Sick Of Myself

In 1996, four lads from SUNY Purchase took the Roskilde Music Festival by storm before flaming out in a contentious breakup. Ten years later, Buckeye’s songs have been made famous by Oasis, Matthew Sweet, and The Gin Blossoms, amongst others. On Saturday, November 18, the band will reunite to launch it’s “European Thunder Tour.”

Try as they might, the members of the band will never forget Sunday, June 30, 1996.

Chumbawamba had just finished its set on Roskilde’s Yellow Stage. Front man Chris Abad had finally met his hero, Mark McGrath. Drummer Ryan Vaughn had just turned twenty-one (Heather Nova bought him his first pint). Bassist Jason Nichols was sitting around smoking Marlboro Reds and drinking Budweiser with Bush bassist Dave Parsons. And rhythm guitarist Benjamin Wagner was trying to get the band onstage on time… again.

The band was soaring on the success of its Welsh radio hit, “Girlfriend In A Coma” (later popularized by The Smiths). The song was gaining traction in Poland as well as the Netherlands. (In fact, Undisputed Heavyweight guitarist Wes Vehoeve cites Buckeye’s performance as the reason he first picked up a guitar). There was tension in the air, but the good kind, the explosive kind, the kind where the audience is with you, rabidly anticipating your Big Finish.

The quartet was mid-way through its new original, “Go Let It Out” (later to be stolen by Oasis’ Noel Gallagher). Wagner’s spiky mane was dripping with sweat. Abad was shredding the solo. Just off stage, though, Grant Lee Buffalo front man Grant Phillips flipped the band the bird. Buckeye’s recent single, “Hey Jealousy,” had just bumped Phillips’ cover of “Boys Don’t Cry” from the Top of the Pops.

Vaughn lost his cool, stopping dead in the middle of the tune, and chucked his sticks at Phillips, nailing him square in the solar plexus with a huge marching mallet, then again in the forehead with some brushes. Phillips fell to the floor, but Vaughn wasn’t done. He hurled his full set at the wings (as you’ve seen a thousand times on “Behind The Music”) taking out half a dozen music execs with his floor tom. David Geffen, Danny Goldberg, Kevin Lyman, Albert Grossman, and Clive Davis were all badly injured.

Buckeye never finished the set. The band was immediately kicked off the festival grounds, and blackballed. Vaughn wandered off with Heather Nova’s guitar tech. Abad disappeared on The Jesus Lizard’s tour bus. Wagner flew off in Frank Black’s helicopter. And Nichols just walked off into the Danish country side with nothing but a backpack and a fist full of quarters.

Ten years later, the band’s songs have been made famous by those closest to its great flamout: Oasis, Matthew Sweet, The Dandy Warhols, Paul Westerberg, and The Gin Blossoms.

Fan conferences (“Buck-a-thons”), compilations, and re-releases have kept the quartet vital. In June 2006, the band’s label, Flaming Cochlea, dispatched a young intern, Deke “Casey” Shea, to bring the band back together again.

In August, the band played an impromptu set at Rockwood Music Hall. It later repaired to Edison, New Jersey’s Electric Studios (one time laboratory of Thomas Edison), where they are working on a new Flaming Cochlea LP. The band’s “European Thunder Tour” — including a triumphant return to Roskilde’s Yellow Stage — kicks of November 18 at New York City’s famed Knitting Factory.

Don’t miss this historic event.

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