Saturday, August 3, 2013


Since I’m giving this blog another shot, I thought I’d go ahead and give you, yeah you, another introduction.  My first intro many moons past was all about getting down with New Jersey hardcore punk fucking rock. Working backwards, this one reads as my introduction to notes, beats and melodies…er, music.  Michael Jackson, Kiss, Agnostic Front…it’s all there. So enjoy.  And per my previous post…the one that says you should drop everything and buy the new Night Birds LP…well, run, don’t walk and do it.  Then come back and read about this author discovering the Ramones while watching National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Part I…

I was born in 1976, the year that Kiss released Destroyer.  When I was about 5 years old, a next door neighbor gave me a Kiss doll.  Gene Simmons to be precise.  I loved that doll.  Eventually its hair fell out and its protruded tongue snapped off.  My Dad’s Moody Blues record used to give me crazy nightmares.  I remember once having a complete shit-fit when he played it. We lived in DC in the early 80s.  Minor Threat played a show down the street on my birthday.  When I was in first grade, I spent an afternoon riding around with a friend’s family in their conversion van.  We listened to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album over and over.  “Beat It” was the track for me.  It was so godamnn heavy and tough.  I begged my mom for the cassette until she eventually relented.  By second grade, MTV was on the idiot box all the time and I listened to the radio constantly.  I soon became obsessed with Duran Duran.  “Wild Boys” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” were my favorite – arguably two of their weirder, darker songs as far as the New Romantics go.  I heard the word “punk” thrown around a lot during this time.  My younger sister got a new shirt she referred to as her “punk rock shirt.” The first time I heard the Ramones was in the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation.  Hey, ho, let’s go.  Unforgettable.  In fourth grade, my babysitter actually played me some Kiss.  He didn’t offer a Gene Simmons doll, but he did give me all of his dubbed cassettes as he recently purchased the originals.  He had painstakingly Xeroxed all the covers, so they were as good as original to 10-year-old me.  Overnight I went from owning a little Kiss, Motley Crue, Poison and Def Leppard to having more of each of those bands, plus Iron Maiden, Ratt, and Judas Priest to boot. There was not only Crazy Nights, there was Alive I and II.  There was not only Girls Girls Girls, there was also Shout at the Devil.  There was Powerslave!  I had to have them all. The first 7” I ever purchased was Dream Warriors by Dokken.  When I saw the video for “Paradise City,” I thought it was the heaviest fucking thing I had ever seen or heard.  It was probably the first time I heard a guitar riff that made me want to inflict violence on another human being.  I used to record the Headbanger’s Ball from 12:00 – 3:00 every Saturday night on my VCR while I slept.  I would wake up on Sunday mornings with three hours of heavy metal to dig through, rife with new bands to discover.  When I heard Metallica’s cover of “Am I Evil” over at my teenaged neighbor’s house one day, I felt equally scared and intrigued.  “Whoa! This dude’s mother was a witch!” The teenaged hessian who lived across the street from a buddy of mine demanded absolute silence when Metallica was on the turntable.  You could get evicted on the spot.  I remember being struck by the cover of one of his cassettes.  The American flag, a pair of boots, Live at CBGBs.  “Antisocial” - Anthrax and “One” - Metallica became the heaviest fucking things on the planet.  Maybe Slayer was heavier.  I didn’t know anything about that though.  All the bad kids in school wore Slayer shirts.  The one with the big green monster grinning on it.  Slayer was definitely Satanic and I was sure to go to hell if I even thought about listening to them.  Then I saw the video for “War Ensemble” one night and immediately went out and bought Seasons in the Abyss at Tape World. Who needs to go to heaven anyway? Now that was memorable. I can even tell you what I had for dinner that night. Italian Meatball sub with cheese from Subway. Soon it was the break down in “Wake Up Dead” by Megadeth that made me want to inflict violence (it still does).  It was around this time that I noticed the Crimson Ghost on a lot of the T-shirts of my favorite metalers.  I read in Metal Maniacs that Metallica worshipped this band called The Misfits.  I also kept hearing the name Sex Pistols.  Anthrax covered them, Megadeth covered them.  I remember reading a camp counselor’s 12th grade thesis about them.  I couldn’t believe their story; the filth and fury indeed.  In 8th grade, my mohawk-sporting, ne’er-do-well friend and I were asked what kind of music we listened to.  I proudly boasted HEAVY METAL.  My friend looked at me with disgust and betrayal splattered across his face and yelled “No man, HARDCORE.” One night a friend stayed over at my house.  He had to have written permission to ride home on the bus with me after school.  To accompany a night of horror movies and junk food, he brought with him three cassettes, The Exploited, DRI, and fucking Walk Among Us by the Misfits.  The next day, I demanded a ride to the mall so I could get Walk Among Us for myself. I needed my own copy because I would be listening to it constantly for the next 20 something years.  I loved the DRI tape as well.  Thrash Zone.  I couldn’t believe how great the lyrics were.  “Thrash Hard” told the story of a brutal mosh pit at a show you’d do just about anything to find transportation too. I was obsessed with Anthrax. Among the Living; the riffs, the chanted backup vocals, and something the liner notes referred to as the “mosh part.”  When Attack of the Killer B’s hit the stores, I learned about their old side project Stormtroopers of Death.  Well, if Scott Ian and Charlie Benante played on it, it must be fucking killer.  It was.  I immediately recognized the riffs from the opening credits of Headbangers Ball.  It was on Headbangers Ball that I saw the video for “Dance of the Dead” by Corrosion of Conformity.  I immediately bought the Blind tape, but also saw that they had a slew of older releases.  So I picked up Animosity as well.  That changed the story.  Dark as shit, heavy as fuck, no solos, no jokes, just intensity.  Suicidal Tendencies were hard to ignore.  In seemingly every metal zine I would flip through, there was a photo of them glaring beneath their bandanas.  Plus they had a song on my favorite TV show, 21 Jump Street.  Their album titles made bold statements like Join the Army and Feel Like Shit.  Their new single was called “You Can’t Bring Me Down.”  Dude, fuck yeah.  Guess what, by virtue of their name there was noooo way my mom was gonna’ let me have any of their tapes.  Forget it.  I was allowed, Kill ‘Em All, but not Suicidal Tendencies.  Priorities.  Other bands/albums I was not allowed to own, but did anyway: Appetite for Destruction (that damn parental advisory sticker) and Helloween (they had “hell” in their name). I was loaned a warblly, beat-up tape by 7 Seconds.  It had no case or cover, but the faded ink on the dusty cassette said “The Crew.”  I honestly, didn’t understand what I was listening to.  From my repeated, weekly viewings of Headbangers Ball, I got turned onto Biohazard.  Biohazard like SOD referenced the cryptic acronym NYHC.  Biohazard covered Bad Religion.  One night in 10th grade, during a failed attempt to drop acid at the mall, I cavalierly purchased a CD from a band I had never heard before – Agnostic Front.  Their name turned up in Metal Maniacs from time to time.  They had a lot of tattoos.  Their singer was in jail. Biohazard liked them.  There seemed to be this other world out there.  Until that time, I mostly went to big concerts and stood miles away; only assuming I was actually seeing the band on my ticket. Kiss, Skid Row, Metallica, Lollapalooza.  Even my buddy’s former hippy mom took us to the Grateful Dead (there, I said it). After seeing Pantera at a relatively small club and subsequently circle-pitting my ass off with the hessians, I knew something smaller, something more personal and more direct existed…and thrived.  I wanted in.

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