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Crash Karma remembers troops in Afghanistan from Thanksgiving visit

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November 11 is Armistace Day or Remembrance Day, which is the day the people in the western world set aside to count our blessings, give thanks for our freedoms and remember the veterans who gave their lives so we could have all of the above, particularly the veterans of  the First and Second World War as well as the Korean War.Crash Karma played for  the troops in Afghanistan. Photo Submitted

 But there are still Canadian soldiers fighting and dying overseas.

Mike Turner, guitarist of popular alternative rock band Crash Karma, including members of Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth and the Tea Party,  said the band’s Thanksgiving visit to Kandahar to perform for some of them, was an eye-opening experience.

“It was crazy, man,” said Turner, whose band comes to Lethbridge to play Lethbridge at Essies, Nov. 22.

 The band spent a week in Afghanistan visiting and performing for the troops and returned home around Oct. 16.

“  I pride myself on generally being pretty eloquent, but words kind of fail. It’s just a huge experience,”  related Turner, who used to play guitar with Our Lady Peace, adding the band spent a week over there during Thanksgiving, visiting with the soliders, touring the base and helping improve morale.

“We do some of our sort of heritage material, I guess you could call it. And we’re playing the (I Mother Earth)  song “Alive,” during our show and I look up during the second chorus and see outbound missiles. About 12 small cruise missiles during that song. And that’ll really change your perspective on a song like that,” Turner recalled.

“ And well, you think, ‘well, not for long for somebody.’ You know, one of the bad guys is about to have a very bad night or several bad guys, I guess. But yeah it was weird to go through the initial reaction of  ‘are they fireworks,’ because you know, I’m thinking. You don’t …  I don’t have the experience of being around a military operation, so having that and realizing, no, no, no, they don’t do fireworks here. Everything here is very purposeful. It’s not done for show. Okay, so they’re just launching lethal force wow,” he continued.

“And then wow, somebody actually, somebody on our side had to be the one who decided on the target and basically pulled the trigger on it. And they are going to have to carry that around with them for the rest of their life. So you know, it is pretty good to be alive because we’ve got people who are prepared to do that, frankly pretty shitty, job on our behalf. So it was a big shift in view during that period,” he said adding Canadian troops are well taken care of overseas with Internet access and phones to ensure they can keep contact with their friends and family at home, inlcuding checking out the debut Crash Karma CD.

Because when you’re in Afghanistan, even for a week,  it is easy to lose touch with your own comfortable reality.

“On our last day we went into Dubai to have a little rest and recreation. We went to a beach and that was just surreal, coming out of a Kafkahar airfield and it’s all unbelievably cloying dust. Like the sand there it’s like talcum powder. It is everywhere. It’s like two days and you start coughing up mud, so to go to the opulence of Dubai and just splash around in the water for a half a day was a little weird. You are way out of your context by the end of the week. You just feel stripped out of any context of your normal life,” he continued.

 “We had a few American guests too. I remember looking out from the stage. It is kind of weird playing for a crowd, a lot of whom are wearing weaponry. That really puts you on your game. You don’t want to miss a set of changes there. Look, he’s got a rifle, M-16 thing. Wow, I’ve got a guitar, I guess you win then,” he said noting he was struck by the fact all of the people over there are volunteers.

“I mean you’re flying for 20 odd hours to get there and it’s Thanksgiving Monday and in that time you’re thinking about what you’re doing and the reasons for doing it. One of the things I think about a lot is the people who are there are for the most part, for whatever reason, have chosen to serve. They have joined the forces and, we don’t have conscription or anything, so they volunteered to go and serve,” he observed.

“They didn’t say ‘well I’ll go and serve as long as it isn’t , you know, this condition or that place or the other thing.’ So that was something I was thinking about a lot. There they are on Thanksgiving away from their family and friends in the middle of a desert in a very active combat situation,” he said.

“It was pretty intense when we got there. I had no idea it was as active a combat mission as it is. None at all. That airfield sees about 5,000 flights a week, which is one every two minutes 24-7, that gives you an idea of the traffic that’s moving around there,” he observed adding the band played one show and toured the camp and met many of the troops, usually over meals, throughout the week.

“They feed you incessantly, hey it’s time for lunch, then hey it’s time for dinner, two hours later.  I think I came home heavier and more hydrated then when I went. And that’s the other thing. There are signs everywhere saying if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Drink water. You know they are pretty driven to take care of things.

“But they schedule the meals so you are encouraged to socialize. You are there basically as a distraction, and happy to be so. That’s a pretty small thing to do on behalf of a grateful nation, I guess, so to speak. For these people that are doing what they are doing, you know, hanging out at breakfast lunch and dinner and then going out and playing for people,” he continued adding there were also a lot of briefings so the band could learn what the troops are doing there and the reasons why.

 He said being overseas gave him new appreciation for the little things at home.
“ I let go of a lot of petty things that would piss me off when we got back. I see somebody going ballistic at the poor kid serving them coffee at Starbucks because they put cinnamon instead of chocolate and I just want to punch them in the head and say ‘It’s cinnamon, it’s still tasty, it’s a coffee, let it go. ’

You know, you see serious consequential events and then we get so wrapped up in our tiny selfish little bubble. Little tiny shit makes us go crazy, it's not bothering me right now. I’m sure I’ll get back to being a petty, self-absorbed musician, but right now, not so much,” Turner said.

(Look for more about Crash Karma and their Lethbridge show next week)

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 September 2013 15:51 )  
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