My Life as a Junior High Heavy Metal Rockstar

"So, how's that heavy metal band going?" Fig Newton, self-appointed class clown (you can read about his ongoing War of Wills with one substitute teacher here) had turned his chair to me, Cheshire grin on his face.

I liked Fig. His jokes never ventured into that truly mean territory that some kids' tended to. But I also knew enough to sense danger ahead. Y'know, like livestock seem to know a thunderstorm is coming.

Heavy metal?! In that moment, I tried to recall my current musical work. To-date it had involved eight years of tedious piano lessons where I tried desperately to squeeze even mild Billy Joel tunes into an otherwise rigid classical repertoire...

And the rest of it was all about school band flute-tooting, where the closest we got to rocking out was Neil Diamond's "America."

We took what we could get.

"Um..." I suavely stalled for time.

"You and Josette," Fig went on to explain. "Your heavy metal band. 'Thorson and Hadley.' I hear it's getting really big."

"Ohhh!" I said, light dawning over my mental schoolyard. Now I saw where we were going with this. This was supposed to be humor. See, because my best friend since the beginning of time, Josette Hadley and I were both big ol' nerds. Quiet, and good students, and hopelessly awkward....

Josette was a nervous kid because she'd had so friggin' many CCD classes she'd gotten the idea she was treading a fine line to Hell with pretty much breathing the wrong way.

I had the unfortunate curse of being the only child of strict, distinctly-unamused perfectionists where even my most minor toe out of line was viewed as a horrifying reflection on their failure in the whole unspoken Exceptional Parent Competition they seem to have signed up for...

None of my classmates knew these specific pressures, mind you. But they could smell fear. Sort of like sharks to blood in the water. It couldn't be helped. It was Nature's Law.

So this all was supposed to be hilarious because the banging of the heads, we did not so much do.

"They have a heavy metal band," Fig confidentially told two of the boys around him. "Thorson and Hadley, it's called. They really rock."

"Um, sure," I said, flatly, "the gigs-- they just keep coming." I went back to doodling hearts and Garfields in my Trapper Keeper notebook.

And so began the rise of this new and rather eccentric running joke among my classmates. During the day, Josette and I were introverted goody-two-shoes junior high students...

During evenings and weekends, though, we were leather-clad hard core rockers who gave Joan Jett, Heart, AC/DC and Yngwie Malmsteen a run for their money.

The shift came somewhere into about the third day of this (because in school situations, what is funny one moment is, of course, well-worth repeating word-for-word a bazillion times to infinity).

So seeing that this theme could easily run clear into summer vacation and possibly follow us for the rest of our lives, being something we'd have to try to smooth over with potential employers-- ("no, I never did bite the head off a chicken") -- Josette and I got an idea.

And we went to work.

"Here," I handed Fig a slice of spiral bound notebook paper. I even had gone to the trouble to trim those little fringy things off, so he knew it was important.

"What's this?" He held it, frowning.

"Read it."

In big letters on the top of the paper was a logo. We'd toyed with this, oh, for a good hour or two. Which in kid-time is really years. Trying out different variations. Little nuances. Eventually we'd settled on writing "Thorson" in jagged 80s KISS-style lettering, and "Hadley" all in capital letters. Because, since my name was first, y'know, hers should be in caps. To show equal importance.

We were determined not to have any control and ego issues break up our band like McCartney and Lennon... David Lee Roth and Van Halen... erm, Simon and Garfunkel.

Instead of a traditional "and" we showed our rebellious heavy metal nature by using a separating lightning bolt.

Oh, it was so very cool, we were sure.

Below this masterpiece of branding, was a song list. Twelve song titles, from the first Thorson/HADLEY album.

These titles were as repulsive and violent as we could think to make them. Which, of course, wasn't very. But we gave it our all. Edgy! Raw! Involving pain and stench even, which we thought was a particularly nice touch.

Oh, we had stepped onto the stage and strummed the first grinding electric chord of a whole new age in junior high school life!

Fig passed the paper around to his buddies, the ones who had been helping perpetuate the theme. As long as it had taken me to get the initial joke, it took them to realize Josette and I had decided to embrace it.

Next in our work were the lyrics pages. Lyrics fleshing out all of those vulgar song titles. We were nerds, after all, so one thing you could certainly count on nerds to do properly-- particularly girl nerds who excelled in Language Arts-- was to write decent rhyme.

Oh, we made the songs ridiculously silly, incredibly spoofy, and shared those, too, with the masses.

Then came the promo posters. We were Artsy Nerds, yes, so promotional literature could be whipped up in no-time!

Our school book covers brandished our logo and information about our tours. We had rave reviews written up. Soon, everyone knew about Thorson/HADLEY. Our heavy metal infamy extended throughout junior high and well into high school, until it had absolutely just nowhere else to go.

We had peaked at 18, like so many child stars.

Sometimes, now as an adult, when I find myself once again being thrown into the role of responsible, reliable goody-two-shoes, I find myself longing for my headbanging past. Those days so free, so full of beautiful music with words like "reek" and "puke" in it... And of course the fame...

Oh, the fame...

But, at least these golden days of glory were immortalized. In various spots, in the 1989 Edgar Allen Poe High School Year Book, you will see it printed there-- a message for us graduating seniors to remember always:


You can take the girl out of the 80s big hair, but you never quite take the 80s big hair out of the girl.


Shieldmaiden96 said...

PLEASE tell me some extant texts remain of these lyrics.

Jenn Thorson said...

ShieldMaiden- Oh, I imagine I do have some somewhere. If I don't, Josette probably does.

Which reminds me, I should send her the link to this. She might get a good laugh.

Surfie said...

That really is an awesome name for a metal band. :) This sounds like so much fun. I would have LOVED to be a part of it! And I agree with ShieldMaiden - at the very least we need the track list!

Jenn Thorson said...

Surfie- Oh, I'm pretty sure I must have at least some of this stuff lurking in my house. I've been cleaning out boxes lately, so I'm bound to run across it. When I do, I will absolutely do a follow-up post.

Charlene said...

When does your E! True Hollywood Story come out? LOL!

I especially love this: "child of strict, distinctly-unamused perfectionists where even my most minor toe out of line was viewed as a horrifying reflection on their failure in the whole unspoken Exceptional Parent Competition they seem to have signed up for..." Well-said!

Jenn Thorson said...

Charlene- Heh, I'll have to work on one of those dramatic blurbs about my skyrocketing to fame, my troubles with Capri Sun (Watermelon flavor) addiction, and my eventual decline into a minimum wage college job. :)

ReformingGeek said...

I liked to daydream that I was a super spy girl.

Wait. I still do.

Flute-tooting. Strict parents. Yep. Me, too.

jay said...

Ha! Good for you two! It takes guts to accept a joke like that and run with it!

Jenn Thorson said...

ReformingGeek- Ah, superspy-- excellent! (You know, I can see that. I'm sure you took a risk with your super secret organization in even sharing that with us today. You are brave.)

Jay- Sometimes it's the one way to survive-- roll with it! said...

OH, you totally RULE, Jenn!

Unfinished Rambler said...

Love the post, but technically speaking Joan Jett and Heart aren't heavy metal. You probably should have referenced Lita Ford and Vixen, I'm thinking. :)