On Saturday, at 7:30 PM, the name Josh Holt appeared on my caller-ID.
“Scott, man, he’s dead. He’s dead, man.”
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I am only one of two people in the history of the world to have ever had a confrontation with Scott Hall, easily one of the nicest and most caring and sincere people you could ever meet. I’ll tell you about the first guy, then the second. And I’ll tell you about a little band called Anti-Lou and how it was born.
But first, five quick things I always think about when I think of Scott:
- He never wore a shirt when we were in high school, except to the prom, and when he wore a shirt, it was a tank top. He is the only human being I know born after 1980 that could pull off a tank top and not look foolish. Scott = tank top
- “Song 2” by Blur
- Camel cigarettes, Coors Light
- He called women “sugar” and “sweetie” but in a kind, sincere way. If you didn’t know Scott from Adam, you would assume he was trying to pick up every woman he talked to by calling them “sugar” and/or “sweetie” but that was just Scott. It was genuine
- Drums. Drummer. Anti-who? Anti-Lou
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April 1996 (or possibly 1995): The First Guy
The first time I met Scott he was wearing a bloodied, torn Nirvana: Unplugged in New York t- shirt. It was Earth Day, a once booming event, in Charlotte Court House, Virginia. If my memory serves me correctly, and that’s up for debate, he was in eighth grade, and I was in ninth.1 He was “going with” Addie (I believe, or was it Kathleen? Ah, youth. I can’t remember), and I was hanging out with my cousin Robbie, who was dating Mary, Addie’s older sister. We approached Scott and Addie (or Kathleen or some other female. Come on, brain!) in front of the library, and asked what was going on, considering the tattered and red-splotched shirt on Scott’s back.
Someone had challenged Scott to a fight in the library garden, and Scott, pale, thin bodied with every vein in his body poking through his skin like burrowing worms, had, in turn, obliged, busting the kid’s lip and bloodying his nose. I can’t remember the kid’s name now but I remember that, at the time, he ran his mouth a lot in this adolescent alpha-male sort of way. Scott made him beta-male for the day.
As was the style at the time for us skinny folks, Robbie was wearing two t-shirts, so he gave Scott his spare. Scott put on the shirt, lit a cigarette, steadied his body against the road sign, thanked Robbie, and we turned and went in opposite directions, presumably off to take home yet another Earth Day Volleyball Championship title from the Sheriff’s Office.
Then Scott disappeared from my life.
|“Louie, Louie” by Anti-Lou.
Released: 1998. Self-titled album. Track 3.
|“Rearview Mirror” by Anti-Lou.
Released: 1998. Self-titled album. Track 4.
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“Whoohoo! Whoohoo! Whoohoo! Whoohoo! I got my head checked. By a jumbo jet. It wasn’t easy. But nothing is. Whoohoo!”
“Song 2” by Blur I will always identify with three people: Rachel Hall, Barry Napier, and Scott Hall; and I can tell you, as I type this, it brings a smile to my face — because it seems like yesterday more than hardly any memory I have: that song, and Rachel’s thumb, which I remember, as a bass player myself, envying, thinking she was genetically pre-determined to be a bass player. Did you ever know that Rachel — I envied your thumb?
It was the summer of 1998 (or was it 1997?) and the rock band I was in with Josh Holt, Dwayne Davis, and Derek Smith, had invited the only other band in the county to join us for an upcoming show at our place of practice, known simply as The Mule Barn.
Rachel’s parents, Sharon and CI, were musicians and had a garage out back where Scott, Barry, and Rachel practiced. Erik Larson would later join them.
That day, Josh, Dwayne, and I rolled into the driveway, and as we opened the door to the garage, “Song 2” went into full chorus mode: “Whoohoo! Whoohoo! Whoohoo! Whoohoo!”
My ear drums rattled with enjoyment.
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The Mule Barn show was epic. I would detail it for you here but I don’t remember much of it because I was sixteen and drunk. What I do remember were two bands, boatloads of beer and Goldschläger, and a sea of bodies who all came to see our two bands perform.
(Also, I saw some pictures from that night and people looked like they were having a lot of fun. But frankly, I just remember the gold flakes in Mary’s Goldschläger)
The consequences of the epic Mule Barn show is how I came to know Scott, not just as the drummer in Rachel and Barry’s band, but as someone I could call friend.
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Word spread to the owner of the Mule Barn about how epic our party was (and how many underage kids were drinking on his property), and as a result, we forever lost the Mule Barn as a practice place.
From there we bounced around other temporary practice locales. That is, until one day, Derek told us he found a house off Firetower Road between Phenix and Charlotte Court House. By way of morse code or smoke signal, I’m not sure which since no one owned a cell phone then, I got in touch with Josh and Dwayne. Together, the four of us, a band literally without a name, moved our musical equipment to the second floor of this old white house. Finally, a place to call home. Derek hit the lights on the breaker and we started rocking.
About two weeks later, Dwayne and Josh stopped by my house. Dwayne didn’t look very happy.
“Hey, man,” Josh said. “We have to get our stuff from the white house.”
(That’s what we called it actually, the “white house”)
“Why’s that?” I responded. “Kicked out?”
“No,” Josh replied. “We’re trespassing. We never had permission to practice there. Derek lied. Sheriff’s office found out we were there.”
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Because of this incident, Derek, our drummer, gets in a wee bit of trouble with his parents and has to quit the band.
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Not long after, and you’ll have to excuse my memory if I am getting this wrong, Barry returns to college. Scott, as a result, is looking for a band. Dwayne reaches out.
We book what is known as “Drakes Days” in Drakes Branch, Virginia, and start rehearsing with Scott. Still without a name, but with a new home, the Carwile cabin in Madisonville, and with a sore spot from being kicked out of the legendary Mule Barn, I jokingly throw out the name “Anti-Lou” as in “Anti-the guy who kicked us out of the Mule Barn.”2
It’s not as terrible a name as two other band name finalists, “Government Cheese” or “Burrito Fuzz” (not sure what was up with the food names), so we stick with it.
Anti-Lou is officially born.
Or “An-tee Lou” is officially born, which is how we were introduced on stage at Drakes Days.3
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At this point I could attempt to rehash the early days of Anti-Lou, and onward to our VH1-like rise to fame at Randolph Henry High School:
- Talent show winners
- T-shirts printed
- Album recorded
But that would take a really, really, really long time, and I would get more dates incorrect than what I am currently getting incorrect, so I will summarize in a stream-of-consciousness like paragraph styling, what went down from 1998-2000:
cup flies off wall toilet won’t flush ghost in tree naked people in canoe naked people fishing naked people playing cards catching wood after passing out in front of everyone at the cabin cow shit between ben’s toes cow shit between josh’s toes cow shit on mattress vodka hidden under cabin people getting tackled trying to leave party cow attacking brandon shepherd’s car like seriously attacking his car as in i will hump your car if you try to leave this pasture type of car attack scraping puke out of ricky’s mouth coors light who drinks coors light how about hurricane or king cobra the good stuff brandon’s butt crack parents’ van stolen then won’t crank camel cigarettes can i have one of your camel cigarettes kari josh becky john howard tc shauna addie ricky rick brian dustin brandon tad blaire kim kelly rick ben kate rachel ghost of ray all the regulars and i know i am forgetting someone and i apologize second epic party…
Which all eventually led to us, yet again, getting kicked out of our practice space.
RIP The cabin.
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With nowhere to go, and apparently everyone aware of the Anti-Lou shenanigans, we land in Scott’s upstairs bedroom in Drakes. Four guys, three amps, two guitars, one bass guitar, a small PA system, and a set of drums.
Boy was that shit loud.
All these years later and I feel like Pete Townsend from The Who — deaf. What was that? I said, all these years later and I feel like Pete Townsend from The Who — deaf.
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Shows later, months later: The Second Guy
Fueled by teenage mood swings and too much nicotine, Scott and I almost come to blows during practice.
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One of the last skills for a teenager to develop is good communication. There is such a whirlwind of emotions, mood swings, and general anxiety, that being able to effectively communicate your feelings for me ended up in a build up of suppressed lack of vocalization in which I would later erupt like a volcano with my emotions splattering all over the place. Usually not a pretty scene. Now that I have two children of my own I get to look forward to having that happen to me in a decade or so.
They are already not listening to me.
I asked my wife the other day, I said, because my daughter was totally not listening to a word I said, and so I asked my wife, “When do they start listening again?”
And my wife said, “Do you listen to your mom?”
And I was like, “Aw, crap.”
And so that brings me to the point of the demise of Anti-Lou. It was inevitable. What began years before as just four guys who wanted to play music together, well, who just wanted to play music, came to a head.
It gets to a point where you are like, you just want to play a certain type of music. We all liked a different style of music. Dwayne and Scott had a little bit of differences but were mostly on the same page with their style of music. The style of music they liked, there was nothing wrong with it. I just didn’t like that style of music at all. I really didn’t.
They were more kind of like a hard rock, an angrier, type sound, I think. I don’t think that’s a misclassification of the music type. I do think for an outside listener you would look at it or hear it as an angrier type of sound. I was in the vein of , I was more into punk rock, plain and simple, that’s what I wanted to play. Josh was kind of like, he liked an alternative, slightly bubble gum pop-punk but not really because he wasn’t into punk then. He was more alternative like The Flys or Marcy’s Playground or something.
We never sat down and had the discussion.
We never took the time to say to each other, “Okay, can we make this work? Can we like different music and still make songs together and enjoy it? Can we find a happy medium?”
We never had that discussion, so really, it could, really it could only end one way. It could only end one way when you let frustration grow and grow and you know, you’re young, and you don’t understand what it takes to be an effective communicator.
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Then one fateful night at Spanky’s Bar and Grill in Lynchburg, it all reaches a boiling point. Dwayne and Scott start playing some improvised, crunchy hard rock song that goes on forever and then I just, I remember sitting down on my amp and just saying to myself, “Fuck this. I’m done” and I unplug and walk off stage. Scott and I have some words and Dwayne tries to break it up and I say something to Dwayne. I can’t even tell you what I said to either now. That’s what’s so sad. It’s like fighting with your spouse. Whatever you were arguing about likely didn’t amount to a hill of beans, which is why, when you think about it a month later, you can’t even remember what you were arguing about in the first place.
And just like that, Anti-Lou had played its last show.
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That stretch of time when I dismissed myself from Dwayne and Scott was one of the darkest periods in my life. Sure, I had other friends but groups of friends cross over in Charlotte County, and I did whatever I could to avoid them, which meant shooting basketball by myself in Phenix a lot of weekends. They went on to form another band and get another house. Then one day Josh knocks on my front door and says, “Party tonight at Scott and Dwayne’s. You should come.”
Reluctantly I agree, expecting to have a confrontation with Scott. I arrive at the house fully anticipating to get in a fight that night. It seems silly now. It is.
I walk in the back door into the kitchen and Scott walks past in the hallway, stops, turns around, and says, “Hey Jeff. Good to see you here. Glad you could make it” and puts out his hand.
We shake, and that was it. It was all over.
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It has been a good three years since I last saw Scott. I remember it well because it was when Allison and I broke the word she was pregnant with our first child. It was at Kelly’s wedding. Before the night was over, Anti-Lou reunited for one last photo shoot.
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In a few days, the old cabin crew will meet up again. It will be the first time in a very long time that many of us will be together again in the same room — just like old times. I wish I could say it were for a happy occasion, but it is not.
I know that they, like me, have been overcome with a flood of memories since Saturday. For me, Scott’s death has not sunk in yet. Wednesday it will be real and I don’t want it to be real. Scott was 32—like me, like us. We don’t just die unexpectedly at 32. We’re still young. But sometimes we do.
The Anti-Lou days were fun and I will never forget them. We were the American Pie generation—the movie that is. Pre-Facebook. Pre-Smartphone. We still took pictures with a Kodak disposable camera. College hadn’t torn us from our planted homes yet and cast us in different directions. Nope. We were just stupid high school kids playing in a rock band in the middle of a cow pasture in Madisonville, Virginia, and it was great.
The world lost one of the good ones Saturday.
So did Anti-Lou.
I’ll miss you Scott.
We’ll all miss you.
Thank you for letting me be a part of your life, even if only a little while. Liz and your family were blessed to have you a little more than the rest of us.
P.S. I’ll make sure Josh doesn’t play The Lesbian Song.
Click individual images to view larger in lightbox
Photos totally rogued from Kelly, Tad, and Addie. Thank you for capturing these memories
Author’s note: I have some really cool pictures at my parents’ house I would have loved to have put up. Unfortunately, that is two hours away. I’ll try to update this post accordingly when I next visit home and can scan them in.
- He very well may have been in seventh and me in eighth. ↩
- I know this seems like an asshole thing to do, and looking back on it now, it was (naming our band this), but we were young and didn’t really mean anything bad by it. It was more just a way to move on from the Mule Barn. I was actually related to Lou and he was a good guy and had every right to kick us out. I would have done the same thing. I mean, there was a sea of underage people drinking on his property and he could have gotten in deep shit. ↩
- They kept on and on with this pronunciation. ↩