From as early as five years-old, music has been a part of Brent DeBoer’s life. And the catalyst, the impetus to pursue music - this came from his dad, Justin. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Brent in his south east Portland home back in December 2009:
Brent: It was Christmas - when I was five - and my parents got me a drum set, and then it was an electric guitar. I think mainly, my dad wanted to play it ‘cause it had been a few years since he last had some good loud rock and roll equipment around.
Dad used to be a bit of a rocker in the mid to late 60's. He played bass and was a singer in bands like the Roaring Door and the Gas Company. Full-on mop top hair and matching jackets and boots and everything, so when he and mom had us kids, it had been five or six years since the last time he played in a band ya know?
At first I was too short to reach the pedals on the drum set, so I’d sit on dad's lap and hit the drums while he would work the pedals. We’d rock all the time. Later on, when I was a teenager my band would rehearse in my parent’s living room. We were loud…don’t know how they handled it. I also have memories of Dad breaking out the guitar for some impromptu jams in the living room. Especially during power outages which seemed to be a weekly occurrence when I was little. But then it sort of quit happening as he would complain of numbness in his hand making it too difficult to play the chords.
There were a few years of these symptoms and at first, my dad thought it was a pinched nerve. I was maybe 15 or 16 when he was diagnosed with MS.
I remember one of my earliest memories of his MS. I was in high school and we were wrenching on cars together. A bolt fell through the engine area and he couldn’t get to it. He said he couldn’t feel anything, that his fingers couldn’t recognize the bolt.
Other things got harder for him too, like skiing. He is an amazing skier. He was always really active like just tucking down hills on roller skates and stuff, but he was less coordinated now. He kind of shoved MS under the bed after he was diagnosed, and in a stubborn way, he fought back. With a ski bike, he started skiing again. On regular skis he was fine once he got his momentum going, it was good, but when we’d stop, he’d start tipping over. The ski bike made it so he could sit down and rest the legs.
His drive and determination is so inspiring. He doesn’t talk much about MS now, it doesn’t exactly come up. And it didn’t change our relationship at all, just our physical activities.
A couple of decades after his first drum set, Brent is now the drummer and backup vocalist for The Dandy Warhols. He is also releasing his first solo album. His dad, still an inspiration, is also his biggest fan. Both of Brent’s parents attend every gig within a hundred miles. You can spot them - in the front, middle row that Brent reserves for them.
Brent: I think maybe he likes living through me, likes going to all the concerts. He always wanted to do that, so he’s encouraged me.
They new album is old songs, eight or nine years-old. In April 2007, Brian Coates and I got into the Dandy Warhol's studio, The Odditorium, and basically lived in there for like a week. The songs are short, simple and kinda sad, classic acoustic, loves-and-loses sorta songs that Coatsie really liked from back in the day. He encouraged me to get them recorded. They’re these songs that, when I’d come home late at night they would just be sorta floating around in my head. There are two guitars and a couple vocals – sparse and dreamy sounding songs. He (Brain Coates, co-producer and album engineer) is so good at recording music like that.
Brent DeBoer’s The Farmer, is being released in April 2010.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and stops people from moving. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with more than twice as many women as men contracting the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S., and 2.5 million worldwide.
About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Oregon Chapter
MS stops people from moving. We exist to make sure it doesn’t. Oregon and SW Washington have one of the highest incidence rates of MS in the country. The Oregon Chapter services more than 7,000 individuals with MS and their families. We help each person address the challenges of living with MS; fund more MS research, provide more services to people with MS, offer more professional education and further more advocacy efforts than any other MS organization in the world. The Oregon Chapter has been dedicated to achieving a world free of MS since 1963. We are people who want to do something about MS now. Join the movement at www.defeatms.com.
Studies show that early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can reduce future disease activity and improve quality of life for many people with multiple sclerosis. Talk to your health care professional and contact the National MS Society at www.defeatms.com or 1-800-344-4867 to learn about ways to help manage multiple sclerosis and about current research that may one day reveal a cure.