Friday, April 23, 2010

Flash Metal Suicide: Antix

Get Up, Get Happy
Enigma, 1984

Goddamn Antix. If ever there was a band that was handed their shot at success on a fuckin' platter and simply could NOT live up to the challenge, it was Antix. Their sole proof-of-life, the wretchedly-titled "Get Up Get Happy" EP from 1984, is proof positive that trying as hard as you possibly can to sound like as many popular bands as 5 tracks will allow is pretty much a one-way ticket to a Flash Metal Suicide. If 1983 was heavy metal's most seminal year- and it was, really- with either debut or career-defining albums from bleeding-edge bands like Metallica, Manowar, Slayer, WASP, Mercyful Fate, Anthrax, Anvil, Venom, and Raven all being released in a flurry of fire and fury and wild new sounds that had never even been heard before, then 1984 was it's LEAST impressive year, when all the runner-ups spewed-up their second-hand jive just to keep the commerce flowin'. In (and around) LA, Motley Crue, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Dokken, and Great White were all riding the flash metal wave, and, hip young thangs that they all were, most of 'em fancied themselves instant talent scouts, with suddenly deep pockets. Since it was less work for them to just sign and/or produce a band that sounded just like them than to actually go ahead and make another record themselves, there were TONS of bands like Antix releasing half-assed 2nd generation flash metal.

Vocalist Greg Clewley and guitarist Jace White were both LA flash metal dudes doin' time in a scruffy band called Jailbait when they decided to take a stab at the big time, splitting from JB and teaming up with the drummer and bass player of another LA metal band, Pax. Their accessible pop-metal sound drew the puffball ears of Don Dokken, who offered to produce their debut record with Dokken guitarist Jeff Pilson. Great White manager Jeff Gordon signed them on as clients, and negotiated a one-off deal with Enigma, who pretty much flooded the market with copies of "Get Up Get Happy" in 1984.

You could not haunt a metal-centric rekkid store in '84 without seeing this goofy album on the shelves, that much is for certain. However, I can't imagine who the fuck would have bought it. If ever there was album who's cover fairly screamed "Warning - this band blows!" it was "Get Up, Get Happy". Briefly, lets us explore why.

The title. Some sample heavy metal album titles from the same era: "Violence and Force" (Exciter), "War and Pain" (Voivod), "Into Glory Ride" (Manowar), "Filth Hounds of Hades" (Tank), "Friends of Hell" (Witchfinder General). "Get Up, Get Happy"? Are you fuckin' KIDDING me, man?

On the back cover, they list the band line-up and what they play, and then they add dumb 'inside' jokes. Greg Clewely is on "lead vocals, background vocals, and screwiness" (my italics, but you get the idea.) Guitarist Jace White also does "Impressions". Bassist BJ Norris is also on "Cartoons", whatever that means. I'm sure they got a chuckle out of it, but it made me wanna snap the record in half.

The hideously designed cover is framed in turquoise blue. Their logo is a court jester, rendered with all the skill of a drunken jailhouse tattoo artist. Their actual photo is too dark. Oh, and what a photo it is.

Antix wore parachute pants. Now, I realize that everybody in America wore parachute pants in the early 80's, but that shit was for mall-trolling dopes. Guys in fuckin' rock bands were supposed to have clothes that were cooler then the jerks who bought their records, ya know?

They also wrapped themselves in one-row studded belts, which were not rock n' roll accessories, they were for new wave girls. They all wore bandanas around their necks and around their thighs, and they wore pixie boots, even their Rick James lookin' bass player. In the photo, they are posing, arm in arm, down by the railroad tracks, while a gaggle of high-haired mall chicks stare longingly at them in the background.

On the back cover, they are shrugging and scratching their heads, cuz said chicks are walkin' off with some homeless-lookin' dude in a trucker hat. Here's a lesson far all your fledgling rockers out there- don't portray yourselves as losers on your own record cover. If you do, we will accept you as such, ya know. And that won't get you anywhere. Just ask Antix.

Oh, and the music? Well, there's 5 songs here, and they all sound like an even more lightweight Dokken, 'cept for the choruses, which are falsetto-ridden Sweet rip-offs. The songs aren't nearly sleazy or energetic enough to be considered "party metal", and not heavy enough, really, to be Flash Metal, either. Can you imagine bein' a Teen Sleaze and plunking your dough down on this here "metal" rekkid, and getting something that sounds like a hellish cross between Dokken and Loverboy? Heresy, I say! Not surprisingly, this album tanked, and Antix were no more soon after. Vocalist Clewley re-surfaced years later in Darling Cruel, and the rest of 'em, I dunno. Maybe they fell into a well, or something.

"Get Up, Get Happy" probably isn't even all that bad if you're not expecting Flash Metal, and that's the problem, because that's exactly what yr expecting. The only thing worse than bad heavy metal is phony heavy metal, ya know? I wouldn't even care one way or the other, since I certainly did not get swindled by these puffballs in 1984, except that I spent $8 scoring a copy of this from some dealer somewhere just so I could write this story, and that's money that coulda been more wisely spent building a rocketship to the Moon, or maybe feeding the chick magnet homeless guy on the back cover.


1 comment:

Ry Crooder said...

A wee bit before my time--never heard of these guys, but that's probably a good thing. You need to do a Flash Metal Suicide on BLOTTO, man, ha ha.

You hit the nail on the head with the "talent scouts" had all of these hair metal guys signing and developing all these shitty bands. At one point, I think that any of those bigger bands that were nurturing their little brother bands were almost a guaranteed Flash Metal Suicide for their little brother band....

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