Gravity Kills is more than just a cool name for a great 90’s industrial rock band out of St. Louis.
It’s also a statement of belief.
Gravity DOES kill. In fact, the CDC states that falls are the leading cause of death in older Americans, which i assume means over 60? 70? How old is “older” these days? (And when i say “these days” i mean, these days with all these young whippersnappers and their newfangled technology have it so easy!! It certainly isn’t like back in the good ol’ days when we walked uphill in the snow both ways to school! With a boombox on our shoulder listening to 8 tracks!)
i guess i was an early bloomer because i started falling and seriously injuring myself way back in the OMGi’MWALKING! days of the 1970’s. As long as i’ve been bipedal, i’ve fallen. And i’ve done it in every situation and for every believable (and some not quite so) reason. i’ve sprained/bruised/torn/broken so many things in my body that my chiro declared my back looks like i have “been in a bad car accident” and that i have the “arthritis of an 80 year old” from all of the falls.
And it isn’t just my back. i’ve broken the bones in my feet so many times that docs now just shrug and move on when looking at my X-rays. i mean, what are ya gonna do?
One time, after a remarkably spectacular fall, where somehow i twisted in mid-air trying to minimize the damage and managed to make it Opposite Day and injure all the things, i showed up yet again at the local ER and they had to X-ray EVERY SINGLE BONE on the left side of my body because of all the damage i’d done.
They were incredulous.
i was not.
i always was an overachiever.
And i remember once, while lying yet again on the floor and trying to assess if anything was too badly damaged to attempt to get up, my exasperated sweetheart bent over me and asked, “Can’t you be more aware of your surroundings???”
25 years and many ER trips later, i would hazard to guess that no, sweetie, i actually am NOT able to be “more aware” of my surroundings.
Because my “surroundings” seem to be made of left over obstacle-course props that have been strewn randomly around me in an attempt to capture the perfect hidden camera moment – except the hopeful future YouTube channel masterminds all went out to the local strip club for jello shots and ended up hungover the next day in a San Francisco bathhouse not knowing where they left their pants let alone their car, cameras and all their obstacle crap and so moved on to lip-syncing Beyoncé selfies while road-tripping with their grandmothers.
So…yeah. Gravity and i have never been friends.
But Gravity KILLS, the band, was one of my besties!!
i LOVED them! In fact, i saw them on tour in Eugene, OR in the mid-90’s and had at least one of their albums. (Did they have more than one?)
Gravity Kills was part of a handful of bands mixing industrial music with rock music, forming a new genre cleverly titled “Industrial Rock.”
Gravity Kills put on a wild ride of a show complete with a 300 pound keyboard mounted on a giant spring that bounced and tilted from side to side with which band founder and keyboardist Doug Firly both simultaneously fiercely fought and adeptly played. In fact, it was a lost battle involving this same keyboard that proved to be the demise of the band. The heavy instrument fell and shattered a finger in Firly’s right hand, causing the band to end their tour and seek treatment during the course of which much of their studio had to be dismantled and sold.
Keyboard = 1. Man = 0.
Gravity Kills (the BAND) was a lot of things.
But they were not Stabbing Westward.
Staying Westward was a contemporary band, doing “industrial metal”. They too had heavy guitars, an emotionally intense and heavily eyelined rock singer and a similarly heavy (as in poundage) keyboard. The difference? Stabbing Westward’s keyboard was NOT mounted on a spring, so their career went much further, including a current reunion tour and new music. No, that baby stayed in one place, while Walter Flakus, with all ten fingers, pounded away in pure rock ecstasy, making head banging, lip sneering music that i fell for, head over heavy Doc Martin boots.
However…that was a long time ago.
And my memory, like my bones, has broken over the years and sometimes trying to pull complete remembrances out of that ether is like trying to solidify and catch a Dementor in Hogwarts…i just can’t seem to get the entirety of the impression and my failed attempts often result in less-than-happy moments. A Happy Catastrophy.
And that shortcoming, leads me to one of my Top Three Most Embarrassing Moments with a Star.
In a supreme moment of planetary alignment, i found myself in a dive bar in Eugene OR, at the feet of Christopher Hall, lead singer of Stabbing Westward. He was on a solo tour and in iconic rock-star stance on the stage RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME! i swear to all the rock gods everywhere, he was singing right TO ME!!!
i could’ve died.
i should have died.
Maybe then we could have avoided the total train wreck that happened next.
But instead, after the show, i forced my way through the crowds to tell him how much i loved him. When i made my way up to his merchandise table, and he turned his attention me, i was so caught up in the moment and completely star struck (and let’s face it, slightly drunk) i blurted out, “OMG i LOVE you!! You were so good! i saw you decades ago when you toured here in Eugene!”
He looked baffled.
“Ummm…” he said. “I don’t think we’ve ever played here before.”
“No! You did!” I exclaimed excitedly with a slight slur. “I saw you! At the Hult Center! You were amazing.”
“Well.” Chris seemed confused but being a POLITE rock star, he responded, “There were a lot of drugs in those days. Honestly, I don’t remember all the places we played. But I’m pretty sure we never stopped in Eugene. I would have to check with my manager but I don’t remember it at all.”
i smiled brightly, still unaware of the danger right around the corner and barreled on.
“No! Seriously! You were here and I was like in the third row! OMG you guys killed it! Especially with that bouncing keyboard on a spring thing? That was SO cool!”
At this, Polite Rockstar straightened and his smile faded.
“That was Gravity Kills.” He said flatly.
“No! I’m sure it was you! Wasn’t it?” i’m still grinning like a slightly (less) drunk Cheshire cat but inside a voice is screaming, “shut up! shut up! shut up!”
“No. That was Gravity Kills.” He repeated, and then looked past me to the next avid fan, effectively dismissing me and my remarkable stupidity.
“Oh.” i respond, not sure what i could possibly say here. Except, “Well, anyway…loved your show!”.
Which i did.
Then i slunk (staggered) away without buying a cd. Cuz that’s how i ROLL.
Today, years later and looking through my old photos, i realize the only piece of proof that any of this happened was gone. i had taken one amazing photo of him up close and singing (to me!!) on stage but the photo was lost in the Great Computer Crash/Why Don’t i Back Up Things? Disaster of 2015.
So, there’s that.
i wonder sometimes if i am the subject of touring horror stories told late at night when rock stars meet up for a few beers.
“Yeah? Well get this…one time we toured some small shit town in Oregon and this drunk chick talked to me after the show and didn’t even know what BAND we were! Yeah dudes…she thought we were f***ing Gravity Kills!