Guest post by Jay Chastain

serious mePlease welcome a guest to the blog today. My new friend, fellow horror author and metal head, Jay Chastain, takes you underground for a look at what drives him.

The Underground – by Jay Chastain

There are places on this earth that are rarely seen. They are also rarely thought about.

These places exist in many varieties.

They are the gutters and sewers below the bustling cities of modern societies. They are the intricate canals and tunnels dug out by billions of tiny ants within the very soil we walk on. They are the pathways within the trees and flowers, the caves, and the places hidden deep within the rivers, lakes, and oceans.

These places exist within the chemical compounds, nutrients, and atoms that make up material reality. These places are the pathways electrons impossibly navigate through, the area that particles and photons zip through without even a sound. So vast are these places we rarely think of. Likewise, so vast is our ignorance of them.

The very fabric of space from which large bodies of mass float on and bend to form gravity is, in of itself, one of these places. In it exists everything. Space is the home to all that has lived and that has died that we know of. It is the only home anyone has ever known.

Yet, there is still another place that is not thought about or seen often. It is the place within us all. Its vastness feels as if it could be the foundation of space itself, almost as if they were birthed in harmony by one another in an array of cosmic chaos.

We store our emotions in this place. Our desires. Our secrets…our fears. We bury them so far down that sometimes we forget about them.

And many people are happy like this. They want you to be happy with this too.

These people—the ones who are happy hiding what they feel and think and fear—want you to do the same. They say so every chance they get. They tell you to just be happy, to accept the world for what it is. They tell you to think positively. They tell you to not question authority and to fall in line. Get a job, work until you’re old, and die feeling something that resembles satisfaction.

Well fuck them.

I have no desire to live in ignorance. I have no desire to float above ground where all the same hackneyed niceties are repeated over and over and over and over again. I see the scum of society, and I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of doing what I’m told day in and day out, of living the life others have planned for me. I’m sick of serving an entire system that could give a fuck less what I want or how I think life should be lived. I’m sick of being forced to talk about the mundane realities of modern society when I feel this hole in my gut that wants more.

So the Underground is where I live. I don’t accept the role I was given when I was born.

The Underground is where I search for truth. I have no use for groupthink or abstract morals imposed on me by the status quo.

The Underground is where I thrive. It is beyond the prison built to keep us enslaved and medicated by their drugs and entertainment.

The Underground is metal. It is horror. It is the fringes of society. It is in the conversations they don’t want us to have, in the books they don’t want us to read, and in the realities they don’t want us exploring.

The Underground is a place where we can be free to explore this strange existence together…or alone. But we must explore it, or it will be all but forgotten when the last of us die out, and no one can point the way into the tunnels, and out of society.

My name is Jay Chastain and I write dark and twisted psychological thrillers with supernatural color. I’m looking to make some racket in this world. Are you?

You can follow me on twitter at @PenNameofJC for more of me and info on my upcoming books.

You can also download my free short story on Amazon here.


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“In 1970…people would have called Black Sabbath extreme metal.” Talking Heavy Metal with Sam Dunn of Banger Films

Heavy metal music has the most passionate, dedicated, and loyal fans of any genre in the history of modern music. As a lifelong metalhead I can make this bold statement because I’ve spent time with musicians and fans of other types of music, and although they may love it, they don’t live the lifestyle like the heavy metal folks. Fans of the genre have gotten tattoos of their favorite bands, been buried to heavy metal music, and based their lives on a band’s tour schedule. Sure, fans of One Direction may turn out in the hundreds of thousands for a few years, but fans of Iron Maiden have been doing it for a few decades.

Within the realm of heavy metal, certain people function as ambassadors. Two that I’ve interviewed further the same cause in different ways. Bill Peters is the godfather of classic metal in Northeast Ohio and Don Jamieson waves the banner nationally on That Metal Show. My guest this week has helped to dignify the heavy metal culture and protect it from those that like to claim it’s primal and aggressive. It is. But it is also sophisticated and complex and nobody illustrates that better than Sam Dunn. Dunn broke onto the scene in 2005 with Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey and has continued to produce professional, educational films about the often misunderstood genre.

Along with Scot McFadyen, Sam Dunn runs Banger Films. Over the past seven years they have created Global Metal, Iron Maiden: Flight 666, Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage, Metal Evolution, and Rush: Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland. Dunn also has a documentary in production aptly titled, Satan. Sam is a Canadian and a musician as well as a film director. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in hard rock and heavy metal, including Bruce Dickinson, Geddy Lee, and the late Ronnie James Dio.

The widely-successful series that aired on VH1 Classic, Metal Evolution, chronicled the history of heavy metal through the decades but did not include the most recent strand, extreme metal. With an IndieGoGo campaign running through October 8th, Dunn hopes to raise enough money to finish the episode on his own. Sam is an intelligent, articulate, metalhead and I enjoyed talking to him about the moms of Slayer, Norwegian church burnings, and Satan. Not necessarily in that order.


I feel like I have somewhat of a personal connection with you because you chose to film Rush: Time Machine 2011 in Cleveland. Tell me about your experience doing that project.

Cleveland is an extremely important city, not only for a band like Rush, but for rock and metal. Generally, it was those northern American towns that were the bread basket for bands like Rush touring in the 70s where they found an audience for their music. So Rush wanted to give a little love back to Cleveland because it was the city that broke the band in the U.S. and they knew it was going to be an amazing crowd. It all worked out really well.

Why the Midwest? What does the Rust Belt mean to Rush?

I think it’s got a lot to do with the fact people in that part of the U.S. feel a really personal connection to the band because they toured early on in the small towns of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, all through the Midwest. So they’re going back and playing where they played in 1973, 1974, 1975 to people who saw them when they were in their early teens. And at that age, those are your formative years. You’re starting to cement your musical tastes. So going back to those places, you see a lot of people who saw them back at that time. In that part of the world, there’s a little bit deeper or personal connection to the band because they have such a long history together.

I couldn’t believe that it’s been eight years since Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey was released. I’m wondering what your thoughts are looking back on that? How do you feel about it these days?

It’s a film we’re still really proud of. It premiered at TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival] in 2005 and really opened a lot of doors for us. It was really the first documentary that took metal seriously as a style of music and as a culture, and really tackled the question of why it polarizes people. The film really resonated with a lot of people and did really well around the world. We were obviously pleased. I think that there was this whole world of metal and rock that hadn’t really been paid attention to in documentary or film form with a few small exceptions like Spinal Tap. So it helped us establish a lot of relationships with artists like Geddy Lee and Bruce Dickinson—two good examples of musicians who we went on to make movies about. It really helped us and is still doing something for us now.

I think one thing that sets it apart is that it’s a real cultural study. It’s an anthropological study of not only the music but also of the subculture. Was that something that you had in mind at the outset or did that evolve as you worked on the film?

It was always our goal to make a film about metal that wasn’t just for metalheads, that would connect to a broader audience. One way to do that was not to talk only about the intricacies of the music or do a super-detailed account of the history of metal, but rather look at it as a culture. I wanted to look at it as something that was born in the 70s and is still going strong today. I wanted to ask, “What is the appeal of this music and why does it cause so much controversy with things like the PMRC?” We looked at the church burnings that happened in Norway in the 1990s and bands like Cannibal Corpse getting their records banned around the world. It was about much more than just the music. It was about the culture and the impact. We felt that it was that part of the film that could interest even Kerry King’s mom.

Well, when you can get the moms of Slayer to watch, you must be doing something right. [laughing]

We know a few moms of metal guys that understand their sons a little bit better after our movie, so I think that’s a good thing.

Definitely. It seems like it also planted the seed for Metal Evolution, which to no surprise, did so well because it’s such a comprehensive look at all of the branches of the metal tree. I was wondering if you had a particular episode or sub-genre that you found particularly engaging as the creator of that show?

Metal Evolution was born out of the heavy metal family tree that we created back when we did Headbanger’s Journey because we knew that film wasn’t going to be a detailed history of metal. We thought that maybe somewhere down the line there’d be an opportunity to do something more in depth and that’s what Metal Evolution became—eleven episodes on the history of the music.  When it comes to specific episodes, I’m a big fan of the thrash episode because that’s the one sub-genre in the series that is really close to me and includes a lot of bands that I love. But I think from a storytelling perspective, the shock rock episode was fascinating to make because it allowed us to take a step back before Alice Cooper, who many people attribute to being the godfather of shock rock. We looked at people like Arthur Brown, and even PT Barnum who wasn’t a musician but was an entertainer, that used shock to entertain the public. So it was a lot of fun because it allowed us to do something that touched on things just beyond the metal realm.

It seemed as though you went into the 80s metal episode a bit skeptical but you came out the other side with a new appreciation. That time in metal often gets a bad rap. People call it hair metal or glam metal with a derogatory tone. Would that be a fair assessment? Did you come out of that episode with a different perspective on the 80s metal scene?

Glam metal in the 80s when I was a teenager was not my cup of tea. I was more into the heavier styles. Granted, my first cassette was Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry and Ratt’s Out of the Cellar. But I quickly got into the heavier stuff. When it came to the episode on glam metal, from a documentary perspective, it was great because it’s always more interesting when you have two sides represented. There’s a debate still about whether this should be called metal or not. I am still not a fan of those bands. [laughing] When I come into the office in the morning, I don’t put on Poison to get me going. [laughing] However, I always had the preconception that these bands were manufactured, that they were the products of record executives in skyscrapers. But I learned that’s not the case. In fact, it’s not the case with bands that did quite well. I’m talking about bands like Poison or Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister, etc. They were doing exactly what they wanted to do and not solely because they thought it was going to be commercially viable but because it was a bit of a “fuck you.” I learned a lot from Rikki Rockett who said, “People wanted to fuck us or fight us and that’s exactly what we wanted.” So there was a weird twist. They almost had a punk kind of attitude with what they were doing and that’s not what I expected at all. I didn’t come away a bigger fan of Poison’s music but I certainly came away a bigger fan of Rikki Rockett and his attitude. I thought, “That’s fair—I don’t have to love your music but I respect your attitude.”

I think in a way the industry came to them as opposed to the industry creating them, and that’s an important distinction to make whether you like the music or not.

Don’t get me wrong; the hair is ridiculous. [laughing]

It was even so back in the day, wasn’t it? The great thing about Metal Evolution is that the series isn’t quite done. I was wondering if you could talk a little about the Indiegogo campaign you have going on? Me and my band [Threefold Law] have already contributed. Tell us about the campaign.

Well, we did the main series—eleven episodes—and it was always our hope that we could do an episode on extreme metal but the broadcasters thought it was a little too heavy, a little too niche for their market. And that’s fair. I understand that. We were happy that we got to do this massive series on metal and it made a big contribution. Of course, the one glaring omission was extreme metal so we decided to get an Indiegogo campaign started and fund it that way. We know its music that is underground but that has a really passionate fan base. The people who like extreme metal, love extreme metal. They live and breathe it. Once you find a stronger cup of coffee you can’t go back to Folgers and I totally understand that because a lot of the music that I listen to is at the extreme end of the spectrum. We had one campaign and raised almost $40,000 which was amazing and that helped us pay for the first phase of the project. That involved a lot of travel, a lot of equipment, vehicle rentals, a crew, and travelling around the world. We went to New York and Florida. We filmed in Toronto and we went to Norway, Switzerland, France, and the U.K. And so here we are. We’ve got all of this great footage, we’ve got an episode mapped out, we’ve got it planned and ready to go, and now we’re in the second phase fund raising campaign because we’ve got to turn that footage into something. We pay our editors because our editors are some of the best in the business and that’s what’s allowed us to create the good work that we’ve done so far. That’s one part of the cost. The other part of the cost is paying for all of the photos, footage, and music that we use in the episode. That can get quite costly especially if you’re dealing with major labels. So there are still costs. We’re right smack dab in the middle of the second campaign and we’re pushing. We’re releasing little snippets of interviews every week. I’m writing a blog on Revolver on the top five metal albums of all time. We’re keeping the campaign really active, so we hope we can get to the finish line and make it.

And every couple of bucks helps. So I would encourage all the readers out there to go the Indiegogo page and contribute—let’s get that episode made.

In your travels documenting extreme metal, I’m assuming you had an interview with Satan and then you signed him on to do a documentary. Is that how that worked out? [laughing]

If you’ve met Satan, you should be part of our team because I’m still looking. [laughing] Satan [the documentary in production] is something separate, obviously, but it does have a connection to the extreme metal episode. In Headbanger’s Journey we looked at all the church burnings that happened in Norway and covered that part of the story. But it revealed that no one had really looked at the musicality of Norwegian black metal. I think because of all the controversy and the theatricality of the music, people have lost sight of the fact that what happened in Norway musically in the early 90s was pretty important. Extreme metal was getting pretty glossy at that point and the Norwegian scene was reclaiming a more primitive or raw sound that had been lost in metal and then added their own little twist to it. It was kind of like a bit of punk rock meets a bit of KISS with a dash of anti-Christianity in there. I think that’s an important story to tell because I think people have forgotten that this was also music and some really great bands came out of that era. Bands like Emperor, Enslaved, and Immortal who struck this balance between being raw but also epic. Before that you could be one or the other. You were either epic like Iron Maiden is epic or like Dio is epic. Or you had to be raw like Napalm Death or Bolt Thrower is raw. I think what the Norwegians did is they found a way to combine those two things. So from an historical perspective I think it made a pretty big contribution.

So the Satan documentary might hint at some of these misconceptions? I remember back in the day when AC/DC was satanic and KISS was satanic. Was that a label thrown around by conservatives to undermine the music?

The Satan documentary has a longer backstory. It did come out of our conversations with the Norwegian black metal-ers. We were fascinated by their perspective. What we’ve embarked upon for the Satan film is a much broader story. It’s not just about Satanic music. It’s also about Satan in film, literature, media, and pop culture. We’re taking a broader look at why the Devil has made such a big impact in the creative and entertainment world over the past several decades. Satan is a big topic, so it’s hard to wrestle Satan to the ground.

I wish you luck with that. [laughing] Whenever I interview people in the heavy metal realm, I like to ask their opinion on the future of heavy metal. Some of our pioneers are aging and in declining health and it always begs the question. What do you think?

I think the future of heavy metal is bright. It’s never going to go away. I’m going to make the argument in the extreme metal episode that it’s actually the extreme bands that can be credited with really pushing the music forward. It is by far the most adventurous, risk-taking, sub-genre of metal and because of that it’s always carving out new directions for the music to go. It’s like an art. Often it’s the underground, avant-garde artists who are the ones that push it to the next place and then everyone follows. In 1970, if the term had existed, people would have called Black Sabbath extreme metal, right? I think that’s where it’s going. We’ve got the grandfathers of the genre that are still going pretty strong— Maiden, Rush, Sabbath. And in my personal opinion, Sabbath put out a pretty damned good record. At that same time, you have to remember that metal is a breed of the underground and that’s never gonna change and that’s where the real vitality is going to continue to come from. So that’s part of the story we’re telling…

Contact:

Official – http://www.bangerfilms.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BangerFilms
Twitter – https://twitter.com/bangerfilmsinc
Indiegogo – http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/metal-evolution-extreme-metal-the-final-round

Threefold Law – Live on July 20th, 2013

I’ve been on the road the past week with limited Wi-Fi so this blog post is more of a reminder than anything else. Threefold Law will be taking the stage for the first time in over a year this coming Saturday, July 20th, 2013. We’re up first on a bill with several great bands and if you’re in the Cleveland area we hope you can come out and join us. In addition, we’ll be dropping into the studio to talk with legendary Cleveland metalhead and guru, Bill Peters, during his radio show on Friday night, July 19th. You can tune in to “Metal on Metal” from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on WJCU 88.7 FM in Cleveland or listen to the live stream from anywhere in the world at http://www.wjcu.org. Call in and we can talk on the air.

A few weeks back I offered the Threefold Law tune, “Earth” (off our last EP, Revenant) in exchange for a tweet and that offer is still good. The good folks over at paywithatweet.com have created a free service that allows artists to “sell” some product in exchange for a social media mention. There’s no catch. Click the button at the top left of our band website, http://www.threefoldlaw.com, authorize the paywithatweet app, and send it. You’ll then be directed to a page where you can download “Earth”.

Threefold Law band bio:

 

In Cleveland, Ohio back in 2006, two musicians were making heavy music. Everyday they wrote killer riffs and wicked lyrics. Finally, their paths crossed, they jammed, they turned those ideas into songs, and Threefold Law was born.

Threefold Law believes in the power of the riff and shares that with others in the style of Black Sabbath and Kyuss, and all those that came before. The band does this by pushing the limits of artistic creativity and traditional boundaries, redefining what it means to be a heavy rock band. Entering its seventh year, Threefold Law continues to display this unique vision on stages everywhere.

Heavy Metal: A conversation with Don Jamieson of “That Metal Show”

Being a fan of heavy metal means being part of the heavy metal family. As a Metalhead for more than 30 years, I’ve heard this from many people in many different cities. We may not know each other personally, but we share a similar set of values. Heavy metal fans tend to be extremely loyal, dedicated, and passionate people. They’re not concerned about what’s popular or trendy. In fact, long hair and black t-shirts have been the uniform of heavy metal since it first appeared sometime in the 1970s (exactly when and by whom is of some debate). Metal fans are authentic, and their interest in the music transcends time and shuns fads. And we know bullshit when we see it. That’s not to say we always agree. No family ever agrees on everything. “Metal” comes in many varieties, including but not limited to classic metal, hair metal, doom metal, progressive metal, European metal, speed metal, black metal, and death metal. Even some of those sub-genres have blurred and morphed over the years. But at its core, metal is about power, vitality, and an uncompromising attitude. Metal doesn’t give a fuck what you think about it.

I recently spoke with one of heavy metal’s most prominent ambassadors, Don Jamieson. It only took a few minutes for me to appreciate his love of heavy metal. Don’s childhood in New Jersey was all about the three M’s: malls, mullets, and metal. Many of us who grew up with metal in the 1980s and 1990s—even outside of the Garden State—can relate to that sentiment. Don is an incredibly humble individual, the salt of the earth. He loves what he does and he makes no apologies for it. Jamieson has a soft spot for 80s hair metal (he’s practically neighbors with Sebastian Bach, the lead singer of Skid Row from 1987 to 1996) but his tastes in metal go far beyond that. He loves the early heavy bands such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest as well as the titans of thrash like Metallica and Megadeth. Don is as comfortable talking about 1980s Ratt as he is the 1990s stoner rock scene of Red Bank, New Jersey, which spawned bands like Monster Magnet and the Atomic Bitchwax.

From his website:

“Don started his career as one of the young and talented comedy minds at MTV helping to launch the careers of comics like Jon Stewart, Kevin James, Pauly Shore (sorry) and Tom Green, but unbeknownst to many, Don was spending his nights on the local comedy scene developing his own comic style…Amongst his many accomplishments, comedian Don Jamieson’s proudest moment is becoming an Emmy Award-Winner for his work on HBO’s Inside the NFL. Don and long-time comedy partner, Jim Florentine, lent their brand of humor to the popular sports show; writing, producing and performing sports-themed comedy sketches.”

Today, Don Jamieson is the co-host of VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show along with Eddie Trunk and Jim Florentine. The website says that, “…the program is a round-table talk show where legends of rock hang out and discuss their past and current projects in front of a live studio audience full of metal maniacs.” In addition, “…Rolling Stone Magazine just dubbed That Metal Show one of the 50 Best Reasons to Watch TV!” Don also tours the country doing his honest style of stand-up, and has become the first comedian signed to Metal Blade Records for his debut comedy album, Live and Hilarious.

For those living in northeast Ohio, you can see Don’s live act this week. He will be performing at Vosh in Lakewood on Wednesday, June 26th, and at the Cleveland Improv Thursday, June 27th through June 30th.

Now it’s time dig out your Tawny Kitaen poster, crack a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon, and rewind side one of that Shout at the Devil cassette as I talk metal with Don Jamieson.


Let’s talk New Jersey. Were you around the stoner rock/Red Bank scene at the time bands like Monster Magnet and The Atomic Bitchwax were playing?

Yeah, and they’re still around which is really cool, just in different versions now. The current drummer for Monster Magnet and Bitchwax, Bob Pantella, lives a few blocks from me in my little town here in New Jersey. So he and I hang out often and have a few adult beverages now and again.

Very cool. Those bands were a big influence on me [J. is the lead singer of Cleveland’s Threefold Law] and it’s really cool you’re still in touch with those guys.

Absolutely. Dave Wyndorf lives in New Jersey. I’ve seen him at the grocery store before. So we got a small metal world here in the central part of Jersey.

My buddy, JJ, a bit further north, runs a blog called The Obelisk. He does a great job of promoting the New Jersey music scene.

Yeah, it’s still a good music scene here in Jersey. I lived in Manhattan for 15 years and obviously the New York scene, for the longest time, was incredible. But they started to shut down all the rock clubs the last few years I lived there. It was really disconcerting because it was like, if we can’t rock in New York City, where can we rock? So it’s funny, but at this point New Jersey has a better music scene.

I definitely believe it because I lived there through most of the 1990s. What was it like to be on the same stage as Metallica at the Orion Festival?

This whole journey—with everything that’s going on with That Metal Show, around every corner—I’m just amazed. It’s like, I’m just a kid from New Jersey, I like to tell dirty jokes, have a few laughs, and hang out with my friends, and here I am standing on the side of the stage watching Metallica play. I never would have dreamt of this when I was driving around New Jersey with my mullet, trying to pick up girls in the mall, and buying Metallica albums. It’s incredible that all these years later I’m part of their lives and they’re part of mine.

If heavy metal didn’t exist, what flag would you be flying? If it were not heavy metal, what type of music would you have been driving around listening to?

Growing up in New Jersey was all about the 3 M’s: malls, mullets, and metal. So you basically had to listen to metal, have a mullet, and hang out at the mall, which I did all the time. Now people think of Jersey as TTL. But back then when I grew up it, was MMM, and so I lived by that code strictly and still do to this day.

Can we do a quick version of “Put it on the Table”?

Yeah, let’s do it. I like that you’re pulling out a new segment. Very good.

If you weren’t on That Metal Show, what other talk show would you be on?

I’d be on my other television show, Beer Money, on SNY here in the New York/New Jersey area. I do a sports trivia show here because I’m a big sports fan. So that’s where you’d find me. Where you still will find me.

You’re in Cleveland, right?

Yes. That’s where I live now.

They have their own version of Beer Money out there and I do the one in New York on the Mets Channel, SNY, out here. You guys have a chick with really big boobs and they have a silly man with sideburns. So I think you guys win on that one, but I got nothing but love.

Right. Boobs trump sideburns. Sorry, man.

Always.

What’s your one vice?

Beer. That’s about it. I’m not a real extreme guy except for my taste in music. That’s my one vice, beer. It’s getting close. As soon as we’re done, it’s going to be about that time.

What’s something you did that neither Trunk nor Florentine know about?

We’re like three best buddies. We tell each other everything. Something I did…boy, I don’t know. I’d have to really think about that one. Probably something crazy in L.A. that I didn’t tell them. The first couple years we did the show in L.A. I was getting around a bit. It wouldn’t be so much what I did, but who I did.

Fair enough. I’m not going to push any further on that.

That’s alright. I’m settled down with my girlfriend. So that stuff’s all good. I’m a domesticated Metalhead now.

Let’s talk about mullets and hair. I was watching That Metal Show with my wife and she was like, “What happened to all the hair? I thought metal was about black shirts and long hair? I don’t see much.” I was like, “You know what? I’m going to ask Don that question.” What happened to the heavy metal uniformthe long hair, the black shirts?

If you hang out in Jersey, if you go to the Stone Pony or Dingbatz up in Clifton, you’re still going to see guys that are living in 1986. My buddy from college still has long hair, not quite as mulletty as it used to be but he still has the same look. I think he still wears the same jeans he had in college. They’re still around. If you go to the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, you’re still going to see those people. I love stuff like that. Bobby Blotzer from Ratt came and did our show, I mean that guy is still in 1987. I love it. That’s commitment. He’s still saying “Ratt-n-Roll”. He’s got the young girlfriend. He shows up in the stretch limo. He’s wasted at eleven in the morning and he’s still living the rock star life. And God bless him, man. That’s a great way to live.

And that attitude is really different than another 80s guy like Vince Neil. I’m not passing judgment, but Vince Neil seems to be in a very different place than some of those other guys from the 80s. He’s much more businesslike in his ventures, seems to have taken more lumps.

Well, Vince, he’s lived a rock star life. Obviously he’s gone through lots of tragedy. There are some guys who have had it better and hopefully they’ve calmed down over the years. That’s the thing, man, when you love these artists—and I’ve been a Mötley Crüe fan since 1983—you want them to stick around.

Look at Rob Halford. He has said for a long time how messed up he was in the early 80s. He’s a mellow guy now and we all think of him as basically our leader in heavy metal. And he’s real smart and well put together. Yet, who knew all the troubles he went through? And he’s been sober 25 years at this point. You either make that jump and start taking things seriously or you die. That’s the bottom line. I’m thrilled to death that Priest is still making music today.

We forget that these rock stars are people like everybody else.

Yeah, exactly. For all the excesses and all that rock ‘n’ roll stuff, that’s why you love your rock stars. But at some point, too, it becomes about the music, and when you’re a fan of that band and that music, you want it to keep going. Especially if that band is still putting out good music after 35 or 40 years.

You’re coming up to our neck of the woods, to Cleveland, Ohio, this week, beginning on the 26th of June. I was wondering if you could tell us a little about Live and Hilarious?

I did a comedy album on Metal Blade Records a couple years ago. Metal Blade is home of Slayer and King Diamond and lots of great metal like that. So obviously I’m very proud that I had a comedy album out on a metal label that I’ve loved since the very beginning. They’re celebrating 30 years. They didn’t crumble like all these major record companies. You know why? Because they weren’t greedy. They said, “Hey! We’re going to change with the times. If downloading is the way to go, then we’re going to make sure our fans can get physical copies and they can download them, too.” The big, old, dinosaur companies were just greedy. They still wanted $20 for a CD. Metal Blade never operated that way. They changed with the times. But most importantly, they put my album out. I was the first comedian ever signed to the label and we did great with the record. Thanks to the power of social media, my album hit the top 20 on iTunes, on the comedy iTunes chart, and the Top 10 on the comedy Billboard charts, which I do want to qualify: I’m very proud that I went to the Top 10 on Billboard’s chart, but at the same time Louis C.K. had an album out called Hilarious and I suspect a lot of people downloaded my album, Live and Hilarious, thinking it was Louis’. And that’s probably what got me in the Top 10. So for anybody who did that and thought they were getting Louis’ album, I apologize. But thank you for giving me some time on the charts. I appreciate it.

What a fortunate alignment of the planets, the way that worked out for you?

And thank you to Louis also. Probably without his release I would not have cracked the Top 10.

Here in Cleveland, we have our own version of Metal BladeAuburn Recordsrun by long-time DJ and Metalhead, Bill Peters. It’s got the same feel as Metal Blade. It’s a family operation.

I know Bill!

Excellent guy. And he didn’t get greedy either. He was all about the metal and about promoting the bands he loves, and he still does to this day. So thankful for those kinds of guys…

Yeah, that’s the thing. We’re a very close, tight-knit community. I think that’s what’s appealing about our fan base—everyone feels very connected. There’s a lot of music you’re going to tune through your radio while you’re driving around during the day. You’re not going to come across the type of songs we listen to. You’re not going to tune into whatever the popular afternoon show is in Cleveland and hear Slayer, Raining Blood. That’s just not going to happen. You know us Metalheads have to find our ways to listen to music and commune together—that’s what we do.

Absolutely! I really appreciate you taking the time to talk and I don’t want to cut in to your beer time tonight. Anything else you want to say before we finish up?

Well, I’d like to let people know the new season of That Metal Show is currently on the air and we’re really proud of the new version of the show. The hook is still talking to the artists, but there are a lot of changes to the show, a lot of new segments. We hope to give the show new life. This Saturday is Rex Brown/Sebastian Bach. It’s our 100th episode to date, so we’re real proud to hit that milestone and hopefully we’ll continue to do it [aired June 15th]. If you want to come out and see my stand-up, you can check out donjamieson.com—that’s my website, and it’s minutes of fun. You can also check me out on Twitter @realdonjamison. There you go.

I appreciate it, Don. Have a good one.

Thanks for the support, man.

Contact:

Official – http://www.donjamieson.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/donjamiesonofficial
Twitter – http://twitter.com/realdonjamieson
That Metal Show – http://www.vh1.com/shows/that_metal_show/series.jhtml

#KickassKleveland – Bill Peters

The music came alive and he pulled the fader down on the control room soundboard. We sat inside the cramped broadcast booth at WJCU, half of Threefold Law, awaiting our live, on-air interview with the DJ. He pushed another button and took a call from a devoted listener.

“WJCU, Metal on Metal.”
“Hey man! I love the show. I got a question for you. I found this old cassette in my buddy’s basement. He thinks it could be a New Wave of British Heavy Metal band from about 1980. Can I play it for you?”

The DJ looked at us and shrugged as if this is fairly common. Angus Khan and I smirked underneath our microphones, thinking there’s no way he’s going to nail this one. The music began as an ancient, worn, cassette played through the phone.

He nodded and smiled.

“Praying Mantis, from the ‘High Roller’ 7 inch.”

And that is Bill Peters, founder of Auburn Records, Metal on Metal DJ at WJCU for the past three decades, and the definitive heavy metal guru in Cleveland, Ohio. I recently sat down with him at Pantera (or maybe it was Panera) Bread where we used our Mouth for War to discuss metal, mayhem, and madams.


Your daughter comes home and says she just got engaged to a heavy metal musician. Who do you hope has proposed to her?
You’re killing me. [lots of laughing] I hope it’s nobody! Maybe just a dream or a nightmare. The guys from Stryper? Wait they’re not real Christians are they? I can’t even answer that question. I know musicians pretty well so I can’t answer that. My daughter likes musicians and hockey players. Pray for me! [more laughing]

How has Auburn Records changed over the years?
It went full circle. I started with my friend Tim Stewart in 1983 as Clubside Records with the release of the “Cleveland Metal” compilation album. Auburn officially started in 1984. I had no money. I went around to ten banks trying to get a loan and nobody would give me the money. The banks would not take me seriously. My mom saved the day by co-signing for me on a $10,000 loan. With that money I put out the Shok Paris and Black Death albums. I also started a Breaker record at that time but we didn’t get to put it out because of some issues with the band line up. It was a real grassroots thing when I started. I had a full time job at the Warner/Elektra/Atlantic and grew the label in my spare time through word of mouth, handwritten letters, printed fanzines, and radio stations. I would reply to anyone that contacted me no matter how big or small the magazine or journalist. In the late 80s I ran the label as a full time job and started making deals with major labels. I had deals with Island, I.R.S., MCA, Sony Europe, Roadrunner, and SPV/Steamhammer which changed how I operated. I hired Shelly Hammer (aka Steel, the Z-Rock DJ) and moved her from Dallas to Cleveland to help out, I rented an office, and it began a full time venture. You have to remember that I’m a fan. So anytime I had to make any decisions, it came from a fan’s perspective. But when you bring in the major labels and outside entities that make decisions without knowing the music, that’s when I ran into problems because their best interests were not always my best interests for the bands and fans. I was not going to sit idly by. In the 90s I put the label on a bit of a hiatus after the major label deals fell through. I ended those deals because for me it was never about the money, it was always about the music first and foremost. It was frustrating and very disappointing dealing with the corporate music world. When I restarted the label in the late 90s it was the same as it had been before when I first started. It was a grassroots movement, part time, having the most fun doing it myself again.

What has remained the same with Auburn Records?
What I’m very proud of is that I’m working with the same people now that I did when I started back in 1983 and that is unheard of in this business because “falling outs” are inevitable. It’s just the nature of the business. But I’ve always run the label more like a family than a business, right or wrong. It’s always been from the heart, not the wallet. That’s hurt me in many ways but I wouldn’t change that. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. It’s the way I have always been. I care about the musicians and crew, they’re like my family. We take care of each other. The crew, the bands, they’ve all been there with me for close to 30 years. That’s unprecedented in this business.

We’ve had rough times. The first tragedy was Dave Iannicca from Destructor. He was murdered on January 1st, 1988. Dave was a really close friend of mine. When that happened it was hard for me to continue after that incident. It hit me hard and I’ve never really recovered from it, honestly. But the community rallied around that situation to help out Dave’s family. The person convicted of Dave’s murder has been up for parole several times. The last time, we gathered five or six thousand signatures to keep him inside and I spoke at the parole hearing on Dave’s behalf. I did this amidst death threats but I taught my kids that you have to stand up for what you believe in. I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t going to back down. I promised the Iannicca family I would always be there for them. They call me their guardian angel. I will continue to stand by their side to help keep this murderer locked away in prison where he belongs.

Jared’s passing was rough too. We rallied to help the family. These things have happened with people that need help and I put everything else on hold during these rough times. For months, the cancer was slowly killing Jared and we did a lot of fundraisers as the family didn’t have medical insurance. That was more important to me than anything else going on at the time.

[Jared Koston, drummer for Venomin James, passed away on June 1st, 2010 after a long battle with cancer.]

Your cameo in the Alternate Reality video has helped push the song’s YouTube views to almost 900,000. What’s next? Have you called your agent?
I don’t know how I get talked into these things. It’s hard for me to say ‘no’. [laughing and head-shaking] The Delchin brothers begged me for months to do the shoot. They kept wanting me to be in the video that they were shooting at Squire’s Castle but they didn’t tell me what I was going to be doing in it. They kept after me, telling me that they listened to my show as kids and that I’m the reason they’re into heavy metal and that it would be such an honor if I would be in their video. Finally, I felt so guilty and I said okay. I had no idea what my role was. So I drive out there on a Saturday morning and they hand me this wizard outfit and tell me I have to fight this guy while the band plays in the background, and I’m going to shoot blue plasma balls out of my hands. I’m like, “What! You gotta be kidding me. Are you crazy?” So I did it. After everything I’ve done in my life, I’m only going to be remembered as the wizard with the blue balls. [laughing again]

What has been the craziest thing you’ve seen on one of your trips to Germany?
We have a saying. “What happens in Germany stays in Germany.” Our trips to Hamburg’s red light district, the Reeperbahn, are always interesting. I could probably write a book about the trips to the Reeperbahn, but I can’t name names. I’ve never participated in the festivities of the red light district. I’m like the chaperone or the babysitter. I have to be there to bail some of the guys out of jail with the Auburn Records international credit card. Whether or not you agree with prostitution, sex is no big deal in Europe. So when we go on these trips, there are always guys that announce months in advance that they plan on purchasing the “services” of the ladies in the red light district. They have no shame, they don’t care what people think, and they have nothing to hide. But on every single trip, there is always one guy that you would never expect to go into a brothel and partake and yet it happens on every trip. I’ve been quite shocked at the people that have gone inside. I don’t judge and I respect their privacy but it always happens with the guys you never expect. And not everyone in the touring group knows about it, but I do because I know everything that happens on these trips. One time the police raided a brothel because one of the members of our touring group thought someone stole a watch that his father gave him before passing. They searched the entire brothel, and it turns out the watch was stuck in this guy’s jacket. He runs out of the place and everyone is chasing him—the madam, the girls, the police and they’re all yelling at him in German as he’s running down the street. If you go to Hamburg today, in the Reeperbahn, and ask about the American that lost his watch, there are people there that still remember that story.

What is the future of heavy metal?
The music will always live on. The problem is on the business side. I think it’s difficult for bands and labels, and everyone involved, to make money. There has to be some kind of business model. I don’t do this for the money but I’ve got to have money to keep the thing going. Any money I make from the label I turn around and reinvest it into other projects. During my time at Warner Records, I was able to supplement the label from my income. I can’t do that anymore. I have to be very conservative with the label’s spending. Heavy metal still has a core base that supports the music but I think everything has to be reinvented. Right now, nobody in the music industry knows where to go. Touring is great if you’re Iron Maiden. You can tour five times without releasing an album and sell merch but small bands can’t do that. The big bands are taking the concert dollars and dates away from the smaller bands. As great as the internet age has been for recording and distributing music, it’s tougher for the smaller bands, in my opinion. When I started the label people were buying music. It was harder to put out a record but when you did, people bought it. Even putting out a killer record nowadays doesn’t translate into sales. If you saw some of the sales statistics from the bigger labels, you’d be surprised at how little is selling. It’s a difficult time right now.

The young people are growing up with digital music. Guys like me came up with physical product. We’re from a different era. But I accept the digital era, I understand the appeal of it. My kids like digital music but my kids purchase it, they don’t steal it. But a lot of their friends do and they don’t think it’s stealing. I don’t blame them; it’s just the way it is. I’ve been to Europe over twenty times and I can tell you that music means something to them. It’s special in their life, it’s a priority. For the majority of people in the States, it’s more of a background thing. Many of my German friends have learned English from songs. Music is a passion for Europeans, they love to collect and support the bands. We have so many entertainment diversions here that it isn’t as special to everyone as it is in Europe.

Besides Threefold Law, [snicker from interviewer] who has been your favorite on-air interview?
I really enjoyed my interview with Michael Schenker. He put out an ad for an acoustic record called, “Thank You”. The ad said if you send him $20, he’ll put your name on the cover. Michael Schenker is one of my all-time favorite guitar players so I thought, “What the heck, it’s only twenty bucks.” I send my money to him and I don’t hear anything for like three years, I figure the money is gone. Then this CD shows up at my house with nothing. No letter, no explanation, nothing. But there’s my name on the cover with all of these other people. So I send a message to his management and ask them if he’d like to do an interview. Michael calls into the show from Arizona. We’re talking about the CD and his music, and then all of a sudden, about five minutes into the interview, the topic switches to this hippy-type commune he’s built. He’s trying to recruit girls to come out to Arizona and live with him. We’re on the air and he’s soliciting my female listeners, trying to get them to come out and live with him and I keep trying to bring the subject back to the music. The interview ends and I think it’s a bit strange. The next week, Michael calls into the radio show again. We go on the air again and again he starts trying to get females to come out and live on his commune. The week after that, he calls again. We go on yet again and this is really getting bizarre as he doesn’t want to talk music. All he wants to talk about is the women he has at the commune, this free love, kind of thing. [laughing] So the next week I took the phone off the hook. It was cool the first couple of times the legendary Michael Schenker called but the novelty was starting to wear off. It began to freak me out honestly. Nobody could call in for the next couple of weeks because I had the phone off the hook. Those were some fun and bizarre interviews – let me tell you!

I had the Mentors on the show once. I can’t even tell you what they were doing in the station lobby. The concert promoter brought them down and I was really against it because I knew of their non-FCC friendly reputation. I knew it was going to be dangerous. The promoter assured me that they knew how to behave. So they come to the station and they’re doing all this stuff in the lobby and the president of the university is right outside the window and I’m thinking, this is my last show. They had a brand new song on a cassette from the “Up the Dose” album and I hadn’t been able to listen to it or anything. They assured me it was fine to play on the air, a single called “S.F.C.C.”. I put this unmarked cassette in, going on their word. A few seconds into the song the chorus comes up, “Suck and fuck and cook and clean”. I’ve got El Duce in the lobby doing a line of coke, I’m playing this vulgar song, the president of the university is right outside the window looking in wondering what is going on and I kept saying to myself, “This is my last show here. I’m done.” I was very upset with those guys. The funny thing about the story is that shortly after the interview satellite heavy metal radio station Z-Rock flew me down to Dallas to do a guest DJ spot. After the radio show, the Z-Rock crew takes me out to dinner and a concert. This is a week after the incident with the Mentors in Cleveland. We walk into this club in Dallas, and I can’t believe it. The band playing on stage was the Mentors! What are the odds? I’m like, “Not you guys again!” That was the last band I wanted to see at the time. I was still upset from what happened in Cleveland. The Z-Rock people couldn’t figure out why I was so agitated with the Mentors until I told them the story. To their credit, El Duce and Dr. Heathen Scum did come over and apologize to me for what happened. They actually felt bad about it. Everything ended on a good note.

Is there anything else you would like to mention to fans of Metal on Metal or Auburn Records?
A lot of people keep asking for me to reissue the older Auburn albums and as a fan myself I completely understand why they want me to do this. I will get to those reissues at some point but I do not want to be Rhino Records and just live in the past. That’s not what Auburn Records was about when I first started the label. The Shok Paris albums, the Black Death album, those are all great records but I did those already, back in the 80s. All of the core Auburn bands, like Breaker, Destructor and Purgatory, were unknown bands at the time when I first started working with them. I helped develop and build their followings. I enjoyed doing that. I’ll eventually reissue records on CD with bonus tracks and so forth, but with the limited time and budget I have I can only work on so many projects. I get more personal enjoyment out of working with newer bands, like Venomin James or Eternal Legacy. For me, getting bands like those to the level of success they had at playing the biggest heavy metal festival in the world in Germany, Wacken Open Air, that’s what I enjoy personally. My goal is to always move my bands to the next level, never to hold them back. I also love being involved with my established bands in creating new music. SHOK PARIS, DESTRUCTOR and BREAKER are all working on new material that sounds, in my opinion, just as good as their older material. The point of both the record label and the radio show is to turn people on to new music because we’ve got to keep this genre alive for the next generation of heavy metal fans. When I was a young kid growing up on the west side of Cleveland, my music library started by collecting 45 singles. I would always play the B-sides for my friends to turn them on to the more obscure and unknown songs. It’s always been my passion to discover new music and new bands. We can’t just live in the past. I have always loved promoting new bands with both the label and the radio show. This interview was only the tip of the iceberg of my life’s adventures. I’ll save the rest of the stories for my book and movie deal. I hope they find a good actor to play my part! (laughs) By the way, am I like the only guy in the world who likes Panera Bread? My male co-workers won’t come out to lunch with me here. They think it’s a place only women go to eat. I love the roast beef sandwich, broccoli cheese soup and French baguette combo. What can I say? That’s not very metal though is it? (laughs) Thanks for chatting with me James. I really enjoyed it. Up The French Baguettes!

How can folks get in touch with you?
Facebook
Auburn Records
WJCU 88.7, Home of “Metal on Metal”

Threefold Law & Chris E

Threefold Law & Chris E

I tried starting this post with a witty commentary on being open-minded.  I was going to rap poetically about the merits of give and take in the creative process.  And then I gave up and decided to simply tell you how I feel.

I’m stoked.  My band, Threefold Law, has recently announced our latest project which happens to be a collaboration with Chris E, singer for Cleveland heavy metal giant, Cellbound.  Since late November, we have gotten together with Chris to write and record three original songs for an EP that should be done by early March.  I know.  That seems like a long time to craft three songs.  It was.  However, we didn’t want to slap something together for the sake of it.  We didn’t want to call her in to sing lyrics we wrote over music we composed and arranged.  We gave over some of the creative control of Threefold Law to Chris and invited her to be a partner with us.  Threefold Law has been at this for over five years, which are like dog years when it comes to bands.  We like our mash potatoes a certain way.  We altered our typical songwriting process for this record and the result is killer.

We riffed.  We jammed.  Chris threw vocal riffs out there, toyed with lyrics, and was an equal member in song arrangement.  We discussed creative decisions, things that on the surface didn’t have much to do with music.  In the end, we created something unique.  It’s not Threefold Law.  It’s not Chris E.  It’s not Cellbound.  It’s Threefold Law & Chris E and we dig it.  We know you will too.