Crotch Rockets

How about “Snot Rockets?”…”nah”…”CROTCH ROCKETS!” Eric exclaimed, as he casually did a cartwheel off of the roof. This was normal for a teenager with monkey-/cat-/squirrel-/some kind of wily animal-like reflexes. We laughed, but that was the name that stuck. Little did we know it was slang for speedy two-wheeled motor vehicles, until later, but that was the name that stuck.

I met these turkeys at a daytime backyard birthday party (Michael Cirocello’s (sp?), IIRC). There wasn’t a PA, so I was just yelling at the top of my lungs so you could hear me over the music. The improvisational debut was a cover of “When I Come Around” from Green Day. It was fun, so we thought we should keep in touch and see if we could jam some more in the future.

It didn’t take long before we took over the garage at the Nursery: a six-acre property my father and I lived at in Clearwater that become the craziest party pad throughout our teenage years. We weren’t sure who was going to play what for the first couple sessions (there were six of us to begin with), but when the dust finally settled, there were four of us…

Chris

Eddie

Justin

Will (Yours Truly)

Our first song was about a creepy teacher at our middle school who we were pretty sure was a kid toucher: Mr. Rubenstein. He had a summer “tutoring session” at his house called the S.W.I.M. Team (acronym for something something something Mathematics, I think). We ripped the guy pieces.

We started cranking out songs, and it wasn’t long before we recorded our first album, Pissing Off the World, at Atlas Studios with a guy named Nathan.

Around the same time, we had our first show. It was at Junction Pizza on 4th Street, with the Scams and Hard 2 the Left. I’ve never seen another pizza joint with a stage in the back like that. It was a cornerstone venue for a lot of garage bands.

We decided to mastermind a huge show of our own: We Bathe Weekly. We managed to get a couple of well-known and looked-up-to local bands, My Pal Trigger, Discount, and Blank Expression, on the bill. Blank Expression never showed up, but the remaining three of us tore it up for our friends and family. The Nursery was literally a plant nursery for landscaping flora, so we pulled up some of the flatbeds and set up a stage and went to town. I was nervous as hell, and a chick gave me some Ritalin; it was supposed to help or something, but I think it just made me more crazy. The cops showed up several times, but my dad kept dissuading them from shutting us down somehow. One time we even played “Donuts” while they were still lingering. We were little shits.

We played a bunch of local shows and wrote a bunch of songs. We eventually made an EP at Axiom Studios. I don’t know if we ever named it.

Eventually, our buddy Dave Matway (RIP, my dude) took over as manager more or less and connected us with a guy named Vinal. You couldn’t have a more perfect name for someone who was starting a record label. It was called Everybody Loves Records. He had some band from the Midwest called Mixelpricks. There was also a super-badass band from Italy called Beer Bong. Vinal financed our first real professionally recorded album: Pleasant Pandemonium. We chose to record at Audiolab, and it was so awesome working with serious engineers and equipment. Greg Marchek (RIP, as well) was legendary. He taught me what the hell harmonies were, and he knew how to pump up the whole band and crush mixes in his sleep. Every song was in major (melodic) and very long by punk standards. It was our first masterpiece.

We became sort of the house band at Central Skate Park (later 688 Skate Park) down the street from the Nursery, and we met all kinds of other bands there. We played State Theater, The Refuge/Joe Mocha’s, and house parties pretty regularly.

A huge bucket list for me in that band was to play Jannus Landing. My first real show I attended was there, with NOFX, Face to Face, and Ten Foot Pole, and I always wanted to play there since that day. We finally got our chance to play early in the night at Disturbing the Peace Fest. Even though the sun was just setting, looking out at a couple thousand people, shirtless, and throwing out CDs and other swag was surreal.

We played all over Florida, and eventually made friends with Yellowcard, way before they moved to Cali and replaced Ben Dobson with Ryan. We had a fun mini-tour during which we played Georgia Tech and some warehouse (B&L?) in Athens, and we traded shows between Tampa Bay and Jax several times.

Sales with the label must not have been going too well or something, but we had some really awesome concept album we were coming up with, so we self-funded Bigger Faster Disaster. Chris’ brother swooped in and covered the difference when we went over budget towards the end. Thanks, AJ!

We never finished the album art or production/distribution of Bigger Faster Disaster. It became our final hidden gem. We’d developed habits that weren’t letting us go anywhere. We were in our late teens/early 20s, and I guess we just started getting different ideas with what we wanted to do in life. Eddie was getting into the dark side of partying. Chris wanted to make a career in music, so when he left for some recording arts college in Vermont, that was pretty much the end.

We had cataloged over 100 songs in ?five? short years. Those jams still blow me away 20 years later. Love you guys. Eddie, we miss ya.