Song: Boulder Rocks
Band: Ham Hoc War Lox
Release date: 1993
From: Semi-Omnipotent (Independent Cassette Release)
Singer-songwriter Gregory Ego explains the inspiration behind the song:
If you ask me who my early guitar inspirations were, I’d have to cite–in addition to, say, Johnny Ramone, Richie Blackmore, Steve Jones–a jolly fellow named Kirk Gill. (Jolly, that is, when he wasn’t listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall.) I met Gill, while attending the University of Colorado from 1982-1984. We eventually went on to form Ham Hoc War Lox, the first band I ever creaked and croaked within. I learned loads about riffing and about playing lead from Gill, translating the rudimentary lessons I picked-up from the book Improvising Rock Guitar (complete with flexi-disc!) into practical action. Back in those dorm days, Gill already had the basic riff to our future song Boulder Rocks. I relished hearing him play it, watching his fingers move effortlessly over the frets (or so it seemed to me, given my own skill level), bobbing my head to its throbbing beat with a goofy grin on my face, and trying to figure out how to reproduce it on my own guitar. I added lyrics and, I believe, the bridge part of the song. Good to go. Along with a solid bassist, Craig Ellisor (who leapt from country & western to our brand of thump ‘n’ grind), and the late, rhythmically-challenging (as opposed to rhythmically-challenged) drummer Chad Ferguson, we played it out live by the late ‘80s at alt-rock dumps.
Call my view on Boulder as divided as the Continental Divide. I’ve loved certain aspects (e.g., the scenery), disliked others (e.g., a tendency towards Yuppie haughtiness). But I’ve always been fascinated by the salmagundi of its citizenry. On campus, free speech on the UMC Plaza meant listening to raving preachers who warned, for instance, of infernal hell as a result of ingesting your girlfriend’s juices via cunnilignus. There was also that tall, long-haired, bespectacled John Birch Society mouthpiece in shorts and t-shirt, making hay over the International Communist Conspiracy. In Boulder, I took a few meditation lessons from a devotee of Swami Rudrananda (of Rudi’s bread moniker fame), and he told me a great conspiracy theory about the Bermuda Triangle and missing military jets. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg occasionally lived in town, providing poetics on matters of the heart, as well as, ahem, ass-love. I used to buy pot from a talented sculptor, and member of the Church of the SubGenius, who would pull out bits of my quarter-ounce purchase to weigh from a garbage pail filled with haphazardly-cured bud. Mow-‘em-down Soldier of Fortune magazine and how-to militaristic publisher Paladin Press (which was to face lawsuits over the Hit Man book it published) were both based in Boulder, lending a martial undercurrent to the otherwise, why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along? vibes. There were science nerds and art fags. I lived down the hall from Robb Squires, a future member of Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and I would watch his then-band TJ and the Twist (which also included Todd and the drummer) play covers of ‘50s and ‘60s oldies; say what you will about their later ventures, zine readers, they rocked! Our dorm also housed a punk rocker, who fished commercially in Alaska during summer breaks, hauling in salmon—and hauling-off and hitting people in bars. (I briefly considered joining him in The Last Frontier, but opted wisely, I think, against not-going-west-young-man.)
It’s an exaggeration, but, at the time in Boulder, it almost seemed like you had to choose between Izod shirts or patchouli.
Instead, I chose Denver.
(Gregory Ego is the singer-songwriter nom de rock ‘n’ roll of Gregory Daurer. As a journalist, his articles and interviews have appeared in Juxtapoz, High Times, 5280, Culture, Draft, Salon, The Huffington Post, and Headpress. He’s the author of the novel A Western Capitol Hill. Daurer maintains a blog site devoted to his photos of artists, writers, and musicians. In addition to his Gregory Ego musical enterprise, he also participates in recording project entitled Reverend Lead Pipe and His Pipe-Wielding Swingers.)