I’ve got a pal, Jim Parsons, who used to be Vanessa Warwick’s sidekick on MTV’s legendary metal show Headbanger’s Ball – or Ballbanger’s Head, as it was affectionately known. Now Jim and I go back a long way. We used to be gumbies together in North London around 1990 when I first moved down to the smoke. He’s a lovely man and he’s now a big shot music TV producer, working with the likes of Jimmy Page, Megdeth, Metallica and… er.. Morrissey. Well, you can’t win ’em all, can you?!
Now just this week I received an e-mail from a guy who was once in the metal band Dearly Beheaded, who wanted to apologise to me for having got into bed with me and my girlfriend. ‘What’s this got to do with Jim?’ I hear you cry. Well, just hear me out…
“We’d been out on the town to a gig – I think it may have been Mindfunk,” yer man wrote. “And we’d been drinking! I awoke in the morning in your bed, naked, between you and Julie. I’d been sleepwalking and for some reason I crawled into bed between the two of you. Nice introduction to someone I’d only met for the first time the night before!” A marvelous story, clearly. Except that it had nothing whatesoever to do with me – and everything to do with Jim.
Somehow our befuddled friend had managed to confuse me with Jim. And while I’d never had anyone sleepwalk in-between me and a ladyfriend in bed, Jim quickly confirmed that he most definitely had been the victim of such nocturnal shenanigans. Now the reason why I’m telling you all this is threefold…
1) It’s a really funny story.
2) It allows me to tell you about my favourite ever Jim-ism. “I’m not ready for ‘nu-metal’. I haven’t finished with the old metal yet.”
3) I get to recount another salutary tale about the dangers of mixing yer drink with yer metal.
Jim is one of the world’s biggest fans of Bay Area Crunch. You know, the sub-genre of thrash that was invented to define the San Francisco scene as headed up by Metallica at the start of the ’80s. In fact, Jim’s eyes still glaze over in blissful reverie whenever Death Angel or Vio-lence are mentioned, which I’m sure doesn’t happen all that often in your house. No matter. I can’t lay claim to be anywhere near as much of a BAC man as Mr. Parsons. But I can recount a decent little tale of heading up to Sweden to see BAC exponents Exodus promoting their 1987 album ‘Pleasures Of The Flesh’, including such church anthems as ‘Deranged’, ‘Parasite’ and ‘Seeds Of Hate’.
Kerrang! had asked me to fly northwards for a spot of ‘frashing’ live review action with the ’Dus, which I was happy to do despite knowing that my meagre Kerrang! fee would barely cover the extortionate cost of a couple of beers in the inflation-tastic Swedish venue. I arrived, if memory serves, at some ludicrously early time and was expected to kick my heels for a few hours while the band got their shit together. Fair enough; it wasn’t exactly the first time I’d wandered around an empty venue. Yet by the time the doors were about to open I was utterly, utterly bored and more than ready to rock.
As it turned out, though, by far the most entertaining part of the evening was just about to happen. With the doors finally flung open the local rock fans came piling in at a rate of knots. Their intention was clearly to make their way up to the barriers at the front of the standing-only venue, the better to rock out right in front of the band. A good plan, ’n’ all…
Unfortunately for three particular guys, however, the masterplan had already started to unravel. This trio were pissed beyond all reason, unable to walk in a straight line and in imminent danger of collapse. Presumably they’d been necking some sort of local moonshine in a bid to avoid the astronomical prices of the legal gear. Well, at least that part of the plan worked. With their arms slung round each other -presumably for better balance – the three lads lurched across the hall. Unable to locate either the stage or the crash barriers, however, they wobbled over to the far side of the building where they met the wall with a force greater than they might have imagined. The impact of wobbly flesh on solid concrete was something to behold. The wall, it must be said, came off way better than the flesh and our three intrepid booze fiends simply crumpled in a heap on the floor.
I watched the whole scenario unfold with something approaching morbid curiosity, then promptly forgot about the tanked-up trio and got on with checking out Exodus.
A couple of hours of ear-bleeding excess later, the house lights came up and the metal masses started to exit the hall. Since I was getting a lift back to the hotel with somebody or other associated with the gig I simply hung back and watched the place empty. And then to my absolute, utter astonishment, I suddenly saw the same three guys, still slumped to the floor in the exact same position I’d seen them crash out in before the gig had even started. I was stunned. These loonies had obviously bought tickets for the gig but had then slept like babies throughout the entire performance due to alcoholic overindulgence. I don’t know what amazed me the most. Was it the waste of the ticket money? Or was it the fact that they’d slept their way through two hours of thunderously, ridiculously, wildly over-the-top Bay Area Crunching?!
The change in sonic equilibrium must have had some kind of disconcerting effect on our boys, as within three or four minutes of the house lights coming up they’d come round, hauled themselves to their feet and high-fived their way out of the venue like they’d just witnessed the greatest gig of their lives! Incredible!
No doubt these guys went into college or work the next day and recounted tales of heavy metal thunder with great glee, despite not having heard a single note of music!
For once – and, dare I suggest, once only – the Bay Area had failed to provide the requisite Crunch! Jim Parsons is horrified to this very day!!
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HoJo rocked as a top journalist on legendary UK metal magazine
Kerrang! and now runs a way-cool rock T-shirt site at www.saltyrockz.com.