Musicians Remember 9/11: Five Years Later

I am not old enough to remember when John F. Kennedy was shot, or even Martin Luther King Jr. I vaguely remember when Elvis died and Howard Cosell announced to the world from Monday Night Football that John Lennon was shot.

Like billions of other Americans, I do however remember where I was and what I was doing on September 11, 2001. On 9/11 I got up to head to work at the indie CD store. When I turned on the television I saw smoke and buildings crumbling. My first thought was that the news was showing a war or a car bomber overseas. Much to my dismay it was in the United States. New York City had been attacked.

I was speechless. I went to work, but we decided to close the CD store. We just didn’t feel right working on such an … for lack of a better word … odd day. I went home and watched the news all day. I worried about all the bands, labels, press companies and friends I knew in New York. Luckily everyone I knew was ok, but the nation wasn’t ok.

When the five-year anniversary of 9/11 was approaching, I had the idea for this story – I felt I had to do something. It was hard to fathom it had been five years. I didn’t want to make the story politically charged, as easy as that may be. I wanted to have the indie music community relate their memories of that day and the days after. When sending out the basic questions for this, I was hesitant. And to be honest, I still am. I got many non-replies; I got replies that said they’d rather not talk about it. Then I got a lot of insightful answers, which you will find below.

Bitch – solo artist (formerly of Bitch and Animal)
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was at home in Brooklyn. I just got home the night before from a tour. My old band, Bitch and Animal, had a record coming out that day (9/11.) That was the release date, can you imagine?

How did it affect you personally?
It affects me in so many ways. I couldn’t breathe for like three weeks, the smell was intense. It made me more acutely aware about how no one really has your best interest in mind. We should’ve gotten out of there ASAP. It was bullshit lying to us, saying there was nothing toxic about that air. Also, my friends and I bonded like never before. I went to the same bar night after night with the same friends. We were like, in such need of each other. That is something I have not experienced a lot in my adult life, living in an individualistic/capitalist country.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
Yeah, I broke up with my girlfriend who I had been dating for like seven years.

Did it affect your traveling as a band?
I never want to buy oil again. And yeah, everything’s different.

Kile Brewer – Kaddisfly
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was sleeping in my bed. My mom called me and told me what had happened, so I did what most people did … skip work and watch the news.

How did it affect you personally?
September 11 really hit me hard. I lost my aunt in the attack. It was the most surreal feeling I’ve ever experienced.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
I think it has made me just enjoy everyday of life that much more. For some of my other family members, it has changed the path of their lives forever.

Joe Escalante – The Vandals
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was at home in Hollywood in my bed.

How did it affect you personally?
It just woke me up that there are some real messed up people in this world.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
I made sure I had more ways to protect my family because you can’t depend on the government always.

Did it affect your traveling as a band?
That shoe bomber guy made airports worse for the entire planet. He sucks perhaps most of all. Our knives are not carried on any more. That’s about it.

Do you feel your music/band has changed since 9/11?
No. We don’t sing about serious stuff, never have. Sometimes you want to put in your two cents when stuff like this happens, but that’s not the Vandals. We’re an escape from the problems. That’s the way we like it.

Sherry Fraser – Two Ton Boa
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was at a silent Vipassana retreat, meditating 10 hours a day for 10 days. I wasn’t told about it until two days after it happened, while I was at the meditation center. It was a strange place to be to hear such news, totally isolated from the media onslaught and meditating so much everyday, until I left the center five days later. I was glad, in the end, that I was there, away from the images and the media frenzy, to process it.

How did it affect you personally?
Well, generally it filled me with horror and even more dread of how our country would respond to the attacks. It was very depressing. And of course, no one should have to die like that. I lived in NYC for six months in the 90s. I love that city – the people in it.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
I became more politically involved in things than I was prior, like a lot of people, protesting the worst of the knee-jerk (or opportunistically calculated) militaristic responses to the tragedy. I also got back into music, and wrote my first full-length album, Parasiticide.

Do you feel your music/band has changed since 9/11?
Yes. There is so much darkness in the world, and my life has improved, internally at least, drastically, and I’m in more of a fighting, energetic mood writing-wise. 9/11 was in some ways a wake-up call to become less self-involved. In the past, my music has had a tendency to display the darker sides of my internal state, reflecting general life circumstances. When I put together the first EP, that’s where my life was at the time. There was color and spark and life in it for sure; I was really purging, and there’s value in that. But there’s no question there is gallons more energy and life in this first album. I hope it adds to that musical well of life people can draw from when they’re feeling defeated by the state of the world and want to give up. There’s so much negative, insidious, relentless adversity out there. More than anything, it was music I wrote for myself and other people I care about, a soundtrack for keeping your spirit up, fighting destructive power structures in place around us, whether they’re part of the mainstream, disguised in our personal subcultures, buried deep in our relationships with loved ones and most of all, ourselves.

Michele Dominguez Greene – Latin singer (Emmy-nominated actress on L.A. Law)
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was in Calgary, Canada in rehearsals for a play. I was horrified and terrified, trapped in Canada, unable to come home even if I had been able to get time off from the play. Being cut off from my family, friends and everything that I knew, was a nightmare. I just remember that I got physically ill and developed severe insomnia, which I still battle to this day.

How did it affect you?
The world changed dramatically and the U.S. became a different country. Those changes: the fear, jingoism, aggression, eroding of civil liberties, losing any moral center by allowing torture of detainees in the war and other practices that have no place in a democracy, and are in violation of the Geneva Convention, a fraudulent war based on deceit, hype and stoking fear and anxieties … The whole thing has changed the fabric of our society. So of course, that has affected my music and what I write about, since I write about the things that I struggle with as a person and as a citizen… And there is a lot to struggle with these days. We were not touring until recently and it has affected us the way it has affected everyone, with heightened security at airports, etc.

Doug Pinnick – King’s X
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was at home in Texas, I get up around 7 a.m., and I think I over slept. I got up and I usually always watch Good Morning America. That particular morning I was deciding to not turn on the TV, but something inside me said “you need to turn the TV on.” I argued with myself and then turned the TV on and there it was, a jet flying into the second tower.

How did it affect you personally?
I was shocked with disbelief, and confused.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
I am aware more now of the possibilities of being attacked, and that we’re not really safe here anymore.

Did it affect your traveling as a band?
Shit happens, and I can’t let it stop me from what I do.

Do you feel your music/band has changed since 9/11?
Yes! Everything changed.

Louis Posen – owner Hopeless Records
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was in my bed at home in Van Nuys, Calif.

How did it affect you personally?
I was of course very concerned first about the immediacy of the situation and what needed to be done that moment. Once the shock sank in I began to think about life, time and the priorities within them.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
9/11 has heightened, reinforced and accelerated planning for emergencies, being grateful for what I have and who is in my life and the desire to get the most and put the most into every day.

Teagan Quinn – Teagan and Sara
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was at home in Vancouver.

How did it affect you personally?
I didn’t have television and only knew about it because my mother called me and woke me up to tell me about it. My grandmother had called her. We were supposed to fly to New York that week to play CMJ and so they were all freaking out because they didn’t know when we were supposed to have left. I think for me it was very alarming to know that something like that could happen in North America. As a band, we are very socially conscious and aware that there are so many wars and so much strife occurring around the globe. As like most in North America, the sheer magnitude of the event and the fact that it happened so close to home was very humbling.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
Not anything specific. I think there have been some really interesting books and stories as well as documentaries that have come out surrounding the events of the that day. As well learning first hand how much misunderstanding and hatred there is for our countries in other parts of the world and learning why has been shocking to say the least.

Did it affect your traveling as a band?
We did not travel to CMJ obviously, and that was due to us all being at home and not wanting to go to New York so soon after everything happened. We felt it was potentially not the right time to be going to play a show. I certainly thought about the plane crashes the next few times I was on a plane … but I believe something like that probably won’t happen again. I feel flying is still very safe. But, I think we all think about it and talk about it from time to time. It was a massive loss.

Do you feel your music/band has changed since 9/11?
September 11 was a terrible day for us because like most it really showed how out of control and futile violence and terrorism is. As a band, we have always tried to be open-minded and socially conscious. We spend a lot of time outside of our own country and have invested time in understanding the different places we go. Sadly what happened on September 11 in the U.S. happens all over the world. Seeing it happen in the U.S. was shocking and sad but not surprising considering the state of affairs in so many other countries the U.S. is occupying or involved with.

Ben Schulman – the Branches (owner of Contraphonic Records)
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was living in San Francisco at the time, but I’m originally from outside of New York City and most of my family was and is still is there. Needless to say, in addition to the event itself, it was even more harrowing because of that.

How did it affect you personally?
It acted as a catalyst for me to move out of San Francisco and go back home for a while. The Saturday after 9/11, I boarded a Greyhound and took it all the way back to New York. It was quite an experience to traverse the country right after 9/11. I got into New York a week or so after the event and there was still a sickness in the air. It was strange to say the least.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
Well, I suppose it eventually led me to Chicago to start Branches as a band and Contraphonic as a label, indirectly. If 9/11 hadn’t occurred, I might not have made the choice to move from San Francisco.

Do you feel your music/band has changed since 9/11?
Not as a result of 9/11, no. But I suppose 9/11 did inspire a certain sense of thought to be proactive about things in life, and I’ve certainly amped up my ambitions since then.

John Strohm – musician (formerly of the Blake Babies)
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
The disaster occurred during the second or third week of my first year of law school. My wife and I used to commute together, and we were driving in to work/school that morning on I-65, listening to NPR. The first reports were vague, so it wasn’t really so much an initial shock but rather confusion. By the time I arrived at school, the second plane had hit so it was very clear what was happening. About 200 people had packed into the small break room with a television, and everyone was in a sort of stunned silence. A guy from my section – a former police officer – came up to me and said “I’ll tell you who’s responsible for this – Osama Bin Laden.” I had only a vague sense of who Osama Bin Laden even was. The strangest thing that day was that law classes were not cancelled. I actually went to my torts class and listened to a lecture on assault. I think it was my professor’s way of diffusing the situation – by completely ignoring the insanity. I’m not sure, but that’s the only conceivable explanation.

How did it affect you personally?
Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
About a month after 9/11 my wife became pregnant with our daughter (we now have two kids, ages one and nearly four). After I became a parent, everything in my life changed completely. I’m not sure how much 9/11 had to do with it, but certainly something. It terrifies me on a very primal level knowing that there are people in the world who would kill my children and feel justified – even righteous – in doing so. I try to perceive things from an intellectual rather than emotional level because I care deeply about the individual liberties that are at risk after a disaster of this magnitude; however, sometimes as a parent I find it difficult to separate the emotional response. I do my best not to let the bone-chilling terror of that day affect my mission to live my life without prejudice. Nevertheless, my feelings that the world is a good and safe place have been shaken.

Did it affect your traveling as a band?
My touring life was pretty much over just before 9/11. I did my last major tour in the summer of 2001, so I haven’t experienced touring post-9/11. I have, however, traveled extensively since 9/11. After some initial jitters I haven’t really let it affect my traveling. I went to NYC with my family last fall, and I had a moment of panic when I took my daughter on the subway. She has yet to have any real sense of danger or that there are potentially evil people in the world. I didn’t fear for my own safety but rather for hers. I want her to hold on to that innocence as long as possible.

Do you feel your music/band has changed since 9/11?
I don’t feel I’m a good enough writer to directly tackle a subject as enormous and complicated as 9/11. I can’t say for sure whether or not it’s influenced my writing, but anything that has such a tremendous emotional impact has to affect everything about a person. My life has changed so much in the years since 9/11 that it’s hard to parse out what has contributed to the changes; however, one thing is certain – everything is different.

Mark Unseen – Unseen
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I live in Boston, and it is a five-hour drive to NYC. Oddly enough on that very day, I left my house around 7 a.m. to go to New York City to pick up my guitarist Scott. On the way, I was listing to Howard Stern. Right around 9 a.m. he says “We just got reports that a plane has hit a building in New York.” I was thinking wow that is crazy, but I kept driving. A few minutes later, he said “a second plane hit another building. The city is under attack and all roads coming to and leaving NYC are now closed.” I started freaking out because Scott is there. I tried calling him but all the cell towers were messed up. I turned around drove to Rhode Island where a friend of mine lives and watched the news all day.

How did it affect you personally?
It made me real concerned for a few days about all my friends in New York. Thankfully, no one I know was killed or injured.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
It has made me a bit more concerned with what is going on and the fact that anything can happen at anytime.

Did it affect your traveling as a band?
It had a real affect on the band; we had a tour booked to start Sept. 12. We decided to try to do the tour anyway. On Sept. 13, we started the tour and after three shows we called the tour off. We were terrified because we were driving around and had no idea if any more attacks were going to happen. It affects us to this day.

Sarah Shannon – solo artists (formerly of Velocity Girl)
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was in rural Maryland with my family.

How did it affect you personally?
My stepmother works in D.C. with a view of the Pentagon. For a short time, we didn’t know where she was. My dog and I couldn’t find a flight back to Seattle so we were stranded for a while. Other than that, I wasn’t affected hugely on a personal level; I didn’t know anyone (or know anyone who knew anyone) that died. I will forever have burned in my brain the image of a man and woman holding hands and falling from one of the towers.

Anna-Lynne Williams – Trespassers William
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I spent a few years living in the southern California desert, in a house surrounded by joshua trees and dirt; two other people lived with me. At 7 in the morning or so, a roommate knocked on my door and told me to turn on the television. We all ended up staring at the TV silently. Nobody had to work that day so we just drove around the desert and talked about what we’d seen. Everywhere we went TVs were playing the news.

How did it affect you personally?
In my generation, we haven’t had to fear for our safety in our country beyond single perpetrators in your house, or someone you love being drafted. For a while the news was saying that L.A. was the next city that should be concerned, which is where everyone I know lives. That added a new paranoia that I hadn’t had to carry around before. Clearly nothing else like that has happened since, and hopefully never will, making that paranoia entirely inappropriate; fear doesn’t really help anything. I remember they were advertising all of these different survival packs with gas masks on the radio and telling you to prepare to duct tape your door shut. I did feel a sense of community and country after the attacks that I hadn’t experienced before. I mean, my heritage is British though I’ve lived here all my life, and I always felt my English tastes in tea and jam and Jane Austen films and the Beatles colored my personality more than anything American. 9/11 gave me a sense of being American. At the same time, 9/11 seemed to highlight some issues of racism and separation in our society as well.

Matt Brown -Trespassers William

Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was at home. My roommate woke me up saying, “Get up, you won’t believe this, we’re being attacked.” Groggy, I woke up and went out into the living room. Until I saw the TV I didn’t know what to think as my roommate was a bit of a joker, but on TV the first tower already fell and the second one was smoking. I was a bit disoriented but finally got my head around what was happening. I went to work after getting exhausted from watching the repeats of the towers fall over and over. No one showed up to work, naturally, so I watched news on the Internet and then came back home and tried to get away from the TV, but it was impossible. My roommates and I were just glued to the TV all night.

How did it affect you personally?
It didn’t affect me personally at first. I thought it truly horrible, but being a bit of a news junkie (especially at that time) I was used to all bad news that happens all over the world, so I mostly thought: “I guess it’s our turn now… .” Also living in Orange County, Calif., at the time, a very conservative place, I saw lots of scary emotions surface. Racism, revenge, machismo and blind judgment surfaced in a lot of conversations I had and that I overheard. This probably affected me the most. The brief fleeting feeling of being bound by shared experience that engenders community I felt was squashed quickly. The hate-filled emotional response of vengeance all around me was very distasteful to me. I was worried about what we would do as a country – and of course the Bush administration did everything I feared and more. This made me more emotionally political than before. I felt so horrible watching as we went into Afghanistan and Iraq, seeing the pictures of innocent people hurt and dead who had nothing to do with 9/11. I felt shame as an American. We were using the events of 9/11 to justify our actions, which to me is insulting to the victims of that tragedy. And we were using fear to get our nation to rally behind these actions. I refuse to live in fear of terrorists. I truly believe that “an eye for and eye makes the whole world blind” and that we are just making things worse.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
I moved out of Orange County. I am too affected by my surroundings, and constantly having to defend my anti-war position was making me cynical and edgy. I became more politically minded and tried to educate myself about what was going on and why we were doing what we were doing as a country. I tried figuring out what about our relationship with the Middle East could have led to such hostilities. I also tried to educate myself about the less ‘flashy’ disasters that go on in our world all the time like poverty, starvation, lack of education and disease – and do my small part by donating to those causes when I could.

Dennis Casey – Flogging Molly
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was at home in Los Angeles, Calif.

How did it affect you personally?
It devastated me. I was glued to the TV for hours, not believing what I was seeing. I had nightmares many nights after. I was confused and frustrated. It was something I had never dealt with.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
I think I pay closer attention to what is going on in the world.

Did it affect your traveling as a band?
We were writing our CD Drunken Lullabies at that time, we took a few days off. Then we started writing again; it was very difficult hard to stay focused. But we had to finish, we were booked to record in Chicago on Sept. 13. We ended up flying on Sept. 14. LAX was packed and silent; it was very strange. You could feel so much fear and tension in the air, and it was silent. On the plane was worse.

Jen Chapin – singer songwriter (daughter of Harry Chapin)
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
We were home in NYC. We saw the towers fall from our rooftop.

How did it affect you personally?
My friend Kristy Ryan, with whom I had grown up in Long Island, worked and died in the towers. So in those months afterward, we were really focused on spending time and mourning with her friends and family and her husband Brendan. Brendan Ryan is also a musician (editor’s note: Brendan Ryan was in a band called The Bogmen that was signed to Arista in the 90s) and got through the first period of grieving by helping to organize a huge and very successful Bogmen reunion concert benefit for a non-profit group called Secret Smiles that Kristy had been involved with. (www.secretsmiles.org) Obviously it was a horrible time, but it was also a deeply sacred time of kindness and sweetness with people we loved.

Do you feel your music/band has changed since 9/11?
I wrote a song called “Hurry Up Sky” (from the album Linger) that was a tribute to Kristy and a testimony of that time of losing a friend and living in our city when the fires were still burning.

Josh Chicoine – The M’s
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was at an education conference for my work at a nonprofit arts education organization.

How did it affect you personally?
At first, I just thought it was a mishap, a prop plane or something that was out of control and off course. The first report I heard was when I was leaving my car and walking into the conference. It was unfathomable that this was a coordinated attack, just really out of the realm of possibility. As the day went on it began to dawn on everyone at the conference, and me too, that our country had been attacked and that led me to many questions and consumed me for a year. I voraciously read everything that I could and reread them and then read bibliographies and followed everything upstream to its supposed source in order to discover why this had happened and what it meant for the world. This is ongoing as we’ve had to deal with /swallow our government’s deductions and explanations and eventually it is new footing in this new, dangerous world which had always been there really and only needed a nudge. What’s really unfortunate is that we have, even now, discouraged any sort of reflection as to what caused the nudge in the first place.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
I’ve become very skeptical of our current administration and of a human being’s ability to learn from history and apply those lessons, which is very unfortunate. I don’t want to be cynical, but I don’t expect things coming from my government to be the whole truth, and therefore I cannot completely trust them. It seems to me that the same human drama has been playing for thousands of years and will continue long after I’m gone. This is difficult to reconcile at times, but has made clear the need to nurture those things I love and hope that that will be enough. I’m still trying to discern what that really means for me and my family.

Jon Gnali – Pansy Division
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was at home in San Francisco. At the time, my boyfriend was living in New York – he had moved there for work after we’d been going out for a year-and-a-half, and we were having a long-distance relationship. He called me at 6:30 a.m. (9:30 in New York) and told me to turn on the TV. Holy shit … I had the immediate thought that suddenly everything had changed. It was so disheartening. I realized that it would move our country closer to a police state, which happened shortly after with the passage of the Patriot Act. My boyfriend walked home from work (from the Upper East Side to Chelsea), dust and debris turning his hair soot grey. He said people outside were walking around covered in ash. But he was OK.

How did it affect you personally?
I knew there wouldn’t be much of a silver lining from this tragedy. It could have been a kick in the pants to make people in this country look at how our policies affect other countries in this increasingly small world – to think out the repercussions – but a bunker mentality has prevailed instead. Nothing good has come of it.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
The country’s response, and the media’s deference to Bush/Cheney in all that has happened since, has made me very angry and despondent about the future of this country. It has made me more politically active. It made me read more topical books and magazines. I watch more documentaries, too. I cut out a clipping from this period. I don’t know who the quote is from, that I have taped next to my computer. It says: “We now inhabit an era of such extreme corporate control and government censorship of the media that books have become the new journalism and documentaries have become the modern news programs.”

Jason Groth – Magnolia Electric Co.
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was in Camilla, Ga., on the courthouse lawn, learning about the September 19, 1868 Camilla Massacre. This was part of the annual Prison and Jail Project’s Freedom walk, an 80-100 mile march to raise awareness of the terrible prison conditions in Southwest Georgia and beyond and to highlight the fact that racism exists in a way that none of us can fathom. We were learning on that day in September 1868, at a peaceful Republican rally on the courthouse lawn, a large group of armed white men fired on the crowd, killing at least a dozen African Americans and wounding more than 40 others as they left town. In the middle of the story, someone told us that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. It was chilling and unsettling since none of us had access to radio or television, and we weren’t sure of the validity of the story. We began our march and found out that not one small plane, but two commercial planes had hit the towers. Cell phones were turned on and people on the march with me were crying – one of the spouses of my fellow walkers that day was in New York for a financial conference that could have very well been in the WTC, but she wasn’t sure. It was a beautiful, hot, sticky, southwest Georgia day. A white man in a pick-up truck with a gun rack and a Confederate flag pulled over (which is not uncommon on these walks). We assumed he was going to accost us about our “liberal” beliefs that people are people. And he did, but in a much more ironic way. “Y’all should listen to the radio. The shit that’s going on in New York is more important than the shit you’re trying to do,” he said. We couldn’t help but think that maybe if people started attacking the problem of racism at home then other peoples, nations, and religions would not have wanted to kill so many people that day.

How did it affect you personally?
One of my bands at the time, John Wilkes Booze, had just opened for the White Stripes and had been offered a year’s worth of studio time to do our project The Five Pillars of Soul the day before I left for the trip. My other band the Impossible Shapes, were supposed to play CMJ. I had the distinct feeling that finally, after playing for so many years, things were starting to happen. CMJ, of course, was cancelled. My flight out of Georgia to get to CMJ was cancelled. And the whole thing solidified my “liberal” political beliefs in a way I could have never imagined. It made me hate the American flag, not because I don’t believe America could be a fine nation, but because so many people use it as a “scrutiny condom.” If you have the flag, you’re fine. I finally understood the full meaning of John Prine’s “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore.” It also inspired me to create as much music as I could – the false security bubble popped, and instead of making me paranoid, it was a change and motivation agent.

Dave Hillyard – the Slackers
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was in Germany, in a small town called Husum. We heard about the attacks right after we loaded into the club in the afternoon. How did it affect you personally?
I was devastated. My then girlfriend (now wife) worked downtown right in the middle of everything. I had no idea what had happened to her for several hours. We didn’t have any English TV, all we had was German TV. So they were saying stuff like there were 50,000 people dead. Then our German booking agent worked the phones until he got in touch with all our families. It took him many hours. It turned out part of one of the planes had crashed into the roof of the building my wife was in. It had come through the World Trade Center and fallen on her office. But it landed about 50 yards from her. No one was hurt on her floor (the top floor). And she was able to get away from the area.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
Yeah, I decided not to wait on things. I got married. I’ve had a kid. It wasn’t completely due to 9/11 but that helped spur things.

Did it affect your traveling as a band?
We had to stay on tour for another three weeks! We were the walking wounded. Depressed. Shell shocked. But we got through it. And as a result it made us stronger.

Do you feel your music/band has changed since 9/11?
We were always political. But now we are bitter. It’s hard to tell whether it was because of 9/11 or our disenchantment with the government response to it. Basically everything they’ve done since the time of the invasion of Iraq has been a disaster. I mean, for fuck’s sake, they cut NYC’s home defense money by $80 million. Incredible. You realize that you have entered a historically important time and that things are either going to get better or get worse. They aren’t going to stay the same. So far, everything in the world has just gotten worse. My only compensation is the success of my family and my music.

Brett Rasmusen – Ignite
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was in Las Vegas and didn’t wake up until about noon. I looked out the window of my hotel, and there was nobody on the streets and thought it was a little strange. I called to the front desk to ask for a late checkout and the lady asked if I had turned on my TV. I knew something was wrong then.

How did it affect you personally?
Being in a band and having friends all over the world, I immediately thought of all my friends who live in NYC and New Jersey and my prayers went out to all of them and their families. We had the opportunity in December 2001 to fly out to New York and play a benefit concert at Hendrick Hudson High School in Montrose, NY. The benefit show was for the families of Firefighter Ladder Co. No. 4 from NYC. All proceeds were donated to the 17 families that lost love ones on Sept. 11, 2001. Ladder No. 4 had one of the largest losses of NYC firefighters. Seeing the look in the eyes of one of the fallen firefighter’s daughters and seeing how grateful she was that we came to play the benefit show was really overwhelming. It made me really appreciate what her father had done for all of us.

John Roderick – The Long Winters
Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was home in Seattle, but I had been living in New York up until Sept. 2. On the afternoon of Sept. 1, as sort of an ironic and touristy farewell to the city, a friend and I went to the top of the WTC. We stood on the roof and actually talked about “what if terrorists blew up the towers,” but of course neither of us thought of airplanes. Then we took the elevators down and stood between the towers and spun around until we were dizzy.

How did it affect you personally?
Well, it sure illustrated how limited my imagination was in terms of thinking of ways to blow up skyscrapers.

Have you made any changes in your life due to 9/11?
On the one hand, I know a musician from NYC who never really drank alcohol before 9/11, but since then he’s become a merry, silly drunk. On the other hand, I can’t help but resent anyone who says that their life was dramatically changed by it. You know?

Almost like, it shouldn’t be an excuse for people to be more paranoid, hysterical and pathetic. If it changed your life that much then you should be able to show that you started riding your bike to work and eating more beet salads and living life to the fullest.

Did it affect your traveling as a band?
In the sense that, after 9/11, if we showed up in a town and the show had been poorly advertised, or the local record store didn’t have our record in stock, or some company wanted to use a song of ours in a commercial without paying for it, the excuse was always “September 11”. Seriously. People just shrug their shoulders and say “September 11” as if that explains everything. Gas prices over three dollars a gallon? “9/11.” Opening band plays for twenty minutes too long? “9/11.” The logic runs that since 9/11 no one goes to shows any more, no one has money to spend, everyone is busy stockpiling rocket launchers for when the Muslim armies come marching into Omaha.