How a ‘00s metalcore band named after a street in The Simpsons helped me finally become a runner…
The year was 2001. I was a 16 year-old obsessed with a genre of music called metalcore — though back then the preferred nomenclature in my clique was metallic hardcore. I ordered hoodies and beanies out of mail-order catalogs from bands called Strife, Disembodied and All Out War. I briefly deemed anything musical that didn’t have lyrics about burning down unjust political institutions, “corny.”
This was pre-MySpace so I primarily discovered new music at the local used CD store, Big Daddy’s. (I can’t wait to try to explain a used CD store to my toddler sons who already bump Raffi in their carseats on their mom’s built-in Spotify account.) Sometimes you could find what you were looking for on Napster — though the number of times my mom picked up the cord-ed telephone and crashed my 12 hour, overnight download of a single MP3 remains a teenage existential scar.
Then we discovered MP3.com. On MP3.com, you didn’t have to download a song, you could “stream” it. Unbelievable. Not only that, any band with a 56.6k modem could put their own music on the site. It was too good to be true.
One day, as I was scouring MP3.com for bands that sounded like Earth Crisis, I found Evergreen Terrace. The songs were thick with distortion and bullet-speed, double-kick drumming. The album was called Losing All Hope is Freedom. Right on the money for 16 year-old me. It was dark, ominous and much like the other bands I’d fallen in love with.
But it soon dawned on me why the name sounded so familiar. Evergreen Terrace is the street that Bart Simpson lives on. Then I got into the songs and found a tune called, “Tevas Suck.” While I wholeheartedly agreed with that stance at the time, the record’s lighthearted whit felt, well, “corny.” So unlike the bands listed above, Evergreen Terrace did not earn itself a burnt CD in my CaseLogic.
In 2006, I was touring in the sort of band I adored back in 2001. We were called First Blood and we took ourselves very seriously despite being named after a Rambo movie and naming our full-length, Killafornia. We were blessed with the opportunity to open a 6-week tour for hardcore godfathers Agnostic Front in Europe and jumped at the chance #DreamComeTrue. There are many important stories from this tour, some shareable on a professional network, others DEFINITELY not.
*Yes, that is me making a terrible decision.
But for the sake of this story, I will simply share that at a festival in the north of Italy we landed on a stage with hardcore’s scariest hardcore band, Madball, metal’s most brutal metal band, Obituary, and, yes… Evergreen Terrace.
From the first giant smile and overtly intense handshake from their guitarist, I could tell that these guys were intense… intensely nice and sincere. We only played a few shows with them but they were some of the funnest shows of the entire run.
In 2007, I’d quit the band and returned to finishing my degree in Anthropology (a whole other tale). One day, I came across a new Evergreen Terrace record entitled, Wolfbiker. I was legitimately excited to take in the sincerely fun metallic hardcore of my tour buddies. I listened for a few weeks before it drifted off into the then-newly unleashed miasma of the internet stream-life.
Fast forward 11 years. I’m a 33 year-old father of two. I’m getting old and ouuuuuuut of tour shape. I’m realizing that it’s time to get healthier and finally follow through on a long-running ambition to become a long-distance runner. It may have been stories my father told me about running cross-country in his youth, or some long-forgotten HBO special, but I’d always wanted to be able to run like that.
Only problem: one knee surgery, dozens of skateboard ankle injuries and flat feet had always told me it was hopeless. Thing is, dad-strength is a helluva drug. In 2017, I started walking. I walked almost every morning. Through the icy streets of Heber City, Utah in January and up the sunny trails in June. I walked over 100 miles. I could tell all those muscles I’ll never know the name of were getting stronger.
On January 1, 2018, I started to run, straight Forest Gump-ian. I ran every single night that month. And by the end of that month, I was hurtin somethin fierce. I’d done what every single runner I knew told me not to: started too fast. After a week of relaxing and icing arches, I did some research and found a tip for better pacing: play music at a BPM (beat-per-minute) that forces you to stride at the proper speed.
I tried some indie tunes — too Garden State. I tried hip-hop — too 8-Mile montage. Finally, I was scrolling through my hardcore history on Spotify and swiped by Wolfbiker. I hadn’t heard it in all those years. I turned it on and lo and behold there was a track called “Chaney Can’t Quite Riff Like Helmet’s Page Hamilton” that not only made me laugh with its awesomely inside-baseball title, it was also played at exactly the tempo I was shooting to stick to.
Unlike the other genres I’d tried, it was intense, catchy and full of lyrics that made me want to endure:
“Through black and blue, through thick and thin, it takes much more to break this skin. Looks like we finally made it.”
“We’ve had our backs against the wall and all you’ve said we’ve proven wrong. Looks like we’ve finally made it.”
By the end of December I had crushed my goal of running 300 miles by running 5-freakin-hundred miles. The guy who used to limp getting off the elliptical, had become a legit runner. I wasn’t running fast, or elegantly, or anywhere near anyone’s personal record, but I was running. And it made me feel great, physically and emotionally.
I learned this: Sometimes we call things corny because they’re so unabashedly positive that we’re afraid of what others will think of us if we admit we like them. I’ve definitely struggled with presenting my honest, anxious, ridiculous self when I want the people around me to take me “seriously.”
Spoiler Alert: We’re all dorks who should smile and laugh more and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not until we accept the fact that we’re all tall, strange, gangly monkey cousins stumbling around a chunk of rock that’s hurdling through a space we can’t explain that we can accomplish anything of actual importance in this life. Corny is real.
And that’s how a 00s metalcore band named after a street in The Simpsons helped me finally become a runner… and taught me a whole lot more in the process.
P.S. Tevas still suck.