Chris Cornell And The REAL Death Of Grunge

As I write this today, it’s probably been a few hours now since the funeral for Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who literally shocked the shit out of everyone by hanging himself with a resistance band in his Detroit hotel just hours after he got off stage with the band.  How the fuck could Chris Cornell do this to himself, and why??  To everyone he seemed like the LAST person to be tempted to do such a thing.  A lot of things have been coming to light since the news passed, such as the fact that he’d apparently been taking the anti-anxiety drug Ativan.  One of the things that triggered Chris’s wife to called security on him in the first place was that, according to her, Chris sounded very slurred on the phone.  One side effect of a benzo such as Ativan is a drowsiness that happens to last for a long time.

But there clearly was no fucking way that Ativan alone could cause anyone to just say “fuck it” and hang themselves.  As I discovered the aspects of his horrid childhood in preparation for writing this post, including becoming a full blown junkie at just 13, having full access to heroin and prescription pills, we all discovered yesterday that there were visible signs of fresh track marks on his arms.  If he just relapsed recently it had to be while on the road, and therefore there could be no way his wife would’ve known.  Even creepier, in a way, is that during their set closer, “Slaves and Bulldozers”, Chris slickly slipped in lines from Led Zeppelin’s classic “In My Time Of Dying”.  No shit.  Here’s the proof:

Yeah, I’m sure him requesting to the band to actually play the actual song would’ve clearly raised a few eyebrows.  Lets face it, he probably knew what he was going to do.  But I’m not writing about this to discuss the details of his death, or his apparent life long struggle with drugs and depression.  You can clearly find that anywhere else.  I’m here to write about Chris Cornell the ICON.  Because like it or not, depending on who you ask he was probably more of an icon in music than that little bitch Cobain EVER was.  Why?  Because he literally was one of the originals.

There sadly is a lot of historical significance to his death, that can easily be compared to the day Soundgarden originally broke up a little more than twenty years ago.  Again, depending on whose opinion you ask for, especially the mainstream media shitheads, Grunge died when Cobain offed himself in 1994, causing record labels everywhere to find as many copycats as they could, or face the unnecessary fear of losing money quicker than Wall Street on Black Monday.  But ask anyone else, and they’ll most likely say that Grunge died the day Soundgarden called it quits because they were one of just two bands remaining from the original six band from Seattle to not just manage to stay together, but actually find success.

Long before Shitvana was even a thought Soundgarden was formed by Cornell, Kim Thayil and Hiro Yamamoto in Seattle in 1984.  In 1986 the band were featured on a compilation called Deep Six.  The first release by C/Z Records, it showcase the burgeoning Seattle sound featuring multiple songs from them, The Melvins, Skin Yard, Green River, Malfunkshun, and The U-Men.  While Chris’ immense vocal talents were not yet fully developed, you can clearly hear signs of things to come on this original version of “All Your Lies”, which was later re-recorded for their SST Records debut album, Ultramega OK.

Before I go any further I need to make something clear.  I truly feel now, as an older man of 33, that the term Grunge itself was blown out of proportion too much.  I understand the according to musical standards Grunge is supposed to be the combination of Punk and Metal, with each band leaning toward either genre over the other.  But I honestly feel like Grunge was just a scene, not a musical style.  Hell, just listen to any of the Big Four: Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Perl Jam.  Fuck the visions of flannel and stories of rampant heroin use among all of them – did ANY of them truly SOUND alike??  If you’re smart then you don’t need me to tell you that the answer is hell fuck no!  Especially in the case of Soundgarden and Alice!

But in the history books, it was Soundgarden who was the first Seattle band from that scene to be signed​ to a major label before any of them.  And while most people clearly weren’t ready for them just yet, it was clear that Cornell was a GOD on the mic, lending to a sound that was easily comparable to Robert Plant fronting Black Sabbath.

For example!

Did you hear that beginning scream blending in beautifully with Kim Thayil’s guitar feedback??  Just tell me that wasn’t EPIC as fuck!!  There are many Soundgarden/Grunge purists who favor Louder Than Love over the later albums, and it’s easy to see why.  But…they clearly didn’t listen to him, as Henry Rollins said in 2000, “peel the paint off walls!” during the song “Jesus Christ Pose” off their 1991 breakthrough album, Badmotorfinger.  Go straight to the 5:13 mark to here the wail of a GOD.

That’s the other most important quality of Soundgarden and especially Chris.  Dave Navarro just yesterday stated that the band were one of the rare few bands of the late 80’s to come out that had both talent AND substance.  The substance?  Chris’s lyrics.  The song “Jesus Christ Pose” is clearly a song about religious hypocrisy, as he sang:

And you stare at me
In your Jesus Christ pose
Arms held out
Like you’ve been carrying a load
And you swear to me
You don’t want to be my slave

But you’re staring at me
Like I, like I need to be saved
Saved, like I need to be saved
Saved

It was lyrics like these that made Soundgarden the thinking man’s metal band in the early 90’s.  But it didn’t end there.  Take this little sample from the song “4th of July” off their 1994 masterpiece, Superunknown:

Pale in the flare light
The scared light cracks and disappears
And leads the scorched ones here
And everywhere no one cares
The fire is spreading
And no one wants to speak about it
Down in the hole
Jesus tries to crack a smile
Beneath another shovel load

I know even Layne Staley or Jerry Cantrell couldn’t even think of lyrics like that.  Add the sludgy riffs and it sounds like a song not even a band like Crowbar could come up with!

This right here is pure Sabbath worship!

That’s what made someone like Chris Cornell a true icon of the Seattle scene, the so-called Grunge scene.  He was THE total package.  He had the talent, the substance, the deep thoughts.  His vocal talents alone were a legitimate RARITY in rock music, with a powerful wail that rivaled ANYONE’s singing during the 90’s.  His lyrics were thoughtful, his riffs could absolutely crush you, they could be so dreamy, and he could even weld them together seamlessly and it’d all make total sense.  Here’s one of my favorite tracks off Superunknown, called “Limowreck”, as an example.

It’s a shame that it took this album and the single “Blackhole Sun”(which I’m blatantly staying away from here) for Soundgarden to finally get the recognition they deserved, ten years after they formed and long after everybody that came along AFTER them got recognition.  This is actually important because Superunknown was released just a month before Cobain died, signaling the beginning of the slow death of what had become a trend so big that flannel was even being worn at fashion shows and sold at even Macy’s.  If you’re old enough to remember seeing the “Gen X” section in Macy’s then congratulations – you’re old!

As said earlier, a sizeable number will tell you Grunge died the day Soundgarden broke up in the spring of 1997.  They were one of the two original surviving bands from the Deep Six era, the other being The Melvins (Thank King Buzzo for introducing Chris and Kim to Drop D tuning).  So while it was a major shock when Soundgarden got back together in 2010, after Chris did several albums with Audioslave (Chris with the jerkoffs from Rage Against The Machine) and an abortion of a solo album with Timbaland, his sudden death is now of even more historical significance than ever.  Yeah, this is beyond tragic and my thoughts go out to Chris’s family.  But from a musical standpoint, we all can sadly say now that if you were to give Grunge a real death date it would be May 18th, 2017, as this so far is the ultimate Heavy Metal tragedy of the year unless something far worse happens.

Rest In Peace Chris Cornell

July 20th, 1964 – May 18th, 2017

Make sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram:

https://www.facebook.com/Confessions-Of-An-Angry-Metalhead-1237695776242081/

https://www.instagram.com/confessionsofanangrymetalhead/

Random Thoughts

jim-wendler

See this guy?  This guy is the man.  Fuck that – he’s my hero.  If you don’t know who he is Jim Wendler is the COO of Elite FTS, making him CEO Dave Tate’s right hand man.  But what makes in more important than even that is his awesome training program he developed for all kinds of lifters from bodybuilders to athletes to powerlifters, 5/3/1.

On paper it seems as annoying to decode as any other powerlifting program with calculating percentages, etc.  But what makes this program so unique, at least to me, is that Jim takes the guess work right out of everything.  It’s real simple; in one 4-week cycle you will perform three sets of your main lift for 3 working sets of  5 reps during the first week, 3 sets of 3 reps the next week, and then for the last week you will perform 3 working sets of 5 reps, then 3 reps and then 1 rep or more if you can.  After your main lift, you will perform two or three assistance lifts, followed by light or  hard conditioning (he likes to push prowlers and run up hills a lot)  depending on the day.  After all that you will enjoy a deload week as your fourth week as a way to recover while still staying active before going back into the heavy stuff.

I like this a lot because in short the name of the game of long term gains.  This isn’t some eight week program you read about in mainstream bodybuilding magazines.  This is about making new gains and breaking new PR’s every cycle, regardless of what that PR is.  If during a cycle you bench 155lbs for 5 reps during the third week and then in the next cycle your benching those same numbers for 8 reps, it’s still a PR.  You’re still getting stronger.

I’m pretty sure this program has been real good to me since I began using it back in October because as of today I finally Deadlifted 305lbs for the first time.  I’d like to thank Motorhead’s badass track “The Hammer” for giving me the energy to do this!  I probably should’ve gotten there two cycles ago but instead of increasing the weights every cycle by ten pounds I increased them by five.  Oops.  I’m beyond grateful that my gym in Clifton, New York Sports Club, actually has a deadlift platform with bumper plates because I refuse to deadlift with those shitty octagonal plates EVER again.  In fact, I hope who ever created those plates gets shot in the fucking throat repeatedly because they make TRUE strength training such a hindrance.

Week 3: Day 2 – Deadlift Day!

Deadlift

125lbs – 1 x 5

155lbs – 1 x 5

185lbs – 1 x 5

245lbs – 1 x 5

275lbs – 1 x 3

305lbs – 1 x3

Hyperextensions

35lbs – 3 x 12, 12 10

Ab Core machine

20lbs – 3 x 20, 20, 20

I wanted to use the ab crunch machine and do three sets with 105lbs but some middle aged bitch was occupying it, taking her sweet ass time.  You know the ones, they sit on the machine for 10 minutes, while socializing, and they even stop DURING THEIR SETS to yap some more.  Why are they even in the gym?  Shouldn’t they be in the beauty parlor with their other middle aged friends gossiping about some worthless piece of shit reality show they probably rush home for every day because they have NOTHING ELSE to live for??

Oh!  Speaking of Motorhead…

Lemmy

My girlfriend told me two days ago that Dingbatz was going to host the streaming of Lemmy’s memorial service in L.A. using Motorhead’s YouTube page, so of course we went.  It’s awesome knowing I’m literally a driving distance of ten minutes from the place.  There weren’t as many people there to watch it as we figured there would be, which was fine by me because we actually got seats at the bar giving us a great view of the brand new flat screens that the management just had installed, with the much older “tubes” now sitting outside of the bar.

It was held at a chapel, there was no way in fuck that this would be held at a church.  Nope nope!  Next to a podium was a table with a few souvenirs, if you will; Lemmy’s pirate hat which covered his urn – I had no idea he was cremated! – something from the WWE with their logo on it, always tacky guys, you never learn, do you?  His cowboy boots were on it along with some speed…a parting gift from Motorhead guitarist Phil Campbell, who surprised all of us by NOT being there.  I repeat: PHIL CAMPBELL was NOT at his own bandmate’s FUNERAL.  Surrounding both sides of the chapel?  Lemmy’s Marshall “MURDER ONE” Full Stacks.  FUCK.  YES.

Not many people there in suits, maybe one or two people.  But the difference between those two people was all too clear:  one guy probably wore a suit out of respect, like I would, and Triple H wore a suit because he has a corporate image to uphold.  Yeah, I said it.  There were a lot of people there to speak about Lemmy as well as one or two people I know I sure didn’t expect.  Did any of you truly expect GENE SIMMONS to be there?  Since when the fuck does GENE FUCKING SIMMONS care about anyone BUT himself??  Geezer Butler was also there, which was cool of him.  Of course Ozzy and $haron were there, I mean $haron only screwed him out of potentially MILLIONS in royalties for writing classic songs on both No More Tears and Ozzmosis by giving him flat rates.  Cunt.

Among the speakers were various people, from random friends from Germany, to Lemmy’s somn Paul, to the band’s management and road crew (You know what song came to my mind every time!), to celebrities we all know.  Just like that the theme of this service was all too clear: friendship.  As much of a modern day pirate as he was, Lemmy was everybody’s friend and those people who were invited to speak were obviously those he made the most impact on from a personal level.  A surprisingly emotional Mike Inez of Alice In Chains spoke, as well as Slash, who spoke about the time he spent with Lemmy in the hospital after he was fitted with a pacemaker, being by his side everyday until he was released.  I had no idea.  I’ll never be a fan of Slash’s guitar playing and I LOATHE Guns N Roses but he always comes of like that guy you can hang out with for hours.

Triple H (most boring wrestler EVER) told some funny stories about Lemmy.  Remember, before he became a corporate sellout he was a metalhead who would often do interview segments in a battle jacket with either one of his own shirts or the Motorhead England shirt.  In that regard he was for real.  He had the honor of having Motorhead play him to the ring for two Wrestlemanias.  Luckily for me he lost both times.  He mentioned that when that happened Lemmy said to him: “You can’t win a match to save your life, can you?  That’s why you’re good for us!”  But after talking of Lemmy the ballbuster he spoke of Lemmy the gentleman.

He and his wife went to see Motorhead backstage at a festival show.  He went backstage and he found Lemmy with two towels on, topless girls and coke on the table.  He was about to come in until Lemmy noticed Stephanie.  “Whoop!  Close the door!”, he yelled as Trips waited outside.  When Lemmy reopened the door he was now dressed, the girls were dressed and the coke was gone, which Trips could only assume Lemmy snorted all of – and all because Stephanie was there.  Sure sounds like a gentleman to me, even though not too long ago Steph actually had double implants.

All of us in the bar were VERY surprised when Rob Halford came up to speak.  I had no idea he’d be there but it shouldn’t be too much of a shocker.  Like Lemmy, this world is Rob’s life and even after all the decades he’s been doing this he’s still a fan.  He told everyone: “When I was in the presence of Lord Lemmy, I was a bit overwhelmed …”  Yeah?  Well, so were the rest of us bud.  Points for calling him “Lord Lemmy”, by the way.  After Rob left Lemmy’s girlfriend came up.  She was clearly drunk, slurring her words the entire time.  No denying she’s in a major panic right now, trying to figure out what to do next.

Lars Ulrich and Robert Trujillo of Metallica came up and that’s when I got interested.  Upon walking up to the podium, Lars looked…different.  I don’t mean the homeless guy beard he had but his vibe was different.  He was clearly shaken up there…even vulnerable.  Metallica are dead to me after …And Justice For All, but there would be no Metallica without Motorhead and Lars made it painfully obvious in every interview he’s ever done. You knew it when he spoke of opening for Motorhead in 1982, the year before Metallica were even signed to Megaforce Records, and Lemmy recognized him from their meeting in Denmark not too long before that.  The theme of his speech was that Lemmy always treated him as an equal.  I’m sure Lars could’ve said much more…if he wasn’t still shaken.  It must’ve finally hit him that his idol is gone.  That has to really suck for Lars, knowing that the reason he is the drummer for biggest band in the world is no longer here.

Dave Grohl was the last person to speak, which is what everyone was waiting for.  You know his general history: drummer for extremely overrated grunge band turned frontman/guitarist for middle of the road rock band.  But those who REALLY know ANYTHING about the guy know too well that he’s nearly as big a Motorhead fan as even Lars!  He occupation as guitarist for his middle of the road rock band basically finances his love of all things hardcore, crust and metal.  If you know ANYTHING about Dave Grohl you heard his metal side project Probot, which featured several different metal vocalist, including Lemmy, with whom he recorded the only good track on that CD, “Shake Your Blood:, in which Lemmy also played bass.

Over the years Dave and Lemmy truly developed a bond with a each other.  The two of them got together many times and were clearly the best of friends for years.  Watching him up there you can tell he was truly humbled to be friend with the guy.  What sucked was when the mic got cut off and we couldn’t hear shit for about ten minutes, and went right back on before he finished.  He mentioned their love of Little Richard, which plays and important part here.  Right before Lemmy died Dave got Little Richard to autograph a bible pamphlet for him to give to Lemmy, but Lemmy died right before he could give it to him.  So right before he let the podium Dave recited a few lines from Little Richard’s song “Precious Lord Take My Hand”, before raising a toast to Lemmy.

After it was done Lemmy’s tech plugged in his Rickenbacker signature “Rickenbastard” bass, leaned it against his full stack and let that shit feed back forever.  THAT is how you hold a memorial service.  Let’s celebrate the guys life – I think he’d make fun of all of us for mourning him, I know he wouldn’t want us to, although the woman sitting across from us was in tears the entire time.  The world is still a shittier place without you though pal.

 

All Hail The King

Remember this?

 

Well…unless you were under a rock or in a coma over the last few days you already know that the most unimaginable actually happened.  God himself died this past Monday.  What a shitty way to end the year, losing the legendary Lemmy Kilmister, the Metal world’s King Badass, as the year is coming to a close as well just four days after the son of a bitch celebrated his 70th birthday.

My girlfriend read the news while I was playing my guitar that night.  She came over to me and told me to take a deep breath, that’s when she told me the news.  I initially outright refused to believe it, like I’m sure everyone else did.  Lemmy Kilmister?  Dead?  Yet Keith Richards still lives?!?!  As Mike Portnoy said on his twitter account, this was without a doubt the moment everyone feared would come yet never thought would actually happen.

For those of you who really were under a rock or in a coma; Lemmy thinned out at an alarming rate in the course of the last year, maybe even more than that, clearly a result of his lifestyle.  The guy only did speed for decades and he even told Rolling Stone in April 2014 that he still was doing it – he just lowered the dosage after being fitted with a pacemaker.  He also decided to switch out the Jack Daniels for Vodka because “vodka has less sugar”.  Oh Lemmy, you funny guy.  But you still had to respect the motherfucker because even with his declining health he still kept a grueling tour schedule with Motorhead.  No one else would do that now.

That alone leads me to speculate about his “sudden” cancer diagnosis.  According to the press he was diagnosed with aggressive brain and neck cancer just two days after his birthday and was given “two to six months” to live…only to die two days later in front of his favorite video game which the guys at The Rainbow were generous enough to transport to his condo that night.  I don’t buy it.  I think he knew “two to six months” ago that he was fucked and decided to pull a page out of Freddie Mercury’s book and keep the truth under wraps for as long as was feasible, but not for the same reasons Freddie did.  Freddie was to be the Rock world’s first ever AIDS casualty – that clearly had to be pretty scary to admit back in the late 1980’s.

So why would Lemmy choose to keep this under wraps if my theory is right?  Simple (while still stupid!)…he didn’t want us to worry about him.  Lemmy was a warrior, his home was the stage and he couldn’t be Lemmy fucking Kilmister and NOT go out with a fucking bang!  He was a man of no regrets and he knew his lifestyle had finally caught up with him; he must’ve known “two to six months” ago that there was no way chemo was going to help in anyway so he probably just said fuck it and finished what he started.  You can’t do that from a hospital bed with your hair falling out, right?

That’s why we will always remember Lemmy.  He ALWAYS delivered for the fans no matter how fucked up he was.  He ALWAYS delivered for the fans when he “peers” didn’t want to be bothered hanging out with fans after a show or on the street somewhere.  Honestly…I don’t think he really had any peers.  I was going to write about this in a future post but I got the honor of meeting Lemmy almost eleven years ago when my friend’s band Arctic Flame opened up for Motorhead and he invited me to go with him.  What did that mean to me?  Well…I got to see the band do their soundcheck….holy shit they were LOUD.  The fucking PA monitors were tied together and the floor was shaking!  I was deafened instantly and the actual show wasn’t to start for another two hours.  It was beautiful.  When they finished their acoustic encore of “Whorehouse Blues” I cheered them enthusiastically along with this 15 year old kid who was with us.  Lemmy thanked us and when I yelled out “Lemmy you’re a fuckin’ GOD!!” his reply had me dying.  “No no no – God’s a lot taller!”.

Lemmy was a pioneer.  His bass tone is undeniable and will most likely NEVER be duplicated.  Thanks to him Motorhead was most likely the first ever crossover band bridging the gap between Punk and Metal, they were fast and they were so loud.  Even the punks wore Motorhead t shirts and had patches on their vests. If it wasn’t for Lemmy no thrash metal band would EVER exist.  This especially goes for Metallica, a band you won’t always see me refer to here.  But if there’s one thing I’ll always be grateful to Metallica for it’s introducing us all to Motorhead.  If I never bought their covers album Garage, Inc., I would’ve never heard “Overkill”, “Damage Case” or “Stone Dead Forever”.  If you were a kid in the 90’s like I was you probably didn’t know who the fuck Motorhead were until you bought that CD – and don’t you lie and say otherwise.  Lemmy also wrote amazing songs with other people outside of Motorhead.  Remember “Mama I’m Coming Home” by Ozzy?  Ozzy just wrote the title, Lemmy wrote all those beautiful lyrics.  Just too bad Ozzy and especially $haron decided to shit all over him and just give him a flat rate instead of just royalties.

But more important than any of that….Lemmy NEVER did what other people wanted him to do.  He was a trailblazer and when you’re trailblazer you listen to no one.  He lived his life on his own terms.  No one could drink like him or handle the effects of speed like he could.  Even more important than that, no one before or after him kicked ass like he could.  Scott Ian said that his death leaves a huge hole that will “never be filled” and he’s absolutely right.  It’s also a bit of a financial loss for the Rainbow.  Oops.

So in ending this all I can really say is thank you Lemmy.  Thank you for the gift of your music.  Thank you for the gift of your badass attitude which will NEVER be duplicated.  Thank you for Motorhead.  Thank you for the influence you’ve had on EVERY true metal musician worth a shit including myself.  If you call yourself a metalhead in any way and you aren’t a Motorhead fan you’re just a phony and should go fist yourself while listening to Adele or the faggot bitch who sings “call me on my cellphoooooone” or whatever that shit song is.  Your music and your life will NEVER be forgotten Lemmy.  I dedicate this song – which was my pre-workout song just yesterday – to you and everything you stand for.  Thank you Lemmy!

Ian Fraser Kilmister

December 24th 1945 – December 28th 2015