My First Metal Gig – Vanguard live at Dock Street Bar And Grill, Staten Island, NY February 4th 2005

As I might’ve alluded to in a previous article or two, I joined my first Metal band as a guitarist in 2004.  Previously I’d been a drummer.  But it wasn’t until close to year’s end that we rounded up our line up with a rhythm section, having auditioned these two buffoons in Phrygian Studios in Staten Island.  As far as I know it’s still around…although that might change depending on when this pandemic ends.  THAT was an audition!  A completely inexperienced drummer with no technique, a bassist that knew literally nothing about the bass and WREAKED OF SHIT ALL THE FUCKING TIME, and Chad, my co-guitarist who seemingly forgot how to play anything that day or just didn’t have a care in the world.  More on the that later!

Fast forward to early 2005.  Joe Ryder, our original bassist, while a really nice, quiet guy, was replaced with John Vaynburg, a far more talented bassist – one of only two bassists I ever played with that could nail “The Trooper”, my all time favorite Maiden tune, to the T!  Unfortunately he turned out to be a bit of a princess.  But hey at least he didn’t WREAK OF SHIT ALL THE FUCKING TIME!  Chris, our drummer, slowly began to hold quite an influence on Chad and Idrees’s decision making, thanks to his far more arrogant personality.  And I’d every once and a while be lectured – even by the very drummer who I taught to FINALLY develop independent control of his hands and feet! – in regards to my guitar playing being nowhere near as fluid or as glorious as Chad’s.  Oh sure, Chad certainly did have technique.  But I had tons more feel and attitude.  More on that later.

Around this time, we had a few originals, written mainly by Chad.  I’d brought some stuff to the table but I’d leave the band almost right after they’d started using my shit.  But it was evident that Chad’s music was more in favor because it was more in the Power Metal vein that Chad and Chris were very much into.  Power Metal: GAY.  Idrees’s gay ass cheesy lyrics didn’t help either!  It was hilarious that this is what seemed to be agreed upon when you consider that we were five guys between the ages of 17 and 20 (I was the oldest and the only one in college) that all had individual subgenre favorites.

Idrees, who my own father referred to as “that black kid who thinks he’s white”, was stuck somewhere between 1983 and 1990, and Slayer was his religion, like to the point that it was pathetic.  His “singing”, if you can call it that, was more akin to if Luther Vandross joined Judas Preist.  I still roast him to this day over it.  Chad, while a major Iron Maiden fanatic, also was enamored in all things Steve Vai.  Chris essentially followed Chad’s path, only he became a Power Metal fanatic (although he’d see the light months later).  John’s tastes were closer to mine.  He was very much a Death Metal fan, like I.  He also was a Black Metal fan.  Then there was me, and if you’ve been reading this blog for the last five years then you already know I only listen to the good shit.  And it reflected in my playing, especially my lead playing, sloppy as it might’ve been at the time.  I wanted to be the bastard child of Mustaine in his prime and Zakk Wylde.  While Chad played prissy lead fills, I was the guy that just ripped on his Body Art Series B.C. Rich Bich.

The Ballad Of Dock St Bar And Grill

As the title of this rant should suggest, this gig was on Staten Island.  I might as well admit that I’m actually from Staten Island.  Trust me, I’m not proud of it.  Where to begin?  Well, for the sake of this article anyway, the music scene, at least at this time, could only be described in one word: LAME.  Due to the Island’s isolation from the other four boroughs in New York City, along with some fucking morons blindly wearing that isolation with pride, there was nothing really exciting to talk about.  There’s a reason why Chris would eventually look outside the island for people to play with.

The local Metal scene had very few decent bands.  Dethroned and Enthralled come to mind.  Whiny Pop Punk was very popular.  Rap was and will forever be a big deal on Staten Island, primarily because Wu Tang are from there.  And by the way, if you’re reading this, are a grown adult around my age living in Staten Island, and still refer to it as “Shaolin”, you should probably be shot in the throat.  Five times.  But the tried and true money maker, as I’d later discover?  Cover bands.  So in a nutshell, Staten Island was, and probably still is boring.

By the way, just so we’re clear: Fuck the Wu Tang Clan and anybody that looks like them.

Dock St had been around for decades.  I’d actually played there numerous times during my senior year of high school in 2001 and 2002 with my previous band.  Aside from Cock St, there hadn’t been many venues for bands to play in that I knew of, especially in the case of bands where only one of us was BARELY under 21.  Fuck, Dock St alone had gone through countless management changes both before I ever even played there and especially long after I’d stopped going there.  I hated it.  It was small, I didn’t like that the booker, who I’d known for a few years, was a grown man befriending the kids, and it was just boring to me.  If you’re a grown man hanging out with teenagers, you’re creepy.

Gig Night

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Inside the shithole that was Dock St.  In the middle, starting from the left: Chris Dickinson (yeah, that Chris Dickinson), Chad Cresante, John Vaynburg.  Bottom: Idrees Williams

Unlike most of the bandmates I’ve played with over the years, I never got nervous or anxious before a gig.  This was no different.  But I was very tired, and very annoyed when Chris called me while I was home napping before the show, wanting to know where I was.  When I told him I was home resting before the gig because you know, I had work early in the morning and then class afterwards, he had the nerve to tell me to get down there as soon as possible as if it was his band.  Of course I ignored him and did my own thing.  I heard the anxiety in his voice.  This was his first band and hey, I was 16 when I did my first shows.  But a word of advice to you anxious musicians out there: there’s NO NEED TO PANIC BEFORE A FUCKING GIG.  JUST GET THE SAND OUT OF YOUR PUSSIES AND YOU’LL BE JUST FINE.

My mom, of all people, came to the gig.  I warned her not to, for she was going to see a side of me she’d wish she never saw.  The band were going to see a side of me they didn’t think they’d see either.  More on that later.  I do remember seeing some teenager with a water bottle.  He asked me if a wanted a swig before going onstage, revealing that the water was actually whiskey.  How could I say no?  I walked up on stage decked out in all black.  I had on a Death t-shirt that I actually still have, black jeans, black boots, a biker watch and a chain around my neck, ready to show these idiots who the real star was…after someone told me he wanted to have sex with my guitar.

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We opened up with a song called “Death Knell” (and here we go with the gay ass song titles!), after Idrees refused to introduce the band  because we needed “to sound like we’ve been around for five years”.  He actually said that.  To this day he claims he meant that as a joke; but he seemed way too serious for that to be a joke.  As soon as the tempo picked up I spread my legs as far apart as they would go and began banging my head as aggressively as I could without my glasses falling off.  I spat into the audience, my eyes popped out of my head as I was ripping through solos.

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Then I opened up my mouth.  There were a lot more people at the show then I imagined there would be.  Very few of them were there for me but the crowd were so into it that a former friend of mine decided to guard my mom, who according to him claimed she was going to beat up the first person who bumped into her.  Well, she didn’t stay around much longer.  After the second or third song, I took the mic from Idrees, looked toward Chad’s emo looking friends and yelled out “…and remember kids, emo is for pussies!”.

We went on to play a few more cheesy titled original tracks along with covers of “Aces High” (where I played the part of Adrian Smith) and “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying” (where I played the part of Dave, of course!).  Chad was probably the one guy who had no life to him during this show…or any of the shows we played together.  Looking at some of the pictures that were taken he appeared to just have some arrogant smirk on his face, as if he was already bored because even his own music wasn’t challenging enough for him.  It was the same smirk he had the afternoon we auditioned Chris and Joe Ryder just three months earlier.  Kids, when you don’t know how to just have fun at your FIRST GIG, you’ll never have fun.

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Doing my best Adrian Smith impression, playing his solo in “Aces High”.
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Final song of the night, “Fear Is Eternal”.  See what I mean about these gay song titles??

As I walked off the stage, the first thing I noticed was my mom was gone and I right away assumed it was because I singled out the emo kids the way I did.  I did stay for the last band, Whole In One.  They were a Pop Punk band, however I was friends with Ralph, their drummer.  I’m almost positive I left after them and joined the band for food afterwards at Mike’s Place in New Dorp Lane.

I arrived home late that night to a call on my cell phone as I was walking upstairs.  It was these two possibly drunk whores prank calling me.  Upon asking them how they got my number and who they were they were rambling a lot, prompting me to hang up.  They called back, asking me why I hung up, prompting me to threaten their lives.  They then left a hilarious voicemail claiming I never had sex, which was pretty funny since I lost my virginity at 18; and that I apparently suck because I like Iron Maiden.  That was a actually an amusing little chuckle to end my night.

The Day After

While eating oatmeal before I left for work early the next morning, mom slowly walked into the kitchen to finally give me a piece of her “mind”, as it were.  She was so pitiful, reflecting back in such dramatic fashion, on her view of me after seeing and hearing me in front of a live mic.  She confirmed, like the drama queen she always was and still is, that she did in fact walk right out the moment she heard me call out those kids.  “You were better in Fallout”, she angrily told me before walking back into her bedroom.  Fallout was my high school band, in which I played drums.  Therefore I’ve no doubt that her last remark to me was her way of telling me things were better when I couldn’t get to a mic so easily.  She’d never see me play live again.

Later that night, I picked up Idrees to go hang out at Chris’s house.  Chris’s attention, for the most part was aimed directly at me.  Why?  Remember when I said I was going to show a side of me the band never saw before?  Well, he sure as fuck didn’t know what to make of my performance even 24 hours later.  When I asked him what the big deal was he commented that he’d seen me with my feet planted together at virtually every band rehearsal leading up to the gig, seemingly having no life in me.  I tricked them all to the point where Chris got a tad giddy as he told Idrees and I “you both are like my fuckin’ Thrash Metal icons man!”.  Mission complete.

Inside the house was the guy that recorded our show to watch.  And apparently he was emo, because he immediately pleaded with me to not do what I did on the mic ever again because I sounded like an asshole.  I think he later on went home and cried as he fingered his pussy while blasting his favorite Bright Eyes album.  Mission accomplished!

“Is That A Chick’s Ass????”

You see the guitar in the main picture?  Yeah?  Now look at the finish closely.  All you see is a pink guitar?  Look again…closer.  See it now?  Now, if you’re a guy under twenty you just jizzed yourself. Twice.  If you’re over twenty you can’t stop laughing, but you still have control over yourself.  You women though….oh, you….the mixed reactions you broads have given this guitar over the years…some of you are obviously offended…yet…some of you actually like it!!  Really???  Um…ok!

I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on this thing back in the early spring of 2004, probably the end of March.  My old music store, where I was no longer taking lessons at this point, was right next door to my shit job where I was working at the time so I took a visit until I had to go clock in.  I looked to my right and immediately saw this…guitar…hanging on the wall.  It was a B.C. Rich Bich, the one shape I’ve always wanted ever since I saw old clips of Dave Mustaine using it with Metallica on Megadeth’s VH1 Behind The Music episode three years earlier.  But this one was…different…and not just because it was part of B.C. Rich’s Body Art Series either.  The pervert in me immediately saw what a lot of people usually need a few looks to see.  Holy shit that’s a chick’s ass in a thong!  A chick’s ass is the finish of a guitar!  What does this say on the tag?  “Bich’s Back”?  Yeah, I’ll say!  Only $300?  Hmmmm.

I was told by the store owner’s piece of shit daughter, who I won’t name because she doesn’t deserve the recognition, that there were two other guitars like that but they sold quickly as should’ve been expected.  She then said that she arranged for B.C. Rich to recall the last one?  Why?  “Because I don’t want kids to come in here and see it.”  I wish I knew what the big deal is, as far as I know she’s only music store employee I ever knew that would say something that stupid.  It’s been more than eleven years since I heard that remark and I still can’t believe I heard it!  So fuckin’ what if a kid sees it??  After much debating I asked this dumb bitch when B.C. Rich were supposed to come.  “Friday”, she told me.  “Yeah?  Well call them and tell them to forget it.  I’ll be back here when I get paid to put money down on it.”, was my immediate response.  I had to get this thing.

The very next Friday I went back there right after I got out of work and used part of my tax return to pay the rest off and this baby was mine!  As the store owner’s cunt of a daughter was counting my money she quipped in a pretty serious tone “I think you’re a pervert for buying this!”.  Oh I have stories on this twat that could last a whole day’s worth of conversation; but then you’d have to knock me out to shut me up.  But who gave a shit?  They had $300 of my money since I was no longer taking lessons with them at this point anyway AND I had a guitar that practically screamed sleazy, filthy no condom fucking…with the risk of a few STDs.  Twenty four frets for hitting those high notes to make this bich scream, a curvaceous body, that finish!  The store’s owner offered to drive me to the mall since I wanted to grab some food before I went home since I didn’t have a car yet; while in his van I asked him if he thought I was a perv like his jackass daughter said I was for buying the guitar.  “I think it’s the most macho thing you can buy!”, he quickly responded.

My time in the mall?  Oh that was just fantastic!  I was given an acoustic guitar case to carry the Bich in because of it’s abnormal shape and when I arrived at the food court to eat I ran into someone and I sadly don’t remember who the guy was.  I showed him the guitar and he couldn’t believe the finish on this.  At that very moment I was approached by this guy I’ve seen on and off at bus stops in his Fun Station USA work shirt.  He had long hair in a pony tail with an under shave and he wanted to let me know that and he and his girlfriend both saw my guitar from across the way and he wanted to tell me he thought it was awesome.  That was cool and he seemed like a nice guy.  The problem?  His girlfriend, who was giving me the death stare right behind him, was this lunatic who I was crazy enough to be friends with not even two years earlier and to say the least I was surprised she was still alive.  I actually spotted her crazy ass a month earlier at a show and when I told my dad the next day even his response was “She’s still alive??”.  So as much as her boyfriend – and future baby daddy – was cool, I could not wait to brush him off as quickly as I could!

It’s amazing, the kinds of people you can attract just by carrying a guitar.  While I was on my way home I was waiting to transfer to my second bus when some homeboy asked to see my guitar.  “Yo dat shit is dope!”, he yelled out with a big laugh.  Then came this weird looking lady who clearly had to be in her late forties.  She saw that I had a B.C. Rich and decided to tell me this story that I still don’t know if I want to believe, in which she saw Metallica with Mustaine on lead guitar at a show.  According to her Dave was playing his first B.C. Rich guitar.  He hated it so much that at the end of the show he smashed it and one of the wooden shards hit this lady’s neck, cutting it open.  She then told me she would force it to stay open for weeks because she wanted to keep the memories.  Ok….

The next day I finally plugged it in and I was kind of surprised to hear how weak the pickups actually were.  I should’ve known, being that the guitar was kind of a novelty.  The solution?  Replacing them with EMG 85 and 81 pickups – problem definitely solved!  Goddamn this thing was loud after that.  I was playing it – and bragged about it – with a sense of pride for years.  It just screamed “METAL!!” as far as I was concerned.  I used it for years, I mean my next three bands.  I saw it as an attention grabber and my ex-guitarist from my first metal band joked that the guitar is the one thing I’d be remembered for.  Months before my second band’s debut gig in 2007 I decided the guitar needed a little extra kink if you will, so I went to Rudy’s on 48th St in Manhattan and got myself a Levy’s Leather Strap with chains going right down the middle.

Of course, not everybody liked the guitar.  Typical scenario: I’d bring the guitar somewhere, where is irrelevant.  I’ll take my guitar out and some woman will notice.  “That’s an interesting guitar, bring it over here.”  I bring it over.  “It’s so interesting that you’d have a pink guitar.  Wait…is that…oh…”.  Just like that she’s grossed out.  In fact the last time I had the guitar set up for it’s final shows in 2013, the female owner of the store I went to, Rustic Music Center, took one look and declared “that’s the funniest and grossest guitar I’ve ever seen” before calling the guys in the place to take a look at the finish.  I auditioned for the thrash band Sun Descends in 2005 and when I took the guitar out the lead singer, ex-Exumer vocalist Mem Von Stein, immediately said to me with weariness in his eyes “You have another guitar…right?”

But as I said earlier, some women thought it was amazing, including my brother’s ex-girlfriend as well as girls who worked at my college radio station.  Speaking of my brother, one day a friend of his that I used to go to school with gave me a ride to the bus, I think.  I had my guitar with me and when my brother told me to show the guitar his wannabe rapper buddy even he yelled out “What???  That’s AWESOME!!”  Yeah, the guitar even transcends musical boundaries.  At my first ever metal show some dope told me he wanted to have sex with my guitar.  My bodybuilder doppelganger and friend Jon has even considered buying one of his own all because of mine!

Since then I’ve been retired from band life.  So where’s the guitar been ever since I’ve moved to New Jersey?  In the closet because my girlfriend doesn’t want to see it.  Oh sure, I’ll take out from time to time.  I think I’d like to give it another setup.  I do know that if I ever got back into it and began work on the offensive metal project of my dreams there’s no better than my Bich’s Back to get the job done!

Here’s the Bich today:

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