Giving The Devil His Good Name Back – The Metal Mike Show, September 9th 2004

In my very first post here I briefly mentioned that I used to DJ for my college radio station.  Hell, that show, without question is the precursor to this blog because it gradually became my first platform to just talk shit AND not get in trouble for it.  But that’s a story for another time because how I got this fucking show so easily requires a bit of a back story anyway.  Oh, by the way, I won’t be mentioning which station it is because I don’t feel like giving anyone any undeserved attention.

So, I decided to give my station a shot in April, 2004, thinking I wanted to be a DJ.  I liked the idea of being able to play music and not be seen.  To this day it’s amazing how UGLY some of the top DJ’s in the country really are.  But since they sound great who the fuck cares?  I went through two meetings, one with the personnel director and the second with the station’s chief engineer…part super genius…part angry, bitter, and an all around asshole.  If Gregory House was a real person he’d be this guy! What made me laugh inside was in despite only being in his mid-30’s, the combination of his skullet and his awful 70’s looking moustache made this fucker look like an ex-member of the Doobie Brothers.

If I’m not mistaken I took the test a good week later and passed with just two wrong answers.  I originally chose to join the Music Department because that meant I could review records for play as well as maybe even dictate what got played at all, the first CD I ever reviewed being Black Label Society’s low key masterpiece, Hangover Music, Vol.6, which I was also able to burn and leave at the station while I took the original copy home.   But long story short the director at the time let no one do anything with her, frustrating me, so I joined the Engineering Department.  I had wanted to join Production but, at the time, it was mandated that you couldn’t do shit in production unless you knew how to run the board properly.

Some time goes by, the middle of summer arrives, and I was approached by the newly appointed engineering director about being his assistant.  Why?  Neither he or anyone else wanted the only other person around to be involved because that’s how lowly they all thought of him.  We’re talking a really nice guy too.  And there you have it, proof that even college radio isn’t clean of slimy politics!  So, from then on until I left for good in early 2007 I was the Assistant Engineering Director of my station.  But of course there was something else I wanted, and part of the process I didn’t even have to go through.

While I had applied for a show to start in the fall semester, I didn’t have to make an audition tape, and all because I was an engineer.  In other words, I already knew how to operate the board.  Before I was told that was even getting my first show I was approached by another DJ from the Production Department about covering him because he wasn’t able to get out of work.  It was easy enough, his show had a specific format which he wrote down for me – all I had to do was follow the bullet points.  So there I was, fresh from sitting in with the two BEST DJs in the whole station at that time – both actually being alumni volunteers at that point – and DJing my first show.

It was a little nerve wracking, I was already engineering and cohosting someone else’s public service show on Mondays for a month at this point, but this was the first time I was on my own.  After reading off the most important bullet point of this guy’s show he surprised me by calling me up.  I didn’t think he was listening but here was telling me I rock and even complimenting my voice.  And after I finished up, that angry chief engineer – who can still go suck a dick and die – even told me he liked my voice.

Thursday, September 9th, 2004.  This day would see the launch of the Metal Mike Show at 4pm.  My then guitarist, Chad, jokingly suggested I call myself Metal Mike.  A manager of mine at work suggested Iron Mike, but some at the station just didn’t like it.  For a few weeks prior to this I had hand drawn ads and plastered them all over the walls of every single building on campus, as well as on the walls of music stores where I lived and even in places in Manhattan, especially the now defunct Manny’s Music on w 47th St.  The guy whose show I covered for read the script for my station promo and immediately asked if he could read it on mic.  It was hysterical hearing him read “It’s time to give the devil his good name back…Hell never sounded so good!”, with as much bass as he could get out of his voice.

With two hours to go I began writing down my playlist for the next three hours, trying to find a balance between the music I wanted to play and the music I’d be required to play.  There were two other metal DJ’s who happily pigeonholed themselves to two extremes, one to Black Metal so underground the bands themselves don’t even know if their demo tape is even circulating, and another guy that loved to cater to his drunk following in England, playing nothing but Swedish Melodic Metal and Power Metal.  Power Metal…GAY.  I wanted to be the balance between those two guys, being a fan of almost all types of Metal…expect Power Metal or anything related to it.  I’d like to think I did a good job with that over the next two plus years.

Ten minutes to go.  I walked in to the On-Air room where another DJ was getting ready to wrap things up, this was on of the two people I sat in with.  Now this woman had an incredible radio voice.  She’ll be oh so shy talking to you but when she’s on air she gets so sensual to the point that you’d think it was a different person.  Looking on the instant messenger on the computer screen I already had to messages.  One was from my dad, who had tuned in on his office computer to hear me, the other being some jackass in the station busting my balls “I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY ACTUALLY GAVE YOU A SHOW!”  I think I know who it was.   She left, I played a few PSA’s to get settled in, my show’s promo, followed by my favorite station ID track…and off we go!

I had Ozzy open up my show with “Miracle Man” off his classic 1988 album, No Rest For The Wicked.  This was Zakk Wylde’s recording debut with him and I was such a Zakk fanboy at the time.  Also, that opening riff is just huge!  Nerves hitting me so hard, I couldn’t help but practically scream right into the mic once the song ended.  I knew I needed to calm down but I was so nervous I just couldn’t stop myself!  After screaming out the station’s phone number for requests I immediately but on Death’s “Bite The Pain”, a request for one of those two metal DJ’s I mentioned before.  I tried to do everything I could to calm myself down.  It took awhile but as time went on I got a bit more comfortable…until someone came to check on me.

It was 6pm, two hours down, one to go.  Someone asked me how I was doing and as soon as I said ok it went downhill.  I put on Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots”, only for it to start skipping.  So I quickly put “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” on the second CD player…and THAT started skipping.  So I pulled out Metallica’s …And Justice For All CD, put on “To Live Is To Die”…and THAT began skipping.  FUCK!  I had no choice but I go back on air and try to save myself.  Luckily for me, the rest of the show went off without a hitch before the next DJ came to relieve me.  All in all I had fun; I clearly had a lot of work to do as far as calming my nerves so I don’t scream into the mic, but this was the beginning of a time that would consume the next two years of my life.

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Possibly the best Ozzfest lineup ever? Ozzfest live at the Tweeter Center August 26th 2004

So just over a year since my last concert I was invited by my then-bandmates, Chad and Idrees, to go with them to see Ozzfest at the Tweeter Center in Camden, NJ on August 26th, 2004.  And if you looked at the main stage line up for this tour alone it’s easy to see why.  Dimmu Borgir (fake, pretentious, symphonic black metal), Superjoint Ritual (Phil Anselmo acting even dumber than the last time I saw him), Black Label Society, Slayer, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath.  Yeah, Judas Priest was THE big deal at the time, with the band announcing the return of Rob Halford on vocals just ten months earlier and following the release of the band’s box set.  The three of us definitely had our musical differences – making me wonder how I didn’t quit them earlier – with me liking a little bit of everything yet leaning towards heavier stuff more and more, Idrees listening to Thrash and ONLY Thrash, and Chad being the Power Metal guy who was practically jerking off every night to all things Iron Maiden and Steve Vai; but who the fuck doesn’t even remotely like Judas Preist??  I’m waiting….

The morning of the show they were supposed to come to my house with Idrees’s dad driving to pick me up.  They were very late and whenever I called either of their cellphones no one picked up and it really irritated me.  When they finally did show up I do remember letting them both have it, although I don’t remember their lame excuse.  Idrees’s dad reminds me of a cross between Nile Rodgers and Isaac Hayes, Niles in the voice department and Isaac in looks, it was pretty funny just hearing him talk.  We arrived in Camden around 1pm due to shitty traffic once we got off the NJ Turnpike; ever been to Camden before?  No?  Ok, ever hear Chris Rock talk about why you should never anywhere that has a Martin Luther King Blvd?  Well, we were on it and we saw why.  Here’s an example of what we drove through to get to this place:

  Image result for camden poverty 

Isn’t this just sexy?  I’d totally live here!

After maybe twenty minutes of my suddenly wishing we took Chris Rock’s advice and ran we finally got to the Tweeter Center, the huge outdoor arena placed in the location of the Armageddon we all apparently missed and right across the water from Philadelphia.  Idress’s really cool dad was going to spend his day at the New Jersey State Aquarium not to far down the road from us and right by the ferry that was bringing in drunken Philly trash for Ozzfest.  But I’ll get back to that later!

The three of us walked in to the horrible sounds of Otep on the second stage, having just missed God Forbid, who I really wanted to see.  They sadly broke up in 2013 but if you’ve never heard of them check out their 2004 album Gone Forever.  So we walked around for a bit, bought beads to throw at girls to have them show us their titties, etc.  We went back to the second stage because I wanted to see Lamb Of God.  They were literally five days away from release of their major label debut on Epic Records, Ashes Of The Wake, following the success of their last album, As The Palaces Burn, and it looked like they totally did a major gear upgrade with there being to big walls of speaker cabinets like only Slayer would do.

Chad and Idrees left me there because they weren’t fans of the band.  I think it was literally just too modern for either of them.  Lesson #1: if you’re only 19 years old – like these two knuckleheads were (I was a year older) – nothing is too modern for you.  Life’s too short to be THAT pretentious over music.  I may have just turned 32 but I still have an open mind!  Lamb Of God were absolutely awesome, playing a good chunk of their material from the last record as well as the first single off the new album, called “Laid To Rest”.  What I didn’t understand was Randy Blythe’s need to curse literally every other word – that’s not an exaggeration – as well as constantly saying he was in “Killadelphia” when we were actually across the water.  Dumbass.

My two dopey friends came back just in time to rescue me from Shitknot (I was a fan of them for a few years but 2004 was the year they broke my heart Godfather Part 2 style) and Hatebreed.  In fact, after LOG there were no others bands I wanted to see on the second stage at all!  So we had lots of time to kill.  While there I bought a BLS shirt that I still have today and the classic Slayer eagle shirt, which mysteriously disappeared on me a few years back.  I’m still pissed about that one, by the way.  While walking we came across a lot of that drunken Philly trash I mentioned before.  I’m talking a bunch of ridiculously sunburnt dudes in Eagles jerseys (the football season had just started) yelling out in unison “E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!!”….over….and over….and over again.  We also found a good spot at the guard rail on the lawn, where we could throw beads at bitches AND have a pretty good few of all the bands.

After while it was finally time for the main stage acts to go on.  First? Black Label Society.  This was to be my first of seven times seeing them, in fact I can’t make fun of Chad’s fixation on Maiden without stressing that between 2002 and 2008 I wanted to play like Zakk Wylde so bad.  I had other influences, of course, but at that time Zakk was the ONLY one who was that popular while playing that kind of music.  Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul had already risen from the ashes of Pantera, but their current band, Damageplan, was not getting over on the old fans easily.

Right out the gate he was ripping it up on a custom made Jackson Randy Rhoads guitar.  He’s shredded for maybe two minutes before breaking into “Funeral Bell”.  Idrees and I loved it.  Chad?  “Zakk Wylde’s not that great”, he said with this arrogant smirk on his face.  Chances are he was already jaded from listening to technical shred nerds who never left their mother’s basement.  Lesson #2:  It really doesn’t matter how much better one guitar player is than the next.  Zakk himself will even acknowledge that there are players that will bury him.  But what’s more important than having all the technique there is to have is being able to have your playing reach out to more than one niche crowd.  That’s why Zakk passed the audition to play with Ozzy in the first place.  Even Ozzy knew Zakk had already developed a sound that would one day make him recognizable!

Superjoint Ritual were next.  Where Phil Anselmo pretty much told us last year in Brooklyn where he stood in music (as in not with Pantera) he pretty much took that and acted like a dumbass this time around.  First off, their latest album, A Lethal Does Of American Hatred, sucked balls in plain English.  Also, it’s one thing to command your audience to mosh; but when you tell them that they’re pussies if they don’t you’re just a jackass.  The band were still great…so long as the played the music off the first album…but it was weird when Phil ended the band’s set by saying “keep sucking dick!” on the mic before doing his classic shitty rendition of the last words to “Stairway To Heaven” that he’d been doing since the Pantera days.  Drugs are bad, m’kay?

Dimmu Borgir were TRASH.  Bad enough I already don’t like Symphonic Black Metal but Dimmu were and are just awful.  Next? Slayer.  How funny that, as Idrees left us to mosh in the makeshift pit area right behind us, Chad and I both realized that the guardrail was pretty wobbly – yeah, we were fucked and we knew it.  Because as soon as Slayer got on stage all Hell broke loose and we were almost instantly pinned to the guardrail.  That shit hurts!  Of course, once they kicked into “Raining Blood”, the pit had become it’s most violent.  But who really fucking cares?  This is Slayer – and with the classic lineup back together!  Whenever I was able to get a glimpse of the band without getting pummeled I look straight at Jeff Hanneman.  He tore that guitar up better than Kerry King that night….and all the time.

After surviving the moshpit from hell we made sure Idrees came to us so we wouldn’t lose our spots before Priest came on.  At this point on it was more like an arena style concert, because who moshes to Priest or Sabbath anyway?  This was the one band to have a really elaborate stage setup.  Here, look for yourself:

 

I was able to notice on my own that Halford was relying HEAVILY on a teleprompter because he’d go to one place on stage and just stay there for two of three songs before going somewhere else.  Didn’t matter though because he was on fire, proving why he’s the Metal God.  When they played “Breaking The Law” I called up my college radio station’s programming director to bust his balls and left him a voicemail of the band playing the chorus line.  Why was I busting chops?  Well…let’s just say he did just that over a month earlier.

Up last?  Sabbath.  But of course there was a catch.  Before the band were to go on stage Bill Ward came out to announce to everyone that Ozzy was sick and could not play.  BUT, apparently Rob Fucking Halford volunteered to sing so the band wouldn’t have to cancel their performance.  There’s a bootleg floating around of Halford doing the favor for them back in 1992 but I was actually going to hear it??  Needless to say I wasn’t bummed out much longer after hearing that!

Being that someone else was singing, regardless of the fact that it’s a guy that’s STILL amazing at his age, they kept the setlist floating around the just the first three albums.  I’d bet that was just to make it easier on Rob, who surely didn’t have enough time to practice.  But it still was pretty awesome to hear.

 

Idrees’s dad was waiting for us right outside the arena, having stolen banana daiquiri mix from some vendor stand during what I think he said was some kind of police situation…or something.  The show was awesome as a whole.  If I only knew then that I’d NEVER see the classic Sabbath lineup.  But was this THE best Ozzfest lineup ever?  I think the following year’s beat it; but I’ll get to that in the future.

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My First Metal Concert

This just popped in my head a little bit ago…maybe because Phil’s bringing this band back out on the road again, but only as Superjoint for “legal reasons”, whatever the fuck that means.  In early 2003 I was finishing up my first year of college and was anxiously waiting for Phil Anselmo to stop with the multiple side projects and get with Pantera again.  So one day before I finished for the semester I met this guy Hussein, who I’m still buddies with.  I don’t remember how it came about but we got to talking about Pantera and he mentioned that Superjoint Ritual, Phil’s Black Flag-meets-Black Sabbath hardcore side project, was going to be playing L’Amour in Brooklyn in a week and opening up for them would be Sepultura. Whoa wait a sec.  Superjoint Ritual?  Phil Anselmo?  Sepultura?  Playing…in Brooklyn??  Playing …in THIS place??? imgres I figured for sure Phil Anselmo was too big of a name for a place like L’Amour, I don’t give a fuck how many bands played there.  Hell my first two gigs ever were at L’Amour and I vowed to never played there again because the faggot ass guineas running the place didn’t know how to talk to people.  But I realized I had to go.  It was Superjoint – it was fucking Phil Anselmo, who at that time still had it as a vocalist, and sadly it was as close to seeing Pantera as I’d ever get, partially because Phil wouldn’t shut the fuck up but that’s another story…kind of. May 20th, 2003.  It was perfect, I wasn’t scheduled for work that day and all I had to do was hand a final paper to my English professor and I was a free man.  While on campus I couldn’t help but go on a computer and check out Pantera’s website.  It read “May 20th 2003: Phil says Pantera is over.”  I click on it and there was a link to an audio clip were Phil explained his logic that he wanted to do another Down record, his label wanted another Pantera record and therefore his “obvious choice”, as he put it, was to stick with Superjoint Ritual.  Don’t get me wrong, Use Once And Destroy was a fucking AMAZING CD, but that’s his ‘obvious choice”??  Why didn’t I realize he was far from sober the whole time? So I took car service all the way to 63rd St in Brooklyn, which I swear is like this magical hidden block that you can’t know about unless you know what to look for because I never knew of or saw the place until two years earlier.  I got there real early anticipating a line but thee wasn’t.  But I did see a Ryder moving truck with Sepultura’s gear in it and realized Igor Cavalera was hanging out in front of the building while the crew was unloading the band’s gear. These days I have no problem going up to musicians but this was the first time I ever saw someone like Igor in the flesh and I just fucking froze.  I didn’t know what to say, do, nothing.  It got worse when Andreas Kisser came out.  I did try to talk to the road crew, offering to help them unload.  They were cool but they nicely declined.  Fuck! I was there for a few hours before I decided maybe I should get on line.  Problem?  I didn’t have tickets; but that all changed when I ran into an old friend whose band, Dieverse, was one of the local bands opening up the show.  So one of his fat goth chick friends sold me a ticket while (I think) subtly offering to blow me – not happening sweetheart!  I was one of the first on line when Superjoint’s bus came around and the band walked out.  Considering all things Phil looked pretty normal as he high fived me. I walked in there and was surprised to see that since I last played there in October 2001 they had built a brand new stage in the back, which meant there now were two stages.  I thought this was pretty genius since L’Amour was notorious for overloading the bills with local bands up the ass.  I would know – my old band suffered for it twice.  So while seeing the first main band, this really shitty hardcore band called Full Blown Chaos – wow they sucked so bad! – I found myself talking to some older woman who was standing next to me.  She was a real cool chick and I found myself asking her were she lived and when she said the village (Greenwich Village for those of you dopes unfamiliar with lower Manhattan) I for whatever reason said “I figured so”.  She asked me nicely how I figured that and I couldn’t think of a good answer even though I totally didn’t mean it as an insult.  I must’ve meant the fact that she came off as such a free spirit but didn’t know how to say it like such at the time, and being just days away from turning 19 what the fuck did I know anyway?  “I’m getting another beer, I’ll be right back”, she said.  Guess if she ever came back.  Oops!  Yeah, I was a dope.  Lesson learned! So Sepultura came out next and they fucking SLAYED.  Igor’s drum kit is something else but whatever.  The man is one of the greatest metal drummers of all time, a pure machine.  Andreas Kisser’s tone was heavy as fuck as they played stuff off classics like Roots and Chaos A.D.  During “Roots Bloody Roots” the place came apart for a bit.  There was no way they’d be able to steal Superjoint’s thunder – even with Paolo Pinto’s bass sounding like a 747 taking off. So Eddie Trunk came out to introduce Superjoint and I had just discovered him not too long before this night but he was every bit as fat as I imagined he would be just from listening to him as he showed off his vast, useless musical knowledge.  The only thing he was missing as far as I was concerned as was a pair of nerdy Steve Urkel glasses and suspenders!  The band came out and the place came apart for real this time.  I wish I could find footage of the show but I can’t.  There was this one guy with these nasty looking dreads standing in front of us who just had to keep his middle finger out in the air while yelling out “FUCK YOU ALL!!!” over and over again.  The guy standing next to me was jokingly putting his lighter to the guy’s head – I wish he lit that asshole up! Some memorable parts of the show include a girl jumping on stage to grab Phil’s nuts and hand him a joint, in which Phil responded in kind: “Thanks for the joint – thanks for grabbin’ my balls!”, as security took the girl away.  There was the part were some dude jumped of the stage head first and no one caught him.  Yeah, cringe moment for me and the dudes I now was hanging with.  Then Phil said the one thing some of us predicted he’d say. In a pure drama queen moment he put his left palm out to the crowd, closed his eyes and proclaimed “It feels…SO GOOD…to be only two inches in front of you.  I’ve been on all the world’s biggest stages – I’VE BEEN ON ‘EM ALL!  But this is where I belong…and this is where I’m stayin’.”, he said as he backed up toward Joe Fazzio’s drums for the next song.  “Who called it?”, someone yelled out. Aside from that the band destroyed the place for real.  Just one issue…how the fuck do I get car service to take me home??  I found a number for car service then I heard someone say “I know you from Psychology class”.  Anna Lopez??  Thank Satan you’re here!  And there was my ride home.  The next concert I went to two months later was far bigger but this was Phil Anselmo and this was also to be the second to last time I’d ever go to the original L’Amour; the place closed down eight months later.  If any of you reading this were at the show at all drop me a line and tell me about your view of the show.  Let me know if I forgot to mention anything.