As it turns out, I was mostly right: She was monkeying around on MySpace and had found a real showstopper. And it's a darn good thing she didn't tell me what she was looking at, because had I known, I might have cut my ear off or something. As it was, I was wholly unprepared for what greeted me on the screen: Maris the Great, unmasked! "Haste the Day has brought Maris back to life," read the pithy, inexplicable headline above a photo that showed the growling, pink-coiffed superfreak in his zombie getup but without his vampire contacts and makeup.
"What the — ?!" I exclaimed. Something had to be terribly awry, because in the entire time I've known Maris, he's never been out of character. Ever. I knew someone who lived with him for a time, and she used to tell me stories about how she'd rarely seen Maris with his, uh, hair down. So the fact that he'd unceremoniously posted a picture of himself on MySpace was a shocker. "Oh, I've gotta get to the bottom of this one," I told Sweetie.
I can't stand suspense. Cliffhangers drive me to drink. And I work myself into a fit anytime somebody says the words "I need to talk to you about something" — even if that "something" is ultimately benign and completely inconsequential. I have no explanation for this condition, but I can tell you that I've been this way since I was a kid. I've gotta know everything. Right. Freaking. Now. With that in mind, I phoned up the only person I could think of who would possibly know the dealio: Rainie Kelso, the Royal Mouthpiece, the Joisey goil who does all of the Great Undead's bidding and is a straight-shooter. Usually.
"C'mon, Rainie," I pleaded futilely. "We're peeps. You can tell me. I'm not going to say anything."
She wouldn't give, though. Not an inch. If she indeed knows where the bodies are buried, she's not saying. "You'll have to come to the show on June 2 to find out," she said, referring to Maris the Great and the Faggots of Death's upcoming gig at the Marquis Theater. And then she directed me back to the cryptic blog item on Maris's MySpace page.
"It is I, Maris The...alive!" the post begins. "I knew that I must kill Haste the Day when I gave one listen to their fabulous new opus Pressure the Hinges. This Christian band from Indiana has honed their Hardcore/Metal craft to such a degree, that I knew if I didn't act immediately, there would be no stopping their popularity from spreading across the world. While killing them was all too easy, I didn't count on the Angel, standing nearby, to bring everything to a living end..."
So, here's what I'm dying to know: Has Maris become a Christian? Is he in the midst of some sort of identity crisis? Like, did he have a revelation that he's actually heterosexual and thus can no longer identify with his self-proclaimed zombie fag lifestyle? Or is it all a metaphor? Has he found a partner who's breathed new life into his lifeless soul, someone who makes him feel alive like the sound of music? Or maybe now that he actually has a band, he's opting to leave behind his web persona in order to pursue music full-time. Or maybe the person in the photo isn't even Maris, and this is all some prank.
You can bet I'll be at the Marquis on Saturday, June 2, to find out — and to lend my support to someone who's been a tireless champion of the local scene for years. Although there's no shortage of folks who view the guy as a punchline to a joke that was hardly funny to begin with, fact is, Maris is an icon, an undeniable fixture who's as creative and eclectic as the scene he celebrates.
Far more alarming than Maris's transformation is another mystery on the Web. At least we know that Maris is alive — but I'm not sure I can say the same about Mike Colin, another scene icon.
In April 2004, after fronting such acts as Phantasmorgasm, Cactus Marco, the Acoustifux and Family of Noise, among others, Colin effectively retired from making music. "In the last fifteen years," he wrote at the time, "I've turned down contracts and been turned down. I've had my music featured on TV and in movies. I've been ripped off locally, nationally and internationally. I've played to hundreds of people, I've played to an empty house. I've sold 1000's of some titles and less than 10 of others.
"I made music," he concluded, "the way I wanted to."
A little over a month ago, we reached out to Colin at his last known e-mail address regarding the release of his three-disc career retrospective, which we wanted to review. We didn't hear back.
But earlier this week, Michael Roberts, my colleague who edited Backbeat for a decade, received an e-mail from a friend and collaborator of Colin's, alerting us to a post on the prolific musician's MySpace page. "Dear Friends of Mike Colin," begins the letter posted there by one Andres Hernandez. "As Mr. Colin's attorney, I am obligated to inform you that Mike Colin was pronounced dead April 30th, 2007, in Tijuana, Mexico."
The note goes on to say that Mike died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, and that, per his request, news of his passing was kept under wraps for a time to allow his family to grieve in private. Hernandez's post also says that Colin had requested that no memorial be held and that more than a thousand recordings created between 1987 and 2007 be destroyed, cremated alongside him.
I've tried to track down more information, but no one returned the message I left at the number I had for him, and a former bandmate said that he didn't know anything more, either, but suspects it isn't true. So I'm hoping that Big Mike is on a beach somewhere in Baja and that this is a really big hoax in really bad taste. If not, coming on the heels of Brian Circle's recent passing (Beatdown, May 3), the news marks another sad day for music in Denver.
Upbeats and beatdowns: A shout-out to the lovely bartender at the Larimer Lounge who mistook me for Mike Herrera this past weekend. By happenstance, the ex-Blackout Pact and current Sleeper Horse frontman and I were both on hand to catch superb sets from Mustangs and Madras, Signal to Noise and Timothy Thomas Cleary. As I closed out my tab toward the end of the night, the barkeep handed me what she thought was my credit card. "Thanks, Mike," she said. "Uh, wrong Herrera," I responded with a laugh. I guess it had to happen sooner or later, now that Mike's back in town.