Sometimes when you see the dark side of life against a backdrop of fantastical illusion, you realize the world is not at all what it seemed. All of your instincts that told of things one way, turn out to be true in the end, and the light has a hard time finding its way through the smoke screen.
When an elder vampire turns a young one, the exchange and dynamic of power is not based on age but experience. In the future, when they are no longer partners or even friends, it will not matter. They will be two entities living separate lives, joined by that moment and awakening. The young will lack control over what has already become a part of her. For this, she will always be resentful and thankful.
Serbian heavy metal band Forever Storm is recording their latest album. The working title, Tragedy, is set for release at the end of the year. I had a chance to chat with lead singer and guitarist Stefan Kovacevic about the newest single, Paradox.
Another larger than life song has graced Forever Storm’s repertoire. Paradox is technically driven with faster guitars and pulsing rhythms. The sound reflects the band’s inspiration; Megadeth infused. Classic heavy metal resounds. Forever Storm will not disappoint.
Lyrical themes are open to interpretation and Stefan likes it that way. Stefan reflects on the complexities of losing someone he loved. Loss of self is experienced. Ego or “vanity” obscures what is morally right and wrong. Regret is infinite when love is lost to foolish pride.
Epic themes reside. The world is destroying itself with pollution and corruption. Paradox is the life we breathe that is killing itself. Music is brought to life from transcendence and the sale of soul crushes the spirit. Paradox lives in a philosopher’s mind, poet’s soul, or warrior’s shield.
Classic, epic, power metal.
met yesterday’s screams
my treble in night light view
you wanted it all
i heard you call
to the walls that creak
and the pipes that speak
a name known for Man
you can’t steal a body
but you can morph inside
a reincarnation Of horror
And the walls will talk
And the stars will gawk
As your beauty lights up the sky
you cannot have
what is not yours
a darkness too kind
for the sea
and your sadness remains
in the sound of the plains
and the ocean
that carried you away
don’t talk of the books
or the times that have passed
or the evil we all feel inside
for one bright day
when it all goes black
it is in my heart
you will stay
Dave Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Life, Globe and Mail
Ryerson Free Press
Heavy Metal / Hard Rock Events / Music Events:
I wrote a piece called Heavy Metal, Masculinity, and Me for an online magazine called Weiss Guy. The articles are relevant, personal, and political. I am proud to be part of the launch. Here is the link, you will find my piece under ‘Guest Writer’.
The most compelling compliment a writer can get is feedback in discussion. Efe shares his knowledge of Chilean metal.
The Chilean Metal History, Francisco “Efe” Montecinos
In the early 80’s the young lads of the big cities that had enough money to travel abroad had their first glimpse of Thrash Metal. They started gathering together and tape trading began. As years passed, Thrash Metal became something more popular, and people started recording tapes (at those times it was impossible to get your hands on certain records here). The same thing happened with patches; people started creating their own.
The first Chilean Metal Bands arose, bands like Necrosis (our pioneer thrash metal band that is still in the business, I had the opportunity to speak with their drummer who is the only person to sell Dean Guitars and Ddrums in our country). Massakre and other bands started getting gyms and municipal spaces for gigs; which was a problem; to get those spaces they had to lie saying they played “altiplanic traditional music”. When they actually played on stage, all hell broke loose.
Chilean fans lived in a very secluded society which Metalheads were looked down upon, even feared, leading to anger and THRASH! During gigs, people hung from the ceiling in gyms (no kidding here) fights were normal and most of the time the shows were incomplete because of the havoc on and near the stage. After those gigs, the Chilean thrash army rode to the streets still moshing (no kidding here either) and police started being harder on them.
I was at a conference and asked Massakre’s leader the weirdest thing that ever happened at a gig. During the show, people started jumping onstage and moshing (which is a pain in the ass if you’re playing guitar or singing) so he hit some random guy and a huge battle started. The police came and the band had to unplug their stuff, get in their van and run away (Bonnie & Clyde style). They also had a mascot called “The Bestial Fucker”. That poor guy always got caught, beat, and came back for more.
Chilean Metal fans were hardcore, violent machines of thrash. This, and the sociopolitical hard times that were passing (at those times Chile was at the edge of a civil war) made life for metalheads a little bit difficult. The police went berserk on them because they thought metalheads were criminals, which lead to more anger, and more violence turning hardcore metal fans into types of guerrilla leaders. Happily it wasn’t THAT bad because the police usually threatened metalheads with closing music stores (we only had a few at the time). Upon that threat, Metalheads settled down a bit.
Fanzines were one of the main pillars in the Metal scene, because they were THE ONLY WAY in which you could learn about other bands and legends such as Exodus, Megadeth, Slayer, etc, and also about local Metal bands and gigs.
Metalzines were very important for Chilean Metalheads, because they were the voice of our kin, the roar from the northwest, the calling of Metal, and we shared (I say we, because at that time I was around 5 or 6 years old and I was part of it) our duty as Metalheads, to spread the fire (as fuelled by fire would say xD) and keep the roar going. We photocopied these fanzines and gave them to every metalhead we saw on the street.
The society and the police had an eye on metalheads. Fanzines were like a dark, secret society. With time, things began to calm down a bit. The police and society started to see us as a group of kids who wanted to have fun in a different way; a bit of a violent way, but different than the norm at the time.
Peace eventually came for everyone and the tape trading transferred to public places (which are still reunion centres for Metalheads). Fanzines and tapes were distributed everywhere and Metalheads ruled. People had an image of Metalheads as Rebel Cowboys from Hell who wanted to have fun while being possessed by music (not very different from what we are though XD) but respect came anyway.
With time posers appeared and hip-hop arrived with full strength, but you could still see the same Metalheads who were carried to prison during the hard times of Chilean Metal; the same fans that had cigarettes burnt in their skin at the hands of the police, who were banned from some cities downtown. These same people are now working, making records, and spreading the roar and the love for Metal. As weird as it may sound, making Metal is all about Love.
That’s a short story about how things were here, but recently a book was published with very awesome material (which Chilean Metalheads read with nostalgia). The book explains the scene in more detail, taking us back to the dark days of Chilean Metal; full of violence, adrenaline and of course, LOTS of Metal!
The book is called Retrospectiva al Metal Chileno (1983-1993) “the first ten years of National Thrash” which is something more or less the “Retrospective to Chilean Metal”. It’s a huge seller here. They also have a collector’s version which comes with a Vinyl of the TOP TEN most influential songs of the time; pretty good stuff with national bands like Atomic Aggressor, Rust/Warpath, Squad, D.T.H., Darkness, Belial, Betrayed and many more.
And that’s the story of how Metal came to life here; through violence, hope, and Metal Heroes who fought against all odds and the Love for Metal.
Here’s a Review of the book in Spanish:
By Grayson Kent
Tuesday February 1, 2011. A night that will forever be etched into the annals of my metal memory as the night Ozzy Osbourne completely blew my fucking mind. Let us start at the beginning. I’d had these tickets since October, a birthday gift from my parents. They know how much Ozzy and his music means to me and while they have not understood my taste in music they have supported it. To say I was excited for the show would be a gross understatement. This was to be my third Ozzy concert and I hadn’t seen him in over three years. If there’s one thing I love more than going to metal concerts, it’s going to metal concerts with my good buddies. My parents had bought me four tickets, so I has fortunate enough to have companions with me: Brett, my best friend of twenty years and fellow veteran of Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Steel Panther, and King Diamond; Ian, my college roommate whose metal chops I had whetted with trips to see Heaven & Hell, Anvil, DragonForce, and Rob Halford; and Melody, my coworker whose metal cherry I was to pop. This was to be her very first metal show and in my eyes she was naught but a virgin sacrifice to be offered up to the Prince of Fucking Darkness.
Several hours before the show, we gathered at my house for that most sacred of rock ‘n’ roll rituals, the rolling of the joints. Now I must admit, I don’t roll the prettiest of joints but they get the job done. I painstakingly prepared three to be split among myself, Brett, and Melody—Ian doesn’t toke and thus was our designated a driver—liberally coating each with kief and sprinkling small chunks of hash into them. “Flying High Again” ain’t one of my favorite Ozzy tunes for nothing. Joints rolled, we headed out the door. Little did I know I had left the tickets on my bed, but a check of my pockets revealed the loss before we got to the end of my street. Disaster averted, we had a surprisingly short drive down to Universal City Walk. The concert was to be held at the Gibson Amphitheater, a venue that is very special to me because it was where I saw Maiden for the first time. After a dinner of delicious shrimp at Bubba Gump, the four of us were ready to rock.
Forgive me, but I seem to have left out a crucial detail. I haven’t told you who the opening act was. It was none other than Slash. He apparently put out a solo album recently and was touring to promote it. I’d seen Slash previous play with Queen and ZZ Top and I really didn’t care too much. I’m not a GNR fan and personally think he is overrated. That being said, he was one of the better opening acts I’ve seen. His set was quite enjoyable, although I missed most of the first song trying to bum a lighter off someone. I had left mine in the car and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my sweet leaf during the main event. Melody was luckily able to procure one and we were once again spared from doom.
About half an hour after Slash finished playing, the lights darkened. The audience rose to its feet and began to roar. I promptly lit my first doobie, which I could barely smoke for laughing at the video intro. Ozzy always starts his shows with a video montage of him superimposed into current movies and TV shows and making crude jokes. It was goddamn hilarious. The best part was the Twilight spoof in which Ozzy, in his role as Edward, firmly bashed the undead saying that “Vampires are pussies. I’m the Prince of Fucking Darkness!” Video completed, Ozzy took the stage, yelled at us to go fucking crazy, and launched into “Bark At The Moon.”
The concert was phenomenal. Clearly sober living has done Ozzy wonders because he was more explosively energetic than I had ever seen him. His singing was on top form and he didn’t stop moving for more than two seconds at a time. The electricity in the air was a palpable force and I tapped into the metal energy through the upraised horns constantly through Ozzy’s way. His set list was great, including nearly a half dozen Sabbath hits and “Shot In The Dark,” which I never thought I would ever hear played live. By far the best part of the show was the drum solo. The drum riser rose fifteen feet into the air on this cranelike apparatus, belching dry ice smoke the whole time. It wasn’t as musically complicated as Vinny Appice’s drum cage or as epic as when Robb Reiner smashed out “White Rhino” but in terms of sheer aesthetic awesomeness, this solo took the cake. The whole atmosphere of the concert made me feel like I was back in the 80s during Ozzy’s prime. What I was most interested to see, however, was how the new guitarist lived up to Zakk Wylde’s monster reputation. Gus G is a very different guitarist than Wylde and impressed me immensely, although we all know Randy Rhoads was the best Ozzy ever played with . . .
Ozzy took the crazy train off the rails for more than two hours, during which I didn’t stop dancing, headbanging, or screaming my bloody lungs out. Truly it was an epic concert. Melody, a mere acolyte to the world of metal, loved the show so much she asked me to burn her a CD of the songs Ozzy sang that night. Ian said it was the best show he’d ever been to, better even than ZZ Top (his absolute favorite band). I had come in with high expectation, but I hadn’t been counted on having them so utterly exceeded. Some people are stunned to hear that Ozzy is still touring. Isn’t he all burnt out? they ask. The fools. Ozzy is still going strong, my friends, and may his glorious reign of darkness last for many more years to come. \m/
Bob Bickford’s Caves in the Rain.
I sat down on the end of the dock. My head hurt and I felt listless. I stared out at the fog; the opposite shores were completely invisible, shrouded in gray. I needed to listen for the sound of Baptiste’s boat, and I wasn’t sure how much the mist would muffle the sound. Visibility was so poor he would be nearly on top of the island before I saw him. There was nowhere except the dock where he could reasonably land, unless he was willing to anchor and swim to shore. Since he was armed, and I wasn’t, there seemed to be no reason for him to come in secret.
I turned my head at a small sound off to my right. A canoe slipped by degrees from the vapour; it was so quiet that I could hear the water dripping from the paddle as it was lifted out. It came close and glided to a stop several feet in front of me. The lone occupant sat back and stretched comfortably.
I saw long red hair under an old brown fedora and recognized Dave. He wore a simple white shirt and blue jeans. The canoe was made from strips of wood; it appeared to be very old.
“Hi, Dave. Can I catch a ride out of here?”
“Oh, man. I would if I could, you know that,” he said.
“Didn’t think so.” I smiled slightly.
He smiled back, and shifted sideways to reach into his pocket. He pulled out a blackened pipe, and began to fill it from a pouch.
“You’re pretty sick, Mike,” he said. “Better take care of that leg as soon as you can. You still have stuff to do, and there isn’t much point to any of this if an infection gets you first.”
“You came to tell me that? When he comes and shoots me I should be healthy?”
I heard him chuckle softly around the stem of the pipe in his mouth. He struck a wooden match on the gunwale and looked down, rolling the flame as he puffed the tobacco alight. The brim of the hat covered his eyes, and when he looked up, they were pale in its shadow.
“I came to tell you about sanctuary,” he said. “Refuge. A long time ago, bad guys, or just people in trouble could go to safe places where the people chasing them couldn’t follow. Mostly churches. They sort of surrendered to the bishop there, and they were safe. No one could touch them.”
“Can you offer me that?” I asked.
“No, I can’t,” he answered. “Somebody here might. If they want to, they have that power. I don’t know, it’s probably dangerous to ask them, and I don’t see the future. Not a fortune teller.”
He looked at me for a long moment before continuing.
“The safe place was only for a little while. Then they had two choices. If they wanted to hang on to whatever they had, their houses or farms and families, they could leave the church and go face the law. Sometimes that was better than a lynch mob chasing them, ‘cause everyone had time to calm down. Even if they got executed, they kept everything, or their families did.”
The water beneath him was perfectly still, the same gray color as the mist. The canoe sent tiny ripples out from its sides, the smallest shivers in the water when he took the pipe from his mouth.
“They had a second choice. They could confess to whatever they were accused of and give it all up. They cashed it all in. They got a wood cross to carry to show they were protected, and they had to go to the nearest port. The next ship out took them away for good. Exile. They lost everything, but had a chance to start over somewhere else.”
“What have you got to lose?” I asked, under my breath.
He stared at me, and nodded. We sat in silence, both looking into the mist. Finally, he spoke again.
“Some people couldn’t make a choice. They freaked and couldn’t decide. They took away their food and water ‘til they did. When they were starving, they caved in and picked one or the other, but it was forced. They screwed up their freedom to choose, see what I mean? Some of them died of hunger or thirst because it was easier than choosing. Weird or what, huh?”
“Not a great set of choices,” I said.
“We can’t always win. Hardest thing I ever had to learn. We look at everything and everyone to see what we can get, what works for us. Sometimes nothing works. Sometimes we only get to pick what we want to lose. That’s when you have the most freedom, Mike. You pick what you lose, and that’s when you decide if you’re good or bad. Fuck winning. Winning means nothing.”
“Got a cross I can carry over my shoulder?” I asked. “I’ll take exile, and safe passage I think.”
His smile under the hat brim was strangely bittersweet.
“Nope. I’ve got this. Don’t worry, I have another one.”
He took his paddle from the canoe’s gunwales, and handed it to me, blade first. I reached for it. I didn’t quite expect it to be real, and nearly dropped it into the water under the dock when he let it go. It was heavier than I expected, quite genuine and seeming to be solid wood, carved from a piece and varnished. It was wet and cold. I laid it across my knees.
“It’s a start, buddy. I need the rest of the boat to go with it, though.”
We looked at each other.
“I guess you can’t do that either,” I said.
“No,” he said, “I can’t. I gotta go now, remember what Aunt Kate told you. Sometimes you have to risk hell to gain heaven.”
“You know Kate?” I asked.
He knocked the ashes from his pipe on the side of the canoe, and put it away. He picked up another paddle from the bottom of the craft, and put the blade in the water. He looked at me as he prepared to go.
“Good luck, Mike,” he said.
“Hey, Dave. When this is over I’d like to hear you play. I have a feeling you’re pretty good.”
His smile was beautiful.
“That’s a deal, man. One way or another, however it turns out. I’d like that.”
He stroked the canoe slowly away from me, back the way he had come. The fog softened his outline, until the silver cloud on the water covered him and he was gone.
One of my favorite metal bands, The Unravelling, have released a video for “Move Forward Until You Are Dead”. From their album 13 Arcane Hymns, the exclusive debut with MetalSucks:
Steve Moore is also involved with Post Death Soundtrack. The band has a song called Ultraviolence. A Clockwork Orange is one of my favorite movies. The video’s subtle inspiration is found within:
My subconscious has saved me; finally a dream about metal.
I told Joey about it this morning, that I finally had another normal dream. He said “what’s normal about dreaming of the lead singer of Exodus?”
Normal has its variations for people. I feel out of whack when metal doesn’t enter my dreams. So this made me feel better.
Whether or not the lead singer actually looked like the lead singer doesn’t matter. In fact, my subconscious decided to make him look to my liking. He was still burly like a metal guy; big and all that. But he was East Coast in ways; meaning he had a bit of extra sweetness. We chatted about the origins of thrash metal and I won an argument about Megadeth and Metallica.
I saw a Betty Page calendar last night and fell in love with it. I’ve always thought it was cool people liked Betty Page. I’ve always admired the way women seem to have a crush on her. When I saw this calendar I understood why.
I bought the calendar, brought it home with me, literally savoured it, and felt my imagination wander with the ways she inspires with her freshness, sweetness, and good and bad mystique all in one.
Watching The Notorious Betty Page I loved her even more. Embracing femininity can sometimes surprise you, bringing more masculinity to interact with.
Have you seen this thrash metal documentary? If not, you must.
I recently read Ian Christe’s Sound of the Beast. It was highly recommended. Eventually it found a place within my writing. It is used in an article I wrote for a male magazine being published very shortly.
While reading this heavy metal bible I saw more I had in common with the men of metal. Dave Prichard, guitarist for Armored Saint, died of leukemia in 1990 “during the creation of Symbol of Salvation”.
John Bush, the singer, said of Dave “He was a piller of strength”. Prichard kept the disease to himself “hardly anybody really knew, and I think he wanted it that way”. In fact, “he was adopted, and he had to find somebody with a match to give him a bone marrow transplant. When you have a bone marrow transplant either it takes or it doesn’t, and if it doesn’t, you’re done. That’s what happened, and that was pretty brutal”.
A glimpse of my favorite fiction. Watch for a special guest who arrives in the novel. He plays electric guitar.
We never remark on the moments that matter the most to us while they are happening. Only afterward, when the perspective of time has shown us what they meant, do we do our desperate best either to remember or to forget. We never marry our first loves; they are inevitably discarded and then mourned for a lifetime. Our youth is spent impatiently and then its remembrance is treasured and savored in our old age.
During that late summer on Hollow Lake, I sat on my porch in the evenings, and remembered Abby. I sat through the heat, and the rains, and the foretelling of autumn in the cool August nights, and I watched the lake. On its surface my daughter’s moments with me played like an old home movie in my mind. I relived the turns that had taken me here, and wondered at those that would have taken me somewhere else. I sat and dreamed of what had been, and thought not at all of what might yet be. I was oblivious; the chance of a new present slipped away, and a great evil approached ever closer.
On the last Tuesday of August, Bill and I hitched a trailer to the marina’s truck and headed south to pick up my project boat. Aruba had been left at the marina house with a very sleepy Diane; the two of them had disappeared inside to find breakfast. It was early morning, just past six o’clock, and though the world mostly was still asleep, the woods bordering the back lot behind the machine shop stirred busily with the humid dawn. The lot had been raggedly scraped out with a bulldozer long ago, and the forest met its edges in a nearly primeval wall, still dark, smelling of wet earth, and untouched by the day. Bill knelt by the back bumper, fiddling with trailer’s wiring connection. I stood to the rear, watching the twin red lights to be sure they illuminated. The ground under my feet was reddish and sandy, rutted by old tire tracks and still soft and dimpled from the night’s rain showers.
I turned at a noise behind me, and started when I saw the black bear standing about thirty feet from me. She was halfway between me and the edge of the woods. In the gloom behind her, I saw the shapes of her adolescent cubs moving in the trees before they turned and seemed to melt away, leaving her with me. Our eyes met, and neither of us moved.
I heard Bill behind me, back at the truck.
“Easy, Mike,” he said very softly. “Just stay still. She’ll get a little look at you and leave. Just stand quiet.”
It seemed to me that I had read that one should shout and scream if confronted by a bear, but I didn’t raise the point. I had no voice anyway.
“Just stay with it,” Bill breathed. “She’s not gonna do nothing.”
As if on cue, the bear took two swaying steps forward and sat down, looking like a very large dog. Her tongue fell grotesquely toward her chest, and then furled back towards the black hole in her face. I recognized her; she was the sow with the missing jaw I had seen in the dump. Her cubs had grown appreciably over the summer. She tilted her head to peer at me myopically; irritable as an old woman caught without her glasses. Her small black eyes held mine. The hair around her snout and eyes was spiked with moisture. Her breath huffed and snorted and gobbled from her nostrils and ruined mouth.
The noises she made came faster, and she pawed the dirt in front of her, hitching her hindquarters sideways. Her rump left a broad furrow in the wet sand as she slid sideways, and I had a sense of how large and heavy she was. She pointed her black nose skywards and began to issue sounds that rose from a low growl to a high keening noise that sang on and on. Her upper body rocked, and her tongue swung and swayed from her throat as if with a mind of its own. The black pelt on her chest was stiff with the uncontrolled and constant discharge from her mouth.
Lowering her head, she turned her head from side to side, as if to find the eye that would see me best. She grunted like a pig, over and over, the wreckage of her tongue seeming to block what she tried to say. Finally she sat perfectly still, her head cocked to the side, gazing at me as if to find reassurance that I had understood. I fought the irrational impulse to walk over to her and gather her enormous, devastated head to my chest, to soothe her and to find some elusive comfort for myself.
At last she broke the contact, and gathered herself and rose. She slid away backwards as she did so, as if not to alarm me. She turned and headed for the trees in that fat, deceptive, rolling shamble that bears use to hide their grace and speed, and in a blink she had entered the trees. There was a single snapped branch, and she was gone completely.
Bill came up beside me, and took my elbow.
“Son of God, I don’t think I ever saw a bear act like that. It was like she was trying to talk to you or something,” he said, shaking his head and gazing after her.
“Or something, I guess. Let’s get going.”
I felt very still inside. We got in the truck, and bounced out of the lot, the empty boat trailer rattling behind us. We headed south, and then west on secondary highways. I looked out the window, and we didn’t talk a great deal during the trip. It was the first time in months without the dog at my heels, and I was surprised at the strangeness of her absence. The day cleared, and by the time we reached Lake Huron and turned south along Georgian Bay, it had turned sunny and promised heat.
We stopped at a four corners for gas, and while Bill stood at the pump and unfolded the scribbled directions he’d pulled from his shirt pocket, I went inside to pay. There was a small restaurant attached to the station, and I looked through the inner door at the ranks of tables. A smattering of people was gathered for an early lunch. I imagined they all knew one another, had gone to school together, and married from among their own familiar ranks. I wondered what it would be like to live a life all in one place. I thought I’d like it.
Standing in line, I looked at the snack displays, and was hit again by the unexpected sadness that seemed to go away for a while, and then come back to ambush me. The chocolate and gum and potato chips brought back such a clear picture of Abby that my insides clenched. Any stop for gas on a trip had always brought a plea for a treat at the cash register. Invariably, I resisted, in deference to Angela’s rules. Abby was never prone to acting out or making demands. When I refused, she didn’t fuss, but would only clutch my hand and gaze wistfully at the array of sweets while we waited our turn to pay. In the end, I always relented.
“One small thing, ok, Ab? Hurry up, there are people behind us.”
Then there was the precious, unforgettable, irreplaceable smile up at me before she turned to the racks to choose.
“Thank you, Daddy. I’ll share, I promise.”
I paid for the gas, and walked out alone. Bill waited in the driver’s seat with the engine running. We finished the last of the trip with the huge waters of Georgian Bay glinting in the sunshine to our right. We stopped at a marina to unhitch Bill’s trailer. The old boat reportedly sat on wheels nearly as old as it was; we would need to come back here for the marina staff to switch the craft over for the ride home. Bill confirmed the arrangements with the office, and then we got back on the highway for the last two or three miles. He slowed and turned in at a small white Cape Cod, weathered white on a treeless green sea of Bermuda grass. It backed onto the bay, and the wind hit us as soon as we got out of the truck. Bill held onto his hat and we started for the front door.
“It’s nice now,” he remarked, “but I’ll bet it’s hell in the winter. Imagine this wind coming across miles of ice.”
The front door was answered by a man about my age. His appearance startled me. He had a full head of red hair worn long, over his shoulders and down his back. His features were fine and angular, with full lips that gave his face an androgynous quality. He wore a black leather vest and faded jeans over black boots. A snake tattoo circled his left forearm, and a cross rested from a chain on his bare chest. He regarded us steadily with pale blue eyes.
Bill spoke first.
“Good day. Been talking to you about the boat you’re selling?”
The man’s expression cleared. He shook our hands, and I could feel the heavy calluses on his fingers. Guitar, I thought.
“Oh hey, yeah. Good to see you. I’m Dave. Give me just a second, ok?”
He set a book down on a small table in the entry and went into the interior of the house. I saw that it was a paperback copy of the New Testament. Voices came from a room beyond our sight, and then he returned.
“Let’s go, this way, guys,” he said, and led us out.
“Nice place you have here,” Bill said, as we headed to the garage at the rear of the house. At the back of the property, past a line of long grass and scrub, the waters of the bay glinted in an endless expanse of light blue.
“Thanks, but not mine,” he countered. “My dad’s place. I lived in NYC, mostly. I’m hanging around here to take care of him for a while. He doesn’t want to go into a home.”
He smiled and pointed to a screened porch at the back of the house. We waved to a very old man sitting and watching us. His father raised a hand from his lap in return.
“You do for your family, right?” he continued. “Anyway, as long as I’m here I thought I’d get rid of my boat. I bought it when I was in high school, and put it in the garage. He must’ve gone nuts, just apeshit, about a thousand times over the years because he couldn’t put his car in. But even when I moved away, he never got rid of it. Now he can’t drive, doesn’t have a car, and I’m finally giving him his garage back. Funny.”
He leaned his slim frame against the garage door and slid it open. The prow of a varnished wooden hull emerged from the dimness inside. The old boat seemed enormous, nearly filling the space. Bill’s face was a study in delight as he squeezed in to examine his find. I was left outside with our host, who had walked off to the side, and was looking out at the water intently. He felt my look, and walked over. He carried the aging rock star persona with a certain dignity; he was obviously comfortable with it, and it somehow suited him.
“This is gonna be yours, right?” he asked. “Your boat?”
I nodded. He ran his fingers through his hair, brushing it back from his brow, and looked wistful.
“I’m glad. This thing could be beautiful, but it needs a guardian angel, and I can’t be a guardian angel for a boat, you know?”
“Any idea how much work it needs to get it in the water?” I asked.
“Put it in the water now! Things should be used. You probably think you have to restore this, but you really don’t. Clean it up and it’ll go on the water right now. I wish I had. I got busy with other things, and never did. Man, I wish I had, I really do. Now I never will.”
“Can’t you use it now?”
I regretted the question as soon as it was out. I hardly wanted to talk him out of selling. He seemed to read what I was thinking.
“That’s ok. No, I can’t use it now. I just want to get it out of my dad’s garage. I promised to, and I think it still bothers him that I never did. It’s just a thing, man. You can’t get anywhere if you try to drag things around with you, know what I mean?”
Bill emerged from the garage, and motioned me over. His face was neutral, but I sensed the emotion behind it. He spoke in a low voice.
“Well, good news and bad. I almost thought we were going to find a 1940s barrel back here. I was really excited about that. It isn’t, damn it…this is a lot newer, probably ’60 or ’61. I’m pretty sure it’s smaller than he says, about nineteen feet. The good news is that the shape it’s in is fucking amazing. We’ll need to check it, but I almost think you could clean it up and launch it. Amazing. It’s gotta be worth ten times what he’s asking.”
I glanced over to where Dave was standing. He was looking steadily at me. I went back over to him.
“I don’t need any more than I’m asking,” he said. “Neither does my dad. It’s all yours.”
I looked at him, surprised. His hearing was extraordinary for a man who apparently had spent his life with an electric guitar in his hands. I wondered if he read lips. He leaned toward me, and lowered his voice.
“You know what I always ask myself? I always say, ‘What have I got to lose?’ Once you understand that, when you can answer it honestly, everything changes. If you’d think about it, and really follow it, you wouldn’t be so sad all the time.”
I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but I nodded. We finished the transaction, and dragged the boat out of its resting place into the sunshine. It was filthy, but its mahogany lines were ethereally beautiful. I felt the beginning of a thrill start in my chest, looking at it. I wanted to get it home. We went to the truck, and I shook Dave’s hand. As I did, the cell phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled it out and answered; there was silence on the other end. It wasn’t dead air, I could hear background noise, but the caller stayed silent.
“Hello!” I said, “…hello, can you speak louder?”
There was no answer, and I gave up and closed the phone. Dave looked at me and shook his head. His pale face had colored slightly.
“They’ll call back,” he said. “Oh yeah, they’re going to call back. Remember what I told you, ok?”
I looked at him quizzically, and he pointed a finger at me and answered my unspoken question with a question.
“What have you got to lose? When they call back, ask yourself, what have you got to lose?”
My blog has mentioned the name of Nemanja Babic from Serbia a couple of times. I have learned much from him about Forever Storm and heavy metal in Kragujevac.
Some interesting things about this communication: Nemanja was the first “stranger” that I am aware of to drop by my blog and comment, he has introduced me to one of my new favourite bands, and he has shared information about heavy metal and the significance it has in his life and that of his peers.
Nemanja spoke on my blog with a loyalty and love that the metal community holds for their allies and idols.
Heavy metal serves a significant purpose in the lives of youth where Nemanja lives. Though metal is important to me, I believe it to be much more essential in the lives of children.
The lone head bangers and outcasts all gather at Trg, where they sit on the stairs listening to heavy metal. There are about 30-40 of them that all unite under metal. To be an ally, one need only love metal. It is a common front, battle field, and army. (Megadeth calls their online fans the Megadeth army)
This is the same spot where Forever Storm played that live concert I posted on my blog. The location of the show, along with the band and the fans, stood out for me as special.
Nemanja is in this picture with his friends.
Kragujevac has a violent and sad history that brings us back to World War Two. The Nazis massacred thousands of people. Of their victims were children. There are poems written about this time in history.
One specific poem is Kragujevak by Radoje Radovanovic. It was written in Belgrade in 1947. The poem is well known for its final line ‘Pucajte. Ja i sada drzim cas’ which means “Go ahead. Shoot. I am giving my lesson. Now”.
Though no one knows exactly what the teacher said to his students as they were led out of the classroom to be shot, this line holds a special place for memorial and “gradually became an ineradicable part of national folklore”.
The line of this poem is also inscribed on a stone at the Sumarice site.
I recently had a lesson where we discussed Existentialism. Jean-Paul Sartre was mentioned in this class. Sartre shared his thoughts on Kragujevac:
“The deepest impression that a foreigner can walk away with from one country is the pain that he can feel in that country. That is what I experienced in Kragujevac. Nazi brutality vented its anger in full force on this docile city, turning it into an enormous grave with seven thousand murdered people. It is a difficult memory that I carry. But also a beautiful memory. When someone mentions Yugoslavia, I always remember Kragujevac and its students who were massacred by the enemy. It is then that I am reminded of the heroism of their people.”
Every October 21, there is a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims lost in this tragedy. Here is a picture of the memorial.
The over-arching themes found in heavy metal are alienation, war and oppression. That heavy metal speaks to youth in a place with such a history, reveals the importance and vital need for heavy metal.
A metal fan shared this, just today, on facebook. This is the first I have seen of it.
I grew up listening to Madonna. I am quite new to metal, no expert whatsoever, but love it.
Everything pop, after Madonna, is Post-Madonna in my book. In the 80s she did lots of things to challenge typical sex and gender roles.
She hasn’t done anything remotely interesting since Ray of Light.
This I am happy with. She knows what’s good, or her people know what’s good, and metal is…we all know what metal is.
That she had metal fans talking about her is brilliant.
Here’s a link to BLABBERMOUTH. I love reading what people had to say; whether they agree or disagree.
The discovery of metal is a special moment in a headbangers life; whether it is the album that changed you, the song that helped you get your first guitar, or the band that inspired you to join and/or form a band.
I was trying to make it as a pop singer in Toronto. I left my small town in Nova Scotia, moved to the “big city”, joined a top 40 cover band, performed live, branched out, wrote and recorded originals, and maintained a life of singing.
As a female singer I struggled being heard. Everyone talked about “my look”, what I should wear, how I should dance, (even that I needed to dance to be a pop singer), but no one seemed to care what I had to say, and I became disillusioned with music.
My anger took a life changing turn when I was at a Mötley Crüe show. I realized how badly I did not fit in. Women were nothing more than sexual objects on stage and on the big screen of live footage with groupies showing their tits and ass for a band video.
What set me off was the “tittie cam”. When Tommy Lee started yelling at the Toronto female audience to “show us your tits” with vulgar harassment: “what the f**k is this, Ottawa?” due to our reluctance to oblige, I left. And I left the show alone.
Eventually and thankfully I heard Ronnie James Dio with Black Sabbath, Dave Mustaine with Megadeth, and Bruce Dickinson with Iron Maiden. With this introduction I realized how much I missed in my life! I couldn’t believe that lyrics with such intelligence, vocals with such power, and sound with such emotion had been around without my knowing. I began to be infatuated.
I fell in love, at first bite, with Megadeth live. When the audience sang in unison, “If there’s a new way/ I’ll be the first in line/ but it better work this time”, I never looked back.
This is the music that changed my life.
Heavy Metal, Masculinity, and Me: sexuality, gender, and grassroots activism.
Hi Steve, I would like start off by saying thank you for writing music with such intelligent and meaningful messages. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me.
Some of your intellectual influences are Chomsky, Hunter S. Thompson, and Malcolm X. Will you expand on how they have influenced your writing?
I became interested in Malcolm X at around age 10 when I read his autobiography (written by Alex Haley). I was fascinated by his ideas and found myself resonating with a lot of them given the circumstances. Many people point out his extremist views in some respects – very true, though at the time with the KKK activity and police brutality happening, desperate times call for desperate measures, and public speaking is definitely not the most violent measure you can choose. I think I was very shocked as well, since I hadn’t been brought up with these kinds of dualistic ideas and racism confused and deeply upset me from a young age. I still haven’t wrapped my mind around the concept.
Noam Chomsky came later on in my early 20’s when I was expanding my political consciousness – I went through a stage where I read every political book I could find. This lasted a few years until I must have overdone it and I haven’t revisited since. I’m slowly but surely re-approaching, and will probably do so with Chomsky’s articles and blogs. He’s always passionate and always informed. He can also probably win an argument with anyone under the Sun.
Hunter Thompson? I find the man inspiring. He lived the way he wanted to, for better or worse, and I think there’s something to be said for that. His writing is brilliant, and you really feel as if you get to know him the more you read. His personality comes out, and you either love him or hate him. I’m sure “the squares” don’t appreciate a lot of his attitudes, but he constantly inspires me and makes me laugh.
What are some of your musical influences?
I could make a list hundreds long but I’d say my core influences would be Dead Can Dance, Pink Floyd, Tool, Public Enemy, Skinny Puppy, Nirvana, The Doors, Tom Waits, The Beatles, Alice In Chains, Guns n’ Roses, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Nine Inch Nails…ok, this is starting to get lengthy.
Please tell me about any influences you may have had in regards to film? I noticed you have a song called “Ultraviolence” with your band Post Death Soundtrack. Will you tell me a little about the song and how the film inspired you?
I’m a fan of good film. My favorite film is probably Taxi Driver, and that had some influence on The Unravelling’s “13 Arcane Hymns” album. For “Ultraviolence”, I took some inspiration from A Clockwork Orange in the sense that the song is lyrically nonsensical and quirky. It does something unusual for me, which is playing a character who expresses delusional ideas and fantasizes about violence. The narrator in the song kidnaps a do-gooder politician, proceeds to show him the violent decisions he must make if he continues to move up in the political world. Once the intimidation is over, they shake hands and go on their way. The idea of being held against your will to watch propaganda films is explored in A Clockwork Orange, and the term “Ultraviolence” is used in the context of random government violence. That’s the most I’ll try to explain the song though, because it even makes me slightly uncomfortable!
When did you start writing music?
I started writing music at age 15. Soon after, I began recording albums on 4 tracks, 8 tracks and on and on. None of them were good and I’m glad they’re not heavily distributed, but they helped me move forward and gain confidence slowly but surely.
Who are your earliest influences?
My very earliest influences were probably Public Enemy and Guns n’ Roses. Both were bands that I wasn’t really “supposed” to listen to because of the language and themes, and this made both bands that much more appealing in my eyes! They were really bands that you could open up the album, read the lyrics, and find lots of surprising and shocking things. That has stuck with me to this day – the importance of lyrics and uncensored self-expression.
How did you form your bands?
Post Death Soundtrack formed as a duo way back in 2005 when me and Kenneth Buck started recording electronic music. We released “Music As Weaponry” in 2008 when we realized the music had potential, and connected with Jon Ireson and Colin Everall soon after to bring the project live. We ended up becoming best friends with both of them and the project legitimately became a 4-piece. It’s a rare occurrence for this to happen. Post Death Soundtrack is like a tribe. We take each other’s health and happiness very seriously, and no one messes with the tribe, so to speak. The music is secondary to the friendship.
The Unravelling was formed when Gus contacted me via email through the Inner Surge website (my former band), after the band had split. I liked his demos and we started recording on the weekends. As the recordings got polished and we enlisted the help of Casey Lewis for the mastering (and drums), this became “13 Arcane Hymns”. We’re now playing live with Scott Taylor, Bryan Sandau and Randy Burton.
How is Calgary treating you? What is the music scene like?
The scene has improved for me in particular. I used to feel like an outsider on the scene, and still do when it comes to the hipster types, but my work with The Unravelling and Post Death Soundtrack has definitely created more interest, and I appreciate it. Good things seem to be happening, and it inspires me to do more.
Do you plan on touring any time soon? Will you visit Toronto?
Yes, I definitely hope to tour and visit Toronto. I’m not sure the logistics at the moment but I’ll put it out there.
Tell me how you have reached this sense of enlightenment you explore in your songs. How was this found? Or is this something you explore in song?
I’ve had an intensive interest in spirituality from a very young age, and it’s always seemed to be a big part of how I express myself in music. I seem to feel more comfortable tackling abstract philosophical concepts in my writing rather than writing more straight forward relationship based poems. I’m definitely taking effort to set aside more time for meditation lately, as it’s an important part of my life and something I don’t want to neglect.
I originally found meditation through reading about it, and after this it took many attempts and multiple methods to find something that worked for me. I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that because thoughts passed through their mind, nothing happened. You have to be determined and continue. I can’t really suggest a good starting point because everyone is different. Just visit a book store that carries books on the subject and feel it out.
How has the music industry been treating you? How do you navigate your place in the scene?
Things have been getting better. The Unravelling has been getting a lot of good reviews, and it’s helped get the ball rolling. People seem to want to cover you once you’re covered in a bunch of other places. It’s taken a lot of work, but we’re on the grid now.
Tell me about your projects and your up and coming albums. What can we expect to hear? What do you have lingering for us in regards to video and album production?
The Unravelling will be releasing our music video for “Move Forward Until You Are Dead” in January 2011. We shot the video with Doug Cook and he did an amazing job. I’m very proud that the message of the song came through. We’ll also be working on some new material – no word at the moment what that will turn into.
Post Death Soundtrack is working on new material for a new full length, and this is exciting for all of us. We’re also in the middle of a remix campaign, where we’re encouraging fans and producers to re-imagine our material, in particular the tracks “Our Time Is Now” and “Ultraviolence”. All of the remixes get posted to our Remix section on our new website, which will be launched very shortly. It’s kind of a digital band, so there will most likely be all kinds of new mp3’s released over the next year, as well as potentially another music video.
Truck’s album “Passengers” came out recently and I sang on 3 tracks for the album. It was an honour to sing alongside some of Calgary’s best heavy vocalists for this release; Sean from Divinity, Greg from Phantom Limb, Jerrod from Autobody, Rod from Surface Atlantis & Wes from Brimstone Rise.
I’m also about halfway through a solo release, and I’m not sure how it will be released at the moment. Some songs are available as free downloads online. It’s been a chance to get some of my acoustic material out.
I’ve also been working on a project with an excellent musician named Ben McMullan. He writes very complex electronic music with the approach of a composer. We’ve completed 4 tracks thus far and will start posting some of the material soon.
Other than this, I try to stay balanced and live a normal life! Thanks for the interview, Deeanna! Much love and respect from the West.
Black Label Society, The First Noel
Alice Cooper, Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Twisted Sister, Heavy Metal Christmas
King Diamond, No Presents for Christmas