WRITTEN BY: JOSH OLIVIER OF NO BETTER
I was eighteen years old, idealistic and wide-eyed, touring down the West Coast at shows I thought would be much better attended. It had been a disappointing run—the reality of DIY touring didn’t meet my expectations of it, and we’d put in a lot of work to make the tour happen. But I got an email: Cavis Tapes wanted to do an acoustic session for us in Bakersfield. It suddenly didn’t matter that we’d been playing in front of four people a night and that I’d been slinging CD’s at gas stations to get to the next show—Cavis Tapes liked our band, and I believed in what we were doing again.
I was beyond nervous to meet Chris. He’d filmed sessions with all my favorite bands, so he was this sort of intimidating figure of Cool that I wanted to impress. But his friendship was seamless—I have no idea if he knew how nervous I was to interact with him, but Chris and I clicked. We talked bands, we talked industry gossip, we talked about No Better. We talked about our histories with music, and we spoke with the same sort of ardor about the shows we’ve been to, our relationship with different bands, about seeing this band or that one play on their first tour, because we believed that each show we attended was a piece of goddamn history . Personal history and scene history. We were scene historians. Especially Chris.
That’s why Chris documented like he did: because he loved DIY and it mattered to him. Because he knew that, in some capacity, these nights and these sets deserve a place where they could last forever. So, he filmed relentlessly, driving three plus hours from Bakersfield every weekend to film big and baby bands. He filmed well—with care, dedicating himself to the mastery of his craft—for all of us, because he understood how special and formative watching a band at a punk show can be. He understood that it’s something worth reliving.
And I admired Chris so goddamn much. In part because he was a full-fledged, real-life adult still engaging unapologetically with punk music. He consistently reminded me that I never need to stop doing the things I love. That I never need to stop spending all of my money on band shirts. That I never need to stop watching or playing music every weekend.
Chris coached our band. He made me believe that we were talented enough to do great things and always pushed us to do more touring while the other people in my life belittled the fact that we drove so far to play for so few people. He gave me permission to really care about No Better and validated all of the thought that I put into playing music.The truth is that, in a lot of ways, I think Chris cared more about the success of our bands than some of our own members did. I remember one drive in particular, Chris talking about what it takes t o really do music full time. He talked about bands having the skill that it takes, but not wanting to put in the work—not wanting to fully dedicate themselves to their craft in the way Chris did his. Chris believed in work, he believed in music, and he believed in us. I cannot overstate what that means to me.
And, above all, he was an excellent friend. A walking reminder of the cross-generational and cross-country relationships that can be formed through music. Chris would text me all the time, talking shit on the Lakers or just asking how I was doing. Whenever a piece of music or basketball news reminded him of me, I got a text. What could have been another night sleeping on a stranger’s floor became a friendship that will stay with me, always, because Chris cared in a way that just sort of just makes you gape.
I share this because I know that a lot of us had a similar relationship with Chris and that a lot of us have made similar relationships through music. The comfort I’ve found in meeting like-minded and vertiginously generous people through DIY music is sometimes lost on me, and losing Chris has been a difficult reminder to thoroughly appreciate how lucky I am to have met my best friends through shows. I share this because “community” is a word that we throw around when we talk about DIY, and Chris Avis embodied this ideal. I share this because Chris will always be a legend to me, not only because of the work he did, but because of the friend he was. It’s been a year, and I still miss Chris every day, but I’m lucky to have known him. We all were.
Sunny Singh from Hate5six recently helped in completing the last of Chris’ videos: Sound and Fury, 2017. Those can be seen here.
Cavis Tapes Forever. Chris Avis Forever and Always.