The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 15
Crash ride and highly strung


14 July 2000. It was Friday night and we were having a braai at Raymond’s house. It was a good night for a braai. Despite being the middle of winter the sky was clear and it was warm enough to be outside. Ryan, Raymond’s younger brother, was getting a bit bored, so he decided to fetch his guitar, and play some tunes while Raymond’s cousin and I watched, and Rupert tended to the fire. Ryan already looked like a punk rocker, so holding a guitar seemed quite natural for him. He copied his sense of fashion and style from Noodles, the guitarist in the band Offspring, with his spiky black and white hair and the nerd glasses that he liked to wear at social events.

Whenever someone plays a guitar in front of me I suddenly get the urge to play myself. This is my curse when I go to a concert, because I really just want to be on the stage, performing. I asked Ryan if I could have a go and he told me that they actually had another guitar, so we could both play at the same time.

Ryan fetched the second guitar and started playing a song that he had written called ‘One Man Chose to do Wrong’, a song about one idiot deciding to do something bad and messing up the whole world. I picked up the second guitar and improvised some lead guitar to what Ryan was playing.

I had not been playing guitar with other people since my University days, so I was a bit rusty, but I felt very comfortable with Ryan’s song and the notes flowed as if I had been practising the song for years. ‘Wow,’ Ryan commented after we had completed the song. ‘Let’s play that again.’ We played the song two more times, and on the second time Raymond sang the lyrics instead of Ryan. ‘What else can you play?’ he asked me.

‘A little bit of punk rock, like Nirvana and Green Day,’ I replied, ‘and Enter Sandman by Metallica.’

We played some Nirvana, Offspring and Green Day songs, while Raymond sang. Raymond was very good at showing emotion, especially while singing. He had a lisp, so he could never sing the songs perfectly, but with most of the songs that I liked the lyrics didn’t matter anyway. The songs were all about emotions, happy emotions or angry ones.

‘Let’s start a band,’ Raymond suggested. It was an easy decision, so Ryan and I agreed. From that day onwards we were a band. Raymond and Ryan wrote some hard rock songs and we would meet on Saturdays at my parents’ house to practise.

We used my computer to simulate the drums and bass guitars at first, but soon decided to advertise for a bass guitarist and a drummer, and by October we had added Ian, the bassist, and Owen, the drummer, to our band. On the 21st of October we decided to give our band a name and came up with the names ‘Crash Ride’ and ‘Highly Strung’. After checking the internet we found that ‘Crash Ride’ was already taken, so we settled for ‘Highly Strung’, a suitable name because many of our songs were quite angry.

I have to admit that one of the reasons for wanting to be a guitarist in a band was the idea of lots of girls screaming my name as I walked on stage, but I really did enjoy band practises. I had to buy large boards to put in front of the window of my room and built a second door that went around my existing door in order to sound proof my room. The neighbours could still hear our practises in spite of my efforts, but they didn’t complain. Anyway, if they had complained, we wouldn’t have heard them.


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