Adlers said goodbye to their eldest son in March of 1994. He wasnt
off to a prestigious university nor was he embarking on a career
in the military. As Papa Adler put it, Frankly, we were just
sick of him. Ever since his brother Gellend disappeared years before,
Toten acted like he was the center of the universe. We couldnt
do anything without him involving himself somehow or another. For
Gods sake, I couldnt take a shower without Toten coming
in to see if I needed help scrubbing or shaving something. Finally,
after he switched everyones medicinal stash with plain old
tobacco, we had had enough. The leaders of our commune held a meeting
and we took a vote....Toten was to be banished from the People of
Terra camp. When I told him, this crazy son of a bitch got down
and started beating the Earth with his fist and yelling, Take
that, Mother Earth! Youre a skanky, old bag, aint ya?!
Then, I explained to him that it was a vote of the people, not the
wish of our Mother. He apologized by caressing two dirt mounds he
claimed were Mother Earths bosoms. Good riddance, I say.
in the world, Toten decided to seek out the one relative who hadnt
turned a back to him...his younger brother. As the police investigation
into his brothers disappearance had yielded no clues, Toten
decided to go a different route. Using some recently acquired contacts
in the Bay Area underground, Toten learned the rumor of a kidnapped
American boy being enslaved somewhere in Austria. Apart from that,
no further information was known. Figuring this was as good a lead
as any, Toten Adler stowed away on a European bound oil tanker with
only the clothes on his back and a copy of The Old Testament hed
lifted from an on-board priest. Alone, cold and nearing starvation,
he cited the Book as the only thing that kept him going. I
ripped the pages out and started making paper airplanes. And soon
I taught myself how to make swans and all sorts of cool sachen.
after weeks of hitchhiking, stowing away on train cars or simply
walking, Toten found himself in Austria. However, his search had
only just begun and his life would never be the same. I asked
people if they knew anything about my brother, but none of em
spoke English. So, Id ask em again, figuring that if
I said it louder theyd understand, ya know? After doing this
to some lady with a heart problem, I was arrested for disturbing
the peace. I was released after three days with nowhere to go and
no one to turn to. For the next two hours, I walked the streets
and considered all my options, but then I started getting a headache,
so I figured Id just go get really plastered in some bar.
finishing his eighth beer in a corner tavern, a band took the stage.
The moment the first note was played, Toten Adler found himself
suddenly sobered and alert under the power of this music. It spoke
to him, it resonated in him something deep and powerful. It was
the first time since entering the Austrian borders that he understood
something clearly. It was as though the music itself were his own
native language. That band was ArnoCorps, then in its second incarnation.
Without money to pay for his drinks, Toten rushed out of the bar
before hearing the entire set, but was nonetheless a changed man. All my life, Id been searching for a purpose, ya know?
Something that says to the world, This is why Toten Adler
was put on this planet, but I never knew what that was, until
that night. Music. Music! I wanted to rock!
without a passport, Toten made the decision to remain in Austria.
His days were spent sleeping in hay lofts and eating stolen chicken
eggs uncooked. At night, Toten would either be en route to or rocking
out at an ArnoCorps show. Rumors began circulating that Austrian
officials were on the look out for an illegal American. But, as
Toten put it, he had no reason to worry. I was so immersed
in the Austrian culture and the power of Arno that, without even
trying, I was Austrian. Im crazy like that. I was speaking
it fluently and nobody was the wiser.
by inspiration, Toten began to hone his own musical abilities. Unfortunately,
with no money, he was unable to afford an instrument. But the power
of Arno surging through him too strong to ignore, Toten practiced
day after day, week after week, playing his very first air bass. I designed it myself, he would later say. Its
color was gelb, like the sun, it shape gebogen like
a woman. Soon, Toten had mastered his audio waffe.
While attending his 34th ArnoCorps performance, in the town of Auftkat,
Toten jumped on stage and began to jam with the band. Within seconds,
however, he was dragged away by a bouncer who just figured this
was some kid who had gone verruckt. Truth was, this was someone
who had been profoundly changed by the power of Arno....as though
Crom himself had wished it so. After I got tossed out,
Toten added, I went to read a newspaper. It wasnt until
then that I realized the date. Id been in Austria for 5 years.
I was, like, whatever.
to the Bay Area in 1999 via a Dutch cheese carrier, Toten immediately borrowed an electric bass from a touring Christian rock
band, Palming Sunday, by passing himself off as a roady. Word soon
got out about the bassists unreproachable ability, his devotion
to music, his thick Austrian accent that sometimes just disappeared.
Almost immediately, he was recruited by members of local thrash
band, Sex and Murder, but was asked to leave the band two days later
for riotous behavior. There were more offers waiting for him and,
after short stints, immediate retractions. It seemed Toten Adlers
playing and on-stage presence were too vicious. His longest stint
was as founder of the Bay Areas The Weasel Behinds, which
lasted four months and 8 performances. Said one ex-bandmate, Toten
Adler was the most violent person Ive ever met, man. That
is one guy who needs some serious medication. Crazy bastard broke
three of our amps in one night by jumping into em....and that
was just for a goddam sound check!, then adding, And
whats up with that accent?! Sometimes hed tell us to
feel the pumpitude and other times hed say Yall
ready to whoop some ass?
seven bands later, Toten was thrilled when he heard the rumor that
ArnoCorps, the very group that inspired him, was going to reform
in the Bay Area. I was glad that most of the band had got
killed in that crash or else I never coulda auditioned, Toten
says with a smile. Holding a piece of glass between my teeth,
I cut the straps on my arms an busted out of that hospital
my old man had stuck me in for observation and made it to the auditions.
After Holzfeuer gave me the good news, I never looked back. Well,
once, but that was cause I thought I heard a celestial voice.
But, turns out it was just some hooker.
approached by Papa Adler (at the hearing to officially relinquish
all familial ties with his insane son) and asked if he had uncovered
any info about Gellends whereabouts, Toten smacked himself
on the forehead. Thats why I went there, I was tryin
to remember, he said, roaring with laughter.
if he was going back to search for his brother, Toten shrugged. Nah, screw him.*
no longer considered an Adler by blood, Toten Adler is a member
of ArnoCorps by strength, belief and sheer dedication.
*As fate would have it, Toten was finally reunited
with younger brother Gellend just
two years later, and are now bandmates in ArnoCorps.