This morning, Andy went out for coffee and called back that we had something to do at 2 p.m. today.
Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart were going to be talking at Barnes & Noble in Northgate (Seattle) at that time promoting their new book,"Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock & Roll." You cannot pass up the iconic female rock legends, especially when it is just around the corner from our house.
I have personally dug Heart since hearing "Barracuda" for the first time when I was a youngin' in the '70s and loving that it was a woman singing. I, of course, had heard other woman singers, but nothing like the "balls" to the wall wailing of Ann Wilson; and when I found out that it was Nancy playing guitar like that, I was blown away. I think that is when the incessant pleas to my father started asking for a guitar. Unfortunately, that never happened for me back then, but much like Ann and Nancy discussed today, I also never understood why being a woman would get in the way of doing anything I wanted to do. After wanting to also be a guitar hero, I later announced to my father that I was going to be an NFL quarterback.
Ann and Nancy spoke briefly about "Kicking and Dreaming..." --with co-author Charles Cross--then took questions. Unfortunately, the PA system sucked and they could not get it any louder. We figured that if they let Ann and Nancy look at it, they would have cranked it. When people were complaining for it to be louder, Cross said this was as loud as it was going to get. Andy spouted that "I believe these amps go to 11"--in a wanna-be fake English accent (like Nigel from "Spinal Tap"). He got a burst of laughter from the nearby crowd.
One of the things they spoke about was their early beginnings, and later success, in the male-dominated rock business. Ann summed it up by saying, "It was an unkillable drive that Nancy and I had...it was (meant) to be".
Iron Mtn's Barry Cavener, left, Scott Carlson and Bill Tuck. (All Cat Rose photos)
Who needs a big crowd when you've got eight hands of doom pummeling your brain?
Iron Mtn gave us and a few others the pounding metal treatment on a recent frigid Sunday night at the Highline in Seattle. No vocals, just four instruments working their way up your spine and into the dark corners of your mind. These guys are a slay team supreme.
Making the trip up from LA were There's Something Hard in There buddy Bill Tuck (guitar), Barry Cavener (guitar), Paul Michael (drums) and Scott Carlson (bass/Moog).
Do yourself a favor and check out these fine lads at their Bandcamp page.
Black Flag gigs were always memorable. You knew you were gonna get raging tunes in your face and would be getting knocked about when you ventured near the stage -- the best place to fully experience the mayhem, of course.
But those gigs also bummed out most of the punk crowd when Greg Ginn and company invited bands like Saint Vitus, the Minutemen and other different-sounding groups to open some of the shows.
I dug it because the Flag crew was challenging people and seeing if they would open their minds to accept the opening bands. I was on board with some doom metal and funky tunes to set the stage for the evening.
Saint Vitus, especially, always intrigued me with their wigged-out hair, headbands, boots and dark tunes matched with wailing vocals.
Scott "Wino" Weinrich.
Hailing from Redondo Beach, Calif., I saw them around the area every so often and noticed them popping into The Thirsty Club (classic dive bar) and Rod's Char-broiler (stellar greasy spoon) on occasion.
So, when Cat and I attended Saint Vitus' recent gig at The Highline in Seattle, we hoped that Vitus would break into its Flag cover of "Thirsty and Miserable" to take us back to our SoCal homeland. Score!
The 33-year-old band, featuring original members Dave Chandler (guitar) and Mark Adams (bass) along with Scott "Wino" Weinrich (vocals) and Henry Vasquez (drums), tore through songs from the past to the present, including some of our favorites like "White Stallions" and "War is Our Destiny."
Before the gig, I spoke with Adams... and Cat took a handful of photos to document the evening.
* What was it like for you guys being around that (punk) scene back then?
We weren't exactly the most welcome sight in the world, but we had fun and enjoyed it and eventually the other bands grew to like us and they had fun, so I think it all worked out. It was a big part (of our history) and it helped us get to where we got today.
* What did you learn from playing some of those different kinds of shows?
Don't be afraid to be different, do your own thing and not really give a shit what people say.
* I remember distinctly there was that Mi Casita show with Flag and Redd Kross and a bunch of those bands. I think you guys played first and I think Huskers played after you guys.
Yeah, that wasn't a good show. We got in a fight with the bouncers, a guitar got stolen and a bunch of other shit that night.
* What were some of the memorable shows back in the early days?
I remember going down to San Diego with Saccharine Trust, us, Flag, DC 3-- down there doing some shows was really cool. Plus just doing all the Flag tours in general, was a lot of fun.
* Over the years, you guys got a big following, and where you stand today, you guys are revered as being some of the originators. How does it feel to still be doing this today?
Everything's just fucking pretty crazy. It's almost like a time machine going backwards, but instead of nobody caring, people care now -- it's pretty far out.
* Did you ever think starting out that people would catch on eventually?
You always hope, but it gets to a certain point, you figure it ain't gonna go no farther than that. Especially after you quit like we did for 10 years and didn't do nothing. So it's a big surprise to be able to come back and do all this stuff.
* With a new album out ("Lillie: F-65"), what does that mean to you guys to be still putting out new music?
It's cool, it's the first one in 17 years, so it means a lot that we can go out there and do our thing--and people are willing to buy it.
* (As a tip) to younger bands, what does it take to still be doing it?
It's just whatever you feel in your heart at the time, I guess... if your heart says do it, do it.
Mike IX Williams with EyeHateGod in Seattle. (Andy photo)
The expression "when one door shuts, another one opens" couldn't be more true when applied to the life of Mike IX Williams, raging vocalist for EyeHateGod.
At the age of 12 in 1980, the youngster and some buddies ran away from a boys home near New Orleans, blazing a three-mile path to a rock club where Black Flag was playing.
"We just stood outside and listened to the band, and every now and then, the door would open and I could see them and it was with Dez (Cadena) in the band. So, I can kind of say I've seen Black Flag with Dez live," Williams, 44, said in a recent phone interview a few weeks after Cat and I met the man at a pair of EyeHateGod gigs in Seattle.
While admiring a dark, rainy Saturday afternoon outside his window in Louisiana, he continued about his first Black Flag experience:
"I just remember, it blew me away, it was so intense. You know the song they have, it never ended up on anything but compilations, that song 'Machine'? They did that, and that just changed my life immediately when I heard that song. The way it was structured (was impactful)."
Williams had already listened to bands like the Clash, Sex Pistols, the Ramones and Stiff Little Fingers, but Black Flag's music was faster, stronger, wilder and unique and was "a turning point right there for me, musically."
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the surrounding area and caused massive flooding, death and destruction. Williams survived, but was left homeless when his house mysteriously burned down and he was also jailed on a narcotics charge during this time.
And then another door creaked open when his future wife, Michelle Maher-Williams, regularly visited him in prison and got him through a "horrific" time. They married three years ago and now live about an hour outside of New Orleans in a home in the woods near the towns of Mandeville and Covington, situated on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain.
"I attribute the hurricane to a lot of positive things, honestly," Williams said. "Of course, there's tons of negative stuff that goes with it, but as I get older I find myself trying to be a little more positive about life than I used to be when I was 18 and just wanted to die. You know, when you got that attitude and you just don't give a fuck? Whatever happens happens. As you get older, you kind of start wanting to live a little bit.
"My whole life took a complete opposite (path) after that storm," he continued, adding that forming the punk band Arson Anthem with Phil Anselmo (guitar), Hank Williams III (drums) and Collin Yeo (bass) was part of the healing process.
All of Williams' possessions were destroyed in the fire, including 25 years' worth of records he collected, so while staying at Anselmo's house they went through his vinyl archives and thus gained inspiration to set Arson Anthem ablaze.
"I'm like, 'Whoa, man, I need this again, and I need this again and I need this again,' and 99 percent of the stuff I picked was Sheer Terror, Agnostic Front, Negative Approach, die kreuzen, Void -- the list goes on forever, like Celtic Frost and tons of other stuff," Williams recalled. "We just said, 'Man, let's do that project we've always wanted to do, just do a straight-up hardcore band.'"
Williams noted that the band moniker popped into his head one morning when he awoke from slumber, and added that both he and Anselmo have experiences of houses catching fire. There's also the connotation of a rebellion or riot, Williams added, which is "something I hold dear to my heart."
Arson Anthem is on hold for now while Anselmo jams with Down, Williams III rips it up with his band and EyeHateGod does its sludgy, grimy metal-punk thing.
"It means everything to me. It's my life. I don't know how to do anything else," Williams said about EyeHateGod. "First, it was a big Melvins influence and the Obsessed, and there was a small period where all these slower bands had a guy who really (sang). I always used to think Jimmy (Bower, guitarist) wanted me to sing like Wino or something like that type of singing. And he was like, 'No, man, just do what you're doing' because that's where the punk rock, hardcore side of me came out.
"I guess the two just fit together somehow-- it was just a chance that we took," he added about the punk and metal stylings. "Just screaming-- this hardcore voice over slow, doomier stuff. Taking the Melvins to a different, sicker level is kind of what we were trying to do, and I guess we kind of achieved that."
EyeHateGod has certainly forged its slimy path in the living world a lot longer than original singer Chris Hilliard had anticipated when he ended up in a mental ward and emerged as a born-again Christian, Williams said.
"It was bizarre to all of us. To me, that was more of a way to move this band even further-- 'the original singer is a born-again Christian?,'" Williams said. "Nowadays, Jimmy's given him CDs of the band and he'll tell Jimmy later, 'I threw it in the garbage' -- I guess he thinks we're all going to hell because we kept using the name."
While Williams enjoys living in the woods, hiding from society and writing dark lyrics, "like the black-metal guys who go walk around the forest for inspiration," he laughs, he often gets cabin fever and needs to get the hell into New Orleans.
"I love living in the city, too, like FEAR said," he noted. "I always need the inspiration of the city. The disgusting part of the city can't hurt for thinking of song titles or lyrics."
He broke away from the woods on a recent evening to check out the punk triple bill of OFF!, Negative Approach and Double Negative in New Orleans.
"I was like, 'Yeah, this is a no-brainer,'" he said. "It was a good night, man, it was fun, it was good seeing everybody, you know?"
Whether he's watching Keith Morris of OFF! or John Brannon of Negative Approach cut loose on stage or digging into a pile of old 7-inch records with zeal, Williams is a true music man.
"That's all I think about, constantly, " he said. "I drive my wife crazy because I'll just start blabbering about some 7-inch, some band from 1979 and she has no clue what I'm talking about. But it's just one of those things, I just have to tell somebody, I have that need to discuss it--- so that consumes every part of me, I believe."
** Check out Williams' Web site at www.mikeix.com for records and books, including "Cancer as a Social Activity."