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!

Random Thoughts

New Album Upload

Last week I uploaded two albums on to my YouTube account, Morbid Angel’s Covenant, and Mercyful Fate’s Don’t Break The Oath.  Just last night I added my all time favorite Iron Maiden album in it’s entirety, Piece Of Mind.  Here’s the link:

First time I ever heard “The Trooper” on WSOU in 2001 it kicked my ass so hard.  This is even MORE of what I needed in my search for ONLY the best shit because if I heard anymore shitty emo-punk or nu-metal depending on who I hung out with on that day I was going to throw myself against a barbed wire fence.  I’m pretty sure I was the ONLY one in my school that had REAL taste in music.  I don’t miss high school at all.  As for Piece Of Mind goes, this to me is the album that, once and for all, established the blueprint to the Maiden sound.  Yeah sure, they already had the epic songs before this but I feel like the great abundance of guitar harmonies on this album set the stage for nearly every band that came after them.  I always felt like The Number Of The Beast is so fucking overrated.  It’s really not that fantastic to me.

Powerlifting Progress

Today began my final week of training before my first meet on May 21st at the Ramada Inn in Newark, NJ.  On the heavy week of 5/3/1 I hit my final PR of 320lbs.  Since you’re only supposed to just hit the prescribed number of reps as you get closer to the meet I “just” hit one rep but I know I could’ve done more.  This shit was TOO easy!  But hey judge for yourself:

Too easy.  Thanks to having nothing but C4 in my system at the time of this set I got a bit carried away and cursed at and even screamed at the bar when I was done, making my girlfriend think I was pissed.  Hardly the case, but here’s some dialogue between me and her from after I finished:

Me: That was too easy!

Girlfriend: That screaming stuff is why you’d get kicked out of that other gym.

Me: Planet Fitness?

Girlfriend: Yep.

Me: Yeah?  Well fuck Planet Fitness!

But seriously though, fuck Planet Fitness.  Any gym that kicks a guy out of a gym for grunting while squatting 500lbs is NOT a real gym – and that’s a true story, by the way.  I’ll never train in Planet Fag.  I lift things up and put them down.

Here’s my entire routine for today:

Deadlift

125 x 5

155 x 5

185 x 5

255 x 5

285 x 3

320 x 1

Stationary Bike

10 minutes

50 calories burned

1.78 miles

Average HR: 115

The Ballad Of Ozzy and $haron

So I woke up this morning to the news Ozzy and Sharon are splitting, not because of drugs or alcohol.  That alone is fascinating just because he drunkenly tried to kill her back in 1989.  Too bad he didn’t get the job done!  This time it’s because she apparently went through his cellphone and discovered numerous texts and calls to celebrity hair stylist Michelle Pugh, a woman more than two decades younger than Ozz.

I can’t say I’m too shocked.  First off, if we all know anything about Ozzy we all should know he probably doesn’t even know how to operate his own phone just because he’s a dumb motherfucker.  So how could he know how to delete his own history?  Right?  It’s one thing to just look at the phone bill when it comes in but THIS was just too easy because it’s Ozzy and he’s stupid as shit.

But more important than that, could anyone blame the guy?  Look at pictures of $haron even in her youth and then look at Michelle Pugh.  Hell, I’ll help you:

Pugh

Look at that and tell me she’s not a cute woman.  I dare you to tell me that’s NOT a major upgrade from $haron in the looks department alone.  Hey, just maybe she’s even nicer than that witch.  Sure, $haron  may have saved Ozzy from drinking himself to oblivion after being booted out of Black Sabbath back in 1979, but it’s pretty much been documented for years that she’s a cunt.  Maybe Ozzy wanted a break from $haron’s overbearing attitude.  As of this writing he’s in a hotel in Beverly Hills.

But the truth is, in the end, they’ll get back together.  He’s still a puppy that needs his master and she needs a source of REAL income.  $haron herself recently admitted on The Talk that she caught him in bed with one of their kids’ nannies.  So why didn’t she ditch him then?  She said because she knew he was high as fuck at the time.  So there you have it.  She excused him them, she excused him when he nearly KILLED her and she’ll eventually excuse him for this, crawling back to each other in pure desperation, since neither of them know anything else at this point in their lives.  So…no need to make a big thing about this.

 

 

Practicing Riffs

So I just uploaded two videos of myself practicing some riffs including my own original riffs.  I plan on recording some music in the next few weeks if all goes right.  I’ve said in the past that I’m retired for band life.  I don’t miss it AT ALL but I imagine that if I ever did go into that again then I’d start a raw metal band, kind of crusty and VERY offensive.

 

 

The pickups on the Destroyer sound way better than I figured they would have.  I had a wiring issue when I first played it; turned out it the top pot needed to be replaced, which was great because I really didn’t want to replace the pickups if I didn’t have to.

Final Thoughts

Speaking of offensive…so how about Phil Anselmo’s remarks at Dimebash, eh?  I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and throw my two cents in because believe me when I tell you I’d come off as a hypocrite – and no, I’m not a white supremacist.  It’s funny that as soon as he said it was a joke made over white wine he was instantly called out because apparently he and Rita Haney were drinking alright – but not white wine.  In fact there was no white wine there at all.  But that’s not even the point because even though Phil gave a public apology as of this writing, chances are he’ll probably do it again.  The point is, for all those bands calling him out like what he did was so controversial, you obviously are all clueless to the fact that he’s done that shit before.  Hey here’s the proof for you’re viewing pleasure if you didn’t think it was bad enough that he said what he said during a show that was meant to honor his fallen bandmate  – skip to the 1:57 mark for the fun parts because White Power!  Right Phil??

Random Thoughts

New Trivium…and I Think I Like It…Uh Oh!

Over two weeks ago Roadrunner Records released the new music video for the title track to Trivium’s upcoming October 2nd release Silence In The Snow.  The only reason I even gave it a listen was just so I can say that it sucked balls.  I was a fan of them starting in 2005 when I bought Ascendancy and thought that these kids had a shitload of potential and that as they progressed their shit would get better – and it did for a while!  Their next two CDs, The Crusade and Shogun were far more metal sounding and far more mature than Ascendancy and you either supported them for growing up and doing different things or you refused to grow up, understand that no band can do the same thing forever and move on.  That’s exactly what happened with Trivium.

Starting with The Crusade I was hearing a lot of bitching from people: “This sucks!  Ascendancy is better because it’s more metalcore!”.  “Fuck these posers, trying to sound like Metallica all the time!”  And by the way, you dumb motherfuckers who made those Metallica complaints…please…just…open your ears and tell me if you really think that Kirk Hammett in his prime could play any of Matt Heafy’s or Corey Bealieu’s leads – and without raping that fucking wah pedal!  Tell me that Lars in his prime could handle Travis Smith’s drum patterns.  Ok, so maybe Matt sounded a tad like James in the singing department but I’d rather that than just screaming to breakdowns all the time and not developing to become a better vocalist.

Then something happened.  They seemingly gave into those immature fuckheads that bitched and moaned about their music because it wasn’t Ascendancy parts 2, 3, 4 and 5, and decided to please these “fans”, or so it seems, by pretty much dumbing down everything they had done before.  The result?  In Waves, probably the worst regression I’ve ever seen in a band.  Ever hear the title track?  The opening breakdown broke my heart…so metalcore…I immediately had visions of stupid kids with their hair super glued to the side doing stupid dance moves.  I heard a few other tracks to try and give it a chance but I couldn’t get into it at all.  Worse?  Their next album was produced by none other than David Draiman.  So I totally wrote Trivium off.

Then this video was released two weeks ago:

Pretty different…pretty much avant garde…but what the fuck is with Corey circle headbanging blindfolded?  Is Matt just randomly bleeding?  What’s with the cute Asian not being told how to properly hold a guitar?  And while bleeding too?  But more than that…doesn’t Matt sound a slight bit like Myles Kennedy here while singing the verses?  Oh shit his singing voice is suddenly WAY better.  No screaming at all…not even a bit?  Ok…so the riffs are still simple as fuck…but damn are they heavy!  What’s that?  This was inspired by the band’s time touring with Heaven and Hell, you say?  This song was originally written during the sessions for Shogun??  Score!!!!!

Then came this other leaked song just this past week:

Uh oh…this sounds really good too.  This musically speaking is a really good mix of old-school playing with modern edge guitar tones.  Just listen to that slow part – goddamn!  And Matt’s voice?  Great work harmonizing with himself!  Great singing altogether!  I don’t know that ditching screaming altogether will work out in the end but we’ll all have to wait until October to find out for sure.  But for now, not bad boys, you just might win me back as a fan – just don’t fuck it up again!

New Maiden…And I Like It!!

That shouldn’t be a surprise to any REAL metalhead worth a shit; but truth be told, I’ve been kind of disappointed with Iron Maiden for 12 years.  When I was 16 Iron Maiden v4.0 was THE SHIT.  Bruce and Adrian were back and they now were a six-piece with THREE guitar players since they chose to keep Janick Gers with them.  That’s awfully nice of them but let’s face it – if Janick were gone tomorrow most people would cruelly show just how much happier they’d be just because it was Adrian and Dave again.  I’m not one of them though.  Why?  Because I liked Brave New WorldIt was a fantastically written, thought out album.  The title track alone is incredible as is the lead off single, “The Wickerman” – that track is just badass!

Three years passed and they released their next album, Dance of Death.  Dude…what the fuck?  I get that bands need to evole to survive and/or feel excited for years to come but this…this was just weak as FUCK and absolutely boring.  The epics on it…I used their longest epic for a bathroom break during my days as a college DJ several times but man it was such a dramatic decline because their most memorable shit is the epics.  It’s sad when Bruce’s next solo album, Tyranny of Souls, had WAY more balls to it than his own band’s material!  Three years later we were given A Matter of Life and Death.  I was officially scared and I blame producer Kevin Shirley because he encouraged the band to “loosen up”.  I feel like in “loosening up” the band completely changed, they became too rock and roll for my taste.  I could NEVER hate Iron Fucking Maiden, but I didn’t know that I’d ever buy their shit again and I haven’t since 2003.

Then I heard this!

Holy shit does this sound old school as FUCK!  Am I listening to something from Piece of Mind???  All that’s missing here are the crazy ass guitar harmonies, but you can’t get everything.  Right?  But at least we know that they’ve still got it!  Listen to Bruce hitting those notes!  How many people pushing 60 do YOU know that can still sing as amazingly as Bruce Dickinson?  I’ll wait.

Another Reminder of Changing Times

I took my girlfriend to Manhattan for her birthday this past weekend because she wanted to go to the Museum of Sex and see Funland, which is a boobie bounce house.  I shit you not this does exist.  Here’s the proof:

boob-bounce-house[1]

You – yes, you! – can bounce around in plastic titties for an extra $15!  I’d still prefer the real thing though!  But before we walked all the way there from Port Authority I really needed to eat something so we got Pizza across the street from 2 Brothers, which is doing really good at expanding their stores with $1 Pizza.  The problem?  One of the guys behind the counter was playing the most annoying Reggaeton you could find.  Bad enough that shit is just horrid to begin with.  I like a lot of different kinds of music…but…Reggaeton, like Dub Step, is to music what rape is dating, like Kobe Bryant was to the hotel employee in Colorado, just a nonstop fucking assault – but to your ears.  And it just…won’t…stop.  That same, annoying “beat” is pounding away worse than even house music ever could, and possibly with even more bass!!  That shit was stuck in our heads for a while.

After going to the Museum of Sex and discovering that fake titty land was closed, probably for maintenance, we decided to go towards St. Marks Pl.  It was during that long ass walk that my girlfriend let me know that Trash And Vaudeville were finally closing shop and relocating after forty years in that block.  I was aware that they were being stubborn about ever doing it, being that they were the one piece of the old St. Mark’s that I remember that’s still standing, they weren’t going anywhere.  But, like most historic places in Lower Manhattan, the pressure of increased rent was finally seeping in.  And as we arrived at the block I can see why.  The whole block has pretty much become yet another tourist trap: restaurants, a Barcade, Karaoke, Bongs and even a 7 Eleven.  Yeah, that’s not a mistype.  I first discovered St. Mark’s Pl. had a 7 Eleven in 2012.  St. Mark’s Pl. and the Village as a whole used to have so much more character than THIS.  And if you’re in you’re early 30’s like I am or even older you know how awesome the place used to be.

I remember getting a good chunk of my metal shirts from places in the Village that are no longer in business because of rent and because of the faggot ass hipsters that came in.  I used to love hanging out on W. 8th St.  I met some really amazing people there.  Of course most of them were strange as fuck but some of them were fucking awesome.  I bought my first leather jacket there, as well as my leather vest, which I still have, and even my first real biker watch at this place called Leather Master, which along with the comic store I used to go to and the places I used to by my clothes at, are all gone thanks to increased rent.  The Mars Bar, an infamous punk rock dive bar I discovered through this crazy chick that frequented the place a lot…closed and is now Jupiter 21, a nice 12 story condo.  Although I feel the beginning of the end came around the tail end of 2006 when Hilly Kristal, after years of dodging eviction, finally caved in and shut down CBGB.  Even being landmarked by Mayor Bloomberg of all people couldn’t save the place, so what does that tell you??

I never bought anything from Trash and Vaudeville, I always found their clothes too extreme for my tastes.  But I understand and respect the history it provides.  It may be relocating to a cheaper and safer building (from what Bobby, a store employee told me), and that’s great.  But in the end it just puts the final nail in the coffin of a place that began loosing it’s character a decade ago.  Sure, Sounds is still there.  But that place seems to me like just another generic music store, although it does have more Henry Rollins CDs than I’ve ever seen anywhere else.  Around the time the Mars Bar went out of business someone spray painted on a wall “THE EAST VILLAGE IS DEAD”.  Well, that person is absolutely right and it kills me to see what it’s become.  My only hope now is that Bleeker St and the streets surrounding it remain the way they are for years to come.  It’d be a shame to lose The Bitter End!  I played there once in 2012, what an honor that was.  Café Wha? is another place like that.  It’s a landmark much like CGGB was but we saw how much that mattered, right?  It’d also be huge blow to lose Generation Records, a record store I find to be the equivalent of Vintage Vinyl in New Jersey.  It’s bad enough Bleeker Bob’s finally went under two years ago.  I was there the day before they closed, the owner told me he was hoping to relocate but I still haven’t heard of that happening and I sadly am not holding my breath either.