Dave Rice 2 p.m., June 20
Caged Lizards and Mayhem: a lifetime in music
Anthony Smith tells all in his self-penned memoir about life in the music industry fast lane
There was farting and crude lyrics sung over familiar songs, gay jokes, butt jokes, frequent and loud belly laughter, rough-housing, and a general tone of adolescent mischief. Also, Peepers introduced a new form of drug abuse to my band members: bubble hash knife hits.
Last year, Anthony Smith published his Chuck Klosterman-ish memoir The Lizard Stays in the Cage a couple of decades early, possibly, considering that the La Mesan is only 43 and nowhere near retirement.
This is essentially the work of a road dog: Smith has played in many bands, some local, some not, and as such has logged road mileage approaching Paladin status with their own million-mile club.
"I moved back to San Diego five years ago after touring and living in different places." Smith plays keyboards and vibes. "I lived here before. I got a music degree from San Diego State University."
He describes his life post-degree in one word: "Whirlwind."
Tiny had a sudden brainstorm. I know someone who can hook us up, he said with a smile. Roy. Roy who, I asked? Roy Karch. What is he, a booking agent or something? No. He's an adult film producer.
Smith performs now as a regular member of the Mighty Untouchables. "I've been with them for a couple of years. I do as much creative and jazz stuff on the side as I can."
He adds this: "I finally came to my senses and settled down and started a family."
Some may remember Smith in Giant People, a band that actually started in San Diego in the late '90s and that ultimately toured the country. "When I broke away from them, I started Global Funk Council. We did 200-plus shows a year around the country." He says the advice to tour incessantly came from a member of the String Cheese Incident. "That was quite insane."
My decision to rap had been a ballsy one, considering my roots as a suburban white kid with a comfortable upbringing. I had negligible street credibility, which is everything if you're going to pass yourself off as a rap personality.
"It's kind of a unique experience," he says, "being in a band and touring around the country." Smith has also played in KD3, a Karl Denson (Greyboy Allstars, Tiny Universe, Lenny Kravitz) side project that took them to the Blue Note in New York and some of the bigger jazz festivals around the country.
The Lizard Stays in the Cage, he says, is the result of a 10-year process of journaling and keeping notes. He calls it a creative non-fiction memoir. "I jump around. The thread is my life in the arts, the decision to go down the right brain path and to stick to my creative guns."
The monotony of the work allowed me to reflect on aspects of my life. And while there was always a chance that I could smash my fingers with one of those hammers, I could not deny a surprising truth: I liked working in a rock quarry. I didn't know it, but I was renewing my spirit for the next 10 years of my journey in the arts.
"It's humorous and sometimes dark. There's some harsh stuff in there."
I had made the mistake of telling Sexy Jamar about what happened with [the band] Guppy, how I'd been dropped by No Notice Otis, and how Simon had promised me some dough and then totally flaked. The very next day, there was a notice on my machine from Otis. You wanna fucking sue me? Go ahead. You'll see what happens if you try to fucking sue me.
"It's not an easy life, as you know."
The Lizard Stays in the Cage: Music, Art, Sex, Screenplays, Booze, and Basketball is available at Amazon.com.
Meanwhile, Smith says he will release a double CD with Mike Wofford and Holly Hofmann and the trusty rhythm section of drummer Duncan Moore and bassist Rob Thorsen sometime later this year.