I Probably Hate Your Band and Ne Obliviscaris

Ne Obliviscaris. Goddamit people. Will you stop making me defend this fucking band?

A couple of weeks ago, the band ditched longtime bassist Brendan Brown for that old chestnut “irreconcilable personal differences”. Australian radio host Lochlan Watt and blog ‘I Probably Hate Your Band’ (IPHYB) revealed that this was because Brendan has allegedly beaten up a number of ex-girlfriends as well as his mum. They continually harangued Ne Obliviscaris until they decided to part ways with Brendan. Job done, cue applause. It probably never would have happened without their involvement.

It was at this point where I was going HELL YEAH. Guys who bash chicks are the WORST. Can’t we tar and feather him and run him down a big public street somewhere and whip him a bit? Everyone else seemed to be of the same mind. Honestly, there wasn’t enough popcorn to go around.

popcorn

MOAR

In the midst of all this delicious fluffy schadenfreude, I had a couple of chats with friends that unnerved me slightly. The gist of them went something like this.

“It’s all fun and games, but that blog IPHYB are treading on thin ice.”
“What do you mean? I’m sure they wouldn’t print something without proof?”
“Have they come up with anything though? Like court dates, convictions, that sort of thing?”
“Well….no. Not that I’m aware of. Maybe in the comments section of one of their posts somewhere?”
“Anything else more solid than that?”
“I don’t know. A lot of musicians I know and respect seem to know something about these allegations, and were fully behind Brendan getting kicked out. Everyone seems to know someone who has been assaulted by him.”
“Any names or details or anything like that?”
“No. But c’mon man, there’s a lot of smoke around this fire. And I’m pretty sure his band of thirteen years wouldn’t toss him out if there was nothing behind it.”
“Mate, they’re getting by on a Patreon pledge campaign. They probably don’t want anything messing with that flow of money, even bad press. Sounds right now like no-one actually knows anything.”

Hmmm. Maybe. I thought they were giving the guy too much benefit of the doubt. In any case, justice of a sort had been done, and that was that.

Until yesterday.

iphyb

Singer Tim had confirmed somewhere on social media that he hadn’t known anything about Brendan’s history of hitting women. Then Brendan’s mum commented underneath that Tim had actually accompanied Brendan to a magistrates for the case where he was charged with assaulting her (found guilty but conviction not recorded). IPHYB took this as proof that the entire band had been covering for Brendan over the years and has called for everyone to boycott the band’s Patreon account with the aim of driving them out of business. As before, other bands and musicians I respect are taking up the call.

But this is where you’re all losing me.

IPHYB went public with all this and got Brendan booted. Cool. But now they are actively financially attacking the entire band and calling for a public witch hunt. Well, I’m one of the public and I’ve got a question:

Do IPHYB have anything more solid than text messages and facebook posts?

Because if they do, then they need to put-up-or-shut-up pronto and if they don’t, they’re getting sued into oblivion sometime in the near future. Which is a shame, I have a new CD coming out and I would have loved them to review it.

You know what I hear from everyone who seems to be in the know about this? That they’ve “heard stuff”, that it “definitely did happen”, that “an ex-girlfriend knows something” but they can’t talk about it, and out of respect can’t name names, and vague details like that. And you know what? I totally believe you guys, but if you’re graduating from getting a dude sacked to then financially ruining the rest of his band you need something more substantial to go on than text messages and facebook posts and I-heard-something.

This to me seems self-evident but by the sounds of it, some people need more convincing. The general public, particularly those younger than me, don’t trust the media these days. Quite often the complaint is that they have an agenda. Media is nothing more than information dissemination. Want to know who else is in the information dissemination business these days? Blogs, like IPHYB. I would gently suggest that blogs are no more free of agendas than traditional media. I would also say that traditional media also has a particular standard of reporting that they are careful not to fall below, and that is NOT to accuse someone of doing something without substantial proof, and NOT to agitate for a form of justice outside of what’s provided by courts.

IPHYB has fallen foul of both of these last points. They’re using their own reporting to agitate for a pogrom against these guys so now they cannot be seen to be an unbiased source. Although they have lots of in-person proof, they don’t appear to have some rock solid charges in hand. And if they do, they haven’t put that out into the public space with the rest of their accusations, for some unfathomable reason. Christ, in the earlier screenshot of their call-to-arms they even acknowledge that the violence is “alleged”. Since when do you go after third parties off the back of facebook allegations? Do they seriously not know what happens when you request punitive action in a public domain off the back of nothing more than allegations?!

denuto

“In closing Your Honour, it’s the facebook posts, the text messages, MABO, the vibe….yeah, that’s it, it’s the vibe.”

The reason why Australia is a civil society and not a basket-case of vendettas, corruption, and mob violence like Egypt, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and so on, is because we manage to control our base instincts for revenge and justice and let our imperfect legal system do the work and we are largely able to live with the results. Whoever Brendan has thumped should be taking it to the police and dragging him through the courts where justice will be done and endured by all parties. A police station is the correct forum for this kind of issue, not a fucking metal blog. If there’s a history of women who have been assaulted, then they need to get together, come forth, and get some charges laid. And if that’s exactly what they’ve done, AND IPYHB have actually got their consent to provide the evidence of charges and subsequent convictions, then witch-hunt away.

Oh dear, I just had another thought. Have they….actually got the consent from these women to report on this and push ahead with the anti-Patreon campaign? Do they realise that if not, these women may have this unpleasant bit of their history aired against their will as a direct result of what they’ve started? You can’t have it both way fellas. You can’t be like “we have proof of wrongdoing, and we call everyone to take action over it”, and then be like “we can’t release that proof to protect the victims”. Having proof that can’t be aired publicly basically means you have no proof.

Domestic violence is a horrible weird enigma of a thing, and quite often how you think you’d want things to play out if you were on the receiving end isn’t actually how the victims want to play it. I’ve had cases where a guy is shoving a woman around in public, stepped in, and then the woman has kicked off at me. I’ve had another case where I heard a thug beating his girlfriend all around the house next door with her shrieking at the top of her voice. I’ve knocked on the door, threatened the little shit with the cops, offered her a room, a lift to services, a lift to a friend, anything, and she begged me with everything she had to let it go and leave. The country should rally against domestic violence. Abusers and people who enable them should be held to account, one hundred percent. But this should be done with the law, the police, the courts, and not with mobs. Justice is for the victims to have, not you smelly long-haired musical-instrument-playing freaks.

This is all moving pretty quick now. Ne Obliviscaris have issued a statement. My eye is drawn to the following sentences:

Yesterday a certain website published an article claiming to have proof of a grand conspiracy by the band to cover up these allegations over the years. This is completely false and we will be taking legal action against those involved.

The last time I mentioned this band, it was to discuss their Patreon campaign. I noted that money made in such a way came with strings attached, and that relying on goodwill was a ticking clock. I didn’t see things turning out this way though.

Lastly, the title of the piece is ‘In Defence of Domestic Violence’. If there is a defence, it is that offenders are afforded the luxury of being trialed within the confines of the legal system and not at the hands of mobs. That’s the defence, and nothing more. It’s not sexy and does nothing to cool the blood, but that’s the best option we have without making our society that bit more fragile.

update 7/2/17: I Probably Hate Your Band have taken down the article calling for the Patreon campaign to be targeted. John from the site has further thoughts on the issues involved in the comments section of this article, and are worth a read.

What I did in 2016

I’ve had the third Senseless album written since the start of 2015. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by April 2016. For the three or four of you paying attention, you’ll notice that this album has not been released. I feel that this requires an explanation. In fact, the entire wretched year requires an explanation.

Lets start back in 2015. I was working in Adelaide, South Australia as a mainframe computer operator. We were migrating massive amounts of work from expensive-as-fuck Sydney down to cheap-as-chips Adelaide, and saving huge amounts for our company on labour costs. I was salivating at the idea of what my bonus would be like or indeed being paid any bonus at all. At the very least a pay rise would be coming our way. Among all this corporate goal-kicking I managed to take two weeks out during August to go to the Gold Coast to record my new Senseless album. The plan was to stay with Luke from Berzerker, crash in his flat, mix the album in four days or so, master it in another day, and go visit my parents who live only three hours drive away.

It was a good plan. Naturally, things didn’t work out. I had recorded everything except the vocals and demoed everything up before I arrived. There was one factor I hadn’t accounted for though: Luke was totally over music.He had no interest in it at all. In fact, his experiences with Berzerker were so traumatic that trying to force him to sit in front of his computer to get even the arrangements in place was like trying to put a cat in a bath. He just had too many bad associations with recording music and his body treated the producer chair like the electric chair. After a full week, only three or four songs were mixed.

I went to visit my parents, and cut that short to return to the Gold Coast and try and finish things off. Same problems happened though and when I left the album still wasn’t mixed. Even worse, some mysterious random things had happened to the existing tracks and fucked up their arrangements. I left five pages of mixing notes and headed back to Adelaide.

Come the start of 2016, there was still no album and I let Luke go as a producer. Soon after that, work notified us that there to be no pay rises or bonuses that year. I was like, fuck everything. I had no idea who to use as a mixer for my album or what to do about work. This was the fourth year in a row that pay rises and bonuses had been either minimal or cancelled. Additionally because of the new workload we had brought onboard, taking holidays was banned indefinitely. I decided to right at least one wrong and return to my parents to give them a proper visit. I figured that if someone got pissed about me taking a holiday, I could at least fly back in a few hours or so. I also arranged to end my trip in Melbourne, catching up with my old friends and going to White Night, an all-nighter citywide event of arts and festivity.

Things kind of came together pretty quick in February. I spoke to Leon from Mithras to see if he was interested in doing the album mixing (he did The Floating World, the second Senseless release). He couldn’t, but he recommended an excellent producer who could: an unknown dude called Adam who plays for a Swedish band called Murdryck. I contacted him and he mixed a track to perfection almost overnight. Without any further ado, I hired him and he got straight to work. Around that time, I was also contacted by an Italian metalhead who had just moved to Melbourne and wanted to buy a Berzerker hoodie. I didn’t have a hoodie for sale, but offered to take her to White Night with me and my friends. She accepted.

I went to White Night, had a great time, and got along well with my new Italian friend. I was woken up at 10am the next day by a phone call from another mate who wanted me to go party with him. I jokingly upbraided him for waking me up and demanded he make amends. “Uhhhhhhhh…..want a job?” he replied. He ran an IT support company that was requiring someone to come in, shore up the helpdesk, and help refine procedures. Starting pay would be $5k more than what I was currently earning, to be increased another $10k after 6 months. I totally agreed. In the next few days I went and interviewed formally for the job, then went on a few dates with the Italian girl. When I returned to Adelaide I gave my notice at work, and prepared to move to Melbourne in a month’s time for a new job, new house, and new girlfriend.

The month prep leading up to the move was complicated by one thing: I had to re-record all my vocals for the Senseless album. I ended up doing the majority of them in one whopper seven hour session in a tape room out the back of a data centre, which was the only place I could scream my head off without people calling the police or knocking on the door. My ‘vocal booth’ was as MacGuyvered as it gets: recording on a Shure SM57 mic into a POD XT then a laptop balanced on some cardboard boxes. The mic was wedged into a tape rack and held into place with bubble wrap. By the end of the session I had all the vocals I needed but had traded them for my ability to speak. All the files were sent to Adam in Sweden who started mixing them into the songs.

I arrived on March 31st, moved straight into my flat, started work on April 1st, and had the girlfriend stay that evening. Damn right I was making up for lost time. I discovered that the flat required a bit of work. Despite sending people around to check it out for me at inspection, they had missed bedroom lights and internet sockets not working, shower handles not attached, and the toilet flush broken. I complained to the agency and in true Melbourne Real Estate Agent style, they shrugged and went “good luck fixing it”. In the meantime, Adam started sending me back album mixes which I would download at work, listen to at home, then provide notes on the next day.

The job turned out to be rather crazy. The company was a small outfit that serviced a bunch of customers but also had one great big gorilla of a corporate customer, who paid just over half the revenue but demanded all of our time. It became apparent I had parachuted into a total bushfire. I set to work trying to help out wherever I could. It didn’t take long for work time to start leaking into evenings and a bit of weekends. I worked hard, kept providing my mixing notes for the album, and moved the Italian girlfriend in with me.

A few months into the job and I was getting pretty exhausted. I had transitioned from a relatively easy career with lots of time off to an all-hands-on-deck IT company. Melbourne car traffic had increased exponentially since I had last lived in the town and my commute could sometimes take up to two hours. I became pretty sick a few times including a spectacular occasion where I got an abscess on my ribs. I also was having trouble talking: I had damaged my voice in the seven hour vocal session in March and developed vocal nodules. I saw a throat specialist and after performing an endoscopy he commented “it has been a long time since I’ve seen anything like this”. He recommended speech therapy with the possibility of surgery in the future.

My friend at the company who had hired me was pretty erratic, battling some significant inner demons with KFC and vodka as his sword and shield, and every day it was a dice-roll whether he’d turn up. Additionally, his younger brother who was the company manager was requiring some holiday time. With some preparation, the brother went off on holidays for two weeks. Customers decided to spring their most fiendish requests on us during that absence and it was a fortnight of total shitfighting. We managed to pull through though and against the odds, the company was still standing when the younger brother returned.

Then we had a week that I am going to remember for a long, long time:

On the Monday, I pulled the plug on a data retrieval job gone wrong and put us on the hook for a few thousand dollars.

On the Wednesday, we lost our biggest customer.

On the Friday, my friend – the one who had hired me for the company – died of heart failure.

There is so much more detail to all this – calling absent company workers to let them know what had happened, the heartbreaking grief of the brother, sending everyone home and manning the phones until close of business, watching my mate get buried and crying so hard I could barely drive – but it’s just too much of a bummer. The next month was a process of trying to help keep the company running with my friend gone and his brother grieving. And somewhere in misty centre, the new album was mixed and mastered. I was proud of it, it sounded great, but it wasn’t the time to release a bunch of death metal.

Two months later, there was a company meeting where it was revealed that the money was about to run out. I gave my notice and resigned later that week, right near the end of August. I had plenty of savings, and was looking forward to getting some sleep and finally putting the album out. I put some job feelers out into the marketplace to give it a bit of a tickle – thinking that it would take me at least a month to find work – and astonished myself by landing a job immediately.

Three days later, I was starting work at a cloud computing company. They needed a little bit of documentation done for a new helpdesk they were launching. I was looking forward to some relaxing typing and research but it turned out they had different plans. Within two days of starting I was notified that I was actually the project manager. I was required to create technical service exclusion documents for everything the helpdesk did within two weeks, including crazy shit like Office 365 and Sharepoint migrations, write up all the how-to documents so even simpletons could understand how to do the work, and then create the helpdesk from scratch to go live within a month. In brief, this was a ridiculous amount of work.

I did it, but not without some cost. After a week of working and researching around the clock, I started getting anxious. REALLY anxious. I didn’t have a desk at this place and would bring my own laptop to work on and would try and find a spare surface to sit at, and start the day by nearly blacking out with anxiety. I’d have to focus on breathing for about five minutes just to get started. I’d usually sit in the area of an existing helpdesk where people would have loud arguments each day and occasionally shed a tear. I had been assigned technical assistance for the work but that was a contractor who I had doubts about having done migrations before, and he only stuck around for a few days. The anxiety also had an existential aspect to it. I was realizing that my long-awaited return to Melbourne had happened five years too late. The cost of property and living had risen astronomically, and all I had to look forward to the rest of my life was living in small tiny dogbox apartments, saving scraps. After another week the panic was so bad that I hit up a doctor and got some medication for it.

The goalposts seemed to shift outwards almost on a daily basis. I went from documenting, to project management, to creating a helpdesk, to then getting a bollocking because it hadn’t been fully automated upon inception. The final straw to me was when I asked how soon could we start interviewing people for the helpdesk especially as it ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The company was like, we’re not hiring anyone yet – we want to see how many people actually require this helpdesk first. I was like, well who’s going to take the calls for it then? And they were like, you.

That’s all I needed to hear. I gave my notice, handed them the completed project, integrated it with their existing helpdesk, and left. By then my nodules were so bad I could barely talk. I went to a Halloween party and after twenty minutes of talking in a crowd, no sound would come out of my mouth no matter what. Vocal therapy wasn’t working. Doctors were saying that I’d require surgery to fix the nodules and that I wouldn’t be able to sing again. I forgot about trying to find work and booked some weeks off in Tasmania. I traveled there with the girlfriend. We hired a rental car at Hobart Airport from a dude who used to be part of the whole Norwegian Black Metal scene back in the day. He told us a funny story about getting interviewed by the police long-distance on the phone after Euronymous’ death. We drove to remote places and got caught in blizzards and played Incantation nonstop on the car stereo. I returned to Melbourne and did some contracting work then headed to Europe for December.

I ate pork in Spain. I stayed with my girlfriend’s family in Rome, where they attempted to kill me with love and good food. I stayed in medieval mountaintop towns in Tuscany. I saw Gojira blow everyone off the stage in Bologna. I became sick with flu, traveled to friends in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, and drove through amazing mountain passes. Now I am back in Australia in my dingy little rundown flat. My girlfriend is still in Italy until February. I have no fulltime job. My voice is slowly returning. I have been able to speak again over the last few weeks. And now, finally, it seems like a good time to release the album.

‘The Buried Life’ release date will be March 1st 2017.

*postscript: It’s funny what perspective does to you. This could so easily have been the story instead: I get various friends to do me favours. Then I move back to the city I’ve been moaning about wanting to return to after scoring a nice leaving package from my job. I easily get an apartment in a city where spare rentals are tight, meet a girl worthy of a full article all on her own, then get showered with job opportunities, before spending the last three months of the year holidaying. My family is alive and healthy and well, and I’ve even had a new niece arrive. 

If this year reads like a tragedy, then that tragedy is that I lost the ability to appreciate all of this.

The MetalSucks manifesto

I’ve been absent for a while, I know. The excellent and plentiful reasons for that will be covered in an upcoming post. There was absolutely no way I could keep quiet though when Metal Sucks decided to publish a manifesto. We all know how much I love manifestos, right?

Go get yourself some context over at the MetalSucks site, have a read, finish either banging your head against a wall or pumping your fist going “fuck yeah!” and then strap in because – surprise! – I don’t agree with it. I don’t think I’m going to be the only one either. The problem is, I reckon what’s wrong with this manifesto requires a nuanced explanation which is a bit different from my normal method of napalming shit on a subject from a helicopter. After having a quick peek at their comments field, I think it’s past the ability of most people there too.

First, a disclaimer. I’m not some Alt-Right fan. I’m from Australia so I’ve only the vaguest notion of what that sort of shit is anyway. And I’m no fan of Trump. I think anyone cheering him on in “smashing the system” or “draining the swamp” is in for a rude shock. The dude’s a con-artist, always has been, and isn’t fit for mayor let alone president.

I have to make these sorts of disclaimers because their manifesto begins by making the ham-fisted link between anyone they’re opposed to and Trump supporters, conservatives, or white bigots. It speaks volumes about their political acumen that they lump conservatives in with this bunch. “Conservatives, terrified of change, lash out….” – and Trump doesn’t represent that change? I thought that was the whole point behind people voting him in, lots of change to everything? Anyways, my disclaimer is because by dint of being a white middle-aged dude I have to make it explicit that I’m neither a Trump supporter, nor a bigot, nor a fan of some political-news movement that means nothing to anyone who doesn’t live in what’s soon to be known as the Former United States of America*.

I was going to address their manifesto point-by-point, but then decided to try and keep things brief. My arguments against this manifesto don’t so much boil down to the individual points as the entire vibe, and it goes something like this:

Under such ideals, there is no place for Cannibal Corpse in metal. Their songs are the last word in brutal misogyny. There is no place for Slayer. They sing about Nazis and use SS imagery. There is no place for Morbid Angel. Their song ‘Bleed For the Devil’ has a bit where a girl is dismembered for a satanic ritual. Kreator have that song ‘Twisted Urges’ where they talk about people selling their kids as sex-slaves. There is no place for S.O.D. Their song titles immediately ‘mis-align’ them with the ideals expressed in the manifesto. There is definitely no place for Infernal War. Their music is a veritable feast of anti-semitism. There is no place for Manowar and their neanderthal objectification of women. There is no place for Pungent Stench. There is no place for Dismember. There is no place for Gorgasm. There is no place for a lot of fucking awesome music.

And when you drill down to the personalities of the people involved in the bands and start examining the people making the music and how they behave in our Brave New Highly Visible World, then the grounds of exclusion blow right out. You can forget about Burzum, or a large chunk of the black metal scene for starters. Forget anything that gay-stabbing Faust has done. Glen from Deicide shot that squirrel, so he’s probably on the wrong side of whatever fence MetalSucks are building. Lemmy was into collecting Nazi memorabilia. And despite Pantera having done songs about unity and equality, Phil has caught the ire of MetalSucks square-on for acting like a white supremacist bonehead. Look, nearly anyone in a metal band is, or has been ghastly at some point.

See what I’m getting at here? A lot of the great metal bands and artists would have no place in the direction these guys are pushing in. MetalSucks contends that the roots of metal are in “proletariat ideals and political protest”. I contend that the roots of metal are actually in idiots. And if part of your new direction is to turn your back on the idiots then you are turning your back on the majority of metal.

Here’s the funny thing. I agree with a lot of the manifesto points when applied to the real world. Bigots should totally be mocked whenever possible, lest they start thinking their views are normal. If you have an online blog or news site, you are under no obligation to cover anything you don’t want to. But these guys are going past that and are talking about deciding on a new direction for metal, under the cover of pushing back against what they see as global political conservatism. I lived through the years where metal was actually under attack from actual-conservative mainstream forces trying to censor, ban, and decry it at every turn. That was fun. However these guys are talking about the metal world censoring itself which is more insidious. It goes against everything metal is about to be second-guessing yourself when you write songs or think thoughts.

For me and a lot of other people, metal is not the real world. It’s the escapist safe-space for freaks, where you can float any stupid idea all the way from your crazy brain and out of your mouth no matter how horrible it is. The music and genre is set up basically to scare away anyone who would police these thoughts. The whole point of the music traditionally has been to offend, transgress, and get up people’s noses. A lot of this is done by measuring themselves against the current mainstream standard and standing in opposition to it. This manifesto is clearly aligning itself with the mainstream standard.

MetalSucks may think well, fucking good. If taking this stand and making the world a better place means less Waco Jesus, then whatever. However this doesn’t achieve that. This means that in the last area where people with a head bursting with shit can actually release that out, they are now policed by people who once upon a time used to be their co-conspirators.

I suspect the real ideal  behind this manifesto is because they run a popular website, and once you’re popular and online you get swamped by the utter dregs of fuckwittery. Online trolls are anonymous, they’re just a bunch of words on a screen, but goddamn they can get you down until you develop a thick skin. And fuckwits are everywhere online, drifting away from talking about A.C. lyrics to give their demented opinions on women in the gaming industry and so forth. It feels great to have a target you can actually punch sometimes and that’s what this whole direction they’ve taken is about. The want to identify some highly visible targets in the metal world and give them a good whack. Problem is by whacking visible metal targets you’re missing the point. The reason for their existence is to offend, transgress, and provoke. To deny otherwise is to deny the history of metal up to this point.

Seeing the world strictly through the lens of politics ruins fucking everything, particularly art. I believe that to remain a healthy functioning human, you need to sometimes indulge or express in ways that totally don’t make sense. Yes, you need to give those irrational feelings full reign over yourself sometimes. Metal is the space to do that in because it is expected of you in that space, the world has grudgingly made way for that space to exist. The response to art (and much of metal is great art) is a very niche feeling and sharing that feeling is what will transcend borders and barriers and spark conversation – not manifestos.

I am 100% against anyone who defines themselves by what they’re offended by. Fuck off. Our common ground is in the opposite direction. Meet me there, or have pictures of  Ronnie Radke posted at you.

fags

Over. My. Dead. Body.

*I’m pretty sure this is a joke

Someone Is Making The Money

I shouldn’t be writing an article right now. I’m at work, I’m wrapping up a job, I’m moving house to a new job and new flat 700km away, I’m halfway through having the new Senseless album mixed, I’m negotiating new contracts and redundancies and all that shit, but GODDAMMIT I’ve seen some stuff that I simply must pass comment on.

Yesterday, I saw this:

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That isn’t some kid on his way to a show. That is fashion designer Avalone premiering their new Fall/Winter collection of sportswear, and what you’re seeing is a model on a catwalk sporting a shirt that has blatantly ripped off the Mortician logo.

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for comparison

Roger from Mortician has an excellent article about it on his wonderful blog, and I read it and thought my usual thoughts about it being interesting and all that. Then today, just as I was getting a coffee into myself, I saw THIS:

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To make it totally clear, that is deadmau5 opening his set to a gazillion people by playing a Psycroptic track. At first I thought someone had merely dubbed some Psycroptic concert audio over a deadmau5 set, but then I saw some people headbanging in time, and the sound dopplers a bit when the phone is moved around. Then I saw all the comments from people who were at the set, half thinking it was fantastic and hilarious, the other half thinking WTF WAS THAT?!

My first reactions to things are usually the stock-standard death metal reactions. Sue them! Get the lawyers! Beat the shit out of them! Etc, etc. My next thought was, Avalone’s got some fucking stones. Do you really want to mess with the artistic copyright of someone like Will Rahmer? Mr.Jailed-in-Poland-for-a-Machete-Freakout Rahmer? Have you fucking seen Will Rahmer?!

will

And I do my little turn on the catwalk, yeah on the catwalk

And then I had a bunch of other thoughts percolate, and they went like this:

When both a fashion designer and the world’s largest electronic dance music are referencing death metal, this should be telling you all something.

And I believe that something is this: that the music and its imagery are more popular than people make it out to be. A large reason why death metal is on the bottom earning rung is because the majority of the artists believe they are underground, and actively reject any form of popularity. My ears are resounding with the sound of the entire metal scene going “DUH”, but think about it. I did an article only the other week that touched on the fact that metal bands are giving up because of money issues left right and centre, and that some bands are resorting to patronage (or what some people call ‘begging’) in order to keep functioning.

Folks, death metal appears in movies, ads, shows, and the sets of the biggest and most untalented DJs in the world. Metal imagery and shirts are referenced by the biggest outlets in the world. Even ‘Lords of Chaos’, the book about the most underground possible bit of an already underground scene is getting turned into a movie. Death metal clings to this pre-pubescent notion of unpopularity as if that’s the only way to define its image. This is utterly outdated, and totally unhealthy to the scene.

The scene operates in a context defined some thirty years ago, with booking agents, venues, managers, and labels all living in a past that doesn’t recognise the fact that the world has moved on. Want to know why people are turning up in droves to these shows with shitty music? Just look at the deadmau5 clip. This dude climbs onto a stage with a backdrop in the shape of a mouse’s head playing swirling images of LAVA, then when he starts his set proper he fires off enough lasers to bring down the fucking moon. Want to know why your gig in Melbourne the other week only had fifty people, but five thousand drove off into the bush for a show? Probably because it looked like this.

I love death metal. I love Mortician’s “Chainsaw Dismemberment”, I love the crazy bastards in the band, I love the fact that every member of Psycroptic is a better musician than I could be in a hundred lifetimes, but if I’m faced with seeing another gig of four guys in black tshirts on the same stage setup with a backdrop in some stinky old venue with a crowd of bonged out smelly boys, I’ll choose the hours of lasers with the crazy PA and art installations and flocks of gorgeous hippy chicks. Death metal, this is your competition.

All these DJs with their shit music and these designers with their shit clothes and lack of talent have all found success, renown, and income. They do that because they assume popularity, and they choose to work in a context of popularity. They assume everyone in the world can potentially like and buy their stuff, and that’s how they operate. There will always be room for the underground, and there will always be a place for those who are so developmentally impaired that they carry an identity of “nobody likes me so I’m going to be unpopular” all the way out of high school and into adult life. There will always be a place for art that is so dark and cutting edge that the mainstream sensibility shrinks from it. But Slayer and Metallica have Grammies, bullet belts are now modern couture, and Gaahl runs a fashion label.

Death Metal, you’re not as unpopular as you think you are. Someone is making the money.
It might as well be you.

UPDATE 3/3/17: Some scrappy publication known as the NY Times influenced by/inspired by/steals Carcass artwork.

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Ne Obliviscablovarblarbulus Ask For Money

I first became aware of Australian band Ne Obliviscaris asking for funding through campaigns via this delicately worded post on the facebook group”Heavy Metal Clüb” :

neo-ob

I read this post, the band’s press-release, and all related comments, and realised that what I had here was something the military term a “target-rich environment”. Melbourne progressive metal band Ne Obliviscaris are running a pledge campaign to achieve a minimum wage (by Australian standards), and to help pay off debts incurred from touring so far. When Matt from Berzerker/Akercocke/Antichrist messaged me to encourage me to rant, that was the final nudge I needed. So I say this!….

GOOD ON THEM.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of their music. I’m not a fan of them. I hate almost all metal that wasn’t made in the 90s, or made by me. I don’t think this funding suggestion of theirs is good value. I’m not sure if this campaign will be successful. I think if they want to be a viable band then they probably need to kick out two of their members. I think their career is starting to rest a bit heavily on crowdfunding. I think flamenco can get the fuck out of metal (except when I do it). But am I going to begrudge them putting a mechanism in place to deliver them a wage? Absolutely fuck no, good luck to them, and I don’t see why all the metalheads are getting their panties in such a sookie-bub bunch over them trying. But don’t worry, I’m going to whip around and give everyone a flog by the end of this article. I shall be harsh but fair.

 Let’s look at their press release first. The first line pisses me right off: “From the minute they first stepped onto the Aussie music scene, Ne Obliviscaris knew that it was always going to be hard for a progressive extreme metal band with a violin player to make money“. My Dying Bride, bitches? If there was a dole queue for metal bands with violin players, Ne Ob would be holding a ticket saying “#1000,056,741”. By the way, I HATE writing ‘Ne Ob’ but I hate having to write out their full name even more.

They talk about the trials of making money in a “broken system”. They are 100% right. Does anyone doubt that the music industry is broken as fuck, particularly for metal bands? ALMOST EVERY MONTH you’ll get another wordy pompous press release from someone in some band I don’t care about announcing how they’re quitting music because of financial pressures. Everyone knows music sales barely make money, if at all. Everyone knows that touring is high-risk hard work with diminishing financial returns. Didn’t we all see that article from Behemoth’s bassist the other day talking about the outrageous percentage venues are now claiming from merch sales? In my day it was zero percent. There would maybe be one or two venues on a thirty day US tour who would charge twenty percent, but that was it. Now it’s FORTY percent in some places, with percentage takings turning into the norm at venues. So anyone telling me that a band can solve its money problems by getting in the van and selling some t-shirts can suck a dick. I credit Ne Ob for not immediately saying “we’re quitting for financial issues” like a million metal musicians before them, but for trying everything to fix that situation. The system which delivered money from CD sales and touring no longer delivers on CD sales, and the takings from touring are diminishing every day.

They speak about the funding being not only for themselves, but for families and mortgages. For anyone reading this and starting off in a metal band, forget families and mortgages. Music is a steamroller that will crush anything excess in your life, from relationships to finances to responsibilities. If you want to have any semblance of a normal life, stay at home, record music, and stay the fuck off the road. If you want to go on the road and live the dream then go for it, but you are leaving the normal world and its comforts behind, and you only get to return to it when you quit or if you win the lottery ticket called ‘success’. And make no mistake, it is a lottery ticket. You not only have to be relentlessly hard-working, but extremely ridiculously lucky. So a kick in the balls to them for this. I’d be cool keeping them from starving, paying rent for some place, and able to buy a train ticket to the airport so they can go fly somewhere and play the fiddle at someone, but if they want a life and a house? This has never been the deal for anyone ever. I can number the extreme metal bands who can use their career to own their own place and have a family life on both my hands.

THIS LINE: “The fact that one of Australia’s biggest metal experts must resort to charity to keep their careers afloat is a mark of how screwed up today’s music industry has become.” OK, I don’t give a fuck how many times their PR dude trots this line out, they are NOT one of Australia’s biggest metal experts (or even exports, as I’m sure they meant to say). I’ve been on three international labels with three separate bands, toured extensively domestically and internationally (300+ shows), headlined in UK and Europe, will release my eighth album this year, never needed to resort to crowdfunding to do any of it and actually made some money, and I wouldn’t even call myself one of Australia’s biggest metal experts. I fucking hate lazy PR. Besides, the guy on their promo video sounds American and they’ve got a French guitarist. Newsflash: you are now an international band, not the Little Aussie Band That Could. Start pitching yourselves as an international act, it sounds better. “Australian progressive violin flamenco metal” sounds as awkward as “Swedish gangsta rap”.

And besides, they’re not having to resort to charity. They’re choosing to resort to charity. Small difference, but important. What’s their option otherwise? Become a recording outfit. Scale back touring as an activity that is done on breaks from a day job. My god that sucks as it means a life with no real holidays, but there it is. Focus on markets where you do make money on tours, and explore the others either with one-off festivals or mini-tours. Sack half your band for touring, or use that massive surplus of manpower to do the jobs that you’re currently paying other people to do: merch table, driver, sound, roadie, etc. Cut every corner…..EVERY corner. Paying onto a package so you can be on a nightliner bus? Fuck you, hire a motorhome and drive it yourselves for half the cost. Manage yourselves. Book yourselves. Don’t rent entire backlines, borrow what you can. Anyone going “yeah, right, impossible” should know that the only reasons I make these suggestions is because they are things my bands have done and we made money. In the pledge page, there is an acknowledgement that this is an option. My opinion is, make it work on the cheap first and build up to more expenses on tour before you decide what’s possible or impossible, or what income you do or don’t need.

There’s talk of market forces in a lot of the commentary. This is a tricky and complex subject which I’ll try and sum up as clearly as possible. The general idea is of supply and demand: if there is a sufficient demand for Ne Ob’s music and shows then the market will keep them funded in baby booties and cribs. If the demand isn’t there, then no-one likes them and that’s why they’re not making money and they should pack all their stringed instruments away and fuck off.

In the case of metal though, the market is distorted (just like the music). Markets normally express themselves by reflecting fluctuations of success with fluctuations of income. But in metal the market can’t correctly express itself through music sales; metal as a demographic has a higher percentage of downloaders than others (16-25 years old/male/white/assholes), and most stores have stopped carrying metal CDs, streaming sites pay fuck-all. And the market is struggling to express itself through touring income. Labels have 360 degree deals where they take the merchandise and show income. Booking agents now run packages where you have backline and transport and everything taken care of, but for excessive costs. And as mentioned, venues are now getting in on the act and taking a slice of band’s traditional touring income too. A band can have many fans, everyone can have their album, and their shows can be well attended, but with this busted-ass market none of their money will make it to the band itself. The market doesn’t reflect with income the success a band’s experiencing – the market is distorted.

On the one hand, I think there’s too many metal bands out there and too many metal bands doing the same old boring thing. You could listen to a new metal album every hour every day for the next ten years and barely dent the amount of releases out there. I think the market reflects that. That’s part the reason why barely anyone buys metal anymore,  and that’s why the metal market flips out and goes wild for anything even minutely different, like BabyMetal…..whose success I despise and blame entirely on Metal Hammer, bunch of fucking paedos*. On the other hand if a fanbase is consuming product and paying cash for it and that money is getting lost in the absolute car-crash that is the modern music industry before it reaches the band, then that isn’t reflecting that the market doesn’t want the band or that the band should stop. It reflects simply that the market is broken. Fan funding is a possible answer to that and in this instance, is perhaps the most accurate reflection of whether the market wants you around or not.

I admire Ne Ob’s balls….

look

those farkin balls!

…and hats off to them for trying a very traditional way to make a living from this. Something a lot of people don’t realise is that your Renaissance artists, your painters, your composers and musicians through the majority of history were funded by patronage. They’d have a couple of rich guys who would pay for them to do their thing, sometimes even a small group of people doing the funding. Ne Ob are no Da Vinci, but they are basically reviving the same long grand tradition of patronage in a modern way. This is not new ground for the industry, this is an old form of funding that is re-emerging into a vastly different world.

I do think that Ne Ob need to be careful in three areas: transparency, goodwill, and viability. Most money you make, you can do whatever the fuck with it you want. If someone is pledging you a living wage, they’re probably going to want to know what your costs are. The money isn’t quite as no-strings-attached as money can be, even with an explanation that the band merely wants a minimum wage, even with the variety of pledge rewards. A degree of transparency is required. Fans are happy to pay for new leads, food, gas money, seed money for a merch run. They mightn’t be happy to pay for your kid’s tuition, the latest $5000 amplifier, or new curtains in your pad back home.

When asking for funding you’re also asking for goodwill. Ne Ob have been massively successful with campaigns in the past, but how many times can they draw water from that particular well? Goodwill is fickle and finite. Which brings me to viability – unless they are planning on being professional minimum wage pledge musos for the rest of their life, they need a plan to get away from the crowdfunding. Any of the traditional problems they’ve encountered so far that ALL bands encounter, they’ve dealt with by throwing crowdfunding at it. At some point, they need to increase traditional income somehow or cut their operating costs and I haven’t seen anything (admittedly, from a distance) that indicates they’ve got the ability to slash those costs. Otherwise, they’ve got minimum wage to look forward to until even that is no longer viable. They’re trying the ‘fake-it-til-you-make-it’ route. That is a ticking clock, whether on your own dime or someone else’s and I suspect that these days, that particular route leads to a dead end. I’m having trouble thinking of the last band who were successful with that approach.

And now to address some of the comments the general public made on this pledge campaign. Naturally they’re all idiotic, because metal fans are halfwits.

  • Don’t support these entitled douchebags, use your hard earned to give some actual hard working bands with talent a break.” I’m no fan of Ne Ob, but if touring internationally ten months out of the year isn’t hard working, I don’t know what the fuck is. Making snide comments about bands on social media, perhaps?
  • Market forces haven’t changed in hundreds of years and are unlikely to any time soon” Actually, it’s because market forces HAVE changed drastically in recent times that bands are resorting to crowdfunding. Heard of this “internet” thing?
  • I don’t understand why they’re asking to achieve minimum wage while they tour the world?I mean I just genuinely don’t understand it. Wouldn’t it make more sense to stick to Australian/Asian tours for the time being? I mean they only have 2 albums...” Because they need to eat, fool. As for sticking to Australian/Asian tours, your career as a professional band only BEGINS once you have played that first overseas tour. Your time in Australia and the region counts for fuck-all. No-one on the planet cares how many times you played the Bendigo Hotel or Newcastle fucking RSL. Your career goes nowhere. NO-ONE CARES. And the number of bands that played internationally on the back of their first album is a massive list. We were one. Fear Factory’s another. Most Aussie bands don’t do that, because they are stupid. The ones who do it and find a way to keep doing it tend to be the successful ones. Ultimately, that’s the crux of the debate – can Ne Ob keep doing what they want to do cashing in on goodwill?
  • Regardless of what you think about Ne’O, they are actually one of THE MOST SUCCESSFUL HEAVY METAL BANDS IN AUSTRALIA” Not making any money? Finishing up in debt whenever you try to do anything? Sorry, but that is the opposite of successful. Then again, if success can be measured as a proportion of the spluttering knucklehead fury directed at you on social media (the Sam Bean Success Equation TM), they ARE pretty damn successful.

 

tramp

“Loan me a Grammy”

I ripped on the band’s PR earlier for laziness, but realised just now that all the discussion about this campaign has created another wave of attention for them. Sneaky bastards. Fuck, I’ve written over 2500 words on it. And they’re around halfway to their pledge amount already. If they pull this off, that’s quite a coup. What the hell do I know. Want to pledge? Head to: http://www.patreon.com/neobliviscaris

* Metal Hammer are totally not paedos. Love you guys! Hugs xx

pedo

Pictured: one totally normal Metal Hammer staffer

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Post-Touring Health, an Infected Ball, Death of a Dream pt.Whatever

I found touring was not particularly good for my health. The blame, were it to be apportioned, lay equally with myself and the touring lifestyle. I know guys who managed to fit in jogs on tour, or go vego, or swear off alcohol. I was not one of them. I didn’t actually believe it was possible to do such things on the road until I saw others do it. You have to be quite driven, or be in a band who’s happy to tolerate your crazy ‘health’ thing.

“Whaddaya mean this isn’t good enough to eat? ROCK-STAR”

A band has to accommodate someone if they want to tour healthy. It wasn’t like we could all go our separate ways and head out for jogs, or have multiple food stops so someone could pop into Wholefoods and get their essential organic whatever. In Berzerker’s case, everyone else ate burgers and drank. The masks made our already energetic shows fucking ridiculously draining to play and quite often we’d come off stage, squeeze our t-shirts out, and fall over. We’d also drive and manage ourselves on tour. If we were exceptionally luxurious, we’d get one extra guy on board to help out with the driving and merch table. A few guys came on tour as ‘tour managers’. The only time I remember one making a true difference was when ex-Akercocke bassist Pete Theobalds came onto a UK tour for fun, and found himself stepping into the breach when the tour manager went AWOL.

What am I getting at? We were in a constant state of exhaustion. The rare sleep we experienced would be fragmented, brief, and without any sort of rhythm whatsoever. Our bodies would be pushed to the limit each night. Instead of recharging on soups, water, salads, we’d be getting by on beer stolen from the venue and the Wendys $1 menu. Then we’d shake dozens of sweaty hands after gigs and catch whatever the hell was going around. If you’re in an international touring band? NO HANDSHAKES. Go for fist-bumps, Japanese bowing, or ceremonial head-butts, just no handshakes. We tried using disinfectant hand lotion when we’d get in the van. It doesn’t work, you’d still get some fierce flu that would batter your frail foreign body. When you caught the inevitable illness, there was no recovery time. You had to get on with driving, playing, loading in and out, and the merch desk.

                               “It puts the lotion on the skin or else it gets the lurgy”

I live pretty healthily these days, but I’m prone to illnesses. I can basically split my life into two periods, pre-2002 and post 2004. When I was younger, I was superhealthy and unstoppable. Then I did a big block of touring and….now I’m not quite so unstoppable.

There was a big touring block where I caught the flu. Then I got conjunctivitis, and we were too busy to go get it treated for three days or so. I remember feeling like I had some grit in my eye after a gig in Chicago. I managed to grab some sleep, and the pillow was glued to my face when I woke up. My face oozed crust. You know in the movie ‘Aliens’ when they find those people who are cocooned to the walls with that gluey alien spaff? It was 100% like that. The James Cameron connection continued when Napalm Death said I looked like the Terminator due to my red glowing eye, and Nile started calling me ‘Pinky’. When I finally had the eye treated I had to buy some sprays and disinfect the entire motorhome we were travelling in, from stern to bow. My chin was starting to react from getting bashed nightly into a germy microphone and was breaking out in weird pustules. Every gig when I grazed the mic for the first time it would send a bolt of lightning through my face, which would go hot, then numb. A week or so later was the unbelievable stress of our drummer breaking his foot – we had to keep touring in order to make it out of the country – and that was followed by me getting a horrible case of sunburn in Miami when I passed out in a park.

Then we popped over to Europe to tour for a month straight in a bus with dirty bunk beds, and an exhaust outlet leading into the lower lounge.

When I arrived back in Australia, I slept for a week straight. I found it hard to have conversations with people at first; I was used to holding court and strangers shutting up when I spoke. I had absolutely zero interest in hearing about how someone’s day at work was, and couldn’t relate to normal everyday things. I felt like I had done the most amazing thing ever, and planned to organize my tour diaries and notes and write a kickass book about being in a band. I felt no-one could possibly top some of the stories I had to tell. Anyway, once I’d had a few months of regular sleep and meals and started work again, my body came out of hiding and got really fucking weird on me.

My eye – the one that was affected by conjunctivitis – would swell right up and go red. Then just as I’d be prepping to get an ambulance, it’d suddenly go back down. Or I’d wake up and there’d be a chunky discharge all over my face from my coy and slightly pink eyeball. Then I started getting mystery lumps bulging out of my head which would vanish within 48 hours. I caught a series of colds. Crops of mystery zits would come and go. My dick started leaking. I went fuck this, and headed to the doctor for an explanation.

Although I headed to my usual health clinic, my doctor this time was an unsmiling woman I’d never spoken to before. I explained all my symptoms to her miserable face and she asked me if I’d had any “changes in lifestyle recently”. I went uh, I’ve been on the road travelling with a band overseas for a few months, and….

“Oh, it’s probably VD” she said. Then the evil bitch gave me the most comprehensive STD test I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience, and sent me on my way with “we’ll have your results in three or four days”. Australian healthcare can vacillate unpredictably from fabulous to hopeless, hey. I went to sleep that night packing shit, thinking of some uncomfortable conversations with previous partners I had ahead of me.

I woke up the next day and I wasn’t quite right. It felt like I had a mild fever. I went to work anyway, trooper that I am, and made it to the afternoon. I went to the loo sometime after lunch and when I had a pee it looked like milkshake. I kind of watched in disbelief as the sediment hit the water and slid to the bottom of the bowl. I left work for the day, headed home, had some panadol and went to bed early. I was starting to feel like shit.

I woke up just after midnight. My left ball was aching. I suspected I had somehow trapped it between my legs in my sleep and then done somersaults or something. I found with a bit more panadol and some maneuvering, I was able to get back to sleep.

I woke up in the morning completely fucked. My crotch throbbed like someone was tapping my left ‘nad with a hammer. I was feverish. I stumbled to the toilet and pissed out a gallon of thick milkshake. The pain was quite something. I called the doctor’s clinic and asked if they had my results yet. They said no. I described my symptoms to them and there was a pause. Could I come in immediately? I said yes, and phoned a friend of mine called Steve who was flexible enough to give me a lift.

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I limped into the surgery. I told them what was happening again, and they performed a quick examination. There was a brief wait and then they came straight back: Could I pop into a clinic around the corner and get an ultrasound scan of my bits done? There’d be someone waiting for me. I said yes, and hobbled back out to where Steve was waiting. The pain seemed to have actually increased in the space of twenty minutes. He gave me a lift to the ultrasound clinic. Every time the car went over a speed bump or pothole, I whimpered.

To any women reading this, testicle pain requires description: It’s like the nerve ganglion for your balls is connected to one’s kidneys, or liver. So when pain is experienced in your jewels, it gets a x2 multiplier effect that is shared between a few other vital organs. The usual reaction to such pain is immediate and uncontrollable vomiting. On this day, the only thing stopping me from puking everywhere in crotch-agony was the steady slow incremental increase in throbbing.

Steve dropped me off at the ultrasound place, laughing his head off at me gingerly limping along. I crab-walked in a wide stance, like a cowboy or a disgraced US senator. I was immediately received by the clinic, who lubed my nuts up and ran a scan over them. The swelling was profound. I was half expecting the nurse to cry out “Congratulations, it’s a boy!” Instead, she informed me that I had scrotal epididymitis, and that a hospital bed and doctor was waiting for me at another location, and was some available to drive me there immediately or could they call me an ambulance? I passed on the ambulance, got the details, eased myself slowwwwwwwly back into the car with Steve, and we headed to the hospital.

The hospital didn’t fuck around. I was straight into a hospital gown, had a bag full of antibiotics rammed into my arm via drip, and wheeled into a room shared with one other person, an old fella who didn’t say much. A doctor explained that if left untreated for another day or two, I could have lost my balls. To this day, if I’m run-down and tired or the weather is changing, I get that dull throb in my left kidney. The nurse told me that I’d be here for three days or so then departed. All I had on me was my mobile phone. I had left home in a bit of a rush. Steve had already returned to work. I felt like shit, and wondered how I was going to pass the next few days.

I received a phone call. It was from my health clinic. They were happy to inform me that my test results for STDs had all come back negative. I was like, you sure? I’m banged up in hospital right now with a stiff case of scrotal epididymitis, a case so nasty you’d swear I caught it screwing trash-cans. They went, guess it’s bacterial then. Toodaloo! As I say, the post-touring body does some weird shit when getting back to the normal world.

Anyway, that chat lifted my spirits. I was no longer going to have call people and give the better-go-get-checked speech, thank god. I started calling around my friends, seeing if I could get any visitors. I may have received a few people but one stands out: my good mate David Cohen who, understanding my needs, brought me a book to read, Motley Crue’s ‘The Dirt’ by Neil Strauss. And as my body recovered its health, it was my dream of writing a book about my touring stories that died instead of my balls. The whole basis of writing my stories was how ridiculous and full-on and dramatic they were, or so I thought. But when I read about Vince Neil eating a martini glass, or killing people in a drunken car crash, or Nikki Sixx overdosing on smack then coming back from the dead to shoot some more junk like an opiate-fuelled zombie, I gave up. I was an amateur. There was no way I could compete with this. How can you? Anything I’d done, they’d done a million times bigger and crazier, to the horizon of death and beyond.

You win, you magnificent bastards

                                                    You win, you magnificent bastards

I kind of wish I could go back to my younger self, and explain that stories aren’t just about how big and fucked-up you can be. They can also be about connection, explaining things in a way that people can relate to. In fact, that may be the secret to most art. There will always be a place for the Titians and Rembrandts, the Dahls and Strausses, the Beethovens with the big notes and a shock-and-awe impact, but sometimes people merely want something that makes them feel less alone. McDonalds may one day release the book on making hamburgers and it’d be some wild burger shit in there, but I’d be more interested in the small book done by the Burger Theory food-truck that I see around the corner from me occasionally. People want connection and as much as they may crave escape, they also crave the occasional reassurance of reality.

Two more anecdotes, then I’ll let you go.

When I broke up with a long term relationship in England and was prepping to dive back into dating, my first step was to go do an STD test and get my licence to thrill. The doctor I ended up with was a Romanian woman who handed me a questionnaire to fill out. It was pretty comprehensive, not only about sexual history but also about any trauma your bits may have suffered in the past. When she saw that I had experienced a case of scrotal epididymitis, her face lit up like she had discovered a unicorn. Apparently she had heard about it before but never met anyone who had it, and she peppered me with a million questions. She genuinely looked so happy. I think I made her day.

And now, the second anecdote:

When I was released from hospital after my three days of antibiotics, I was still slightly achy-breaky but well on the mend. I arrived home around midday, and turned on the computer to catch up with whatever had been happening in the world. Heads-up, what I’m about to tell you is rather gnarly. If you’re eating breakfast, or have a mild constitution, are a family member, or merely think of me as a good pure lovely person, then perhaps finish this article here. If you’re the kind of dude who read my story about lacquering Devin Townsend’s hair and loved it, then proceed.

So here I was, at home by myself and at that point it had been about a week since I had any ‘relief’, so with a live computer and internet connection I took care of that shit. However….the end result was, shall we say, unpredictable. You know when you catch a nasty chest-cold, and the infection passes and you start coughing up thick chunks of green and brown crap? That, my friends, is exactly what I ejaculated. It was like a Predator had bled into a bowl of flour and chicken eggs, and whisked that to satisfaction.

3_men_missing_after_huge_mudslide_ID_d_1644520000_5262685_ver1.0_640_480[1]

Still alive

I just read an absolutely smashing piece on creating value with your music called “Why Your Music Is Worthless“. With a title like that, you can probably see how it really speaks to me. The dude writes like I wish I did. If you want to get on my good side, tell me that the article reminds you of something I wrote.

Speaking of writing articles, you’ve probably noticed I’ve written fuck-all this year. Even writing this little piece is like pulling teeth. This is for no reason in particular. I seem to have lost the need to turn everything in my life into a narrative, which reduces the urge to lay every thought of mine down into print. If there was any particular reason for this, it probably came down to a few events.

A niece of mine died around this time last year. For the first time ever, I found myself dropping everything and travelling to be with my family and having to think of other people. This is pretty unusual for me. Serious amounts of shit needs to be done when someone passes away, and if the death happens to be traumatic then the job only really starts once the funeral is over. This death was, unfortunately, rather traumatic. And in the midst of all that, whenever I started thinking about writing articles or music, it all just seemed rather indulgent. People close to me were dealing with some heavy stuff, and I was going to do what? Write another article about pushing girls from moving buses, or record a song about getting drunk? Fuck off.

Earlier in the year, I stopped writing for Heavy magazine. Until then it felt like writing actual articles for actual magazines was the logical progression for the effort I was putting in blogging. Heavy was the third publication I’ve written for and I was thinking, heck, journalism could even become a hobby! When that fell apart (and how that happened will be an upcoming article) I just could not be bothered writing anymore.

Then there was the Antichrist Imperium. Let me explain. For the last however many years with the Senseless, I’ve struggled with releasing albums, getting exposure, and trying to get any attention whatsoever from the music industry. I sent out endless submissions to record labels, and barely received a reply. I imagine a lot of that just comes down to the fact that I look like a happy well-fed accountant, and unlike someone like Cloudkicker my job is not interesting enough to create a ‘break through’ narrative. People buy the trappings of personality, whether that is clothes, food, music, or whatever. Want the audience your amazing tunes don’t seem to generate on their own? Shave off half your hair, then get trepanated. Talk about how you write music by ramming your finger in the hole and wiggling it.

I digress. I do my Senseless stuff for a small appreciative band of awesome people and by gum, it will stay that way. Then at the start of this year, I ended up signed to a record label. Not for the Senseless though – for the Antichrist Imperium. When I was in London last year, I caught up with them and did an evening’s vocal recording. This went onto their album which was picked up by Apocalyptic Witchcraft, the new label from the team at Candlelight. Suddenly, boom! Signed. And it seemed that I had casually fallen in with London’s metal ‘It Boys’: Sam Loynes and David Gray. I’d include Matt Wilcock in that, but Australia has claimed him back. After hundreds of hours of banging away at the Senseless, I was suddenly on an album signed to a label, getting great reviews from a rapturous metal media – and I had done about five hours of effort.

It has been a confusing year.

The new Senseless album has been mixed for the last two months. It may still take another two weeks, two months, a year. Who knows? It’s coming. It’ll be here when it’s ready. You can’t rush good pizza. Articles on this blog? There will be more of them, and soon.

The Senseless Update 11/2/15

Anyone following my personal band The Senseless knows I’ve got a new album in the works. It’s called ‘The Buried Life’ and simply put, it’s fucking awesome. But I realise that people who like The Senseless probably need a bit more information than that. If I was making goreslambrutal metal, I could probably just go “IT’S FUCKING BRUTAL” and everyone would erupt in raptures but it ain’t and you won’t, so here’s more detail.

You may be wondering how far along this album is. That’s a fair question, I’ve been known to take up to ten years squeezing these buggers out. I’ve written thirteen tracks, over an hour of music. That’s a fucking LOT of metal right there and it’s not all going to make it on the album. Naturally I think it’s all solid gold so you’ll get to hear any tracks which aren’t on the main release, whether they get released as an EP, on a japanese CD release, or just as bonus downloads further down the track. I’m trying to work out what songs work well enough with each other, and what order they should go in. Track order is a mysterious thing, and some songs that are fucking balltearers can suddenly sound uninspired when put next to the wrong track.

All guitars, solos, and bass have been written. Half the vocals and lyrics have been written. This is just for pre-production demos. Writing and arranging this bullshit takes years, but once it’s done then recording happens pretty quickly. I was aiming for it be recorded next month, but I’ve decided to go to the northern island of Japan and ski on a volcano instead . I’m turning forty as well and will be celebrating for about two months (read: getting smashed enough to forget my age) so that’s put a little bit of a dent into production as well.

In an effort to reduce the time spent doing this thing, I’ll be using programmed drums again. I was planning on using Todd Hansen, who’s more than capable and keen to do it, but the boy is currently touring like a bugger with King Parrot. I don’t want to interrupt his schedule, he is the kind of guy who would somehow try and record drum tracks while on the road internationally with other bands. Although I’ve decided on the producer, that’ll be announced once recording is actually done. I’ve got to leave some surprises!

I don’t plan on any guest appearances, and this one will be all me. This is for a bazillion reasons, mostly just that I want to save time but also so I don’t have record companies launching publishing claims on my material (cough, EARACHE) and I’m also over retard metal media who can’t read press releases or liner notes attributing all my work to the guests! Seriously, after two albums of this shit there are people who still think that I just play bass on The Senseless. Sheesh.

As for the material itself? It’s rather different. There are some long tracks on this, like 5-6 minutes. There’s a few more songs that lack blastbeats, and I don’t think I shoot into the 300+ bpm stratosphere this time. There’s a song that sounds like Bolt Thrower with a bit of jazz. A long grind song that transforms into blissful black metal. One grind song with riffs straight out of 90s Florida, where I try and recreate the Trey/Brunelle ‘noise vs blues’ solo trade-off. A song which starts with a sequence that sounds like something you’d use to advertise rolex watches or expensive cars. Flamenco clapping. Subliminal shit. Although a lot of it is still happy, this album is even more depressed than ever before. There isn’t the overt humour like there was on the two previous releases. There are also about four tracks which are kind of like ‘Magnificent’ off ‘The Floating World‘. Fear not, there’s head-crushing aplenty but also more melody. This is extreme metal written by a dude who’s nearly forty and isn’t trying to write hormone-drenched teenage ball-swingers.

This won’t be the last of the updates. Things are starting the slow roll towards the finish line. Track titles, artwork, all of that stuff is still to come. Keep an eye out on the Senseless facebook page for immediate news. And in case you were wondering – still independent.

Flunkies, and Putting Stickers on AC/DC’s Tourbus

We woke up in a splitter van in a supermarket car-park somewhere in Cleveland. I think it was Cleveland, it could have been any one of those mashed-potato central-east states in the USA. There were six of us in the van. The van was jammed full of us, merchandise boxes of clothes and stickers and Berzerker CDs, our smell, and our rubbish. The drummer was a particularly filthy specimen, as drummers are wont to be. He had taken to draping his sweat-drenched unwashed gig top over a seat he’d marked as ‘his’ in the van. The stench was incredible. It smelled like someone had murdered a pig and then left it in a hot sauna for a month. No-one really wanted his seat, not after he’d let his miasma soak into it.

I hadn’t really been sleeping much in the previous weeks. I had taken to sitting in the front passenger seat. Although we agreed pre-tour to move around all the time, you end up claiming seats as your own after a week or two. I think it comes from living in such close quarters. The borders of privacy get pushed back so far that you start claiming turf and ownership, no matter how small and petty the object of that may be. So the front seat by that point was ‘mine’. I had a good view of the USA as we drove straight past all the lovely bits straight to the ghettos where our gigs invariably were. I could talk to the driver – a huge Puerto-Rican called Tito – which wasn’t necessarily pleasant but was often interesting, and made for a nice change-up from the bitching coming from some of our session musicians. I could hear the stereo clearly, and bands such as At the Drive-In and Deftones were being forever linked up in my mind with travelling the US. I could be alone, or as alone as you can be in a splitter van of six people. But the downside of the front seat was that you couldn’t stretch out and it was almost impossible to fall asleep in it. Somehow that night, I had managed to actually get some sleep. Not much, but enough to keep me going for a another few days.

So we woke up. It was a bright sunny day. The car park was completely empty except for us and an enormous black bus parked only one hundred metres away. We all goggled at it. It was a sky-liner, a touring bus. We saw the words AC/DC on the side of it. Jesus Christ, it was the AC/DC tour-bus. We remembered seeing billboards advertising their show in Cleveland, same day as ours. Then we saw Angus Young’s name down the side, with the words ‘On Tour Now’ and the website address for the ‘Angus Army’. Fuck…the entire bus was just for Angus Young. The bus was so big it looked like it ejaculated splitter vans. To be a touring band and have your own sky-liner is pretty damn luxurious. For each member to have their own personalised sky-liner was beyond ridiculous. The difference between us and them couldn’t have been greater.

 

ape-monolith

“Lads, we’ll be there one day. It might take another 100,000 years though”

 

Yet when we thought about it, there were actually similarities between us. We were the first Australian heavy metal band since AC/DC to do a full tour of the USA. One or two others had popped over for a show or two, but no-one else had actually done a tour tour. To add to the similarities, we had a session guitarist called Mark Evans. Their 1975 album “High Voltage” was released the day before I was born. Shit, we were practically brothers!

The course of action was obvious. We grabbed a handful of t-shirts and hoodies, some CDs, some stickers and headed over to the bus. We had images in our heads of Angus skipping up and down the front of the stage doing his mental-drooling-schoolboy act wearing a Berzerker t-shirt. Our CDs were insanely heavy, our stickers were insanely strong. Seriously, the stickers were industrial strength. Luke and I had put them on road cases and they were impossible to remove. They were possibly the only things still holding my cases together. I had tried removing one from my guitar case once, and it had ripped a hole in the side.

We arrived at the bus and knocked on the door. After a minute, the door opened. The smell of clean fresh vehicle and leather seating flooded out and we were met at the stairwell by a short, fat, bleach-blonde American bus driver. We explained to him that we were an Australian metal band on tour in the US, come to this very bus to pay homage to our forbears, and that we had brought gifts of music and song and stickers and shit, and could he please do us the honour of passing these on to Angus? Furthermore, was Angus home and could we have a chat? We were all Australian after, and we could enjoy ourselves some antipodean repartee and a breakfast beer.

“Fuck off” said the bus driver, and closed the door in our faces.

It took a further minute or so for our enthusiasm to finally deflate. We hadn’t expected to get on that bus. What we had expected was for the bus driver to say a couple words explaining Angus’s unavailability, accept our stuff, and probably chuck it in a bin, or better yet leave it on a table for a few hours before chucking it in a bin. We knew the only way Angus Young would wear our shirt is if he woke up, realised the only clothing he had was his sweat-soaked tour shirt that was beginning to get that dead-pig-tour smell, somehow didn’t have another shirt to hand, and threw on the nearest clean clothing out of desperation. We knew that. But we also knew that if you play enough long shots, one of them might eventually come through. I was a small-town Aussie boy on a tour in the US with my Earache band, after all. Anything can happen.

We wandered around the outside of the bus and ended up at its hindquarters. There was a fetching photo of Angus looking demented on the back of it. We wondered if he was asleep up top. The back of a sky-liner is the obvious place to put the bedroom if you’re kitting it out for one person. We thought about banging on the back window but knew no good would come of it. Then we realised what we were holding.

The course of action was obvious.

I put a sticker down on the bumper bar and pressed it good and proper, no loose edges. That one sticker was going to take someone a lot of time to get off. I put another sticker on the back picture. Then another. And then the other guys grabbed some, and we stickered the shit out of the back of that beautiful custom sky-liner. Getting them off would require hours and hours of elbow grease or a professional service and would likely damage the surfaces they were on. Some might have called it vandalism. We saw it as the gift that kept giving.

 

acdc

I always preferred Slayer anyway, you midget

 

******

Silly bus driver. He just created so much extra work for himself by lacking some basic manners. I’d come across this shit time after time after time in the music industry. You get flunkies who have bigger attitudes than the bands that they’re working for. Angus Young, by all accounts, is an absolutely lovely guy. Almost every band I’ve come across are decent dudes who are more often than not lovely and polite. But on occasion the drivers, roadies, tour managers, and support staff can be such dicks. It’s almost like they absorb any residual ego which would normally attach itself to an artist. And every time one of these guys acts like a shit to someone, they tarnish the reputation of who they work for. Given the choice, I prefer the pleasure of tarnishing my own reputation myself.

I remember being on the way to a European festival in a van with some of the guys from Mithras and Pain and one of the guitar techs for Opeth. We had all been picked up from the airport. The tech’s self-regard was so enormous, there was barely room for the rest of us in the van. I think it was one of the Mithras guys who later showed me a clip on YouTube. It was Opeth live onstage somewhere. They were mid-song, and Mikael’s guitar had cut out. In the middle of it was the very same guitar tech, running around trying to get it all working again. It took minutes and minutes for him to get it going, while the band tried to jam and banter and do anything to fill in the silence. It was excruciating.

We laughed and laughed and laughed.

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Calling Carcass the ‘C’ word

I checked my mobile phone and I had a voicemail message from Nick Lord, editor of HEAVY Music Magazine. I dialed it up and listened to the message.

Nick sounded breathless and troubled.
“OK I asked it. It wasn’t good. It sooo wasn’t good. Oh dude. I can’t believe I asked it. Give me a call.”

 Let me back up and explain.

 I’ve been friends with Nick for years. Interestingly enough, we met through a bunch of house-music friends despite us both being metalheads. I developed skills in playing really fast music, screaming, mainframe support, fine dining, and writing. Nick developed skills in djent guitar, running magazines, chess, and speaking Russian and Spanish. I ended up returning to Australia to a job that affords me ridiculous amounts of spare time. Nick is editor of Australia’s premier – and only – heavy music magazine, HEAVY.

Nick contacted me one day, wanting to know if I could write an article on short notice. The topic was ‘Bass playing in black metal’. I was like sure but what happened to your usual columnist? The guy, ex-Superheist bassist Drew Dedman, had not only failed to submit a column by deadline but hadn’t responded to calls, emails, or texts for a few weeks. So I pumped out the article overnight and it went to print four weeks later. When it hit the newsstands, Drew finally responded to all the attempts to contact him with a message to the publisher, asking if he’d been fired*.

Nick asked me if I wanted to take over the bass column, and I said yes. I found the fact that I was writing authoritative print columns on bass-playing hilarious as I hadn’t touched mine in a few years. Occasionally, I’d wake in a cold sweat, afraid that someone like Alarum’s Mark Palfreyman was reading some of my dribble, but I did a few more columns over the next months and all was well.

One night I was again contacted by Nick who asked another favor: there was a Carcass interview coming up and the journalist he’d organized to do it had bailed out on him with a few days to spare. Nick was going to do the interview himself at super short notice and, knowing I’m a longtime Carcass fan, asked if I had any interesting questions.

“Who are you interviewing?” I asked.
“Jeff Walker.”

 

carcass

Pictured: Carcass. Jeff is second from the left.

 

I’m a huge fan of bands from the late 80s/early 90s death metal scene and know almost every single thing there is to know about them, especially the old Earache ones. I have enormous respect for all those bands. For those who don’t know them, Carcass were making a comeback after being defunct for many years. They’d just released a kickass album and were now playing every big festival around the globe. Even more heartwarmingly, they took along their previous drummer Ken who could no longer play drums due to a stroke he had a few years back. ‘Necroticism’ was one of my all-time favourite albums, and Ken wrote a few songs on there.

I needed to explain all that, because the questions I fed Nick went all the way from ‘hot’ to ‘extra crispy’. I was drunk when I wrote them, and the few times I’ve been around Jeff before, he was a bastard. Charmingly so, but nevertheless.

Here are the questions I presented with no omissions:

***

1: Why are you such a cunt?

2: Is it true that Jeff spent his non-Carcass years working in the passport office? Or was it the post office?

3: Which one does he hate worse: Columbia Records, or Earache Records? (their previous labels)

4: He recently went on record as saying that bassists are failed guitarists. In which case, what are failed bassists? (needless to say, Jeff is a bassist)

5: ‘Surgical Steel’ came out and blew everyone away. Is it too early to ask about a new album?

6: Does Bill Steer really like playing death metal still? Or does he just have an uncanny talent for writing good tunes, and his heart still rests with Firebird and wah pedals and the harmonica, and does Carcass for shits and giggles?

7: Tempted to do a ‘doom’ album with Ken on drums? As that’s the only speed he can play after the stroke?

8: What does he prefer now – tours and fest slots with big paydays, or the early days when he had dreadlocks and was neck-deep in the burgeoning grind movement?

9: Who were his most hated labelmates, back when he was on Earache?

10: When are you going to apologise to Sam Bean from Berzerker about releasing ‘Swansong’? I mean, fucking really

11: Ken composed some top shit, like ‘Symposium of Sickness’ on Necroticism. Seeing as though Jason Becker can compose symphonies using only a straw in his mouth, is Ken going to return to the composition process at all?

12: Ken, Ken, Ken, Ken, Ken?

13: Was this comeback ever meant to be this comprehensive – new album and world touring? Or was it just going to be a few festivals? Why’d they change their minds?

14: When you were at the peak of your career and Britpop was possessing every human soul on the British Isles, did you ever stare at yourself in the mirror in the dead of night and go “who….am….I”

15: When are you going to admit that the real reason Colin Richardson finished work on ‘Surgical Steel’ early was because you’re insufferable pricks and he couldn’t bear to work with you any more?

16: Which would prefer to set on fire: Dig Pearson, or Nottingham Rock City?

17: Why no more Michael Amott? Really, like the real reason, not that “he’s too busy with Arch Enemy” nonsense you keep trotting out

18: Ever tempted to get drunk and go back into the studio and belt out a new album with the sound and skill and performance of ‘Reek of Putrefaction’? It’d be ace, you could be super hammered and wouldn’t even have to rehearse. You wouldn’t even need a producer

19: The facebook announcements from the Carcass page are sarcy as fuck. It’s you writing that stuff, isn’t it Jeff ?

20: If you received a penny from every track that has been released by every metal band ever that has either ripped off your music or lyrical approach, what would you do with the tsunami of bling?

***

And we laughed and laughed and laughed.

Of course a lot of those questions weren’t serious, I explained. Use your discretion. But Jeff is a cunt, and he totally knows it. Everyone knows it. If you ask him that question, every musician and record label he’s every worked will probably be queuing to high-five you the next day. Totes. Digby Pearson will probably buy you a box of chocolates to thank you for being the one to finally say it. But they’ll be cut-price chocolates cause Dig’s a cunt too**.

It was all a good laugh, the kind you have with a mate and you both get in touch with your immature side and milk it for all it’s worth. I left it there and kind of forgot about it until I received the voicemail message from Nick.

I called him straight back.

“You did WHAT?!”

God I wish I could paraphrase what Nick said. I nearly had a prolapse I was laughing so hard.

The gist of it was that Jeff was on the interview circuit for Australia and they were all phoners (phone interviews). Nick was first up, and the call was at some ungodly hour. There was a bit of fluff chat between them before they got going, where Jeff was having a genial whinge about how hard it was for everyone to do these interviews at this time of day, and how it’d be OK if the interviewers didn’t all ask the same questions over and over again. I mean, Jeff had said, it’s as if no one’s even heard of Google.

The seed I had planted in Nick’s mind caught the sunlight and pushed out of the soil.

Nick explained to me that he felt Jeff was throwing down the gauntlet, and that if he didn’t rise to the occasion then he’d get just another interview filled with the usual press-release scraps. It was only when the question was halfway out his mouth, that he realized how badly it was going to go. But it was too late to turn back:

“Well, there are plenty of questions I could ask that I’m pretty sure haven’t been asked before” he said, pausing, “like ‘Why are you such a cunt?’”

When Nick told me that, I was so overwhelmed by joy and wonder that my facial expression was the same as the 6 year-old girl meeting the unicorn in this picture:

 

 

unicorn

 

“And then there was silence,” Nick said. “Just SI-LENCE.”

I can’t even begin to fathom what must have been going through Jeff Walker’s head at that moment. Here he was, on the phone at ridiculous o’clock, being called a ‘cunt’ straight off the bat by an Australian from the same bastard convict country that stole his band’s backdrop the last time they were out here.

I know what was going through Nick’s head though, because he told me: “He said nothing. NOTHING. And I was shitting myself like, oh no, I’ve lost the interview. He’s going to hang up any second, and I’ve got no idea what I’m going to run… and it’s a goddamn cover story and we print in three days! Fuuuuuuuuck.”

But Jeff didn’t hang up. To his credit, he came back with something like, “Well, you could ask that and you might think you’re trying to be funny but maybe you wouldn’t be as funny as you think you’re being, now would you?”

From there, Jeff actually opened right up and Nick managed to retrieve an absolute killer interview. Jeff was right, of course – most interviews in metal are conducted by halfwits and student writers who don’t do any research, are disastrously under-qualified to handle the interview and appear entirely unaware of how the internet might help them to write better interviews. They ask bands the same boring questions over and over without even realizing that it’s the exact same material that appeared in Terrorizer last month, Kerrang the week before that and some Spanish blog the week before that – all of which they’d know if they’d just googled ‘Carcass interview’.

Despite Nick’s obvious chutzpah, I’d like to think I had some part in bringing this interview to life. With that almighty opening question, Jeff was allowed to give his famously-sarcastic wit full reign and although he was justifiably sharp in places, the interview was exceptionally candid. Nick managed to goad Jeff into giving figures, money figures, for how much their label was investing in their latest album and how much they’d made from their latest record so far. Jeff had swatted at the topic laconically with, “My mother told me it’s rude to talk about money” before opening up and declaring that the band had made around $250,000 so far from the Surgical Steel release and the related tour. Amazing. BANDS NEVER EVER GIVE THOSE FIGURES.

Nick didn’t get everything I wanted out of Jeff, who didn’t apologize for ‘Swansong’, for example, but I didn’t care. I was stunned at the information Nick did manage to get. The resulting article was a triumph. Not only did Jeff not terminate the call after that tricky start but he also spoke for an extra ten minutes over the allowed timeframe.

 

But that’s not all.

 

Remember how I said earlier that Nick wasn’t supposed to be doing the interview and how he’d been dumped in the shit at the last minute because the writer he wanted had backed out on him? Well, it turns out that Nick found out that the journo in question interviewed Carcass anyway… for a rival publication. This came out when Nick saw the interview schedules for Carcass – “Nick from Heavy” was listed first and the journo who’d pulled out because of blah-blah-blah was on straight after him… writing for someone else.

After the interviews, Nick emailed the journo to slam him… only to discover someone had beaten him to it. The writer didn’t care that he’d been busted pulling out to do the interview for another mag but he did care that his interview with Jeff went so badly that he didn’t actually have a story. Apparently he’d opened with a question about whether their old guitarist Michael Amott might work with them again in the future and Jeff had exploded: “HE’S NOT IN THE BAND! HE WASN’T ON THE ALBUM! WE’RE NOT PLAYING WITH HIM! HE’S NOT COMING BACK!!! EVER!!!!”

Then Jeff slammed the phone down. 

***

*Here’s the full Drew Dedman deadline deal. I can’t help laughing every time I read it. It’s a transcript of the editor frantically trying to get this dude to submit his piece. This is what it’s like trying to get anything done with the metalheads in this country, in a nutshell:

Jan 2 – briefed in writing (email) after a personal phone call to every columnist to get them to OK the brief and deadline. They all said OK, no problem.

Jan 9 (to all columnists) – “Columns must be in by tomorrow morning”

Jan 14 – “Drew, I really need that Strings and Skins piece. It’s well overdue, mate. How’s it going? Nick “

Jan 16 – “Drew, your article is now one full week overdue. I’ve sent texts and emails and have called you but all to no avail. Can you please tell me when we’re going to receive it? This is now an urgent matter. Nick “

Jan 21 – Still no response. Email to Publisher – “I’ve found a replacement for Drew Dedman, who is still avoiding all contact. I’d like to switch over immediately. Are you cool with this?”

Publisher: “Go for gold”

Feb 10 – still no contact. Drew Dedman removed from the Facebook magazine contributor group.

With the magazine on the stands for four weeks, Drew finally got in touch with the publisher and asked why he’d been removed from the Heavy contributors group on Facebook. It was the first time he’d contacted the mag since he’d been replaced and it was two months past his original deadline to the day.

 

** Just kidding. Both Jeff and Dig are lovely people. The full interview with Jeff appears in HEAVY magazine issue 10.

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