How Bjornson came to be a Hippy: “A” is for audition

December 30th, 2008 by Bjornson in Remembering When..., The Band

Sometime during the summer of 1983 I received a phone call at my mothers house. I remember my mom saying “there’s some man on the phone for you”. I was only 17 at the time so I was taken aback when I heard Thoms low voice saying “I friend of mine heard you play drums at the Marshall Music drum off, and we’re looking for a drummer. Are you interested?

The LHB already had a reputation for being a working band. Certainly a step up from the garage and basement parties me and my musical peers were participating in.

I had no car at this point so my mother agreed to take me to practice…..Until I told her the address, near the corner of Cedar St. and Grand River…

NO WAY! I can still hear her say…. You see, I was a rather sheltered kid from Grand Ledge. But after some sweet talking, there I was outside the hippy house with my Promark SD1 General drumsticks. Thom had said there would be drums there. I knocked on the door, waved goodbye to my mom, and stepped over the threshold into a whole new reality.

The drums were a complete mess. Pearl as I recall, single headed toms, cracked cymbals, just pitiful. I’ve always been a bit of a “gear premadonna”, spending considerable time, energy and money on the tools of the trade. This would be the one time I played someone else’s drums… EVER….. Still won’t to this day.. Worse however was the smell of rotten fish that completely filled the house, even covering up the heavy cigarette and weed cloud. You see Thom had gone fishing two days previous, and the guts were just beginning to fester in the mid summer kitchen garbage can.

If I recall correctly, Rick was playing bass, with Tim Swartz and Thom on guitar and Jim Early on the keys.

This was the first of the LHB lineups I was a part of, and one of my favorites. I had quite a reputation as a “Punk Rock” drummer, meaning I could play LOUD, FAST and Solid. I also loved to turn the groove around a bit, ala the Police’s Stuart Copland, cranking out a up-tempo reggae feel whenever it felt appropriate. This was obviously a 180 degree turnaround from the previous Hippy drummers, and I felt it brought a certain vibe to the songs that hadn’t existed before.(or since). Honestly I was much younger than everyone else, and had never heard most of the songs before. So I made up my own parts, and tried to play my ass off.? No one ever complained, so I never held back. Selfish, young and dumb??? Yup.. all three… But like a youthful quarterhorse bucking around the pasture, It was lovely….pure energy. I recall we practiced for a few hours that afternoon. I was offered drink and smoke but I passed. I would have to ride home with mom.