Cannibal Corpse

Concert Review: Cannibal Corpse
(San Francisco, CA, Slim’s, 05-05-10)

Arash Moussavian w/ Pat O’Brien

On Wednesday, May 5, 2010 Cannibal Corpse (“CC”) played Slim’s nightclub in San Francisco. CC played a 19 song, 84 minute, sold out set from 10:20 to 11:44.

1. Scalding Hail (Evisceration Plague, 2009) is a frenetic song less than two minutes in length off CC’s latest record. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher’s (“GF’s”) vocals kicked in less than five seconds, “Flying chunks of hot debris rushing through the air. Vapors causing blisters eyes blinded by the glare. Clouds that shower death hell falling from the sky. Searing rain of molten rock, flesh begins to fry.” GF sang the first three verses in quick succession with Pat O’Brien (“PO”) and Rob Barrett’s (“RB’s”) guitar riffs of less than five seconds separating each verse. After the third verse GF screamed, “Scalding hail!” GF paused three seconds between the two words, screaming the second with more conviction than the first. GF wore an Evocation (Swedish death metal band) black T-shirt, black cargo cotton slacks, and black combat boots. After the first chorus, from approximately the 0:50 to 1:05 marks (approximations presumed throughout), PO, RB, and Alex Webster (“AW”) played frenetic riffs. After the second chorus PO, RB, AW, and Paul Mazurkiewicz (“PM”) played their instruments, sounding like a possessed hornet’s nest.

George Corpsegrinder Fisher 2. Unleashing the Bloodthirsty (Bloodthirst, 1999) is a fairly slow tempo song with an ominous brooding feel. PO, RB, and PM’s verse riffs gave the song a chugging, groovy feel. The tempo slightly slowed down when GF twice repeated the chorus, “Blood. They live, they thirst. Blood.” GF emphasized the first and last words by screaming, “Blooooooood.” The tempo significantly increased when GF sang the third verse, “First one that they find. Attack the mortal. Claws tear at his face. Pull the flesh from bone. Decapitate the man. They hold his head aloft. Headless body slumps. The blood is gushing out. Screaming victims fall. Repulsive beasts attack. Gore pours from the torso. Hellish creatures stab. Organs, grisly trophies. Rewards for their rage. Blood drips from their jaws. They disembowel the corpse.” The third chorus differed from the first two because GF sang, “Kill with speed. Victims bleed. Wretched souls. Headless on poles. (five second pause) Savage thirst. Vessels burst. Torn apart. Eat the heart.” Following the third verse RB and PO traded guitar solos for 15 seconds. PO, RB, AW, and PM then jammed for 10 seconds, leading back to the first two choruses that featured a fairly slow tempo.

3. Murder Worship (Kill, 2006) began amidst a sea of PM’s bass drums while PO and RB twice played a catchy four-chord progression. At the 0:20 mark GF began singing the first verse. The verses featured PM smashing his snare drums a la Dave Lombardo (Slayer drummer) and PO and RB playing a driving series of up-tempo riffs. During the break between the first and second verses PO and RB twice played the catchy four-chord progression. After the first chorus GF sang, “Pray to our god. With blood we praise his epic acts of hate and homicidal glory, legendary murders. Trust in our lord. Leads us to kill in the same way that he did, sever all the heads in sacrificial splendor. He is close now. Soon he will be among us leading, violence, ruin, divinity, homicideeeeeeee!” Before GF sang the third verse, from the 2:30 to 3:10 marks, PO, RB, and AW alternated between chugging and complicated riffs.

Pat O’Brien 4. Sentenced to Burn (Gallery of Suicide, 1998) is an up tempo song that featured PO, RB, and AW’s chugging riffs. From the 0:15 to 1:05 marks GF sang the 40 lines of the first verse in rapid succession and emphasized the final word of the last verse, “They will all dieeeeeeee.” After the first chorus PO played a five second guitar run. When GF sang the second chorus he screamed the final word, “Pile the bodies. Set them aflame. The human race. Sentenced to burrrrrrrrn.” From the 2:05 to 2:15 marks PO and RB played riffs with harmonies, which was followed by PO’s 15 second guitar solo. PO wore a black T-shirt with an unidentifiable band’s name, black cargo cotton slacks, and black combat boots. PO played a black B.C. Rich Custom V guitar and used Mesa Boogie amplifiers (“amps”).

5. Savage Butchery (Gore Obsessed, 2002) is a frenetic song less than two minutes in length. During the first verse GF sang, “Striking out with rage I pound him, stomp him. Co*k sucking bastard don’t feel mercy for him. With bare hands I break his legs, break his neck. Now my jagged blade will bring him to his death. Savage killer merciless machine. Butchering victims and watching them bleed. Savage killer chopping off limbs. Butchering for revenge, heartless assassin. Now the cutting starts I stab him, slash him. Less than a minute he became a victim. Now I will sever his legs, his neck. Hatred enemy his body I dissect. Savage.” The tempo slowed during the chorus as GF sang, “Savage … butchery. Ravage … ruthlessly.” GF emphasized and spaced out each word. PO then played a 15 second guitar solo after which GF brought the song to a climax by screaming, “Savage butchery. Savage.”

Cannibal Corpse

6. The Cryptic Stench (Tomb of the Mutilated, 1992). Before The Cryptic Stench GF said, “We’re gonna do some old stuff now. Are you ready for some old stuff? The Cryptic Stench!” The Cryptic Stench is a mid tempo song that, for the first 55 seconds, featured the band headbanging in unison amidst a sea of blue lights, as well as the musical talents of PO, RB, AW, and PM, particularly PM who bashed the life out of his tom-tom drums. After the first verse GF sang an interesting catchy line, “Indulgence in the blood, intoxicated from its drug. It warms my cold soul.” GF sang each verse in a lower than usual octave with little pause between verses. However, GF did make a five second pause after the third verse during which PO and RB’s memorable riffs were highlighted. After the fourth verse the band slowed the tempo for 20 seconds before the mid tempo pace resumed and GF sang my favorite verse, “In my clutch, you greet me with open arms. Soon I will rip them off. And drink the blood from the stumps. Life and death are too clear. But mankind is blind to see. The twisted path of their own mortality.”

George Corpsegrinder Fisher 7. Pounded Into Dust (Bloodthirst, 1999). Before Pounded Into Dust GF said, “Well I know everybody out there has someone in their lives whose head you want to bash in. But you shouldn’t do that because it will get you into jail. Instead take your aggression out in the pit.” Pounded Into Dust is a fairly fast tempo two minute song. GF sang the first two verses in fairly rapid fashion as if comprised of run on sentences, “Forces of hate meet. Gather for the siege. Encircling their foe. The raid begins. Their revenge is sought. Through violence, smashing, killing, stabbing, pounding. Iron weapons clash. Evil warriors strike. Hammers cracking skulls. Axes chopping heads. Their revenge is now. Through violence, smashing, killing, stabbing, pounding.” GF then sang the first chorus during which he emphasized the final word and drew it out with much audience participation, “Blood soaks the ground. In their own, they will drown. Surrounded by disgust. Pounded into duuuuuuuust.” After the third verse PO played a five second solo. GF then sang the third and final chorus.

8. The Wretched Spawn (The Wretched Spawn, 2004). Before The Wretched Spawn AW raised the devil horns to salute the crowd while GF said, “It’s time to slow things down. The Wretched Spawn.” The first 25 seconds of The Wretched Spawn features PO, RB, and AW playing complicated riffs. AW was particularly prominent in the mix. AW is an exceedingly underrated bass player who plucks the bass strings a la Steve Harris (Iron Maiden bassist), often doing so with all four fingers of his right hand. AW wore a Eulogy (death metal band from Tampa, Florida) black T-shirt, black jean pants, black sneakers, and black wristbands on both wrists. AW played a black Modulus Quantum 5 five string bass and used SWR Megoliath amps. GF sang the first verse at a fairly slow tempo, “Conceived through rape. Procreate. A vicious brood. Ravaging intercourse. Penetrate with force. Forsaken, nude.” The chorus featured an interesting catchy exchange between GF’s vocal deliveries quickly followed by PO and RB playing the same melody sung by GF as palm muted, harmonic riffs. The chorus has an interesting twist in that after GF sang the second chorus he went straight into the third chorus with slightly varying lyrics, “Spawn of the wretched, bred from the damned. Gone are the instincts normal for man. Spawn of the wanton loins of the cruel. Spawned by brute force, used as a tool. The wretched spawn, violence will rule.”

Alex Webster From the 2:15 to 2:30 marks PO, RB, AW, and PM engaged in a frenetic jam immediately followed by GF screaming, “Scion of the murders. A bloodline so profane. Born insane. Predestined to annihilate. Through sinister eugenics. Sworn to kill, they will.” As GF sang the final line the tempo drastically decreased. The tempo gradually increased as GF screamed, “It was made to kill!” GF then played air drums in unison with PM’s bass drums and engaged in his signature headbanging, firmly grasping his microphone with his right hand, resting his left hand on his thigh, and rapidly rotating his head bent forward in sweeping clockwise fashion. All that was visible of GF’s head was a long mane of auburn hair swirling around like a whirling dervish. AW joined GF in rotating his head while masterfully performing three-finger string plucking. PO and RB traded guitar solos for 15 seconds. The Wretched Spawn led straight into Gutted.

9. Gutted (Butchered at Birth, 1991) begins with PO and RB’s chugging riffs. At the 0:20 mark GF began singing the first verse in a particularly low octave and fast pace without much pause between verse lines. Following the first and second verses PO, RB, and AW played ominous, mid tempo riffs for 10 seconds reminiscent of early Slayer. The mid tempo continued part way through the second verse, until the 1:15 mark, at which point the tempo escalated. Between the second and third verses PO, RB, and AW played a dizzying array of riffs while PM frenetically bashed the life out of his bass drums. Gutted and two other songs to be performed received the strongest audience reaction.

Alex Webster 10. Evisceration Plague (Evisceration Plague, 2009). Before Evisceration Plague the audience began a well deserved homage during which they repeatedly chanted, “George.” GF responded by saying, “Thank you. That is awesome. We have a new album. It has been out for a while. You should have it or I will find you and kill you. Some of you sick mother f**kers will like that.” Evisceration Plague is a mid tempo song. For the first 35 seconds PO and RB played a chugging, brooding riff amidst green stage lights. Between each verse PO played a searing 10 second guitar run atop RB’s ominous riffs. During the catchy chorus GF sang, “Beg for your life, you won’t escape the knife. Your fate was sealed today. Disease will spread, you pray for death. Evisceration plague.” PM’s bass drums and the audience’s repeated chant of “Hoy!” augmented the chorus. At the end of the third verse, while PB frantically struck his bass drums, GF sang, “My entrails are in my hands (sung two times). Plague leads to death (sung four times).” PO then played a 25 second guitar solo. The signature aspect of Evisceration Plague is how its melody featured by GF’s singing, PO and RB’s riffs, and PB’s drumming all presented a united front creating an evil wall of sound that compelled the audience to bang their heads.

11. Disfigured (Vile, 1996). The band briefly paused after Evisceration Plague during which GF simply growled, “Disfigured.” Disfigured is a mid tempo song highlighting PB’s drumming skills, particularly his heavy handed beating of (1) cymbals during the verses and (2) bass and tom tom drums during the choruses. PM wore a black T-shirt and shorts. PM played a red Tama drum kit featuring subtle black speckles, double bass drums, and Zildjian cymbals. PM’s kit features an interesting set up with his drum stool positioned very low to the ground. [The stool height and lack of a drum riser gave an odd appearance to the kit, making it almost appear as if PM was hiding behind it or driving a lowrider (i.e., car with a suspension system modified with hydraulic suspension to ride as low as possible to the ground).]

Paul Mazurkiewicz

The third verse contains particularly enticing lyrics, “A straight razor will reshape my face. First my ears then my nose. Blood is gushing continue to carve. Erase the face I hate.” From the 1:40 to 2:10 marks the tempo escalated as PB frantically hit his snare drums and GF sang, “I fill my tub, with alcohol. I plunge into the burning pool. The pain intense, my whole body … is drenched in scalding liquid. Despite my pain I am able … to grab a lighter on the counter. The flint ignites, the flames erupt. I’m consumed in the inferno. Cauterize … my skin is charred. Regenerate … more loathsome than before.” The tempo slightly slowed down as GF sang the fifth and sixth verses. Disfigured does not feature a guitar solo. However, from the 3:00 to 3:50 marks, PO, RB, AW, and PM jammed at a mid tempo pace. At the end of the song PO and RB played a lingering note accentuated by use of their guitar tremolo bars amidst a wall of feedback. [The searing feedback was loud enough to Disfigure the faces of those in close proximity to the amps.]

12. Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains (Eaten Back to Life, 1990). Before Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains an inebriated fan shouted, “Hey George I am thirsty.” With little pause GF matter of factly responded, “Go buy a drink. I am not a soda machine, nor a cooler.” (fans shouted to show their enthusiasm for the band) “I am trying to talk. Shut the f**k up. This is off the first album. In fact this is the first song the band played live. Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains.” The first 35 seconds featured PO, RB, and AW’s descending, slow tempo chord progressions into the depths of hell augmented by PM’s drum beats and use of red stage lights. At the 0:35 mark the song shifted to an up tempo mode with the introduction of PM’s drum beats. GF rapidly sang the first verse and chorus without much pause in between. [GF sang with great clarity even when he sang the lyrics at a rapid pace as if he was spitting out toxic kerosene.] From the 1:00 to 1:10 marks PO, RB, AW, and PM jammed on their instruments at a frenetic pace and then slowed the pace for the next 10 seconds during which PO and RB played harmonic riffs reminiscent of early Slayer that carried over into the second verse. At the 1:40 mark PM’s drumbeats shifted the song to a very up-tempo mode. GF also rapidly sang the third verse and chorus without much pause in between. The chorus lyrics are particularly interesting, “Hack, slice, chop, carve, rip and tear. Carving up your eyeballs, watch them sit and stare. Tear, rip, slice, carve, chop, hack. Toss them into a sack.” Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains, Gutted, and a third song to be performed received the strongest audience reaction.

Rob Barrett 13. Make Them Suffer (Kill, 2006). Before Make Them Suffer the white stage lights shined on the crowd and GF said, “I want to see a really big pit for this song. If you see someone out there playing with their di*ks or playing with their girlfriend’s ti*s, tell them to do that on their own time. This is OUR time. Throw them in the pit and Make Them Suffer!” Make Them Suffer is a very frenetic song that, at the 0:10 mark, featured GF scream, “Suffeeeeeeeer!” Between the second and third verses PO and RB played a dizzying array of complicated riffs augmented by PM’s driving bass and tom tom drums. [RB moved his left hand so quickly across the fretboard it resembled a hummingbird’s wings in mid flight.] RB wore an Infernal Majesty (thrash band from Toronto, Canada) black T-shirt, black cargo cotton pants, black boots, and black wristbands on both wrists. RB primarily played a grey Dean guitar with black trim and sparingly played a black Dean guitar with red trim. RB used Mesa Boogie amps. PO, RB, and AW played the same melody GF sang during the first chorus. GF twice sang the chorus before and after PO played a 10 second guitar solo amidst the battery of PM’s bass drums. The lyrics for each chorus slightly varied. For the first chorus GF sang, “Make them suffer while they plead for cessation. Entirely demoralized and close to mass extinction. Damned to please supremacy. The reason for their martyrdom they will never know.” GF thrice repeated the phrase, “Make them suffer” before singing the second part of the chorus, “Make them suffer while they bleed through damnation. Begged for retribution before meeting with demise. Cursed by animosity. Once chosen for this mad ordeal there is no escape.” Make Them Suffer was the most technically proficient song the band performed.

George Corpsegrinder Fisher 14. Priests of Sodom (Evisceration Plague, 2009). Before Priests of Sodom GF said, “Time to send out a very special dedication. This song is going out to all the women. It’s not the song you think it is. This song goes out to the ladies, but a special kind of lady. It goes out to the sluts out there. (female fans screamed in delight) Priests of Sodom.” Priests of Sodom is an up tempo song that began amidst GF’s scream, AW’s galloping, heavy bass lines, and PM’s pummeling snare and bass drums. The verses have an interesting twist in that GF repeated the even numbered verse lines to which he added an introductory phrase (e.g., “you must,” “there is”), “The blackened city calls out. Enter the temple of sin. You must enter the temple of sin. Contorted sinners beckon. Join our twisted rites. You must join our twisted rites. The priest’s eyes gleam. Blood on their scepters of flesh. There is blood on their scepters of flesh. The nubile virgin bows. Await the piercing thrust. She awaits the piercing thrust.” GF’s vocals were augmented by PO and RB’s chugging riffs syncopated with PM’s bass and tom tom drums. After the second chorus GF sang the verse with the most interesting lyrics, “Statues of demons glisten with sweat. The orgy intensifies violence begins. Flagellate sluts with serpentine whips. They raise their blades to throats of their men. Climax approaches and the blood will spill. Sexual sacrifice, mutilation and death.” After this verse GF shouted and repeated five times, “Murderrrrrrrr … Priest of sodom.” PO played a 20 second guitar solo after which GR sang the final chorus amidst the torrent of PM’s bass drums, “Perverse rites. Priests of sodom preside. We are damned. Immortal lust. Wicked legions come forth. Defile the pure.”

Pat O’Brien 15. Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead (The Bleeding, 1994). The band briefly paused after Priests of Sodom during which GF growled, “Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead.” From the 0:30 to 1:20 marks of this mid tempo song GF sang the first verse at a particularly low octave while PO and RB played a recurring, muted riff. The tempo drastically increased as GF sang the chorus, “Help me I’m not dead. Wake me from this hell. Tell me I’m alive. Dead.” The higher tempo carried into the second verse and chorus. When GF sang the final word of the second chorus (i.e., “dead” ), the tempo significantly slowed to its initial pace and the audience chanted, “Dead.” The tempo once again escalated right before PO and RB traded guitar solos for 20 seconds. Scattered Remains, Splattered Brains, Gutted, and Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead received the strongest audience reaction.

16. Devoured by Vermin (Vile, 1996). Before Devoured by Vermin GF said, “Do you still want more? Do you all want more? This is the first song on the vinyl album. You know what it is, don’t you? Devoured by Vermin!” Devoured by Vermin is a full throttle frenetic thrash song that began with GF’s 10 second growl and PM’s pummeling of his snare and bass drums. [The band created a formidable wall of sound that shook my stomach. Given my stomach’s size, that is an impressive feat.] GF rapidly sang the first verse without much pause between verse lines, “Ravenous waves attack drawn by the scent of life, fever for our blood. Instinct rules this mass, ruthless living sea. Devouring. Countless vermin gnashing at my face. Tear meat from my skull. Swarming, rabid, features are erased, unrecognizable. Body covered, rat-filled innards. Shred internal organs. Heart and lungs consumed from inside but my pain doesn’t end. I have not died.” GF twice repeated the chorus, “Devour, cesspool of vermin. Devour, bloodthirsty rabid, devoured by vermin.” GF emphasized the word “devour” by singing it at a slower pace and in an evil tone. The chorus prominently featured PM’s tom tom drums. After the second chorus the tempo switched to a mid tempo pace while GF sang, “Ruthless gnawing vermin-feed. Cleaning off my bones while I breathe. Stenching greasy rodents-swarm. My body is losing its form.” From the 2:05 to 2:40 marks the tempo significantly slowed down and PO and RB played ominous riffs reminiscent of Celtic Frost. At the 2:40 mark the pace resumed its frenetic pace and PO and RB traded guitar solos for 15 seconds.

George Corpsegrinder Fisher

17. A Skull Full of Maggots (Eaten Back to Life, 1990). Before A Skull Full of Maggots GF said, “If anybody out there knows the middle part to this song, then you need to be screaming Maggoooooooots! A Skull Full of Maggots.” A Skull Full of Maggots began amidst the flurry of PO and RB’s rapid, choppy riffs and PM’s snare and bass drums. GF rapidly sang the first verse while the second verse was preceded by GF’s chant of, “Beahhhhhhhh … Beah … Beahhhhhhhh … Beahhhhhhhh” [GF sounded like he was vomiting something vile.] GF sang the second verse interspersed with the audience’s repeated chant of “maggots,” “They enter your tomb … maggots … Beginning to feast … maggots … Crawling on you … maggots … Now they eat you …maggots … Rotting maggots … Infesting your corpse … maggots … Parasites of the dead … maggots … Now dwell in your head.” From the 1:40 to 1:45 marks the tempo significantly slowed down to the point the song stopped for a nanosecond. The tempo then escalated while GF rapidly sang the third and fourth verses in 20 seconds without pause between verses. At the end of the song GF told the crowd, “Good job.”

18. Hammer Smashed Face (Tomb of the Mutilated, 1992). Before Hammer Smashed Face GF said, “Unfortunately this is the last song of the night. (triggering boos from audience) Listen, no way we could stand up here and play all night. Well we could, but we won’t. This is for all you out there. Thank you for supporting death metal. All you over there (stage left near bar) and over there (balcony) put your drinks down and get in the pit!” Hammer Smashed Face featured PO and RB’s driving frenetic riffs and PM’s abused snare drums. From the 0:20 to 0:25 marks AW played dizzying, prominent bass lines right before GF sang the first verse. GF sang at a particularly slow tempo in comparison to PO and RB’s up-tempo, descending chord progressions featuring a trill. GF picked up the pace during the second, third, and fourth verses but continued to sing in a low octave. The third verse has particularly interesting lyrics, “Eyes bulging from their sockets. With every swing of my mallet. I smash your fucking head in, until brains seep in. Through the cracks, blood does leak. Distorted beauty, catastrophe. Steaming slop, splattered all over me.” From the 2:10 to 2:40 marks the tempo slowed down while GF growled, “Crushing, cranial, contents.” The tempo then escalated while GF sang the fifth verse only to then briefly slow down while GF growled, “Suffer, and then you die. Torture, pulverized.” The tempo resumed an up-tempo pace to the end. Hammer Smashed Face was arguably the most ferocious song the band performed.

19. Stripped, Raped and Strangled (The Bleeding, 1994). The band briefly paused after Hammer Smashed Face during which GF growled, “Stripped, Raped and Strangled.” Stripped, Raped and Strangled began with PO and RB’s slow tempo riffs, PM’s snare drums, and AW’s use of both hands to pick notes on his bass fretboard. GF sang the first half of the first verse at mid tempo ending with the phrase, “She was so beautiful. I had to kill her.” During the second half of the first verse and the first chorus the tempo significantly escalated, PO and RB played frenetic riffs, PM bashed his snare and bass drums, and the audience chanted along. When GF sang the second verse the tempo resumed its initial pace. The tempo significantly escalated during the second chorus but resumed its initial tempo during the third verse onward. The band members individually raised their hand(s) to thank the crowd and GF said, “You guys rule.” The band left the stage and did not return for an encore.

George Corpsegrinder Fisher

Venue: Slim’s is a 400 seat San Francisco club that rhythm and blues artist Boz Scaggs opened in 1988. Slim’s is located within three miles of San Francisco’s financial district. The club decor is simple and includes chandeliers, brick walls, and a bar inspired by the facades of New Orleans manors. Within five feet of walking through the entrance are six steps that lead immediately up and into the general admission floor approximately 20 feet from the stage. At one end of the main floor is the stage that measures 29 feet wide by 16 feet deep. The stage is three feet and three inches from the club floor and features a moveable drum riser eight feet by six feet and a very narrow photo pit. At the other end of the main floor is a small balcony with 14 tables and seating for 70 people. The sound console is located in the rear by the steps leading up to the balcony. The L shaped bar runs the length of the floor stage left. The general admission floor also includes six pillars. Located downstairs are three dressing rooms, coat check, and additional restrooms.

Opening Band (first to last): Lecherous Nocturne, Skeletonwitch, 1349.

Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian. This article and all photos are protected by copyright. Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kabab of your loins.

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Blue Oyster Cult

Blue Öyster Cult, Slim’s, San Francisco, CA, 04-25-10 (Sunday)      
  On April 25, 2010, Blue Öyster Cult (“BÖC”) played Slim’s night club in San Francisco. BOC played an 11?song, 90?minute set from 9:20 to 10:50.

1. Golden Age of Leather (Spectres record, 1978) began with Eric Bloom (“EB”), Buck Dharma (“BD”), Richie Castellano (“RC”), and Rudy Sarzo (“RS”) singing the first verse a cappella, “Raise your can of beer on high.  And seal your fate forever.  Our best years have passed us by.  The golden age of leather.”  The musical onslaught began with Jules Randino’s (“JR’s”) drum beats to this fairly up tempo song that featured BD on lead vocals.  BD wore light blue jean pants, black vest, black t?shirt, black leather shoes, and light maroon?tint sunglasses.  I initially had trouble hearing the vocals because they were poorly mixed in the sound, a problem remedied by the third song.  In contrast, RS’s driving bass lines were prominent in the mix and provided a groovy foundation.


BD sang the second through fourth verses without much pause in between.  Following the fourth verse, from approximately (approximations presumed throughout) the 1:55 to 2:35 marks, the band engaged in a jam session that included JR’s upbeat drum beats, RS’s driving bass lines, and BD’s 15?second guitar solo.  The band then sang the fifth and sixth verses, “Dawn colored the sky … The ritual ceased.  Some had died … They were buried with their bikes.  Each grabbed a rag … From a man with a sack.  Torn strips of color … The red and the black.”  BD resumed solely singing the seventh and eighth verses.   The song’s tempo was elevated after BD’s guitar solo, but significantly slowed down during the last 50 seconds of the song when the band repeated the phrase, “Golden age.”  [As far as I was concerned the golden age had not yet passed because when the band played Hot Rails to Hell as an encore a marijuana smoke cloud pungent enough to make a rhinoceros hallucinate to the point it would prance around like a fairy princess amidst a tulip field wafted through the air.]


2. O.D.’d on Life Itself (Tyranny and Mutation, 1973) is a very bluesy mid tempo song that featured EB on vocals.  O.D.’d on Life Itself contains interesting lyrics.  During the third verse EB sang, “Writings appear on the wall.  The curtains part and landscape fall.  There the writings done in blood.  Yeah, like a mummy’s inscription and a bat wing tongue.”  [EB and BD are exceedingly gifted musicians and songwriters.  However, EB and BD may have been inspired to write these lyrics when they opted to smoke bananas in lieu of eating them.]  EB wore black jean pants, black long sleeve button-down cotton shirt, black leather boots, and black sunglasses.  During the chorus BD, RC, and RS sang, “O.D.’d on life, life itself.  O.D.’d on life, life itself.  O.D.’d on life itself” and JR beat the life out of his tom-tom drums that were part of a grey and black fade drum kit featuring a single bass drum.  JR wore blue jean pants, black vest, white t?shirt, and black mirrored sunglasses.  The fourth verse led straight into BD’s fiery 40?second guitar solo.  As I listened to EB and BD’s bluesy guitar playing I was reminded of the chord progression for Ian Hunter’s Once Bitten Twice Shy from his self?titled record (1975) because they sound strikingly similar to those on O.D.’d on Life Itself.

3. Burnin’ for You (Fire of Unknown Origin, 1981).  Before Burnin’ for You EB said, San Francisco, how ya’ doing?  How is this San Francisco when you get a guy with no shirt up front?!  Let’s go back to Fire of Unknown Origin.”  Burnin’ for You began with an instantly recognizable chord progression by EB, BD, RC, and RS.  From the 0:10 to 0:25 marks EB, BD, and RC chanted, “Aaah … aaah,” serving as the cue for BD to sing the first verse, “Home in the valley.  Home in the city.  Home isn’t pretty.  Ain’t no home for me.”  Burnin’ for You is a soft ballad.  RC and EB provided rhythm guitars during the chorus while BD and EB sang, “And I’m burning, I’m burning, I’m burning for you.  I’m burning, I’m burning, I’m burning for you.”  EB used Marshall amplifiers (“amps”) and primarily played a black Gibson SG guitar with a pearl BOC logo inlay on the body, and he also sparingly played a black guitar with a Fender Stratocaster body with a three-dimensional red BOC logo on the body.

4. Buck’s Boogie (A Long Day’s Night, 2002) is an up tempo instrumental highlighting BD’s talents as a bluesy guitar player and also featured RC’s keyboard solo from the 1:05 to 1:20 marks.  At the 1:20 mark EB, BD, RS, and JR joined RC in an entertaining jam.  BD’s playing during Buck’s Boogie is reminiscent of the blues guitar playing by Big Joe Williams on Baby, Please Don’t Go (1935) and Angus Young on AC/DC’s Whole Lotta Rosie off the Let There Be Rock record (1977).  Midway through the song BD experienced technical problems with the tremolo bar on his white Steinberger Swiss cheeseburger model guitar (headstockless guitar with a Fender Stratocaster body resembling Swiss cheese).  BD switched to a black guitar with a Stratocaster body that he played through Marshall amps.  From the 6:40 to 7:05 marks Buck’s Boogie featured all the band members wailing on their instruments creating a wall of sound until the song came to a climactic end.  RS was fully immersed in bobbing his head and periodically quickly licking his right fingertips he used to pluck his bass strings.  RS wore dark blue jean pants, black tank top, black sneakers, and vest that was half solid black and half purple with a recurring, plus-shaped pattern comprised of four white basses.  RS played a maroon Peavey bass and used Ampeg amps.

5. Harvest Moon (Heaven Forbid, 1998) is a mid tempo song that featured BD on vocals and EB on Kurzweil and Korg keyboards positioned stage right.  RC, who had by this time taken his sunglasses off, provided a fluid and entertaining rhythm guitar section using a light brown Music Man guitar he played through Marshall amps.  RC wore black jeans, black long sleeve button-down cotton shirt with satin vertical stripes, and black leather shoes.  Harvest Moon’s verses have a driving engaging quality.  Following the first verse EB, BD, RC, and RS sang the chorus, “Ahh, ahh, ahh, ahh.  When the wind turns.  Ahh, ahh, ahh, ahh.  And blows the leaves from the trees.  Ahh, ahh, ahh, ahh.  Harvest moon.”  EB, RC, and RS handled the “ahh, ahh, ahh, ahh” chorus portions.  The second, fourth, sixth, and seventh verses have an interesting catchy quality in that, on the even?numbered verse lines, EB, RC, and RS softly sang, “Harvest moon” at the end of the verse (e.g., “I feel the nights grow cold … Harvest moon.”  “Old people feelin’ old … Harvest moon.”).  After the fourth verse, from the 2:10 to 3:20 marks, the band engaged in an entertaining and enjoyable jam session during which they elevated the song to up tempo mode and laid the foundation for memorable RC and BD guitar solos lasting 30 seconds.

6. The Vigil (Mirrors, 1979).  Before The Vigil EB introduced the band members and talked about, of all things, baseball, “The (New York) Yankees (baseball team) suck.  Thank you very much.  That is all from E.S.P.N. (cable sports channel) sports.  Now we move on to The Vigil.”  The Vigil began with BD playing melodic guitar notes and featured BD on vocals and EB on keyboards.  At the 0:45 mark BD, RC, and RS began playing a fairly heavy, mid tempo chord progression.  The song’s tempo was somewhat pedestrian but enhanced by RS’s prominent solid bass lines.  [RS’s music prowess and showmanship during The Vigil were the auditory and visual equivalent of taking a bland rice cake, immersing it in tabasco sauce and glazing it with a sweet, tangy barbeque sauce that glistens.]

Interestingly, The Vigil does not feature a chorus and does not need one to qualify as a good song, a testament to BOC’s musical genius.  [On the one hand are gifted artists like BOC able to write unique, memorable songs that do not conform to the traditional “verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo” formula.  On the other hand are “artists” like Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears who write uninspired formulaic songs that give me the urge to pick up their CDs and commit suicide by ingesting them whole, cutting off my trachea.]   From the 2:35 to 3:00 marks BD played a memorable guitar solo on his white Steinberger that had been repaired by his technician.  Beginning at the 3:35 mark JR stopped playing drums while BD sang, “Well, I’m no poet, but I can’t be fooled.  The lies don’t count, the whispers do.  I hear the whispers on the wind.  They say the earth has fallen due.”  At the 4:15 mark JR resumed playing drums shortly before EB twice sang the line, “Come to us” while BD played a memorable guitar run accentuated by RC, RS, and JR’s solid rhythm section.  At the 4:55 mark BD, RC, and RS resumed the fairly heavy, mid tempo chord progression.  EB played atmospheric keyboards for a few seconds at the 0:45 and 5:50 marks.  The Vigil ended as it began, with BD’s melodic guitar notes.

7. Black Blade (Cultösaurus Erectus, 1980).  Before Black Blade EB said, “Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Rudy Sarzo!”  RS moved from his microphone (“mike”) stage left to BD’s center stage mike where he said, “I AM a Yankees fan,” triggering boos from audience members loyal to Bay Area baseball teams.  Black Blade began with BD’s searing 15?second guitar run after which the song adopted a mid tempo pace.  From the 0:35 to 0:40 marks the song momentarily shifted to up tempo mode while EB sang the last line of the first verse, “And it howls, it howls like hell.”  The tempo returned to mid tempo mode only to again resume an up tempo mode during the chorus when EB, BD, and RC sang, “Black blade!  Black blade!  Forged a billion years ago.  Black blade!  Black blade!  Killing so its power can grow.”  Interestingly, Black Blade momentarily shifted to mid tempo mode when EB uttered the final word of the chorus, “Grow,” which he repeated seven times while the tempo gradually escalated with BD, RC, RS, and JR’s masterful instrumentation until EB finally shouted, “Grow!”

From the 1:50 and 2:20 marks BD twice played the signature guitar run from the start of Black Blade.  From the 2:20 to 3:45 marks the tempo slowed a bit for a jam session, including RC’s atmospheric keyboards and RS’s monstrous bass lines he played center stage by JR’s drum kit.  Following the second chorus, from the 3:45 to 4:50 marks, the song switched to up tempo mode during which RC’s keyboard playing was prominently featured, RS played groovy bass lines, and EB sang the final verse in an altered voice that sounded futuristic (i.e., computerized).

8. Then Came the Last Days of May (Blue Öyster Cult, 1972).  Before Then Came the Last Days of May EB said, “We are going to go back to our first album.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I think (Richard) Nixon was President.  I think the Vietnam War was just ending.  This is Then Came the Last Days of May.”  Then Came the Last Days of May is a bluesy song with a fairly slow tempo that featured BD on vocals and EB on keyboards.  BD sang at a slightly higher than usual octave.  Following the first verse, from the 0:45 to 0:55 marks, BD played fairly heavy trench?filled guitar riffs, a pattern he repeated after the second, third, and fifth verses.  After the fourth verse, from the 2:20 to 3:35 marks, BD and RC played extended guitar solos, beginning and ending with BD.  During his guitar solo RC banged his head in metal fashion and raised his guitar a la K.K. Downing (Judas Priest guitarist) while RS and JR provided a solid rhythm section.  After BD and RC’s guitar solos, the band jammed with BD, RC, and RS center stage and during which JR performed heavy drumming and the song’s tempo gradually increased.  After BD sang the fifth and final verse the tempo quickly slowed as the song came to a conclusion to much audience adulation.

9. Godzilla (Spectres, 1978).  Immediately after Then Came the Last Days of May EB shouted, “Yeah, Richie on the guitar!  Now, as you know, millions of years ago long before the Castro District (San Francisco neighborhood considered the world’s first and currently largest gay neighborhood) there were large reptilian creatures that roamed San Francisco.  If you listen closely you can hear … Don’t tell me … What is it?!  Godzilla!”  Godzilla began with EB, BD, and RS’s memorable, trudging chord progression.  In contrast to the record version, Godzilla did not feature keyboards to water down its potency.  Godzilla has a fairly slow tempo but its catchy chord progression prompted many audience members to bob their heads.  EB and BD shared vocals.  Godzilla’s standout part is its catchy chorus during which the band sang, “Oh no, they say he’s got to go.  Go, go Godzilla, yeah.  Oh no, there goes Tokyo.  Go, go Godzilla, yeah.”  [When I hear Godzilla I envision seeing a burly bearded mountain man wearing coveralls and combat boots dragging a moose carcass he just killed in the woods.]  From the 1:15 to 1:35 marks BD played a fiery guitar solo.  After the second chorus, from the 2:00 to 2:25 marks, the band jammed with BD, RC, and RS center stage while EB sang what on record is a tape track with the message, “Rinji news o moshiagemasu!  Rinji news o moshiagemasu!  Godzilla ga Ginza hoomen e mukatte imasu!  Daishkyu hinan shite kudasai!  Daishkyu hinan shite kudasai!”  [I have no clue what EB uttered.  It may have been the menu from a Japanese restaurant, but it rocked.]  At the 2:30 mark the band repeated the chorus a third time.

During the jam the band highlighted RS and JR’s musical talents.  EB said, “Maybe some of you remember Rudy Sarzo when he was in Quiet Riot!”  RS and JR played 10 seconds of the rhythm section to Bang Your Head (Metal Health) off Quiet Riot’s Metal Health record (1983).  EB then said, “Maybe some of you remember Rudy Sarzo when he was in Whitesnake!”  RS and JR then played 10 seconds of the rhythm section to Here I Go Again off Whitesnake’s Whitesnake record (1987).  EB then said, “Maybe some of you remember Rudy Sarzo when he was in Ozzy!”  RS and JR then played the rhythm section to Crazy Train off Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Ozz record (1980) for two minutes.  RS then left the stage and JR played a two?minute drum solo that exhibited his hard?hitting and technical skills.  After JR’s drum solo the band resumed Godzilla with the chorus.  Godzilla led straight into (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, the second song that received the strongest audience reaction.

10. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (Agents of Fortune, 1976) commenced with RC’s atmospheric keyboards emulating blowing wind similar to Alexander the Great off Iron Maiden’s Somewhere in Time record (1986).  JR joined RC with a simple effective drum beat while EB and BD played the recognizable introductory guitar notes.  (Don’t Fear) The Reaper  featured BD singing vocals in a particularly soft and melodic voice accentuated by EB and BD’s catchy, recurring guitar notes.  Prior to the chorus, BD played a blues?based guitar run supported by EB’s clapping, RS’s bass lines, and JR’s drum beats.  During the chorus BD, RC, RS, and JR repeated and interspersed the phrase, “Don’t fear the Reaper” while BD sang the remainder of the chorus that resulted in the memorable lines, “Don’t fear the Reaper.  Baby take my hand.  Don’t fear the Reaper.  We’ll be able to fly.  Don’t fear the Reaper.  Baby I’m your man.”  After the chorus, the band sang a harmony, “La, la, la, la, la.  La, la, la, la, la.”  After the second chorus, from the 2:30 to 3:25 marks, the band engaged in a jam session highlighted by BD’s 40?second guitar solo during which RS came center stage behind BD and provided solid bass lines.  During the final chords of (Don’t Fear) The Reaper EB raised his right hand twice and softly uttered, “Thank you.”

The band left the stage at 10:49 and returned in one minute to play one additional song.


11. Hot Rails to Hell (Tyranny and Mutation, 1973).  Before Hot Rails to Hell EB said, “There is a certain aroma wafting through the air.  I hope marijuana is legalized because getting busted for a joint is bullsh*t.”  Hot Rails to Hell is an up tempo song that featured a catchy, fairly heavy, chugging chord progression.  The band played Hot Rails to Hell at a particularly fast tempo with RC handling vocals at a slightly lower than usual octave.  During the first verse RC sang, “Riding the underground.  Swimming in sweat.  A rumble above and below.  Hey cop don’t you know?  The heat’s on alright.  The hot summer day didn’t quit for the night.”  Right before the chorus JR played colorful drum fills and BD played melodic guitar notes.  During the chorus EB, BD, RC, and RS sang, “1277 express to heaven.  Speeding along like dynamite.  1277 express to heaven.  Rumbles the steel like a dogfight.”  From the 2:05 to 2:45 marks BD played a catchy guitar solo during which RS and JR provided a solid foundation.  After the second chorus, from the 3:20 to 4:10 marks, the band jammed and elevated the song’s tempo.  The band took a heartfelt bow at the end of the song.


One flashback memory is worthy of mention.  The BOC show reminded of the ill effects of excessive alcohol I have witnessed at shows dating back to the early 1980’s.  While EB was talking to the fans before Black Blade RS’s attention was drawn to the ramblings of a burly 6’3”, 240 pound drunkard standing front row stage left who I will refer to as Mountain Man Mel (“MMM”).  MMM shouted at RS, “Play I Love the Night (Spectres, 1977).  I want to hear I Love the F**kin’ Night.”  Do you guys know how to play I Love the F**kin’ Night.”  After being subjected to MMM’s drunken rambling requests 10 times, RS acknowledged him by casually peeling the set list off his amp and offering it to MMM to pacify him by proving BOC did not plan to play I Love the Night.  As RS offered MMM the set list, MMM swiftly and pompously turned his back to RS, raised his right hand, bent his wrist backward in limp?wristed fashion, and said in a quasi?feminine voice, “If you’re not going to play it, I don’t want it (the set list).”  MMM tossed his head back and whisked away from RS.  RS looked dumbfounded, shrugged his shoulders, and taped the set list back on his amp.

I had a similar experience at the urinal of a Kiss concert in Oakland, California during the Animalize tour (02-09-85) standing next to an inebriated man who I will refer to as Lush Larry (“LL”).  LL had drunk so much he had difficulty grasping the requisite appendage to urinate.  Shortly after achieving this nearly improbable feat, LL’s friend, standing behind him, asked him a question.  LL turned his head toward me to answer his friend.  Given his drunken state, LL turned not just his head, but his entire body, appendage and all.  If I had a machete I would have put it to good use.  Fortunately, I was able to get his attention by shouting at him before getting doused.  LL looked at me with a quizzical glossy?eyed stare as if I had asked him to explain Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Venue: Slim’s is a 400?seat San Francisco club that rhythm and blues artist Boz Scaggs opened in 1988.  Slim’s is located within three miles of San Francisco’s financial district.  The club decor is simple and includes chandeliers, brick walls, and a bar inspired by the facades of New Orleans manors.

Within five feet of walking through the entrance are six steps that lead immediately up and into the general admission floor approximately 20 feet from the stage.  At one end of the main floor is the stage that measures 29 feet wide by 16 feet deep.  The stage is three feet and three inches from the club floor and features a moveable drum riser eight feet by six feet and a very narrow photo pit.

At the other end of the main floor is a small balcony with 14 tables and seating for 70 people.  The sound console is located in the rear by the steps leading up to the balcony.  The L?shaped bar runs the length of the floor stage left.  The general admission floor also includes six pillars.  Located downstairs are three dressing rooms, coat check, and additional restrooms.

Opening Band: Medieval Knievel


Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian.  This article and all photos are protected by copyright.  Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kabab of your loins.

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Concert Review: Overkill, The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA 04-18-10 (Sunday)      
            Overkill put on a no?frills, full throttle thrash show that was an assault on the auditory and visual senses.  [The sheer energy the band displayed at a high volume and frenetic pace was soothing yet brutal.  It is akin to lightly moisturizing one’s facial skin with coconut oil and then taking an industrial steel grater and vigorously rubbing it against one’s face.]  Overkill played a 17?song, 90-minute set from 11:00 to 12:30.             1. The Green and Black (Ironbound record, 2010).  The first 55 seconds of The Green and Black featured a pre?recorded tape track of D.D. Verni (“DV”) strumming high bass notes and Dave Linsk (“DL”) and Derek “The Skull” Tailer (“DT”) playing melodic guitar notes.  This occurred with the stage amidst darkness accentuated by two mobile strobe lights positioned atop metal stands approximately (approximations presumed throughout) 15 feet in height flanking Ron Lipnicki’s (“RL’s”) drum kit flashing Overkill’s trademark fluorescent green color across the stage.  At the 0:55 mark the stage lights came on escalating the crowd’s roar in response to seeing DV, DL, DT, and RL on stage.  From the 0:55 to 1:35 marks DL, DT, and DV pummeled the crowd with crushing chords on their axes while RL beat the hell out of his drums.  [It felt somewhat like being repeatedly and violently struck in the squishy part of the back of my head and neck by a two by four piece of pine wood that ironically created a pleasurable sensation.]  RL’s drumming was augmented and syncopated with flashing white stage lights positioned beneath the metal grill serving as RL’s drum riser two feet in height.  At the 2:00 mark Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (“BE”) rushed on stage and immediately came stage front and struck his signature pose, firmly grasping his microphone (“mike”) stand with his right hand and resting his right foot on the stage monitor positioned three feet from the photo pit.  BE wore very tight black jean pants, black tank top, and black leather half boots with velcro straps and side buckles.


            The Green and Black is, for the most part, an up tempo thrasher.  Following the second verse, at the 4:25 mark, the song slowed down allowing the frenetic crowd to catch their breath.  But DL, DT, and DV’s heavy chord progressions hypnotized the crowd into bobbing their heads and engage in old school moshing replete with flailing arms.  [The Green and Black undeniably passes the Headbang Test.  The Headbang Test is easy to apply, simply whether the rhythmic beat of a song subconsciously and uncontrollably compels the crowd to headbang.  Certain songs have this effect, Iron Maiden’s Hallowed be Thy Name (1982), Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (1984), Slayer’s Raining Blood (1986) and, more recently, Overkill’s The Green and Black.]  The mid tempo continued until the 5:50 mark during which DV and RL provided solid backbeats for (1) DL and DT to continue providing groove-laden riffs and (2) BE to deliver his vocal lines with the recognizable evil ominous tone.  At the 5:50 mark DV kicked the song back to an up tempo mode and DL launched into his guitar solo.  I admire Overkill for starting the show with a new song and one over eight minutes in length, which they counterbalanced by shifting straight to a short song 3:20 in length from Overkill’s first record.    

            2. Rotten to the Core (Feel the Fire, 1985) started with BE screaming and RL beating the life out of his tom-tom drums.  RL played a black?colored ddrum drum set with double bass drums featuring the band’s mascot, Chaly (i.e., skeletal bat with a skull-like face, bony wings, and green eyes) and the Overkill logo in fluorescent green in each bass drum head.  Raised from the ceiling a few feet behind RL’s drum kit was a tarp featuring the Ironbound album cover artwork.  Rotten to the Core is a mid tempo song with a punk feel reminiscent of The Ramones and The Sex Pistols.  From the 2:10 to 2:25 marks the vocals ceased and the song focused on DL and DT’s catchy riffs that shifted to an up tempo beat for 10 seconds.  From the 3:55 to 4:05 marks the song once again featured RL beating his tom-tom drums prompting the audience to bob their heads and pump their fists.


            3. Wrecking Crew (Taking Over, 1987).  BE made his first announcement before Wrecking Crew.  Sadly, since I was preoccupied taking photographs in the pit, I do not recall what he said.  [I take that back.  I do remember the words, “San Francisco,” “hello,” “song,” and “play.”  You can fill in the rest.]  Wrecking Crew begins with loose riffs by DL and DT less than 10 seconds in duration before the rest of the band joined in shifting the song to a straight?ahead thrasher.  The song featured a catchy chorus in which DT and DV chanted, “We’ll wreck your neck!  Wreckin’ crew!  Get wrecked!”  [What else did the crowd do, particularly those up front in the fray, other than to whale their necks front and back as if on industrial?strength hinges.] 

            4. Battle (The Killing Kind, 1996) begins with DL and DT’s riff reminiscent of Motorhead.  At the 0:15 mark DV and RL joined in with heavy bass lines and drum beats laying the foundation for this mid tempo song.  Fortunately, Battle did not feature a tape track of the annoying repetitive background vocal chant of “yeah” in a falsetto nasally Axl Rosesque voice present on record.  From the 2:35 to 3:40 marks the song slowed to a fairly slow tempo with a chugging riff ripe for headbanging and reminiscent of Master of Puppets (1986) era Metallica.  At the 3:40 mark the song resumed a mid tempo.  

            5. Hello from the Gutter (Under The Influence, 1988).  Before Hello from the Gutter BE said, “It is good to be amongst friends.  We now span two to three generations of fans.”  [Admittedly, I had trouble hearing what BE was saying, whether singing songs or speaking between song.  BE’s vocals were poorly mixed in the sound.  In between songs BE’s voice echoed and reverberated off the walls of the more than half?empty ballroom with a 1,050 seat capacity.  [Compounding matters was BE’s New Jersey accent.  It reminded me of listening to my Jersey cousin’s ramblings as he laid on his back poolside in the humid Summer heat casually twisting and turning his Corona beer bottle on his bloated tummy in a feeble, frustrated attempt to screw it into his oversized navel.]  Hello from the Gutter is an up tempo song and the single off Under the Influence featuring skittish riffs and chugging bass lines, the latter being the most memorable.  At the start of the song BE stood stage front in one of his most recognizable poses, both hands firmly clenching the mike mounted in a stand and head stooped forward at about chest level where he began to headbang.  BE sang the verses in anthemic version, while DV and DL sang the chorus in like fashion chanting, “Hello!  Hello!  Hello from the gutter.  Hello! Hello!”  BE sang the “Hello from the gutter” portion of the chorus. 

            From the 1:40 to 3:05 marks the song featured an extended jam without vocals, including DL’s 50?second guitar solo.  DL wore cut?off black jean pants that extended slightly below his knees, black t?shirt bearing the name of his other band, “Speed\Kill/Hate East Coast Thrash” in white letters on his chest, black combat boots, and black sweatbands covering his entire right forearm.  DL played a black Gibson Epiphone guitar and used Randall amplifiers.  BE left the stage during the guitar solo, the norm on most songs.  What BE would do is scurry off stage immediately before DL’s guitar solo, wait stage side out of the audience’s view, and then hurriedly run back on stage and grab his mike stand a split second the first line of the post?solo verse.  BE at times ran on stage so quickly he nearly ran into and over the stage monitor behind his mike stand.  [BE would benefit from a hands-free mouthpiece mike but is likely vehemently opposed to using one because it is not metal enough and would make BE look like Garth Brooks (country and western singer/guitarist).]  At the end of the song BE shouted, “Welcome to the gutter!  We’ve been expecting you!” and ended with his trademark laugh.  [BE’s statement was prophetic because the Regency Ballroom (“RB”) ballroom is located within two miles of San Francisco’s skid row district.  All one needs is a skillet or paper cup to be well-equipped to earn extra dough panhandling in the hood.]  The band took a short (i.e., 15 second) break after Hello from the Gutter.

            6. Feel the Fire (Feel the Fire, 1985) began with rollicking drum beats and bass lines reminiscent of early Iron Maiden amidst a sea of red stage lights.  The song is slightly up tempo with catchy chord progressions during the verses taking the listener through auditory peaks and valleys.  At the 2:20 mark BE gave a chant that marked the start of the mid?section jam and was reminiscent of early Slayer a la Tormentor off the Show No Mercy record (1983) complete with RL’s mini drum solo.  From the 4:05 to 5:10 marks the song featured DL’s fluid extended guitar solo.  The most memorable part of Feel the Fire was BE’s vocal delivery following DL’s guitar solo, which BE sang on his knees complete with his signature laugh.  [BE’s vocal style reminded me of Mel Gibson in the epic film Braveheart (1995) as the Scottish warrior leading his troops in the First War of Scottish Independence against the British or, alternatively, a crazed zealous British soccer fan leading diehards in a stadium chant supporting the home team in the World Cup.]  Feel the Fire, along with Coma and !!!F**k You!!!, received the strongest audience reaction.

            7. Ironbound (Ironbound, 2010).  Before Ironbound BE said, “My heart beats faster for the new sh*t as well.”  Rightfully so as Ironbound is one of the heaviest Overkill songs [making it an instant holiday favorite for me to subject my unsuspecting elderly mom to.]  Ironbound begins with DL, DT, and DV’s pummeling riffs and RL’s heavy drum beats.  This is a straight?ahead mid tempo thrasher with a particularly strong chorus during which the song’s tempo reached dizzying heights and the band chanted, “Make it.  Take it.  Never let go.  Tell all you know.  This is what you make it, pound the ground.  Make it.  Take it.  Never let go.  Tell all you know.  How far can you take it as you go … Ironbound!”  The chorus featured RL’s excellent frenetic drumming.  From the 3:05 to 4:30 marks the song significantly slowed down and featured DL and DT’s melodic guitar playing and RL’s light?handed drumming.  [The shift from the brutality of the pre-solo chorus section to the slow tempo portion is almost incomprehensible.  It is akin to going from butchering, maiming, and beheading a poseur to passionately embracing his listless, headless body while gracefully engaging in a waltz.  Who does that!  Overkill and with conviction.]  DL began his guitar solo during the slow tempo portion and featured emotional melodic notes that, at the 4:30 mark, transitioned to mid tempo and featured harmonies and DT’s melodic rhythm playing reminiscent of 1980’s era Iron Maiden.  BE’s rush back on stage after DL’s guitar solo was immediately preceded by DT and DV’s chant of “Hey.” 

            DT performed this song shirtless, having recently tucked it in his back pocket.  DT wore black jean pants, black Overkill Ironbound t-shirt (before removal), and black combat boots.  DT played a black Explorer?shaped Dean guitar, used Randall amplifiers, and positioned his mike high in the air pointed downward like Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead vocalist/bassist).  [Given DT’s lanky frame reminiscent of Scott Travis (Judas Priest drummer), his technician should have hung DT’s mike from the ballroom’s ceiling like a mistletoe.]

            8. Coma (Horrorscope, 1991).  Before Coma BE said, “I see some good f**kin’ friends out there.”  Coma began with DT and DL’s melodic guitar notes and RL’s light-handed drumming.  At the 1:15 mark the song shifted and meandered between mid and up tempos with groovy and chugging riffs reminiscent of Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield’s (Metallica guitarists) riff work on Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All record (1983).  When BE returned on stage following DL’s guitar solo he once again firmly clenched his mike in the stand and stooped his head forward.  Coma arguably received the strongest crowd reaction, a song recently added to the set list replacing Hammerhead (Feel the Fire, 1985).

            9. Bare Bones (Horrorscope, 1991) began with a tape track featuring eerie keyboards. [The melody is reminiscent of the theme song for William Friedkin’s classic horror film, “The Exorcist” (1973).]  The tape track was played while the band was off stage and the stage amidst darkness accentuated only by the two mobile strobe lights flashing vibrant purple colors.  DV augmented the chilling atmosphere by picking simple bass notes.  At the 0:20 mark DL and DT joined in striking powerful power chords galore at which point the strobe lights switched to displaying alternating red and white colors.  At the 1:30 mark the song shifted from mid to fast tempo.  The song featured muted DL and DT guitar chords and RL’s prominent drumming in the forefront.  During the third verse, BE chanted, “I’ve been to hell.  Now I’m here and I’m taking all I need.”  [I had also been in hell earlier in the night, the restroom urinal overfilled with sweat?drenched drunkards.]  The chorus is reminiscent of Metallica’s Fight Fire with Fire from the Ride the Lightning record (1984).  During his guitar solo DL placed his left foot on the stage monitor, rested the base of his guitar on his thigh and screamed while hitting a high note.

            10. Gasoline Dream (W.F.O., 1994).  Before Gasoline Dream BE said, “You never give up do you?  Bunch of savages out there.  San Francisco join us in a gasoline dream.”  BE had taken his tank top off, revealing his taut frame.  At 50 years old BE has an excellent physique, better than most men half his age.  [BE’s abdomen was so well?chiseled the female fans, who were underrepresented, were likely inclined to take off their sweaty shirts and dab them in detergent to scrub on BE’s abdomen.]  Gasoline Dream is a mid tempo thrasher that began with DL and DT’s heavy duty power chords.  From the 0:36 to 0:53 marks DV’s bass lines were reminiscent of Steve Harris (Iron Maiden bassist).  Gasoline Dream, along with The Green and Black and Old School, exemplified DV’s skills as a Herculean bassist, a musician with finesse, proficiency, and originality.  DV wore black jean pants (with multiple chains extending from his belt loop to his back left pocket), sleeveless button-down black cotton shirt, sleeveless black denim Levi’s jacket with a New York (“NY”) Giants (American football team) logo patch on the left chest and “Verni” and “Bass” patches on his right chest, black Dr. Martens combat boots, and black sweatbands covering his entire forearms.  DV played a black B.C. Rich warlock bass with a flame pattern.  [DV’s bass has a ridiculously large volume knob that looked nearly as large as a peanut butter jar cap from afar.]  From the 0:53 to 1:02 marks DL and DT played chugging riffs. 

            At the 1:02 mark BE began to sing the first verse in a particularly raspy voice, “Wishful thinking, eyes are blinking, in the sun the garbage stinking.”  [The last line could have been inspired by the rancid stench in the back alley where Overkill’s tour bus was parked.]  From the 5:15 mark onward the song’s tempo slowed to an effective mesmerizing pace.

            11. Overkill (Feel the Fire, 1985) is a basic mid tempo song that featured DL and DT’s recurring but effective harmonies and arpeggio guitar notes that, along with BE’s haunting vocal style, set a chilling vibe.  [I felt I was amidst a fog?laden cemetery where a maggot?covered corpse had come to life slowly sifting his way through the stench?ridden dirt.]

            12. Bring Me the Night (Ironbound, 2010).  Before Bring Me the Night BE said, “We played The Stone.  I think it was in 1962.”  (The Stone is a now defunct San Francisco club that hosted metal and punk shows from the mid?1980’s to early 1990’s.  Overkill performed at The Stone on June 15, 1987.)  “Don’t tell me you need some oxygen.  Vicious motherf**kers.  This is Bring Me the Night.”  This song featured DL and DT’s fast and furious Motorheadesque riffs and a catchy pre?chorus section during which BE sang, “Ready to fly, and I’m ready to die.  Scare the angel, fly away.  Let the devil have his way.  Tie your tongue into a knot.  Pray to God it never stops.  Ready to fly, and I’m ready to die.  Fuel me up, let me go.  Shut your mouth, going to blow.  Hold your ears and shield your eyes.  Just a word to the wise.”  BE sang the pre?chorus in rapid fashion, except for the line, “Ready to fly, and I’m ready to die.”  DV and DL contributed to the chorus by chanting, “Bring.”  BE sang one of the verses using DT’s mike positioned stage right.  [The band delivered this song with such ferocity, particularly RL’s drumming and DL and DT’s riff work I felt I was aboard a stealth jet flying straight down at a 90 degree angle through an atomic bomb mushroom cloud into the depths of hell.  No opportunity breathe or look around, just grip whatever is within vicinity as tight as I could on the hellbound ride.]

            13. Elimination (The Years of Decay, 1989).  Before Elimination BE said, “This is a one?way train to Elimination.”  Elimination is the single off the classic The Years of Decay record, a fairly up tempo thrasher featuring DL and DT’s chugging riffs.  [DL and DT’s riff prowess on Elimination is analogous to the visual imagery of stones skipping over a pond.]  BE sang the chorus with vigor and conviction, “Eliminate the right, eliminate the wrong, eliminate the weak, eliminate the strong, eliminate your feelings, eliminate too late, eliminate the hope, eliminate, eliminate.”  [The chorus is so mind numbingly simple (and effective) even a person like me with less than 23 pairs of chromosomes can guess the song title.]  DL and DT’s dual guitar solos featured classic harmonies a la Somewhere in Time (1986) and Seventh Son of A Seventh Son (1988) era Iron Maiden.

            The band left the stage at 12:11 and returned in one minute to play four additional songs.

            14. Necroshine (Necroshine, 1999).  Before the band came back on stage, a tape track played the first 70 seconds of Necroshine during which the white stage lights beneath RL’s drum riser were syncopated with the pulsating drum beats and bass lines.  When the stage lights were illuminated DL and DT were positioned on the anvil cases flanking RL’s drum kit.  Each anvil case was accessible by four steel steps.  Necroshine featured DL, DT, and DV’s recurring riffs until the 1:10 mark at which point the song shifted to mid tempo with DL and DT’s groovy riffs. BE began singing the verse, “You can take me out of my hell.  You can’t take the hell on out of me.  Watch me here as I get.  But be careful what you see.”  BE accentuated each verse by extending his forearm forward and punching the air in upward fashion in beat with RL’s drumming and as if BE was trying to break out of a small cube in which he was imprisoned.  BE intentionally sang the final word of the chorus in a particularly nasally manner, “Don’t you ever doubt me as you walk the line.  Guided by the light of the necroshine.”  DT and DL came down from the anvil cases after the first and second choruses, respectively.  Necroshine featured extensive fluorescent green strobe and stage lights.

            15. Old School (Relix XIV, 2005).  Before Old School BE recited part of the chorus, “We drank some beers and broke some heads.  We never gave a sh*t.  San Francisco here’s to the Old School.”  Old School has a very loose punk vibe in terms of RL’s drum beats and DL, DT, and DV’s chord progression and strumming.  The chorus epitomizes the punk mentality, “Here’s to the old school, didn’t matter if you looked cool.  We drank some beers and broke some heads.  We never gave a sh*t.  They said that this would never last.  We never gave a f**k.”  BE displayed the signature Overkill salute (i.e., raised middle finger) when he uttered, “We never gave a sh*t.”  During the chorus, BE, DV, and DT chanted, “Eeeh, hew … hay, hay, hay!”

            Old School’s verses pay homage to important figures and venues in Overkill’s career.   During one verse BE sang, “Now all my friends are heading to L’Amours.  Half of them are bounced right out the door.”  (L’Amours is a now defunct Brooklyn club that hosted metal and punk shows from 1981 to 2004.)  “And all my friends are heading to the Ritz.  Bobby G., Rat Skates, DD & Blitz.”  (The Ritz is a now defunct NYC club that hosted metal and punk shows from 1980 to 1993.)

            During another verse BE sang, “Yeah there’s blood all over me.  I caught the eye of Johnny Z.”  (Jonny Zazula owns Megaforce Records, prominent independent metal record label that signed Overkill to a record contract in 1985 on the strength of the Overkill EP.)  “Bang your head, thrash around the pit.  Who the f**k woulda’ thunk.  They’re playing us on Eddie Trunk.”  (Eddie Trunk is a NY radio and television personality who hosts metal radio shows.)

            During the chorus following DL’s guitar solo RL’s drum beats and DV’s bass lines were prominently featured and provided a driving up tempo foundation that brought the song to a raucous conclusion.

            16. !!!F**k You!!! (The Subhumans cover: !!!F**k You!!!, 1987).  Before !!!F**k You!!! BE said, “Can you flash a number one on your way out the door?  This is not the time to be a pussy.”  [For the less “Overkill enlightened” BE was referring to raising the middle finger, not the index.]  The crowd needed no encouragement to raise their middle fingers but received it in the form of white stage lights shining on them.  !!!F**k You!!! is a short, up tempo punk?infused song by The Subhumans that began with frenetic guitar riffs, bass lines, and drum beats.  The chorus sums up the skin and metal head credo, “We don’t care what you say … F**k you!”  The band played !!!F**k You!!! through the second chorus and then went straight into the night’s second consecutive cover song, Motorhead’s Overkill.

            17. Overkill (Motörhead cover: Overkill, 1979).  Overkill, along with Ace of Spades and Killed by Death, are arguably the top three Motorhead songs.  Overkill did justice to this straight ahead mid tempo rocker.  Overkill led straight back to !!!F**k You!!!


            18. !!!F**k You!!! (reprise) (The Subhumans cover: !!!F**k You!!!, 1987).  Before resuming !!!F**k You!!! BE recited the chorus, “We don’t care what you say … F**k you!”  The white stage lights shined on the crowd and the crowd repeated the chorus.  BE said, “This is a bit of a disappointment.”  BE then engaged the crowd to chant the chorus three additional times, each time progressively louder.  The band resumed !!!F**k You!!! from the second chorus.  During the final seconds of the song BE raised his right hand to thank the crowd and tore the three set lists off the stage monitors and handed them to eager front row fans.

            Venue: the building that housed the original RB, known as the Avalon Ballroom, was built in 1911.  The Avalon Ballroom operated from 1966 to 1968 and reopened in 2003 under its current name.  During the ballroom’s original stint in the 1960’s local bands such as Janis Joplin, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Steve Miller Band, and Big Brother and the Holding Company performed at this venue.

RB is a 1,050­?seat theater with a rectangular?shaped standing room floor measuring 96 by 69 feet with blonde hardwood floors and a permanent stage measuring 42 by 20 feet.  Positioned 35 feet above the floor are 22 teardrop chandeliers circa 1900 secured on a roof adorned with gold medallions.  RB has a horseshoe-shaped reserved seating balcony, the interior siding of which visible from the floor is virgin white.  Four vertical white columns line the wall atop the stage and another six are present on each of the walls on the second floor.  Also lining the side walls on each floor are six square?shaped gold?colored tapestries. 

            Opening Bands (first to last): Woe of Tyrants, Evile, Warbringer, God Dethroned, and Vader.


Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian.  This article and all photos are protected by copyright.  Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kabab of your loins. 


Posted in Concert Reviews | Tagged | 20,578 Comments

Vinnie Moore, UFO guitarist

Interview with Vinnie Moore, UFO guitarist (10-01-09)Vinnie Moore (left)







Metal Mayhem: You have been a member of UFO since 2003. How did you secure an audition?
Vinnie Moore: We had a mutual friend who knew UFO was looking for a guitarist. He thought I would stylistically fit in the band. The mutual friend called my manager and told this to my manager. I was asked to send a CD to Phil Mogg (“PM”) of some of my stuff. I put together about 11 of my songs from different records and sent it to PM. I did not think much more about it. About 12 days later I got a call from my manager who said he heard from UFO’s manager who said the band liked my CD and PM wants you to join the band.

MM: What type of memories do you have of seeing UFO live as a teenager growing up in Delaware [South of Philadelphia].
VM: Unfortunately, I never saw UFO live. However, I had a few records, Force It, Lights Out, Obsession. I used to listen to those records as a fan of the band.

MM: How did not feel to one day be listening to UFO records and many years later to be playing the same songs live on stage with the band?
VM: It is a little surreal to be playing some of the songs I grew up learning to play. It is a cool experience.

Vinnie Moore MM: Do you have any input on songs incorporated in the set list?
VM: We all do. We all kick around ideas. It is difficult with UFO because they have so many classic songs you have to do and some new songs. It is so easy to leave something out. Inevitably you have to leave some songs out because there are just too many.

MM: Any chance of doing “Chimi Chimi Changa”?
VM: How do you know about that!? That is awesome! I do not know I even publicly talked about that! That was our sound check song [written by J.D. DiServio [JDD], bassist on Meltdown record]. We took out JDD out for Mexican food in Texas because he had never eaten Mexican food. JDD was close minded in the sense that he did not think he would like Mexican food. As it turned out, he loved it. When we went to sound check after our Mexican dinner during which he had a Chimi Chimi Changa, we started improvising a song about Chimi Chimi Changa. We did the song during sound check for a while.

MM: You wrote 6 of the 11 songs on The Visitor (UFO record 2009). How did you contribute to the songs?
VM: We all start with individual musical ideas at home. I come up with some ideas. Paul Raymond (“PR”) comes up with some stuff. Andy Parker (“AP”) had one song on this record. We basically send our musical ideas to PM. PM goes through our ideas and chooses those ideas that inspire him, something he thinks he can sing because it stylistically suits his voice. We just feed him a lot of musical ideas. I may have sent him 12 or 14 ideas. PM picks the ideas he likes the best.

MM: You had substantial contributions to The Monkey Puzzle (UFO record 2006) record. You wrote 9 of the 11 songs. What aspects of the songs do you normally contribute?
VM: I usually send demos that make up the song structure, all the guitar parts, scratch bass, and a drum machine. It is basically a song skeleton.

MM: Your first solo record, Mind’s Eye (solo record 1986) sold in excess of 100,000 copies and received several awards from guitar magazines. How did it feel to have such accolades at such a young age?
VM: It was unreal. In a way it was overwhelming. It was everything I always wanted. It was unbelievable.

MM: You recorded Mind’s Eye in 11 days, including mixing. You spent two days recording the rhythm parts and three days to record melodies, harmonies, and solos.
VM: That sounds right.

MM: You also produced Mind’s Eye, correct?
VM: No. It was actually produced by Mike Varney.

Vinnie Moore MM: How did you manage to record Mind’s Eye in 11 days?
VM: I have no idea. I could never do that now. It was way too quick to record a record. What has always bugged me about that record is that a lot of the demos I did at home for the songs were better than the record because I had more time to spend on them. I know that a lot of people love that record, and I am very thankful I was able to do that record. But I always wish I had more time to mix. But you can’t argue with something people like.

MM: You recorded Mind’s Eye in Cotati [San Francisco suburb approximately 47 miles north of SF] of all places.
VM: Yes. There is a studio in Cotati called Prarie Sun that Schrapnel Records used a lot for their records. So Schrapnel Records brought me out there to do the record.

MM: Do you prefer to record in a studio in a rural setting like Cotati or in an urban setting?
VM: I prefer to record in a studio in my house so I do not have to go anywhere. That is how I have recorded for the last three solo records and my guitar demos for all the UFO records. I really like to do it that way because I can spend as much time as I want experimenting with performances and sounds without worrying about the clock.

MM: Time Odyssey (solo record 1988) featured Joe Franco (Twisted Sister drummer). What was it like recording with him.
VM: It was awesome. He was a real pro who came in totally prepared. We played through the songs as a three?piece that includes Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater keyboardist), and he just knocked them out. I re?did a lot of the rhythm guitars, but a lot of the bass and drums were kept from the live recording.

MM: You recorded Time Odyssey in 18 or 20 days, which his amazing.
VM: Yes. Time Odyssey is quite an intense record. I recorded Time Odyssey in a longer amount of time than Mind’s Eye. But in a way it was a more intense records. So it was quite an accomplishment to record Time Odyssey that quickly.

MM: I have read that you rarely listen to the music you record. Why?
VM: I find that I critique and second?guess myself. I get nothing out of listening to my own stuff. I am too close to it. It is hard for me to listen to my own stuff.

MM: You explored new musical territory with Meltdown (solo record 1991) in part because you get bored by recording the same type of music over and over?
VM: Yes.

MM: How do you decide what musical direction to venture into?
VM: I really do not decide. I just play the guitar and go with the flow. It has to be a natural thing. I have to be inspired. Whatever I am inspired by that is what I do. By the time I did Meltdown I was burned out on classical rock, and I HAD to go into another direction or I would get bored. I get bored quite easily, and I have to explore new territory or I will not want to do it [previous type of music] anymore. It is kind of strange.

Vinnie Moore (right)

MM: So I gather you do not consciously think about composing songs. You just play and the ideas come to you.
VM: Right. If you sit around, think, and intentionally try to write a song, it is not as inspirational as if you are just playing guitar and an idea comes to you out of nowhere. That is more inspirational.

MM: For those that are not musically inclined, please explain how an idea just comes to you.
VM: Well you are just sitting around playing guitar and you kind of start playing something. It just pops out. You might hear a melody. It might be a certain rhythm. You get that initial inspiration, the spark, whatever it is. Related ideas then come and the song starts to build. You then have to organize it into a song.

MM: In terms of touring, you toured with Alice Cooper for several months on the “Operation Rock & Roll” tour shortly after Mind’s Eye was released in 1986. You also opened up for Rush on the Roll the Bones tour. Do you have any particular memories of opening up for Rush?
VM: That was a really cool experience. I think we did 10?12 gigs with those guys. The most interesting thing is that we were doing a club tour when we found out we got the opening slot for Rush. So we had to head home and cancel the rest of my club tour. We were basically hanging out at my house. The first gig was at The Spectrum in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania], which was the place I always dreamed of playing as a kid. I had played there with Alice Cooper. It was the place I always wanted to play. We left my house and we drove to The Spectrum, which is where I would have driven to see any concert when I was a kid. Here I was playing there. I was pretty calm. But on the way to the venue I heard a radio ad that said, “Rush! [deep ominous tone] Tonight at The Spectrum with local guitar hero Vinnie Moore! [deep ominous tone].” That is when I panicked a little bit because it set in. “Holy shit. I am playing at The Spectrum tonight with Rush. Wow!” So I got a little nervous.

MM: How about playing at Madison Square Garden in New York City? Was that also opening up for Rush?
VM: Yes. We played two nights there. That wasn’t as meaningful for me as The Spectrum. In a way it was because it is Madison Square Garden, which is legendary. But to me The Spectrum was the place I went to as a kid and always dreamed that some day I could be on stage.

MM: Did Brian Tichy (Foreigner drummer) play drums during the tour with Rush?
VM: Yes.

Vinnie Moore MM: I saw Tichy perform last month with Foreigner. He is an unbelievable drummer.
VM: He is amazing. He is one of the best.

MM: He did part of his drum solo by hitting the floor toms, snare drum, and cymbals with the back of his hands. I told him post?show he would be a wiz at pounding dough in a pizza shop.
VM: Ha ha! He is amazing. He has the technique, feel, swings, and the chops. Just everything.

MM: With respect to Out of Nowhere (solo record 1996), you recorded two songs in your own studio, “Winter Sun” and “She’s Only Sleeping.”
VM: Yes. I recorded those two songs at home in my own studio because they were acoustic songs. At that point I did not have the capability to record the other songs [non?acoustic songs] at home.

MM: You ran into a problem with the record label for release of Out of Nowhere, correct?
VM: Yes. A big problem. I was with Sony/Epic. Suddenly, the label did not want to release the record and did not want to give it to me. The record was completely finished, mixed and mastered. The label sat on it for months and months. The label then said they did not want to release it. The label said if you find another record label, that label can buy it from us. Finally, 25 months later, the label agreed to sell the record to a new label. I finally got it to happen. The label [initially] did not want to give it to me. It was actually pretty dire. It was a very bad time period.

MM: It was a low point in your life, correct?
VM: Yes.

MM: How did you deal with the frustrations associated with the situation?
VM: I just kept writing songs. I wrote a lot of songs during that time period. A lot of the songs have not yet been on a record. A lot of the songs are “ballady,” soulful songs. One of the songs that did end up on a record is Rain, which ended up on The Maze (solo record 1999). Another one that is not a ballad ended up on my new solo record [To the Core (solo record 2009)]. It is called Jigsaw. It is also from that same time period where there was nothing going on. But I have at least 10 to 15 songs from that time period that I have not yet released.

MM: Do you think any of those songs would fit into the UFO style?
VM: Probably not. But some day I should release them for what they are.

MM: The Maze included many diverse and exotic musical influences, Latin, jazz, and blues. Do you think that part of the reason why you ventured into these genres is because of the frustrations you had encountered a few years earlier relating to the release of Out of Nowhere?
VM: Not really. I just think that is where my head was at that point. Actually, there was no reason for it. I think the ballady material I wrote that I previously talked about and that I have not yet released was more of a release for me of my frustrations.

Vinnie Moore (left) MM: Your live solo record called Live! (solo record 2000) was recorded at a club called The Edge in Palo Alto [approximately 32 miles south of San Francisco] on the fourth and fifth nights of the tour with MSG. You previously commented that the “freshness and spontaneity was ‘still kickin’’” when you recorded the record. Do you think any advantages exist to recording a live record later on tour when you have honed the songs down in a live setting or is it better to record earlier on tour?
VM: I don’t know. It depends on how much you rehearse. There is a certain amount of fire early on. There is a certain point later in a tour that you get tired and have to try a little harder to do the show because you are tired. It is a matter of finding the right spot in tour not too early or late in the tour, maybe the sixth or seventh show.

MM: How was it like touring with MSG?
VM: It was a lot of fun. We shared a band, a really good band. I enjoyed the tour.

MM: What is the inspiration for the title of your new solo record To the Core (solo record 2009) released in May 2009?
VM: It is just that my music comes from deep within, from the core. It is

MM: You made a guest appearance on Alice Cooper’s record Hey Stoopid (1991) on which you played guitar on the songs Dirty Dreams and Hurricane Years. What was the recording experience like?
VM: I got a chance to hear the advance track tapes and learn them before going into the studio. I then drove up to Bearsville Studios in [Bearsville,] New York, which is only a couple of hours from my house. I went up one day, recorded the stuff, went out to dinner with Alice, the band members, and the producer, and then drove home. It was a one?day thing.

MM: How is it that you initially got the offer to contribute to Hey Stoopid?
VM: Alice’s idea was to have a bunch of different guitar players to sit in, [Steve] Vai, [Joe] Satriani, and Slash. At that point I was signed to Epic Records, which was the same label Alice was signed to. Someone at Epic suggested me.

MM: How did your first meeting with Alice go?
VM: It was that day. It was cool. I remember going into the studio where Alice was playing ping pong with Stef Burns [Alice Cooper’s guitarist].

MM: Did Alice Cooper ever ask you to kiss his ring and call him The Godfather (laughter)?
VM: No. But he asked me to kiss his snake. I was so afraid of the snake that I ran because I am petrified of snakes.

Vinnie Moore (left)

MM: Did Alice ask you to feed his snake (laughter)?
VM: No (laughter). He tried to get it close to me to scare me.

MM: You do not like thin and bright sounds to your recordings. The Alice Cooper recordings being an example.
VM: Yeah. They thinned it out a little too much. I do not know why.

MM: Do you prefer your guitar tone to have a deeper bass sound to it?
VM: I would prefer the guitar not to be too thin and trebly. I prefer my guitar sound to be creamy, smooth, and have a lot of meat.

MM: How was Alice Cooper’s “Operation Rock & Roll” tour you did shortly after Mind’s Eye was released in 1986?
VM: It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed doing it. Unfortunately, I had to leave because I was doing my own tour in support of Meltdown (solo record 1991) that was just coming out. So I did not go to Europe with Alice. But it was a blast playing with Alice.

MM: Did Alice talk to you about his stage show?
VM: Alice has a production guy who worked on his stage show. I was not very much in the loop about that. I just realized what was going on in rehearsals. The stage show was all planned in advance.

MM: With respect to Deep Purple Tribute: Smoke on the Water (tribute record, various artists 1994) you were involved with the song Woman from Tokyo. You were not too happy with how the song turned out, the guitar EQ was too trebly correct?
VM: Yeah. I notice a pattern here.

MM: Also, the echo effect was not properly mixed, correct?
VM: Exactly.

MM: Did you ever find the unedited version of Woman from Tokyo that you plan to release?
VM: No. I do not think I have the master to that song.

MM: You did two instructional videos, Hot Licks 1 (advanced lead guitar techniques 1987) and Hot Licks 2 (speed, accuracy, and articulation 1989). You did Hot Licks 1 in 60 minutes, which is amazing.
VM: The drummer who was in the studio doing his own video the day before had to finish up on my day. He was only supposed to take 30-60 minutes, but he kept taking longer and longer until he took almost the whole day. So I had almost no time for my video.

MM: You waited around for seven hours, correct?
VM: Yeah. I was really well rehearsed. I had practiced talking into a fake camera at home. So I knew exactly what I was going to do. So Hot Licks 1 is basically two takes. The first take is the first 55 minutes. Then I made a mistake and said, “I have to do that again.” Then I finished the rest of it and that was it. I left the studio immediately and jumped on the last train home.

MM: So you did a 60?minute video in 65 minutes?
VM: Yes. I could never to that nowadays. Now it seems just so difficult to do that.

MM: Your first professional gig was an appearance in a Pepsi commercial (1985) that only featured your hand, correct?
VM: Yeah.

MM: Did your friends ever tease you by denying it is your hand in the video?
VM: No. Everybody was just amazed that I was in a commercial. I always joked about how my hands were famous because you could see them on television in a Pepsi commercial.

Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian. This article and all photos are protected by copyright. Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kabab of your loins.

Posted in Interviews | Tagged | 16,375 Comments


Concert Review: Kreator, San Francisco, CA, Slim’s, 21-03-10

Arash Moussavian w/ Mille Petrozza

On Sunday, March 21, 2010, Kreator performed at Slim’s, a 400 seat club in San Francisco. In contrast to my other reviews that contained off the cuff lighthearted commentary, I found it inappropriate for this review. Kreator is a no frills thrash band that gets on stage and decimates everyone and everything in its path, making it asinine for me to venture in that realm, somewhat like belching at the loudest decibel while eating at a fancy French restaurant. Kreator played 17 songs during an 85 minute set from 10:45 to 12:10.

Mille Petrozza 1. Choir of the Damned (Intro.) (Pleasure to Kill record, 1986) is an instrumental song that clocks in at one minute and 40 seconds. This song, which features atmospheric keyboards and acoustic guitars, served as a good introduction because it has an ominous tone.

2. The Pestilence (Pleasure to Kill, 1986) is a frenetic thrash song. Midway into the song, Miland “Mille” Petrozza (vocalist/guitarist, “MP”) commanded the crowd, “San Francisco, mosh pit!” MP wore an off black muscle shirt with a spiral cloud image on his chest and black cargo cotton slacks. MP then went stage right by Christian “Speesy” Giesler (bassist, “CG”). MP and CG began banging their heads in unison, prompting many of the audience members to follow suit. Jürgen “Ventor” Reil’s (“JR’s”) loud double bass drumming was in the forefront and served as a pummeling force leading the song straight through the gates of hell. The guitar riffs at the 3:30 mark paid homage to Slayer’s Crionics off the Show No Mercy record (1983).

3. Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite) (Hordes of Chaos, 2009). Before Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite), MP said, “Good evening San Francisco.” Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite) is mid tempo for approximately 50 seconds and then shifts to a fast tempo. The song features a catchy chorus during which many of the audience members stage front in the near sold out club bobbed their heads. When MP shouted “Chaos!” the frenzy in the mosh pit further escalated. At approximately the 3:00 mark the song reverted back to mid tempo after which it resumed its fast pace. As MP chanted the chorus line, “Everyone against everyone!” he Mille Petrozza raised both his fists in the air while CG kneeled his head forward and rolled it in a clockwise fashion a la George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (Cannibal Corpse vocalist). CG wore black jean pants and a short sleeve button down black shirt with a “Kreator” red logo and demon character on the back and a “Kreator” red logo on the left chest. CG played a black Mensinger flying V bass. At the end of the song MP raised his black flying V Jackson guitar with a white trim.

4. Phobia (Outcast, 1997) features a slightly slower tempo than Hordes of Chaos (A Necrologue for the Elite). MP sang the chorus in an ominous tone, drawing out the final vowel in the word, “Phobiaaaaa!” Following Sami Yli-Sirniö’s (“SY’s”) guitar solo, MP chanted, “Is there someone following you?” which the audience chanted back. SY wore a long sleeve black cotton shirt, black jean pants, and black combat boots. SY played a black Schecter guitar diamond series with a light tan trim.

5. Enemy of God (Enemy of God, 2005). Before Enemy of God MP said, “Good evening San Francisco. The Kreator has returned. It is good to see such a gathering of enemies of god.” This is a fast tempo song featuring rollicking drums by Jürgen “Ventor” Reil (“JR”) during the chorus. JR wore a black muscle shirt and black shorts with a red “Kreator” logo printed vertically on the left leg. JR played a black Yamaha drum set featuring double bass drums and Sabian cymbals. Raised from the ceiling a few feet behind JR’s drum kit was a tarp featuring the Hordes of Chaos album cover artwork. The song features a catchy guitar chord progression at approximately the 1:20 mark. During the mid section of the song the band prompted the audience to chant “Hay!”

Sami Yli-Sirniö 6. Impossible Brutality (Enemy of God, 2005). During the first verse, MP spouted, “All I see is terror. All I see is pain. All I see is mothers dragging children to their graves.” At approximately the 1:50 mark CG’s bass lines came to the forefront driving the song to, where else, the grave.

7. Endless Pain (Endless Pain, 1985). Before Endless Pain MP said, “Thank you very much San Francisco. This is the 25 year anniversary for Kreator. I guess we are f**kin’ dinosaurs. So let’s play something old school.” MP dedicated Endless Pain to a girl in the audience whom, MP said, “Gary Holt (Exodus guitarist) thinks is beautiful.” Endless Pain is a very fast tempo song off Kreator’s first record. Halfway into the song, MP commanded the crowd, “San Francisco, mosh pit!” The crowd responded with a pit filled with what appeared to be whirling dervishes.

8. Pleasure to Kill (Pleasure to Kill, 1986). Before “Pleasure to Kill” MP asked the audience, “San Francisco are you ready to kill?!” At approximately the 1:30 mark SY played a searing guitar solo during which MP, CG, and SY all stood stage right amidst red stage lights that created an apropos evil atmosphere. From approximately the 2:00 to 3:10 marks the song slowed to an ominous mid tempo.

9. Terrible Certainty (Terrible Certainty, 1987). Before Terrible Certainty MP said, “I want to see this place turn into one large mosh pit from left to right and from front to back.” This song features a catchy bass line.


10. Extreme Aggression (Extreme Aggression, 1989). Before Extreme Aggression MP said, “San Francisco I want to hear you, kill everyone!” Extreme Aggression features a wicked mid tempo riff at the outset. At approximately the 0:30 mark the song shifts to a frenetic tempo.

11. Coma of Souls (Coma of Souls, 1990). Before Coma of Souls MP said, “For this next song I want to see this place turn into the biggest f**kin’ mosh pit you have ever seen!” As its predecessor, Coma of Souls features a catchy riff at the outset reminiscent of early Slayer.

12. Amok Run (Hordes of Chaos, 2009) is a ballad that began with a light SY guitar melody. At approximately the 0:55 mark, CG and JR joined in to add power and aggression to MP’s brooding vocals. At approximately the 1:25 mark SY’s guitar licks became progressively quicker, and with an Iron Maidenesque quality, transformed the song to a pure fast tempo thrash song. MP eventually chanted the chorus, “Run amok run” as if he was passionately trying to motivate his troops to march into a blood soaked battlefield.

13. The Patriarch (Violent Revolution, 2001) is a 52 second instrumental featuring a soulful mid tempo guitar melody that led straight into Violent Revolution.


14. Violent Revolution (Violent Revolution, 2001) features a chugging riff that drives the song with conviction. The song features a catchy chorus. After the guitar solo MP urged the crowd to chant “Hay!” At the end of the song MP rested his Jackson flying V on his extended arm and pointed the headstock at the audience as he moved from left to right aiming the headstock at the crowd.

15. Demon Prince (Hordes of Chaos, 2009). Before Demon Prince MP said, “Okay San Francisco I want to see one more mosh pit for this final song.” Demon Prince features brilliant dual MP and SY guitar melodies at the outset. At approximately the 0:45 mark the song shifts to a fast tempo. From approximately the 2:50 to 3:40 marks the song shifts to mid tempo before resuming the frenetic pace before SY’s guitar solo. The band left the stage at 11:56 and returned in less than one minute to play three additional songs.

16. When the Sun Burns Red (Coma of Souls, 1990) begins with SY’s light guitar introduction. At approximately the 0:55 mark MP, CG, and JR join in and, with MP’s hellish chant of “Aaahhhh” reminiscent of Tom Araya’s (Slayer bassist/vocalist) chant at the beginning of Angel of Death off Slayer’s Reign in Blood record (1986), the song shifts to a fast tempo. This song features a catchy chorus during which MP sang, “When the sun burns red. The earth will turn from blue to gray.”

17. Flag of Hate (Endless Pain, 1985). Before Flag of Hate MP gave his farewell and longest speech lasting approximately 90 seconds. MP said, “Thank you very much San Francisco. Thank you for coming on a Sunday night. I am not just saying this when I say San Francisco has always been one of Kreator’s favorite places to play. Let’s play something old school.” MP then raised both hands in front of him and with his finger’s slightly bent as if clenching a football, he shouted, “It’s time to raise . . .” The audience shouted back, “. . . the flag of hate.” While still holding his arms outward, MP said, “I know you can do better than that. This is not the middle of nowhere. This is San Francisco. This is the home of Exodus. This is the home of D.R.I. This is the home of at least 10 other bands. It’s time to raise . . .” The audience shouted back at a higher decibel, “. . . the flag of hate.” MP then shouted a third time, “It’s time to raise . . .” The audience shouted back, “. . . the flag of hate.” The band performed Flag of Hate, a blistering song that literally sheered the skin off my face. At the end of Flag of Hate MP shouted, “Tormentor!” signaling the shift straight into the final song, Tormentor.


18. Tormentor (Endless Pain, 1985) is another brutal song featuring frenetic double bass drums by JR and a chugging guitar riff. At the finale of the song, the band made prominent use of the white strobe lights positioned on the stage floor by the monitors.

Venue: Slim’s is a 400 seat San Francisco club that rhythm and blues artist Boz Scaggs opened in 1988. Slim’s is located within three miles of San Francisco’s financial district. The club decor is simple and includes chandeliers, brick walls, and a bar inspired by the facades of New Orleans manors. Within five feet of walking through the entrance are six steps that lead immediately up and into the general admission floor approximately 20 feet from the stage. At one end of the main floor is the stage that measures 29 feet wide by 16 feet deep. The stage is three feet and three inches from the club floor and features a moveable drum riser eight feet by six feet and a very narrow photo pit. At the other end of the main floor is a small balcony with 14 tables and seating for 70 people. The sound console is located in the rear by the steps leading up to the balcony. The L shaped bar runs the length of the floor stage left. The general admission floor also includes six pillars. Located downstairs are three dressing rooms, coat check, and additional restrooms.

Opening Bands (first to last): Lightning Swords of Death, Evile, Kataklysm.

Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney|
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian.  This article and all photos are protected by copyright.  Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kabab of your loins.

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Miland “Mille” Petrozza, Kreator vocalist, guitarist

Interview with Miland “Mille” Petrozza (Kreator vocalist, guitarist) (03-21-10)

Mille Petrozza and Will Carroll

Q (Will Carroll “WC” of Death Angel): The new record [Hordes of Chaos (2009)] has a fantastic sound, very warm and natural. The sound is quite different than the last two albums [Violent Revolution (2001) and Enemy of God (2005)] that were slick and mechanical, similar to Extreme Aggression (1989) and Coma of Souls (1990). Do you plan to continue with the new approach?
Mille Petrozza: We are talking about it. It is like learning. We recorded Hordes of Chaos (2009) in a live situation, which is not very common for bands. There are more comfortable ways of working. On the other hand, if you work the way we did on Hordes of Chaos (2009) you get a different form of energy, which is more pure than what you can achieve in a studio. The studio is more for laying down the perfect track, laying down the best possible performance. When you record [live] as a band you also try to get the perfect track and possible performance but as a band rather than each individual member. It is a different way of doing things. We feel comfortable with it. We might do it again, but with even more perfection. We want to go into more details for perfectionism. The songwriting on the last album [Enemy of God (2005)] was done for a different recording. If we do this again, we want to attach the songwriting to the recording style. We sometimes had a hard time recording complicated riffs [in a] tight [fashion]. It was a lot of hard work. So me might come up with some less complicated riffs on the next record, which will still be complicated enough (laughter). On this record we tried to do weird harmonies [and] fast stuff.

WC: How long did it take to record the basic tracks on Hordes of Chaos (2009)?
MP: 10 days. We did some overdubs, melody guitars and vocals.

Hordes of Chaos WC: So the drums, bass, and rhythm guitars were done in 10 days?
MP: Yes.

WC: That is pretty impressive considering the length of the songs and live recording?
MP: Yeah.

WC: When was the last time you recorded live?
MP: We never really recorded that way. But Pleasure to Kill (1986) came very close because we recorded the basic tracks as a band, but we then replaced the rhythm guitars. We didn’t replace the rhythm guitars on Hordes of Chaos (2009). We worked with a producer named Moses Schneider in Germane who is very famous for that [recording live] in Germany. I know a lot of producers in the [United] States also work that way. But it is more work. It is more rehearsals, listening to the songs over and over gain, rearranging the songs, and being very, very prepared in the studio.

WC: It means a s**tload of preproduction.
MP: Exactly. When you do it the other way around, going into the studio nowadays with technology like Pro Tools the actual recording is a lot easier. You can go into the studio less prepared and still work on stuff while you go.

WC: Whose idea was it to record live on Hordes of Chaos (2009)?
MP: Moses [Schneider], our producer.

WC: How did you hook up with him [Moses Schneider]?
MP: We liked some of the stuff he did for German bands. He recorded some punk rock and avant-garde bands we really liked. His productions have something to them. He is different. But on the other hand, if you listen to the production it sounds 100 percent like Kreator. This is probably something more for nerds like us who listen to production. A lot of people don’t [listen to production]. It’s whatever comes across, whatever the record makes you feel. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with the way you produce it. It can help, but it doesn’t have to. It can make a different [but] it can also be the same.

Pleasure to Kill WC: If you look at Kreator’s back catalog, you seem to do things in twos. Extreme Aggression (1989) and Coma of Souls (1990) are sister albums. Violent Revolution (2001) and Enemy of God (2005) are sister albums. So maybe your next album will be the sister to Hordes of Chaos (2009) ?
MP: Yeah, yeah.

WC: What is your favorite Kreator album cover?
MP: Pleasure to Kill (1986). It is the trademark album cover, like the Misfits’ Chrimson Ghost [Figure that became the Misfits’ mascot and logo and first appeared on the Horror Business single (1979)]. Every year we go out we still have it [Pleasure to Kill (1986)] in the merchandise and it is the second best selling shirt every time. It is amazing. I really like the way it looks. It has this weird vibe to it that is to me one of a kind. You cannot reproduce it. We are very luck to get that cover.

WC: Whose concept was the cover artwork for Pleasure to Kill (1986)?
MP: Phil Lawvere. It was not even supposed to be our album cover. It was just one of his paintings.

WC: How about the album artwork for Terrible Certainty (1987)?
MP: He [Phil Lawvere] made that specifically for us. I like that as well. The bridge you see [on the album artwork] is a bridge in Prague [Czech Republic]. It really exists.

Endless Pain WC: Another cool thing about Terrible Certainty (1987) is there is a back cover artwork as well. That is really cool. A lot of bands don’t do that any more?
MP: Yeah. That is true.

WC: Is there a name for your mascot?
MP: No, it is just a Kreator demon.

WC: I think he is the coolest mascot, better than Eddie of Iron Maiden.
MP: (laughter)

WC: That was a creation by Phil [Lawvere]?
MP: Yeah. It just happened to be our guy. On Endless Pain (1985) he [the Kreator demon] was not really there, [other than] maybe the [caped, helmeted] guy that kills the other guy. But as we went he became the mascot.

WC: Is the Kreator demon supposed to be on the cover of Renewal (1992) with the praying mantis?
MP: Yes, in a way. But he is very hard to recognize. The artist who did the cover artwork for Renewal (1992) has very much his own style. I could not talk him into making an exact copy of the Kreator demon on the Coma of Souls (1990).

Renewal WC: Renewal (1992) is my favorite Kreator album.
MP: Most people would say Pleasure to Kill (1986), Extreme Aggression (2001), or Violent Revolution (2001)

WC: How do you feel about Renewal (1992)?
MP: I like the songwriting on it. But every time I hear that album I am going back into the mind frame that I was in at the time. We were smoking so much weed while we were writing it. The whole album is about smoking, getting high, and doing drugs. Basically we were smoking and doing mushrooms. From today’s point of view, I would be interested in how it would have sounded if we would not smoked so much weed. But then again, maybe it [smoking weed] was a good thing. I know a lot of people who love it.

WC: It has a weird vibe to it.
MP: Yeah. It is definitely a getting high “trippy” album.

WC: Renewal (1992) was the first adventurous thing Kreator has ever done.
MP: Yeah. True.

Scenarios of Violence WC: The compilation Scenarios of Violence (1996) has remixes. Was it that you were not happy with the original drum sound or original mix?
MP: I cannot be 100 percent supportive of Scenarios of Violence (1996). To me those albums don’t even exist. There is another compilation, Voices of Transgression (1999). I do not think those [compilations] are necessary. Then they asked us to give some bonus tracks. We tried to do something different. We knew the original tracks are already there. I think it’s f**kin’ lame for thrash metal bands to record a “best of” album. So we said, “F**k this.” The label then asked up to participate and be creative. We tried to do re mixes. To me those records are not really a part of our history.

WC: So those remixes [on Scenarios of Violence (1996)] were done by you?
MP: Yeah, but still . . . . One thing I like about the remixes is the remix of Karmic Wheel.

WC: The sample is louder, more effective.
MP: Yeah. When we were originally recording Karmic Wheel [for Renewal (1992)] we wanted the samples that loud as well. But the producer, Tom Morris, was saying we could get in trouble by offending the family of the politician in the samples that kills himself on live TV. We also wanted to have the samples be more of a background thing so people don’t really know what is going on and do some research. On the re mix you can hear it right there. That is how I would have wanted to originally be.

Q (Arash Moussavian “AM”): The second compilation is Voices of Transgression (1999) is just the 90’s Kreator catalog?
MP: It is just s**t. The record companies put those out when we split. I always think of those as lame because we never felt like we need them. We always wanted to make a live album, even back in the day. But the labels said, “No, you don’t need to.”

Past Life Trauma WC: Is the Past Life Trauma (2000) compilation approved by Kreator?
MP: That is the one compilation I can live with. It is okay.

AM: Do you think Renewal (1992) would have sounded more aggressive if you had not been smoking so much weed at the time?
MP: I think the riffs would have been more complex, more like Coma of Souls (1990). You have to understand when we recorded Coma of Souls (1990) I just turned 23. All our musical career was based on thrash metal. [After Coma of Souls (1990)] we wanted to do something different. We said, “This can’t be all. We know how to do this. Let’s try something else.” Of course some people don’t want their bands to change, which is why we got a lot of criticism from people who said, “How can you betray the band’s legacy.” But we were so young and wanted to try something else. Other bands during that era would split up. We continued and recorded.

WC: Kreator is one of the only bands from the 80’s thrash scene that did not split up.
MP: Yeah.

WC: When recording Renewal (1992) were you getting pressure from the record label to do a death metal album because it was popular at the time.
MP: No. The producer for Coma of Souls (1990) Randy Burns did not want to produce records any more. He went out of business and moved onto computer programming. So we were looking for a new producer. We had many people in mind and tried so many people out. Working at Morrissound Studios [Tom Morris’ studio in Tampa, Florida] wasn’t the record company’s idea. It was basically our idea because there is a great studio there, and we like to record in the US. Every band that used Randy Burns got that death metal sound. We wanted to use Tom Morris because we knew he was doing different stuff, more hard rock. When Tom Morris mixed the album, we didn’t like the first mix because it was not heavy enough. So we kind of mixed the album.

WC: Do you consider Pleasure to Kill (1986) a death metal or thrash metal album?
MP: Mixture. When we recorded Pleasure to Kill we were kids. Pleasure to Kill was influenced by three albums, Venom’s Black Metal (1982), Possessed’s Seven Churches (1985), and Slayer’s Hell Awaits (1985). We combined these sounds on Pleasure to Kill. If you listen to Pleasure to Kill you hear a lot of Possessed influences. The first song, Rippin Corpse, is very much based on Possessed’s riff to The Exorcist [off Seven Churches (1985)]. I was very much influenced by the album [Seven Churches (1985)]. At the time it was my favorite album. Of course we wanted to make it heavier.

Voices of Transgression WC: What are your currently feelings about Noise Records [to which Kreator was signed from 1985-1992].
MP: I have made my peace with the past. It is not like I look back and think they ripped me off. Of course they did. Back in the day everybody got ripped off by record companies. On the other hand they made it possible that we were recognized. Maybe we should have signed a different record deal. But in 1985 there were not many labels interested in this type of music. If we would have come out in 1987 it would have been too late. We were in the right place at the right time. We were way too young when we recorded Endless Pain (1985). We were not ready yet. The album is all over the place, not very tight. On the other hand it was necessary to put it out at that time to be one of the firsts. If we would have put it [Endless Pain (1985)] out in 1987 there would have been tons of thrash metal bands. It would not have gotten the recognition. We are happy with the way things went. Everything happens for a reason. I do not say, “Noise Records ripped us off. If it would have been a different label, the band would not have been ripped off.” No. This is how it is. We achieved a lot. We still keep touring. At the moment the band’s doing great.

WC: When you were on Noise Records, Kreator was one of their biggest bands.
MP: Exactly. At the time the biggest band on Noise Records was Celtic Frost. But Tom [G. Warrior, Celtic Frost’s vocalist/guitarist] did not realize Celtic Frost was the biggest band. The head of Noise Records was a big fan of Celtic Frost. He said, “Celtic Frost was the most professional band he ever worked with because they have a vision and have their s**t together.” [In comparison] we were a bunch of kids. Celtic Frost was five years older than us. They had their s**t together. They were artists. We were thrash kids. We still have our leather and denim jackets with patches. That was us. Celtic Frost was already there. But they were at least five years older than us. They also had a different background. We came from working class [German] families, and they lived Switzerland where they were surrounded by art.

WC: Over the years you have gotten more politically aware in your lyrics because you have matured. What do you think of Barrack Obama’s recent health care reform bill [extending health care to millions of uninsured Americans and cracking down on insurance company abuses]?
MP: I think Obama did the right thing. I talked to some of my friends in Portland yesterday. I was not aware of how much it can ruin you financially if you hurt yourself [and receive medical care]. If you break your arm you get a bill for thousands of dollars. Then you are in debt because you have to pay it back. I think Obama is still a politician. He has to play the game because the country, any country, is run by the corporations. As far as I can judge it from my point in Germany Obama seems to have some good ideas. He is definitely better than the one before.

AM: Who shall remain nameless.
MP: Yeah! (laughter).

WC: There is a birth of young thrash bands. Do you have any favorites?
MP: Evile [United Kingdom] is not bad. Warbringer [United States]. Violator from Brazil is really good. Legion of the Damned from Holland. A Greek band called Suicide Angels. I like a lot of little bands that are really good. I am still waiting for one of those bands with the writing skills to get together and come out with a classic thrash album that blows everyone away.

WC: Is there a good thrash scene in Germany?
MP: Yeah. It has gotten bigger and bigger in the last couple of years. There are definitely a couple of bands that could come up with something. But they need to take the time and do their homework.

WC: And they can’t completely live off the past.
MP: Yes. Sometimes when I listen to those bands I say, “Okay. They took [ripped off] the riffs, sound, and the image. Now write the f**kin’ songs.” You know what I mean?

AM: How about your thoughts on bands from the past that have revived their career? I know you toured with Exodus in 2009. What did you think of Exodus’ Tempo of the Damned (2004).
MP: That is really good. I was really surprised. It is one of the best comeback albums by a thrash band. I really like it when bands do it for the right reason. There are a couple of bands when I say, “Why are you coming back right now at this point?” But if they come out with great albums it is fine. Like Heathen, to be honest I was not expecting much. But when I heard the new album it is f**kin’ great man. The riffs are good.

AM: How about Celtic Frost’s Monotheist (2006)?
MP: Tom’s new Tryptikon material sounds better. I was a little bit disappointed with Monotheist. The songs were too slow and long.

AM: How about the production on Monotheist (2006)?
MP: The production was good. But the production on Tryptikon sounds better.

Cause for Conflict WC: What has been your favorite US tour?
MP: I like them all. I like this one [with Kataklysm, Evile and Lightning Swords of Death]. I like touring in general. The last time we toured it was with Exodus. It was great that Exodus was on the bill. When the vibe on tour is great it is what I like. On this tour it seems like I don’t really speak with the other bands too much. Exodus are great. We also played with Exodus in South America as part of a world tour.

WC: The first time I saw Kreator was on the Extreme Aggression tour (1989) with Coroner [Switzerland]. Do you like Coroner.
MP: I like Tommy [Vetterli, Coroner guitarist, ex-Kreator guitarist] a lot. Ron [Broder, Coroner bassist/vocalist] was too shy as a frontman. But Coroner was still a great band.

WC: Let’s talk about Cause for Conflict (1995). After Renewal (1992) did you feel it’s time to . . .
MP: When I think back to the period from Renewal (1992) to Cause for Conflict (1995), it was weird. The new drummer in the band [Joe Cangelosi, Kreator drummer 1994–1996] didn’t know much and was too involved in the songwriting. Cause for Conflict (1995) is definitely my least favorite of our Kreator albums.

WC: Cause for Conflict (1995) is a hardcore record. Did you plan to make it a hardcore record?
MP: Yeah. This was definitely the album where we did not know what we were doing. On the one hand we didn’t want to go too experimental. On the other hand we didn’t want to go too much into thrash metal but [we] also [wanted to] have something else. There was just too much thinking involved. The album came from the heart and there definitely some good songs on that record. But something about the album doesn’t feel right.

AM: Maybe you lost the momentum along the way?
MP: Maybe. Maybe we should have made a break at that point and got the record out.

WC: On Hordes of Chaos (2009) did you intentionally record 10 songs?
MP: Yeah. Short and sweet.

WC: Did you record any extra tracks?
MP: We recorded one track without vocals. I still cannot think of any words for that song. We recorded two more cover songs, a Bad Religion song and a song by a German band.

Mille Petrozza and Arash Moussavian

Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian. This article and all photos are protected by copyright. Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kebab of your loins.

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Metal Mayhem: The roots of Anvil began in 1973 when you [Steve Kudlow and Robb Reiner] met as high school friends. What are the influences for each of you as musicians?
Robb Reiner: Black Sabbath, [Led] Zeppelin, Cactus, Grand Funk [Railroad].
Steve Kudlow: Michael Schenker and [Deep] Purple
Glenn Gyorffy: Uriah Heep.

MM: Any bands with a theatrical stance, like Kiss or Alice Cooper?
RR: Sure. We love them too. Who didn’t love Alice Cooper?!

MM: The band initially released its first record Hard ‘N’ Heavy (1981) independently, correct?
SK: Yes.

MM: Was the band called Lips at the time of the initial, independent release of Hard ‘N’ Heavy (1981)?
RR: For a short while.
SK: Previous to that [Hard ‘N’ Heavy (1981)]. Previous to the signing [with Attic Records] we were originally called Lips. But because of the band Lips, Inc., the label did not want to put us out with that name. They did not things to get mixed up.
RR: [It would be] confusing. They [Attic Records] also felt that with our music Lips did not signify the metal energy and sound we had. It was a decision to find something suited for the music. Lips did not mean anything. With [the name] Anvil you kind of know what it is.

Steve Kudlow MM: What I am getting at is whether the Hard ‘N’ Heavy (1981) was ever released using the Lips band name?
RR: Sure. There are 1,000 copies.
SK: Yes it was.

MM: So those 1,000 copies of Hard ‘N’ Heavy (1981) must be worth quite a bit of money?
RR: Sure.
SK: Same music.
RR: It is a tradable collectible item.

MM: When you got signed with Attic Records it was released under the Anvil band name.
SK: That’s right.
RR: We changed the name and the album cover.

MM: Was it shortly after the release of Hard ‘N’ Heavy (1981) that you [SK] got a call from Lemmy Kilmister to join Motorhead?
SK: Not it was not until later, 1982. We were getting ready to record Forged in Fire (1983). Motorhead came to Toronto to play. For whatever reason that is when “Fast” Eddie Clark had a blow out with the other guys and was going to leave the band. Lemmy called me and asked me if I would fill in and at least do Motorhead’s North American tour. I could not do because I was in the midst of writing and recoding Forged in Fire (1983), which came out after Metal on Metal (1982).

MM: If the timing had been different, would you have considered joining Motorhead?
SK: No.

MM: I presume that is because of your loyalty to Anvil?
SK: Absolutely. Why would I want to joint someone else’s band when I have my own? I am the lead singer. Why would I want to become less than what I am? It does not make sense.

MM: After Forged in Fire (1983) was released David Krebs [Aerosmith personal manager] approached you about representing Anvil as its personal manager, correct?
SK: Yes. The label we were signed to [Attic Records] would not license our music in the United States and continues not to. So our first three records can only be bought as imports in the US. When he [Krebs] went shopping for labels, they all insisted they wanted the back catalog, which they could not acquire. Without the back catalog no record label wanted to sign the band.

Steve Kudlow MM: Hard ‘N’ Heavy (1981), Metal on Metal (1982), and Forged in Fire (1983) are the classic records. I gather it is for that reason that Attic Records does not want to license those records for US release?
SK: They would not do any licensing deals in the US. The main reason is that it is typical of the music industry that the head of the label was not very satisfied with the fact that they [licensees] wanted to pay so little for the titles. When you sell it cheap, they won’t pay you later. He knew that and that is why he would not do it. That continues to be the same situation today. The label [Attic Records] eventually went out of business and bankrupt. Attic sold all their product to another label called Unidisc [independent Canadian record label]. Unidisc now have offers from major labels. But, once again, not enough money is being offered. Therefore, Unidisc is not licensing those records.

MM: Strength of Steel (1987) was the first record Anvil released on Metal Blade records.
SK: Right.

MM: What was it like working with Johnny Zazula [founder of Megaforce Records]
SK: We did not work with Johnny Z. We were at a crossroads. We had a choice of working either with Johnny Z. or David Krebs. David Krebs managed Aerosmith and offered us Spring dates with Aerosmith. At the time Johnny Z. was just beginning in the [music] business.
RR: Johnny Z. is responsible for bringing Anvil to America for the first time ever. He had a little record store and promoted a concert. Anvil was part of that show.

MM: That was in New Jersey, correct?
SK: Yeah.
RR: Route 18. It was a legendary show. People still talk about that show.

MM: One of your [SK’s] quotes relating to “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” documentary (2009) is, “Now we’re getting praise for never selling out and sticking to our guns.” Hypothetically speaking, would you have receptive to the idea of hiring Desmond Child or Dianne Warren as a songwriter, releasing a platinum?selling record and doing an arena tour but only having short?lived commercial success until the onset of the grunge movement in 1990?
SK: But were with another record deal [Attic Records] from 1983 to 1987. There was no opportunity. In fact all opportunities were closed down. That’s what kept us in the underground all along. There was never an opportunity. I can’t say what could have been because I was never there.

MM: In the opening scene of “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” documentary (2009) when you are driving your car to Choice Children’s Catering you say, “It can never get worst.” You were being optimistic about things.
SK: Absolutely. What could be worst than having unfulfilled dreams. I have been working at it my whole life. It cannot get worst than that. So it could only get better. It has! So my intuitions were correct.

MM: Is there anything I can do as an entertainment law attorney to help with the licensing issue you face with Unidisc relating to your first three records?
SK: There is absolutely nothing that can be done. It is iron clad. The original record contract is in pertuity. It is forever! The only window of opportunity happened when Attic Records went bankrupt. That’s when we could have used a lawyer. Unfortunately, we sat around with all the other bands signed to Attic Records. None of the other bands wanted to fight Attic Records with me. We went and had a meeting [with label mates]. Everyone else [other artists signed to Attic Records] said, “I don’t care if they fold. I am not going to pay for a lawyer.” No one wanted to pay to get released. Since there was no one representing ANY of the bands to tell the judge that the record contract says that if Attic Records goes bankrupt you guys [musicians] get your licensing back. At that point the judge slammed his gavel and said, “It’s done.” Once something like that happens, there is no going back!

Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian. This article and all photos are protected by copyright. Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kabab of your loins.

Posted in Interviews | Tagged | 13,542 Comments


Concert Review: Anvil
(San Francisco, CA, The Fillmore, 06-02-10)

Arash Moussavian w/ Steve Kudlow Anvil reminds me of Levi’s jeans and Twinkies, brands that have weathered a sea of trends. Regardless of current music and clothing trends, Steve “Lips” Kudlow (“SK”) plays and wears what he desires with a carefree dismissal of whether he is hip or fashionable. Any doubt about SK’s disinterest in musical trends is laid to rest by comparing Anvil’s first two records, Hard ‘N’ Heavy (1981) and Metal on Metal (1982), with Anvil’s latest record, This is Thirteen (2007). These records sound similar. Any doubt about SK’s carefree attitude about clothing trends is laid to rest by his appearance. SK continues to wear the metal head regalia that came to prominence in the early 1980’s, sneakers, snug-fitting black jean pants, rock t-shirt, and denim jacket with optional sheepskin interior lining.

On Saturday, February 6, 2010, Anvil played The Fillmore in San Francisco. Anvil played 13 songs during an 83-minute set from 9:22 to 10:45. The festivities, or more appropriately, metalities, are discussed in greater detail below.


1. March of the Crabs (Metal on Metal record, 1982) was the first of four songs Anvil performed off Metal on Metal, an instrumental that clocks in at over 2:30 seconds. I admire Anvil for having the confidence to play an instrumental as the opening song. Most bands would not venture to perform an instrumental song, particularly as the set opener, because it leaves them “exposed and naked.” [Neither alarms SK. After all, SK displays his family jewels in “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” documentary (2009).] The lack of vocals that otherwise adds a layer to the musical canvas means musicians have to be confident in their musicianship to rely solely on their instrument-playing skills. SK masterfully ran off a battery of riffs on his battle-scarred, black flying V guitar, one of two that has comprised his arsenal for at least 21 years, while Glenn Gyorffy (aka Glenn Five/G5) (“G5”) played a maroon five-string Gibson Thunderbird bass.

Steve Kudlow 2. 666 (Metal on Metal, 1982) is a powerful, fast-paced song clearly demonstrating the band’s thrash roots and why Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax cite Anvil as an influence. At the conclusion of the song SK displayed the sign language version of the song title, his open right hand displaying five digits and his left hand displaying, what else, the middle finger.

3. School Love (Hard ‘N’ Heavy, 1981). Before School Love SK said, “We are so lucky to play at this venue.” SK wore a black muscle shirt with the phrase, “freaken eh” printed in white and red lettering on his chest, black jean pants, studded belt, white sneakers, and a black sweatband on his right arm. Anvil launched into School Love, a song with a catchy chorus and verse. This is a fairly light rock song, Anvil’s lightest in an otherwise heavy set.

4. Winged Assassins (Forged in Fire, 1983). SK introduced the next song as “an anti-war song.” Robb Reiner (“RR”) started the punishing song by subjecting his floor toms to some heavy-handed beating. RR wore a black snap button leather vest, long-sleeve black cotton shirt, black jeans, and a black bandana atop his head. RR played a black-colored ddrum drum set with double bass drums featuring the Anvil logo and lightning bolts in each bass drum head along with the word “Robb” in one drum head and “Reiner” in the other. Winged Assassins has an Iron Maidenesque quality to it. After SK’s solo, RR and G5 provided rollicking drum beats and bass lines, with G5 spreading his legs and using his fingers to nimbly pluck his bass strings without a pick a la Steve Harris (Iron Maiden bassist). [G5 looked as if he was stretching for a heavy duty sumo wrestling session. I anticipated seeing G5 take his pants off to reveal a white mawashi (i.e., cloth worn to cover the private area), clap his hands, stomp his feet, and throw salt over his shoulders.

Glenn Gyorffy / G5 5. This Is Thirteen (This is Thirteen, 2007). Before This Is Thirteen SK said, “I do not fit your typical rocker stereotype. I am a music fan. It sucks when musicians do not come out and meet their fans. After the show I want to meet everyone. You have been to my house. You know my mother” [referring to scenes from “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” documentary]. I felt bad for the fans who paid the additional money above and beyond the $17 face value ticket price for a pre-show chance to meet the band, including obtaining a copy of This is Thirteen, “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” DVD and Anvil fanny pack. However, judging from SK’s graciousness and friendliness when I met him, he likely would have reached in his pants pocket and refunded the money requested by any disgruntled fan. [Given RR’s onscreen penchant to casually smoke marijuana as if sucking on tic tacs, it is safer for SK to perform this task because RR may inadvertently pull out a roach in lieu of currency, and not of the insect variety.]

Anvil performed This is Thirteen, the first of three songs off This is Thirteen, a song with an eerie vibe featuring a straightforward introductory drum beat by RR and a plodding chord progression by SK reminiscent of Black Sabbath. This is a powerful song with an evil tinge. [The song is so dark and brooding I thought SK would come out on stage dressed in a hooded cloak worn by the grim reaper or The Emperor from George Lucas’s science fiction film, “The Return of the Jedi” (1983), light a candelabra, and summon spirits using a ouija board.] During SK’s guitar solo, G5 went back to RR’s drum set and placed his foot on the one-foot high black-colored drum riser. G5 wore a black t-shirt with the phrase, “Dirt Bag” printed in grey letters on his chest, black jean pants (with two chains extending from his belt loop to his back pocket), studded belt, green Converse sneakers, and green sweatbands.

Steve Kudlow 6. Mothra (Metal on Metal, 1982) is an up tempo song with a chugging riff. SK’s voice struggled during the first verse, but was then in fine form. SK effortlessly played a guitar solo. [SK played with such fluidity he would have been able to crochet while wailing on his flying V.] G5 periodically used his right fist to slam on the body of his bass. Following SK’s guitar solo, SK played power chords galore. RR played three drum beats on his floor toms after which SK and G5 stopped playing. SK lifted his guitar to his mouth and repeatedly shouted “yeah” into the guitar pickups, using them as a makeshift microphone. Interestingly, SK’s voice reverberated through his guitar amplifiers in a muffled tone prompting the audience to shout “yeah” back. SK pulled out his weapon of choice, a silver dildo from his right rear pants pocket. With a sly grin from ear to ear, SK held his trademark weapon in the air, basking in the moment as the dildo shimmered in the spotlight. [SK held the dildo with such pride and poise he looked like the final runner in the Olympic torch relay given the noble task of running to the cauldron placed atop a grand staircase and using the torch, in this case a dildo, to signify the commencement of the Olympic Games.] SK sat on a stage monitor stage front, Steve Kudlow gripped the dildo with might in his left hand, much as he has done for at least 26 years, and ran it up and down his guitar neck, substituting the dildo for a guitar slide. SK switched the dildo to his right hand, demonstrating his dexterity as he tapped the dildo on his guitar strings while strumming chords with his left hand. Some of the audience members had a mesmerized look on their face, akin to the look on the faces of those who witnessed Jimi Hendrix light his Fender Stratocaster guitar on fire at London’s Astoria club (03-31-67) and the Monterey International Pop Festival (06-18-67). True, SK’s antics are not as earth shattering as Hendrix’s, but how many guitarists are able to captivate an audience by playing a guitar with a fake penis?!SK got up from the stage monitor and returned his weapon (i.e., dildo) to its holster (i.e., rear pants pocket). SK played a two-minute guitar solo that included a chugging chord progression he played progressively slower. I would have omitted this latter solo as the highlight was the solo with the dildo. The subsequent solo caused the song to drag a bit and took away the momentum created by witnessing SK a man play a guitar with a prosthetic penis. At the end of the song SK went back to the four guitar amplifiers located at the rear of stage left for guitar feedback a la Ritchie Blackmore (former Deep Purple and Rainbow guitarist).

7. Flying Blind (This is Thirteen, 2007). Before Flying Blind SK said, “I am glad to be alive guys!” [The joy and enthusiasm contained in the intonation in SK’s voice and expression on his face were patently clear. SK’s sincerity was as obvious as the stench of manure at a rodeo and beer at a fraternity keg party.] SK asked, “Have any of you ever been on a blind date? I got blisters!” SK’s jovial nature demonstrated his sense of humor and ability to connect with the audience on a personal level. This natural ability is partially responsible for Anvil’s newfound success and ability to maintain a devoted fan base since 1978. Admittedly, Paul Stanley (Kiss lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist) used a similar catch line when asked by a journalist to describe his firs sexual experience during the Australian leg of Kiss’s Unmasked tour (1980). Paul quipped, “I got hand blisters.” Regardless, like a classic Rodney Dangerfield joke, SK’s joke was still effective. The band performed Flying Blind, an up tempo song with a country tinge and “shuffle” feel. G5 impressively played a black 12-string bass, his picking fingers nimbly moving across the strings with great speed akin to Tom Araya (Slayer bassist) flailing away the frenetic bass lines to Slayer’s Hell Awaits from the Hell Awaits record (1985). It was impressive to see a metal band pull off such a song, but it did not quite fit in with the rest of the set. [I expected to see Garth Brooks stomp on stage with his 10-gallon cowboy hat and begin line dancing with SK and G5.]

Steve Kudlow 8. Thumb Hang (This is Thirteen, 2009 (re-release)). Before Thumb Hang, SK caught a black bra in mid air and mounted it on his microphone stand as if proudly displaying his trophy. [Given the gargantuan size of the bra I was surprised the stand did not sway like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.] After regaining his arm strength from mounting his enormous prize, SK paid homage to one of his heroes, Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath and Dio vocalist). “Ever since I was a kid I listened to Black Sabbath. Forty years later I am still a kid and still listen to Black Sabbath. I got to know the guys in Black Sabbath because Anvil opened for them. Ronnie James Dio is home undergoing chemotherapy. He is beating the [stomach] cancer.” The audience enthusiastically clapped. SK introduced Thumb Hang as a song “inspired by the boys” (i.e., Black Sabbath). Thumb Hang begins as a slow tempo song with plenty of “aah” “aahs,” and, approximately 90 seconds into the song, shifts to a fast tempo followed by a fiery SK guitar solo on his flying V accompanied by G5 on his maroon Gibson Thunderbird bass. After SK’s solo, the tempo resumed a slow pace. Anvil was wise to add this strong rocker as a bonus track to the version of This is Thirteen re-released by VH1 Records in 2009.

9. White Rhino (Still Going Strong, 2002). Before White Rhino, SK said, “It is time to recharge.” SK unplugged the guitar cord from his guitar so he could switch to his other axe. Before plugging the cord into his second guitar, SK inserted the cord into his mouth, much like a sword swallower. When the metal end of the chord struck SK’s tongue it created crackling and feedback in his amplifiers. SK jokingly pointed to his mouth and said, “This is my new guitar! [In such a case, SK could add “Loudmouth” as another nickname.] I have been friends with Robb since 1973. Nothing makes him happier and to smile than to hear the crowd.” The audience roared as the spotlight shined on RR. RR stood up behind his massive drum set, displaying a beaming smile, something that, by RR’s own admission, he does not often do.

Robb Reiner

Anvil performed White Rhino, the second instrumental of the set and the only song from the 1988 to 2006 time period. My admiration for Anvil grew further. Most bands would not dare perform one instrumental song, much less two. Anvil could care less about convention. [SK would rather raise his middle finger right before launching into whatever song his heart desired, be it an instrumental, a polka tune, or a waltz where he decides to embrace RR and gracefully dance across the stage in a flowing sequin dress.]

White Rhino is an up tempo song with a thrash feel. RR delivered a solid drum beat with drum fills for flavor. G5 pounded away on his bass’s body. SK got on his knees and burned on his flying V. White Rhino included a two-minute RR drum solo during which G5 left the stage. However, SK maintained a nondescript presence in the rear of the stage by his amplifiers tuning his guitar. After he was done tuning, SK walked within a few feet of RR’s drum riser and intently watched and listened to RR’s impressive solo with admiration and glee, refusing to take his eyes of his metal brethren since high school. When RR struck the last beats on his snare drum and floor tom, SK clenched his fist signaling that RR had “nailed it.” SK exclaimed, “How amazing is that! Robb Reiner rocks man! No. San Francisco rocks man!”

Robb Reiner

10. Mad Dog (Strength of Steel, 1987). Before Mad Dog, a song for which Anvil recorded a music video that received a fair amount of air play on MTV’s “Headbangers Ball,” SK said, “I used to own a bulldog named Beast. Beast liked strangers. He would mount them and ride!” SK told a brief story about how he sold Beast to an unsuspecting girl in a pet store. “I wrote a song about my bulldog. It is called Mad Dog.” Mad Dog is an up tempo song with a catchy chorus and chugging riff. At the end of the song SK shouted, “San Francisco, I am just a mad mad dog!”

11. Forged in Fire (Forged in Fire, 1983) features a wicked riff and ominous guitar trill (i.e., rapid alternation of two adjacent tones). G5 played his 12-string bass. During the mid-section of the song G5 and SK approached each other center stage, stood within a few feet of each other and jammed. Forged in Fire, along with This Is Thirteen, were undeniably the heaviest songs Anvil performed. These songs celebrate what is metal in its purest form, loud power chords and drum beats that hit the listener in the gut with such force he is left breathless.

Steve Kudlow 12. Metal on Metal (Metal on Metal, 1982). SK introduced Metal on Metal as the “last song for you.” Metal on Metal is prominently featured in “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” documentary and features a catchy chord progression. Following SK’s solo, SK and G5 raised their hands above their heads and clapped, encouraging the audience to follow suit. As the stage lights shined into the crowd, I looked back at the audience from front row and was pleased to see the 1,200-seat theater approximately 75 percent full, a much healthier turn out than the handful of fans in attendance at Anvil’s Munich, Germany show captured on “Anvil! The Story of Anvil.” At the end of the song SK said, “San Francisco, I had a magnificent night. Thank you and god bless.” The band left the stage at 10:40 and returned in one minute to play one additional song.

13. Jackhammer (Backwaxed, 1985). SK resumed his entertaining storytelling ritual. “I used to share a hotel room with our [former] bass player. He was a ladies man. One night he brought a sleazy lady to the hotel room. I woke up and she asked if she could do me! Her name was Jonah but I called her Jackhammer.” Jackhammer, along with 666, were the fastest songs of the night featuring a frenetic guitar chord progression and guitar solo. SK sang the verses and chorus in rapid (i.e., “jackhammer”) fashion. Jackhammer was an excellent choice to close the set.

Steve Kudlow At 10:45 the band took a bow ending the metal onslaught. SK came up to the microphone for one last time and said, “Give me five to 10 minutes to towel off, and I will come out and meet each and every one of you who hangs out.” Two flashback memories are worthy of mention. First, I recall seeing guitar maestro Yngwie Malmsteen perform at The Independent (“TI”) club in San Francisco on November 9, 2005. In contrast to SK’s minimal stage gear comprised of four mid-size guitar amplifiers for a 1,200-seat theater, Yngwie elected to place 14, yes 14, 100-watt Marshall amplifiers and Marshall heads on the tiny stage of the 375-seat club. After I reached front row at TI and observed the mountain of Marshalls within 20 feet of me, I began to salivate at the impending audio onslaught. I knew one strum of a power chord by Yngwie on his Fender Stratocaster would reduce my teeth to fine enamel dust. Upon closer inspection I realized Yngwie only had one of the 14 Marshall amplifiers and heads turned on. In contrast, SK did not feel a need for visual deception. Four road weary, mid-size guitar amplifiers sufficed for a venue three times as large as TI.

Second, the bewildered look on SK’s face when we met and he first took a gander at my karakul hat (i.e., hat made from sheep fur) and cherry red Dr. Martens combat boots reminded me of the look on the faces of airport security officials. SK certainly had no ill intentions because he demonstrated bewilderment, not suspicion. Regardless, SK’s prolonged stare brought back fond memories of the “special treatment” I receive at Steve Kudlow airports, dating back to the 1980’s, long before the heightened security implemented after the unfortunate September 11th terrorist attacks. The special treatment is a fun way for me to keep myself amused during boring trips to the airport. I recall one occasion in July 1991 where I gave my older brother and his then-wife a ride to the airport. The lovely newlyweds were in a relaxed state looking forward to a pleasant Florida honeymoon. My brother stood at the airline ticket counter. I stood approximately 10 feet behind my brother. In my periphery I noticed a security guard donning a plastic badge staring at me. I got bored and decided to entertain myself at the security guard’s expense. I started flashing glances at the guard with an insane look in my eyes, similar to the one Jack Nicholson flashed as he chopped through the bathroom door in Stanley Kubrick’s psychological horror film, “The Shining” (1980). After the third gaze, I noticed the guard getting uneasy, whispering something to his colleagues via his walkie talkie shoulder speaker. The guard walked toward me, prompting me to non-chalantly walk up next my brother positioned between the guard and me. The guard sternly said to my brother, “Where are you traveling to? Let me see your passport.” My brother, who has a thinner skin for differential treatment and was oblivious to the mental stamina test I subjected the guard to, became infuriated and shouted, “I am only going to Florida! Why would I be carrying my passport! What do you want with my passport!” [My brother’s complexion morphed so quickly I thought he was a chameleon trying to blend with a bed of deep red roses.] The guard, who was now joined by two of his colleagues, thereby comprising The Three Stooges, passively nodded, ignoring my brother’s tirade, and repeated, “Just let me see your passport.” I gently tugged on my brother’s shirt and, with a feeble attempt to control my laughter, whispered the pre-interrogation events to him. My brother rolled his eyes and, with a stern frown and beads of perspiration on his glistening forehead stated, “Can’t you ever behave?!”

Glenn Gyorffy

Venue: The Fillmore (“TF”) is a historic San Francisco theater that, in the mid-1960s, under the direction of legendary late Bay Area rock promoter Bill Graham, was the site of psychedelic and rock music and counterculture. TF’s early days featured acts such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Cream, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix Experience, and The Doors. TF is a 1,200-seat capacity venue with a standing room floor similar to an oversized dance hall. Positioned above the floor are 10 chandeliers. The second floor contains a bar and box seats, specifically, six box seats stage right and another two, along with the mixing room, across the stage. Opening Band: Attitude Adjustment.

Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian. This article and all photos are protected by copyright. Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kabab of your loins.

Posted in Concert Reviews | Tagged | 11,956 Comments


Concert Review: Styx
(San Francisco, CA, The Regency Ballroom, 17-01-10)

Arash Moussavian The hazing by my high school friends for attending a Styx concert was inevitable. One friend stated, “Boy, Arash, I’m sorry. I feel for you. That must have been a brutal, awful night.” It was shocking to my friends that I would see Styx because even as early as age 14 I literally developed whiplash from head banging and carpal tunnel from overuse of the devil horns at metal concerts, and I clenched and drooled on Exodus’s Bonded by Blood (1985) and Slayer’s Reign in Blood (1986) records like makeshift pacifiers being suckled by a mentally underdeveloped child. However, after accepting the invitation of Foreigner’s keyboardist, Michael Bluestein, and witnessing the great concert Foreigner put on in October 2009, I decided to become more open?minded about music, humbly accepting Lawrence Gowan’s (singer and keyboardist) invitation to see Styx. I am glad I did because before Styx reached the chorus of the first song, it was patently apparent to anyone in attendance, regardless of chromosome count, alcohol consumption level, or distraction by the presence of a nearby beautiful damsel, the band is a group of polished consummate professional musicians whose main objective is to deliver an entertaining show while having fun.

Styx started the concert, with no opening band, at 8:00 pm. The band played a 110?minute set from 8:00 to 9:50. The band played 16 songs (one in partial form) discussed in greater detail below. Admittedly, the review is long. If you prefer a truncated review, please read the concert review in the local newspaper, where you will find the standard review by the “entertainment” journalist mentioning only Styx’s three most popular songs performed and containing numerous errors about band chronology as well as song and record titles. Such journalists are more interested in trying to look cool for the female fans in attendance and more preoccupied with the proper placement of ear plugs in their dainty ears to protect their frail hearing.

1. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) (The Grand Illusion record, 1977) started the show with a prominent keyboard introduction by Lawrence Gowan (“LG”). The overtly poppy, light?tinged keyboard introduction that lasted for over 90 seconds falsely led me to presume the entire show would be too lightweight and sugarcoated, causing me to enter a diabetic coma. My concerns were laid to rest when Todd Sucherman (“TSu”) subjected his crash cymbals to some heavy?handed beating reminiscent of Cozy Powell (late Rainbow and Black Sabbath drummer). Before the first verse, LG jumped off his pearl?colored keyboard riser elevated approximately 18 inches above the stage and positioned stage right, came stage front where he encouraged the audience to clap. Tommy Shaw (“TSh”) and James Young (“JY”) engaged in up tempo guitar strumming. TSh handled lead vocals to a catchy song that innately prompted the audience to tap their feet and bob their heads. [As I looked back from the photo pit I got the impression half the crowd was standing atop mini pogo sticks.]

Interestingly, Ricky Phillips (“RP”), who has been handling bass duties since 2003, was on stage playing a double neck guitar with a 12?string upper neck. This is because Chuck Panozzo (“CP”) handled bass duties during this song. As it turns out, Styx has been exceedingly supportive of CP’s valiant efforts battling H.I.V. In 1998, CP revealed to his band mates he was gay and battling this potentially deadly virus. As a founding Styx member who formed the band in 1961 along with his late fraternal twin brother, John Panozzo (original drummer), and Dennis DeYoung (original vocalist and keyboardist), CP’s band mates have encouraged him to participate on a part?time basis as health permits. John Panozzo died on July 16, 1996 at the age of 47 due to excessive drinking that caused him to develop cirrhosis of the liver and eventually succumbed to gastrointestinal hemorrhaging. CP told me post show his health at one time deteriorated to the point he weighed 130 pounds, at which time he was taking 30 pills per day, the side effects of which physically and mentally debilitated him to the point he was not able to get up from his living room chair. Fortunately, CP appeared in healthier form on and backstage, permitting him to perform during the first and final two songs. CP was immaculately dressed, donning sunglasses, a black blazer with fine white polka dots, black short?sleeve shirt with white polka dots, black wool slacks, and bright red loafers. [Given CP’s high fashion sense, fans unaware of his health status may have inaccurately presumed his stage absence for most of the show was attributed to a prior commitment to serve as a Versace male runway model.]

Styx 1. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) features a catchy chorus and a keyboard solo during which LG, who has a strong stage presence, rotated his single silver keyboard with a gold “Styx” logo 180 degrees and played part of the solo facing the crowd with his body stretched forward, and his hands nimbly hitting the ivory keyboard keys behind his back.

2. The Grand Illusion (The Grand Illusion, 1977). TSu introduced The Grand Illusion with a blistering drum introduction. For a nanosecond I thought I was listening to Nick Menza (former Megadeth drummer) deliver the introductory drum beat to Megadeth’s Addicted to Chaos from the Youthanasia record (1994). TSu wore a flannel white shirt with a red and gray plaid pattern and light blue jean pants. This is an enjoyable mid tempo song featuring LG on lead vocals, RP playing a five?string bass, and TSh playing a fluid guitar solo on an ivory Gretsch guitar. LG has a powerful voice with a high range, but it was not in top form because he was suffering from a flu bug (see later discussion). LG was sharply dressed in a black blazer with satin lapels, black satin dress shirt with an embossed honeycomb chest pattern, a black tie with a subtle silver glitter?like pattern, black jean pants, and black leather shoes with one inch heels. [LG’s pants were so tight one could literally count the number of coins in his back pocket. Before you wonder, I personally did not do a coin tally, but plenty of the female fans surely did because they were mesmerized by the sight of LG’s buttocks as if witnessing Jesus Christ walk across water. The one distracting aspect of LG’s outfit was his shoes because the sharply pointed tips were elevated about one?half inch above the ground, looking akin to leprechaun shoes. I checked and did not see a pot of gold on the keyboard riser. Regardless, since I stood a few feet from LG in the photo pit during the show, I wish I had a box of Lucky Charms cereal to place on stage next to his keyboard riser.]

Arash Moussavian 3. Too Much Time on My Hands (Paradise Theater, 1981). TSh handled lead vocals to this up tempo song with a catchy chorus. RP, who played a punchy bass line, was also finely dressed in a vertical?pin striped sleeveless wool blazer, long?sleeve black cotton shirt, black suede pants, black sneakers, and a black bandana with a white print around his neck. During the guitar solo, TSh, JY, and RP stood next to one another center stage and jammed.

4. Lady (Styx II, 1973) is a sentimental ballad that featured LG on lead vocals. During the first 60 seconds, the spotlight shined on LG as he sang the soft introduction sitting behind his keyboard. After the 60?second introduction, the rest of the band joined in, transforming Lady to a powerful mid tempo song with heavy drum beats. Following the introduction, LG jumped off his keyboard riser and sand the remainder of the song walking around stage and up and down the two sets of pearl?colored steps (seven to be exact) positioned on each side of TSu’s drum set.

5. Lorelei (Equinox, 1975) is a mid tempo song with a soft tinge featuring prominent keyboards and JY on lead vocals. JY wore a black blazer with leather lapel trims, short-sleeve black cotton dress shirt, black wool slacks with satin vertical stripes and black button-sized studs on the outer sides, black leather shoes, and a thin navy blue tie. [At the risk of sounding like fashion critic Mr. Richard Blackwell, the combination of a short?sleeve shirt and a tie seemed at odds. It is the combination one would see worn by a member of the pocket protector brigade as he exits from his cubicle at Apple Computers on Friday night with his hair parted like the Red Sea and far fetched hopes of scoring with the ladies at the local eatery. Sadly, his only scoring will come when he returns home to his PlayStation.] Lorelei features a dual guitar solo by JY followed by TSh.

6. Snowblind (Paradise Theater, 1981) is a slow tempo rocker. JY sang the first verse and TSh picked up lead vocals beginning with the first chorus. TSh wore a black blazer, black t?shirt, black jean pants, and black combat boots. JY played a fiery solo on his blue Fender Stratocaster.

7. I Am the Walrus (The Beatles cover: Magical Mystery Tour, 1967) is cover song by The Beatles that LG sang at a high octave while sitting behind his keyboard. JY, TSh, and RP provided plenty of chorus “whoos” and encouraged the audience to clap and sing along. TSh played a brown Gretsch guitar. [Given TSh’s fairly small frame and the large size of his Gretsch guitar, TSh appeared to be strumming a stand up bass. As one female fan put it, “Tommy is so cute! I just want to pick him up, fold him up, and put him in my pocket.” She was correct. TSh’s stature and scruffy goatee made him look like a koala bear.] This song features heavy drums by TSu who played a large tobacco brown Pearl drum set with double bass drums perched atop a pearl-colored drum riser approximately two and one?half feet above stage and three feet in front of the “Styx” logo backdrop with a black background and yellow lettering. JY and TSh sang the fade out vocals.

8. Boat on the River (Cornerstone, 1979). Before the start of the next song, TSh asked the crowd, “It is working?” The audience response was a resounding yes. TSh stated, “I love this city.” He strapped on a mandolin and proceeded to sing Boat on the River, a folk song with depth and emotion reminiscent of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung (1971). JY played a tobacco sunburst acoustic guitar while TSu used mallets in lieu of drum sticks for a deeper richer sound.

9. A Criminal Mind (Gowan cover: Strange Animal, 1985) features a deceptive soft keyboard introduction by LG that he sang while playing his keyboard. The song meanders between LG’s atmospheric keyboard compared with JY’s brooding JY guitar riff and TSu’s heavy slow heavy drum beat. The song’s power and depth is reminiscent of Kiss’s I Still Love You from the Creatures of the Night record (1982), albeit with a slightly faster tempo. This was the most memorable song Styx played up until this part of the set, making it clear why it has been incorporated into the set list.

Styx 10. Suite Madame Blue (Equinox, 1975). Before the start of the next song JY asked the audience whether they “will help Lawrence Gowan sing.” LG sang lead vocals without a keyboard accompaniment while sitting atop his keyboard. LG was aided by TSh’s 12-string electric guitar, RP’s bass line, and TSu’s light cymbal notes. Suite Madame Blue has a soft tinge for the first 2:00 minutes after which it transforms into a mid tempo power ballad with LG walking around stage singing with emotion. At approximately the 3:30 song mark, LG returned to his keyboard riser and played an atmospheric slow tempo 45?second keyboard piece reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Yes. At approximately the 4:20 song mark, JY kicked the song into up tempo mode. LG jumped stage front, JY played a fiery guitar riff on his brown Fender Stratocaster with plenty of left?hand vibrato, while TSh, TSu, and RP jammed along.

Given his state of health, LG did a good job on vocals and stage presence. Even in his weakened state, LG was gracious enough to come out and chat with me after the show. [When we chatted, LG sounded like Marlon Brandon in The Godfather: Part II (1974) and his pale blue skin tone gave the impression he had just thawed from a cryogenic state after being frozen in carbonite along side Han Solo in George Lucas’s science fiction film, “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980).]

11. Crystal Ball (Crystal Ball, 1976). TSh introduced the next song as one the band “wrote in a rental car while going up and down the California coast.” TSh sang lead vocals and played a natural wood 12?string acoustic guitar. The spotlight shined on TSh as he sang the acoustic introduction. At the 1:40 song mark, the rest of the band joined in, transforming the song to a power ballad. During LG’s keyboard solo, TSh went off stage and switched to a light brown electric guitar he used to play his solo. 12. Miss America (The Grand Illusion, 1977) is an up tempo song with a punchy bass line and driving drum beat. LG came stage front to encourage the audience to clap along while JY sang lead vocals.

13. Blue Collar Man (Pieces of Eight, 1978) is an entertaining up tempo song with a catchy verse and features TSh on lead vocals. The song’s verse is strangely similar to Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger off the Eye of the Tiger record (1982). I should actually say Survivor’s song is similar to Blue Collar Man because Survivor released its song four years after Styx. TSh played a memorable guitar solo on his brown Gretsch guitar while LG provided a nice keyboard accompaniment with flair, including spinning his keyboard around. At the end of the song, LG repeatedly rubbed his buttocks swiftly back and forth across his keyboard keys. [It almost appeared as if LG was a grizzly bear rubbing his butt against a Redwood tree trunk to pacify an itch he could not reach. I am sure the female fans would have been glad to lend a helping hand, likely two.]

Styx 14. Ruby Tuesday (The Rolling Stones cover: Between the Buttons, 1967). Before the next song, TSh commented, “We all sound great.” TSh was correct. Like The Beatles and Kiss, Styx has the benefit of a band with multiple lead vocalists (e.g., The Beatles, Kiss), affording the band to write and perform a host of songs suited for varying vocal styles. TSh told a story about walking down Mason Street, a street in the theater district of downtown San Francisco. TSh asked, “Are my pants tight?” [In reality, TSh’s pants were not that tight. I was tempted to run up on stage next to TSh and turn around to reveal my behind to the shock of the audience, serving as a somber warning about the ill effects of too many cup cakes, and not of the female variety.] LG welcomed the audience to sing along and proudly took out a laminated lyric sheet for Ruby Tuesday. LG sang the first verse and chorus while sitting behind his keyboard. This song led straight into Come Sail Away.

15. Come Sail Away (The Grand Illusion, 1977) features a prominent 60?second balladesque LG keyboard introduction. At the 1:00 song mark, RP, and shortly thereafter, TSu, joined LG. JY played back?up keyboards for LG who sang lead vocals. I looked in the audience and observed some female fans standing next to one another with cheeks pressed together, swaying back and forth to LG’s rhythmic keyboard melody, completely captured in the moment. [As an avid metal fan I am not accustomed to such heartwarming visions. To the contrary, I usually see skin and metal heads in the mosh pit flailing their arms more for the purpose of deflecting than embracing fellow moshers. The most heartwarming it gets in a pit is when one mosher helps a fallen brethren before an unsuspecting mosher’s combat boot inadvertently crushes his head, causing the fallen comrade’s brain to ooze out of his head like the creamy center of a Cadbury’s egg.]

At approximately the 2:00 song mark, Come Sail Away transformed into a power ballad. JY switched from playing keyboards to an electric guitar. CP joined the band for the second of three songs. For fans unaware of the reason for CP’s limited contribution, it must have been confusing to see two bass players on stage. [Confused fans may have concluded they were imagining seeing two bass players as a result of the ill effects of inhaling too much first? or second?hand marijuana smoke. Such fans must have thought, “I can imagine seeing two, even three guitarists (e.g., Iron Maiden, Helloween), but not two bassists!”]

At approximately the 3:00 song mark LG performed a 80?second keyboard solo. Following LG’ keyboard solo, TSh, JY, RP, and CP stood next to one another center stage and jammed while TSu delivered a heavy drum pattern, LG ran around stage, and a fog machine emitted dry ice. During the latter part of the song, TSh came stage front, kneeled and asked a female fan in the front row to walk into the photo pit and strum his guitar. TSh nodded to motivate the fan to continue strumming for approximately 10 seconds. [The look of joy and … ahem … pleasure on the fan’s face indicated she fantasized about strumming a different “instrument,” one located on TSh’s person.] The band left the stage at 9:27 and returned in one minute to play one additional song. When the band returned on stage, they threw guitar picks, drum heads, and reusable black grocery bags featuring a white Styx logo into the crowd.

Styx 16. Renegade (Pieces of Eight, 1978) was performed as an entertaining 22?minute epic that began with a guitar duel between JY and TSh. TSh played a 15?second guitar solo. JY then motioned for TSh to get out of his way so he could step forward and shred. TSh followed JY by playing a second guitar solo. Finally, JY topped TSh with an impressive solo that prompted TSh to slightly kneel before JY and motion with his hands that he was bowing before the riffmeister.

Styx then played Renegade. The song began as a soft ballad with TSh on lead vocals and then went into overdrive, featuring a catchy chorus. CP remained on stage as second bassist. TSh played the guitar solo after which, in mid?song, he individually introduced the band members. First, TSh introduced RP at which time LG came up to RP and took his photograph with a Polaroid instant camera. TSh then introduced LG who wrapped a belly dance hip scarf thrown on stage by a female fan around his waist and did an impromptu belly dance. TSh then introduced CP followed by TSu. TSu launched into an impressive two?minute drum solo. Finally, TSh introduced JY and said, “We call him the godfather.” TSh, JY, RP, and CP then came stage front, stood next to one another and jammed for two minutes.

Styx At the conclusion of Renegade, the band members left the stage but returned within one minute with black and white beach balls they kicked, threw and, in the case of LG, shot into the crowd using a hockey stick. Two flashback memories are worthy of mention. First, I recall being in middle school when Mr. Roboto from Kilroy was Here (1983) peaked at number three on the singles chart. A few of my yuppie classmates sat in the section of the cafeteria reserved for the “popular students.” These classmates were wearing their Izod shirts with collars raised and pastel?colored argyle sweaters draped over their backs with sleeves visible in criss cross patterns across their necks. Much to my annoyance, these classmates, who were sitting a few rows away, sang the chorus to Mr. Roboto at a loud volume and in a horrid pitch. I felt inclined to pick up the tater tots (i.e., side-dish made from deep-fried, grated potatoes) from my lunch tray and hurl them at their heads with great might, aiming for their foreheads with hopes the grease would make the tater tots stick and remain imbedded thereon, serving as makeshift bindis (i.e., small colored ornamental dots worn in the middle of a woman’s forehead, especially by the Hindu faith). However, I resisted the urge to prevent an automatic suspension by the principal. I then looked down and realized my anger has caused me to squish my tater tots, converting them to mash potato.

Second, I recall walking into my older sister’s bedroom in the late 1970’s while she listened to Styx on her AM radio. She whistled the melody to “Come Sail Away.” I decided to join her by whistling to simulate the sound I imagined being made by the egg-shaped spacecraft that housed my Mork action figure. My sister had bought it for me based on her love for “Mork and Mindy,” an American sitcom starring Robin Williams, an alien who came to Earth from the planet Ork in a large egg-shaped spacecraft (1978-1982). I told my sister Mork’s spacecraft was capable of circling the moon. She was annoyed and scoffed. In a valiant effort to prove my point, I pulled my pajama pants down, turned so my tushie was facing my sister and lowered my hand containing the spacecraft, allowing it to make a semi?circle in front of my tushie. My sister, who was trying to enjoy her Suisse Mocha coffee, lost her appetite and swiftly grabbed the soft-ball sized spacecraft out of my hand. As I was fleeing I heard the spacecraft whizzing through the air like a whiffle ball hurled by my sister acting like an all?star baseball pitcher. When the spacecraft struck the back of my head I heard a “clunk” sound. To this day I am not sure if the hollow sound emanated from the hollow composition of my head or the spacecraft. Venue: the building that housed the original Regency Ballroom (“RB”), known as the Avalon Ballroom, was built in 1911. The Avalon Ballroom operated from 1966-68 and reopened in 2003 under its current name. During the ballroom’s original stint in the 1960’s local bands such as Janis Joplin, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Steve Miller Band, and Big Brother and the Holding Company performed at this venue.

RB is a 1,050 seat capacity theater with a rectangular?shaped standing room floor measuring 96 by 69 feet with blonde hardwood floors and a permanent stage measuring 42 by 20 feet. Positioned 35 feet above the floor are 22 teardrop chandeliers circa 1900 secured on a roof adorned with gold medallions. RB has a horseshoe-shaped reserved seating balcony, the interior siding of which visible from the floor is virgin white. Four vertical white columns line the wall atop the stage and another six are present on each of the walls on the second floor. Also lining the side walls on each floor are six square?shaped gold?colored tapestries. The concert was initially scheduled to take place at The Warfield Theater, a 2,500 seat capacity theater. However, due to low ticket sales partially attributed to a ticket price with a $50 face value, the concert was moved approximately five days beforehand to RB.

Opening Band: none

Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian. This article and all photos are protected by copyright. Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kabab of your loins.

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Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus, Gwar vocalist

Arash (right) w/ Oderus Urungus Will Carroll: Gwar’s last four albums are thrash influenced albums. Do you plan to go back to the more quirky or awkward albums like This Toilet Earth (1994)?
Dave Brockie: I can see it happening at some point. For right now we want to stick with thrash metal because we feel like we worked through a lot of the other styles. The “awkward albums” is a good way of putting it because you were never really sure what the next song is going to sound like. At the time, we were going through a lot of changes in the band. Every time we turned around to do a new record I had a new line-up of dudes, which changes your sound. You cannot just throw someone else into the f**kin’ suit. It is going to change the sound of your band every single time. You have to get that sh*t straightened out before you can even start writing songs. So we ended up using all kinds of sh*t for those records. It was not until we finally got the line-up locked down once and for all on Violence has Arrived (2001). God I hope I never have to change the line-up again because I am so happy with Gwar being the metal band it was always supposed to be. I wanted the band to be metal. But all the previous guys in the band were pretty much punk rockers. So it took a really long time to get a metal sound. Scumdogs of the Universe (1990) was as close as we came to making a metal record. Then we went off . . .

WC: . . . America Must be Destroyed (1992) is pretty metal.
DB: Yeah. America is pretty metal as well. But it starts pulling away with The Morality Squad and Have You Seen Me? and starts to show the direction Gwar is going in with the next few records being a little more comical and experimental with the music. I honestly think we thought we had more in common with Frank Zappa than Ozzy Osbourne. But we are firmly through that period and really deeply ensconced in getting Gwar to be the metal band it wanted to be all these years. Since that decision has been made and acted on it, our popularity has had an incredible resurgence. We had it to get to it sooner or later. Metal was always the way for Gwar.

WC: Which is your favourite Gwar album of the awkward 1990’s?
DB: Probably This Toilet Earth (1994) because it has a great aggressive raw punk rock energy. It also has some bizarre almost industrial songs. It is all over the f**kin’ place. It has great production. It is also a really long album. This Toilet Earth, Ragnarok (1995) and Carnival of Chaos (1997) are each well over an hour long. We just poured everything we had into those records. We were just insane about making music. We felt Gwar was the most outrageous concept that had ever come along in music. We still feel that way. We wanted to push the limits as to what type of band Gwar could be. It was almost like we had to go around the bases a few times before we finally locked down on the metal sound. I swear to god it took like f**kin’ 15 years but we finally got there. We are happy with where we are at.

Oderus Urungus Arash Moussavian: You are 46 now. During the 1980’s were you a big fan of the thrash movement?
DB: I grew up right in the midst of it. I was into the Sex Pistols and the Ramones while the Sex Pistols were still a band. When the Six Pistols came to the United States for their first tour I did not get a chance to see them because they did not come to anywhere near where I lived. Malcolm McLaren [Sex Pistols personal manager] booked them on that f**ked up tour in all those really weird f**ked up places. I was totally into the [Washington] D.C. hardcore scene, Ian MacKaye [American punk singer/guitarist] and Henry Rollins. But those guys were way too humourless, tasteless, and jock-like. I had a lot more affinity with the West Coast hardcore scene, bands like Black Flag and experimental bands like Flipper. When Metallica and Slayer came along and kicked everything in the ass that was all from California as well. So, in a weird way, even though I came from the East Coast punk rock school, I had a much deeper affinity for the West Coast punk metal school because it had so much more humour to it. As much as I like the East Coast and is where I am from, it is dark gloomy. It is harder in a weird way. They make a big point of pride of it, “My New York accent.” [mocking tone] Whereas California tends to be more irreverent and light-hearted about stuff because you [California] guys get to live in a f**kin’ paradise. On the East Coast I can get a ticket for pot whereas in California I can go to the pot store and get some pot! Where I come from you can still go to jail for a long f**kin’ time for having some pot. And they [the government] will take all your s**t away from you. You will not have a house, any furniture, or a car. You will sit in jail for three years for an ounce of f**kin’ weed! That is where I come from! It sucks!

AM: Being from the East Coast, was the visual aspect of Gwar in any way influenced by bands like Kiss and Alice Cooper?
DB: Oh hell yeah! We saw what we were doing as a logical extension of other artists had been into. No one had taken it to the extreme Gwar had. I was a huge Kiss fan . . . at first. But when you start getting into punk and metal you start seeing Kiss for just how retarded it really was. I loved Kiss when I was a little kid, but they did not have a lot of kicks for me as an adult.

WC: Did you have any run?ins with Kiss?
DB: Many times. They have always been really cool to us. I met Gene [Simmons, Kiss bassist/vocalist] at least three or four times. I remember the first time I met Gene I was in the full Oderus Urungus suit. He was in the unmasked phase hanging out backstage. Gene walked up to me, and I walked up to him. We gave each other a look. Gene reached out and instead of shaking my hand he shook my “Cuttlefish [of Cthulhu,” prosthetic penis.] Gene was hilarious. I have another good story when we were playing Detroit Rock City [Kiss 1976 song] as a cover song on tour. We were playing The Limelight [New York City club] in ‘93 or ‘94, and we heard a rumour that Kiss was going to check out the show. We thought, “Oh my god that is incredible!” So we were playing the show. The Limelight has all these weird little rooms and a special V.I.P. section. We see Kiss in the f**kin’ V.I.P. section. We thought, “Oh my god!” So we were playing Detroit Rock City. I do not know how we did it but that night we f**ked it [the song] up so bad that we totally fell off the song. We had to stop playing the song and start over. We looked up, and they were gone! We were crushed. We thought, “Oh my god. That sucks!” I could just see them watching us and we started f**king up and just stopped. They probably just said, “Oh . . . let’s just leave” We had visions of Gene Simmons giving us the high five after the show and saying, “You guys were great! Here is a million dollars.” Instead they did not even stay until the end of the set.

AM: Talking about money, what would happen if you received a cease and desist letter from Gene [Simmons] saying that you ripped off the Love Gun (Kiss 1977) album cover on Lust in Space (2009)?
DB: We would be f**ked! He would be right. But for whatever reason I can’t help to think it has come to their attention, and they have shown mercy on us. We knew full well that when we spoofed the Love Gun cover we might get in trouble for. But we figured if we did it would be excellent publicity. It would make all the records we would have to recall 20 times more valuable. Gene has not stopped us yet. I think if he had a problem with it, he would have said something by now.

AM: As a side note for all the aspiring attorneys, there is an exception under the Copyright Act that would allow you to get away with it as a parody.
DB: Yeah. I figure if Pepsi got away with recently parodying Gwar costumes for f**kin’ Guitar Hero commercials. We were sure we had them on a f**kin’ awesome lawsuit. However, our lawyer said, “It is parody. Pepsi can get away with it. It is the same thing that has protected you Brockie your entire career so don’t f**kin’ bitch about it too hard.”

WC: How did you guys become a part of the Gathering of the Juggalos tour?
DB: They have asked us to come a few times. We have not been able to because of scheduling. We finally said, “F**k it, we’ll do it.” A lot of people we hang out with said, “Oh my god don’t do it.” But we saw it as an opportunity to get some new fans and to experience something different. It certainly was that, oh boy!

Oderus Urungus WC: How were you guys received?
DB: Really well. They love us. They did not put us up on the main stage. We were pissed at first. But we saw several acts [on the main stage] get bombed the entire f**kin’ set with batteries and cups of piss. That was a tough f**kin’ crowd. They put us in a cool circus tent. It was really fun. We had a really good show. The whole experience was totally weird, disgusting, and gross. It was just a sea of mud and grossness. It was horrible. We played at 4 in the morning. After the show we were walking around and looking at a sea of mud, piss, and shit. There was this pond people had been shitting and pissing in all weekend where the fish had died and floated up to the surface. It was just horrible. But it was cool in a weird way.

WC: Did you meet Vanilla Ice [Caucasian male rap artist on the Gathering of the Juggalos tour]?
DB: No Coolio [Black male rap artist] was there. I think Vanilla Ice had been there a few days before. Coolio was having a horrible time. He could not get through two f**kin’ lines of his song without getting a giant bottle upside his head. No respect, god!

AM: Talking about no respect, Gwar fans are known for being hardcore. What was the reason why Gwar did not play at Bloodstock [Open Air festival in England]?
DB: It was a scheduling problem. We got [offered] Bloodstock and a couple of festivals at the beginning of the month [August 2009] and we had a couple of festivals at the end of the month. The whole idea was to fill up the area in between with shows. But we found out that both festivals had exclusion zones around them, which means you can’t play within a certain amount [of distance] to the festival site. So there simply were not enough gigs to make it worth hanging around there for f**kin’ three weeks. So we had to pick one [Bloodstock] or the other [Wacken] and we ended up going with Wacken [festival site in northern German], which was really amazing. We played for 80,000 people. But we are back on for Bloodstock this year [2010] and playing a bunch of other festivals and a bunch of club shows to make it work. Gwar has been on the rebuild in Europe for the last few years. This year we should finally see some payoff.

Oderus Urungus WC: Was Gwar bigger in Europe in the early 1990’s?
DB: Yeah. We were a LOT bigger, and then we lost them [fans]. We were really big for Scumdogs of the Universe (1990) and America Must be Destroyed (1992). We lost them [i.e., fans] a little bit when we started getting a little more punk rock and experimental because you know how they feel about their metal over there. They are very serious about it. They want it a certain way. When we started getting into some of the more subtle humour to Gwar, they did not know how to deal with it, and we plummeted and did not even go over there for five or six years. Finally, about three years ago, people started realizing we are putting out metal records again and started getting interested in Gwar again. Now it has blown up over there, which is pretty cool. Not many bands can do that, to be born, rise, go away, and then come back again and go through the process again. It shows the legs of metal. People love it so much they will take it any way they can get it. They do not care if these guys are in their f**kin’ sixties. They do not care if Saxon is in their damn sixties.

WC: Gwar performed at Sounds of the Underground [travelling festival tour similar to Ozzfest] two years in a row, correct?
DB: Three [2005-2007].

WC: That must have been huge?
DB: That was another big thing, yeah because we played with so many awesome metal bands. They got to see us every day, and they went around saying, “Gwar have basically remade themselves in the image of metal.” Playing with those bands as a peer was huge. Not just for the perception of Gwar by the fans, but for our perception of ourselves to be rolling with Cannibal Corpse, Black Dahlia Murder, and all these killer metal bands and playing along side them every day and being treated as equals or, in some cases, as headliners. It made us feel like we were in the right club again.

WC: Do you have any favourite bands from the Sounds of the Underground tours?
DB: The first tour [2005] was particularly amazing because there were so many different types of bands, Clutch, Lamb of God was headlining, Opeth, Unearth, High on Fire, Strapping Young Lad. So many awesome bands. That first Sounds of the Underground tour was probably the most fun tour I have ever been on.

AM: In 2006 did Gwar do a special “half-time” show at the Sounds of the Underground?
DB: We felt Gwar should have a certain amount of special notice being on there. We needed to have a clear cut block of time that we could work with. So they basically took up area [i.e., time] in the middle of the whole show to let us tear the whole stage down, set up, and tear it down again. We did that for the first two go rounds [i.e., festival tours] and then finally on the third and very last year we ended up headlining.

AM: Since Gwar is such a visual band, have you ever thought about performing in the round [i.e., stage in the middle of a venue as opposed to one end]?
DB: That would be cool. But I do not think we will be opening up for Metallica any time soon. Even if we do they will let us only use one little slice of the pie. We just haven’t had a chance yet.

WC: Is the role playing game still in production?
DB: No. Not right now. There were rumours of it, but it never really happened.

WC: So you guys just made the original one and that was it?
DB: Yeah. We never went any further with it. It was just the miniature game. Unfortunately it never went any further.

AM: Did you want to talk about the penis controversy in North Carolina [1990 incident where Dave Brockie was arrested by police post show for “obscenity”]?
DB: It was such a bunch of crap. They weren’t really interested in stopping what I did, but more that they were trying to shut down a local club and using Gwar as an excuse. It was bullsh*t. They arrested me and threatened with deporting me. We had to plea?bargain out of it. The weirdest part about it was the judge’s name, Richard Boner, Dick E. Boner.

WC: I am a huge fan of Gwar’s music. I could give or take the stage show because I love the albums. Does it get to you that 75 percent of the people at a Gwar show are there to see the spectacle.
DB: As long as they are there I am stoked. I am not about to qualify why there are into my band. Whether people are more into the shows than the music or vice versa, they are opposite sides of the same coin. One has to go with the other. We would look pretty stupid standing up there [on stage] without costumes on. But you never know. You are like one of those rare people that is more into the music than the show. That’s vindicating. Considering that you are a professional musician yourself that is awesome.

AM: Gwar released a live record, Live from Mt. Fuji (2005). Since Gwar is such a visual band, how difficult is it to get across what Gwar does on an audio medium?
DB: I don’t know. We just did it and had some fun with it. We decided to do a live record, completely live, say it is in the future, say we recorded in Japan. We stole the f**kin’ crowd sounds from Cheap Trick’s Live at Budokan (1978). We just had a good time with it. We figured pretty much everyone would figure it wasn’t really live, wasn’t really recorded at Mt. Fuji, and wasn’t really from the future. But you know what, some people really think it is! So I guess it worked.

AM: Why is We Kill Everything (1999) is your least favourite record?
DB: Because we were going through the most problems with personnel changes, and we could not keep people in the band long enough to write a f**kin’ song. We ended up using a lot of material that probably would have gone to DBX [Dave Brockie Experience] or one of my jokier side projects. Some Gwar fans absolute love Fu*kin’ an Animal and Fishf**k. But for me that was the roughest album because Gwar was really not sounding the way I wanted it to sound. I was having a hard time getting it to that point and almost despairing of ever getting it there when we did that record. Luckily the very next record, Violence has Arrived (2001) came back with a shovel to the teeth. So we managed to get it back to in the right direction.

WC: You have had the same drummer [Brad Roberts, alias Jizmak Da Gusha] . . .
DB: . . . and the same guitar player [Mike Derks, alias Balsac the Jaws of Death] since Scumdogs of the Universe (1990)

WC: Killer drummer.
DB: He is a great drummer. I would say he is a cross between Keith Moon [late Led Zeppelin drummer], Buddy Guy [blues guitarist?], and Dave Lombardo [Slayer drummer]. But he would never take the Dave Lombardo part because Brad hates metal. It took forever to get him to play metal music. It was not until we went out with Lamb of God and they opened up for us on a whole tour that Brad was exposed to Chris Adler [Lamb of God drummer]. He [Brad] saw and heard for the first time that metal could be really f**kin’ cool. That was when I finally managed to prevail on Mike [Derks] and Brad [Roberts] that Gwar should be a f**kin’ metal band or it was just not going to be happening anymore.

WC: Brad’s drumming gets better on every Gwar album.
DB: He pretty much just started playing double kick [drums] fairly recently.

WC: War Party (2004) was the first album that I noticed REALLY good drumming.
DB: Yeah. Well Brad really had to step up because a lot of these drummers out there today are just so f**kin’ insanely sick. Brad tries to keep up with that s**t. He has a loose almost jazzy kind of feel to him. But he just wallops the hell out of those f**kin’ things [drums]. Very unique f**kin’ style and it is a big part of our sound.

WC: Does Brad ever have to consider his costume for the beats or fills he does?
DB: No. He can pretty much do whatever. He just wears that big thing on his head. The rest is pretty much mellow. He has a vest thing. But he drops that before he sits down. He just throws it off his shoulders. So he can move pretty well.

AM: The experimental sound you had with records like Carnival of Chaos (1997) continued for a few records, similar to what Metallica did with Load (1996) and Reload (1997). With Metallica the personnel remained the same but they were misguided and continued with the same style for two records. Was the reason why Gwar remained the same experimental style more personnel related?
DB: Yeah. The personnel suggested what happened. We did not have an idea for the record or how it was going to sound. It just kind of turned out that way because those were the people we had in the band at the time. It was not like Metallica who just said, “Yeah we decided to go ahead and blow for two albums.”

AM: Does that mean that even though you have been the one who has been in the band the longest you do not necessarily dictate the musical direction?
DB: [Correct], not at all. I do not. If I have ever been accused of being a dictator, it is wrong. I like to let these guys pretty much do what they want. I trust them as artists and people. That is part of the trade off of being in Gwar. We cannot afford to pay our guys a hell of a lot. One thing you do get out of it is to experiment with your art. You get to have a support system to help you figure out what is going on with your art and music. That is what brings all these different weirdoes to Gwar. Me giving them confidence inspires them to all kinds of heights. That is Gwar has worked since the very beginning. I do not try to prevail. I suggest. When I feel strongly about something, I will strongly suggest. I will even fight for things. But, generally [speaking], at the end of the day it is a democracy even to the point where sometimes we might not end up with the best idea. In getting two opposite camps to come together you meet in the middle somewhere. You end up with something that neither person thought you were going to have. But it ends up working.

AM: From a visual standpoint, who is primarily responsible for coming up with the theatrical ideas?
DB: I would give Hunter Jackson [co-founder, alias Techno Destructo and Scroda Moon] the biggest accolades for coming up with the whole basic look of Gwar. He was the guy creating the props and costumes when I was playing with Death Piggy [punk band]. I would go over to Hunter’s studio after Death Piggy rehearsals and help him work on the props and costumes. It was combining his visual [ideas] and my band [Death Piggy] that turned into Gwar. But after Hunter a lot of other artists came on, people like Don Drakulich [alias Sleazy P. Martini] and Chuck Varga [alias Sexecutioner], Bob Gorman [alias Muzzle Slave], and Matt Maguire (alias Mattron/MX2]. We have had so many amazing talented artists over the years. They have affected Gwar’s visual sensibilities in different ways.

WC: Is Gwar going to bring back the World Maggot?
DB: Yeah. We have been thinking about it. Maybe next year. We have just had a lot of problems with it because you feed girls to it and they come the back of it and end up just wandering around backstage, hitting their heads, or just stay inside the f**kin’ thing and not come out so that you are loading it up into the f**kin’ truck and some chick comes rolling out of it. So you can get into trouble with that prop, which is one of the reasons we have not brought it back.

WC: But the World Maggot is very cool.
DB: It is really cool. I would not be surprised if we did not bring it back next year.

AM: The next record is projected to be released October 2010?
DB: We are hoping to get it out before the end of the two-year anniversary. The first day of the anniversary is the new album [Lust in Space (2009)] coming out. But it is a two?year anniversary. I think we will have a new record done before then [end of the two-year anniversary].

AM: How is that you manage to tour so extensively and, at the same time, put out so many records when other bands are having trouble frequently releasing records?
DB: Other bands are lazy pussies. We like to write music. We like to play music. It does not really seem that hard to do. We can crank records out really fast. We can write songs really fast. Really great songs tend to be written really fast. So doing six months on the road and putting out an album is a year’s work for us. That is pretty much what we have been used to over the years. It is the schedule we set for ourselves that felt comfortable.

AM: The musical direction for the next record continues in the same vein as Lust in Space (2009)?
DB: I would like to see Gwar get a little darker. We just did a big comedy soap opera in outer space [with] Lust in Space (2009). With the next record I would like to see Gwar a little darker, gloomier, sicker, and maybe something a little more chaotic and not so formulated as far as how we are telling the story. Maybe something a little more chaotic, repellent, and crazy. I am really not sure what it is going to be yet. But I already have the working title, The Bloody Pit of Horror, Gwar’s Bloody Pit of Horror and that is exactly what it will be, a bloody pit of f**kin’ horror!

AM: Are you into the darker bands like Celtic Frost?
DB: Oh yeah! Celtic Frost is one of my favourite bands [and] Carcass. I like those bands because they are fairly intelligent. But then you get into a lot of these supposed satanic bands that are just f**kin’ idiots. Some of them are really cool. But some of it is complete shit.

AM: On a closing note I wanted to go back to Gwar’s appearance on “The Jerry Springer Show” in 1990 brought you a lot of publicity. Did you have any run-ins with the guys in The Mentors subsequent to the appearance.
DB: El Duce is the guy that set us up really. The Mentors played with Gwar right before the Springer show. El Duce was the guy who went all around the country telling everybody about Gwar saying, “We just played with this band from Richmond, Virginia, Gwar.” He was one of the guys who really got the word out about Gwar. We did lots of shows with El [Duce]. He was really a great guy. “The Jerry Springer Show” was actually the last time I saw him alive [El Duce died on April 19, 1997 in Riverside, California after being hit by a train while intoxicated].

AM: No communication with El Duce after “The Jerry Springer Show?”
DB: Well he was never someone you would communicate with when you weren’t on the road because when he wasn’t on tour he would go underground. You never knew where he was. He would never have a phone, apartment, or anything like that. I remember pulling up on Hollywood Boulevard and seeing El crawl out of a f**kin’ refrigerator box saying, “Yeah this is my new house.” Six months later I saw him in F**kin’ Florida wearing alligator?skin boots and a big cowboy hat. He was such a weirdo. But I am sure he did not kill Kurt Cobain! (laughter) [On April 17, 1997 El Duce asked his friend Drew Gallagher where he could get a fake driver’s license. Gallagher claims El Duce secretly informed him he had killed Kurt Cobain].

Arash Moussavian, Entertainment Law Attorney
All photos taken by Arash Moussavian. This article and all photos are protected by copyright. Please contact me prior to use, or I will make shish kebab of your loins.

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