Braden Merod played the drums two hours a day for close to five years, and thought being part of an alternative rock band was about as good as life could get.
Then a cymbal stand tried to kill him.
Merod and his group, Clear the Chaos, were doing an Aug. 30 concert in Salem, Oregon, to promote their first CD, “Brothers and Sisters.” All the band members are from Puyallup; Merod, 18, is the youngest, a senior at Emerald Ridge High School.
“We were setting up to do our set, and I was jumping up and down off the back of the stage, moving things around,” Merod said. “Another band had their equipment leaning there, and their drummer had a high hat cymbal stand leaning against a riser.
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“I jumped down and bumped it, and it fell forward right where I was going to land.
“I landed on it, and it hurt, but not a lot. The 8-inch spike on top went into my jeans near my thigh, and I thought it was stuck in my jeans,” Merod said.
With a mixture of adrenaline and shock, Merod pulled the spike out of his jeans. Shaky, he told his bandmates he couldn’t play the set, and went to the group’s recreational vehicle.
Vince Rouse, the father of lead singer Dalton Rouse, had driven down to watch the show. Merod asked him to come to the RV to help assess the damage.
“It looked like I had a little cut, maybe needed a stitch,” Merod said.
Vince Rouse thought the same thing.
“I thought it would require stitches, but do it before or after the concert?” Rouse said. “I called Braden’s dad, Mark, and we talked. Braden took some ibuprofen, then laid down. There was an hour before their set, and he got up, walked around and said he was fine.”
One thing Mark Merod made clear to his son was that he had to go to a hospital emergency room after the set.
“I didn’t want him going somewhere where they’d slap a Band-Aid on him and send him home,” Mark Merod said. “I wanted him to make sure everything checked out.”
The band’s set went about 30 minutes, and Merod drummed without pain, showing his usual combination of passion and energy.
As soon as the set ended, Merod asked Vince Rouse to take him to the ER.
“The doctors had me tell them the story, and then I went in for a CT scan,” Merod said. “I was still in denial, but I knew something was wrong.”
The CT-scan showed his torso was full of fluid, but technicians could not tell whether it was blood, urine or perhaps the result of a punctured colon.
Vince Rouse called Merod’s parents again.
“Braden’s dad jumped in the car and headed down,” Rouse said. “Then I had to try to explain to his mother, Jeanette, that he was going into surgery, that it could be serious but that they weren’t certain what they were going to find.
“I tried to be matter of fact. It was not an easy phone call.”
Merod’s surgery lasted a bit more than three hours. If you’re a bit squeamish, you might want to skip the next paragraph.
“They said the spike had gone through my leg with such force that it put a perfect pencil-sized hole in my pelvis,” Merod said. “Usually, the pelvis will break, and the doctor told me he’d never seen anything quite like it. After it went through my pelvis, it punctured my bladder.
“The urologist told me my pelvis was going to be famous.”
By the time he came out of surgery, Merod’s father had arrived. The next morning, the band showed up, crammed into Braden’s room and hung out for a while. Merod had something to show them.
“I had 24 staples closing my abdomen,” Merod said. “It’s a pretty gnarly scar.”
The band canceled three remaining Oregon shows and drove home.
Merod stayed in the hospital for five days. His parents were there with him. When he was released, it was the band that came to get him.
“They all showed up in (guitarist) Mason Fain’s van, and they’d loaded a mattress in the back for me,” Merod said. “That’s how I rode home, lying on that mattress.”
A week later, Merod was back in school. On Sept. 25, Clear the Chaos returned to the stage, playing Louie G’s Pizzeria in Fife.
“It went fantastic,” Merod said. “And they had amazing pizza.”
Merod’s parents, however, are not quite over the events of Aug. 30.
“They won’t let me forget how lucky I was,” Merod said. “It showed me life can be fragile. I mean, I didn’t do anything wrong, and it could have killed me.”
To learn more about the band
Go online to Clearthechaosband.com.