Friday, March 22, 2013

[twelve bands]



Metallica became my brother’s favourite band when he was 13; it was like me with The Offspring not long after. He’d found his favourite thing ever and it never went away. I kinda liked their pretty music when I was 11, but I thought of them as a band that never sung. They had these seven or eight minute songs and it mostly felt like music. I liked words back then; I liked tunelessly singing along to them using the wrong words in my deafness. Then I heard James Hetfield sing the words “language of the mad” in Harvester of Sorrow and I fell in love. I still adore that line. I still adore that song, though I have numerous I’d rather listen to most of the time: Of Wolf and Man, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Thing That Should Not Be, Wherever I May Roam, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), My Friend of Misery, Fade to Black, The Memory Remains, Holier Than Thou, It’s Electric...

I’m kind of in love with James Hetfield. He has this persona of being this heavy metal king; he’s so “hardcore” and screams and all he does is write about death and suicide and war and monsters. I liked him a lot anyway, but after seeing Metallica for the first time at the Big Day Out in February 2004, I just think he’s lovely. He talks at his concerts so eloquently, so kindly. He always says lovely things about the fans, about the support. When I saw them in 2010 he said, “Do you know my friend Lars? Have you met my friend Kirk? And my amazing bass player mate, Robert?” He said, “And I’m James, just so you know” and it was like he hasn’t done that every few nights for the past thirty-odd years. It was genuine. He says things like, “One member of Metallica that is here in spirit is always Cliff Burton. And this is for you.” So simple, but you can tell it’s heartfelt. He loves creating and playing music. He loves what he does. He wants the crowd to have fun. They, to me, are the most important parts of live music. It’s kind of like the lead singer of arguably the most well known metal band in existence is still pretty chuffed that all these people came to watch his band play. The other week when I was watching The Vandals at Soundwave, seeing him off to the side of the stage bopping his head along and smiling, was just so cute to me.

I'll also never forget when I was watching them at Soundwave a few weeks ago and working out how long I had left before I had to leave for The Offspring's stage and the very first opening bars of Master of Puppets started and I just said, "Fuck! No! SHIT," and this big burly guy next to me goes, "How can you not like this song? It's classic Metallica..." and I said, "I love Master. But I've got very limited time here, man, I don't have eight and a half minutes to see a song I've seen twice before and they always play live when they COULD be playing Of Wolf and Man or even Harvester of Sorrow." Then he laughed at my ranting and said, "You know your Metallica pretty well, then, if you know how long Puppets is. How can you leave them early?," and I replied, "I love this stupid band, but they're frickin' on at the same time as my favourite band who are on at 9pm. Honestly, if they play Nothing Else Matters in the next 20 minutes I'm going to be so mad." Then he just goes, "Yeah, I fucking hate that song, too" and it was awesome. Then there was that absolute heart-crushing moment when I was halfway to The Offspring's stage and I heard Of Wolf and Man start and I literally stopped dead in one of the alleys of the Showgrounds and never wished I could be at two places at once more so in my entire life. First time they've played that song in Perth since 1993; my real favourite song for reasons other than the nostalgia and long-term special-ness of Harvester.

People think I’m strange for calling Metallica songs pretty, but a lot of their music really is pretty to me. And they mean a lot to me.

Roamer, wanderer, nomad, vagabond, call me what you will

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