That's how yesterday felt, a frustrating day, where we bashed out new tunes, talked about things that weren't pleasant to talk about, and hammered at new tunes trying to find that special something, that killer hook, that amazing vocal melody, that brutal riff, that great lyric to shout, that magical thing that makes all 4 of us go, "fuck yeah, that's killer, or, "now we got a song here!!"
But all to no avail.
Songs, songs, songs!! That's all my brain is thinking about, I've had to meditate before I go to bed every night or all I do is stare at the ceiling thinking... and thinking... and thinking. About life, about things, moments, about lyrics, about songs, "maybe it can go this way, or maybe it can go that way..." AGH!!
Last night I didn't meditate, instead I went to see my friends Orange Goblin crush The Metro in Oakland. Jared and I demoed new tunes til 8:30 or so, then met up with the OG guys at Beer Revolution (cool punk rock beer-only-bar that has 400 beers available), drank some of my favorite Belgian beer "Foret", then went and rocked out. I caught the support band Holy Grail, who were rockin', great frontman, both guitarists were SH-RED-DERS! The Goblin killed it, great drunken vibe, touring the US now, don't miss 'em!
Got home late, thought about meditating, but was buzzed enough to crash out and not think.
And today is a new day.
Before we left the jam room last night, Dave drew a happy face w/ buckteeth on the dry/erase board and said "this is how tomorrow is gonna be".
Heading to practice in a few minutes, I'll let you know how it goes.
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Because being #1 often means playing to the lowest common denominator. It means dumbing your music down to such a level that every soccer mom and mini-van driving dad can enjoy it as it plays in the background. That said, there have been some exceptional, authentic records that came in at #1, but it's very rare, to me 95% of the time it means watered down music.
So I started researching it, fucking-around-on-the-internet, and man, there are a lot of records, surprising records, that never got to #1 here in the US. I was gobsmacked considering the importance of the music.
Here's a list of my favorite albums that DIDN'T chart at #1 and never got to #1 on the US charts: ("peaked at" refers to the highest position it got to, not what it "debuted at" which many times was much lower)
Back In Black (peaked at #4, over 22 million sold in the US)
Master Of Puppets (charted #128, peaked at #29, certified gold a year later, 6 million sold in the US to date)
Ride The Lightning
Vulgar Display Of Power (peaked at #44, 2.7 million in the US to date)
...And Justice For All
Reign In Blood (peaked at #94, six years later certified gold)
Seasons In The Abyss (peaked at #57, four years later certified gold)
Peace Sells...But Who's Buying
Revolutionary Vol. 2
The End Of Heartache
Never Mind The Bullocks...Here's The Sex Pistols
Among The Living
Dirt (peaked at #9)
Feel The Darkness
Straight Outta Compton
A Rush Of Blood To The Head
Songs For The Deaf
Paranoid (peaked at #23)
Masters Of Reality
It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Appetite For Destruction (debuted at #182, and took over a year to eventually get to #1)
The Real Thing (didn't even enter the charts until 8 months after release, peaked at #11)
As The Palaces Burn
Led Zeppelin IV (peaked at #2, yep, the album with "Stairway To Heaven" never went to #1, over 23 million sold in the US)
That's right, read that again. The album with "Stairway To Heaven", one of the biggest rock songs of all time, from one of the biggest rock records of all time, by one of the biggest rock bands of all time, never got to the top of the charts in the US with Led Zeppelin - IV. That is fuckin' crazy to me!?
And #1 doesn't mean great album, or long term success. Let's not forget that back in 2001 rap-rockers Crazy Town had the #1 single in-the-world (!?) with "Butterfly" and sold 1.5 million records in the US, did 2 Ozzfest's, and was managed by Q-Prime (Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers management) for a minute. Huh!?
There have been a few records that have gone to #1 that were great, heavy, authentic metal albums. Probably the finest example is Pantera's - Far Beyond Driven, a record so brutal and uncompromising it's shocking it did what it did. As far as rap records go, Eminem's - The Marshall Mathers LP is by far the most extreme record lyrically to ever go #1, songs about killing his wife, (and well, everyone) drinking, drugs, sodomizing journalists, LOL! (1.7 million sold in it's first WEEK alone, 10 million to date). Metallica's - The Black album also a fine record, though there was an obvious conscious decision to slow down, and be more accessible. It worked on every level imaginable.
We're finishing up writing our new record, we have 6 songs done, and 2 half-songs that feel like they're going somewhere. From time to time you wonder where things will end up or chart, but it never really comes on our radar, it can't, it dilutes the priority: authenticity. We've never tried to write a #1 album in our lives, the world is too fickle, tastes change, lives change, you just write for yourselves, maybe think ahead to what might work live, but ultimately, come up with "what feels right".
It's an arcane process, like walking thru a pitch-black room feeling the walls, looking for a door knob, and soon you find it, and that opens up to another pitch-black room, but eventually you see light under the door crack, you can feel when you're getting close, and soon find your way out. It's an incredible feeling when you do. I feel like we can see the light under the door crack, but haven't found our way out yet. It's daunting, a little nerve-wracking, and exciting all at the same time.
We've booked Green Day's "JingleTown" studio in East Oakland again, and we'll be starting on Oct 30th. Behing the board stuff will be the same team that did "Locust", Juan Urteaga and Brad K. engineering, myself producing for the 4th time.
So like I said, we're 6 songs deep, not quite finished, I feel like we still need a "Locust" type song. Still need an epic opener. We posted a picture of the song titles a week ago: "Killers & Kings" definitely feels like a "track 2". Uptempo, will be great live, big shout-along chorus, not sure where the rest are as of this Journal. There are some fast ragers ("Ojos De La Muerte"), one with an old school hardcore / "More Things Change" flavor (the Manson-murder-themed "Night Of The Long Knives"), "Beneath The Silt" has a "Elegy"-type vibe to me, but with way better execution, "Sail Into The Black" has a "Descend The Shades Of Night" sorta-feel but darker, and is the only long song of the bunch at 8 minutes, the others (for-no-reason-in-particular) all clock in at 4 or 5 minutes.
Do any of them sound like radio tracks? Do any scream #1 album, fuck no. That isn't the goal. It can't be. You know why? Because we're metal musicians, we're supposed to be the pioneers, the ones railing against the system, the ones challenging the norm, the ones pissing people off, the ones who 20 years from now will be held in the same reverence that we now-hold the Classic Rock artists or the Classic Thrash artists for testing the limits, for pushing the boundaries of music as we know it. For going where the other bands of that era wouldn't, who were on a Highway To Hell, who went faster and heavier and longer, and more intricate, more provocative, more confrontational, more "FUCK YOU!", that's what made that music so damn exciting, so god damn exhilarating!!
If we're not doing that, as artist, as metal musicians, as songwriters, then were just stagnating, were loitering. What’s the point? Have you ever seen a cop get rid of a group of people loitering? They just calmly break up an aimless crowd and go about their business.
This is Machine Head and if we’re doing something we stand behind, the authorities better break out the riot gear because there’s nothing aimless about this.
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This past Friday night after rehearsing and demoing new MH jams all day, I went and saw the punk rock / hardcore band Attitude Adjustment. It was at the long-running punk rock club in Berkeley world famously known as "Gilman St.," which I hadn't been to in maybe 15 or 20 years.
Truth be told I always hated Gilman St., no booze, and most of the people running the joint back-then were dicks, and there was no love lost from them towards Machine Head either. So you can say the lack of love was truly mutual! Machine Head was were banned (well, voted against by committee) from playing there, mainly on the grounds that we would just fight people, and bring a bunch of our fans who just wanted to fight people the whole show.
Now before you gasp with your mouths agape, they had every right to believe this because this is basically what happened at every local Machine Head gig back then. We individually had already been in a few fights in front of Gilman previously so they had some grounds to stand on, and we had already been banned from 3 other Bay Area clubs for fighting (The Stone, One Step Beyond, and The Omni). So in retrospect, it was probably all true, but they were still dicks anyway.
Tim Armstrong (or "Lint" as everyone called him back then) from Rancid actually spoke on our behalf at one of the committee meetings where they decided what bands were "ok" to play at Gilman. He tried to talk them into letting us play, but in the end, they voted us "off the island.” We gave em' one more shot back in ‘94 when we were shooting the "Davidian" video and we wanted to try and shoot some footage there, but again, they wouldn't let us. However this time it wasn’t based on our violent past but because we were signed to a "major label" Roadrunner Records, which ironically back in 1994 was actually still very much an independent.
I gave up on Gilman after that. So while we had genuine roots in the punk and hardcore scenes and were absolutely a part of them, looking back it’s rather simple. It was probably best for everyone involved as Machine Head was and is a metal band.
I still went there a couple more time to see bands I liked, Neurosis during the "Souls At Zero"-era (fucking mind-blowing, and I never missed a show of theirs back then, big influence on "Burn My Eyes"), and also to see my buddy Ray Vegas play in his band Social Unrest, and it would be Ray who brought me back to Gilman St. for the first time in a long time.
Ray and his wife Carla are part of The Flynn Camping Crew, and he now plays guitar in Attitude Adjustment, he still jams in SU, but "not as much" he says. AA got back together a few years ago and recorded a new album (which I have yet to check out) but it was apparently well received and really good. The drummer on our first album, Chris used to be in Attitude Adjustment. I freakin' LOVED AA's first album and used to go to Ruthies Inn (also in Berkeley) and see them play. At this point in time they had Kevin Reed singing, he was a formidable frontman and definitely a little out of his mind. They ended up being at the forefront of the crossover movement, playing equally dexterous on punk shows and metal shows.
Most people familiar with the AA story know the Andy "Airborne" Anderson version of AA. Andy was the singer after Kevin and he appeared on the CLASSIC debut "American Paranoia," and was already locally infamous for his death-defying stage dives at Exodus shows where he was immortalized in a photo collage on "Bonded By Blood", hence the nickname "Airborne."
And while I thoroughly enjoyed the Andy Anderson-era, it was the Kevin Reed-era that I saw first and always seemed to be a little more connected to. I saw shows with both singers but Kevin was and is intense. Pissed. He had "problems". He was fuckin' scary to watch, intimidating, I loved that! I saw him a few times at BART back-then, wasted, panhandling for money with other punk rockers, ready to punch anyone out who looked at him funny, dude's the real deal. In the early 90's when their 2nd album "Out Of Hand" came out, Kevin Reed back in the fold and I saw a bunch of those shows too, it was still brutal and awesome, and was inspiring for early-Machine Head.
So Friday night I meet up with my buddies Joey Cabral and Bill Callow at the Pyramid Brewing Company across the street and had a few beers (we all agreed the Alehouse Amber was the best). Ray and Carla soon joined us, I saw my old friend Gary Wendt (ex-Sacriledge B.C. / Skinlab and current Ghost Next Door guitarist) and his wife Bekki, and after a few beers we all headed over. I had to buy a new $2 Gilman membership card, as I think I wiped my ass with my old one, so I paid my $10 bucks and waltzed into the joint like I owned it. Oppressed Logic was playing and I was instantly taken back to the early 90's where I used to see them all the time at warehouse shows in Oakland.
Time has stood still in Gilman St., literally not a single thing has changed, it was exactly how I remembered it, and there was a weird charm to it, they kept their world exactly as they wanted it.
AA took the stage and was happy to see our ex-fill-in-drummer Walter Ryan (later-of-Madball), I guess he's now playing drums for them. Old school MH fans may remember Walter from Australia dates around '95, he did a couple of euro festivals back then in Holland and Belgium and played the 1995 Monsters Of Rock in England with us. He killed it, I forgot how good he is.
Here's a YouTube clip of "A Thousand Lies" with him and us back in '95 and me talking a lot like a black guy.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHYX9k_tysM
Attitude Adjustment was awesome, people were going fucking nuts, old school punk rock skanking, endless whirling circle pit, it was a blast. Eric "Bobo" on the guitar with Ray making a devastating punk rock racket, a new dude on bass who just held it down hard, and Kevin Reed who hasn't lost a bit of that intensity. Ferocious. Didn't smile fucking once.
Played a lot of new stuff, which sounded great and went down great, but for me it was all about "Dead Serious" and "Dope Fiend", when they hit "Dope Fiend", that thing happened, that thing when music is done just right and you feel this thing physically take over your body, where this energy just compels you to scream the words, point your hand and sing the words back at the band. It was fucking awesome. I needed it. And to hear these simple songs with these simple, powerful messages / slogans / rants was fucking rad. Inspiring. Reminded me what it's supposed to be about.
If I had one complaint: They should run a few clusters of songs together. Song, break, song, break, it's fine every once in a while, but it broke up the momentum quite a bit over a whole set. Maddeningly, they didn't play "Grey World" which is a straight up punk rock CLASSIC, a fuckin' HIT!
For the first time in my life I actually enjoyed being at Gilman St. I'm glad Gilman hasn't changed, I'm glad they banned Machine Head, I'm glad they kept the outsiders out and just stuck to what they believed. That's the problem with the world today, everyones too quick to be someone else just to be accepted. In the end, that "un-acceptance" (on many fronts) made Machine Head a better band, and Gilman St. a better place for punk.
Attitude Adjustment - Dope Fiend w/ Kevin Reed
Attitude Adjustment Spotify Playlist
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Congratulations to Avenged Sevenfold on their latest "covers album" coming in at #1, who knew that re-recording Metallica, Guns N Roses, and Megadeth songs could be such a worldwide hit!!?? Ba-dap Psssssss!!
I'm on fire!!
In case you've been living under a rock, Avenged came in at #1 in multiple countries throughout the world. I'm happy for them. Good band. And while I like the new record, and really dug the last record "Nightmare", hopefully we're all coming down from our post-orgasmic #1-album-bliss, because it's time to call a spade a spade!! It's time to poke a little fun at A7X, cause there's some blatant jackery goin' on there wiggas!!
So here are my top 10 jokes about the new Avenged Sevenfold record:
10) Avenged Sevenfold - "Now with even MORE Metallica"
9) Avenged Sevenfold to change name to "Sad But Two"
8) Number of "spurting penises" drawn on Avenged logos suddenly skyrockets
7) Eyeliner sales skyrocket as thousands of heartbroken goth girls realize "Hail To The King" is actually "that ugly AC/DC bands song 'Thunderstruck'"
6) After hearing "Heretic", Dave Mustaine flips out, blames Obama, Metallica and UFO's for the A7X stealing "Symphony Of Destruction".
5) After seeing how much success the band Bush had stealing other band names for song titles, A7X decided to steal "In Flames" for latest chorus. Future chorus lyrics include "Tr-vi-um" and "Kill-switch En-gage"
4) Upon hearing latest album, Lars Ulrich goes all gangsta, breaks bottle of Dom Perignon on M. Shadows head, while his 11ft girlfriend put Shadows in headlock, as he screams in Shadows face, "You're gonna rip off St. Anger next right, HUH? You're gonna rip off St Anger NEXT RIGHT? HUH, HUH, HUH!!"
3) "Black album" sales skyrocket as fans realise where new songs came from.
2) After hearing Avenged's Guns N Roses cover "Doing Time", Axl actually calls Slash, says, "Dude, What The Fuck?!"
1) And the #1 joke about the new Avenged Sevenfold album: Avenged Sevenfold release statement that they're NOT ripping off Metallica, announce side project with Lou Reed.
"LYING ABOUT SYRIA, AND THE LYING LIARS WHO LIE ABOUT THE LYING"
I don't watch the news.
It's depressing, fear-mongering, and there just to keep people scared and down.
I don't get a newspaper, I don't go to CNN or FOX to "catch up", and don't follow a news blog. So the other day when I saw President Obama on the screen imploring us to go to war with Syria, I had to step back a minute a go "what...?", "again...?", "I didn't now Syria had oil...?".
He touted out the same bullshit about chemical weapons that the last guy did, he did it strategically right before Sept. 11th so we could get all gushy and patriotic about "Merica", and in the end, he turned out to be no better than Bush. Fucking politicians.
But, I hadn't researched it yet, so I have over the last few days I did, trying to understand why we "need to go to war with Syria because they used chemical weapons on their own people", cause lord knows we've never done that *cough* chem-trails *cough*. And while I'd love to write a compelling General Journal on war, and how war-mongering politicians like Bush/Obama/ are why albums like The Blackening came to be, instead, I'll leave you with a funny, thought provoking article, that I hope you'll read titled: "Lying About Syria, and the Lying Liars Who Lie About the Lying" by peace activist David Swanson.
Lying About Syria, and the Lying Liars Who Lie About the Lying
By David Swanson
"U.S. prepares for possible retaliatory strike against Syria," announces a Los Angeles Times headline, even though Syria has not attacked the United States or any of its occupied territories or imperial forces and has no intention to do so.
Quoth the article:
"the president made no decisions, but the high-level talks came as the Pentagon acknowledged it was moving U.S. forces into position in the region."
Forgive me, but who the SNAFU made that decision? Does the commander in chief have any say in this? Does he get to make speeches explaining how wrong it would be to attack Syria, meet with top military officials who leave the meeting to prepare for attacks on Syria, and go down in history as having been uninvolved in, if not opposed to, his own policies?
Threatening to attack Syria, and moving ships into position to do it, are significant, and illegal, and immoral actions. The president can claim not to have decided to push the button, but he can't pretend that all the preparations to do so just happen like the weather. Or he couldn't if newspapers reported news.
(Yes, illegal. Read the U.N. Charter:
"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.")
"The Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies," said the so-called Defense Secretary, but do any of the contingencies involve defending the United States? Do any of them involve peace-making? If not, is it really accurate to talk about "all" contingencies?
In fact, Chuck Hagel only has that "responsibility" because Obama instructed him to provide, not all options, but all military options.
Syrian rebels understand that under all possible U.S. policies, faking chemical weapons attacks can get them guns, while shifting to nonviolent resistance can only get them as ignored as Bahrain. (Ba-who?)
"Obama also called British Prime Minister David Cameron," says the LA Times, "to talk over the developments in Syria. The two are 'united' in their opposition to the use of chemical weapons, the White House said in a statement issued after the call." Well, except for white phosphorus and napalm. Those are good chemical weapons, and the United States government is against bad chemical weapons, so really your newspaper isn't lying to you at all.
What did Obama say to CNN on Thursday?
"[T]he notion that the U.S. can somehow solve what is a sectarian, complex problem inside of Syria sometimes is overstated"
CNN's Chris Cuomo (son of Mario) pushed for war:
"But delay can be deadly, right, Mr. President?"
Obama replied that he was still verifying the latest chemical weapons horseshit. Cuomo brushed that aside:
"There's strong proof they used them already, though, in the past."
Obama didn't reply to that lie, but spouted some vacuous rhetoric.
Cuomo, his thirst for dead Syrian flesh perhaps getting a bit frustrated, reached for the standard John McCainism. Senator McCain, Cuomo said, thinks U.S. "credibility" is lost if Syria is not attacked. (And if the U.S. government were to suddenly claim not to be an institution of mass-murder, and to act on that -- then how would its credibility be?)
Obama, undeterred, went right on preaching against what he was about to do. "Sometimes," Obama said, "what we've seen is that folks will call for immediate action, jumping into stuff, that does not turn out well, gets us mired in very difficult situations, can result in us being drawn into very expensive, difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment in the region."
But you promised, whined Cuomo, that chemical weapons use would be the crossing of a Red Line!
Obama replied that international law should be complied with. (For the uninitiated, international law actually forbids attacking and overturning other nations' governments -- even Libya's.) And, Obama pointed out, there are options other than the military.
I've found that when Obama starts talking sense like this, he's actually moving rapidly in the opposite direction. The more he explains why it would be wrong and illegal and stupid and immoral to attack Syria, the more you can be sure he's about to do just that.
Here are my, previously published, top 10 reasons not to attack Syria, even if the latest chemical weapons lies were true:
1. War is not made legal by such an excuse. It can't be found in the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the United Nations Charter, or the U.S. Constitution. It can, however, be found in U.S. war propaganda of the 2002 vintage. (Who says our government doesn't promote recycling?)
2. The United States itself possesses and uses internationally condemned weapons, including white phosphorus, napalm, cluster bombs, and depleted uranium. Whether you praise these actions, avoid thinking about them, or join me in condemning them, they are not a legal or moral justification for any foreign nation to bomb us, or to bomb some other nation where the U.S. military is operating. Killing people to prevent their being killed with the wrong kind of weapons is a policy that must come out of some sort of sickness. Call it Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
3. An expanded war in Syria could become regional or global with uncontrollable consequences. Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, China, the United States, the Gulf states, the NATO states . . . does this sound like the sort of conflict we want? Does it sound like a conflict anyone will survive? Why in the world risk such a thing?
4. Just creating a "no fly zone" would involve bombing urban areas and unavoidably killing large numbers of people. This happened in Libya and we looked away. But it would happen on a much larger scale in Syria, given the locations of the sites to be bombed. Creating a "no fly zone" is not a matter of making an announcement, but of dropping bombs.
5. Both sides in Syria have used horrible weapons and committed horrible atrocities. Surely even those who imagine people should be killed to prevent their being killed with different weapons can see the insanity of arming both sides to protect each other side. Why is it not, then, just as insane to arm one side in a conflict that involves similar abuses by both?
6. With the United States on the side of the opposition in Syria, the United States will be blamed for the opposition's crimes. Most people in Western Asia hate al Qaeda and other terrorists. They are also coming to hate the United States and its drones, missiles, bases, night raids, lies, and hypocrisy. Imagine the levels of hatred that will be reached when al Qaeda and the United States team up to overthrow the government of Syria and createan Iraq-like hell in its place.
7. An unpopular rebellion put into power by outside force does not usually result in a stable government. In fact there is not yet on record a case of U.S. humanitarian war benefitting humanity or of nation-building actually building a nation. Why would Syria, which looks even less auspicious than most potential targets, be the exception to the rule?
8. This opposition is not interested in creating a democracy, or -- for that matter -- in taking instructions from the U.S. government. On the contrary, blowback from these allies is likely. Just as we should have learned the lesson of lies about weapons by now, our government should have learned the lesson of arming the enemy of the enemy long before this moment.
9. The precedent of another lawless act by the United States, whether arming proxies or engaging directly, sets a dangerous example to the world and to those in Washington for whom Iran is next on the list.
10. A strong majority of Americans, despite all the media's efforts thus far, opposes arming the rebels or engaging directly. Instead, a plurality supports providing humanitarian aid.
In sum, making the Syrian people worse off is not a way to help them.
But -- guess what? -- the evidence suggests strongly that the latest chemical weapons claims are as phony as all the previous ones.
Who would have ever predicted?
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The other night Phil Intragram-ed the album cover of Vio-Lence's ‘Eternal Nightmare’ and the photo said "Happy 25th ya fucker!" (He is @DemmelitionMH if you want to follow him as he posts picture after picture of his ENORMOUS CRANIUM!... LIKE AN ORANGE ON TOP OF A TOOTHPICK!!!!).
Man, was I surprised.
I don't really like talking about this subject, but...
25 years? A quarter century???
25 years since I recorded my first album, (with one Mr. Phil Demmel); it took me a second to digest.
That night I went to bed and had a dream. And let me just say, I have been having really intense dreams ever since I started doing this "theta waves" audiobook that I got from my buddy Nick who I mentioned a few journals ago. It's basically a few hours of waves-crashing-on-the-shore but the sounds are drifting left and right in stereo, it’s pretty mellow. Ever since I started listening to this I’ve been having really intense, sometimes totally fucked up, sometimes totally amazing dreams, theta waves apparently help what's called "lucid dreaming".
One night I dreamt that our merch guy (and man-of-many-hats) Pando, died. Not only did he “die”, but he died right in front of me! He was having heart attack and his face and arms turned black, I pounded on his chest, crying, trying to resuscitate him. That dream sucked. Another night I dreamt that Phil recorded this really big (though ultimately good) argument we had on his iPhone and then at the end of the dream, like some fight scene from the Batman TV show, the words "Vendetta" scrawled across the screen of my mind’s eye.
I’m telling ya, weird stuff, and always pretty clear and concise.
So the other night after seeing the album cover post, I have one of these crazy dreams, so I thought I'd tell you about it, cause it was fuckin trippy and kinda cool. I dreamt that I was watching myself, from the outside, like the ghost of Christmas past or something. The first thing I saw was me joining Vio-Lence (always hated that stupid spelling). As I’m watching myself join this band I was trying to tell myself different things. I’m telling myself to ask this or check that, or look into other things that when you’re in the moment, just doesn’t come into play.
The dream started out right after I had quit Forbidden (Evil, as it was back then, and yes, I took the evil with me when I left!) and joined Vio-Lence. I was hanging out with my sorta-friend Vance, snorting crank, and he convinced me that we should go steal two cases of beer from the new gas station on the corner of Fremont Blvd. and Thornton Ave.
Well in 1987 that sounded like a damn good idea, so we did it. We grab the beer, and jet out of the gas station and the owner just explodes out the door and he’s chasing after us with a shotgun, jumps in his Trans Am and chases us down the streets of Fremont. Running for our lives we ditched the cases of beer and cut thru a car dealership and jump a chain link fence. Well, as I was climbing over, my shoelace got caught on the top of the fence and I'm twisted up for a few seconds until I fall. Well not only do I fall but I heard an awful, aching, crunch as I land on my elbow and break it. (True story).
As I’m watching myself and all this unfold in my dream all I can do is shake my head. What the fuck was I thinking? But that’s it right there, I wasn’t thinking, and truthfully for as cool as I thought I was back then, watching myself hanging there from my shoelaces was fucking ridiculous.
So it’s a few days later and I’m now at my Dad’s house on 3141 Kipling Place. This is very surreal as I can see the way things were set up back then and it feels like I can just reach out and touch shit in the house. So as I’m there, there’s a knock at the front door, Phil walks into the house and wow, and he’s so young (but still possesses that GIANT CRANIUM!!). We walk into the living room, my dad's at work, he’s here to teach me how to play Vio songs. I’ve got my arm in a sling, I’m high on pain pills yet coming down from speed, and him going "oh wow...", and I'm sure he thinking in his head, "WTF, this is my new freakin' guitarist...?"
Now it’s a few weeks later after my arm is healed and my dad kicks me out of my house, for the 2nd time. This time it was for having incredibly loud (and incredibly awesome, I must say) sex with this hot Filipino girl who I stole away from my rival neighborhood guitarist Mark Branson. Let me clarify, it wasn’t a full on theft, it was more like a week-long tryst behind his back, but man, she was so hot! My poor dad, recently separated from my Mom, he had to wake up to go to work at 2AM every day to the Merritt Bakery in Oakland, and there I am a drunken teenager, having wild teenaged sex on the floor up against my bedroom door with an unbelievably loud girl. He's screaming, pounding on my door for me to shut up and get out of the house and what do I do? I just turn my skateboard upside down and cram it under the door up to the trucks to block him from opening it (which worked surprisingly well), so he's pounding on the door, I'm pounding... well..., and then I stick a sock (one of the old school knee-high gym socks with 3 stripes on top) in said girls mouth to make her quieter...
But of course, don't stop.
Man, she was hot.
It was SO worth getting kicked out all over again. However, this time it was for good.
So there I am watching myself, homeless, no car, just a Powell & Peralta skateboard, and the bus (AC Transit) and BART for transportation. Of course I was shaking my head again at myself and my situation. I mean yes, the Filipino girl was smokin’ but now I’m fucking homeless with an on again/off again job with my Uncle Donny doing construction where my title on the job was simply: GRUNT. I spend the next cluster of time moving around from various couches and floors with different acquaintances or friends until I’m sitting there watching myself living with Vio drummer Perry Strickland, his wife and young boy in his small Hayward, CA. apartment, it's empty, I'm eating Spaghetti-O's, day in and day out. I then move in with a crazy friend of ours named Jimbo where we have some of the most insane alcohol-and-crank-fueled parties known to man. While I fast forward through the parties in this dream, they were legendary.
I can’t exactly place where I was physically at when I see myself receiving the news that Forbidden was getting signed, not only were they getting signed but they were getting signed before us! So I get the news and I’m seeing myself just pissed off to no end. I then am witness as Vio gets signed (though I wasn't really involved in any of it as I was low man on the totem pole).
I watch as we record the first album with John Cuniberti, we were in Hollywood, drinking, not getting along, the struggle, the laughs, getting asked by John to play half the bass tracks on the record after coming back hammered on Margarita's from a dinner with the label. I’m watching while I’m asked to play some of Phil's guitar parts the next day. Everything is so real, I want to go and fix more than a few of my guitar parts during the recording, or grab my Charvel out of, well, my hands to re-record something that I know I could have done better, like the rhythms in "T.D.S. (Take It As You Will)" which I always thought I slopped thru.
I’m now on the road in the summer of 1988 and I have a great view watching us on the Testament tour. Having this perspective is crazy. We’re nuts on stage, just a constant blur of motion from the first note to the last, but as I watch us perform I know exactly what we were thinking at the time, we were arrogantly thinking that we were drawing all these people! We had the album with great distribution; we had the back pages of every Metal magazine in the world, our label sent out how many free demo tapes? Of course we’re drawing a “ton” of people!
I’m now backstage and watching myself go crazy, I was a kid in a candy store and wasn’t leaving until I had a mouth full of cavities! I fast forward through parties, groupies, blowjobs, bathroom stalls, Newark, New Jersey, good times. I see me loading my own gear, changing my own strings, paying my dues, not realizing it. I smiled at the young me because this due paying stuff would work to my advantage later in life.
I can hear Motorhead's "No Remorse - The Best Of" blasting with "We are the road crew" on endless loop. I can still hear Joe Gizmo and The Spudmonsters demo titled "Garbage Day" also on endless loop. Don’t ask me where the hell I fit in the van with all of us, our equipment, luggage, and 7 people with no trailer, but I was back in the van driving for 7 hours after the shows. I’m then in a Motel 6 somewhere in America sharing beds with Phil Demmel and Debbie Abono, listening and watching Phil sleep-walking/talking in his sleep (which he still does!), I'm at our daily Denny's stop watching Phil and Perry argue.
I fast forward to later, watching us on the road with Voi-Vod. Again, we’re on fire on stage but instead of thinking we’re the main draw, our arrogance was fading, the tour was a DUD. I found myself back in the van, the vibe was different, I was dealing with a crippling back injury after a hit 'n run while skateboarding, pain pills and speed, getting thru the shows. I wish I could have spoken to myself on any one of those drives, instead of wasting the hours in a hungover, pain pill stupor or sleeping to avoid my surroundings, I would have told myself that "you're in this for the long haul".
I had gotten a taste of the road and couldn’t see any other route in life I wanted to take.
Perspective is a valuable thing in life, it’s not something you can buy or borrow. It’s something you have to live through to achieve. You have to survive. You have own your victories. Own your mistakes. You have to go through the good, the bad and the in-between to grow.
If during this crazy dream sequence I was able to actually speak to 1988 Robb what would I have said? Of course knowing what I know now I probably would have wanted to say a lot. But I also know that 1988 alcohol and crank-fueled Robb would have told me to “fuck off!”. Even as he was swinging from the top of the fence by his shoelaces I doubt he would have listened.
I sometimes ask myself, is there really anything I would have done different?
Not at all.
The journey made me who I am.
Happy 25th Birthday Eternal Nightmare.
Joe Gizmo and The Spudmonsters - Garbage Day
Motorhead - We Are The Road Crew