I started a new Instagram called @DiscoKroger where I post all the punk photos I took as a kid starting in 2005, mostly in Houston but with an occasional photo taken in Austin. My days now take place mostly in Los Angeles where I just drink, party, and pay invoices all day, but it didn't use to always be like this. When I was a teenager, I used to stay home and listen to music all day until I moved out in my junior year of high school and spent my evenings going to punk shows and my weekends hanging out at small bookshops and record stores. It was here where I made friends with the people I'd spend the next decade with.
These people worked at grocery stores and restaurants and museums and galleries during the day and spent their evenings playing in bands and throwing art shows. They taught me about all the cool bars and restaurants in town, where punk and party houses were when the addresses were purposely omitted from flyers, and the original sources from which bands would steal riffs and album art. Looking back, it was kind of inappropriate for me to be trying to hang out with all these people while my days consisted of me trying to survive high school, but I firmly believe that watching them drink and do drugs kept me off of certain vices until I reached an appropriate age.
Fire Team Charlie was one of my favorite bands to see. They truly understood what the late 80s and early 90s hardcore bands were trying to do. When I was 12 or 13 and too young to go out and see shows on my own, I honestly thought I wasn't missing much because bands I loved like Indian Summer and Rites of Spring were long gone. When I discovered that there was a worldwide revival of this type of hardcore around the world, including an incredibly active scene right in Houston, I knew I wanted to see it for myself. Fire Team Charlie was the first band of the genre I witnessed.
Fire Team Charlie had amazing, intricate guitar-work that perfectly balanced soft interludes and heavy riffs. They wrote lyrics about war, famine, and loss and screamed them from the gut. When I listen to songs like "Captain Fantastic and Boris, the Heavy Metal Kid", I can't believe that it was made from these kids in a barn out in Richmond, TX (a small town almost an hour outside of Houston). Growing up in central Houston, I imagined that Richmond was this weird small town that was home to strip malls and a prison farm. Casey, who sang and played guitar for Fire Team Charlie, made me believe that my estimation of his hometown wasn't far off. By sheer coincidence, he ended up taking classes at the community college right next to my high school and sometimes we'd hang out when we both had free time. After I graduated from high school, he and I started a Jawbreaker cover band and played a few shows around town (all of them headlining slots). A couple years after Fire Team Charlie broke up, Casey sold his record collection and we lost touch. I don't recall him making music (publicly, at least) after Fire Team Charlie. I see photos and him and his wife and kid pop up on Facebook every once in a while. He seems to be doing fine.
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