Hum was the first band that I felt really had the ability to rip my soul from my chest. I bought the album the winter of 8th or 9th grade after hearing their single Stars play on Detroit radio’s 89X. You’d Prefer An Astronaut became one of the most quintessential albums of my youth. It seemed that all of my friends simultaneously picked them up too. There was a guy that ran in our circle of friends who cyclically turned from drugs to Jesus all the while wooing the girls with his guitar, bringing tears to their eyes as he sang “I thought you’d be there holding daisies you’d always wait for me.”
Instantly I knew that I had to play guitar. Though I didn’t get my first electric guitar until after graduation I took advantage of plugging the floor models into a Boss Distortion and MXR Phase 90 pedal and disseminating drop d guitar riffs. I consistently listened to this album every day for four years. My own lyrics poorly imitated Matt’s with dreamy references to radar, circuitry, blue lights, and radio frequencies.
Even now as I look at the album cover there is something comforting about the two shades of green and that zebra staring back at me. My first Graphic Arts project my senior year, I replicated the very cover for a sketch pad. My instructors tried to talk me out suggesting I wait until I develop the skills to reproduce the zebra on the light board. Far from a printer’s perfect I went ahead with the task and I got an A.
I eventually learned to play every song on the album my favorite being I Hate It Too. I used to sit on my suburban porch during the summer strumming out the rhythm on my ovation guitar, pounding the base of my palm below the sound hole to simulate the heavy drums. I played it so much apparently that one day when I was pissed at something or someone I was strumming at nearly twice the speed and my dad came out to smoke a cigaret commented about half way through, “That’s not how fast that goes.”
“Huh?” I said sort of snapping out if it, “No I guess not.”
I started over this time playing a bit slower. When it came to the part when the distortion was to kick in I broke my low E string as I strummed too hard trying to buzz the strings.
Suicide Machine reminds me of the squealing tired I always seemed to hear in the distance behind the sound of automatic sprinklers on warm spring nights around midnight. My bedroom window faced Fort Street and I could smell the Detroit River less than a mile away. The airport beacon from Gross Ile municipal in the distance alternated white and green on clear nights as I played the forty-five minutes this album had to offer over and over again laying on my floor staring up into my ceiling fan.