Wooden Stars: Innocent Gears

Image ‘My brother’s first band was called Jerks at Play. They made their racket in the basement of our Ottawa home, played a few gigs at the junior high school, traced their name in the dust on our car’s back window.

The band didn’t last long; the writing on the wall (for me at least) was when their style evolved from fun, trashy punk to terribly dark and serious metal, a transition marked by the changing of their prospective album title from Open up and Say “Fuck You” to Book of Shadows.

The album was never completed–or, I don’t believe, ever even begun. But for a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds fucking around, they were fairly talented; a number of the members went on to become actual musicians. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the band was the presence of two drummers: my brother Nick and another kid named Andrew McCormack. During JAP’s cover of Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” the lengthy drum solo (or duo, I suppose) was actually pretty impressive, the two trading off fills that would have shamed many an older drummer.

By the time high school came around, both Nick and Andrew had undergone another musical metamorphosis, from metalheads to full-on jazz snobs. And so a few years later, I was a bit surprised when my brother told me that Andrew had joined, “some rock band” who were in talks to sign with Sub Pop. This was the early 90s, so the prospect of an Ottawa band joining the label who introduced Nirvana to the world was a big deal. I figured they were a grunge band and thought, “well, good for him.”‘

Wooden Stars: Innocent Gears, Malcolm Fraser, Invisible Publishing, 2013