My name is Brian Travis. I’m a white male in my 30’s and I live in Los Angeles. Ever since I was 16 I’ve wanted to play guitar and sing in a band. Prior to that I was just a high school kid who was talented at drawing, loved performing in high school theater productions and excelled at creative writing. Honestly before April 12th 1986 I had no idea that I wanted to play music the rest of my life. In fact I was pretty certain that I would never play an instrument even though I had dabbled around on my grandmothers’ piano for a summer when I was 8…but that’s because I was bored, not because it held any interest for me whatsoever.
Wanna go back in time with me? Back to the days of neon and ‘Frankie Say RELAX’ tee shirts? Lets go back and find out what the hell happened to me.
Lets set the time machine for April 12th 1986…okay…I can nearly smell the hair styling mousse and mullets as far as the eye can see…The 80’s were truely the year of the mullet. No hairstyle thrived as much as the ‘spiked in the front, short on the sides & long in the back’ 80’s mullet. And yes, I had one.
I woke up at the Cofer residence where I had fallen asleep in my best friend Grady Cofers’ room. We had crashed out after a late night of working on a banner for a concert we were attending that day. A FREE concert at UCLA. A free ALARM concert. A lot of you might not remember The Alarm as they were frequently written off as a poor man’s U2 . The Alarm are a band from Wales (rather than Ireland) with similar soaring choruses and a post punk/Guthrie folk ethos that inspired and enthralled me to no end. If you do remember The Alarm you will likely remember their hair before you remember any of their music. Those 4 heads of spike went one step beyond mullet. Their hairstyles were works of punk rock art. There was an egg-white & hairspray shortage in every town they would tour through back in those days…the days of the BIG HAIR Alarm.
When Grady and I found out that the band were playing a free show and holding a banner making contest where the first prize was an opportunity to meet the band, we immeadiately pulled out an old sheet and began to draw, in silhouette, the outline of those 4 larger than life hairstyles. When I say ‘we’ I mean me. I began to draw as that is what I’ve always been good at. Drawing is kinda my thing. Remember at this moment music had not yet entered into my orbit of interest. In 1986, I was all about drawing and acting.
We pulled a near all-nighter…we painted in the silhouettes and put Strength-era Alarm logo on the banner with ‘The Peace Train’ poem surrounding the banner around the edges. I thought that was a nice touch. I thought we were gonna win, I really did.
We got up early and went to the show with Grady’s older sister Christie. If there was an encyclopedia of mid-80s cool, Christie Cofer would be the first and longest entry. Christie used to wear thrift store clothes and multiple skirts and her eyes were always a little heavy on the eyeliner and she was beautiful, but not in a conventional way. Christie was a rocker with a gentle heart. A true believer and free spirit. I was enamored with her as were most of my male friends at the time. Christie turned me on to The Alarm. She bought me a copy of the Strength album for Christmas 1985. I became a massive Alarm fan and was duly excited about the impending show that we were about to witness.
We picked up our friends, Maggie and Katie on our way out of Agoura. I knew Katie from my Theater class. She encouraged Grady and I to work at the Renaissance Faire earlier that spring. Maggie was Katie’s’ younger sister. I was head over heels in love with Maggie at this point in time. We had dated for about 2.5 months after making out at a cast party and, at the time, I was deeply hurt from our very fresh break up. The four of us, Katie, Grady, Maggie and I were a fearsome foursome. We were always together doing cool stuff. Today would be no different except that I would be confused, hurt and insanely jealous of any guy she would look at. I was a mess about Maggie but we had already made plans to see The Alarm show together and so there we were, a mass of teenage hormones and painful breakup angst, piled into the back of Christie’s car listening to 68 guns heading to UCLA.
…to be continued.