I just got the news that my dear friend Dave Beres passed away some hours ago from kidney complications he’d been struggling with the last couple months or maybe longer. It didn’t work out for us to see each other when I was in San Diego last summer, and at the time I had no idea he was having health issues. I’m sad for my loss of a friend & for his wife, family & multitute of friends who’ll surely feel as I do, but Dave is a spiritual dude and I’m certain he’s now rocking that infectuous, rosy, shit-eating grin on his adventure in the great beyond… Cheers, Crackers! I fucking love you, man!
I got the news via text message from Jaymo as I lay in the lower bunk of my cabin on this ferry boat somewhere between Greece and Italy. Though I was exhausted, I couldn’t sleep, and I spent the next few hours just remembering the good times & adventures I had with Dave. It’s difficult and takes conscious effort for me to use the past tense when referring to him now, and will take some getting used to for me.
Although our paths had likely crossed on occasion in the 80’s through his hair-metal glam band & my teenage garage band, it wasn’t until the mid-90’s till we got introduced somehow through mutual friends, most likely Chris Marsteller. My first memories of hangin’ with Dave would be around 1997 when we worked together on the set of a TV series in Imperial Beach called “NightMan” or somethign stupid like that. He was doing sound, and I was on the swing gang humping furniture & dressing sets. We immediately hit it off and would talk music, sneak around the corner for a quick doobie, play cards, caterwaul hot broads together, etc. Scott Clark was on the swing gang too & Chas Brownell was our lead man. Scott and I spent most of our work time together & we yakked constantly about starting the dream-team band that he, Chris and Brad had started formulating over the past year called the Chasers. They’d already had the concept & even song titles, but now that I was working with Scott, I began instigating, scheming & pushing the idea into reality. We talked about it constantly, listened to a lot of Music Machine & sundry 60’s garage compilations in the cube vans and what not, and Dave overheard us talking about it on more than one occasion. Finally, Scott and I nailed down a date to jam in his basement with whoever we could rope into the project, and Dave said to us emphatically that he wanted in. He was jonesing to play in a band again & he didn’t care what role or instrument he played, he just wanted in. We told him we needed an organ player & he leaped at the chance to tickle the greys of my Farfisa. Chas also wanted in, but since Scott was the drummer, he said “I’ll be the lead singer.” With Chris on guitar, me on second guitar, Brad on sax, Scott on drums, his roommate Rob Brown on bass, we had all just assumed we’d share turns singing, but having Chas as frontman seemed so ridiculous it might almost work. The following weekend, we gathered in the basement at the “Lucy’s house,” and The Chasers were born. We wrote four songs the first day and it was magic like in the movies…. it simply fell into place, & the sound and songs wrote themselves. It was effortless. Dave’s energy was unfettered, his musical skills tasteful and sharp, and his wardrobe was the envy of all in the name of panache. He was the Captain Sensible of the group, he was the GLUE that held the boat together.
One day, either shortly before or shortly after the first couple practices, Scott and I stopped for breakfast at Denny’s in Mira Mesa on a prop run to LA, and on the table we started mapping out the stage plot for the band. Chris and I were represented with a spoon and fork respectively, the others with various objects. I picked up a little package of crackers, placed it next to the waterglass representing the drums, stage right and said, “This is Dave.” Scott said, “that’s perfect, Dave is kinda crackers, y’know.” We decided then and there that Dave’s stage name had to be Crackers, and the legend was born. He had no say in the matter, which wasn’t important because he loved and embraced it immediately, and added the the last name McFee himself. It was clear already that Scott would now be called Boombatz, and he and Dave asked me what my stage name would be, to which I threw out the first two words which popped into my head – “Fez Wrecker”. They both immediately loved and accepted it, and 13 years later, I feel I’ve grown into it rather well.
It was inspiring to be around Dave. We wrote and arranged songs, built up the band, partied hard, spent many hours working, playing, writing, recording, sharing wardrobe & beauty tips… brothers to the core. The whole legacy of the Chasers over the next two years involves many chapters & other characters and is probably best left to be fully explored at another time. Nevertheless, at the height of its success, the band was falling apart, and Dave bowed out gracefully after our one and only gig in San Francisco. The band continued with a replacement, but the magic had gone without the Crackers. Chris and I tried to keep it together as best we could, but one by one, the Chasers dropped out to concentrate on their work & families until it was just us two. That’s when Dave came back with a vengance & wanted to play bass, so we reinvented the band as a four-piece on a quest to find a suitable drummer. We called it The Dolly Reeds, named after the British actress who starred in Russ Meyers’ Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and recorded demos of some new tunes Chris and I had written. Chris was advancing in his career as a set decorator & he finally decided to drop out. Dave was eager, so he & carried on, found another lead guitarist, I took on the role of frontman & we renamed the group The Dangermen. We wrote & recorded, did a buncha gigs late 2000-July 2001 when the lead guitarist quit the band via e-mail. B y then I’d had enough too, & the Dangerman called it quits. Good times.
I’ll never forget the time Dave told me he was going to Vegas on the weekend to hang & party with his brother. Early that Friday evening he called me and said, “Dude, my brother couldn’t come, I’m here in Vegas with an awesome room at the Bellagio all by myself… Get your ass over here, Wrecker!” It didn’t take much convincing for me to get a rental car & 4.5 hours later we were tightening our Windsor knots in the elevator on the way down to the casinos… a most unforgettable weekend, the details of which are not for sharing, because naturally what happens in Vegas…
Dave got a gig as a sound mixer working on a MOW called “The Millenium Plague” which was to be filmed in Baja California, & he needed a boom mic operator. He offered me the two week gig, even though I’d barely ever held one before. He told me it was no problem, he’d show me everything. It was on the job training in Tijuana, Ensenada & other third world locations, & he schooled me well, & we destroyed hotels, tacos, tequila bottles & 25¢ beers over the next fortnight.
No matter what shenanigans I got into with Crackers, we always had a blast doing it, and he was full throttle all the time. Never a dull moment. I miss you, pal.