The Metal Files

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Posts Tagged ‘suffolk

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.

Renee Reviews stuff.

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So way back in 1987 when my first real band first got together, this beautiful girl with big hair (no offense Renee) Renee Roland small_57049_2009-06-16 10-22-42.671and her gorgeous friend Carla used to come over to our house on the farm and hang out during band practice. Realize that my band practiced in my bedroom…9pc Pearl drum set, 2 guitars, bass and sometimes a singer, a bed, a desk and a dresser in a roughly 12×12 room. It was pretty cramped in there. It was always fun having them over there because they were a lot prettier than us sausage heads.

A few years later I started working for VDOT as a surveyor. I had met him a time or 2 back in the band days when we would either go to Renee’s house to pick her up or drop her off. It was never a pleasurable experience but we won’t discuss that any further. Renee’s dad was one of the survey chiefs and ultimately the big boss of the survey department during my tenure as one of the “grubs”. He was always a cool guy. He ultimately moved into a position in the design section and I moved to utilities shortly after. It was cool because I got to work with him more closely. I knew that Renee had moved to LA some years before and had lost touch with her, but her Dad gave me her number when I decided to make a trip to LA to do some business with a few record labels there (Century Media and Metal Blade). Renee graciously invited me to come over and I went there the evening after we landed in LA. We ultimately went to the Hard Rock to see Wayne Kramer (MC5) do a spoken word thing with some poet dude. It was a weird show but fun to meet Wayne and hang out. Before the show, we hung out at Renee’s for a bit and I got to speak to James Hong JamesHongon the phone for a minute as he was friends with Renee. One of the folks hanging out with us that night was John Skipp who wrote Fright Night! The dude was super cool. Anyway, that night and next morning were the only times I got to see Renee when I was there as my schedule was pretty tight with the record labels, but she made my trip that much better.

We spoke a few times since 1997 but not at all in the last 5-6 years. Thanks to social networking we’re in touch again and I’m happy about it. She was/is always the coolest. Now she’s doing movie reviews for The Examiner website. Renee has a very creative mind and I highly recommend that you check out her stuff.

Click here for Renee’s movie reviews, old and new.

Appetite for Defecation – I do not like Guns ‘n’ Roses…really

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So there we were, my band and I, at Robert’s house in Portsmouth, VA toaxl_4 watch Headbanger’s Ball as we always did every weekend. This was summer or late spring of 1988(?). It was the usual gamut of hard rock and metal videos…then there it was.

The “World Premier” of Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle video.

W

T

F

?

All 4 of us sat quietly and watched it. I had assumed that they felt exactly the way that I did. I think I was the first one to speak at the end and said, “That sucked ass.” The rest of them completely disagreed. “Whaaaaat?!?! You’re crazy! That was the greatest thing I have ever heard!” etc…Then the words that burned my ears came next…”That’s the sound we need to go for.”

My soul died.

Granted, we weren’t the greatest band in town and we were playing some music that I didn’t care for, mainly the hair band stuff, but it didn’t matter because I was in a band with some of my closest friends. Our setlist included stuff from Cinderella, Def Leppard (from Hysteria), Whitesnake, Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dokken, Overkill, KISS, AC/DC, TSOL and I really don’t remember who else. We only had one original called Skeletons. I wanted to play more originals but we never got to it. There were always disagreements between our 2 guitarists. J. Rob was definitely into playing heavier music and Robert was more about the radio friendly stuff. Personally I wanted to play stuff like King Diamond, Fates Warning, Anthrax, Slayer etc…just soemthing much heavier than what we were doing.

But they all agreed about the GnR thing. Whereas I was sickened by what I heard and what I saw in that video, they were enthralled by it. Needless to say about a week or 2 later I was out of the band. “The band is breaking up” is what I was told. OK, no problem. But within a week or 2 after that I stopped over at the bassist’s house and heard music from the shed out back. I open the door and there’s J Rob, Robert and Don with another drummer. They all had a look of shock and guilt on their faces. I said, “Wow. OK. I get it.” I think it was J Rob that said, “Sorry man, you know how it goes.” I think I said something like, “Yeah man, I sure do. S’cool.” So I walked out, a little butt-hurt, ego deflated, sad and even felt a little betrayed.

Then they started playing as I walked across the yard to my truck and I think I heard the riff to either Sweet Child of Mine or Welcome To the Jungle…and a slight smile came across my face. I was a little relieved. In the end they did me a favor as I wasn’t cut out for wearing spandex and teasing up my already bad hair. There were no hard feelings and I’m still in touch with those guys, one of them is a very close friend of mine still…Don.

But to this day I still want to throw up when I hear GnR. It wasn’t so much the music that turned me off, it was that voice. That nasty terrible screech. I will admit that I saw them in 1991 (for free) with my friend Bronwyn. Skid Row opened up and they were GREAT. I have to say that GnR put on a good show and Axl is a good front man, but his voice is still one of the worst I have ever heard in rock.

I know people who knew them in their early days and most had the same opinion about them…”losers” and “one of the luckiest bands in LA”. Their words, not mine. But I can’t say I would disagree with their assertion. The mere sight of Axl Rose gets me a little aggro.

I’ve said since day 1 that they are my most hated rock band and I still feel that way after all these years. People call me a bandwagon GnR hater, but the truth is that I was the one driving that wagon since 1988.  To me the only good thing that came out of that band is Izzy Stradlin. I love his solo albums.

But whatever. Screw GnR. They suck. There. I said it. I feel much better.

Written by The Metal Files

June 11, 2009 at 12:42 pm

How You Gonna See Me Now

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One of my older brothers, Robert, was a pretty big influence on me musically in my pre-teen years.  He was the one who got me into KISS, Priest, RUSH, Uriah Heep, The Stones, The Who and thankfully Alice Cooper.

Now, I’m not the biggest Cooper fan in the world even though I own pretty much everything up to and including Constrictor.  But some of his albums are very special to me…especially From The Inside.  This seems to be one that alot of Cooper fans love to hate.  For me it’s brilliant.  Sure it got slick production and had songwriting credits from Bernie Taupin (Elton John) and guitar work from Steve Lukather (Toto).  Philip Bailey even adds a cameo falsetto on the album albeit uncredited.

Throughout the late 70s and early 80s I spun this album a lot.  I know every lick and sound on this album by heart.  I can recite it in my sleep.  When we lived on the farm, Thomas would come over from time to time and hang out and we’d spin this one.  I remember he especially liked the closing track “Inmates (We’re All Crazy)’.

There’s not a stinker on here.  As a kid I didn’t get some of the references on this album like this from “Nurse Rosetta”:

I’m suddenly twice my size
My pants are all wet inside

C’mon.  I was under 12 years old, I had no clue.  haha.

In case you didn’t know and have been living under a rock, this is a concept album about living in a mental institution.  Sure, a bit cliche for Cooper but it worked.  I really like “Millie and Billie”, “For Veronica’s Sake” and especially “Jackknife Johnny”, “How You Gonna See Me Now” and “The Quiet Room”.  Cooper really displays the sadness and depression of the characters in these songs. 

And of course when I spin this on CD now, it really takes me back to those days in the late 70s and early 80s…far simpler times.  I mean really, what worries did I have when I was 10 or 11?  Not too many.  Mostly just worried about my brother and the trouble he was getting into.  That really did take a toll on me at a young age.  I looked up to him a lot and watched him go down some pretty bad paths.  Unfortunately I couldn’t help him although I wanted to.  I felt it was my job.  But there was nothing I could do, especially being 6 years younger than him.  I was his bratty little brother and with the things he was getting into, we weren’t as close as we were when we were both younger.

I will say that even today I am surprised that he’s still alive.  I had to learn at a young age that I couldn’t live his life for him…a life lesson for me.  A difficult lesson when it’s about someone that you love and looked up to.

So again, when I listen to this album and think about the time when I first heard it (I was 8 and he was 14), those were good times…sunny days…but really the beginnings of some dark years ahead.

Foodeater!

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I guess it was late 1987.  I went over to my friend Don’s house to see River’s Edge on HBO.  He had cable and I believe it was a Sunday night showing of the flick.   Unfortunately it was a 9PM showing and it was also a school night.  I only got to see the first hour of it because of my stupid curfew.

The main reason any of us wanted to see the movie is because we had read that Slayer and Fates Warning were in the soundtrack.  I finally got to see it in full about a year or 2 later when I found it for rent on VHS…or maybe I bought it.  I don’t quite remember.  I just remember watching it several times; both then and now.

This is in my top 5 or 10 movies of all time.  not only because of the soundtrack, but because of the movie itself.  Crispin Glover and Dennis Hopper have some great one-liners.  “I know, Feck.  You had to kill her.  Women are evil.”  “You…know this?” and the greatest line delivered by anyone in the flick was by *gasp* Keanu Reeves (worst actor ever?  maybe).  The scene (shown below) is between Matt and Jim (Matt’s mom’s boyfriend).  Really it’s the whole conversation, but when Matt replies to Jim calling him a “mother fucker” with “foodeater!”, it’s simply awesome.

But yeah, the whole movie rules.  I think I have watched it at least 50 times and watch it at least twice a year.  Really, Glover’s character makes this movie what it is and Hopper’s performance is right behind it.  Daniel Roebuck plays  a perfect role as someone who really doesn’t give a damn about anything.  The character of Tony has a great line too.  He’s getting interviewed by a reporter talking about how it’s hard to be subjective because he knew the perpetrator in question…then he stops and says, “Oh, by the way I play guitar.”  hahaha.  Awesome!

Glover has another great line when he’s asking for gas money for his baja VW…”What, do you think this car runs on God’s own methane?”

Here’s a list of quotes:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091860/quotes

If you’ve never seen it, please do so, especially if you were a metal kid of the 80s.

10/10

In memory of a legend…

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Well, he is a legend to me.  My Dad.  1942-1997.

Around the time that my Dad was dying of cancer, I was living at their house in North Carolina trying to help out a bit.  My drive to and from work was an hour each way so I was listening to music for the drive.  At that time I was really into Amorphis’ Elegy CD.  It’s very folky, heavy, dark and moody and seemed to be the perfect enabler to the sadness I felt knowing that my Dad wasn’t going to be around much longer.

I absolutely love this record but even now, some 11 years after the fact, this album reminds me of my Dad.  There’s no real lyrical connection or anything like that, just one of those things that reminds you of an era in your life, good or bad.  I was also listening to Nocturnal Rites’ Tales of Mystery and Imagination.  Both kept steady rotation in my minivan for months on end and both remind me of Dad.

Too Much Blood…alright!

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My fondness for the Rolling Stones has never been much of a secret and I have always chosen them over the Beatles (blech!).  They are my #2 band of all time right behind Iron Maiden.  My earliest memories of hearing them are through one of my older brothers.  I can remember him spinning Sticky Fingers and Some Girls on the record player.   I was pretty much a fan from day 1.  Maybe 1977 or 1978?  Doesn’t matter.  I was pretty young.

Undercover (1983) was the first one of theirs that I owned on my own.  I remember buying it at Murphy’s on vinyl after hearing Undercover of the Night and She Was Hot on the radio.  It was a bit of a different album for them, yet it still retained the feel of a real Stones album, unlike Dirty Work (terrible).

This album gets dissed by a lot of hardcore Stones fans, probably because of their MTV sirplay.  No me importa.  I love it.  Even though I wouldn’t consider it their best album, it’s my #1.  Songs like Too Much Blood, Pretty Beat Up, Undercover of the Night…great songs.

I love Mick’s ‘rap’ in Too Much Blood: “Did you ever see the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Horrible, wasn’t it. You know, people ask me “is it really true where you live in Texas, is that really true what they do around there, people?” I say, “yea, every time I drive through the crossroads I get scared, there’s a bloke running round with a fucking chain saw. Oh! Oh! oh No, he’s gonna cut off, Oh no. Don’t saw off me leg, don’t saw off me arm.”

Good times.

Odd to think that this video was banned from MTV for a long time.