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As I prepared to move here from New Jersey in 1988, I kept hearing the same thing: “It’s all plastic Hollywood showbiz hair-metal people trying to make it big. You will not succeed and you will hate it.”

Yet I instinctively knew not to listen. SST Records was here, along with most of my favorite bands. The one person I knew who’d made the journey, my friend Ben Chatrer, told me that while it was financially “disastrous” trying to stay afloat doing temp work, he still managed to make the rent and eat something every day. I decided to give it a shot; saved up $1000 and bought a round-trip ticket.

I showed up with no drum set, no car and no place to live, yet found myself a member of two different bands inside of two weeks.

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Crawlspace had placed a Recycler ad describing themselves as a “working band with vinyl” and looking for a drummer into “MC5, Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth” that I saw and circled on my first morning walk around McArthur Park. Rommelz Gogglez were students at Otis/Parsons that lived down the hall from Ben’s friend Gina who was letting me crash on her floor. To my surprise, both bands were willing to drive me around to practice with a barely functional there-piece drum kit I bought in a Marina Del Rey garage for $100, helped me rig up cinderblocks to keep the kick drum in place and grabbed the one cymbal for me when it went flying off the makeshift stand.

I played my first show with Crawlspace on December 8 at the now-defunct Bebop Records in Reseda, exactly six weeks after I arrived. It was the furthest thing from Hollywood showbiz you could have imagine, about thirty people gathered on folding chairs in the aisles of a small record shop. But before we played, I was shown a letter from Jello Biafra, who'd gotten a copy of the compilation album Gimme The Keys!, the first recorded appearance of most of the bands in our little sub-scene (Claw Hammer, Fearless Leader, Thirsty Brats), giving high praise to the Crawlspace tracks. In the midst of this entirely modest scene all I could think was, "Holy crap! Jello Biafra likes our band! I've fucking ARRIVED!"

And so, the second half of my life has been defined by LA. I'm grateful for the opportunity to know all the wonderful musicians I've played with, the incredible people I've known and especially, my beautiful wife. All of this could have turned out a lot different if the people I ran across in the first two months of life here had not bent over backwards for a bus-riding drummer and helped me find my way. I was real close to using that round trip more than once.

So to Ben, Gina, Axis, Adam, Mark, Eddy, Sarge, Billy Ray, Keith, Corncrapper, Flytrapper, Betsy, Robin and Alien Rock: today I am grateful for all of you.

Photo courtesy of Nitro 101 via flickr.