The Metal Files

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Posts Tagged ‘I AM I

Screaming Trees – Sweet Oblivion

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So early in 1993 I was drumming in Epitaph, a band that consisted of some of my best friends. It was fun being in a band with those guys, especially since we always basically agreed on everything that we wanted to play. Good times had by1182967463_4570_24924 all. The only real problem I had was that I wanted to play out. Sure we did the occasional party here and there but I wanted to get into some clubs. We were certainly good enough but those guys didn’t have much interest in it and it wasn’t too big of a deal. I understood where they were coming from.

So one day I cruise over to Mark S’ house and hang out with him a while. I had known him for quite a while as we worked together at the grocery store in 1986 and there weren’t that many drummers in our small town, therefore we all knew each other. Mark was/is an incredible drummer, definitely someone I’d love to be drumming for me now (I can’t play anymore; I should blog about that sometime). So we’re in his garage and doing some drum tradeoff stuff. I was dazzling him with my double bass skills and he was dazzling me with his overall drum badassedness.

Anyway, to make a long story longer, he told me that he was playing in a band (I AM I from Virginia Beach, VA) but had to quit it for whatever reason and hooked me up with an audition. I got the gig and it was fun while it lasted (1993-1995). We played out a lot. It was what I would call a progressive rock band. It was tough to quantify as we all had such different influences. We had quite an array of songs, 4+ sets of material which were about 50/50 originals to covers.

One of the covers we did was Nearly Lost You by Screaming Trees. I had not heard this before but I liked it. I ultimately heard the song again in the soundtrack to the movie Singles (great film). Screaming Trees got pigeonholed as being a grunge band but personally I think they were heads and tails better than most of the bands that came from that NW rock scene and they were doing their thing for several years prior to that wave of music. They had a certain something that was very different. They were dark, depressing, heavy at times but not in a Nirvana kind of way. I ultimately bought the album Sweet Oblivion and instantly loved it. There was something in Mark Lanegan’s voice that just screamed that he was hurting deep down. It reminds me a little bit of Hank Williams, Sr. No matter how upbeat the song sounded, you could hear the pain in his voice.

This album has that front to back. Great hooks and melodies, Lanegan’s haunting vocals. It’s a perfect album in my opinion. Oddly enough for as much as I adore this album, I never delved into the rest of their catalogue. I remember hearing Uncle Anesthesia a few times when it first came out, but it didn’t stick with me, nor was I ever really trying to listen to it as it was always background music to something else. I heard some of Lanegan’s solo stuff and it’s very dark and moody. I briefly jammed with Drew from Unicorn Records in Portsmouth, VA and we did a few of Lanegan’s songs. I never got into his work with Queens of the Stoneage.

Who’s behind the Door?

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I’ve always loved Zebra and considered them a severely underrated rock band.  I first heard them on the radio when I first heard Who’s Behind the Door on Norfolk’s K-94 in 1983.  I was instantly hooked

That debut album is pretty righteous from beginning to end.  Randy Jackson has a great vocal range and is a solid guitar player.  The album flows very well.

A year later they release No Tellin’ Lies which was not quite as strong of a release.  They had some minor success with the slightlygoofy song Bears (worst video ever?).  Sure, I like the song but it was a bit silly.

For me they struck gold again with their third album 3.V in 1986.  I bought the cassette at Roses department store for $6.99 and was immediately hooked.  It’s a very polished album and pretty radio friendly, but the hooks are there.

Zebra IV came out in 2003 and again they released another quality album.  Highly recommended if you’re even mildly a fan.

I was fortunate enough to see the 3.V tour in 1986.  I’ll never forget it.  Cold rainy night…torrential rain even…A former friend from high school didn’t want to go out in the rain and get his hair messed up(just kidding)  so i went alone.  I already had really bad hair back then so it was no big deal to me.  Plus it was $5!  FIVE BUCKS! (Ren and Stimpy reference).  The lineup Alcatrazz (post-Yngwie/Vai era), Rough Cutt (Duke Fame!) and Zebra headlining.  I think there may have been 100 people there if that.  It was at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA which held about 2000 I think.  For some shows there they put the barricade up so only prople in the beer garden could stand in the area in front of the stage.  This was one of those shows.  So there I was wedged up in the front stage right corner between the speaker mains, the stage and the beer garden barricade.  My buddy Kirshon was standing behind me and was the only other person there that I knew.

Alcatrazz came on and was quite possibly the most boring band I have ever seen.  i swear I fell asleep standing up during their performance.  Some squid woke me up.  Then comes Rough Cutt supporting their Wants You! album.  I had that cassette and their debut and liked them a lot so I was familiar with their material.  They kicked ass.  Royally.  Amir Derakh was great.  He’s a killer guitarist, plain and simple.  They rocked from beginning to end and got a great response from a crowd that had no idea who they were.  Then comes Zebra.  Perfectly refined, in time, in tune.  They played a seemingly flawless set and mixed up the harder stuff with some acoustic songs.  Unfortunately they played a Zeppelin song or 2 but I suffered through it.  It was a great show.

Years later (1996 I believe) by wife at the time and I went to the va Beach Amphitheatre to see the Virginia Symphony tribute to Led Zeppelin.  Yes, I don’t like Zeppelin but Randy Jackson was fronting the band so I had to go.  We got 4th row center and got there pretty early.  of course I brought all of my Zebra CDs and Randy’s solo album CD.  Before the show started, I saw a woman walking around on the stage and she obviously was someone “in charge”.  So I left my seat and walked up to the stage and asked her if there was a way for me to meet Randy before or after the show.  She looked at me for a second and just said, “Wait here.”  Ten minutes later she came back out and said to come to the back stage gate after the show and Randy would come out.  Eureka!  During the show, Randy did a fine Robert Plan imitation.  It was a fun show, Zep fan or not.

So afterwards my wife and I are waiting for about 20 minutes by the backstage gate and out comes Randy, freshly showered.  I shook his hand, introduced my wife and me and talked with him for about a half hour.  It was an afternoon show so no one seemed rushed to get out of there.  I told him that I saw the 3.V tour and he said he remembered that particular show because of the rain and poor crowd attendance.  he signed all my stuff and was very appreciative of my “fanboyness”.  haha.  He stated that I was the first person out of the 20 or so shows to recognize him and/or bring stuff to get signed.  He was super cool.

In 2000 my former guitarist and I went up to Jaxx in Springfield, VA to see them.  Moderate turnout and a great show.  I got to meet Felix and Guy before the show and got permission to film it.  The picture came out great.  Unfortunately, something screwed up on the camera and no sound was recorded.  I was pissed.  I got to meet randy again afterwards and reminded him about the symphony gig from a few years prior.  He remembered talking to us and asked where my “pretty little wife” was.  I just said, “Ancient history, man.”  It was cool seeing him and the band again.  I hope to catch them again sometime.  On the way home (3 hour drive), Reggie fell asleep…and so did I.  He just happened to wake up right before me and yell.  I woke up just in time to steer away from hitting the entrance wall to the Monitor-Merrimac Tunnel.  Scary shit!

It’s unfortunate that they won’t allow their studio vids on YouTube.