I Was In A Band

Neal Taflinger
4 min readMar 9, 2019
(Bass-troc the Leaper / 📷: Bob Peele?)

“I was in a band,” I say.

When casual talk turns nostalgic, or when people want to know what I was like in high school and I don’t know how much I want to explain, I say, “I was in a band.”

“Oh, yeah?,” they ask, in a friendly open-ended way that makes me feel bad for being vague but not bad enough to be more specific. “What kind of music?”

“It was heavy stuff, punk rock,” I’ll say, clipping my words tight enough, I hope, that it will be clear that I don’t want to take Lewis & Clark on an expedition through my formative years.

It’s true, of course. I was in a band in high school. Two or three, in fact, but only one of them recorded anything or played out more than a few times. I was in three bands after high school, too.

But keeping it simple, saying I was in a band, and when pressed, making it clear that not only would you not like it but I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT is easier than saying, “I was in a hardcore punk band that promoted a drug free, vegan lifestyle, which sounds cute but operated in a scene that was largely made up of people with undiagnosed mental illnesses and who, in an attempt to find a place where they didn’t feel alienated and alone, created a community where depression, anxiety, emotional abuse, and in some places violence was the norm and for fun, we hazed each other mercilessly and literally screamed at the world. And while you’re staring at me uncomfortably, I have to admit that while I’m no longer a part of that world, I don’t feel fully comfortable in this one, and that the simmering rage I felt then is still in me, I just do a better job of passing as a normal person.”

(Go ‘head and jump. / 📷: Unknown)

It’s been 20 years since I tried to leave that angry kid behind and 10 since I sold most of his stuff. I auctioned off most of my records and ephemera from the 90s hardcore scene, keeping only the things that sparked joy, visiting it time to time like a grave site. I learned, sort of, how to interact with people without leaning exclusively on sarcasm and biting humor. I learned how to dodge people from the old days, how to avoid answering new acquaintances’ questions in too much detail.

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Neal Taflinger

Not an expert, influencer, ninja or guru. Just a guy.