Curse words are hardly shocking when spit forth by Motley Crue, but when the F-word in question is a sworn farewell, there is suddenly cause for alarm (or celebration if you’re so inclined).
Stopping last night at the Cedar Park Center for what’s being billed as the “All Bad Things Must Come to an End” tour, the notorious hair-metal glam band swears this is the final bow. If so, it was a rowdy party made even better by melodic mop-tops the Raskins and special guest Alice Cooper. Give the Crue credit for having the guts to invite such a formidable legend.
Taking the stage in black-smudged eyes, Alice tightened his set into a no-time-to-waste lesson in momentum. Efficient and dripping with rabies, his backing band was a leather-and-studs vampire squad that delivered “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “I’m Eighteen,” and “Under My Wheels” with assassin-like precision. As for Alice himself, his gorgeously wretched voice and corpse-skinny frame still packed the same venomous snarl and menace that scared the bejesus out of Mom and Dad back in 1973.
In a word, Alice and his band were killer – especially when his guillotine, ghouls and boa constrictor lent their shock and awe to “The Ballad of Dwight Fry,” “Welcome to My Nightmare,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and a set-closing “School’s Out” — which perfectly oozed into Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” It was an eye-popping display of choreographed, yet somehow, spontaneous theatrics (including Cooper’s electrocuted transformation into a 12-foot zombie during “Feed My Frankenstein”). The crowd just loved it to death. You had to be there.
With marching orders from Uncle Alice, Motley Crue hit the stage with a big bang of pyro, lava-hot go-go girls and let’s party bravado. Nothing new there, but hey, if it ain’t broke … To his credit (for those keeping score), singer Vince Neil sang more than wheezed. He got plenty of high-pitched help from his near-naked back-up gals, but did the job better than years past as he powered his Crue through “Wild Side,” “Primal Scream,” “Looks that Kill” and “On With the Show.”
Had they scrapped the non-Eddie Van Halen guitar solo and bassist Nikki Sixx’s long-winded recap of the Crue’s history, L.A.’s baddest bad boys could have dug deeper into debut album “Too Fast For Love” and obscurities like “Toast of the Town” and “Stick to Your Guns.” If this is goodbye, why not blast some rarities instead of Sex Pistols and Brownsville Station covers?
Guitarist Mick Mars muffed the intro to “Shout at the Devil” and Neil had to ask if the crowd was still with him after the whine-and-cheese ballad, “Without You,” but overall, Motley Crue gave the fans what they wanted, namely scream-and-grind rock-n-roll, including drummer Tommy Lee’s hang-from-the-rafters drum solo (which oddly enough featured a vocal sample from John Corabi who replaced Vince Neil for a couple years).
The finish-line sprint of “Livewire,” “Too Young to Fall in Love,” “Girls, Girls, Girls” and a fist-bumping escort through the crowd that landed the band on a mini-stage for “Home Sweet Home” was indeed pretty sweet. Goodbye or good riddance, Motley Crue left a decent bruise.
ALL THE YOUNG DUDES: Mick Mars, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx circa 1981. Big-time fame and bigger trouble were right around the corner.
PARTING SHOT: Nikki, Tommy, Vince and Mick in 2014.
Text originally published in
the Austin American-Statesman
July 10, 2014
By David Glessner Special to the American-Statesman
When they started the band in 1981, all they needed was a laugh. Who knew aiming so low would get Mötley Crüe so high?
World-famous for more than three decades, the notorious sleaze-metal glam rockers have sold more than 80 million albums while turning bad behavior into sex tapes, jail time and overdoses. So much for a future in politics. Then again, why not?
Now a bit (ahem) tamer, Mötley Crüe struts into the Cedar Park Center on Tuesday for the “All Bad Things Must Come to an End” farewell tour. Shock-rock granddaddy Alice Cooper is special guest along with the Raskins. Expect a few choice words and skintight fashion as the Crüe lines up “Looks That Kill,” “Home Sweet Home” and “Wild Side” alongside the Coop’s “School’s Out,” “I’m Eighteen” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”
DEVIL MUSIC: Motley Crue’s second album and a support tour with Ozzy Osbourne garnered international notoriety.
Born in Los Angeles under the influence of Aerosmith, Cheap Trick and Slade, Mötley Crüe’s mix of glam-rock theatrics and punk-rock sneer became an X-rated version of Kiss (also in town this week, playing Saturday at the Austin360 Amphitheater; read our preview, published earlier this week, at austin360.comand mystatesman.com). A succession of albums — “Too Fast for Love,” “Shout at the Devil,” “Theatre of Pain,” “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Dr. Feelgood” — produced a string of radio and MTV hits that pushed the poster boys for big hair, tattoos and strip-club shenanigans into Mom and Dad’s living room.
Being Mötley Crüe, of course, the victories were laced with peril. In 1984, drunken singer Vince Neil slammed his sports car into an oncoming vehicle, killing his passenger and injuring two others. By his own admission, Neil wrote a check for $2.5 million and spent 30 days in jail sneaking beers and at least one groupie.
DIRTY: Motley Crue’s best-selling autobiography is a near-lethal lesson in sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.
In 1987, bassist Nikki Sixx overdosed on heroin and died before the medics kick-started his heart with adrenaline shots. He was back on the needle the very next day.
In 1989, drummer Tommy Lee served six months behind bars for spousal abuse against Playboy/“Baywatch” bombshell Pamela Anderson. Meanwhile, demonic guitarist Mick Mars quietly struggled with his own addictions while battling a crippling spine disease that haunts him to this day.
All of the above and more threatens to be captured in a pending movie version of Mötley Crüe’s 2001 New York Times best-selling autobiography, “The Dirt.”
If this truly is goodbye for Mötley Crüe, there will be plenty who bid good riddance. As for Nikki, Vince, Tommy and Mick, they’d have it no other way.
SNAKE CHARMER: Alice Cooper has welcomed generations to his nightmare
Opening act: Alice Cooper
For all the depravity Mötley Crüe added to rock’s recipe for rebellion, it was a man named Alice who first handed it down. Predating Mötley Crüe by a decade, the former Vincent Furnier named himself after a 17th century witch following a Ouija board session and became the corpse-faced king of horror-show, shock-rock. Backed by an androgynous band of cadaverous misfits, Alice’s prop-filled concerts were a hideous wonderland of live boa constrictors, simulated beheadings, hypodermic needles and subservient ghouls.
Every parent’s nightmare during the early 1970s — and a notorious drunk who hid a cocaine habit until the recent release of his DVD documentary, “Super Duper Alice Cooper” — Alice’s wicked persona and songs like “Under My Wheels,” “Be My Lover” and “Billion Dollar Babies,” influenced every band from Kiss and the Sex Pistols to Guns N’ Roses, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson. Today, at age 66, Alice is a sober golf enthusiast who could charm the cookies off June Cleaver.
Mötley Crüe — When: 7 p.m. Tuesday; Where: Cedar Park Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park; Cost: $65 to $145; Information: www.cedarparkcenter.com.
Of all the weapons at Ted Nugent’s disposal (his high-powered mouth, blazing guns and goofy redneck arrogance, etc.), I wish he’d just shut the hell up and pull the trigger on that Byrdland guitar.
Yeah, I absolutely loathe the Nuge’s suffocating politics, but I could never deny the slicing guitar and wild-eyed testosterone that fueled “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Wango Tango” and my personal favorite, “Great White Buffalo.”
The following was published in the San Antonio Express-News on Aug. 20, 1999. Like him or not, Ted is an over-the-top, all-American rock-n-roll icon. I just wish he’d lock down his overworked bear trap and let the music do the talking.
JUST WHAT THE NRA ORDERED: Cooter makes another point.
By David Glessner Special to the Express-News
He’s known the world over as the “Motor City Madman,” “Terrible Ted” and even “Sweaty Teddy,” but to his publicist, the gonzo guitarist who penned “love” songs such as “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Wango Tango” is referred to as Mr. Nugent.
“Yeah, I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people,” Nugent said, prior to a gig in New Orleans. “I move at a high rate of speed and those people make it happen.”
NUDE GENT: Ted in his semi-naked yesteryear
Talking is something else Nugent, who turns 51 in December, does at a high rate of speed. Like a campaigning politician, he is articulate, opinionated, confident and personable to the point of interjecting his interviewer’s first name whenever possible.
“I’m a prioritizer first and foremost,” he said, explaining how he balances rock ‘n’ roll, his outdoor adventure empire and his role as spokesperson for the right to bear arms. “I maintain a balance of the sonic bombast of my middle finger rock ‘n’ roll maneuvers with the ultra peaceful outdoor life.”
The outdoor life will be anything but peaceful at Sunken Garden Theater on Wednesday, when Mr. Nugent headlines the “Rock Never Stops” tour featuring Quiet Riot, Slaughter and Night Ranger. Nugent is joined by journeyman drummer Tommy Aldridge and bassist Jon Gunnell. (NOTE: Tix = $25-35)
“Without question, this is the most exciting period of my musical career,” Nugent said. “Together we’ve got more throb per mile, more grunt factor, a certain swagger. I want to raise maximum hell.”
Raising hell has been a Nugent specialty since he formed the Amboy Dukes back in 1965 and gained airplay with “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Journey to the Center of the Mind.”
ARENA WARRIOR: At one point in the 1970s, Nugent filled the nation’s biggest stadiums
A decade later, as a loincloth-wearing solo artist, he became notorious for his caveman-like stage persona and hyper-speed stage banter. Albums like “Free For All,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Double Live Gonzo” (partially recorded in San Antonio) and “Weekend Warriors” earned Nugent the title of world’s top-grossing concert act in 1977-1979. Through it all, he staunchly opposed the drugs and alcohol that seem to go hand-in-hand with rock ‘n’ roll.
“I’m absolutely militant against that nonsense,” he said. “I have never, ever been willing to compromise my level of awareness, and that can be traced back to my hunting. Jerry Garcia despised me and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Nugent’s calendar is divided equally between music and hunting.
SHOOT TO GRILL: Nugent takes aim at dinner and leftovers.
“I’ve never missed a hunting season since 1949 when I was 1 year-old and hanging on my dad’s back,” he said.
Since then, he’s been honored by countless law-enforcement agencies and the National Rifle Association, where he serves on the Board of Directors. A bow hunter as well as rifleman who eats his kills, Nugent blames the media for the hysteria surrounding the gun debate.
“More than 100 million law-abiding gun owners went to bed last night without any incident of death, misuse or negligence,” he piped. “The media is quick to report about the idiot in Atlanta who shot up an office building, but where the good guys have firepower, lives are saved. Dan Rather doesn’t tell you that.”
Ask him if musical acts such as Insane Clown Posse or Eminem influence the deadly actions of some of today’s youth, and Nugent goes on a tear.
“There’s always been stupid music,” he said. “Some people say ‘Wango Tango’ is stupid, but it’s fun. These rap guys … not a day goes by when I don’t pick up a paper and read about one who’s busted for drugs or illegal weapons or stealing. I (urinate) on their graves. In the absence of good parents, decent guidance and nurturing, those guys become meaningful.”
Back to the music, Nugent said he recently covered “Rag Doll” for an upcoming Aerosmith tribute album and expects to have new solo and Damn Yankees albums out early next year. In the meantime, he’s got his sights set on Texas.
“The hospitality of the people in Texas is incredible,” he said. “I go hunting in Kerrville every December, head out to Junction, rock San Antonio, Dallas, Houston. Those people are my blood brothers. I consider myself an official Texan.”
BELOW: One of my favorite Nugent hits. The audio/video synch is pretty horrible, but DAMN that rhythm guitarist MEANS it at the :39-second mark (and if you miss it, they repeat the exact same clip at 1:21). Rock, dude!
DOWN CAST: These perky fellas are, left to right, drummer Jimmy Bower, guitarist Bobby Landgraf, singer Philip Anselmo, bassist Pat Bruders and guitarist Pepper Keenan. Don’t make them come looking for you.
THE RIPPER: Bobby Rock channels his inner Glenn Tipton. Earlier this year, Bobby replaced Kirk Windstein. who left Down to focus on his other band, Crowbar.
It’s always cool when one of your own slugs his way into the rock-roll Big Leagues. It’s even cooler when the gig is awarded after years of proven loyalty and tested behind-the-scenes service.
Ladies and gents, please give a hearty hoot-n-howdy to Down guitarist Bobby “Rock” Landgraf, a veteran of the Austin music scene (Honky, Gahdzilla Motor Company, Nosebleed, Continental Club sound man, etc.) who recently was promoted to stage duty after seven years of working as the band’s guitar tech and stage manager.
Returning to Austin on Saturday to play Emo’s (ticket info here), Bobby was kind enough to corral a few of his Down mates for a round of 2Fast2Die’s “Ask…” Be sure to get your copy of Bobby’s recorded Down debut “Down IV Pt II,” get your concert tickets, ice the beer and help give our boy a proper Down-home, Austin homecoming this Saturday.
2FAST2DIE: What’s up, Honky? Congrats again on being named an official member of Down. Well deserved! And what the hell? I’ll just go right ahead and speak for all of Austin when I say we couldn’t be prouder. So, what album from your youth helped put you where you are today?
BOBBY LANDGRAF: Metal Dave, my man! When you asked me to name the record that stole my soul I thought about Judas Priest “Unleashed in the East.” My jam box was never without that cassette. I had already started playing guitar, but that record helped focus where I was going as a guitar player. Song after song of relentless guitar chops. I learned every damn song on it. It was the most jammed-in-my-room record EVER. I convinced myself that I could tell the difference between Glenn Tipton and KK Downing’s chops. Then, I finally saw them live on the “British Steel” tour w/Iron Maiden’s first album tour. It’s then that I saw them both getting it. I then realized who played what and decided that Glenn Tipton was my hero. Nothin’ against KK at all. He is a Daddy-O as well. I even had the blue half-sleeved “Live in Japan” Priest shirt. Even though they Live in England. Oh well … It’s funny to me that after all I’ve done and played all these years, it’s come full circle. Although in Honky I have a Billy Gibbons type thing going, now that I play guitar in Down I can embrace my inner Glenn Tipton.
PAT BRUDERS: Out of all the records I would dig out of my parents records, I always kept putting on Frank Zappa’s “Over-Nite Sensation.” In this one album you have everything you needed to hear in a rock album, and way ahead of its time covering many styles of music including heavier styles that were not yet achieved for its time in 1973. I know a lot of people who wouldn’t get it as I grew up trying to turn them on to this record, but no one had to explain it to me, and it opened me up to a whole new world growing up as a music listener first, and then later as a musician. Zappa to me is one person who could roll all styles of music into one with genius precision, and was truly a Mozart of his time and for all time. He was also an ambassador for social issues no one else wanted to take on. Listen to this record, or any of his records, with an extremely open mind and you’ll see what I mean. If not, keep listening to the same boring shit.
JIMMY BOWER: If I had to define one album that changed my life, it would have to be The Melvins’ “Gluey Porch Treatments”! Why you ask? 1. This album totally defined the band I heard in my head. 2. This album changed my outlook on drums and inspired me to pick up the guitar. 3. Dale Crover’s drumming style to me was unorthodox and fresh. The heaviest drumming I had ever heard. 4. Same thing with Buzz Osborne’s guitar sound and use of feedback truly inspired me. 5. The songs on this record are truly unpredictable at a first listen and follow no formula.
2FAST2DIE SAYS: According to Bobby, Pepper Keenan cited Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” in passing, but never did elaborate. Phil Anselmo was unavailable for comment. Overall, I’d say Down’s bag of influences has more variety than a Cheech & Chong sampler. Careful, son. This ain’t for lightweights!
For more Down info including tour, tickets and merch, go here. To see and hear new track, “We Knew Him Well,” click below.
I‘ve interviewed Dave Mustaine a handful of times, but never has he hijacked our conversation so quickly (or incoherently) as the one that follows. Published in the San Antonio Express-News in 2009, I never got past “Hello.” Brace yourself for the loopty-loop …
By David Glessner Special to the Express-News
Dave Mustaine doesn’t do interviews so much as he takes them hostage. Calling from California to discuss his latest album, “Endgame,” one has to wonder if even a root canal could interrupt the Megadeth mouthpiece.
“I’m pretty well ready to do my job,” says the iconic heavy metal vocalist and guitarist regarding last-minute tour preparations. “I just make sure I have my workout gear and my personal stuff together, and make sure I have what I need on stage. It’s a matter of, ‘How dedicated am I?’ Is this a joke? Is this a hobby? When it’s time to go, I’m ready.”
Ready and apparently then some, Mustaine brings Megadeth to Sunken Gardens Theater on Tuesday for a snarling display of speed-metal supremacy. Machine Head, Suicide Silence and Arcanium open the show.
Touring in support of “Endgame,” Megadeth is back with an excellent twelfth album full of head-rattling riffs, shred-tastic guitar noodling and the venomous vocals that have made Mustaine one of the most polarizing and politically outspoken personalities in heavy metal.
FAIR GAME: Despite a lack of promotional push, Megadeth’s 12th album was a ferociously good effort.
“When you have a record like (‘Endgame’) and you look at the sales and they just aren’t there, you start to take that personally,” Mustaine says, hinting at a lack of promotional push from his record label, Roadrunner Records. “I gotta tell you, it’s been so frustrating for us the last few years with the way things are going in the music industry. I remember back when people would say something and then keep their word. I remember back when people that worked at radio actually knew what working at radio meant. The reviews are great, but the other side of it is really frustrating and you start to second guess yourself.”
As one of heavy metal’s most accomplished architects, there is no second guessing Mustaine and his contributions. An original member of Metallica and the mastermind behind such classic Megadeth albums as “Killing is my Business …and Business is Good,” “Peace Sells … But Who’s Buying?” “Rust in Peace,” “Countdown to Extinction” and “Youthanasia,” the always outspoken and opinionated Mustaine is credited alongside Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica with creating and perfecting thrash metal.
“Am I satisfied? No,” Mustaine asks and answers. “Am I content? Yeah. Is there a difference? Sure there is. Content, for me, is being placated and active versus being satisfied, which means you’re in a place where you don’t want anything else. Would I rather have a belly full of beans or would I rather have a very nice dinner of sushi?
DRINKING IS MY BUSINESS … Mustaine and Hetfield displaying great fashion sense during the early daze of Alcohollica.
“I look at my career and I know what I’ve accomplished,” Mustaine continues. “Between my career with Megadeth and the songs I’ve written and sold with Metallica, I’ve sold more than 60 million records around the world. I’m currently rated as a top guitar player, I’m really inspired and this is one of the greatest periods of my life.”
“Endgame” got a shot of fresh blood from new guitarist Chris Broderick, formerly of Jag Panzer, who joins journeyman bassist James Lomenzo and drummer Shaun Drover.
“The relationship with Chris is really unique because he’s such an incredible talent and, fortunately for me, he’s either really humble or he’s either really unaware of how great he really is,” Mustaine says.
Besides leading his band, Mustaine recently began programming music and telling stories on the Internet radio station Megadeth Radio, available at www.iheartradio.com.
WHITE SHREDDING: Somewhere along the way, Mustaine traded his Venom T-shirt for a wedding-ready, button-down number. Can someone please get him back in black?
“I’m currently going through the playlist which is about 2,000 to 3,000 songs, and I’m adding stuff as we go along,” he says. “I want the world to know that it’s bull(crap) what everybody keeps saying about me having a problem with Metallica. There is no problem, and to prove this, I put them on my radio show. So, we’ll see how much longer this nonsense keeps going. It’ll go on forever, I imagine, but hopefully there will be a new wave of young metal fans that go, ‘You know what? You guys that believe that (crap), you go ahead and believe it, but we’re smarter than that.”
As a parting shot, Mustaine lightens up and takes it all in stride.
“You’ve got to take it when you can get it, because the music industry is so fickle,” he says with a laugh. “I remember in ’92, I had the No. 2 record in the nation and the reason I didn’t have No. 1? Billy Ray Cyrus and his ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ song! If we didn’t have a nation of obese housewives that sit around ironing all day listening to Billy Ray Cyrus, we would have had a No. 1. But, you know, that chick’s gotta rock, too.”
To see and hear “Endgame” lead single, “Head Crusher,” click below and crack your neck
TORN FROM JIMMY’S PAGE: Les Paul and all, Stevie D admits to borrowing heavily from Led Zeppelin’s legendary guitar hero. As co-guitarist in Buckcherry, Stevie has also made a nice little dent for himself while sharing stages with KISS, AC/DC, Aerosmith and Motley Crue. Sure beats swinging a hammer on a rooftop in July.
BLACK (UNDER)DOG: Led Zeppelin’s 1976 concert movie soundtrack, ‘The Song Remains the Same,’ is often overshadowed by the band’s towering discography.
I first met “Stevie D” in an alley off the Sunset Strip (and no, it wasn’t for the purpose of some illicit exchange).
The year was 2004 (or was it ’05?) and I’d flown to Los Angeles to meet the Crank County Daredevils as they pillaged their way to the West Coast following a “debaucherfest” at my home in Austin, TX.
Having made friends years prior with Buckcherry singer Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson, I talked them into meeting us on their home turf. They agreed and somewhere during the hugs and handshakes, I was told Buckcherry was quietly reforming after a brief hiatus and Stevie would be “the new guy.” A year or so later, Buckcherry was re-lit and exploding bigger than ever with the album “15″ and the monster hits, “Crazy Bitch” and “Sorry.”
Today, Buckcherry is touring in support of “Confessions,” a sixth album that swings like a wrecking ball at a time when the band could be coasting. The tour stops in Texas later this week, including San Antonio on Friday, April 18 (ticket info below), so I asked Stevie what album made him want to rock.
2FAST2DIE: Hey, Stevie, thanks for the great work on “Confessions.” It’s a knockout album and it’s been in heavy rotation at 2Fast2Die since its release. I love it. Speaking of great albums, which one stole your soul as a kid and got you hooked on rock-n-roll?
STEVIE DACANAY: That’s a tough one! I could easily say “Back In Black,” “Axis: Bold as Love,” “Strangers In The Night…” All influential in my early years, and all still in rotation today. Probably the most influential for me was Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains The Same.” It was the soundtrack for my life with or without a guitar in high school. It’s funny, even now when I’m in the bus and the movie is re-running in the front lounge, I’ll hear Jimmy Page play something and I’ll laugh to myself and think … “Ya, I totally ripped that off ;)”
2FAST2DIE SAYS: In Led Zeppelin’s holiest of houses, “The Song Remains the Same” is basically wallpaper. Not necessarily because it’s a bad album, of course, but because it’s surrounded by the Stonehenge of hard-rock records. That said, an all-time favorite album is ALL about personal memories and everlasting resonance — not historical hindsight and mainstream significance — which is why it’s so cool that Stevie chose something a whole lotta less than obvious. Thanks for playing, brother!
For more on Buckcherry, including tour dates and ticket info, go here.
FUTURE FOUND: Reunited cult-punk favorites The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs are, left to right, Bruce Duff, Frank Meyer, Dino Everett and Mike Sessa. A fierce live band that first formed in 1995 (with Myer’s actor-brother Breckin Meyer on drums), the Cheetahs are back on tour and writing new songs. Consider yourself warned.
TWO-HEADED MONSTER: The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs join Cheetah Chrome for a tour beginning April 3. Dates and ticket info are linked below.
The Stretwalkin’ Cheetahs didn’t enter my life with a warm smile and friendly handshake. No sir, they brick-bashed my ears and chainsawed my face in an ambush of chaos and decibels. Of course, I’m eternally grateful.
As best I can recall, the year was 1999 and I somehow dragged my quivering corpse to yet another SXSW gig, because I just HAD to see the Backyard Babies and the Dragons who were sharing a bill with the Cheetahs and local heroes/villains, The Bulemics. I had no idea who the Cheetahs were, but after Bulemics singer Gerry Atric was dragged off stage in handcuffs for showering the crowd with broken glass, I was fairly certain I’d survived the night’s most belligerent assault. Boy, was I ever wrong.
The Cheetahs didn’t just take the stage, they stormed it like a do-or-die jailbreak. The sweat exploded, the energy was ballistic and the whole self-inflicted, punk-rock whiplash had me convinced the band would leave in an ambulance. It was devastating in the best possible way and still stands as one of the Top 5 gigs I’ve ever witnessed and survived.
NO SLEEP ‘TIL AUSTIN: When the Cheetahs returned to SXSW in 2001, they slept on my apartment floor. The specifics are as foggy as this photo of Frank and I, but I do recall turning them on to Broken Teeth and landing a steady gig writing for Frank who, at the time, was serving as managing editor of KNAC.com. We’ve been friends for life ever since.
Needless to say, I was fairly bummed when the band called it quits in 2002. Fortunately, not all good things must come to an end. Sometimes they just need a break before they kill themselves (or worse) in a fit of music-biz burn-out and murderous frustration.
Not only are the Cheetahs reunited and roaring back with killer new material — including the feel good song of the summer (below) — they’re also revving up to tour with their longtime pal and legendary Dead Boys guitarist, Cheetah Chrome, beginning next week (dates below).
But enough from me, here’s frontman “Streetwalkin’” Frank Meyer to give you the good, the better and the completely insane …
So what prompted the Cheetahs reunion? Last May, Ruyter from Nashville Pussy and I went to go see Turbonegro and saw some kids in Streetwalkin’ Cheetah’s T-shirts. When she introduced me to a few people and they all had stories of seeing the Cheetahs around various parts of the world, it dawned on me that there was still awareness of the band in some circles. So I called up Dino and Mike Sessa, and we agreed to get together and rehearse to see how it sounded. Art Jackson has retired from music so he passed, and we got our old pal Bruce Duff from ADZ on second guitar. It sounded like the old days right away and we quickly wrote a bunch of new material. So now we are hitting the road with Cheetah Chrome to support a new single on Little T&A Records.
CHOKING THE CHEETAH: Frank Meyer unleashing his inner raw power just like he did the night I first saw him during a sweat-soaked assault on SXSW.
Is this a long-term reunion? Are you back to stay? Yes, we are back for good. The “Escape From New York City”/”Fuck The Future” single (Little T&A Records) is our first new release in well over a decade. We have tons of new songs, so the plan is to record and release a new single every 3-4 months for the next year, and then collect that and some other new tunes into a new album for next year. We will be hitting the road throughout the year to support all this activity. The Cheetah Chrome tour in April is simply the first of many tours to come. Little T&A has agreed to release this first single, and likely more…though we haven’t made a commitment for the full album with anyone quite yet. But we’re really happy with them. Got awesome new music videos for both new tracks coming very soon too, including a John Carpenter-themed “Escape From New York” tribute video directed by horror movie director Joe Lynch.
You and new Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs guitarist Bruce Duff (ADZ. 45 Grave, Jesters of Destiny) played with Cheetah Chrome in 2004. Any stories from that era? I first met Cheetah in 2003 when Ramones tour manager Monte Melnick and I interviewed him for our book “On the Road with the Ramones.” But Bruce already knew him from when they both played if Jeff Dahl’s band in the ‘80s. Our post-Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs band Sweet Justice — which featured Bruce — opened for Rocket From the Tombs in LA in 2004, where Cheetah and I discussed doing some shows together. So a few months later, Sweet Justice and Cheetah did a west coast tour where we backed him up each night playing Dead Boys, RFTT and solo stuff from his repertoire. We ended going to Spain for some festivals, and that’s when things got really crazy.
Go on …
So, one time we played in this small beach town that happened to be the port for all the cocaine that comes into Europe, so there were piles upon piles of cocaine EVERYWHERE. The first night of the festival, our buddies, the Lords of Altamont, played and while they were on, some kid ran up on stage and darted behind the curtain for the backstage catering. He grabbed the entire roasted pig and hurled it into the crowd. Suddenly, thousands of punk-rock kids are ripping this huge pig apart and throwing the meat around like a giant food fight. It was raining pig meat and blood. Then they tossed all the meat onto the stage and covered the band in it. It was disgusting … and hilarious! Cheetah and I laughed for days. A few months later when the Lords played LA, me and Bruce went to the store and bought a bunch of ham. When the band hit the stage, we tossed some ham on their feet so they’d remember our trip to Spain. They were only slightly amused.
For Two-Headed Cheetah tour dates beginning April 3, go here. For the Cheetahs on Facebook, go here.
For the Cheetah’s brand-new, feel-good song, “Fuck the Future,” click below and free free to sing along.
OUT THERE: As if there was any doubt that Tool has a fun side, Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor invite you to party “Deliverance”-style with blowtorches, gasoline and kiddie-pool floaties. Enjoy!
BLUE MOON: Adam Jones strikes a pose as a shadowy man from a shadowy planet.
In 2006, I was fairly certain I could sooner have a beer with Bigfoot than land an interview with Tool.
While the band dropped its mysterious shroud for international music publications like Rolling Stone and SPIN, it was rare for the guys to speak to every daily newspaper along the latest tour route. That grip of secrecy loosened a bit over time, but in 2006 — after multiple attempts — I still considered it a victory to finally score some Tool time.
On the eve of a reported new album and a current tour that stops in Austin and Houston March 24-25, I asked my former San Antonio Express-News editor Robert Johnson to crack the vaults and dig up the Tool. Welcome to the dark side …
By David Glessner Special to the Express-News
The progressive alt-metal rock band Tool has a wrench in the gears when guitarist Adam Jones finally calls from Calgary, Canada.
“We’ve been touring through Japan, Korea, Hawaii and now into Canada,” he says, while apologizing for calling two hours late. “When we got to Canada, we picked up a whole new (stage production). It’s very big and spectacular, but there were a few little bugs to work out so there were meetings about what was working and what wasn’t working. I’m kind of running around with my head cut off like a chicken.”
STRANGE DAYS: As with their previous albums, Tool’s fourth release cut across the grain in every conceivable way, yet still was a huge success.
Considering Tool’s tight-lipped past, a late interview is still a major score. Tool fans apparently feel the same about the band’s latest album, “10,000 Days,” which sold more than 500,000 copies during its first-week release. Like top-selling predecessors “Aenima,” and “Lateralus,” “10,000 Days, ” is a visual and audio explosion of helter-skelter soundscapes, three-dimensional artwork, pained vocals and sci-fi sounding noises.
“One journalist asked me if I could explain Tool in just one word and I said, ‘experimental,’” Jones said. “We start off with a lot of jamming and experimentation. It’s four people meeting in the middle of a room and expanding out from there with creativity and arguments, and all the good and bad of the process. It’s a very rewarding thing for us.”
POWER TOOL: More atmospheric in sound than his heavy metal peers, Adam Jones is known for his crushingly innovative style.
The resulting rewards will be shared with the band’s many fans Tuesday when Tool hammers the AT&T Center for what promises to be a gripping attack on the senses. Joining Jones is eccentric vocalist/showman (and part-time A Perfect Circle singer) Maynard James Keenan, drummer Danny Carey and British bassist Justin Chancellor. Isis opens. It’s the band’s first area appearance since a 2002 Verizon show.
“One thing I really like about the four of us is we have very different tastes in music, but it’s all overly eclectic,” Jones says. “We learn from each other. Maynard really loves Joni Mitchell and I’m not really into her, but I listen to some of her stuff and go ‘Oh man, that’s really cool and this is really cool.’ Tool is not four guys who think exactly the same.”
Forged in Los Angeles in 1990, Tool has been on the cutting edge of popular music since its inception. At once strangely beautiful, menacing and majestic, Tool is known for its epic, metallic songs, shadowy subject matter and grotesque imagery and videos.
YES, PLEASE: If you’re a fan of Tool, you can thank bands like Yes for their boundless visual and musical artistry.
“We’ve always shot big,” Jones says of the “stereoscopic lenses” that allow fans to view magnified and distorted images within the “10,000 Days” packaging. “The four of us grew up in the ’70s with vinyl (records). You’d sit on your bed and smoke pot and look at the double gatefold of Yes or whatever album. It was a very visual and stimulating time. With my favorite records, I felt like I was always getting more than my money’s worth. That’s what we want.”
Getting what the band wants comes with a price, Jones says.
“We fight everybody,” he says. “We’re in this for the long, slow climb and most of the people that are investing money in us, like the record company, they want the fast money as soon as possible. But we don’t want to sell ourselves short. As a band, a lot of times, we eat (dirt) on our residuals (in exchange) for better artwork or a better T-shirt or poster or video. When we first started this band, we decided we were going to push the music and not ourselves. It’s been a fight all the way.”
For those keeping score, Tool is winning the battle. From its early recordings, including the 1992 EP “Opiate” and the 1993 full-length album “Undertow” featuring breakout singles “Sober” and “Prison Sex,” Tool has amassed impressive critical and commercial acclaim. From pivotal performances at Lollapalooza ’93 and ’97 to Grammys for Best Metal Performance in 1998 and 2002, Tool has been plated in platinum for more than a decade.
Part of the appeal, Jones says, is Tool’s musical mystique, which invites listener interpretation.
GHOULS ON FILM: Besides being Tool’s guitarist, Adam is also the creative force behind the band’s disturbing videos. Before Tool, he worked in Hollywood movie studios.
“Oh, absolutely,” Jones says. “We could sit there and spoon-feed everyone and go, ‘OK, here are the lyrics, this is exactly what the song means, blah, blah, blah’ and you still can’t connect with everybody. What we like about other music is coming up with our own conclusions. That’s why we’ve always kept our lyrics out (of the album notes) and just let people come up with their own conclusions.”
Pressed for insight regarding new songs on “10,000 Days,” Jones shines a light on the track “Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann).”
“Hofmann is Albert Hofmann who basically, accidentally, invented LSD,” Jones says. “We’ve done songs about expanding your mind with different kinds of drugs, (but) in a good way. On this song, I’m not quoting Maynard, but he’s kind of showing the irresponsible side of doing drugs and having an experience that maybe doesn’t have such a mind-expanding result.”
If Tool comes off as heavy or pretentious, Jones assures there is a lighter side to the band.
“We take our music and our art very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously at all,” he says. “It really balances out. People meet us and a lot of times they’re very disappointed because we’re goofy guys who like ‘Caddyshack’ and having fun and pulling pranks. I meet fans and you can see it in their eyes that they’re disappointed because I’m not some kind of Aleister Crowley guy. I’m a guy just like you. I love ’40-Year-Old Virgin’ and I’ve seen it, like, 40 times.”
For 2014 Tool tour info, go here. To rock out, trip out and creep out with Tool, click below
Cheetah Chrome isn’t the biggest cat in the cage, but he can damn sure rattle it just as loud as the rest.
From the machine-gun riff of “Sonic Reducer” through the rest of the Dead Boys’ savage punk rock, Cheetah’s raw guitar power is every bit as vicious as those strummers in the Clash, Ramones, Sex Pistols and Stooges. Sure, those bands amassed more prominent legacies, but you’d be bottled behind CBGB if you didn’t count the Dead Boys’ 1977 debut album, “Young Loud and Snotty,” as an absolute, must-have, punk-rock classic (the title alone spits volumes).
Today, Cheetah lives in Nashville where he probably scares the neighbors while serving as a head honcho at Plowboy Records. Established to preserve the legacy of country western singer Eddy Arnold, the record label also nurtures renegade, outlaw-Americana-cowpunk artists and other musical misfits. No surprise then that Cheetah’s new album, “Solo,” is right at home on Plowboy (and if you like the streetwise, garage-rock of Alejandro Escovedo’s “Real Animal,” you’ll love Cheetah’s “Solo”).
As he readies for multiple SXSW appearances in Austin and a tour with his pals, the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs (no relation), 2Fast2Die caught up with Cheetah for some (very) random Q&A.
As a kid, what album changed your life and inspired you to play music? Well, “Meet the Beatles” was the first to make me want to play. When I did begin to play guitar, I really got into “High Tide and Green Grass” by the Stones and the first Steppenwolf album. The leads on “Born to Be Wild” inspired me to be a lead guitarist.
ANY QUESTIONS?: The Dead Boys’ debut album was a rare case of truth in advertising.
What inspired your stage name, Cheetah Chrome?
Nothing really. It was sort of a joke nickname in school when I ran track for about two weeks; I’d also had a sort of fascination with cheetahs after seeing one at the zoo when I was a kid. When “Search and Destroy” came out, that clinched it! As for Chrome, well Bators insisted I have a last name, because I wanted to go with just “Cheetah,” like Tarzan ‘s monkey. Stiv was big into numerology and I guess just “Cheetah” didn’t bode well or something. So he came up with Chrome, which I hated, but he finally wore me down.
What do you remember most about Stiv? Share your overall memory of him and then share one crazy specific memory
Just his friendship and how we used to hang out together. I have a lot of good onstage memories: the eye contact we used to have, the jokes we used to make to each other away from the mics. But mostly I remember just hanging out and laughing a whole lot. One of my favorites is when he used to do the whole Dick Van Dyke entrance to a hotel, coming in the front door and tripping over all of the lobby furniture, knocking over and catching lamps, ashtrays, plants etc. … and then just straightening himself out and walking calmly to the elevator, leaving nothing out of place. Genius!
STIV FOREVER: Cheetah on stage circa 1977 with iconic Dead Boys singer Stiv Bators. The Dead Boys relocated to New York from Cleveland and became a crowd favorite at CBGB along with the Ramones, the New York Dolls and others. Stiv would later form The Lords of the New Church before dying in 1990 from injuries suffered after being hit by a taxi.
Describe your most chaotic Dead Boys gig
Had to be one of the Halloween gigs at the Ritz. Those were insane. We had two bad-ass roadies, Johnny and Kenny, who spent the entire show out front with us throwing people off the stage. This was the height of the moshing, stage-diving days. I always hated that shit! What a frigging waste of time; pay an outrageous ticket price and then do your best to distract the band so they can’t play – wise move! Of course these were the same people sitting in squats being “straight edge,” not drinking, taking drugs, having sex or eating meat, then complaining how life sucked. Well, duh!
HELL-OOoooo CLEVELAND!: Prior to forming the Dead Boys, Cheetah, second from right, was in the Cleveland band, Rocket From the Tombs. The band is cited as the birthplace of later-day Dead Boys songs like ‘Ain’t it Fun,’ ‘Sonic Reducer’ and ‘Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth,’ among others.
What exactly is a sonic reducer and how many times have you been asked this question?
I have been asked that question 20,000,093 times. This makes 20,000,094. It is a fictional object that you don’t want to be on the receiving end of. Let’s leave it at that. Classified.
Speaking of, there are some punk purists who feel the inclusion of the Dead Boys song “Sonic Reducer” in a TV commercial is blasphemy. Then there are those who feel it’s about damn time the Dead Boys got paid. Your thoughts?
I think it’s a no brainer. It’s for a state-of-the-art speaker system that really does kick some serious ass. It’s named “Sonos,”so I mean, it’s a natural: “Sonic/Sonos.” It shows the band at their best, prominently featured. I see no conflict, although even if it was a Massengill ad I could argue that after 37 years the Dead Boys have enough street cred to tell anybody who doesn’t like what we do to kiss our asses.
BLITZKRIEG BOOK: In 2009-2010, Cheetah wrote a book chronicling the chaos of a life lived dangerously. As you can see from the cover, the book is enthusiastically approved by Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash whose band once recorded the Dead Boys classic, ‘Ain’t it Fun.’
What was your first impression of CBGBs and then your overall memory of it?
That it was smaller than I expected and that there was dog shit on my shoe. Then it just began to feel like home, which is my overall memory of it.
You lent your consulting expertise to the movie “CBGB.” In your honest opinion, is the movie an accurate snapshot of that era or is it enhanced with a lot of Hollywood “creative license”?
It’s a pretty accurate story of Hilly and how the club got started. A lot of the Dead Boys stuff is very accurate, at least in capturing the overall vibe. Other things are not – I never drove back then, and even if I had, none of those guys would have ever gotten into a vehicle I was driving! They were nervous about my walking, let alone my driving! I didn’t have a license until 2001!! A lot of the stuff on other bands is pieced together from things like “Please Kill Me,” and some accuracy got lost in the mix – like the truck crash happened to the Stooges, not to us. I’m told some of them were asked to help with the film and refused, so they had their chance to set the record straight and didn’t take it. I took mine. One major discrepancy was the part when Johnny is in the hospital and someone says something to the effect that “well, if he dies at least we’ll sell some records.” Nobody in the band said that, though it was said; I won’t say by who.
SO GOOD: Cheetah’s ‘Solo’ album features guest musicians from the New York Dolls, The Cult and the Blackhearts.
What’s your fondest memory of Joey Ramone?
Coming back to my place on E .5th St after closing down the Cat Club and drinking beer and playing records till dawn.
What took so long to put out “Solo” and why is now the right time for its release?
Well, I never had the right label to put it out after Smog Veil went on hiatus. Frank Mauceri was the only person I trusted in the music industry in that regard. When Shannon Pollard, Don Cusic and I started Plowboy Records in 2012, and I became an A&R man, I thought to myself, “Hmmmm … Now who was that guy I saw that I thought was pretty good? Oh, it was me!” The timing had something to do with the movie — strike while the iron is hot. Again, a no brainer.
BOYS-N-DOLLS: Cheetah with longtime pal and sometimes band mate, Sylvain Sylvain of New York Dolls fame.
I met you in 2010 when you and Sylvain Sylvain played at SXSW in Austin under the band name, The Batusis. You may recall your publicist had me pose as your driver so I could get into the gig. So, who’s the better guitarist, you or Syl? Hey, thanks for not putting me on the spot! I really appreciate that! Actually, we’re very different guitarists, which makes it work nicely when we play together, but I do have to give the nod to Syl. He has the best instincts of any musician I’ve ever played with. He can fly by the seat of his pants better than I do. He’s extremely spontaneous. When we were recording the Batusis EP, he brought in “What You Lack In Brains,” very bare bones. He was calling out the changes to us as we were playing it the first time – and that ended up being the track! I don’t think he even had more than a couple of lines of lyrics ready, but he knew where it was going instinctively. I’m more methodical. I like going back after the track is done and working on my leads, trying guitar parts. Syl’s a one-take wonder 90 percent of the time. As personalities, we’re pretty much on the same page. We’ve been hanging out for 30-odd years, so we know each other well. Traveling with Syl is a gas. The Batusis tours were probably the most enjoyable I’ve ever done!
Tell us something we don’t know about Cheetah Chrome: Any hobbies? Hidden talents? Guilty pleasures? Favorite pastimes when you’re not making music?
Hobbies? None really. Hidden talents? I’m not a bad piano player; I also play a lot of open-G tuning stuff on acoustic around the house, and slide. Guilty pleasures? I really like Robbie Williams’s “Escapology” CD. And I love the Bee Gees.
Thanks for taking the time, Cheetah. I’ll see you at SXSW and hopefully this time I won’t have to pose as your driver to get into the gig. Hey, you walk in like ya own the place this time! Thanks for the interview.
* For more info about Plowboy Records’ Saturday March 15th SXSW Showcase featuring Cheetah Chrome and more at Saxon Pub, go here
* To see Cheetah Chrome guest with Dead Boys tribute band Flamethrower Love on a bill that includes the Sons of Hercules and others at SXSW on March 13, go here * To see Cheetah Chrome guest with Dead Boys tribute band Flamethrower Love on a bill that also includes Lower Class Brats, Flash Boys, the Bulemics and more at SXSW on March 14, go here
* To see Cheetah Chrome and Eddie Munoz of the Plimsouls/Skunks guest with the Hormones at SXSW on March 14, go here
* To see Cheetah in all his flaming, red-headed Dead Boys glory, click below and watch out for the spit