Once upon a time, there was a lot of pressure on metalhead to look the part. Teased hair, leather jackets, denim vests (with back patches, of course), and merch out the wazoo were nearly ubiquitous.
I refuse to believe that everyone in the ’80s didn’t look like this all the time. (Photo credit: edgebeat.com)
That was the ’80s though, and these days you can’t find a leather jacket for less than the cost of a used car. Some of the more affluent folks have shown off their metal status in other ways — piercings, corporate-unfriendly stretched lobes, tattoos, asymmetrical haircuts, etc. — but it seems, at least among adults, that metal-themed ostentation has died down significantly.
Why, then, are pockets of us still so concerned with how we look?
I have gotten the side-eye for going to a metal hangout wearing insufficiently “metal” clothes, and I’ve seen other plain-clothes patrons get the same treatment. On one occasion, I went to Duff’s after a job interview and was playfully ribbed by friends who were also dressed plainly. (I fully acknowledge that our collective plainness made their jokes funnier.) Why should I dress up just to show my face in a metal venue though? Isn’t my presence “cred” enough? (Don’t answer that.)
There’s a pin on my purse that reads, “This is what a feminist looks like.” It’s been on my purse as I had long flowing hair, earrings, and fancy dresses — it’s been there as I had a minifro, a baggy King Giant t-shirt, ratty jeans, and skate shoes. The message is clear though — feminists come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, and presentations. Metalheads do too though, so why are we still hung up on image?
Ladies and gentlemen, I have some alarming news for you. While browsing DarkLyrics.com, I discovered a terrifying fact: that approximately 100% of metal songs made in the ’80s are about rape. That percentage might seem high, but I assure you it is only mildly exaggerated. Whereas nowadays bands who write songs about rape tend to depict it as brutal and unpleasant (all the while expecting us to revel in its brutality and unpleasantness, which is a huge problem in and of itself), bands of the ’80s seemed to take a lighthearted, “boys will be boys” approach to it. I honestly can’t tell which is more gross.
Take for example, Van Halen’s “Romeo Delight” from their 1980 album Women And Children First. And I quote,
Can’t take it anymore
I’m takin’ whiskey to the party tonight, and I’m looking for somebody to squeeze.
I ain’t looking for somebody to fight
Baby, don’t get uptight
The rabbit hole goes much deeper than “Romeo Delight,” of course. While the, uh, “protagonist” of the song sounds like a pushy asshole, he doesn’t appear to make any outwardly rapey overtures. Telling an apparently reluctant/unwilling woman not to be uptight gives me some serious pause though.
Poison’s “I Want Action” (form their 1986 debut Look What The Cat Dragged In) is a lot more direct.
Long legs and short skirts
These girls hit me where it hurts
I can’t wait to get my hands on them
I won’t give up until they give in
Now, first of all, the long-legged short-skirted people in this song are schoolgirls, as is explicitly stated in the first verse. Second of all, someone needs to go back in time and hose Bret Michaels down.
I need a shot and I need it fast
If I can’t have her, I’ll take her and make her
I, for one, am shocked that this guy would have any unsavory intentions.
Don’t even get me started on Mötley Crüe’s “All In The Name Of…” from their 1987 classic Girls, Girls, Girls.
She’s only 15
She’s the reason, the reason that I can’t sleep
You say illegal
I say legal’s never been my scene
So right off the bat, you have a protagonist who knows that what he’s doing is wrong but doesn’t care. Excellent. The rest of the song implies that the 15-year old actively entices him later on, so at least he’s not forcing her to do anything, right? Wrong, you sick fucks. A quick Wikipedia search shows that Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil wrote “All In The Name Of…” together — Sixx was 29 and Neil was 26 at the time of the album’s release. Two grown ass men sat down together and wrote a song about a 15-year old seductress.
Please, have a seat.
Curiously, “All In The Name Of…” is just the tip of the ephebophilic iceberg. “Statutory Date” by Twisted Sister is exactly what you’d expect from the title.
Heart stoppin’, she steals the show
She’s every inch a woman but there’s years to go
Someone help me, make me forget
Or I’ll do something that I’ll regret
The age of this “heart stoppin’” girl is never stated, but she’s referred to as a “little girl,” “statutory date,” and “jailbait” throughout the song, so your guess is as good as mine. I can’t seem to figure out who wrote this little ditty but all the band members were in their 30s when it was released.
Speaking of “jailbait,” have an excerpt of “Jailbait” by Motörhead, written by yet another team of adult men:
Hey baby you’re a sweet young thing
Still tied to momma’s apron strings
I don’t even want to know your age
I’m just happy you’re backstage
I’m beginning to think the headline should be “Why Was Everyone In The ’80s A Pedophile?” instead.
Today’s From The Vault is an interview with bassist, Rik Fox who will take us on a trip back through his life, his experiences in the music industry in NY and LA, his tenure in WASP, Steeler, Sin and Surgical Steel and much, much more. Continue reading →
The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine about our musical guilty pleasures. Now, I don’t really believe in feeling guilty about liking something harmless, so I have to come up with guilty pleasures in a roundabout, detached sort of way. I have no qualms sharing with all of you that I sang Hanson’s “I Will Come To You” without looking at any of the words during karaoke on my 21st birthday. Hell, I sing Alanis Morrisette’s “Head Over Feet” just about every time I jump in the shower. Most of my “guilty pleasures” are ’90s radio rock and pop songs, but whenever I go to my favorite metal hangout (Duff’s Brooklyn — they deserve a plug), I usually fall in love with a hair/glam song or two. Without further ado, here are my very guiltiest metal pleasures — please don’t judge me (okay, you can judge me, but ONLY in the comments section)!
10. Oh Sleeper, “Endseekers”
A sentence I never thought I’d say: this Christian metalcore song is kind of awesome. “Endseekers” goes almost completely against what I look for in a metal song, but I can’t help but love it.
9. Scar Symmetry, “Prism And Gate”
Vocals in registers only a dog can hear? Sign me up! I’m not even sure what subgenre this song is, and I have to admit it’s a bit of a musical mess, but I sing along with the chorus every time…a couple of octaves down, of course.
8. Megadeth, “Family Tree”
Yes, “Family Tree” is from Youthanasia, Megadeth’s well-loved 1994 release. It’s still a song about child molestation. This might be the only song on the list that I ACTUALLY feel guilty about enjoying.
7. Hammerfall, “Any Means Necessary”
The only reason “Any Means Necessary” is so low on the list is because I feel like I’m cheating by throwing in classic power metal cheesery. There’s nothing exceptionally insane about this one, it’s pretty straightforward for the genre and just a whole lot of silly fun.
6. Helloween, “Mr. Torture”
I know it seems like I’m contradicting myself considering what I said about #7, but the ridiculous lyrics put this song a little higher on the list. “Dial 1-800-mr-torture?” First of all, you couldn’t dial that number even if you wanted to — there are too many numbers. Second of all, the idea of a hotline that you can call for the express purpose of being tortured (and that Spaniard housewives are apparently its most frequent callers) is completely hilarious to me.
5. Motley Crue, “Dr. Feelgood”
Oh sweet, sweet glam, how I adore thee. How I wish I had been born about a decade earlier so I’d have an excuse to love you like I do! Thank you VH1 Classic, for introducing the newer generations to cheese only the ’80s could possibly generate! I may be going out on a limb here, but I’m fairly sure “Dr. Feelgood” is the best ode to doing a bunch of drugs the ’80s had to offer. Don’t quote me on that though, I hear there are a whole lot of them.
4. Metallica, “No Leaf Clover”
I do not exaggerate when I say that when I first heard this song on the radio (at the age of 12, mind you), it blew my mind completely. I was a wee little band nerd as well as a budding metalhead, and the idea of combining orchestra instruments with metal was too awesome to bear for someone who had never encountered folk metal in their short life. Nowadays, I understand how reviled post-Black Album Metallica are, but I will never not have a soft spot in my heart for “No Leaf Clover.”
3. Poison, “Talk Dirty To Me”
Once upon a time, “Talk Dirty To Me” was my white whale. I’d hear it in grocery stores, I’d hear it at the bar, I’d be walking down the street and hear it in someone’s car. Of course, I never heard enough of the lyrics to Google it from my phone or anything like that, so I was doomed never to gain the ability to listen to it on YouTube. Eventually, my friends and I watched Hot Tub Time Machine (in which one of the main characters goes to a 1986 Poison concert), and the rest was history. When I was a little girl and people told me I had an old soul, I think that my unwavering love of cheesy ’80s rock/metal might have been what they were talking about.
2. Avenged Sevenfold, “Strength Of The World”
Ooooooh, where do I begin? More than nine minutes of whiny vocals, unimaginative guitar wankery, nearly no musical progression, and I love it somehow. Lead singer Zacky Vengeance had some sort of throat problem, so he changed his vocal style from deathy growls to whatever this is. It’s horrible, I will concede, but I love this song. I can not explain myself, nor will I defend myself. I will merely hang my head in shame. (I like “Bat Country” too — oh, the horror!)
1. Dragonforce, “Trail Of Broken Hearts”
Equal parts maudlin and nonsensical, “Trail Of Broken Hearts” really fires on all guilty pleasure cylinders. While I understand that “power metal ballad” is practically synonymous with “more cheese than an extra-large Brooklyn pizza,” there’s something about this song that really brings it over the top…even more so. And by “something,” I mean “everything.” I can’t pin down just one or two or even a bunch of individual aspects of “Trail Of Broken Hearts” that make it my #1 guilty pleasure — you’ll just have to listen for yourself.
As always, input is more than welcome. Guilty pleasures are awesome, and I need an excuse to sit around clicking YouTubes all day, so comment away with your favorite so-bad-it’s-good tracks!
Note: The day after I conducted the interview around which this article is written, my three-month old hard drive crashed, vaporizing not only my entire music collection but also the MP3 of my interview with Lita Ford. Each quotation in the article below was remembered verbatim, and frankly, you just don’t forget the subject matter you cover when you talk to someone so influential. The following is a faithful account, rather than a direct transcript, of our conversation.
Last Monday, I sat down to interview the legendary Lita Ford. Over the week or so before Interview Day, I spent nearly all my spare time reading her previous interviews, poring over her discography, testing my Skype conversation-recording freeware (as well as my Skype), and writing, erasing, and rewriting my questions. The opportunity to interview Lita Ford had come to me randomly during a Facebook conversation, and I was determined to make the most of it. Since interviewing is so new to me, I had every intention to bounce questions off more experienced colleagues, but life got in the way and I found myself alone, at 3:57pm, anxiously waiting and tweaking my questions up until the maddening hold music ceased.
“Lita Ford!” a powerful voice boomed. Pretty straightforward introduction by a no-nonsense lady — I liked it. I stammered out an intro of my own, and the conversation begun.
If nothing else, Lita is larger than life, even over the phone. Her energy was contagious and she was so easy to talk to, I couldn’t help but relax. She told a hilarious story of one of her previous interviewers having only listened to her album over the sound of a hair dryer, and I was completely charmed.
Even though I’d heard through the grapevine that Lita was enthusiastic about the premise of the website, I was still thrown for a loop when she asked about us before I had the chance to get a question out. I explained the site’s history and the aim to bring female metalheads together, and she seemed to think it was pretty cool, which I thought was INCREDIBLY cool.
As energetic as her demeanor has been right off the bat, her energy went up tenfold the second I asked her about her upcoming album, Living Like A Runaway, which hits North American stores on June 19. She described it as “a Lita album,” a phrase I’d seen before but wanted to inquire further about. She explained to me the story behind her 2009 release Wicked Wonderland, which was co-produced and mixed by her now-ex-husband Jim Gillette, with additional input from artists and producers that he hand-picked. (As curious as I was I avoided prying further into the details of her 2011 divorce.) Living Like A Runaway, on the other hand, was a project by her, with help from people on her creative wavelength and a record label (SPV/Steamhammer) that understood her message.
On the surface, Living Like A Runaway is about carving your own path, but Lita also let me know that the album is also a bit of a “fuck you” to people and factors that try to hold you back and control you. From the little bit of the album I’d heard, I could have guessed that working on it was highly cathartic. Angry at times, sad and almost wistful at others, the album is an emotional rollercoaster. Lita, always effervescent, was kind enough (or maybe just that excited to be discussing her album with me…a woman can dream, right?) to sing a few bars from some of the songs I hadn’t heard, and I couldn’t wait to hear the rest. I’d been emailed the album sometime during our interview, and I was too afraid of causing some kind of software catastrophe to download it on the spot.
As our conversation wound down, we told about our respective rebellions, in the vein of the “fuck you” theme that runs through Living Like A Runaway. Mine was about getting a cat the second I moved away from my animal-hating mom, hers was about letting her dog sleep on the bed. Wanting to do your own thing and tell an authority figure, a boss, a parent, or even society, to fuck off is so utterly relatable to people from all walks of life, Living Like A Runaway should appeal to just about everyone.
“Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans, especially ladies?” I asked.
She thought for a moment, and replied, “We have got to stick together.” Wise words from a wise woman.
This June, Lita Ford embarks on a North American tour with Def Leppard and Poison as support — get your tickets while you can! See tour dates below:
LITA FORD on Tour With Def Leppard and Poison
6/20: Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheater
6/22: Irvine, CA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
6/23: Las Vegas, NV @ Red Rock Amphitheater
6/25: Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center
6/27: Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
6/29: Atlanta, GA @ Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood
6/30: Tampa, FL @ Tampa Bay Time Forum
7/2: Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center
7/3: Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
7/6: Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena
7/7: Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theater
7/10: Baltimore, MD @ Merriweather Pavilion
7/11: Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center
7/13: Wantagh, NY @ Nikon at Jones Beach Pavilion
7/16: Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre
7/17: Hamilton, ON @ Copps Coliseum
7/19: Chicago, IL @ Allstate Arena
Lita Ford has announced that her new album Living Like A Runaway will be released on June 19th in North America on SPV/Steamhammer. The album will be available in four different options: a double LP, limited edition CD, standard CD and digital download. Lita said of the new album: Continue reading →
Today in metal news we wish a Happy Metal Birthday to three musicians who need no further introduction:
The 49 year old solo artist and lead singer of Poison who is currently on his own solo tour, announced that Poison would be joining Def Leppard for a must-see summer tour. Michaels writes on his official website that the tour will be a “live, interacitve, music extravaganza.” Bret is also getting ready to release his new solo album, Get Your Rock On, this summer. Def Leppard guitarist, Phil Collen plays guitar and sings backup vocals on the song “Get Your Ride On.” For more on Bret, check out his official website
Dee who turns 57 today and has survived the first few episodes of The Celebrity Apprentice is getting ready to release a memoir titled “Shut Up and Give Me The Mike: A Twisted Memoir.” Pre-order your copy here. You can also find out about all of Dee’s current and upcoming projects here
Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer celebrates his 44th birthday today. Currently Iced Earth is on their World Dystopia 2012 tour in which they’ll be visiting countries across the globe. Stay tuned for Part 1 of my interview later today with Jon Schaffer as he was getting ready for the tour and Iced Earth World Domination.