“REMEMBERING KRISTOV” Part 1: “Minneapolis Meets Chicago”
In thinking about my times with Kristov over the course of the last 8 years this is what comes to mind. I thank you for understanding a random missed detail during a time of mourning.
I wrote this for myself. To make sure I would not forget. But I also wrote it for Kris. To make sure noone else would forget what he meant to me and to the band MARAZENE.
I miss my friend.
The first time I ever spoke with Kris was over a phone call in early Spring 2001 when I was still living in Minneapolis and sorting through my immediate and future plans for a possible relocation to Chicago. We met by fate, chance, or karma (as most musicians do) when I responded to a Chicago Reader ad loaded with all kinds of bells and whistles that just happened to be looking for a bassist. It seemed like a good opportunity at the time and it was through this initial contact that I got Kris’s phone number. I gave him a call to test the waters and get an idea of just wtf I might be getting myself into by a move to the Windy City. I asked Kris his advice on areas to check out (and areas to stay away from) and stuff like the local Chicago music scene while just feeling out a potential future bandmate. I always appreciated the optimism that Kris made me feel about taking such a big leap into the unknown.
The first time I met Kris in person was at House of Blues in Chicago at an Orgy/Spineshank concert. It was the designated meeting place we set up to introduce myself to the band or – Bar Star Azzemblage – as I like to call it (the band never really did anything) he and I would join together very briefly in 2001.
One thing I have noted since this night was that even though Kris and I attribute our initial meeting as through this particular project, Kris had this theory that we would have met regardless for two connected and specific reasons. One was that he mentioned that I was pretty driven and was already on a path to Chicago one way or another no matter what. This is true. I had been looking for an excuse to make the jump to lightspeed. Two was that we were shooting for a similar goal. So I happen to agree with Kris’s logic.
By the end of the evening we all ended up at an afterparty held at a local dive (which has since changed its name) called Jub Jub Club over off Fullerton and Halsted in Chicago. The place was small and the bathroom of the club was like the smallest one in the world and people were just piling in to do coke off the sink and if you were lucky enough you got to use the bathroom before you pissed yourself.
Rammstein was blaring over the DJ speakers (“Hierate Miche”) at some point in the evening and Kris was asking where I had first heard of them. I told him the David Lynch mindfukk movie ‘Lost Highway’ and we proceeded to have this crazy intense conversation about bands, music and all that stuff that musicians talk about when they first meet. There was a good vibe. We hit it off and I was extremely excited about moving.
Kris had seen the future but as it turns out – it wasn’t with the band I had moved down to Chicago to join. In fact, he bailed out of that situation completely within several months of my relocation. Kris had been working on some dark, heavy, electronic musical filth on the side with a guitar player named Nikk Skum. Kris introduced me to Nikk at a Dope concert held at Chicago’s Metro Cabaret Theater on one of our many excursions.
From the onset Nikk and I hit it off and we talked about working together and putting together an album of covers for shits and giggles. But once we got into the studio together and started jamming the symmetry of our writing styles became obvious and we went with that instead. Our first jam sessions ended up being ridiculously productive and everything pointed to an inevitable destiny. There was a magic in the air in those early days.
Nikk and I would eventually go on to write the ‘MachiNation’ album in 2005-2006 as well as loads of other tracks that didn’t make the album. The two of us really had a knack for complimenting each others songwriting. Together, Kris, Nikk, and myself would refine that material at dozens of Chicagoland area shows. As of this writing, ‘MachiNation’, stands as one of my most important life acheivements and I’m only happy to be able to say that Kris played a critical role in that acheivement.
I gave the benefit of the doubt to the project I moved to Chicago to join and stuck with it much longer than I should have. By the time I said “fukk it” I was in a place where I could barely recognize myself. And while the ending may have been disappointing – the optimism and possibilities with a newfound musical manifest with Kris and Nikk seemed endless. The bottom line was – I had seen enough of the Windy City to realize there was nothing here that I couldn’t accomplish and that I could do more in expressing my musical ambitions with Kris and Nikk in what our friends and fans have come to know as MARAZENE.
And so it was.
In 2003 the beginnings of an early developmental phase of MARAZENE took a major step forward playing a show at a suburban Chicago bar in Barrington called Penny Road Pub. And it steadily got bigger from there. By 2005 Nikk was fronting the band after moving over from guitar and I was singing secondary lead vocals. In our continuing evolution as a band it’s easy to point to this time period as a critical jump forward in our bands ability to compete and excel on a National and International level. The goal of just being one of the best bands in Chicago wasn’t even remotely close to being anything more than a means to an end. We were always shooting for something much much bigger.
In January of 2006 we headlined our biggest show to date at Chicago’s legendary Metro Cabaret Theater for about a thousand of our closest friends. The music for ‘MachiNation’ was being test driven around the block for what we knew would be some very active years to come once an album was released.
to be continued…