I moved to Summerland BC in Grade 6. On the first day of school, a nerdy looking kid (like me) befriended me, hanging out with me on recess and everything. It was a big relief. He even invited me over after school! But when he was getting his stuff out of his little locker after the final bell I saw that he had a magazine poster of rock drummer Tommy Lee. This was in the height of the coke-fuelled Motley Crue heyday: shirtless, painted up, wild hair, leather pants, fierce expression, and tattoos. I was terrified. I didn’t know anything about Tommy Lee, or heavy metal, I just knew this was a big BIG red flag. Fearing my new friend was some sort of Satan worshipper I made up some excuse and took off home.

In my defense of my fear-of-Tommy Lee incident I was a pretty sheltered kid up to that point. Not sheltered by anything in particular, except circumstance. My father worked at a radio station, so we were bombarded with all the ‘hot’ new music as it came out, and I loved it. I could sing the chorus of just about any song in the Top 20 charts of any given week, circa 1987. Maybe that’s not a very good defense, but it does explain why my first view of heavy metal caused such a violent terror in me. It leaped out at me on my first day of class in a new school, in a new town, when I was most vulnerable.

That was a long time ago, and I’m over my embarrassment of that day, as is the former hard-core heavy metal child Darren Bifford. We became great friends shortly thereafter. I consider him my oldest and dearest conspirator, collaborator and kindred spirit.

He was in Brussels just now. Which was awesome. He’s also a regular blog reader: It was really fucking great to see you man.