A Fan Remembers Please Do Not Fight
By Sam Crocker
One chilly fall day in 2007, I was handed a burned CD by one Zen Zenith. At the time, I was a student at the Riekes Center in Menlo Park, where Zen was a mentor. As I took the CD from him, he told me that it contained songs by his band, Please Do Not Fight.
Upon my return home that evening, I popped the disc into my CD player (back when we still had those), not sure what to expect. I was not a student of Zen’s, and I didn't know him well. All I had was a vague impression that he was a “cool dude” (as my fourteen-year-old self might have put it).
My memories of the music itself on that first listen are less clear. I was not an indie rock fan at the time, and had little taste for music outside the spectrum of my beloved punk rock. Nevertheless, one of the songs grabbed me. A modest, mid-tempo tune, it began with a fingerpicked guitar intro. But it was the voice that intrigued me—unmistakably Zen’s, but delivering the words with such conviction and emotion that I was provoked to listen more closely.
The song was “What Am I Trying To Save?” from Please Do Not Fight’s debut album, Leave It All Behind. Soon after I first heard it, I remember timidly telling Zen that it had become one of my favorite songs. As my familiarity with the band’s songs grew, so did my admiration towards the musicians who played them. I saw them live every chance I got (as school-nights and rides allowed). I memorized Zen’s lyrics by heart. For five years, as I faced the struggles of adolescence and impending adulthood, their music was a constant in my life.
Also constant was the friendship I shared with the members of the band. Though the musicians have changed over the years, I am lucky to have known virtually ever member of Please Do Not Fight, from the first incarnation featuring Beau and Spike, through the days of Kubes and T, and finally Kyle and Chris (or, “the beard era,” as I like to call it). Zen, in particular, has had a great presence in my life. He is one of the warmest human beings I know. Whenever I see him, he gives me one of his bear hugs. (If you’ve experienced one of these, you know they’re not to be missed.) I often bring my parents to Please Do Not Fight shows, and Zen always makes a point to say hello (and even give each of them one of those hugs). Zen has offered me advice and support, both musical and personal. Most of all, Zen has always treated me as an equal. I am truly blessed to know him and to know his songs.
All of this brings me to a warm May afternoon this year, when I read in the 140 characters of a tweet that my favorite band was breaking up.
Strangely, I wasn’t sad, not exactly. In a lifetime, one meets hundreds upon hundreds of people. Friends come and go. My life has been no different. The names of people whom I once saw every day now escape my mind. On the other hand, I have had friends whom I don’t see for months at a time; yet, we pick up right where we left off every time we meet. Please Do Not Fight is one of those friends who will always be a part of me. “What Am I Trying To Save,” “These Are The Sounds of Days That Are Passed,” “BAMF,” “Blink,” “Loaded Gun”—every song is etched in my mind and heart.
On Saturday, July 14th, I will be a face in the crowd at Bottom Of The Hill. I will be a voice among the din of chatter and clinking glasses. When Please Do Not Fight takes the stage, I will be one of many voices singing the words to the songs, one final time. And no matter how time will change it, I will not forget.
Please Do Not Fight plays their final show on Saturday, July 14th at Bottom of the Hill, with Picture Atlantic, Dog Catcher, and Cold Eskimo.
Sam Crocker is a musician and writer. He lives in Redwood City, CA.