Music and Mayhem
They started out 14 years ago as a trio of teenage boys, bashing away on guitars and drums in the courtyard of Brookswood Secondary, trying to find their sound.
On Saturday, April 26, two of General Mayhem’s three original members will bring their act full circle when they return to the Langley high school as professional musicians, to play during BSS’s 40th anniversary celebration.
In its heyday General Mayhem performed a mix of covers and original tunes — featuring “crunchy power chords and huge drums” — mostly in front of classmates and friends.
“It was a lot of grunge, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam,” recalled Daniel Wesley, who played lead guitar and sang in the band alongside bassist, Jeremy Allingham.
It was big and it was loud, the two men recall with a chuckle.
“We’ve maybe stemmed that a little,” said Wesley, whose alternative rock is getting airplay on radio stations across Canada.
“When you’re young like that, you play what you know,” he said.
“It was fun. It gave us a start of what it’s like to write and record and book shows.”
Fast forward nearly a decade and a half, and what you have now, is a couple guys in their 30s, enjoying productive music careers and the early days of fatherhood.
Wesley has found success in a solo career, while Allingham is lead singer for Factories and Alleyways and is about to release his debut solo album.
But, truth be told, they still get a bit nostalgic for the old days.
Since their former drummer declined to join them, the musicians will reunite as an acoustic duo during Brookswood Secondary’s 40th anniversary celebrations, bringing their guitars to the school theatre at 3 p.m. and taking their former classmates on a bit of a journey back to 2001.
Aside from picking up the instruments for “1 a.m. strums” at parties over the years, the musicians haven’t performed together in more than a decade.
The plan is to play some original General Mayhem tunes, maybe a few covers and a little something from the catalogues of what they do now.
“We still need to get together and rehearse this baby,” laughed Wesley.
“Maybe we could add a little bit of harmonizing and maybe a couple little lead guitar parts, who knows.
“We’ll tinker away, and come up with something good, I’m pretty sure.”
“The thing that made this percolate for us and even just consider it is, once every month or so, we’d have a good party and one of us grabs a guitar and then the other one grabs their guitar,” said Allingham.
Right away, the musicians would start getting requests from friends for old General Mayhem tunes.
One song would lead to another and a sense of nostalgia would settle over the party.
“We’d look at each other, like, ‘We could do this, it’s kind of fun,’” said Allingham.
But time marches on, and for both men, that has meant starting families of their own.
“It’s been a blast, becoming a dad and sharing that experience with Jer,” said Wesley, whose son, Finn, is 13 months old.
“It’s nice to share the experience with a lifelong friend. We’re happier than we’ve ever been.”
Initially, Allingham feared that becoming a parent would mean he wouldn’t be able to devote much time to his music.
But all it’s done has changed how loud and where he plays.
Instead of heading off to jam with buddies, he finds himself at some point every day, strumming his guitar in front of his four-month-old daughter, Maliyah’s crib.
“I’ve found (parenthood) has helped me focus more. Spare moments are so rare,” said Allingham.
“There’s so much inspiration in having a child — all the anxiety that comes with it and the joy in unexpected moments, finds its way into the music.”
The Brookswood anniversary party offered the perfect opportunity for a General Mayhem reunion show, but it lands on a busy day for Allingham.
He also has a party scheduled on the same date as the reunion, with the release of his debut solo album — a folk record titled, That One Song — set for Saturday night at the Biltmore Cabaret on Kingsway.
Wesley, meanwhile, will perform his next show for Music Heals, on May 22 at the Imperial in Vancouver.
Brookswood celebrates 40 years
Brookswood School was built in 1973-74, beginning as a junior high before eventually becoming a full secondary school and graduating its first class in 1986.
To celebrate the last 40 years, the school is hosting an open house for alumni, former teachers and the community.
This event will be April 26, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Highlights include: nostalgic displays, a meet n’ greet of former teachers, theatre productions, an alumni basketball tournament, tours, performances by alumni bands and the school’s current jazz bands. Brookswood Secondary is located at 20902 37A Ave.
Call 604-530-2141 for more information.