Battery Acid Blues: New Adventures With The Mojo Wire

Keir DuBois is back after a failed solo attempt. (Originally published in the Artsweek section of the UCSB Daily Nexus on 10/2/97).

“The Clap is dead. From the ashes of a popular and successful blues band has arisen a smaller band, skilled but unknown. The faces are the same and the talent remains, but what has arrived in Isla Vista, playing the most corrosive blues, the most reverb-drenched surf, the snappiest pop, and the cheesiest country is a new group called the Mojo Wire.”

Kevin laughed at our attempt at self-promotion. “You twits,” he chided, “you think that will get you where you want to go? Hell, if people see that, they just might take you seriously, and you know that any band in Isla Vista who takes themselves seriously is laughed out of town as pretentious egomaniacs!”

“But Kev,” I replied, “we are egomaniacs. Well, at least Bryn and I are.” Bryn is my younger brother and a guitar player in the band. I play bass guitar, only because no one else wanted to. I turned sheepishly to Adam, the singer, guitarist, and frontman, and said “Adam has no ego. He’s far too modest.” I thought I was useless to add that as such, he is a great choice for a camera-magnet leader. “Besides,” I continued to Kevin, “you’re not coming, so what’s it to you?”

Kevin, at fifteen a drum prodigy, merely laughed. “Without me, you jokers will be hard pressed for gigs. Face it, your only gig here at home is a repeat of last year’s Christmas Boat Parade fiasco, and furthermore, drummers are hard to find.”

To this Bryn reminded our oh-so-mature skinsman that he’s so young that he has to ask his dad if he can jam with us. He then ripped deeper. “Remember, we saved you from drumming for a crazy punk band, you doofus, so you better appreciate that Christmas gig.” Bryn is a little bitter himself about said performance; our employer is cheap, so we only get free food and drinks for playing. Never mind that we’ll get valuable exposure, playing on a fifty-foot yacht, which itself must have eaten up most of the funds of our esteemed patron, whom we only know as “Ms. C.”

Soon we’d have to leave for school. All of our equipment was packed into a medium-sized white Aerostar, an auto that looked more like a giant egg than a car. At the wheel was our friend Ian, who in addition to being the sometime driver, was also the resident manager, accountant, lawyer, lighting and sound tech, bookie, and mafia man. He revved the engine impatiently. “Let’s go, huh? If we wait any longer, we’ll hit traffic!” We’ve never met anyone more concerned with time and money than Ian, and that’s why he is where he is.

Adam was indifferent to his future roommate’s concerns. “We’ll be going soon. We’ve got plenty of time.” He took two slow ambling steps down the driveway, looked at the ocean, and came back. Something was getting to him, but I couldn’t tell what it was. When he wasn’t happy Adam had this look on his face like he was distantly occupied with profound matters of the universe, the way the rest of us looked when we were stoned or hungover.

Adam could also be the flashiest out of all of us. We’re not usually dressed formal for gigs, but our first gig as the Mojo Wire was at a wedding. We’re the world’s worst wedding band, but we pulled this show off because Adam looked like a rock star. We played great, but he was dressed like a corporate surfer plus mafiosi in one, which bested my suit, a dull blue thing that made me look like a goofy Secret Service agent. He writes all our sillies songs, though, so even if we do start to think that he’s infinitely cooler than we are, we just have to recall our most favorite Adam-penned song, “Your Mama’s A Ho,” which elegantly speaks for itself.

Bryn was humming that same song when it occurred to me that these songs belong to a different band. They’re our songs still, but that was when we were the Clap. Now that we’d be away and without Kev, some of us had no intention of having such a name. Not me. “I miss the Clap,” I blurted out at random. “I think I’ll write a song called ‘I miss the Clap.’ It was such a great name for a blues band.”

“No,” said Bryn, “it was a hilarious novelty of an unpoetic name. I like the Mojo Wire much better, and you forget, bro, that we are not just a blues band.”

It was the same debate we’d had all summer, with the one exception that I agreed that we shouldn’t just be a blues band. What was weird was to hear a comment like that come from my brother the Blues Purist. No, that’s not true; Bryn’s not all blues and nothing else, it’s just that if he had to play blues guitar for the rest of his life, he’d be perfectly happy.

My thoughts were again interrupted by Ian yelling that it was time to go. We all said goodbye to Kev, promising that we’d never find another drummer who could play like him, and assured him that his spot at the Christmas gig was secure. “Excellent,” he snickered, clasping his hands together. “I shall await your ultimate return.” He cackled suddenly. We all laughed at the sight of the young terrorist riding into the sunset on his bike. We piled into the van and sped off in the opposite direction.

It’s been three weeks since then, and the three of us are still woefully unrehearsed. Sure, we can bust out all of our old blues songs in our sleep, but we need drums behind us. Not just drums, though. Kevin is one of our best friends, and it’ll be hard to replace him.