Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blame Metallica

It’s all Metallica’s fault. As I look back at my last twenty years as a performer (and last ten years as a professional music writer), I can’t help but cite Metallica as the guys who threw me into this music industry maelstrom in the first place. In 1987, I was a bored ten year old snot living in suburban New Jersey. Growing up in the land of farms and Bingo, I perpetually searched for something, anything to give my ears a good thrashing. One day, I came across a cassette called Garage Days Re-Revisited. I read about Metallica for the first time in Metal Edge a few days earlier, so I figured it was worth a couple of bucks to give the band a go.

My life hasn’t been the same since. In hindsight, Garage Days Re-Revisited was the “gateway drug” to many of the musical and literary experiences that have defined my career. Metallica’s covers of “Last Caress” and “Green Hell” served as my official introduction to The Misfits, a band I not only worked with eight years later, but wrote my first book about. Metallica’s cover of “The Wait” got me into my all-time favorite band, Killing Joke. Years later, I’d write a book about these guys as well, shortly after living some memorable experiences in Pigface with Killing Joke alumnus, Martin Atkins. And if I didn’t become obsessed with Metallica when I did, I wouldn’t have become interested in Jason Newsted’s original band, Flotsam & Jetsam. Had I not become a fan of Flotsam & Jetsam, I likely wouldn’t have crossed paths with Newsted’s replacement, Troy Gregory - someone I now consider a dear friend.

As far as Metallica’s music… well, they were absolutely untouchable in the late eighties. When I first heard …And Justice For All, it was as if the God of Metal had waved his mighty, mulleted hair and shot a lightning bolt straight through my Walkman. I still remember listening to that album over and over again, each time awed by the band’s undeniable fury. My love affair with Metallica began to wane in the early nineties, thanks in large part to the constant presence of what I still consider to be a so-so album. By the end of the decade, I had given up on the boys almost entirely.

Fast-forward a decade, and I am once again a Metallica fanatic. Death Magnetic - a true return to form - is in regular rotation on my car stereo, and I still listen to the bands Metallica introduced me to way back in 1987. When Lucem Fero asked me to write a few words about Metallica for its blog tribute, it was an offer I simply couldn’t refuse. After all, had I not heard Garage Days Re-Revisited, I’d probably be playing Bingo with the farmers and not writing about music at all. So congratulations, Metallica, and thanks for inspiring a ten year old brat to pursue a career in music. Bastards.