Brian Paone

Author // Musician

Finding old music....

While unpacking some boxes in the new house, I came across a cassette of the very first band I was ever in called Vertical Smile. We only wrote 2 songs, and both songs are on the tape. I remember recording them in our singer's garage, where we had band practice. I was the drummer. This was before I realized I wanted to be the frontman of a band, or the singer. Back in 1994, I was happy taking my weekly drum lessons and then going to band practice and trying to write songs on the drums. Vertical Smile only played one show ever. It was an animal rights festival in Swampscott, MA. We were a thrash metal band, trying our best to sound like Slayer, Megadeth, Testamant, Anthrax etc. Marc, our bass player, was only in the band out of pity. He was in another, more serious band, and we couldn't find a bass player. So he joined Vertical Smile because he felt bad for us. Marc was also a few years older than us. Steve, the guitarist, had a full scholarship to Berkeley College of Music. Super talented guitar player, and one of the nicest guys I have ever been in a band with.

Out of our 2 songs, I wrote the song, "Calm." I guess you can say its the very first song I ever wrote. After we played our first (and only) show-where our set consisted of the only 2 songs we had and a TON of banter from Mike, the singer-we went back to the garage to work on new material. We never actually finished writing another song.

During breaks at practice, I would start using Mike's microphone to freestyle vocals. This was when I realized that I didn't want to sit behind a drum set anymore. Marc quit the band when he realized that it was a waste of his time, and taking away from his REAL band. Steve was preparing to leave for college, and I pretty much had lost all passion for sitting behind the drum set. I wanted to front my own band.

I quit Vertical Smile, and put together, what I consider my first REAL band, Yellow #1. I don't think I ever would have started Yellow #1 if it hadn't been for being in a band as a drummer first. I never thought I would ever see, or hear, these 2 songs ever again, so finding them yesterday was pretty cool in my little egotistical world that I live in.

I have posted them on this site (www.BrianPaone.com/vertical-smile) for the whole world to hear, and cringe along together. I listen to the Yellow #1 album, "Bottle of Rain," and I can't believe I started writing THOSE songs almost immediately after quitting Vertical Smile. They are such vastly different. Vertical Smile wanted to be the band who opened for Slayer. Yellow #1 wanted to be the band who opened for Nine Inch Nails. It wasn't a natural progression going from Vertical Smile to Yellow #1. Listening to them back to back yesterday, I can't believe that I made that jump that quickly. I'm glad I did.

If I ever get behind a drumset again, it'll be because I'm screwing around on my real drummer's kit during a Transpose practice. Not because I'm taking myself seriously as a drummer... ever again.

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