METAL BLOG, Vol. 17 - by Steff Chirazi
Let’s not arse about here. The signs acre that 2017 could well be a strange one. The world, it appears, is hellbent on separatism, devouring the divide and conquer streams being fed by the fat and powerful worldwide. Fear seems to have made as big a return to nations as I have seen in my lifetime, and with it comes a wave of populist rhetoric which could deafen us all if we’re not on our game…in fact what will surely save us is if the only volume that assaults our senses comes from our speakers, our headphones, our stages and our voices; never, and I repeat, NEVER, has music been more important.
It is not news to you I’m sure. How many times have you slipped on some Slayer when life deals you a ball of filthy, heaving, unfair ‘situation’? How often have you allowed Motörhead to massacre your senses when the world has seemingly stripped the last vestiges of yours from you? And how much GREAT music has come from eras and places encrusted in fecal debris? Yes. Music is like a therapist. Some don’t get that, but I know you do, and you damn well know that life works so much better when the stereo is ON.
This leads me to now express what I hope for in 2017 in terms of how our lifestyle can aide the current climate, and what I think is a wholehearted necessity in order to protest, survive and positively say ‘fuck you’ to all notions of fear-based separatist politics and behaviour.
1) The house party must return – I’m not talking about cheesy discos, I’m talking about the idea of getting your mates together in the flesh to enjoy some good times, smoke conversations and most importantly, some music. Together. Slap on a live DVD (Motörhead’s The Wörld Is Ours…either volume, or Clean Your Clock even), maybe a live album or few if you want to bring a gig to your home. But most importantly, enough texting and Facebooking about what you are, or aren’t, listening to, get together with friends IN PERSON REGULARLY to listen and roar together…and here’s a further idea, invite a new friend, a fledgling metalhead who could do with some friendly faces to show them the ropes.
2) Get those generators out and throw down a backyard gig! Yeah! YOU! You have songs, you have instruments, you jam in your basement or rehearsal place yet you feel hamstrung by some invisible ‘rule’ that states you need to play in a club or at a recognized ‘venue’…I say bollocks to THAT John, how about making this the year you rewrite those rules? Throw your Euros or Dollars in, hire a generator, load up a van, let a bunch of people know where you’re heading and just set-up and JAM! Maybe in a local park, perhaps in the town square, maybe a parking lot, perhaps someone’s pad. Let the streets be our stage and the audience’s theatre! And if authorities come and shut you down, great, pack up and head to the next place. Make people excited by bringing your music to them in the rawest way possible. I mean seriously, what is stopping you? Think of it as another strike against a society that increasingly appears crippled with fear.
3) Support your LOCAL record store and support your LOCAL club. When you don’t have the generator rolling, be absolutely sure to support that small merchant in your towns, the line with whom you can have a chat about the music you’re buying (or even listening to) and furthermore, be sure to go to local gigs. It is the small network which will continue to offer the big comfort, however much society wants to digitize us. People want tangible relationships, you know, ones you can really feel, really hold really touch, and that goes for your music too. I need not really tell you I’m sure, you likely already buy CDs and vinyl, take the time to look at artwork and read lyrics without being trapped by your screen. And look, I’m not a total moron, I know there are times when all of us can get a big, fat kick from our digital media players (I’m listening to Metallica and Superjoint on my iPhone as I make my way across the Atlantic right now) but my point is to make sure you continue to hold your old-school values close, and be sure to pass them down to siblings and friends. Indeed, consider THAT a duty, take time to play your youngers (yes, that is a word now even if it wasn’t before – the opposite of ‘elders’ OK?) the tunes YOU know will shape their musical education; we all had to be played Sabbath, Motörhead and Zep by older family members or friends, so don’t shirk that duty!
4) Go to Wacken, go to Hellfest, go to Download, go to a REAL old-school festival where you can throw a tent up, drag supplies in and enjoy a week away from all the bullshit. And this time, BRING A NEWBIE! Make SURE you bring someone along who has never ever experienced such a release from their regular life. Again, with the likes of Trump trying hard to engage peoples fears of both the unknown and each other, there’s nothing like a communal camping experience to blow the carbons out of your pipes and make sure people recognize each other for what most of us are – good folks with good hearts just looking to have a good time.
5) Wear a band shirt with pride at least once a day. And as much as that, when you see like-minded strangers wearing similar band shirts out and about, say hello, make a quick friend, make a fast connection, reinforce (to each other) that there’s a lot of ‘you’ each around and that hell, maybe there’s a pint to be shared in the process. See if you can ‘convert’ one non-rocker a month. Start slowly, work with them, get their trust, invite their friendship and before you know it, a stranger who ‘hated’ metal will be a friend who loves it. Take that as a literal event and a metaphor for what needs to happen if society is to come back together. It is a further way of making sure not just that our community remains engaged, but that it grows, welcomes and embraces.
6) More bands need to play Mexico – I threw this in because Mexican metalheads are insanely great, rabid beasts of the highest order, and also because Trump went on so much about that bloody wall that I love the idea of more people than ever going to Mexico and embracing the nation.
7) Allow music to bring you together with others whom you might disagree with initially. There are going to be some Brexit fans and some Trump supporters, who listen to the same music you do. Rather than blindly dismiss them, rather than just call them morons or whatever, how about finding some common ground before getting into a discussion? Use your favourite band as a bridge to bringing people together, and don’t feed into the separatism yourself.
8) Have one day every fortnight where you play Van Halen for two hours. Wear sunglasses even if it’s shite-dark-gloomy-wet outside, and play some goddam air geetar, because Van Halen will make you smile smile smile, and it is undeniable that we need to do a bit more of that! I recommend grabbing yourself Zero which are VH demos from 1976 that are available on the web, I’d cane the first album of course but I’d also insist that you spin 1984 front to back, because it’s a classic and “House Of Pain” is one helluva cut.
9) Alright alright alright – while we’re in So Cal El Aaayyy sunshine soaked-California-plated ‘80s-fuck-it mode, get out the old Mötley Crüe albums (Too Fast For Love and Shout At The Devil), Ratt’s Out Of The Cellar and Invasion Of Your Privacy, toss in Keel’s incredibly wonderfully cheesy The Right To Rock and why not throw in Quiet Riot’s Metal Health, and just ESCAPE! Yeah, that’s right, escape loud and proud, again with a few buddies. Because I swear to whatever there is you swear to, as corny as some of this might look to your eyes, once you slap ‘em on and crank it up, you will depart for a little while from whatever bullshit is swirling around your ether and enter a zone of proper entertainment, which let’s face it, we all need once in a while. You doubt me? Try it.
10) ...let’s take it all a step further. Have thematic parties on a regular, rotating basis. You know, one week it’s El Aaaaayyy night, the next it’s a Black Metal massacre, the one after it’s a Thrash to the Death kegger, the possibilities are endless PLUS I’ll bet you end up enjoying bands you’d either forgotten about or didn’t even know.
11) A final, social note…if you ever see anyone being bullied, picked on, harassed or abused, you need to stand tall and help the victim of said-situation. Don’t ignore it. Don’t pretend you didn’t see it. Don’t lie down. My friend and yours, Lemmy, would never have allowed it to happen, and NONE of us can, especially in these times.
Let’s start there. Let’s make sure that we fight the times, fight the oppressors and fight the madness with our community, our music, our creativity and our empathy. Rock, punk, metal, whoever or whatever the hell you are, you are us and we are you. Let’s be louder than ever, OK?