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The Kids Are All Right 

Headbanging for credit at the Musicians Institute

Wednesday, Feb 21 2001
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Page 8 of 8

Shawn is in complete control. He has spent the entire Christmas break locked down in their small apartment, meticulously preparing for this moment. Within minutes his frantic guide track is blasting from the speakers, and a well-rehearsed Dan is pounding out a hyperkinetic beat. Shawn holds up his hands like a preacher, exclaiming, “Double kick drum -- the heart and soul of metal!”

Three takes later, and Dan has nailed the first song, “Till the Day,” perfectly. They move on to “Two Colors of Green,” and he pounds through it with equal precision. After the final beat, he looks up, breathing hard, and asks, “Does that make you happy?” Shawn gives him a thumbs-up.

Aric plugs in his bass and settles back in a chair. The song starts, and his long fingers begin moving up and down the frets like a caffeine-fueled spider. He momentarily forgets a part, and Shawn produces a page of sheet music filled with ridiculously complicated notations. Dan laughs and shakes his head. “The chart, the deadly chart.” Aric doesn‘t need it. He finishes the track, and they listen to the playback at peak volume. Shawn smiles. “It sounds pissed . . . and we’re such peaceful people.”

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As morning approaches, Shawn walks in to record his vocals. He slips the headphones over his long dreadlocks, steps to the microphone and shakes his body loose. After a pause, the music hits him like a blast of cheap trucker speed, and you can see his muscles tighten. He immediately starts rocking back and forth and pumping his arms. His voice comes out harsh and guttural, like he‘s purposefully destroying his vocal cords. “Un-teach -- relearn -- decide -- what the fuck you want from yourself in this life.”

In the mixing booth, Shawn’s words merge perfectly with the music. The engineer looks up from the mixing board and laughs. “That shit is intense!”

Dan and Aric have gathered behind the board to watch Shawn through the glass as he sings. They seem energized, nodding along and occasionally pumping their fists. It‘s as if his words suddenly give meaning to what they do. Dan begins quietly singing the lyrics back to Shawn. As the song continues, Dan moves closer, finally reaching out and pressing his hand against the glass that separates him and his friend. They stay that way as the song goes on, both singing -- both completely lost in the music.

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