By: James Cassar
On Deck This Week: I’m With The Band
Before I crossed the threshold of Tuscarora, before I wrote the award-winning, jaw-dropping novel The Asphalt Diaries, and before scores of ladies fell at my feet because they discovered my attractiveness, I called Michigan my home. Even though I say I’m from Detroit so people think I’m more hardcore than a stale apple, I attended school in the suburbs, even though adjacent to this fine private school was a minimum-security prison and a lowly apartment complex shadier than a Floridian palm tree. The school was Notre Dame Preparatory, which took its look and feel from the similarly-named university that many of my classmates drooled over. That school and my school had one thing in common: there was a short dreamer who sucked at sports. But unlike Rudy, I wasn’t a hobbit, and I found fortune in something other than football: a ragtag rock band. And I use the term “band” lightly.
We began as NoTagBacks!, a strange amalgamation of synth-rock and alternative punk, even though we had never written a song apart from the 2,000+ lyric bits I wrote as Facebook statuses back in 2009. Eventually we got more serious, actually made the effort to learn our instruments, and rechristened our group Cut Through Static. We had a MySpace page with three friends. As far as I’m concerned, we were more legitimate than Justin Bieber’s love child.
In December, after I honorably floundered my Algebra II exam, our school staged this Battle of the Bands competition un-cleverly titled RockShow, where only half of the bands fit under that genre. We were on the roster second-to-last, so we had time to have a brotherly team huddle, bite our nails nervously, and consider other careers away from music. Chris Koo (from the moderately-popular hardcore band Alive, In Standby) had his Owl City-esque side project running a better race than a self-motivated swim coach set to warm up the cafetorium (exactly what it sounds like) while we began to sob quietly and brace ourselves for rotten tomato showers.
Covered head-to-toe in shot nerves with stomachs full of half-digested Arizona Tea and Jimmy John’s, CTS set sail for their maiden voyage. I was the keyboardist and devilishly handsome vocalist, but as far as I was concerned, I could’ve been Leo DiCaprio at the bottom of the Atlantic at that moment: I was frozen. Halfway through blink-182’s 80s-ripoff romp “Always,” I realized something that every Disney sports team does: miracles happen, dawg.
After modest applause and a mosh pit like one at a show for The Wiggles¸ it was my turn to woo the wenches. I flipped my hair like a scene kid about 15 times (YouTube it), pointed at unlucky lasses in the crowd during a rowdy rendition of Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” and engaged in witty PG-rated banter where I mispronounced plethora two different ways. Aw yeah, rock star status.
Our final song of the evening was Muse’s “Hysteria,” a killer of a performance that took the world by storm. Well, I guess having people chant your name and sing along with your off-key grunting can be likened to Nicki Minaj’s performance at the Grammys. We took our bows, slid our instruments off to stage left, and let the votes rush in. Oh, yeah, I invited my entire extended family, so we won. Viva democracy, trick.
The point is, before all y’all discovered the dashing and undoubtedly daring soul that is James Cassar, he had a short career as a hopeless romantic vocalist who like Master Bieber himself, had a gorgeous head of hair. At least I know when to stop making music.