Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Flash Metal Suicide: Danzig

1988, American

"You said I was a born loser, cos losing is all I've ever done..." (-Hanoi Rocks)

"All my best wishes are just lies..." (-Manic Street Preachers)

"You are depressed, but you're remarkably dressed, is it real?" (-Morrissey)

"Where can I turn when my fairweather friends cop out?" (-Beach Boys)

"The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from being seen, but that's just because he doesn't want to turn into some machine..." (-Bob Dylan)


In 1988, I'd finally found a near-perfect drummer, I thought, for our grebo-biker-glam-self destruction blues-band. He looked a bit like Larry Mullen Jr., and was the first cousin of a girl I'd spent my entire adolescence just slavishly enamored with. I'd seen him go through all these typical, suburbanite youth culture phases in an astonishingly short period of time. From junior high band geek Morrissey fan, to (upper middle) "working class" skinhead bootboy, and power pop, suit and tied Jam mod. He did have a fairly adult work ethic at the stained glass shop that hired all us arty derelicts back then-at least compared to me and a cuppla my other loafing oaf whiskey henchmen. He was probably just a real good kid, but I couldn't ever fully connect with him, because growing up, he'd been a part of this Catholic school fratboy sporto middle class that ruled the corner of the whitebread neighborhood and his older brother's friends had tortured and bullied me throughout my unfortunate school years. Plus - not long after we'd invited him to join our band, he plunged right into yet another incarnation-his Minor Threat/Fugazi/D.C. militant straight edge phase, which was a larf because he seemed to love knockin' back the hootch with our little tribe of hellions who blared loud Circus Of Power records all night long, at our little ranch on the outskirts of town. He'd also been known to suck back many gallons of beer with his preppie friends, but all of a sudden, he'd decided he was Ian McKaye while the rest of our gang guzzled fool fire water all day everyday, throwing all these raucous band parties for the death rock kids, heavy metal girls, and hippie bikers at our band house. The rest of us were scuzzy, scrounge-y, angry trash rockers, but he showed up for shows (!!!) wearing khaki shorts (!!!!) I mean, shorts are a cardinal sin unless yer Rick Allen from Def Leppard, and even then, no khakis!


I bought the drummer his first car-it was a souped up '74 Super-Nova with a racing engine my friend at the muscle-parts store helped me purchase on the cheap. Our brilliant artist guitar player spraypainted silver and black, longhaired skulls and iron crosses on top of an acid-green base. It was the shit. Until his muskrat-like dorky girlfriend painted his name on the side of it in dorky clown orange. We all dutifully showed up to deliver it to him at his graduation party, and his conservative family were appalled by our noserings and leather jackets. I think the thing I always liked best about that kid was his sense of humour and ridiculous Scooby Doo impersonations. The Doc Martins and hardcore t-shirts grated on my nerves, cos I wanted him to make an effort to be a part of our band in a more committed way, help present a united front. I just don't think we really shared the same values, or outlook on life. At heart, he was a shiny, happy R.E.M. kid, not a battered, black leathered, outcast, screaming for vengeance. As much as he sometimes enjoyed associating with the older punk crowd and being empowered to adopt the mere cosmetic tokens of this week's fad rebellion, it was just too ingrained in his-all the basketball hoop, Colgate privileges, economic opportunity, and false sense of moral superiority of the grasping upward middle class. He kinda looked up to the guitarist-a seventies punk, ten years older, but he seemed to kinda scorn the rest of us who he perceived as illiterate, potentially dangerous, low-life white trash.
I generously introduced him to a phony goth chick who'd tried unsuck-cessfully to seduce me in the cemetery, and he dumped the muskrat, and promptly started dating this little Vampirilla whose idea of gothic subculture was the Lost Boys soundtrack, God love her. soonafter, he flaked-off and quit showing up for band practices. I was a hypocrite to complain, though, cos taking girls to hotel rooms was my first priority back then, when it should have been songwriting and band promotion. We didn't strike while the iron was hot. It was a shame the group started disintegrating, cos people loved us even when we sucked. The drummer was decent on the cans, and had a rich, bellowing baritone that really came shining through, on his backing vocals, especially on the Misfits covers we performed, at first. We were all totally enthralled with the devil-locked New Jersey horror punks, in spite of their dumbass jock streaks, and "Walk Among Us" was one of the records that actually did seem to unite our ragtag group of weirdos. It always hurt, that the drummer kid, had such little respect for me as a human being. I tried to be a righteous big brother to him. Thing is, he didn't need a righteous big brother-he already had brothers who owned recording studios and bought him shit. Because of where we both came from, he couldn't help himself but be distant from me-I must've seemed like a crazy hillbilly. At the end of the day, that's how his cousin, my beloved, ultimately came to see me, too. Maybe they were right, but Einstein or Frankenstein, we trudge onwards, y'know?


While the preppie drummer was trying on his many different hats all the time-straight edger, keg party elitist, English hardcore street punk, etc., the rest of us were all diggin' the Quireboys, Hangmen, Sea Hags, Guns N Roses, and the Cult. Good old fashioned rock'nroll, babies. One of our guitarists was obsessed with Andy McCoy, while the other had grown up on the Damned and Cooper. The thug guitarist/roadie who rented out our front porch was all AC/DC. I was into Mother Love Bone and Dogs D'Amour. The most played albums at Paradise Lost were the Cult's "Electric", and Danzig's first
He was incredible-a debbil-worshipping Elvis on steroids. What a fucking perfect band. The Doors & AC/DC. Amazing songs--"She Rides", "Soul On Fire", Twist Of Cain", "Mother", etc.,etc. He had thee best band in the whole world back then-John Christ, Eerie Von, and Chuck Biscuits. Only the Four Horsemen really held a candle. The silly Anton LaVey/wrasslin' connection shtick grew thin after awhile, and the ongoing animosity between the former Misfits has resulted in nearly as much embarrasing, ridiculously inept out-put as Van Halen without Roth, Creedence minus Fogerty, or Dead Kennedys post-Jello. It ain't the same band no more-just a brand name, with the magic all gone. Danzig was one of the best hard rock belters ever, in my book, and Chuck Biscuits is probably still the best heavy drummer who sucks air. AC/DC, the Cramps, Joan Jett, Motorhead...and Danzig. These bands can't fail really, year after year, they always deliver. His first albums probably still my favorite.

-Pepsi Sheen ( who hopes to own the Misfits and Alice Cooper boxsets when he grows up)

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