One of the first rules of rock n’ roll clearly states that he who owns the basement in which the band rehearses is the undisputed leader of the band. If said basement happens to belong to one or more of the players’ parents, said family shall be considered rock n’ roll royalty.
In the case of the Fort Wayne-based hard-rock outfit known as Little Green Men, brothers Eric and Jason Bair represent the raucous royalty, since the five-year old band still practices in the deepest depths of the home owned by Ma and Pa Bair. During a recent interview on the floor above the band’s rehearsal space in stately Bair manor, drummer Jason and guitarist Eric (who also sings for the hard-rock group Stygma) discuss the familial dedication.
“The parents are by far our biggest supporters,” Jason says. “They hardly miss a show, whether it’s Stygma or Little Green Men. They’ve been to almost every show. It’s unbelievable. Look at this scrapbook (Mom) has done for us. All of our dates, newspaper clippings – she’s got it all in there. All the five years.”
For the many souvenirs representing proud Little Green moments contained within the huge photo binder, there is the occasional unrecorded fall that threatens to engulf the family name in the shadow of the “Jackass.” Eric admits to recently taking that fall of shame.
“It was Sunday night,” Eric says, beginning his tale of injury. “I usually go out with [Stygma and Tempest bassist] John Reuille and we go sing karaoke on Sunday nights sometimes at Sports and Spirits,” Eric says.
“This week I decided not to. I didn’t party all weekend so I was just gonna party on Sunday night. I had a few beers in me. I was watching this show on MTV called Jackass – crazy show – and the phone was ringing. I had just done my laundry and I had my laundry like right in the walkway. As I was getting the phone, I was watching Jackass and walking backwards and I turned real fast and I tripped over my laundry. I broke my pinky toe.”
“He was a jackass of his own, I guess,” Jason says.
All royalty and little broken bones aside, no man in Little Green Men can be considered small. The impressive musical performances exploding from the band’s debut CD 7 prove that each man in the quartet provides a vital element in the big solid ball of rock. Vocalist Rob Warnell, bassist Rory Grams and the Bair brothers come off like a pre-“Here Comes Stupid” Scatterbrain, only minus the sarcastic sentiments. The nine-track collection of eight original compositions and a cover of Galactic Cowboys’ “If I Were a Killer” (call it a bonus track if you like) contains some of the most technically proficient hard-rock playing the Summit City has ever heard, plus some heavy messages.
“It seems like all our songs are based on an issue,” Jason says. “Every song has a certain issue.”
“When I write, I just write,” says Eric, who penned the lyrics for “Punching Bag.” “I just go, about any issue. ‘Punching Bag’ is about child abuse, really any kind of abuse. The lyrics talk about – from a child’s point of view – getting beaten by a mom. ‘10th Floor’ is about falling from a ten-story building, committing suicide.”
“Some happy lyrics,” Jason says with a laugh, noting that the band’s messages aren’t always doom and gloom. He offers tunes like “Love” and “Rapt Reverie” as examples.
“‘Rapt Reverie’ is about day-dreaming about your lover, the girl of your dreams,” Jason says. “We had to do one of those love songs – but it’s got some chunky riffs.”
“We couldn’t think of a name for that song,” Eric says. “So I was like ‘Mom, give me some words for a title for this song.’ So she got the Scrabble dictionary out. Rapt means engrossed and reverie is a daydream. Mom came up with “Rapt Reverie.” The title, not the song.”
While some of the songs on 7 are several years old (The song “7,” which was featured on WXKE’s Fort Wayne Rocks CD, is the band’s first composition), others were written during the group’s one-year hiatus from live performances. From April through October, Little Green Men recorded tracks at Fort Wayne’s Sweetwater Productions for the current CD release, which was produced, engineered and mixed by Larry Pester and the band. If the sound weren’t so crystal clean, a listener may swear that 7 is Little Green Men live in concert on a shiny little petroleum-based disc.
“Everything we do on the CD we can play live,” Eric says. “It’s not like we did the CD and said ‘oh my god we can’t pull this off live.’ Everything we did on that CD we play exactly live.”
“Like the vocals,” Jason says. “We didn’t dub in anything we can’t do live.”
Having broken the live silence this summer, the band has since raged on stage in front of such national metal heavyweights as Quiet Riot at Mickey and Billy’s and Skid Row at Piere’s. Prior to the hiatus, Little Green Men got the job done in front of Mötley Crue and Cinderella.
“It’s experience. Getting onstage, learning to handle the pressure and just jam in front of all those people,” Jason says. “A lot of people that come to see you think you might be travelling with Quiet Riot or with Skid Row. They think you’re a rock star. ‘Can we have your autograph?’ It’s flattering for us. Super flattering. We’re just Fort Wayne guys.”