The Cartridge Family

My business card from “The Cartridge Family” Needless to say, I didn’t advertise this in my career in advertising, although I did take a bunch of my formerly anti-gun clients shooting in the desert over the years. They had a “blast” and were taking photos of themselves with guns to show all their friends from NYC and London–Hahahaha!!!
Alan, Eric, Bob & Craig “Cartridge” 2005

One of the more interesting bands I played in was a political parody band called “The Cartridge Family.”  It came together around 1999 when a group of pro-gun types got together for the purpose of political activism during the 2000 election season.  It was a mixture of conservatives and libertarians (and to be perfectly clear–I’M ONE OF THE LIBERTARIANS, AND I’M NOT A RED TEAM REPUBLICAN!!! See the memes below…) who agreed that the right to self-defense and the personal ownership of firearms was a legitimate freedom, and we had several meetings to strategize various protests, articles, political action, etc. that might draw attention to the right to keep and bear arms (known to us as “RKBA!”).  There was no initial intention of forming a band, but there were some clever people in the group who oddly enough had some parody song ideas written down and even a verse and chorus or two. 

As you know, I had played in many bands before and found this idea very intriguing to say the least, and so did a few of the other political activist guys who played or sang.  Please don’t hold me to the actual details of how we ended up with the actual band, but after a few political meetings, Craig, Alan, Bob and I ended up forming an actual political protest band and began rehearsing.  To keep things simple (OK—We were old and lazy or at least Alan was—Hahahahaha!!) and in the musical vein of the protest bands of the 1960s (think Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, etc.), Alan and I were the acoustic guitar players, and all four of us sang.  Our plan was also to be mobile enough that we could show up at political rallies, street protests or almost anywhere else at a moment’s notice and perform with no need for power or piles of equipment.  

We took some of the original parody song ideas and fleshed those out and then added a bunch more of our own into the mix.  Our opening song (and probably our signature song as well) was a parody version of Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day” with lyrics supporting the RKBA.  We wrote and recorded about 15 tunes, although we never really could sell the record because of complicated copyright issues and the legal quagmire surrounding song parodies in general (First Amendment?  HAH!).  (And we know because Alan got a law student to research this, and both written law and case law was all over the place!)  Some of our other song titles included “Secret Gun Ban Plan” (to the tune of “Secret Agent Man,” “ACLU” (to the tune of “YMCA”), and “The Little Armed Lady from Pasadena.”  I’ll attach a few so you can check them out.  We recorded them in a real studio and they actually sound pretty decent.

We played all kinds of gigs in a 15-year period including nearly every “Freedom Summit” and AZCDL convention, several NRA meetings, and more street protests and other impromptu things than I can count.  We campaigned against crappy politicians like John McPain and Dianne Swinestein.  We mocked local politicians every chance we got, and it was a hell of a lot of fun.  In case you’re wondering, I believe I thought up the name for the band (a parody on “The Partridge Family” for those of you old enough to remember that cheesy TV show from the ’70s!), but if the other guys remember it differently I’ll be glad to correct the mistakes my feeble old mind may make from time to time—Hahahaha!  We all naturally took parody nicknames as well—Craig “.300 Win Mag” Cartridge, Bob “.50 Caliber BMG” Cartridge, Eric “.44 Magnum” Cartridge, and Alan “.22 Caliber Short” Cartridge.  Alan had the biggest mouth in the band so we ironically named him after the quietest round of ammo! 

Musically, we did manage to achieve pretty decent three-part harmony on a bunch of the songs, and that was a first for me.  My other bands were typically groove oriented rock bands where jammin’ and dancing were the top priority, so this was a really good new thing for me.  And it was a hell of a lot of fun to hear people laugh at the punch lines in the lyrics.  I’ve been laughed at before, but typically not with full intention in most cases—Hahahaha!

Below are some photos of our gigs and mp3 files of some songs—We weren’t all that visually appealing, but we were pretty funny in the right crowd, and to be honest, I enjoyed the rare performance in front of a hostile audience when they would boo at the punch lines instead of laughing—It really was quite a bit of fun to piss off the anti-freedom crowd!

“That’ll Be the Day”–Our theme song.
An NRA convention, I believe
OK–We couldn’t resist. One of the benefits of playing in the band!
Me and one of my guitar idols Ted the Sledge. Ted spoke at the NRA convention and we played. Talk about irony!
“Glock 17” was one of my personal faves. I had sung the Beatles version in a previous band…
We called this “911” but it was a parody of the Vanilla Fudge version of the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hanging On.”
A protest gig during the Recall McPain rally season in 1999.
“The Liberal Aisle”–A mocking of John McPain. This one was all mine, and Craig wouldn’t sing it at first because it contained the lyrics “liberal dung pile.” Of course the audience laughed their asses off and then Craig was all in–Hahahaha!!!
One of my favorites that Alan wrote. “ACLU” had 6 verses of 8 lines each. Alan worked his ass off on that one!! And then we all had to remember it!

9 thoughts on “The Cartridge Family”

    1. Hahahahaha! Yeah–Tim doesn’t like the Cartridge Family wardrobe either! That was definitely NOT a “band” in the sense of the others I was in. We had no drummer, and it was really all about parody and social commentary. Glad I at least regained some of my fun style the past 5 years or so though!!

  1. 9-1-1 “They draw chalk lines when you’re gone.”

    Awesome memory. What a great way to tie different aspects of your life into one moment: politics; satire; music; and actually have the guts to do it!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I did get to do a lot more harmony singing because the two lead singers weren’t really experienced musicians, so I had to learn the harmonies. And it was great to meet Ted, one of my guitar idols for sure. What amazing tone he always had!

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