Monday, November 30, 2009

Barbara Walters, I'm Not

I've never had any ambition for fame—power and money, yes—but I'd happily take those two if it meant never having to be recognized in sweatpants at CVS in the middle of the night. Perhaps this is the reason I've been so hesitant to capitalize my journalistic skills on camera, as opposed to the happy anonymity I enjoy with a simple byline.

Still, when a special band like Municipal Waste comes along, you just have to make an exception. So this past summer, I took a ride out to the Earache office in Queens so I could conduct a rare video interview for HIGH TIMES.

I'm fairly certain Barbara Walters never read her interview questions off an iPhone. Either way, enjoy!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ratt Attack On "That Metal Show"

The first time I ever heard Ratt’s “Round and Round,” I was 9 years old and spending my summer vacation in a TV-free dacha in upstate New York with my grandmother. It was the summer of '84, and the local Top 40 radio station supplied my only entertainment. I went on to discover a ton of amazing singles that year: Prince's "Let Go Crazy," Depeche Mode's "People are People," and, of course, "Round and Round." After hearing the latter, though, nothing would ever be the same again. Something about Warren DeMartini’s wailing guitar affected me in a way I didn't understand yet. It was a pleasing noise that complemented Stephen Pearcy's acrid vocals and mesmerized my still-developing psyche.

In many ways, hearing "Round and Round" set me on my heavy metal path, doomed forever to chase the feedback/power chord dragon. It was perhaps the salient moment that affirmed my interest in music—at least that's how I tried to explain it to DeMartini after watching him and Pearcy film this past Saturday's episode of VH1 Classic's That Metal Show. I say tried, because what really came out of my mouth was probably far less eloquent. But standing before my childhood idol, words failed me.

Seeing the founders of Ratt on That Metal Show was the latest event to renew my interest in the '80s LA glam metal phenoms. This past July, I FINALLY got to see them play live—and perform Out of the Cellar in its entirety—as if they never skipped a beat. After more than 10 years spent as adversaries, Pearcy had only recently rejoined the remaining band members to tour, sign with Roadrunner and begin working on new material.

Then came the advent of Ratturday. True, the weekend tradition's origin might be a bit dubious, but surely even the Blotz would approve of disciples blasting Ratt's greatest hits every Saturday afternoon in his honor. Think of Ratturday as the cock rock equivalent of Peter Griffin's Church of the Fonz and come up with your own sacraments. Go with G-d and lay it down.

Finally, there was my meet & greet moment with the toxic twins after the That Metal Show taping. Forgetting that there was an eager queue of folks behind me waiting to give their regards, I sandwiched myself between DeMartini and Pearcy demanding a photo-op, then opened up a flurry of verbal run-off the guys were surely not expecting. While the guitarist listened patiently as I tried to unsuccessfully express my reverence, the tattered frontman acted his usual aloof rock star self, the elder statesman of thigh bruisers—and an object of my lust even at the age of 50.

Everything went so much better than I'd imagined. Guess it goes to show that you're never too old—or too jaded—to get starstruck. With love we'll find a way, just give it time. And "Way Cool Jr." still kind of sucks. Amen.

Here's a sampler of their appearance on That Metal Show.

To see more Ratt on That Metal Show, click here.

That Metal Show, starring Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine, airs every Ratturday at 11pm EST on Vh1 Classic. Special thanks to Nyle Washington.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Creative Eclipses

What a week I've had: five shows in six days, a third-round job interview (wish me luck, this gig would rule), produced a shoot for the mighty Red Fang with the lovely Justina V., and my cat fell in love with a Juggalo. Oh, and I booked an early December trip to Texas!

More details to come, but in the meantime, here are a few iPhone pics from the marathon week.

Metallica @ MSG

Red Fang @ Santo's Party House

Jesus Lizard @ Irving Plaza

Cave In @ Knitting Factory

Earthless' Mario @ Bowery Ballroom

Baroness @ Bowery Ballroom

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Five Band Dudes I'd Totally Make Out With

Revolver Magazine’s annual Hottest Chicks In Metal issue never fails to rile up my fellow vagina-Americans. Whether it's something fun and reactionary like Reign In Blonde's Bracket competition, or Grim Kim's quest to shine a light on the most esoteric black/doom/gore metal bands to include females in their line-ups, it's nice to know that my metal sisters are taking it all in stride and turning things around on the boys. So naturally, I decided to join in on the fun.

For my own foray into exploitation, I've created a short list of band guys I'd like to get to first base with—plus my inner 15-year-old self's daydream setting for the event. I'm fully aware that my taste in dudes comes off as a study in contradictions, but there's one clear deal breaker: I fucking hate beards. If I wanted to exfoliate my face, I'd do it with a fine Kiehl's product. That tangent aside, I proudly present:


The Sword's Kyle Shutt
Kyle has a really sweet, aw-shucks quality about him that I can't get enough of. It's almost as if the baby-faced Texas boy didn't realize how adorable he was growing up, but once those glasses came off (so dorky-cute, btw!) and he strapped on a guitar, the swagger just started flowing. Holler at me, blondie.
Fantasy Makeout Scenario: Over Shiners, tubing down the Comal River.

Earthless' Mario Rubalcaba
In addition to being a mesmerizing drummer who's played with a succession of eclectic bands like Hot Snakes and Rocket From The Crypt, Mario gives off a laid-back Cali vibe that really gets me going. His ex-pro skateboarder status adds 10 sexy points for the scars alone.
Fantasy Makeout Scenario: On the sand, Venice Beach, 3 am.

H.I.M.'s Ville Valo
This hot Finnish tart is the world’s only true living rock star and this generation's sexiest frontman. Not only does Ville exude star quality effortlessly, he also somehow gets sexier the more dirty and unkept he becomes. The sooner we share our lovemetalheartagramblack kiss, the better.
Fantasy Makeout Scenario: Sitting on Ville's lap, oversized couch, W Los Angeles.

Madball's Freddy Cricien
I've always been a sucker for Latino dudes, and Freddy just fulfills my burly hardcore stud quota with that barrel chest and gruff voice. Plus those giant hands would be so good for holding, feeling, spanking. Yum.
Fantasy Makeout Scenario: Sitting on stoop, Avenue C, springtime.

Goatwhore's Ben Falgoust
First brought to my attention through Revolvher’s Hottest Men In Metal list, Falgoust has quickly become the George Clooney of the extreme metal set. Maybe it’s all that glorious hair or those warrior-inspired armbands, but Ben's smoldering sexuality definitely comes from a gallant place. Thank you, Rebecca.
Fantasy Makeout Scenario: By a bonfire, New Orleans suburbs.

Photo Credits - Shutt: Jay West Photography; Cricien: Helena Kusters; Falgoust: Angela Boatwright.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oldsmar Flea Market: White Trash Paradise

As a young émigré who moved to the United States from the former Soviet Union during Reagan's first term, rest assured that I caught shit for just about every ethnic stereotype the Rocky trilogy and that prick Yakov Smirnoff threw at you lazy Americans. I'll never forget what my classmate Nick Vourlias wrote in my elementary school scrapbook: "When I write this, don't go running to your mommy: you big fat-headed commie." Jerk.

Because of such formative events, I soon began longing to assimilate and subsequently developed a deep fascination with true Americana, especially anything Southeastern—particularly our nation's third craziest state, Texas—in all of its deep-fried, subtly racist, War of Northern Aggression-acknowledging glory.

So when I got to central Florida (the west coast, yo) for a mini vacation this past weekend, I knew I wanted to get in on some cheap redneck thrills. And at the suggestion of my gracious hosts, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, I was promptly sent to the Oldsmar Flea Market to peruse my way through a mix of artifacts, antique treasures and fashions that seemed to universally date back to the early '90s.

The semi-outdoor market was easily the length of a football field and its many friendly, leathery vendors hawked an incredible variety of wares, from 25-lb. bags of peanuts to Coby cassette Walkmen, hats worn by Marilyn Monroe and live birds; porn sold by a geriatric redhead and what seemed like thousands of used VHS cassettes. It was like finding white trash nirvana strolling down those long aisles, all the while taking an anthropological survey of this sleepy town's interests and hobbies: shooting things, kayaking, golfing, reclining in spa tubs and handcrafted Adirondack chairs.

Below are some of the finds I came across at Oldsmar, make of them what you will. As for my purchases, I walked away with a backup Gonzo* Pez dispenser, the rare and elusive Wheelchair Guy Homie figurine and a $2.50 copy of The Fountainhead.

What a country!

Angel Toilet Paper Dispenser
Angel Toilet Paper Dispenser


Anti-Northern Sentiment Sticker
Happiness Is...

Festive & Unique Visors

Confederate Stickers
Wow. Just Wow.

Ed Hardy Coozys
Ed Hardy Coozys

Equine Salt & Pepper Shakers
Horse Shakers

More photos can be found here.

*Gonzo was so misunderstood.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Heavy Name, Wussy Band

For a while now, I've been convinced that every good band name has already been taken—how else can one account for all the dumbass poly-lexeme monikers going around these days? I'm looking at you, All Shall Perish, All That Remains, and As I Lay Dying (even if I refuse to tell y'all apart).

What makes matters even worse is that some of the last few tough, metal-sounding names have apparently been taken by undeserving hipsters, scenesters and goddamn Canadians. Need examples? Check out this array of loathsome offenders.

Exhibit A: Warpaint
When I think of warpaint, my mind evokes images of sweaty battlers, somewhere between Braveheart and Joey DeMaio's loincloth, bellowing a wretched cacophony that makes Skeletonwitch sound like Brokencyde. Instead, LA's Warpaint is comprised of three little girls singing breathy, shoegazer indie rock. Which begs the question: why would they even want that name?
Name: B+
Band: C

Exhibit B: Band of Skulls
Full disclosure—I actually dug their record (and not because NME told me to), but the fact remains that these Brits have more in common with the Verve than they do with the Wino-led side project this name was meant for. At least they actually wear skulls.
Name: C+
Band: B-

Exhibit C: Valley of the Shadow of Death
Surely I thought these Canadians were in league with Satan, but instead VotSoD aren't even hard enough to serve as muzak in hell's waiting room—they make friggin' Sigur Ros seem fast paced. To make things even worse, they refer to themselves as "electroacoustic." Hang on, my eyes are still rolling... yes, ELECTROACOUSTIC. I guess poutine really is an elixer for oxymoronic categorization.
Name: B-
Band: D+

At this very moment, there are surely dozens of unattractive baby bands jamming in their basements, desperately seeking ways to add the suffix "-ition" to a thesaurus full of surgical terms; this plea is for them. I propose a band-name exchange program that finally allows fans to judge emerging artists in the way they were meant to—by superficialities and really obnoxious, allover-print merch.