90’s Demi-God Dreams

April Stettner

Like most great ideas, it takes shape in your best friend’s bedroom. It’s ‘92, and you’re alternating between The Sunday’s Blind album and Salt-N-Pepa’s Expressions (you’ve got range), and maybe you’re flipping through the latest Disney’s Adventure magazine or YM–take your pick. Nirvana is a band you keep hearing about from your older brother, and there’s something about a naked baby on the cover? Weird. All you know is it’s not allowed in the house anymore.

You’re still two years out from discovering the pulsating heart of grunge, and soon “Big Empty” will become your siren song.  This will also coincide perfectly with the slow choke of suburban boredom and the realization that your parents are ruining your life. For now, though, saving the planet and “girl power” are big things to you, and it seems like–who knows?–you might be a good writer? I mean, you guys started that neighborhood newspaper about your pet sitting business and did an in-depth expose on the person that kept stealing mailboxes.  Also, you wrote a poem for Mother’s Day that made your mom cry.  Is this your calling?

“Hey,” you say between shoveling Dunkaroos in your mouth. “Why don’t we do this.” You say, motioning to the hot pink boom box. Your friend pauses mid-friendship-bracelet-creation and gives you a look like, huh.

“You know, start a band. Write songs and stuff.” The words hang there as if daring to be debated. Your friend looks skeptical.  This may take a little more convincing.

“I mean, we just filmed that Four Non-Blondes music video last weekend, and we were both not lip-synching.” The idea seems to take shape for your friends, and you sense their palpable excitement as you picture who else in your grade would be worthy enough to be included in such an opportunity. Your friend grabs the magazine from your hands and flips to the “Ask Celebrity” section.

“We can totally write to Janet Jackson and see what she thinks about our lyrics!” The spark is ignited—-a rush of ideas is now swirling between the two of you like an overly shaken snow-globe.

Your first foray into the elusive “garage band” starts in elementary school with the kind of energy and promise only a new Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper can provide. You continue assembling different groups throughout high school, morphing from three members to up to seven at one time. The early bands are less about actually learning and playing instruments; you have a Yamaha keyboard with over 20 pre-recorded sick beats that are a part of many a recording session. The question of “who the lead singer would be” is a common theme that reappears through almost every band you started over the next seven years. The elusive power the lead singer holds is something coveted even within the shyest of the friend group. Picture a Hunger Games throwdown chaotically playing itself out in bedrooms and basements across suburbia.

“I want to sing about things that matter,” the alpha of the group declares. This is one of the bandmate’s older sisters who weasels her way in every time you show up with the Yamaha. “You know, real stuff like recycling and homeless people.” This feels like a subtle dig about your last weekend’s pool party song. Little does she know the joke is on her: you have a diary full of poems about how moving to a wealthy neighborhood has permanently damaged your psyche.

“We need to be singing about relationships!” the only band member who had a boyfriend chimes in. Unanimous eye-rolls ensue.

“No one cares about Brad not calling you back.” That is you. You think relationships in 5th and 6th grade are dumb. You can’t even go to the mall by yourself, let alone hang out with a boy alone.  It isn’t until 9th grade that you become illuminated–when you meet Ali, a British Rugby player, in an AOL chat room. You will later tell your friends, “Your eyes met across a crowded chat room.” And the last three tracks on Third Eye Blind’s debut album still remind you of him to this day.

Then in middle school your demi-god rock star dreams become more serious. Fighting for vocal time over the backbeats of the Yamaha isn’t cutting it anymore. You need to assemble a group of serious artists. You’ve been listening to Jagged Little Pill and worshiping at the altar of a beautiful creature named Gavin Rossdale. You rip the X-Files poster off the wall (sorry, Mulder) and replace it with the 96′ cover of Details with the goddess Shirley Manson biting Gavin’s face. You know the one.  It was officially time to step it up.

You start hanging out with the new girl in school who has also fallen for the “British Invasion” of the early ’90s and introduces you to Oasis. The band is made up of two good-looking brothers who struggle with creative differences. Could you relate? Could you ever! She wants to learn to play the bass and, get this; her dad knows how to play the guitar and is willing to teach you both! Even though you struggle through chord progressions, you have everything you need and want– guidance. It’s as if cartoon hearts appear in the air.

This is really happening. You both decide to select your next two bandmates, Amanda and Tia, and tell them that you have already decided on a band name: 4 Girl Blend. Genius.




April Stettner is a freelance writer with a borderline unhealthy obsession with horror movies and 90’s pop culture.  When she isn’t beach hopping with her dog Wyatt, she’s enjoying a grilled cheese and plotting to dismantle the Patriarchy.  April lives in Charleston, SC, and in the hearts of rescue animals everywhere.