my work.