Mike’s Metal Memoir

 

Recently, this blog was trash talked by some of the same people I’ve been trying to support this past year. In response, I may have overreacted, but it led to a good talk with some readers. A few people suggested that I write about my past experiences in the scene. I never intended to do this in the beginning, but since enough of you have shown interest, I don’t feel like I’m being too self serving or anything like that. So, without further delay, here are some things about me:

I started off in the scene in the summer of 2001, as the drummer of a post rock/something band called Heavy Visual, as well as the drummer for an easier to define, 103.3 The Edge style rock band, Catalyst (Cata-fuckin-lyst). Back in those days, we typically played at Showplace Theater, Cloud 9, The Funhouse/Sideshow etc. More importantly, you had to go through ESI to get on those stages. Now, here’s where I get up on my soap box and talk shit about local bands having to sell tickets/pay to play. ESI charged bands 50 bucks to get on bills. We were given tickets to sell to our friends (which never happened, we all just gave them out). Furthermore, lineups never made sense. It was first come, first serve. Whoever put in for that date got on that bill. ESI did no promotion whatsoever, so not only are bands paying to play (even though you could always make the money back if you actually sold tix to your friends), new high school level local bands did all their own promotion and played bullshit battles with no real prizes and other types of shows that made no logical sense in terms of the lineup.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, we still play to empty rooms sometimes today, but as I got older, I found out how to book my own shows, or I just went out and found more stand-up promoters like the great Mike Deitzman, Dan Klaes, Dale Hinz etc. So, again, without taking up too much of your time, if you’re new to the scene, here’s my advice: FUCK PAY TO PLAY BULLSHIT. More importantly, fuck ticket shows (unless it’s for a dope headliner signed to a major label or something). BTW, Greg Burt, if you’re reading this, I love you. I just don’t agree with local bands selling tickets for all local bills/doing all the promotion under certain circumstances. But you’re a stand-up guy and you’re always out fliering and fighting the good fight.
I was in and out of a few more bands after this period. The music got heavier and the venues/towns/demographics got more diverse. I’d also like to point out that from 2001- 2006, I was the undisputed worst metal drummer in Buffalo, NY. Anyone who thinks they had this title over me can come to my apartment and fight me. Just listen to the This Gun Smiles demo with the songs, “The Last Dance” and “Murder Makes You Die”, it’s all Doug White making me sound sweet with mouse clicks. I’ll tell ya, Pro-tools is a hell of a program!
Anyways, by the mid 2000s, breakdowns were running my life. As I Lay Dying, Unearth and others of the like were my touchstones. But I was getting heavy into melodic death too. Fuck! In Flames was good up until Clayman! And how about Slaughter of the Soul or Dark Tranquillity’s discography through Character?!
I had also started booking my own shows by this time. I did a bunch of little shits and giggles that flopped (a certain 2 day metalfest with locals at Xtreme Wheelz that I can’t bear to discuss), so I’ll just name a few personal milestones:
Good guy, Duran Gomez and I booked Killwhitneydead at Broadway Joe’s on 6/6/06!!! Packed house! I was hooked for a time after that, until the monetary system got the better of me.
Abigail Williams showed up for me at Showplace, in a blizzard in February of 2007. They played in front of 20 people, said it was the lowest turnout of the tour, but were the nicest, most respectful guys about it. I still had a great time and paid them in advance (when they arrived at the venue). I always paid touring bands like that. Fuck relying on the door money when you have a guarantee to meet and people driving around the country in blizzards trying to make a living with a U-Haul full of their livelihood. Set money aside, dudes (dudettes). You never know what can happen.
Arsis laid it down for me the following month at Showplace. Mr. James Malone expressed his utter surprise with me for PURCHASING a hoodie! Hey, dudes, if you’re booking, don’t just EXPECT free shit from these people. I find it rude (presumptuous). Sons of Azrael also killed it that night for me. Those whipper snappers used to bring the mosh, I tell ya! “BACK TO THE CROSS, IT’S WHERE YOU BELONG!” “I CAN ALMOST HEAR YOUR VOIIIIICEEEE!!!” Insert other shrill Siracuse lines here!
Oh, man! Remember when deathcore with keys was killing it?! I did Winds of Plague that June at Showplace with Born of Osiris (they were like 17 and fresh on Sumerian?). Perfidious Doom opened. Remember that shit? Deathcore with keys, I tell ya! *insert Phantom of the Opera progression with breakdown in drop A* Those were the times!
My last show was the following month. Sons of Azrael went to bat for me again, opening for the great Vital Remains at Showplace! Their guarantee/hospitality rider were both astronomical. I lost so much money and couldn’t pay SOA. I still feel like shit about it and I apologize to Tony and Derrick like every time I see them and it’s been 9 years now (lol). I couldn’t deal with it and I just didn’t want to risk it ever happening again. I’m a stickler for having all my bases covered and just disappeared from the booking scene after this time. 3 years of zero drumming and some light guitar playing would follow, before I made my reemergence.
In September of 2010, I started Aspired Infliction with Mike Kelsey. I was going for some melodic death riffing, with some ignorant sounding breakdowns and some shitty mid 2000s metalcore and BOY, did we ever succeed in creating that sound! I quit at one point and came back a year later. Kelsey was in and out twice, but over the course of 5 years before we disbanded, with Hylkema, Ben and Tony (the moron twins), Chris Michaels, Eric Cragg, and Ryan Patrick, we had some AMAZING times. Because of AI, I met all the great bands and promoters that make up our glorious scene today. If I hadn’t gotten back out there, I never would’ve reconnected with Deitz, Eareckson Murray, or met Bieler, Brian Pattison, Jeff Standish, the Pagans, Joe Tonaus, Lindsay Leyland, Josh Klein and the rest of Pollock, etc. All my experiences over the last 5 years alone have given me hope for a full scene revival/makeover!
I truly believe that more venues, more amazing bands and more national recognition are all on the way for Buffalo. Look what just happened to Mr. Danimal Cannon! The guy can write symphonies on a Gameboy and still be home in time for Corn Flakes! (I’ll give you a dollar if you can tell me where that line is from without Googling it).
I’m leaving a lot out here, but this is already too long. So, I’ll close with this- Whether you’re in a band, booking shows, or both, make smart choices. “Don’t be dicks, be dudes”, as Hylkema likes to say. We are all in this together. If you’re moshing and someone falls down, pick them up. I swear, I lose my shit every time I see a “bro” kick someone while they are down. Tip bartenders, donate to venues that are struggling in any way you can, throw/play benefit shows (it works) and if you’re in a band, don’t be keyboard warriors. Too many people just sit at home like assholes, typing. Hmmm…sort of like what I’m doing right now. Don’t be like me. I just saw Nile the other day and those guys were talking about this very phenomenon. Trolling is fun and all when it is in good taste, but empty venues incite frowns!
Alright, now I’m seriously done. Did you really read all this? You may want to read a book now, in order to get some of those brain cells back! Toodles!
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