Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My friend Adrian 'The Energizer' Bromley passed away suddenly on Sunday morning. I've been absolutely gutted for the last couple days with shock and heartbreak. For the last nine years, Adrian was a presence I could feel vibrating all the way across the country, an embodiment of enthusiasm and humour and love of life.

The Energizer was, of course, a co-founder of Unrestrained! magazine, the publication I've been copyediting (and occasionally writing for) since issue #8. The magazine was Adrian's chief passion, and it's been a thrill watching it grow and improve over the years. My first issue was the first with a colour cover; the issue after that had all glossy pages, and then colour gradually spread across the magazine until it reached the full-colour thing of beauty it is today. Adrian spearheaded each little improvement. He was justifiably proud of it.

He approached each issue with the same excitement. It usually started with a phone call. "Are you at your computer? Hold on, I'm going to send you something." An email with a mocked-up cover attached would arrive. He'd want my opinion right then and there. That cover's first appearance, to me, was the kick-off to the next few weeks of work—a flurry of interviews and emails and phone calls and editing and proofing, followed by a two-week pause for breath before the finished issue arrived. Adrian immediately wanted to know what I thought of it. He was always looking for ways to make it better.

I've been reading a lot of tributes to Adrian lately—dozens and dozens, hundreds probably. Everyone has Energizer stories, even people who never met him in person. They all marvel at the positive outlook he had, his generosity, and his energy. It's clear that he treated everyone the same way, and he gave everyone his best.

Nothing got Adrian down...for very long, at least. I remember he was between music-industry jobs a long time ago, and he'd taken a job with a debt-collection agency. When he told me where he was working, I think I audibly blanched at the idea of dealing with angry people on the phone all day long. Adrian jumped in and reassured me that he was having some really good conversations with a lot interesting people. It was all good. I'm sure he was a kick-ass debt collector. And when he had to leave his job doing PR at The End Records in New York and had to come back to Canada and start over again, he set up his own PR business, Ixmati Media, and was soon doing better than ever.

He was unfailingly kind and generous with his time. Whenever I was in Toronto he'd take me out for lunch on the U! tab (i.e. the bank of Adrian) and take me around to all the worthy record stores to haul some vinyl. He played a big part in helping Toronto become one of my favourite cities. And I remember when I flew to Montreal for Voivod's Katorz listening party/press day, after I arrived at the hotel he made sure I got something to eat and found my bearings before he had to attend to Jason Newsted's arrival. (That was the only time I've seen Adrian nervous. "Rock stars" of Newsted's stature didn't usually enter the underground metal realm Adrian was so ultra-comfortable in. Newsted was way cool, though, and he and Adrian hit it off right away, of course.)

And his nickname wasn't 'The Energizer' for nothing. As so many others have noted, the guy could do a dozen things at once—he'd be firing off IMs and emails while on the phone, writing press releases, reviews, articles, interviews. He loved to be connected to people—truly a man for these high-speed wireless times. He was raving about Facebook the last few times I talked to him and was a constant presence on the Brave Board, a place where so many people are mourning his loss right now.

He could write 18 articles for Unrestrained! in a single day. The first email with, say, eight Word documents attached would arrive on a Saturday morning. The subject line: "I'm on a roll!!"

Everyone mentions The Energizer's phone calls. They were quite something—one-sided affairs during which you'd be lucky to squeeze a syllable betwixt the Energizer's conversational bursts. After you'd hung up you could only shake your head and chuckle.

Then there were the extra-excited calls after he'd heard something amazing.

"Dude. The new Witchcraft album is amazing!"

Or the extra-extra excited calls when simply telling you wouldn't suffice; he would have to play it to you over the phone. I remember a few minutes from Agalloch's The Mantle, the resurrected Voivod, and the second album from some band called Woods of Ypres echoing, barely discernible, down the line. But they were all amazing!! (especially when I got to hear them properly!)

He loved vinyl, Cheap Trick, John Candy, Amy Sedaris, stoner rock, PJ Harvey, his cat, and his fiancée Renee. He was the genuine article, a true one-off, and we're all going to miss him terribly.

1 comment:

ACM said...

I just read this. My condolences Rob. I've seen references and links to 'Unrestrained' in a variety of unexpected places over the years (ie. American political blogs, etc.). It's inspiring to see someone in this country offer something unique.