1994 was a long time ago. Clinton was in office, OJ was relevant and grunge was winding down. It was also the year Dave, Bryan, Paul and I decided to start a band.
Dave, Bryan and I were all mutual friends who lived in the same dorm in school. We spent that first year driving all over the place to go to shows. If we weren’t driving to see live music, we were listening to music, talking about music or arguing about music. We met Paul the following year and he immediately fit right it. Aside from listening it turned out Dave and Bryan had actually played music in bands before. I don’t recall if Paul was ever in a band previously, but he was a naturally talented guitarist. I was the odd man out since I had never played any music. All I knew was the dozen Misfits songs that Dave taught me on the crappy guitar I bought in Lenoir. Motivated? Yes. Talented? Definitely not. We all got together in various configurations playing covers and for open mic events here and there.
In the summer of ‘94, we were all in town and found ourselves with access to a practice space. It was a pay by the month storage unit attached to an alternator repair shop. I can’t recall the first practices specifically, but I do know something seemed to click pretty quickly. We were able to kick out a batch of songs in a few weeks and just like that we decided to become a band. We quickly and easily settled on the name Hoss. Living in rural North Carolina it was a name you heard from time to time and it seemed to fit with what we were playing. With a name and a new found mission we kept writing. The songs were short, fast, a little quirky and all over the place lyrically. Songs about movies, songs about girls, songs about growing up. I think it’s safe to say we haven’t strayed too far from that formula.
After practicing all summer the next milestone was to actually play some shows. Even at this relatively obscure college town in what could be best be described as a culturally neglected part of the state, there was actually a bit of a music scene. Local bands included Sticky, The Husbians, Smartbomb, Damage Done (“the metal guys”), Silly, Pink Collar Jobs and several more. There were good bands making good music, and despite being such a small town, it had a pretty diverse and positive thing happening. Later that year we finally played shows. For many years our first shows held a nearly magical quality in my mind. I believed this strongly until a few years ago when I copied them from VHS to a computer and witnessed the horror firsthand. We were not rock gods bursting out of a scene that couldn’t contain us, but rather four nerdy looking dudes barely holding the attention of anyone in attendance. Yes, there were a few good shows, but I assure you there were even more terrible ones. We had to experience all of the stuff that new bands go through; equipment problems, travel problems, overly long set lists, a lack of banter between songs and just general sucking on stage. We were paying dues, thankfully to a small and somewhat merciful audience.
As we started to get better we followed the lead of our friends and later started to play some out of town shows. Hickory, Johnson City, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Wilmington, etc. Eventually we did get to open for a few headliners. The show that seemed like the high water mark for us was when we got to open for Antiseen. I presumed that would be as good as it got for us. We kept playing and I figured that when we all got done with school we’d call it quits and go our separate ways. Wow, was I wrong.