Brett & Jenny's Freaking House Fire
Brett has given so much to the Evansville music scene over the years. He holds down side-jobs while busting his ass recording and supporting local musicians without asking much in return.
Friends and community people have asked for a way to send some money to help them out. They lost personal belongings, clothing, and a lot of expensive music and recording equipment. Here's hoping we can put a dent in their expenses to get back to normalcy (or their version of normalcy!)
Please read Brett's account of what happened below.
Ok, Here's what happened... Friday June 24th 2016: I was running errands around 5pm. I just picked up my van from getting my starter replaced. I stopped by my old place that we got booted out of on 2nd st to get one last thing that was left there. He was a total dick to me but I got my stuff. Whatever... Fuck that guy. I stopped back at my new place on 221 Main st. I just moved in and have been setting up the studio over the last two weeks, as well as all of my girlfriends and my general living things. I just had a recording session the day before on Thurday. Some acoustic folk punk stuff, and I was able to set up a few mics further back in the space to really hear how the new room was going to sound. The room sounds great! Very excited about the new place. I was just going to re-listen to what we did during the session just to hear it with fresh ears.
I turn my computer on and I smelled this electrical burn smell. "What the fuck is my computer smoking?" I looked down and see nothing. I immediately remembered how the building connected to mine had caught fire in the past and the back of 219 Main had all these burn marks all over it. I looked to my left and I see a lot of smoke billowing outside my windows. I immediately run outside. The fire was small but I called 911. There was a dude from Twilight Bistro standing in the corner that connected our two buildings just dumbfounded. Unaware of how serious it was going to be and how fast it was going to spread, I filmed the fire on my phone for 30 seconds. The fire then suddenly jumped up and got really big and the hit the electrical wires above it and everything started exploding! I yelled at the twilight Bistro dude that I called the fire dept. He just stood there shocked.
I saw a cute little raccoon crawl out the back of 219 to escape the fire. "Fuck! My cat!" I run back inside to grab him but my place was filled with smoke. I was outside literally between 1-2 minutes tops and it was completely filled with smoke. I couldn't see a thing and couldn't breath. I didn't know where he was because he was scared and hiding from those fucking Blue Angel jets that rocketed overhead earlier very loudly, shaking the building, freaking him out. I run outside to get more air and the transformer right above me exploded. I jump in my van and back it out because I know shit is about to get really crazy. I park it on the street and run back in to try and save Thombi my cat. Some guy yells at me as I'm running in for Thombus. I quickly turn my phone light on to try and help see but it did nothing, the smoke was too thick. I get about half way through my apartment and and my eyes and lungs are burning. I couldn't take anymore and ran out.
I called my girlfriend Jenny (aka Carly) her work and told her the place was on fire. She rushed back to our place and by then the fire department is there spraying water on the fire which had gotten huge. We couldn't get in. We told the fire department our cat was in there but they said it was too unsafe to go in. We were helpless and just slumped down on the curb and cried. A dude from News 14 filmed us. Cool glad you got your tragedy porn you fuck. My girlfriend flipped him off and told him to stop filming us. He pulled the camera off to the side of his face.
"Oh hey did you live there?"
"Yea we did asshole"
Then he walks away and I see him talking to someone else and laughing. Fuck you, you cruel motherfucker.
The fire department worked on it for hours while we just waited helplessly. Not knowing what the damage was, if our beautiful cat was ok, or dead or what. Hours go by and we talked to the fire chief and she tells us they found Thombi and that he died in the fire and asked if we wanted to see him. They had him wrapped in a blanket and set him on the ground. His white and orange fur was covered in black soot. It was all around his mouth and nose and whiskers. His body was stiff as we petted his soft fur for one last time and tears involuntarily streamed down our faces. He wasn't "just a cat". He was our companion that we had a deep and real connection with. That understood emotion and even some English. When we were sad he would cuddle us. When we would roughhouse or thought we were fighting he would come to try and break it up. When we made burritos he would try to steal the tortillas shells every time. He was family. We loved him.
As far as the studio and all our living stuff, the damage to that is unknown. Right now the place is condemned and I won't know anything until Monday. Everything could be damaged from smoke and fire or everything could be fine. The apartment could be fine or it could be completely inhabitable.. We don't know..
I've been recording bands since 2002/2003. I always worked low paying jobs in addition to recording and playing and touring in weirdo underground bands. Every little bit of extra money I had I invested it back into the studio or bands and obsessively worked on my craft. I love being able to facilitate other peoples art and doing the best job I can. I try to make it as easy and relaxed as possible for them with the tools I have. A space with no judgment, just creating. I do this not only because there isn't a singular standard for creating, but because I know how difficult it can be and sometimes the lack of support people have to pursue creative endeavors. I know because I've experienced it and still do all the time. Shit like this, floods in the past, multiple roommates moving in and out, getting sued, living in actual abject poverty, evictions from gentrification, the pain of trying to find an affordable place to record and hopefully live in too. On top of just the unspoken message that we are given that creating music or art is frivolous and for kids. When you're an adult you need to give up this kid shit and get a real job. FUCK THAT! This is my life, this what I am excited about doing when I wake up everyday. It's what I am obsessively passionate about and gives me a sense of purpose and justifies my existence on this weird spinning ball floating out here in the universe. I could have died in the fire or from smoke inhalation. You think I want to spend my short time here getting a “real job”? Following some path that others deem acceptable but make my soul feel like its being put through a meat grinder? Fuck that shit. Yeah, I don't make much money which is very scary and frustrating at times (most times). I'm still trying to figure that part of it out, how to be an adult businessy person...
I'm starting to rant but what I'm getting at is that I've been a part of the underground music community here for over a decade and I value it greatly. I've dedicated my life to creating my own music and art and helping others with theirs as well. If this is all destroyed it would be a huge blow. I didn't have insurance (stupid I know) and I definitely don't have any money... Not throwing that out as some passive aggressive hand me out shit, just stating where I'm at right now.. Not to mention all our things, couches, bed, clothes, food, etc… Everything is up in the air right now, and it fucking sucks.
So how did it the fire start? No one knows but I think that it was electrical. The back of 219 already had tons of burn marks all over it before we moved in. I heard it caught fire twice within the last two or three years. It is completely destroyed now.
So there you go. That was my Friday.
Brett and Jenny are so grateful and overwhelmed by the support. Things are pretty crazy for them right now, so if you don't hear from them right away, don't fret :)
We'll leave this page active so people can still chip in over the weekend. If you want to help out, but can't right now, there was talk of a benefit show later. Or just leave them some nice words, invite them over for yummy food, etc.
Sorry comment didn't come out right, I meant to say if when the time comes you feel ready to have another pet I know of a kitten. She is a crazy kitten named Grace and she has so much personality when I read your story I immediately thought of her!
Hi I don't know u guys but your story struck a nerve. I am not trying to be insensitive but if/when the time comes I know of a kitten you could have if your interested feel free to message me on Facebook (Teressa Armatrong Twaddle)