I'm an American," says U.S. Army Pfc. Kevin Gibson. "I fight so that I can say whatever I want." Gibson, a cavalry scout, will be shipping out to Iraq after the holidays. Born in Indianapolis, he's currently based in Fort Riley, Kan., while preparing to go overseas.
Pfc. Kevin Gibson and his wife, Jennifer, on their wedding day, June 20, 2004
Indianapolis music fans may remember Gibson under the name "Moharcadearnt," the drummer for the universally despised, room-clearing grindcore band called dearnt., which in 2002 took over much of the local music scene in a blitzkrieg before dissolving in a haze of bad jokes, alleged death threats and hurt feelings.
Now dressed in Army fatigues, Gibson is ready for war but dismisses the idea of himself as a courageous figure. "I ain't really any kind of hero," Gibson says. "Heroes are dead and gone. I plan on coming home to Indy in one piece and thrashing the scene again."
But he knows that he'll be gone as long as he needs to be gone, and won't be coming home for at least a few months. He's already received information about where in Iraq he'll be stationed and it, like the rest of Iraq, is not as peaceful as the stage at the Emerson Theater, where he used to fight his battles.
"There's no amount of training that can make you not scared. Depending on what mood I'm in, or what I'm doing at work, yeah, it can bother me," he says. "But I'm really pumped up to go. I see what's happening over there like 50 times a day on TV and I want to help."
Gibson will be arriving in Iraq at an interesting time in the country's history. Elections there are scheduled for January and security forces such as those in Gibson's unit are especially needed.
"I want to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and try and restore some kind of order to their chaotic culture," Gibson says. "But there are more than a few bad apples over there and you can't be scared of them. I'll have to take care of myself and take care of the people over there and help get their government going. Otherwise we are over there for nothing."
Gibson joined the military this year, he says, for several reasons. One of them was the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the need for America to take action in the war on terror.
While he respects the opinions of those opposed to the war - "It's one of the reasons I joined the Army, so people can say what they want" - he's felt nothing but respect and support flow his way from just about everyone he encounters Stateside.
"I was at a liquor store in Indy a few weeks ago and the lady asked me for I.D.," he says. "So I showed her my military I.D., which is the only I.D. I carry on me, and she told me to come behind the counter and give her a hug and stuff, because her son was in Iraq and she really appreciates what I'm doing. That right there is why I want to do what I'm doing."
He says, "It's not just because of the World Trade Center and people blowing stuff up in America. There are people depending on us to do this shit, you know?"
On June 17, Gibson completed One-Station Unit Training (OSUT), which combines basic and advanced training, at Fort Knox, Ky. Three days later, he married the former Jennifer Barnes, who's a part of Indiana music history herself; she's the daughter of David Barnes, former drummer for the revered '70s group The Faith Band.
They met a few years ago, when Gibson played in another band. "Next thing you know, we're married," he says, laughing. His wife understands and supports his decision to go to war, even though it will mean a separation until his return.
The dearnt. days
As he prepares to go off to war, a real war, he looks back with fondness at the days when his band went from being a fifth-rate metal band to sharing the stage with The Slurs and playing a memorable set at the Patio's Battle of the Bands in 2002.
"We were tired of all the drama in the music scene," he says. "It was becoming one big soap opera. We sat back and laughed, reading everyone's guestbooks and IMN and stuff. We got the idea that it would be fun to put together a mock band that trashed everyone."
And so dearnt. was born, four characters who came from Death Valley, Calif., to wreak havoc on Indianapolis' music scene by using hundreds of obscene posts on IndianapolisMusic.net, plain old trash talk and a minimum of musical effort, in the long and honored tradition of the Sex Pistols.
When they got an invitation to actually play a show, Gibson says, the band's reaction was, "What the hell?" He says, "We said, 'What are we going to do now? We don't have any material.'"
He discovered that the band didn't need any. The members wore disguises, in Gibson's case, an Israeli gas mask, and began playing ear-piercing grindcore à la Cannibal Corpse or Dying Fetus.
To their surprise, after being initially banned from every local Web site, the music scene embraced them, something none of them expected to happen. NUVO wrote several stories. Even The Indy Star took notice, not to mention the thousands of posts about them on the Internet.
"We started to get fans but we didn't want any fans," Gibson says. "That's what fucked us up." But the band also booked shows that brought together metal and punk acts for the first time. "We wanted to end all the drama in the local music scene and ended up causing even more," he says. "Oh, well. I'll be back in a year to fuck the music scene up again."
The pinnacle for dearnt. came when Jim Kuczkowski of The Slurs invited them to open a show for them at the Monkey's Tale outdoor stage in Broad Ripple. Several hundred people stood silently as lead singer Wudearnt screamed obscenities into the mic, went three times their requested length, cursed everyone and everything and played songs such as "Kik to the Skrotum" and "Shot Bye A Manayakel Postul Workir."
Each of the members was so drunk they could barely stand up, let alone play. Gibson said he vomited into his gas mask at one point but kept playing his drums. The band went through probably 50 songs in 30 minutes.
Nobody left their set. "For the first time ever, we didn't clear the room." A similar reaction came when the band entered the Patio's Battle of the Bands and competed against new-metal and cock-rock bands.
But such celebrity could only last for so long and dearnt.'s days were numbered.
"The minute people saw us without masks, drunk at the Melody Inn, it was game over," he says. "That was the biggest mistake, ever, taking off our masks because then it was, 'Oh, you're that guy from that one shitty band,' and, 'You're from that other shitty band.' They knew who we were and they didn't like us."
He says, "Our reaction was, 'Well, we're in another shitty band and now you like us.' It's the same material; what does that say about you?"
It was downhill after that. Inner Madness, dearnt.'s "real" band, was invited and then disinvited to gigs. Plans for a dearnt. CD produced by Kuczkowski never materialized. The Internet posts became more and more vicious and their newfound friends started to disappear.
But dearnt. will have the last laugh. During the holidays, and coinciding with Gibson's final leave before going to Iraq, the group's original members plan to record an album of their greatest hits and some new material. They want the cover picture to be of an infected wound, because that's what they intend the disc to be to local music scene.
Meanwhile, Gibson is packing up his belongings in Kansas and preparing to go to Iraq.
"I don't want anyone to forget about me," he says. "I'm going over there and I'm coming back home to drink some beer and play some heavy music. Get ready for it."