In January of 98, Josh FINALLY started getting bass lessons. He started out about the same way I did, scales, Peavey bass, Peaver Blazer 15W. He practiced a whole lot too. At this time I was figureing out how to play parts of some songs, like "A New Level" by Pantera (the heavy part). My birthday came around, and thats when i got the Hot Rails strat pickup by Seymour Duncan. I put at the bridge of my guitar. Made it sound awesome. Sometime in March is when me and Josh learned to play 2 songs together. "Israel's Son" by Silverchair and "Sweet Tooth" by Marilyn Manson were our first songs that we played. We had practiced like a million hours that night, and we recorded it on a hand held mic. We still got it too! In early April, we got our first drummer. His name was Travis Nault, AKA ZZ Top. We considered ourselves beginners, so we didnt set our standards to high for him. We borrowed a drum set from someone, and had Travis over to "try out". We tried to teach him Israel's Son, but he had a hell of a time with it, after about 3 hours of trying to teach him without much headway, we decided that Travis wouldn't make the cut. But we were still good friends with him though. He had a pretty decent voice so he became our singer. At this point we asked Matt LaCrosse to drum for us. He had about as much experience as Travis, so he didnt really work out either.
Now we arrive near June of 98. We had a practice scheduled with Travis, me, and Josh at Josh's house. Me and Josh go there and waited around for about 3 hours, and finally Travis called. He said he wasnt feeling well, so he couldnt come over. All right no problem, right? wrong. We looked on the caller ID and saw that he was calling from his friends house. We jumped to an immediate speculation that Travis would rather hang around with his friends from Escanaba than his band (This would later turn out to be false). So, we ditched him.
At this point we had no organized songs, but we had a couple riffs that were pretty cool. Now the lineup was back down to me and Josh. So Josh opted to be the singer. But who would play bass? This is where Tyler Coppock came in. He hadn't really played bass before, but his family was very musically talented. So, Josh became Tyler's teacher for bass guitar. During all this, I was working with some riffs that I came up with. I came up with the basic verse riff that is now in our first song, Changeling. Unfortunately, Tyler was showing slow improvement. Now was when we asked Joe Porath to drum for us. We had seen Joe drum in Jazz band at school, and he was pretty talented. We asked him, and he accepted. At his first practice, he showed great skill with the drums. However, we noticed a constant repetition in his drum style. He would play the same thing for every part. If we wanted something else in the part, we had to tell him and teach him, but then it got hard for him to get the part down. Sometimes, he couldnt get the part down. Eventually this would turn for the worst.
While all of this stuff with Joe and Tyler were happening, me and Josh were working on band names. I had compiled a list of possible names. Some on the list were Bane, Virus, Blacktooth, Mastication, and Moktar. We wanted a name that didnt sound like something you'd say in regular speech. Something like Pantera or Metallica is what we wanted. Tyler, Josh, and I got together one night, and we decided on Moktar as the name. Tyler came up with the idea that we should capitalize the M and T. And thats how we got the spelling of it. Also, we had 3 songs: 1 was really heavy, that is Song #1, "Changeling. Song #2 is really heavy too but a faster beat, its called "The Arena". And the other song we had sounds like old Metallica. Like their Sanitarium song on Master of Puppets. It doesnt have a name yet, but it rules.
Well sometime in Summer 98 is when we recorded our first song. The title at the time was "Acceptance". Of course we were all a little jittery about being heard by the beastly Fostex X-15, but we did our best. All the parts were fairly good except for the vocals. The lyrics were kinda corny, and Josh's voice wasn't what you would call talented. Josh totally agreed with me that we should get a new singer, so he decided to go back to bass guitar. But this presented a problem. Tyler was putting time and effort into the bass guitar, and we didn't know how to tell him he could either play rhythm guitar or be a "crewman".
So, we told Tyler the band thing. He said he never really wanted to be in the band in the first place, but he was kinda afraid to say no, because he thought we wouldn't be his friend anymore. Now that I think back on it, we did kinda put Tyler in an awkward position. So now we're back down to Me, Josh, and Joe. We had a guy by the name of Josh Couchene over to try out for vocals. He had a great voice, and we asked him if he would join us. But, unfortunately, he didnt want to be involved in a band whose goals were to make it bigtime. Right about now is when we asked Troy Eskofski to be our singer. We'd been friends with Troy since we were in Kindergarten, and we never really noticed that his voice had some "metal talent" until now. We asked Troy to sing a couple songs for us, and he did. His voice sounded awesome! Kinda like Rob Zombie and Dez Fafara. Well great, we got a full lineup right?? Well one day I got a call from Joe, saying that he couldn't be in the band anymore. Apparently, he had an offer from another band that played more of his style of music. Music like AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin. You get the point. So now we're drummerless. When Joe first resigned, it was a relief, cause he was such a dumbass.
Well one summer night, I got a call from Travis Nault, our former singer. He asked me what was up, and its been a while since we'd talked. I told him about what me and Josh thought he had done, and he immediately apologized. But it was me that should have appologized (which i did later on in the conversation) not him. He had gone to a friends house and got smashed, and was too hung over to show up. He said that if he would have showed up, we probly wouldv got pissed at him cause he couldnt do anything. So we got everything straitened out with him. A week later he moved to North Carolina.
The search for a drummer began once again. Troy told us about an old friend of his, Ben Durbin. We had him over for drums. He was fairly good at it, but he didnt like any bands like we did. He was more into alternative stuff like Matchbox 20. So, that was over right away. So we had about exhausted our drummers that we had in the area. Its a lightly populated area, so you gotta take what little stuff you have. About the only person left was Matt LaCrosse, who was our drummer for about a week earlier on. We knew he wasnt very good, but we asked him if he'd want to drum for us if he knew how. He said yes. So, after about another 2 months of looking for a drum set, we finally got one from one of Josh's relatives. In our first practice with him, we taught him the first song, renamed "Changeling" (We renamed it earlier after we had revised the lyrics). He picked up on it right away and learned fast. Although he has a long way to go, with his determination, I believe he can do it, as long as he continues to believe in himself.
Around Christmas in 1998, Matt got a drum set, and began to improve even more. We began to record our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd songs onto our small, 4 track recorder. The guitars went well, but the drums were troublesome because of a changing tempo that you had to guess at. Matt did most of it, and I ended up recording what he didn't do. A 13 year old from a local town, Nick Troutman, called us up and inquired about a second guitar position. We told him to come over whenever, and he could try out. That soon fell through though, as he was busy due to Hockey. Meanwhile, we had an offer to play at a show on Valentines Day. We said sure, and began practicing, we wanted to play 5 of our own songs, and 5 cover songs. The cover songs were: Freedom (RATM), Shoots and Ladders (Korn), 5 Minutes Alone (Pantera), Engine Number 9 (Deftones), and Big Truck (Coal Chamber). But then we would need two more of our songs. So, me and Josh got together, and wrote Slasher and Pummel. Slasher is a heavy, power groove song that kicks you in the ass if you're not careful. Pummel is an up-tempo, headbanger song that makes you move! So we were all set with the set. But now Troy and Matt would have to learn them...
As we taught the songs to Matt and Troy, it became evident that it would take more time than Febuary 14th. When one would be doing good, it seemed the other would forget everything and do bad. It was a very difficult time for me and Josh. AS we trudged on, we finally learned the songs, and we were ready to go for the big night. However, it was postponed from Feb 14 to mid March. So we waited, and waited, and about a week away from it, it was postponed AGAIN to April 30th. As the day approached, we scrambled and booted "No Control" out of the lineup because it didnt fit the set well. We replaced it with Antichrist Superstar (Marilyn Manson), we would not get this song down until the day of the concert.
a few weeks before the show, we called up Nick Troutman, who decided againt being in the band earlier because of sports. We asked him if he was still interested in playing guitar for us, and he said yes. We had him over, and he worked out well. So, Nick was now in MokTar.
April 30th arrived, and we were all tense as hell. It would be later that evening, from 8 to 9. It was at our high school, and we played in the gymnasium, on the floor, not on a stage. We strung Christmas lights everywhere, and we had two blacklights and a strobe light. We were set up (facing the band) with Troy in the middle front, Matt in the middle back, Nick and Josh were on the right, and I was on the left. Even before the show started, when we were setting up, we were bombarded with problems. We were using an old PA, and it began to hum occasionally, and we fixed that just before the show started. We started off with Antichrist Superstar, and we had the crowd chant "Hey!" with us. Although we are in a small town, we had a damn good turnout. Unfortunately, about 3 songs into our 10 song set, my 3rd string broke. Luckily I had a replacement for it of the same gauge wire, or my guitar would have sounded like crap from that time on. So the show did go on...THEN The input jack on Josh's bass shorted out! So, we had one option on that, to get to the school's band room and use that. So we used it, which was an OLD ibanez 4 string, heavier than hell weightwise. And we kept going until my cord shorted out, so we were about done. Nick had a little amp that would oscillate if turned up too loud, so I used his cord, and the show went on. So we were down to 4 people. Fortunately, we made it through the rest of our set without any problems. We got an encore at the end to play one more song, which we did. From that night on, we have been PREPARED for accidents!
Three or four days later, Nick introduced us to a friend of his, Jacob Couchene. Jake was an extraordinary drummer, and we knew his brother Josh from before. So that day Jake took over at drums for Matt. The next day me and Josh told Matt the news. He seemed pretty bummed out (who wouldnt), but we are still friends. A few weeks later, we played another show at the same place, which I wished would never have happened. Jake only knew a few of our songs (we still played 4) so he pretty much stumbled through them. And we had a smaller turnout, but the people that were there still liked our performance. And a little later we played on Memorial Day, which was another mistake. There was a load of kids and metal lovers there. Which was Good!, but, with our luck, it rained out. It POURED, so EVERYONE was jammed under this pavillion that we were playing in. There was old people in there, country lovers, everyone, so the people that wanted to jump around and get roudy either left cause of the rain, or they were crammed between grandma and grandpa! So it wasnt much fun, and we all got plenty wet.
Shortly after memorial day, Josh and I wrote "Bowels of the Giant" and "Dark Eden". "Bowels" is another heavy assed, MokTar grooved song, and "Dark Eden" is a spooky, halloween style song. As the summer progressed, we didn't. We practiced very rarely, and it earned the title "summer vacation". However, when we did have practice, it was hard to schedule it around everyone's work hours. We all had construction type jobs, Troy and I had normal hours, but Josh had odd ones that changed all the time, so we kinda just didn't practice.
In late August, as school neared, Josh and I had compiled lots of guitar parts over the summer. We got together, and in two days we wrote 4 songs: "Johnny", "Step Right Up", "Action", and "No Hope". In our attempt to learn them, we were hindered by our ever constant hinderer, Troy. He had trouble learning the songs, so we kinda yelled at him all practice and got nowhere. In a few more days, in my despair, I wrote two more songs by myself, entitled "In Heaven Angels Cry" and "Chakra/Stigma". "Angels" is a depressed sounding song, kinda like "Descent" by Fear Factory. "Chakra/Stigma" is a fast paced, wierd assed song that, like any other MokTar song, will make you wanna break some shit.
Now, with 12 original songs at our arsenal, we began to understand our style of music a little more. One of the many things we learned was that we didn't need a second guitarist. So, I called Nick up one night and informed him that he was no longer in MokTar. He took it pretty well. However, we haven't spoken since.
Now, with 12 songs, we had begun contemplating about making a cd. It seemed very vague and distant, but we figured we could do it. And that is where we are now, amassing equipment to make our own cd. We should have all of the equipment by Christmas time or a little after. Once we have all the necessary components, we will begin recording MokTar's debut album, which is yet to be given a title. So stick around, and pretty soon you'll have you'r very own MokTar cd!