The Beatles in their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Hendrix plays the U.S. National Anthem at Woodstock. Queen’s entire set at Live Aid. Some performances become pivotal moments in the history of music and society as a whole while others are simply raw demonstrations of pure artistry, remembered forever as pinnacles of culture and human achievement. The Forgotten Disciples appearance at the PMA gymnasium is neither of those things, but since John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, and Freddie Mercury all happened to have scheduling conflicts on the day of interview, Eric Dot Com sat down with one of the former members of The Forgotten Disciples and got an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at the band and their landmark performance.
[Author’s note: Names have been modified to protect the privacy of those involved]
Ego Strawinsky, former Forgotten Disciple, sat down across from me. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Tang,” he said, offering me a big handshake.
I took his real, corporeal hand into mine. He seemed way taller than I thought he would be; Ego is never as big as you think until you are staring it in the face. “Thanks for meeting me. I know how busy you rock and roll stars get.”
“Aw, it’s no problem. I love telling these stories. I tell them to everyone I meet. I told them to this one girl twice, on back to back dates. She stopped hanging out with me after that.”
I popped a tape into the recorder and hit the button.
For those who are not familiar, The Forgotten Disciples was a Christian Rock band formed at Presentation of Mary Academy around the year 2014.
Eric Dot Com: Why don’t you tell me a bit about the band’s early days. How was it formed?
Strawinsky: So I went to a small, Catholic high school, maybe 250 students or so in total. There wasn’t much going on in the population ‘cause there wasn’t a lot of people, but we had a buncha guitar players. And by guitar players I mean they would do those mass songs. I ain’t been to mass since I became a rock star and all that, so I don’t remember what they’re called, but it’s those short, easy to learn phrases which are like three chords. Anyways, and it was kind of inevitable, one day two of them, Blyle and Blate, must have just sat down and been like, “You know how to play guitar, and I know how to play guitar. Let’s make a band.” As far as I know, that’s how the band was formed.
EDC: So where do I... I mean where do you come into the picture?
Strawinsky: Well, originally, I was in the percussion section of the school band. I didn’t make the cut to be a pianist so I ended up in percussion playing triangle and shit. That came with its own challenges, but I figured it was time to live up to my full potential as a musician. Since everyone already knew how to play guitar, I decided to learn bass. After a few months, I was just hanging out in the band room when Blenrie, who was my and Blate’s friend, just came over and was like, “Hey dude, want to play in our band?”
EDC: Tell me a little more about the other members in the band. What were they like?
Strawinsky: Well, there was Blyle, who was the leader of the band. He booked all our shows ‘cause he knew all the priests and the clergy dudes, big Jesus fan and all. I didn’t really talk to him at all before or since. We had absolutely nothing in common. There was this one car ride to a show which was one of the two times I felt like I was going to die in a car. Shifting gears, he looked over at me and was like, “You’ve never ridden in a manual, have you? You’re probably gonna get whiplash like that.” By his own admission, he drives like a race car driver; absolute maniac.
Blate was a chill penguin. Punk rock kind of guy, so he didn’t really jive with the whole Christian rock thing, but there are only so many competent guitarists you can partner with, ya know? I didn’t really talk to him much either; he was just from a different social circle, but I sympathized with him more and we were able to joke around on occasion.
Blenrie... Well. Like most percussionists, he was fucking nuts. He was the only guy I actually talked with outside of the band. That’s all I’m gonna say about Blenrie.
EDC: He was the only one? Sounds like you were pretty disconnected from the band as a whole.
Strawinsky: Here’s how in tune with the rest of the band I was: One time, after a gig, we went to 99s or some shit. I got my delicious plate of chicken fingers and without thinking, I just went at it. I’ve got three or four in my mouth when Blenrie taps my shoulder and is like, “Dude.” I look around and everyone has their hands folded and heads down, giving me the side eyes.
I was, y’know, the quiet bassist. I showed up for rehearsals and I showed up for shows, but I was just so not interested in getting pulled into the inevitable drama. It was a lot of fun to watch from a distance, but what kind of high schooler has time for drama? The smart ones avoid it, the dumb ones cry about it and become writers.
EDC: I hear there was a lot of drama going into the talent show. But first, tell me about how you heard about it.
Strawinsky: Uh- What the fuck else is happening in high school? If there’s a schoolwide talent show, one you get classes off for, you hear about it. And, just like how it’s inevitable for two guitarists locked in a room together to start a band, when someone asked, “Are you guys playing the talent show??” it was kind of like, “Shit, I guess we’re doing this shit.”
EDC: You were skeptical.
Strawinsky: For the same reason I don’t appear on the album [Author’s Note: I’m not sure if this album actually exists, but if anyone can confirm its existence, for the love of God, please let me know. I will do anything to have a copy.] We were shit. That and I don’t get into vans with Catholics.
The Forgotten Disciples would face many challenges on their journey to the big show. Tensions were high; when Blyle denied Blate’s request to add just one Green Day song to the setlist, the band was almost split apart. But, thanks to Strawinsky’s total indifference, he was spared from caring, and luckily everything worked out in the end. Before they knew it, The Forgotten Disciples found themselves on the stage at the PMA auditorium. It would be a show unlike any other: the biggest show of their lives.
EDC: How do you think you managed to overcome your differences?
Strawinsky: Our differences? Nah dude, you mean Blyle and Blate’s differences. Blenrie and I could have cared less whether or not we played that one Green Day song, whatever it even was. I mean, thank God we played it, ‘cause it would have been super lame to play a set of lame Christian songs, but to be honest just stepping out onto that stage... Man. That was really something else. Didn’t matter what we were playing, just the experience of being on that stage was worth it.
EDC: Why don’t you try to make a scene out of that?
Strawinsky: What can I tell you? It was just a show of four high schoolers doing a show in the school gymnasium. Whatever shit act before us got off, the announcer was like, “Here’s who’s up next”, blah blah blah, then we wheeled out our borrowed amps and gear on to the stage and plugged in. There was no big intro or any spectacle to it, flat gym lighting full on, stage barren and undecorated, kind of smelled like sweaty mats... Yet, the moment we stepped on stage, the crowd lit up.
People were cheering and waving and jumping up at the foot of the stage. And it wasn’t for the music; it definitely wasn’t ‘cause we were playing “Your Grace Is Enough” with me forgetting what the third chord was. It was for the band. I don’t know how we did it; maybe it was because we had gone out and done something bigger than just doing homework, working shit jobs, and sending college applications. Maybe it was just because we were the only thing in the gym to distract people from the fact they were stuck in high school. Somehow, in that moment we transcended our status as high schoolers in a shitty Christian rock band and convinced everyone, including ourselves, I think, into believing we were something worth watching, worth listening to.
I’ll never forget when all the girls, including the pretty ones, gathered at the bottom of the stage screaming, “We love you, Ego!” I would mess up my next line trying to give them a little flourish and look back at Blenrie, who would just give me the “rock on, man” sign, ‘cause he and I knew no one cared. We were fucking rock stars. We may not have been playing a sold out stadium, but it sure felt like it. Truly, one of the greatest victories of my life.
I know I give the band a lot of shit, and we were shit, no one will deny that, but I cannot stress enough know how cool it is to be in a high school band. It’s nothing like being in the school band; being in the school band is lame sauce, but a band band is a whole ‘nother level. People who never talked to me before would pass by in the halls and ask things like, “You guys playing any shows soon?” “Where do you guys rehearse?” “I loved seeing you play the other day.” Everyone talks about you, especially when your grade is 50 people. As long as you can play your instrument, you’re cool. Hell, all Blenrie and I could do was hold our instruments, but we were still cool. And for me, that’s as good as I’ve ever had it.
Ego sighed and folded his hands across his lap. “I think we’re close to time here. You got all you wanted? What exactly is the point to this interview?”
I pressed the stop button on the recorder. “I just wanted to get your confession on tape." I reached for the knife I had hidden under the table.
An evil smile crossed Ego’s lips. "You think you've captured me, haven’t you?" he said. Come get me if you can, his expression dared.
“You’ve grown too powerful, Ego! You can’t be allowed to live!” I screamed, lunging at him. To my horror, I found my ankles were handcuffed to the table and I tumbled to the floor. "Shoot!" I said, “When did you-?”
Ego got up and straightened his collar. "You thought you could lure me out with the opportunity to tell my awesome band stories, but you and I are the same person, Mr. Tang. I can read you like a book." He casually stepped over to the door. "By the way,” he said, putting on a pair of aviator sunglasses, “You oughta check that recorder you've been using. I think it's about to run out of tape." He popped open the deck, revealing a deadly block of composition B. "I really should thank you for the interview, though. I'm sure anyone who happens to hear it will say it was nothing short of explosive."
I watched in horror as Ego pressed the play button. As he exited the room, the recorder began ticking. I watched the little red numbers count down, chained to the table. This... was not my day!
Fade to black over a shot of the countdown. Cue a thrilling percussion beat; the brass section swells as the titles zoom by:
Eric Dot Com presents