With booze, drugs and a venomous wit, Nick raged against things we couldn’t see. Seemingly to spite his very breath, or perhaps to quash the pang of waking up, he continuously told life to go fuck itself. It was his trademark. The middle finger was his flag. He would use words like “cunt” and “twat” in a way that transcended simple vulgarity and created a clever dialect of cynical irony. Those that were offended didn’t know him at all. If you weren’t laughing, you were a stranger. Those that laughed were his friends and were privy to his loyalty and giant heart.
He was a handsome guy, intelligent and quick-witted, with a lot of potential. He was a guy over which gorgeous women fawned. But, these things are the least of the tragedy. The real tragedy is that it was no surprise. He knows dying makes him a bigger prick than he could have ever strived to be, and he’s laughing about it in whatever bar assholes go when they die (I assume it’s The Pearl). It was only a few months ago he lamented about how he was sick of watching his friends overdose and die, and questioned how many more times it would happen. Now he’s gone and done the same. It is two weeks before his 30th birthday party – an event he openly described as celebrating how amazing it is that he’s still alive. He loved irony.
But, for all his demons – whatever they were – he knew himself. He knew he was angry. He knew he could be spiteful, and he knew he acted irrationally and immaturely. He knew he was self-loathing and self-destructive. He embodied these things with no apologies. It is a conviction few have. With balance and patience maybe things would have been different – but then who would he have been?
He would sometimes introduce himself as “Dirt.” I hated it. Some would actually use that handle when addressing him in person and I hated them for it. He would call me “Jophrey.” Once, in earshot of Nick, someone else called me the same thing. Nick wasn’t having it. That was HIS name for me, and that’s how it was going to stay, and he made sure that the mistake was never made again. It was one of many warm moments we shared.
If you knew Nick, you knew Linus Lowery. But before we were a full band, it was just Nick and I in a little apartment in Pleasantville. Our recording sessions swung from motivated to lethargic to inspired. When he would get tired he would lie on the floor (and “play the floorgan,” as he put it). When he drummed he had a Guitar Player magazine propped up nearby so he could be inspired by the cover picture: Dimebag Darrell, shortly after his death. We would go back and forth, recording, smoking and sitting around. It wasn’t without some arguing, but Nick would probably say, “That’s part of being geniuses.” Eventually we had an EP and put together the rest of the band. We practiced and screamed at each other. We drank and played shows. We met women and made jokes about the filthy things we wanted to do with them, while slowly being driven mad by them. We loved hating everything. It was our most common ground outside of music.
Linus Lowery was an endeavor he was extremely proud of, and a project into which he put his entire heart and a lot of hope. If you saw him on stage, you saw him at his happiest: carefree, exciting, and banging away at the drums until taking his turn at the mic to sing Dennis Leary’s “Asshole.” For forty minutes a week (sometimes more if Nick got us multiple gigs) Nick would rage at his most happy, the demons unable to touch him.
*For those of us who knew him when, so passes Super Ball-Man: part hero, part villain, indiscriminately tea-bagging random people in their sleep.