Carrie Clevenger knows music. Never professing to be an authority on the subject, she approaches it with humility and an enthusiasm that few can match. And yet, she knows more than most of my previous bosses do. She singlehandedly rekindled my own enthusiasm for music when I thought it to be dead. She is the voice behind wicked twitter/YouTube VJ Xan Marcelles @crookedfang and will have her first full length novel Crooked Fang released this August. Clevenger exposes herself in a beautiful and lyrical way with this post, by opening a vein and bleeding music for us. I for one am a fan! Enjoy!
Music has always been a part of my life. My parents listened to 1970s-era pop, country, and oldies, meaning 1950s to 1960s decades’ music. But my first experience with music was a radio my grandfather bought me when I was about eight. It was the first I ever had to myself; one on which I could listen to any station I chose. Sure, I’d been given a tiny AM transistor radio years before, but all it received was baseball games and talk shows. This new radio got FM and that opened a whole new world of sound to my eager ears.
The year was 1985, and new wave was hot as the head of a comet in that time. The early forms of alternative were developing between the Casio-style basic beats. I fell in love with the new stations I discovered in the privacy of my room. I was raised in a religious household, and although my parents weren’t as strict as other kids’ parents in the same church, they still watched my choices as closely as they could. There were times when I’d be getting ready for school, and a song would come on that would make my mother say “What is this?” and demand I either change the channel or turn it off (one of those artists was Madonna).
I soon settled in a long-term love affair with a band I still consider one of the most lucrative groups on earth, Depeche Mode.
“Blasphemous Rumours” was such an outlaw song for me at the time. A spit in the face of organized belief. A seed that made me realize I could think for my own self.
Depeche Mode had several albums to choose from at that time, but was still fighting the pretty-boy syndrome. As years passed, the boys gained more creative control over their works, and the albums kept getting better and better. Asking which one of their albums the most would be hard. Every CD is like visiting a new destination. Some of my favorites are Violator, Exciter, and Dave’s “Jesus” phase, Songs of Faith and Devotion.
Fast-forward to around 1994. Grunge was in, and I was head-over-heels in love with Guns N’ Roses, Danzig, Metallica, and of course, Nirvana. I subscribed to some sort of alternative video service. I think lots of us had BMG or Columbia House, unable to resist the 12 free CDs for 1 cent back then. Anyway, I got my VHS tape, popped it in the VCR and, in between, I believe it was Soundgarden and Dream Theatre, I caught and heard my first impression of Type O Negative.
Peter Steele and his dark methods in metal were like nothing I’d ever heard before. The song on the video was called “Christian Woman.”
Another poke at the idea of someone wanting a god so much, yes?
His looks, his demeanor, and definitely his voice caught my head and my heart instantly. I was hooked and immediately struck out to find Type O Negative’s album. Of course the stores in our tiny town didn’t have that sort of music, so I had to go to the mall in a neighboring town to finally possess the CD Bloody Kisses. Discovering this band for myself also lit the fuse for what I would consider my muse many years later. The music inspired me in ways I’d never been before. It spoke to my fears, my insecurities, my depression, everything. Peter let me know I wasn’t alone in his songs.
Moving forward to 2001, I was fully into multiple genres of music. Type O Negative was still my main vice of choice, and to be honest, this still hasn’t changed to this day. But in order for me to become what I was to become, I needed one final ingredient.
My spouse at the time and I visited a friend’s house together and fell into a discussion of different bands we liked. Music had gone digital by this point and ripping CDs commonplace. Our friend went to her computer after I brought up that sure, I kind of liked “Sober” by Tool but knew very little about them. This friend of ours was a massive Tool fan.
“You need to hear one song by them. Just one, and then you’ll know if you love them,” she said to me.
“Pushit” really spoke to me about someone dealing with a situation that is so overwhelming, they take a very desperate and violent way to get away from it.
The song was just a few seconds under 14 minutes long, but I sat perfectly still, mouth wide open as I heard the swell and burst of the guitar, the deep growl of the bass, and Maynard’s voice warbling clear and brilliant like the sun peeking out from behind a cloud on a rainy winter’s day.
My mind went utterly apeshit with interior images. I had nowhere to put it; I didn’t even know what it was. I’d always sketched my entire life, so I drew like a maniac. It wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t enough. It didn’t feel like it was the thing I should be doing.
Tragedy struck in the fall of 2001. A friend as close to my heart as family committed suicide. The news of his death devastated me.
I listened to my three major influences: Depeche Mode, Type O Negative, and Tool constantly. And a few weeks after the dark day, I sat down at my dad’s new computer and started typing.
It had me. It possessed me, this story I was writing. It was shit; I hadn’t even graduated high school. I was just some dumb female, married with a new baby, that had a voice in her head that would not shut up. I was slow. I had to look at the keys to type. I lost endless hours of sleep, but about six weeks later, I had a short story, full of errors and plot holes, that amounted to about 90 pages, single-spaced.
That story was the tiny flame that eventually turned into a blazing inferno in my mind for my novel 11 years later:
Sometimes a vampire's past can bite him in the ass.
Xan Marcelles--bassist for Crooked Fang, vampire and full-time asshole, is content with his quiet existence in the backwoods of Pinecliffe, Colorado. But life at the Pale Rider tavern is set to become a little more complicated when he gets entangled with a feisty, blue-haired damsel and her abusive soon-to-be ex-boyfriend.
To add to his woes, he’s gone from hunter to hunted, and his past returns to haunt him when a phone call draws him back to New Mexico. With the help of friends from his living past, he must get to the bottom of a murder, and figure out where he stands with his lover and his band, all while keeping one step ahead of his enemies. Hiding won’t be easy for him, especially with a mysterious woman dogging him every step of the way.
WARNING: Cussing, smoking, drinking and hot sex.
Get a preview now of Xan Marcelles in my collaborative work, Blood and Fire. For the month of May, both sites will carry Blood and Fire for the low price of 99 cents.
On Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-and-fire-nerine-dorman/1109933142
You can find Carrie Clevenger on twitter~
and Xan Marcelles on twitter ~
Crooked Fang's website