Eleven years ago, when I was 15 years old I, like most teenagers, was a mess of a kid. To an extent that I still don’t feel entirely comfortable describing, I was severely depressed. I had just reluctantly moved from Ohio to California with my family. I was an acne-ridden teenager anxious about starting over.
What ultimately enabled me to reconcile this fear was the comfort of knowing I was completely unknown. No one at this school could ridicule me by recounting any of my embarrassing adolescent experiences. No one knew about my 6th grade science presentation I did for which the duration of I mistakenly said “orgasm” in place of “organism”, laughing along with my classmates, just like Mom taught me, as if I actually knew what was so funny about it.
However, this restoration of confidence was temporary. I could have never anticipated how divided the school was. At lunch, I felt like I was stepping foot into a prison yard. I had to find the group that would take me in, protect me.
Naturally, I gravitated towards the kids with Sonic Youth t-shirts and skateboards. That’s where I met, Coty McClung, an overly energetic, sweet kid that could make even a disparaged Midwestern transplant like me laugh. We made plans to skate after school. He said he’d show me all the spots around town. I was fucking ecstatic.
We met in a parking lot across from school and began skating toward another destination when suddenly, a car full of football players pulled up and began attacking my new friend. Unsure what was happening and incapable of truly helping him (there were 12 of these kids all of which had at least 60 lbs on both of us) I ran into the nearby bank and screamed, “help! my friend is getting jumped!” The kids hopped back in the car and made a run for it. When the cops showed up, we were treated like we were being hostile. They didn’t seem to believe us. We skated off to another parking lot.
In this parking lot was a group of slightly older skaters. They beckoned us over and inquired about Coty’s injuries. One of these kids was a noticeably tall, Charlie Koliha. He was leaning against a car with a stereo faintly playing, The Jam’s Sound Affects. A cigarette was dangling out of his mouth, and an old Leica camera hung around his neck.. I thought he was the coolest mother fucker I had ever seen.
I spent the next several months in and out of court, testifying on my friend’s behalf. The ringleader of the tormentors, Joey Shithead (name changed to protect the subject’s identity), was tried and eventually found innocent. Las Lomas school officials testified on his behalf, declaring he was at football practice and could of had nothing to do with it. This made me grow increasingly more disenchanted with the school. I felt like I always had to be on my guard. I became more depressed, my grades started slipping, and I lost interest in skateboarding. I had absolutely no ambitions. I was just stumbling through my life trying to make sense of it all. Coty eventually told me about this test called the “California High School Proficiency Exam.” If we were to pass it and obtain signed permission from a parent or legal guardian, we could be withdrawn from high school. I took the test and passed but, my parent’s didn’t want me to withdraw from high school. A month later, I was passed out on the bleachers during P.E. class as per usual. The instructor approached me and shook me awake. A knife suddenly fell from the inside pocket of my jacket. I was sent to the office and told I could either withdraw or be expelled. My parents signed the form. I was stoked.
As time progressed, I became more integrated into our little group of undesirables. I started hanging out with Charlie a lot, driving around in his Mom’s car listening to The Smiths, and searching for someone to buy us beer every night. I didn’t know how to play any musical instruments at the time as I had sworn off guitar after two failed attempts at learning .Charlie could play guitar well and began showing me how to fret a few chords. To this day, I still don’t understand why but, I began learning how to play at a rate I could not have imagined. Perhaps, Charlie inherited some incredible teaching technique from his father who was a choir teacher. Over the next several months, I began writing songs, recording them on a little cassette recorder and presenting them to Charlie. He borrowed a bass from a friend and started writing bass lines to these little melancholy pop songs I was writing. We started playing these songs with other friends of ours and found ourselves getting together to play almost daily. Even though we sounded like complete dog shit, it was the most fun and rewarding experience of my life.
Over the course of the next 10 years, Charlie and I would dedicate nearly every waking moment of our lives to this band. Throughout all the life changing highs and the hellish lows, Charlie was right there beside me. We lived together in three different places. At one point, we even shared a room. We were always broke (and continue to be). We suffered through multiple line up changes and questioned whether or not we should continue several times. However, we always felt that as long as both our hearts were in it, we could rifle on as Mister Loveless. Our perseverance seemed to be rewarded. When our high school friends, Stiv and Sam left for college, we recruited Ed Melendez and carried on as a three piece, writing lots of bass driven post punk songs and establishing a presence in San Francisco. When Sean and Rachel joined the band, our sound expanded and became uniquely ours. When Nick joined, we became a band that had the rhythmic power I had always wanted. Lastly, when Dan joined we became the tightest performers we have ever been. His musicianship made us the band we had always aspired to be.
Last night, Charlie let Dan, Nick, and I know he would be leaving the band. He just felt like his heart wasn’t in it anymore. I completely understand and respect his decision. We’re still best friends.
I can’t do Mister Loveless without Charlie.
However, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t begun to feel as though I had outgrown Mister Loveless as well. This band has become like an old jacket. I love it but, it just doesn’t fit right anymore. I have begun to feel creatively boxed in. But, because so much of my identity has been wrapped up in Mister Loveless, I was apprehensive about putting it to rest. Mister Loveless has been the only consistent thing in my life. It’s all I know. .
We will play our last show on Friday, September 27th at Neck of the Woods in San Francisco. Thank you to everyone who ever believed in our band.
So, here I am again, after all these years feeling like that 15 year old kid anxious about starting over.
- Rob I. Miller 9/19/13
2003: Sam, Stiv, Charlie, and Rob.
2004: Rob, Charlie, and Ed.
2007: Charlie, Sean, Rachel, and Rob.
2010: Rob, Charlie, Nick, and Sean.
2013: Dan, Rob, Charlie, and Nick.
Rehearsal Space (AKA my Mom & Dad’s Garage):
Nick and I. Milk Bar in San Francisco.
Two cool guys I know:
With producer extraordinaire, Duane M. Ramos.
Gnarly Jock Assholes:
One of Sean’s delicious mistakes.
Green House Party. Anaheim. Best times ever.
Me at lunch. Las Lomas High circa 03.
Dan joins the party.
Guitar duel. East LA house party.
Opening for the Vaselines at the Independent in San Francisco.
East LA house party.
SXSW. Austin, TX.
Some after party in Tucson, AZ. Love those Holy Rolling Empire guys.
Just another show at the Uptown in Oakland.
My favorite drummer.
We need more parties in the USA.
What I like to do.
Where Eagles Dare.
Gods amongst men.
Jam Brothers. Walnut Creek.
Surprisingly, still my favorite drummer.
One of our favorite people ever, Ranna.
Nick and Sean on stage w/ The Vaselines.
Backstage w/ the Vaselines + Bob & Stevie from Belle & Sebastian.
Love is real.
Told by the world, we didn’t fit in. We told the world, we never wanted to.