Black Hole Zion: September 2021

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Stan, We Love You

I don’t have good news. We’ve known about this for a few months now. I’ve been in denial for much of that. Stan’s cancer came back and it’s a type that does not respond to radiation or chemotherapy. He’s not feeling well enough to type, so he told me that it’s probably best that I let everyone know. We played a pretty last minute show at 123 Pleasant Street on 9/4. We did it because we knew it was going to be Stan’s last show. It’s starting to impact his vision and he is in a good bit of pain. We aren’t sure how much time he has left, but he is still with us now. We played with our friends in Swamp Drag and Raven Mocker because Stan also has a deep connection with folks from both of those groups. Our very good friend, and former guitarist, Ryan, drove down to be there and surprised Stan by sitting in on a few songs. We wanted it to be special, and it was. Stan played so well that you wouldn’t have even known he was in pain or having trouble seeing. Truly a god among us ants. We love you, Stan. Sincere thanks to Swamp Drag, Raven Mocker, Ryan P., Adam P., 123 Pleasant Street, and every one of you that came out to make it such a nice way to say a musical goodbye to our dear Stan. Love.

I’ve been trying to write all of the above and what comes next for days and days. I keep stopping because I’m having trouble finding the right words, or I think something will change. I know Stan hesitated to tell folks because he doesn’t want to make anyone sad, and he doesn’t want pity. That’s also why we didn’t broadcast the fact that 9/4 was his last show. He wanted it to be a happy thing. That tells you a lot about his character. The fella with terminal cancer doesn’t want to bring anyone’s mood down or have them pity him. He is truly an amazing person.

With that in mind, I’ve been trying to see the good in this bad situation. I’ve been trying to be grateful we got a chance to have a last show with Stan and have it mean something. I’m grateful he is still with us now, and I can still visit. I’m grateful we get to say goodbye a little bit at a time. I’m grateful I got to record some of Stan’s synth work for an upcoming Black Hole Zion release. I’m grateful that Stan recorded a solo album under the name Stannous Fluoride that’s out now. Michael did the album art, I’ve made a couple of videos for it, and have sent it for release on streaming soon. It’s available on Bandcamp now. Stan is asking donations be made to the animal charity/rescue of your choice in his honor if you go there to get it. I am grateful I get to listen to this fantastic thing he created. I’ve cried while listening to it so many times. I’m not going to let myself dwell on the negatives and what I’ll miss or didn’t get to do with Stan. He’s here now, and we have a chance to do some things to show him how much he means to us.

I can be grateful that I get to tell Stan (and anyone reading this) what he means to me.  Let me explain how our relationship started. I’ve known him for a few years as a musician.  Just seeing him around in other bands, I always admired his talent.  He had a cool collection of vintage synths, basses, and rack gear that he got such awesome and unique sounds from.  Actually, the very first Black Hole Zion show was with Stan’s band, Beloved Dead (Jeff from Raven Mocker on guitar) and also Swamp Drag (who we would all become great friends with).  A couple years back, we both sat in with a different band for a couple of shows.  That’s when I got to know Stan a lot more.  He’s kind, highly intelligent (PhD in Pharmacology, a neuroscientist, and….an electrician!), and he’s a fantastic musician.  We had so many great talks about art, science, politics, our love of animals, and music.  I’ll always remember the first long trip I made with Stan and his then wife, now good friend, Kaelee.  Very kind and interesting people.  I knew that night that they were folks I could spend time with and be better for it.  After those couple shows with that other band, we didn’t play together for a while because I was doing more with Black Hole Zion.  That changed when we started having drummer issues.  Our drummer at that time became difficult to communicate with, and canceled on us for a few shows we had booked.  Instead of canceling the shows, we made the decision to not worry about our current drummer and keep going with electronic drums until we found the right person.  Stan was the first person I contacted after we made that decision.  I wanted someone that could operate the electronics and also add their own style to the sound as a keyboard/synth player.  Stan went above and beyond.  He played his first show with us (also with our friends in Swamp Drag), and didn’t even get a full practice with the band.  He added so many cool sounds and synth lines in addition to being able to keep the drum tracks/electronics running that we asked if he wanted to join full time even if we found a human drummer later.  Stan wrote so many cool synth lines for our existing music.  He put his stamp on them without changing the songs into something else.  Stan, I am so grateful that you played with us and brought some of your own magic to our sound.  I am grateful that we got a live recording back in August of 2019 with all those awesome synth parts you added.  You made Black Hole Zion a better band just by being you.  It will be hard for me to play some of these songs when I no longer hear the parts you were playing and can’t steal quick glances at you on stage.  We aren’t rushing to fill your spot in Black Hole Zion.  Frankly, it’s going to take the right person, a special person, to do that.  We will be a four piece for now.  You fit in with us so well just by being yourself.  Traveling to play odd shows at meaderies with cool bands and “psychics” that may or may not have been legit.  Listening to me talk about two versions of planet earth existing simultaneously as part of a dimensional shift and indulging me with the scientific possibilities.  Having discussions about the potential science of energy work, alternate timelines, and so many other wacky things I wanted to talk about.  Coming to my house for practice and eating baked goods.  I was so nervous that you wouldn’t like the sweet cranberry rye bread I made, but was so happy when you did!  Coming over to help me and Natalie with electrical work while we ate Mediterranean food and played with our dogs, Rudy and Luna.  Seeing you lightly chuckle with every Jar Jar and Reba reference at practice, but not too much because you also wanted to show Michael love.  Sugar cookies with Swamp Drag for Christmas!  Inviting us into your home to practice and record your synth parts, and just to hang out.  Eating Thai food in your backyard on a beautiful summer day.  I will treasure the pie dough lifter you gave me last week! It meant so much that you remembered me talking months and months ago that I wasn’t great at rolling out pie crusts and getting them into a pan, so you gave me that tool to help.  I could go on about what a fantastic person you are.  It’s taken me days to get myself together to write this much.  I love you, Stan, and I am so thankful that I got to be your friend and make music with you.  Again, I love you.  Thank you for being you.  

To anyone else reading this.  Don’t say “sorry for your loss” or “sending prayers”.  He wouldn’t want that.  I’m grateful I got to spend time with him as a friend, and make music with him.  If you know Stan, let him know how much he means to you directly.  If you don’t, tell us here and I will make sure he sees it.  Stan, we love you, always.