Gina From Constantine was a band that Ian and I started 5 years ago, mostly in Ian's garage, and mostly as a product of the amount of time Ian and I spent together.
At the time, I was living at Ian's house. I would go to work at 4 am, come home around 10 am, sleep for the day, wake up around 5pm, and we'd work on songs. I wrote terrible songs for Ian to somehow patchwork into working things, and we practiced them. Two guitars playing the same chords, and two semi-adults with very little idea of what the hell we were doing.
After a few admittingly embarrassing shows, and a lot of spinning wheels and not knowing what the hell we were doing, a friend of ours pooled together some money and bought Ian a banjo. It was almost on a lark that we did this. Ian had no idea how to play banjo, and we had no idea if that was something he'd be really interested in learning. He became one of the best banjo players I have ever seen in person. Even to this day, I still listen to some of the banjo solos he wrote for Gina, and I'm still so damn proud of what we did.
At some point or another, we got ahold of a four track recorder, and decided we were going to record some things. South Holland was written around this time. Everyone loves that song, as do I. It's one of the first songs I think of when I think of our band. It's lyrics still amaze me. I'll never forget the first time Ian showed it to me. It went on a split, and shortly after we went on tour. We played three shows on our first tour, and made it to Missouri. It was a mini tour that we decided on in probably less than a week.
I'll never forget that Missouri show, because it was the first time we had ever played at a "punk space". I'll never forget walking into Faye Street in Columbia for the first time. We had no idea that this culture existed. Well, we did, but we always thought of these places being in LA, or New York. We were truly unprepared to see a bunch of punk kids come from Columbia MO to watch a shitty touring band that nobody really knew. We didn't expect the spray painted walls. We didn't expect the dog walking around the space. But most of all, we didn't expect the community. The people that screamed AJJ words at us as we played. The people we met, most of whom I'm still friends with on FB. The experience was like finding something for the first time. It felt important, and it felt real. No longer were we two kids from the suburbs that liked shitty punk songs. It felt like more than that. All of a sudden, things felt very very real. Community felt real.
A few years and a LOT of shows and new friends later, this band ended where all good things appropriately end... in the desert. We were on the last show of a two month tour, and unable to tour back, we we're playing our last show in Reno NV, and making the three day drive straight back to Chicago to be home.
Over that two month tour, a lot of things happened to me personally. It's not a lot of stuff that I'd like to go into, but it's suffice to say that my mindset had changed. I was convinced that I needed to get home and plant roots. Be a boyfriend, a son, a friend to all those I'd neglected by being so distant. Be a person. To me, even if that meant sacrificing something that I had wanted since I was 12 years old, it felt like what I "had" to do.
I now know that I was very wrong. I was being coerced by another person that this is what I needed in my life, and that person was not afraid to use very manipulative things to get me to do that. I shouldn't have came home, I shouldn't have gotten comfortable, but I let myself do that, I let myself sacrifice the things I wanted, and that is something that I probably never forgive myself for.
Not that I'm really complaining. My life is generally pretty okay right now. I work a lot. But I have an apartment. I have a girlfriend that treats me very well, and I get to do a lot of really nice stuff because of that.
But my mind has changed. I can't really think of politics, or anarchy anymore. It makes my head feel heavy. I can no longer make a connection to my day to day life, and things like anarchy, or community. I still consider myself a steadfast anarchist, and I'll still never vote, or participate in things that I don't believe in, but the will to change things in the face of such a well constructed and vast system seems lost on me.
My best friend, my band mate, and one of the few people I can find constant connection to in this world lives over 1000 miles away from me now. I'm so happy for him, I really am. I'm so glad that he was able to remove himself from the things he felt were poisoning his life here in IL, and strike it out on his own out in the flat and sandy. I hope Utah is treating him well, and I hope to god I get to see him soon. Because I miss my best friend. I miss him a lot.
I changed the album cover of this album. It would normally be the banjo and guitar drawing. Instead I've replaced it with the first picture I remember of us as a band, and the last one from Reno.
If you've taken the time to read this long, rambling message here, I thank you. If you ever came to a show, told me how much you liked the songs, or just generally gave a shit, I thank you. Those connections kept me going through a lot of things, that I otherwise might not have been able to get through. I still get sentimental when I think about shit like that. The fact that I wrote words down somewhere in one of my notebooks, and people learned them. And they sang them at me, and I gave them thoughts and ideas. That is truly something that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
I don't know what the future holds. I don't think I want to play music anymore. Even as I type that out, it sounds dramatic, and drastic, so I don't know if I'm lying to you, but I truly don't know where to go from here. But I just wanted to thank everyone that made this my life for five years. Thank you Sonny, Matt, Tyler, Stufy, Billy, and Cody. And thank you especially, Ian.
released August 20, 2016
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