My first band, from late 2003 to late 2005. I played lead electric guitar and sang backup vocals, with occasional stints on lead vox and bass guitar; Brian Rozendal sang most lead vox and played rhythm guitar, initially acoustic before transitioning to electric as the band’s sound developed; Edgar Paras played drums; Wilder Schmaltz played bass.
We had four songwriters in the band, which was probably not a good idea.
Brian and I had been getting together to jam and swap songs for a month or two when he got a late response to the same craigslist ad I had responded to; a drummer was interested in playing with us. So we went over to Edgar’s place in North Portland and tried to figure out how to play together. After a couple of practices, we decided to call it a band and started practicing regularly in Edgar’s basement, something we did weekly or twice-weekly for some time before eventually moving to a practice space downtown.
In April of 2004, I roped Edgar and Brian into small roles in a silent film I was making for a Super8 workshop I was taking; one of the stars of that film was my high school friend Wilder Schmaltz, and on the day we shot Edgar’s scene with Wilder they got to talking and Wilder’s musicianhood came up. Edgar invited him to come play bass, and there was our fourth member.
This was the first serious attempt at being in a band for most if not all of us — I don’t remember if Edgar had specifically played seriously with a group before, but Wilder and I were both solo singer/songwriter acoustic guitar guys for the most part and Brian’s only prior band experience was a Christian rap group he was in in middle school. First tries are always bumpy, complicated things; I learned a lot from being in this band but wish I’d learned some of it a little quicker, and I’d guess the same goes for the rest of the guys.
Over the course of the two years we were playing together, we changed our equipment and style significantly; the distance from the reedy, pitchy, acoustic-driven recordings from the late-2003 Edgar’s Basement demos to the heavier, lusher, and far more locked-in Official Demo from a little over a year later is significant, and a testament to the fact that whatever else went wrong with the band, we were doing something solid and productive musically. I still enjoy listening to the recordings of the last few shows we played; the second to last show in particular has us in prime from as a group.
When in mid-August 2005 Edgar announced he was quitting the band, we had been practicing in a rented room in downtown Portland, in the Modish building, and Brian and I kept that space for some number of months afterward; my recordings of and collaborations with Brian begin more or less at that point in time.
Heat Lorraine was last of several names the band had. I wonder if it was, indeed, at last the steady permanent name for the group, or if we just broke up before we had a chance to decide to change it again.
We’d previously been called, at various periods:
- Sidecar, as in the drink, not the motorcycle accessory, much to my disappointment when that clarification came to light because seriously how awesome are motorcycle sidecars?
- Bella Is A Cat, after Edgar’s cat, Bella (since deceased, RIP), and a name we decided on at the last minute at Edgar’s suggestion just before going on stage at Mississippi Pizza for a sort of band-open-mic performance. (I had been, that evening, intending to make the argument that we begin calling ourselves Semaphore, but the Bella Is A Cat thing felt pretty solid and so the point was moot.) We used this name for a while.
- Science, which is unique among the band names we actually saw use by the band, in that it was either my suggestion or the only suggestion I was more enthusiastic about than anyone else. We played for exactly one show, and the show was sort of a disaster and I’ll always wonder if that contributed to us retiring the name as quickly as we did.
- Indochine, a suggestion from Wilder, which we all kind of liked, but which lived through exactly one practice because Wilder went home and googled it and found out that there was a long-established European band with that name. What our band had to do with Vietnam or French imperialism/colonialism is a good question that we didn’t end up having to ask ourselves.
- The Havzies, which was the for-real-this-time, this-is-the-one, absolutely final permanent name we went with for a few months before we decided to change the name to Heat Lorraine. I’m not sure everyone in the band ever really and truly agreed about how to even spell this, which in one sense made it perfect for the band given how hard a time we had agreeing on the names we could spell.
At no time was the band named Shatner, a fact with which I will have to struggle my whole life.