It was 1998 at the Showbox. It was Seattle Fest, or some such thing. Twenty bands on two stages playing six songs each. I was playing in Green Apple Quick Step, and we were slotted to finish the evening on the main stage. The crowd had more than noticeably thinned by the time the band before us went into their last song. Green Apple Quick Step’s Tyler Wilman (singer, and all around crazy motherfucking loose cannon of a front man) took me aside and informed me that we were only going to be playing two full songs. He wasn't interested in playing all six or seven we were scheduled to play, to a less than a quarter full house.
I laughed it off, saying, "How are you going to make that happen?"
The first band I ever played in was called Sledge. Sledge was a band from 1988 until sometime in 1990. We shared a couple bills with Inspector Luv and the Ride Me Babies, which would go on to become Green Apple Quick Step. Even back then, the word on" that singer guy, Tyler" was clear. He had an amazing voice, and he was FUCKING CRAZY. He was like a Tyson fight - you never knew what was going to happen. But something ALWAYS happened. Always.
Before I joined GAQS I watched in awe, as he climbed atop the speakers at the Fenix, and as an exclamation point the band’s last song dove eight feet straight into the drum set, toppling the whole thing - drummer included. This, as one might expect, caused him to impale himself on a cymbal stand - enough to open a huge gash on his person. But like any good illusionist, it’s only great if you can show ‘em how you did it, so Tyler goes off stage, duct tapes the gash closed, and goes back out for a demanded encore. It was head shaking brilliance.
I saw GAQS at the King Kat Theater (again, before my tenure) and half way through the set a guy from the crowd ended up on stage (remember when that wasn't against the law?) and was having second thoughts about his ability to pick a spot in the crowd dense enough to not part like the Red Sea once he jumped. So Tyler starts egging him on. '
“Come on, man! Right here,” he says, pointing to a spot right off the middle of the stage.
Finally, the guy goes to jump...
Right at the last second, Ty takes the microphone cord, lasso style, and almost ropes this guy around the neck - just as he's starting his decent into the crowd. It happened in an instant, and I don't know how many people saw it - but it stuck with me, as a guy willing to cross over the edge, for better or worse, to make sure you got what you paid for.
So we hit the stage at the Showbox. We've played two songs and it’s feeling pretty damn good. There weren’t a ton of people left at the place (and that’s a pretty big room to be playing in front of 50 people), but it didn’t bother ME. At this point I'd only been in the band for a few months, and I was happy to be playing any show we got.
Not so for the original members. They had had the golden ticket for two full albums. They had tasted success. And REAL success (read: financial stability) seemed to always be just around the corner - if they could keep it all together. But the relationship with their winning lottery ticket in the form of Kelly Curtis Management had begun to show strain, and there was a real, tangible (and as it turns out entirely accurate) feeling that if things didn't happen for them quickly, it might never happen at all. Playing to an almost empty Showbox was not exactly on Tyler's to-do list.
So we break into our third song, and just as I'm thinking, "Ty was just fucking with me. We're going to play all of our songs. This is fun," Tyler starts destroying the stage.
First to go, the monitors across the front - all ejected from their homes and relocated to the floor. Next the mic stands. Finally, realizing that nothing he had done so far would have actually prevented us from continuing and completing our seven songs, Tyler grabs the kick drum and rips it out from in front of me, tumbling it across stage. Then he takes the rack tom and cymbal that were on a stand together and splays them out in the opposite direction.
At this point you either join in and show solidarity, or you start a fistfight. I chose the former. I picked up the floor tom and hucked it out and off the front of the stage.
That was, as they say, was that. End of show. Exclamation point.
People were left with their mouths hanging open, wondering what they had just witnessed. I was one of them.
This Sunday, what I’m referring to as " Green Apple Quick Step, featuring Ty Wilman.... from Green Apple Quick Step " will play a selected few songs from their first two albums at the Showbox Market. It will be the first time these songs have been performed in 12 years.
Drummer Geoff Reading — who writes a bi-weekly online column on Fridays for the Weekly Volcano called “Holding Down the 253,” in addition to this weekly Wednesday music column — has played music in tons of Northwest bands, including — Green Apple Quickstep, New American Shame, Top Heavy Crush and most recently Duff McKagan's LOADED — to name but a few. He's toured the world several times over, sharing stages with the likes of Slipknot, The Cult, Buckcherry, Korn, Journey, The Sex Pistols, Nine Inch Nails and on and on. He has called Tacoma home since 2005, and lives in the North End with his wife and son.