Toward the beginning of 1985, still convinced that CCM was the way to get my start, the church band felt time to “take it on the road”, we became known as “Distant Thunder”. Traveling with our pastor across New England and Canada, performing and raising money for the church; always under his watchful eye, and under his thumb. Our travels ended abruptly with my mother becoming a victim of a hit and run accident on her way to work in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Traveling became impossible as her condition was “touch & go” for several months. She passed away four years later.
With the tragic death (drowning accident) of our drummer in August ’85, in came John Panasik, who not only played drums, but was a prolific songwriter, keyboard player, and bass guitarist. John bounced between our rehearsals and his other group “The Notorious Ones”, a very popular R&B/Rap band in the Brooklyn/Queens club scene. John & I begin to stray off and pen songs together, as Distant Thunder basically disintegrated, playing only for the church’s outreach programs on weekends. During the week, John and I layed down tracks in his home recording studio in Canarsie. Between the two of us, we played every instrument on the tracks. Mostly R&B, which was primarily our faves as opposed to the Heavy Metal dominating the charts at the time.
1986-1987 in between gigs & clubs, I met up with a man who was starting an organization called CMU (Christian Musicians United), given my “Christian roots” I felt obligated to assist this man (you’ll notice, everytime I don’t give out a name, they eventually get trashed in this story?). With the advent of the rock group “Stryper”, he felt convinced the God was calling for a Christian Musical revolution. John was very leery of this guy, and of course, I was a blind fool, convinced that this guy would help if I made a return to CCM. We had just made our break from the church (which to this day we refer to as “The Cult”), and John felt it was more “Praise the Lord! Help me & I’ll stab you in the back” bullshit that we put up with not so long ago. This guy really could care less about any other form of music except Heavy Metal, so no help was coming from him with the style of music John & I were working on.
We put out a release in 1988 called “The Only Way To Rock”. Well, sort of “we”. Halfway through the production, John and his wife-to-be moved to California, and I was stuck in NY doing a really bad mix of this EP. I used this “screeching, Vince Neil-like” voice, imported lead guitarists. And tried to appease that CMU guy so it can be reviewed in his magazine (which I helped with typesetting & layouts). He spitefully sent it off to a critic who ridicules almost everything he gets. Surprisingly, the critic, was able to hear through the muddy bass, and overmodulating vocals, and actually see potential. However, the nice stuff is edited out of the magazine, and remarks like “a good producer should be on the top of this guy’s prayer list” stays in. Well this stab in the back was the last straw with CMU and Christian music in general.
In 1989, the word “MIDI” became an intricate part of our lives. Turned out I had a gift for punching buttons and getting technical. John (who had returned to NY armed with a lot of “I told you so’s”) and I no longer needed outside musicians to lay down tracks for my next demo…hell we had sax players, lead guitarists and percussionists in a box! However…. time was running out for me. I was giving it until I was 25 before I packed it in and quit the music business.
Clubs were nice, the girls were nice, the songs were nice.
…I wanted a record deal!
…I wanted the dream….
All songs Copyright ©1986,1989,1990,2002,2006 Eric Brooks.