It's all set; the fix is in--I'm going to heaven for sure, and here's why: Last week I went to see Rush, but know this--I hate Rush. Some label person had sent me two free tickets, so I figured, why not? Why not give prog-rock one more chance? I grabbed New Times' own Tim the Photographer (who admitted with some kind of sick pride to liking em in high school) and we headed down to the echo chamber that is Veterans' Memorial Coliseum.
We had great seats, 13th-row center, surrounded by legions of the faithful. Then, before I could say "shag haircut," Rush came on and the juggernaut began. The light show was, like, pretty cool, and Geddy Lee resembled John Lennon with a bigger nose. I really enjoyed Geddy's classic, high-cheese rock patter--How ya doing, Phoenix? I said, 'How ya doing, Phoenix?'"--but by the fifth song, I'd heard enough. Now here's the righteous part: Tim and I walked to the back of the Coliseum (getting incredulous, "How could you leave?" looks of scorn), and hiked up to the very worst nosebleed seats in the place. There were two teenage Rushites literally sitting with their backs against the wall, and we gave them our tickets.
At first they thought it was some kind of a setup, but when we convinced them it was for real, you should have seen these guys. A mixture of disbelief and holy gratitude; the looks on their faces you could have poured on a waffle.
So the good deed was done, the guys packed up their air guitars and moved ever closer to Rush, and we rushed out and ended up at the 307 Club in hopes of catching a late-night drag show. But that's another story.
The Boys From Brazil: The official bio describes Sepultura as "heavy rock's darkest chroniclers of inhumanity and injustice." It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. The band has a new CD out, Chaos A.D., which the bio says is "their boldest, angriest, and most terrifying work yet"--God, I love quoting bios--and if you're the kind of person who can get scared by a CD, then it speaks the truth. This is metal for the thinking man; Sepultura combines strong, wicked music with social commentary drawn from experiences in its native Brazil (though the members now call Phoenix home).
For example: The acoustic tune "Kaiowas" was inspired by a tribe of Brazilian Indians that opted for suicide rather than let the government move it from its rain-forest home. "Manifest" offers a spoken-word recitation of a massacre at a South American penitentiary.
The band is coming to Club Rio--ironically--on Sunday, February 13. So now, calling from a hotel room in London, where you can here his baby yelling and a Skinyard album playing in the background, here is Max Cavalera (Sep's singer and rhythm guitarist) to share a few thoughts with you.
Screed: Ex-Dead Kennedy Jello Biafra wrote some lyrics on the new album. How did that come about?
Max: I always loved the Dead Kennedys; that's why Sepultura started getting political, partly because of them. We became friends with Jello about three years ago, then, when I was writing this album, I had a song with no lyrics and I wanted some political ones. I called him up, and he was so excited, he faxed me the lyrics the same night.
S: Were they any good?
Max: Yeah! The name surprised me. I was like, "Biotech Is Godzilla"? But it's great.
S: Your bio says you're "a heartbeat away from massive success." Do you feel like that?
Max: Uh, what does it say again?
S: That you're a heartbeat away from massive success.
Max: Oh. I don't know what "massive success" really means. If it means put on a flannel shirt, change your music, that's not what we want. If it means expanding to the masses the way we are, then that's what we want. We're not about to change to get bigger; it's been ten years already, man, and to be quite honest, I can take 20 more. The main passion has to be just for playing, and I'm not desperate. S: Is it hard artistically to keep your metal pure as you get bigger?
Max: If you let it go to your head, it can destroy you. You don't want to see anybody, you're just crabby and pissed off.
S: Relocating from Brazil to Phoenix seems like quite a move.
Max: Phoenix is home, man. I've been here two years and I really like it. A lot of people are moving to Phoenix, like Dave Mustaine from Megadeth. And we have the same tour manager as Ozzy [Osbourne]; he's from L.A. and he's like, "Man, I'm moving to Phoenix after that earthquake shit." It's a good place to relax.
S: And you can shoot guns in the desert.
Max: Yeah. It's perfect.
Earl C. Whitehead and the Grevious Angels are Austin-bound on New Times' nickel. Earl C. and the boys are the lucky band chosen by yours truly to attend the South by Southwest music conference, and if you haven't gone to see em, you should. And if you haven't guessed by the name, the band does a country thing that falls somewhere between Gram Parsons and early Johnny Cash. And the band members wear boots and cowboy hats. At Balboa Cafe last weekend, the Grieving Ones packed the joint, and more than made up for a rocky start courtesy of a temperamental PA. For those of you keeping score, the guy playing bass (Dan Henzerling) is the same guy who plays drums in the almost-too-good-to-exist Toad the Wet David Swafford. Another local band called the Gin Blossoms seems to be doing quite well these days; in fact, it's sold more than a million copies of New Miserable Experience, and that means the thing is platinum. A guy from the soms' record label called me and said they'd be receiving the award at the Suns-Lakers game on March 18, and that Robin Wilson would sing the national anthem. I called Mr. Wilson, and he begged to differ. "I am singing the national anthem, but we will not be receiving our platinum record there. I simply will not allow that to happen. I'm sure the Suns have got other things on their minds." And though waves of patriotism will no doubt be coursing through Robin's veins as he takes on the anthem, "It's more exciting because you're thinking, 'Fucking James Worthy is sitting over there listening to me sing,'" he says. Hey, and Vlade, too.
And in case you heard the Blossoms are doing the anthem at the All-Star Game, you heard wrong. "We're playing at an MTV special at the All-Star Game next weekend." That's it. Well, actually, there's more: Along with Whitney Houston, Michael Bolton, New Kids on the Block and many other people Americans like, by the time you read this, the Blossoms will have appeared on the American Music Awards. "America's going to have to sit through 'Hey Jealousy' one more goddamn time," says Robin. Awwww.
Grab your Fox on the Run and head over to Hollywood Alley on Valentine's Day to witness what might be one of the coolest shows you'll ever see. Yes, it's Sweet! The band that gave the world "Ballroom Blitz," "Little Willy" and the insightful "Love Is Like Oxygen" is coming to our town, and from the looks of the band photo, there're more than a couple original members. Or maybe they just hired old guys.
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My apologies to the female employee at Majestic Records who opened the package I sent out containing one of the prize baby heads from the Wax Estefan contest two weeks ago. I didn't put the winner's name on the thing, so when this doll head popped out with "Love, Gloria" scrawled on its neck, she thought it was some kind of sick, twisted joke. Which, of course, it was; she just wasn't in on it.
I get messages on my answering machine, and last week one of them was from an anonymous person with a good point. When I congratulated Bob Corritore on the newly added day of his KJZZ-FM blues show last week, I failed to point out that it took the place of Felix Hernandez's Rhythm Review. With no malice toward Bob, the caller praised the Review, and for good reason. Felix played great stuff. I don't know the politics of this situation, but R.I.P. to Rhythm Review.
Go See: The Phunk Junkeez drip sweat and rap at your face Friday at the Roxy.
What Does This Mean?: The other day I was searching through the "D" file in the extensive New Times photo library when I came upon a glossy of scary metal ber-Satanist Ronnie James Dio. Then I found another. And another. There were 17 of the damn things altogether, something I found so astonishing that I am going to share my favorite one with you.