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May 28, 06 11:56 AM

Chris Holmes Shitfaced in a Swimming Pool.

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Metal days revisited.

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Soul Coughing had a couple of metal guys as roadies, and I used to sit around and, nostalgic for my junior high love of metal, talk about whether Paul Di'Anno or Bruce Dickinson was the better vocalist for Iron Maiden. Being in this quasi - avant - beat - oriented band, I think they thought I was mocking them, but I wasn't. Maybe it was the extent of my unhappiness in Soul Coughing that made me long for simpler times and less pretentious music.

Over the past few years, I've slowly added classic metal tunes to my iTunes; first AC/DC and Black Sabbath (pretty much undeniable, whether you went through a metal phase or not); now Motley Cre's "Knock 'Em Dead Kid," Judas Priest's "Electric Eye," Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast." Scrap and Chuck introduced me to Slayer's "Reign in Blood," which I'm embarrassed to say I missed the first time around. I rock these songs daily on the train without irony.

But I'm suspicious of my own motivations (naturally, as I always am); at first, I thought I should avoid VH1's metal documentary, "Heavy"; I figured it was mostly 30-ish-ers like myself wallowing in nostalgia, disguised as irony (I Love the 80s, anyone?) But sitting down at the TV last night, there was just no way I couldn't watch it.

And it was great--smart, and unapologetic. With some haunting moments, like Jani Lane from Warrant talking about how he wrote "Cherry Pie" in one night, because his record company demanded a single; he hates it, spoke bitterly of promotional pie-eating contests and how the wretched tune would be his legacy, and actually wept on camera.

The years from '82 to '87 seemed like eons. Today, five years doesn't seem like much time at all to me. In that period I went from Judas Priest to the Sex Pistols to the Cocteau Twins; in 1984 I was all about Motley Cre, and in 1986 I was so embarrassed that I gave away my collection of vinyl metal records to a goth girl named Pamela who didn't particularly like metal, but was just aghast at the prospect of tossing a record collection away.

What happened? I sought more emotional music as my own emotions became more complex; as I shedded identity after identity, each one I discarded wholly. But as the documentary moved from the Priest/Maiden/Halen years to the hair-metal, Poison/Cinderella power ballad years, I realized that a change in the attitude (and the popularity) of the music alienated me.

Rob Halford, Vince Neil, and Bruce Dickinson were like outcast heroes, standing against a world of Reaganite conformity (and believe me, growing up among the military at West Point, I knew something about conformity, not to mention deeply buried anguish, and post-traumatic stress disorder). They were the superhero versions of what Paul Westerberg came to mean to me; figures of anger and angst.

Sebastian Bach, Jani Lane, and Bret Michaels were not; they portrayed themselves as guys at a party I could not hope to join. I jumped ship for Johnny Rotten and Joey Ramone, guys who were as ugly as I felt myself to be.

It was interesting to me when they talked about the blatant the - second - single - is - a - power - ballad ploy; it was obvious to me even as a guy clueless about the music indstry that this was a tried-and-true promotions tactic. They showed a montage of 1988 era second single power ballads; really funny. Dee Snider spoke sourly about how the tactic de-balled his career and sank it; Sebastian Bach talked about how it worked for him, and he laughed, cheerfully, acknowledging the corniness.

I am shocked that I have grown to like Sebastian Bach. I saw him in a production of The Rocky Horror Show along with my friend the former MTV VJ Dave Holmes. "I like him," Dave said. "We get each other."

When I was 21, in 1992, I was living with (and living off of) a rich girl who later discovered herself to be a lesbian. One night, desperately lonely, I called a 900 number from the back of the NYPress, and found myself talking to a girl who claimed to be a model. I told her I was a musician. She said she liked Skid Row. I went off about lame music and the underground this-or-that. "But don't you want to make it?" she said. The question stunned me.

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Posted by Mike at May 28, 2006 11:56 AM