THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: Dredg

In which Dredg
guitarist Mark Engles recalls a Kafkaesque experience at an airport in the
sticks.

 

BY MARK ENGLES

 

It was December of 2001 and we were recording El Cielo at Longview Farms in the Massachusetts
countryside. We were taking a break for Christmas and flying home until after
the new year. Our producer on the record, Ron St. Germain, was an avid aviator
who would fly in and out of a small local airport by the studio often. He knew
of my interest in aviation and had invited me to come along to the airport to
send him off on this cold December night.

 

When we arrived at the small rural landing strip there
wasn’t a soul around. Protocol in freezing weather meant that we should do a
runway walk down with flashlights checking for ice. Being that it was just
after Sept. 11, I asked if there was someone we should check with before doing
so. Ron was confident, and rightfully so, that he had flown in an out of this
airport and completed this procedure so many times, that it wouldn’t be an
issue.

 

The caretaker, “Bob,” knew Ron well and surely everything
would be fine. We proceeded with our ice-checking walk down the runway until we
got about 1000 yards down. We both heard the sound of an accelerating vehicle
and turned to see bright flood lights blinding us. Ron reassured me it must
just be this “Bob” and he would talk to him. Well, the large SUV came to a
skidding stop 20 yards in front of us and both doors flew open. The sound of
multiple shotguns cracked through the cold night. I almost pissed myself. “On
the fucking ground!” yelled the gun-wielding men.

 

Ron begins explaining himself to the gentleman, but is cut
off by another: “Get on the fucking ground, now!” We obliged. They tromped over
to us through the snow and shouted further instructions. Face down on the
ground, we were searched and instructed to kneel, in the snow at this point,
with our hands in the air.

 

The great soul that he is, Ron kept trying to explain and
excuse me from any involvement in the matter. In my head stories of mistaken
identity kept circulating and terrifying my rational logic of us being innocent
and therefore safe. Finally, after some sheer terror and frozen knees, “Bob”
walked out from behind the SUV. “Ron? Fuck.” 

 

We were cleared of our predicament and everything came to a
reasonable conclusion – especially that small time law officers are sometimes
very happy to do their job. I saw Ron off and returned to the studio for a well
deserved shot of whisky. And we didn’t have to find another guitar player to
finish the tracks on El Cielo.

 

 

Dredg’s fifth album, Chuckles
and Mr. Squeezy, is out now on Superball
Music. (
www.dredg.com)

 

 

DREDG – “UPON RETURNING”

 

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