Special Ops Print E-mail
Written by Clarence Mcgillacutty   
Friday, 31 July 2009 21:00

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Clarence Mcgillacutty, drummer with Canadian metal outfit Special Ops, came up with an epic tale when asked if Hell really was gig shaped...


"...The date was Friday Febuary 22, 2008. It was a cold crisp afternoon as Special Ops set off from Montreal in the blizzard of the freaking century. The band was traveling in their van, pulling their trailer filled with all the equipment they needed to play their show. Akbar Johnson, the guitar player for the band, was sitting in the back seat along with Abe Froman the singer. Wally Thornhill, the bassist was sitting in the passenger seat next to Clarence Mcgillacutty, the drummer, who was driving. It was a standard weekend for them as they were off to play out of town for the weekend. Little did they know, this weekend would bring the four band members closer together than they had ever imagined.


The band had left town late due to the slow traffic caused by the snow which had been burying the city for a few days already. Clarence, easily irritated, was cursing at the weatherman on the radio as the band moved steadily through traffic towards Sherbrooke city. They merged onto the highway narrowly avoiding cars and trucks blinded by the snow. Clarence, cigarette between his lips, both hands on the wheel ready to punch anyone who dared piss him off, while Abe and Akbar were resting their eyes preparing for the show later that night. Thornhill oblivious to anything that was going on as usual.

clarence-special-opsAs the rolling circus of four clowns with their gear neared the city of Sherbrooke, Clarence said "Hey guys, who has the directions and address to the club?" Abe's and Akbar's eyes opened, they turned and looked at each other but said nothing as Thornhill turned to Clarence with a fearful look on his face. "Damn it guys!" Clarence yelled. "We are already late and now we don't know where we are going." Akbar hopped on his phone trying to get directions as Thornhill navigated Clarence convincingly through wrong turns all over town. After an hour of searching through the storm, steep hills and asking strangers for help, they finally arrived at their destination.

The four of them, along with the guys from Ashtray and Instinct, unloaded the gear and set up to play. Better late than never they told themselves. As the first band started to play, Clarence sat at the bar and ordered himself a beer as the other three mingled with different people who had come to see the show. Finally getting to decompress from the drive, the band's mood grew light as they watched the show, quickly becoming eager to play their set. They got ready as the band that was playing played their last song. Ops jumped onstage and ripped it up until it was time to turn the lights off and close up shop. People walked out into the street and disappeared into the darkness as the bands filled their vans back up ready to get some rest after a long day filled with obstacles.

The four Ops members got into their van and hit the road, heading back a different route than the one they had used to get there. It didn't take them long before they were lost again. Making u-turns on busy streets and cutting across three lanes in traffic trying to get to the highway toward Chicoutimi. Totally lost and snow in the headlights, the band stuck out like a sore thumb. Driving either too slow or too fast. "Shit. We really needed this." Clarence said as he looked in the mirror from the driver's seat and noticed the police car with flashing lights red and blue. "Great." He said as he pulled over, broke a cigarette in two and lit it. The police officer walked up to the window and asked Clarence the usual questions. Where are you from? Whose car is this? And have you been drinking? Clarence kept it cool. "I've only had one beer tonight." * He said. "We are lost. Can you help us please? We have to get to Highway 55." The police officer was automatically distracted and gave the guys directions to the highway. The four of them were still laughing at the fact that they got pulled over but didnt get a ticket as they merged onto Highway 55 toward Chicoutimi.

The happy go luck mood lasted only about ten minutes or until the low fuel light turned on in the van's dashboard. Amongst all the distractions, the band had forgot to fill up on gas. It was now four in the morning on a dark snowy highway with hours to go till the town they had planned to sleep in. So they got off at the next exit trying to find a gas station. No luck though. Everything was closed, and they had just wasted even more gas. They got back onto the highway to the next town hoping that they would make it. As they searched for another gas station without any luck, the needle in the dash steadily lowered past empty. They were now running on fumes. With no gas to go anywhere and no gas station around, the band's options had run out. They would have to sleep in the van.

Parked by the side of the road with the ignition turned off, the four grabbed extra clothes that they had brought along with a blanket and bags to try and keep warm. "Dont worry guys. Stores will be open in a few hours. We just gotta tough it out for a bit." Abe said. Thornhill, who heats his house in the summer time, and is dreadfully scared of the cold, turned to Clarence with a pitifull look on his face and said. "Clarence man, get us out of here." "I don't like this anymore than you do." Clarence said. "We don't have a choice. We are stuck." The four buddies shut their eyes and tried to get some rest. Doing that proved to be difficult. Being woken up by the cold and moving around from discomfort was frequent. When 7am rolled around, Clarence started the van, brushed the snow off, got back in and said "Let's make a run for it. It's all or nothing boys." Clarence was actually happy knowing very well that they all could have ended up in the hospital or even died from the cold.

A few kilometers down the road, a gas station appeared. "We are saved." Akbar said. No one laughed. They pulled in and saw that it was closed. The band members had no reaction. So many things had gone wrong that nothing surprised them anymore. They parked the van at the pump and waited for the station to open up. One hour went by and it was still not open. Suddenly, a man in a pick up truck appeared out of nowhere. "Are you guys out of gas?" He asked. "Yep. Bone dry." Clarence replied. "Well that's too bad cause this gas station doesn't open on the weekend." "You have got to be kidding me." Clarence said in disbelief. "I might have a little extra gas in the shed at my place. I'll go see. If I come back, I come back and if I don't, I don't." The man said. Not having a choice, the guys stayed there and waited for the man to return not knowing if he would. Twenty minutes went by until the man showed up. "Thank God" They all thought. They emptied the bin into the van, paid the man ten bucks and headed to a different gas station. They filled up and backtracked to a small motel that they had seen on the way.

As they pulled in, they noticed that it was closed as well. Abe called the number on the door and spoke to the manager. Abe explained the situation and convinced the man to come down and let the band have two rooms for a few hours. Finally they would get some rest before the long ride to Chicoutimi. Abe and Thornhill took one room. Akbar and Clarence took the other. As Clarence swung the door to their room open, they noticed the tiny double bed that was just big enough for a teenager. They looked at each other, shook their heads and laughed. Akbar flopped onto the bed and crashed out. Clarence went straight for the shower. He turned the water on and nothing came out. "Here we go again." He said to himself. Just as he was going to turn the knob again, an explosion of mud started spewing out. Slowly, the faucet leaked. As it did the mud turned to brown water, then red water and finally to clear. It was obvious that no one had stayed in this room recently.
Clarence took his shower, and went to bed. In the other room, Abe and Thornhill were sharing the same bed. Thornhill, still shivering from the cold he suffered hours before, said to Abe "Can we cuddle for a bit? Just to warm up. I promise I wont tell anyone." ** The boys got some rest for about four hours, got up and hit the road again to Chicoutimi.

The show in Chicoutimi was a success. The band got there without any problems. They still talk about the weekend where they almost died. They all could have killed someone had another situation made things worst. It was a learning experience for them as well as a bonding one. Clarence had his nerves put to the test. Thornhill was challenged by the cold. Abe was challenged by Thornhill and Akbar took three days of sleep to recover.


* Clarence had more than one beer that night. It was confirmed by the band members and Clarence himself.


** No one knows for sure if they did cuddle or not.