Tuesday, June 01, 2010

My Metal History, Part 1: The Beginning

For a long time I've wanted to do a series of posts on my personal history with metal, how I got into it, and how I've expanded my horizons in that realm. But I've never gotten around to it, until now, inspired by Metallattorney's series on his metal history.

Early in life, I never really cared about music. We had really awful pop radio stations where I grew up, plus far more country stations than anyone could ever need. My dad was a classic rock fan in high school, so I do remember listening to some of that and liking it somewhat. He is particularly fond of Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I also remember that from time to time we would put on his "Cat Scratch Fever" (I think it was vinyl, but may have been 8-track) and go nuts playing with the dog . . . it had something to do with the whole cat vs. dog thing. But my dad isn't really big on music, and never has been. At the time, I wasn't either.

So, while other kids at school would talk about music, I just felt like an outsider, because I didn't get what the big deal was. I remember once in 4th grade some kids were arguing about who sang some particular song. They couldn't settle it, and they said, "Hey, Kelly's smart, let's ask him and he'll settle it." I didn't know and didn't care. I'm embarrassed to say I did buy into the whole MC Hammer thing, getting Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, but that was very short-lived. Why is that embarrassing to me, when nothing a person does at that age should really embarrass them as an adult?

In junior high, I would listen to the Dr. Demento radio show. It played comedy songs, and comedy was something I understood. I would sit by my little radio / cassette player and wait for a song which I thought I would like, and record Dr. Demento compilations of my own off the radio. I would then listen to them from time to time, usually on my Walkman, and especially while mowing the lawn.

One thing I noticed, though, was that I seemed to like the heavier, guitar-oriented songs. I remember really liking Weird Al's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and a parody of "Iron Man" called "I Am Santa Claus."

I didn't think anything of it, and still didn't consider myself a music fan. But one day in 8th grade, everything changed forever.

The year was 1995. I was staying at my best friend's house for the night. Our usual ritual was to play video games until 1 or 2 in the morning (usually Final Fantasy VI, formerly known in the US as Final Fantasy III, on the SNES) and then to stay up talking until 3 or 4. This night, something different was added to the mix. He had a cassette of his dad's he wanted me to hear, but he didn't think we were supposed to be listening to it. He put it in the player, and it immediately opened my eyes forever.

Before the first song was over, I told him that I had decided to start saving my $5/week allowance to get my first CD player (at the time it cost me $80, I think). I made good on that promise, with the help of some Christmas money, and within a couple months I bought the CD player and my first CD, the same album which changed my life forever. That album was Metallica, the "Black Album," the song which changed my life forever was "Enter Sandman."

Soon after that, my friend and I were both buying metal, mostly the same albums. We both got White Zombie's Astro Creep: 2000 (which I still have to this day) and AC/DC's The Razor's Edge (which I no longer have, not being a fan of them anymore). Unluckily for him, he had the "clean" (i.e. bastardized Wal-Mart) version of the Zombie album. Luckily for me, I did not. I clearly remember buying the Zombie album. We were on a shopping trip to either Sioux City, Iowa, or Yankton, South Dakota, and I always bought something for myself when we went on those trips. Previously, I had always wandered to the toy section, but that day at K-Mart I wandered to electronics and found my first Zombie. I'm fairly certain it was the second CD I ever owned.

I would literally sit in my room and do nothing but listen to these albums. I kind of miss those days, because it seems there isn't enough time in the day anymore to just listen to music without having to do something else, too.

That summer before high school, Metallica released Load, an album many long-time metal fans would instantly despise. I had no preconceptions of what metal should be, and I was in no way plugged into the metal music press. All I knew was that I walked into the store and saw a huge display of the new Metallica album. I got it right away.

Soon after, we took our last-ever family vacation. My parents knew it would be the last one because I was going to go to high school soon and would be too busy to go with them, so they made it a big one. We were going to Yellowstone, a 15 hour drive. Because of this, I got a Discman. I believe Load was the only album I brought with me, but even if it wasn't, I don't think I took it out of the Discman. I can't tell you how many AA batteries I went through, or how many times I listened to it on that trip--at least 20, probably closer to 30 or more. I deeply loved every single song on that album, and still love most of it to this day.

This was the most formative period in my personal history with metal music, and Metallica was by far the most influential part of it, though White Zombie also played a big part. I still don't think I considered myself a metalhead yet. In high school, that would change.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading this. It's always entertaining to see how other people got their start in metal. I started out with the same band, Metallica, but a different album, as I'm sure you've read by now.