Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rage in Peace: In memory of Tobias Staniford

When I was 14 going on 15 I became part of the first Heavy Metal/punk and hardcore music genre. We were heavily influenced by all the big groups like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Dio, Scorpions...just to name a few. And when they came to the bay area, you could find us all at the front rail of the Cow Palace banging our heads to the sound of the metal gods. But our own east bay scene of up and coming bands ...that was where WE had a chance to make history happen. Thrashing to Metallica and Slayer at the Keystone Berkeley.(Oh yeah, I just want to mention, excellent airwalk by Chris Kontos at Slayer the other night. Saw it on the Facebook) There were DRI shows. Dead Kennedy shows. Death Angel at the Mab. But to me, there was nothing like seeing Exodus or Fang at Ruthies Inn. Because those were our local boys. And that's where I met Toby Rage. At an Exodus show. Well, I didn't actually meet him. He came sailing through the air like a flying fish with a mo-hawk and landed right on my head. I was fortunate enough, back then, to have afro padding, so I wasn't hurt...much. And neither was he. In fact...he bounced off me, ran back to the front and hopped back on stage before the song Piranha was even finished. And it was there in that moment, that Toby (who was already a legend in the metal scene) taught me a very valuable lesson in stage diving. It is better to land on someone than to be the person someone is landing on. I took that to heart right away and did my very first stage dive during the song entitled No Love. It was truly amazing. After that it was an obsession and I became part of a union, made of some of the very finest folks in town called Slay Team Berkeley. I mean, we were teenagers during the Reagan era and this was our way of dealing with it.
Then I realized one day, an even better place to be was on stage. As the band. I wanted in. So me and some friends... we started our own metal band.
Tim, Gary, Strephon, Matt and I decided on the name Sacrilege. The name was later changed to Sacrilege BC. I ditched school for weeks to write songs so that we could finally play. And when we did, guess who honored us by doing some of the wildest head walking acrobatic air stunts you've ever seen? Toby Rage. That's who. He had our back. Toby Rage loved our sound. I was stoked!
He was a music lover, a friend, a comrade, a brother to us all. He was bi lingual, too. Him and Paul Bailoff had this strange after hours language only they could understand. It sounded like a mix between Klingon and radio static. They're probably speaking that language right now, somewhere. Anyway, I ended up drifting away from the metal scene at some point in my post adolescent life ... In other words...after rehab...I began exploring other kinds of music. Blues, Jazz, Hip hop, funk, even Country...but I never forgot my hardcore/metal roots. And Toby never forgot that part of me either.
It was years later when I was at an east bay Rats fight party I saw him in line at the bbq table. Turns out it was also Sammy and Tobys 40th birthday. Now I hadn't seen Toby in years but he said hi to me like it was STILL 1984. I was trying to get a 2nd plate of ribs and the guy at the table was giving me that " I'm not sure you are part of the in crowd group " look. So I was getting ready to walk away, when Toby steps up and says, " Hey, you better hook this man up with another plate of ribs, bro. You know who this is? That's Moose from Sacrilege! "
And for some reason that moment stuck with me. Not only did I get a 2nd plate of some tasty ribs, but more importantly, I got affirmation from a friend who's connection with me goes as deep as the music we shared.
Toby never forgot who I was after all those years and that is why I can never forget him. He has us here together right now, reminding us how important that is.

And as I think about him right now, I can only imagine the air he's getting. There are no stage diving rules in heaven as far as I know.
Rest in peace Toby.
Love and respect and thank you for listening


Cayenne said...

That was a great tribute to a cool person. thanks for writing it.

Uncle Samurai said...

Thank you. Real memories are kept in the heart, mind and soul...