My dad renovated our family’s basement when I was a teenager. This meant my older brother and I got our own bathroom. We felt like royalty. Every young man should have his own space to shower and apply liberal amounts of Calvin Klein “Obsession”. Our new “puberty chamber” was also another space my engineering brother could engineer in some music.
Upstairs, my parents controlled the CD player and Radio tuner. (CD players; remember those?) My Mom loved Patsy Cline and Stevie Nicks. My Dad was into Jethro Tull and ZZ Top, and we got one radio station. Let me be clear: I consider myself fortunate to have had parents who were into good music during my young years. But it still wasn’t “our” music. Before an abundance of radio stations, mp3’s and on-demand music a kid had to WORK to hear his or her own music. Thankfully my resourceful brother found a way to rig some small external speakers via his stereo onto the bathroom shelves by dropping them through the ceiling tiles. This was some next level stuff as far as I was concerned.
We listened to a lot of different music getting ready for school. Pearl Jam’s “Ten” was a favourite as was Collective Soul’s “Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid.” Then it happened. At some point, my brother dropped in the smalls self titled debut. The tape (Tapes; remember those?) was probably a dub, of a dub, of a dub. Neither my brother or I were old enough to get into a bar to see the smalls and actually buy a tape. I was impressed. I was even more impressed when somebody told me that the smalls were a band from Edmonton. WHAT? You can DO that?! I assumed that only bands with actual recordings were all rich rock stars who lived in Hollywood.
I can remember, like it was yesterday, those little speakers blasting out Dan-Diddle-A-Na. I’d be pulling on a t-shirt, snugging on my Atlanta Braves ball-cap, and adding an extra dash of Obsession while my brother honked from his Honda CRX in the driveway. I had to respect his timeline, he was my ride and he owned a leather jacked.
I can safely say that it was the smalls, not the Clash, The Ramones or The Sex Pistols that introduced me to “punk”. It was Edmonton’s own the smalls. Now for the first time in over a decade, the band is back together to play SONiC BOOM 2014. I hope to see you at the show, and if you can’t find me, follow the strong scent of citrus notes with a musky undertone.