I wasn’t a troubled kid, but I was always in trouble. It wasn’t that I was out of control, I just had a lot of energy that I didn’t know what to do with. I was paddled in kindergarten so many times for just being like, myself. And it didn’t change my behavior. It just sucked for 20 minutes, then my nature would kick back in and the cycle would start over again. Whenever I did something to make the other kids in the class laugh it would inspire me to take it further. So one minute I accidentally break my pencil, make a goofy face and the kid next to me chuckles. And the next minute I’m standing on my desk throwing broken crayons in the air. I guess the best, or worst example I can give you is in kindergarten, when a bathroom break meant everyone went at the same time, one day I thought it would be fun to have a pee fight. It quickly escalated, and except for the kids that ran out of the bathroom screaming, we were all peeing everywhere. It didn’t last all that long because we just didn’t have much ammunition. When the teacher ran in to see what the commotion was we were all dying with laughter. I’m sure it was a huge mess, and you can imagine the paddling I got for that.
Around that same time, I had an older cousin that I hung out with a lot. I always loved looking through her cassette tapes. At 6 years old I saw the cover for Look What the Cat Dragged In by Poison and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was so rock and roll to me, you know? Seeing and hearing that as a kid just kind of made me understand that you don’t have to be any certain way. You can just be yourself. You can be a dude, wearing makeup, looking like a girl and playing rock and roll. You can do what you want, as long as you’re not hurting anybody else, you know, it’s fine. I would apologize for choosing Poison as the band that changed my life, I know how ridiculous it may sound. But that was the spark, it changed things for me, so I’m not gonna deny them.
As I got older I began to realize that it’s hard to find your place in the world when you’re told you’re wrong all the time. Instead of redirecting you to something better, or something productive they just tell you every step of the way that you’re doing it wrong and here’s your punishment. Kids need to be guided toward something that benefits their energy and creativity. I finally found that in sixth grade when I started playing drums. Before I even had a drum kit I’d play on a snare along with pots and pans from my parents kitchen. I played for hours, all the time. After about a year they finally bought me a real kit. The drums were what gave me something to focus my energy on. And in seventh grade I knew I had found myself when I played in public for the first time at the school talent show.
A kids creative spirit, even if it’s getting them into trouble isn’t something that needs to be cut down like a weed, you know? We just need to figure out the right place for them in the garden, which can be tough, and takes a lot more patience than simply punishing them.
[Chris Suggs found a way to release his troublemaking, excess energy when he started playing drums in 6th grade. The following year he played in front of an audience for the first time and found his true calling. “Back then we were just basically making noise. Banging out 3 chords and beating on the drums really fast. There’s a definite charm to the blind energy we had before showing an actual aptitude for playing well. I still love coming across young, punk rock bands that have more drive and passion than skill. Because I know from experience, with that kind of passion for music they can’t help but improve, and refine their sound.” Chris grew up performing at venues like the Long Branch, Mercury Theater and Lava Lounge in Knoxville. These places gave him the opportunity to experiment, improve and fulfill his love of playing music. “It’s so important for kids to have a platform like we had when I was growing up. A place to play in front of a small group of people. Even if only one or two of them are really digging what you’re doing, that inspires you to keep going. Those kinds of places are getting harder and harder to find these days.”
Chris Currently shares vocal and guitar duties in the Knoxville based band Rough Dreams with founding member Jake Jones. Drummer Paul Lowe and bassist Matt Isbell round out the line up. Earlier this year they released the EP “From the Graves of Better Days”. Chris explains the concept behind the collection of cover songs, “The past is dead. You can never go back and live there, but sometimes it is nice to visit and leave flowers. That is exactly what we wanted to do with From the Graves of Better Days. This EP is our tribute to an era that passed two decades ago but left such an impact it still feels like yesterday. The five tracks we chose each occupied a different place in the early-2000s landscape, but all contributed in one way or another to our sound.”
Their latest work will be released as a full album by the end of the year. Chris says, “ the album is recorded and being mixed now. I think it will be the first collection of songs that truly represents the current state of our band. We’ve definitely evolved during the last couple of years.”
Chris also assured me that he hasn’t intentionally peed on anyone since the infamous kindergarten bathroom incident. And I don’t have any good reason not to believe him. ]