The downstairs bathroom of the Rat House didn’t have a door, or functioning shower. The only real use it got was mohawk day.

Step One: Setup ironing board.

Step two: Straighten very curly hair with cloths iron.

Step three: Apply Elmer’s Glue.

Step four: Make mohawk as tall, fanned, and crazy as possible.

Step five: Sleep like hell for three nights ‘cause you don’t want to jack up your hair.

Our little community of friends piled into our nearly condemned rental (at one point it was condemned!) and sang along to Rancid and Against Me albums. We dreamt of tours while trying to make Ramen noodles as interesting as possible. We spent hours routing shows and sending emails trying to book our southern tour with local friends in a reggae/punk band.

Our band was called the Rats and we were determined to take our music to any group of two or more who might listen. Most of us were underage trying to play it cool at the bars we played. Turns out, the harder you try, the less “cool” you’re playing it. My goal was to drink my Killian’s and draw as little attention to myself as possible.

We stayed over night in Memphis on the first day. Folks have grand ideas about what touring musicians lives look like. For me, tour day one was convincing the security guard at the Heartbreak Hotel to let us park our bright yellow van in his lot, so we could get a peaceful night rest. The other band had connections that allowed them to actually sleep in the hotel, which meant one thing for us: pool time.

I swam awkward laps in the Heartbreak Hotel pool. However, the best part of the evening was teaching their bandmate about chess, strategy, and how life is one big chess board. He and I still talk about that every couple of years on our regular phone calls. I’m grateful for the friends I have made over the last twelve years of doing music. Ya’ll are the finest friends a fella could ask for. Thanks.

-Jake Rat