Golden Gods Awards 2013: How Gene Simmons Gets Out of Interviews and Other Black Carpet Tales

If you've been reading this whiskey-drenched, devil-horn-throwing column every week for more than a year, here's a little thank-you flashback to the beginning. In one of the first Metal Mondays installments, I talked about the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in Los Angeles -- basically the heavy metal Grammys. I couldn't get off work and was pretty pissed off about it. So I decided to celebrate a different kind of golden god: Jim Marshall, who had passed away the week before.

Well, the 5th Golden Gods Awards show was held Thursday, May 2, at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. And lo and behold, I snagged a spot on the "black carpet" conducting interviews, as well as a ticket to the awards show. Hellll yeaahh.

Here's the thing, though. No one seems to give a shit about the Golden Gods Awards. Even hardcore metalheads.

First, it was televised only on Xbox Live, Facebook, and AXS TV. How in the hell does a a five-year-running awards show featuring some of the biggest names in hard rock and Grammy-winning artists -- and headlined by Metallica -- not make it onto easily accessible television? Second, the live stream on Facebook, where many were tuned in, went dead halfway through Metallica's set. All the tickets supposedly were sold out the day they went on sale, but as I walked in, they were still selling them. Once I was in, the venue didn't seem even close to full.

People who cherish hard rock and heavy metal should fucking care if they want the genres to survive (but maybe this is just one biased metalhead's opinion). Though the production could have been better, some of the best-selling and Grammy-winningest artists in metal were there in abundance.

Because I was able to go, and the death of Slayer's Jeff Hanneman was announced just hours before the show, it felt like the perfect way for me to pay tribute to metal. Hanneman's death cast a pall over the proceedings, and I'm sure most of the artists didn't even want to be there. I myself found out about an hour before I hit the black carpet, and my blood ran cold.

But like the tragic deaths of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, Ronnie James Dio, Slipknot's Paul Gray, and Deftones' Chi Cheng, the Slayer co-founder's passing gave us all a reminder of the community spirit that has long dominated metal. All the performers and fans paid tribute to Hanneman throughout the entire night.

Hosted for the fourth year in a row by FOZZY frontman and WWE legend Chris Jericho, the event is basically a heavy metal family reunion. Metallica performed live and received the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award. The Golden God Award, given to one special honoree a year who embodies the spirit of hard rock and metal, went to Rob Zombie, while Black Sabbath axman Tony Iommi was honored with the "Riff Lord" Award, given each year to a legendary guitarist in the field of hard rock and heavy metal. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

To say I was nervous and anxious would be an understatement. The lineup of black carpet interviewees included Metallica, Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Korn, Stone Sour, Slipknot, Halestorm, In This Moment, Megadeth, Anthrax, Zakk Wylde, Gene Simmons, Alex Newsted, Rob Zombie and Sheri Moon, John 5, Five Finger Death Punch, David Draiman of Disturbed and Device, and many, many more.

Highlights include talking with Alice Cooper about his charity work and golf handicaps (his is a 2) while his soon-to-be tour mate Marilyn Manson babbled next to me about a stripper named Charity. (Yes, Marilyn, that counts as giving to charity.)

I asked Cooper why he wasn't planning on playing with Manson at Manson's May 30 date at the Marquee -- Manson asked, "Is the Marquee a Phoenix rehab center?" -- Cooper explained that he doesn't play much in AZ because he lives here, which I found to be an odd answer.

When I turned to Manson and let him know pointedly that, as the New Times metal writer, I'd been denied an interview with him several times, I got a long pause. Alice: "Usually, girls can't get out of Manson's clutches backstage . . . And you're trying to get in to talk to him?"

Marilyn just cackled and told me he was working on gangsta rap in his spare time. What?

Then I got the chance to ask Metallica about one of their favorite accomplishments during their 30-year musical career.

"I would say the proudest moment is the fact that it's 30 years and you still want to talk to us, and that people want to give us awards," Lars Ulrich said. "I think the longevity and staying power is what I'm most proud of, and the fact that we have survived some dark moments along the way and we've pulled ourselves out of that. Thirty-two years ago, James [Hetfield] and I met down the street from the Nokia Theatre. And now here we are."

"Absolutely," added Robert Trujillo. "I can't convey enough how much that means to me to be in a band with these three other guys after 30 years."

Other interviewees included Chino from Deftones, who talked about Chi Cheng (RIP, buddy), and Halestorm, who said that they felt like the red-headed stepchild at the Grammys. (Drummer Arejay to me: "You have reddish hair; I'm sure you can relate.")

Phil Anselmo of Pantera and Down discussed his upcoming solo album (out July 16) and his Housecore Records' Housecore Horror Film Festival in Austin, which is scheduled to take place October 24-27.

"We're showing lesser-known directors, and everything from short to full-length films. It's so encouraging for a guy like me, because I have no ambition to be a horror film director at all. I like watching them. The fact that there are directors out there trying to break away from the entire cut-and-paste world of horror that we're stuck in right now, like mainstream pop culture . . . We're in the generation of the remake, and that shit gets boring. So these are fresh ideas and they are fantastic films."

And considering he's a huge New Orleans Saints fan, and with all the controversy over the team last season, I had to bring them up. Does he think they'll pull their shit together? "You're goddamn right! We had no time to rebuild at all. Drew Brees is as old as Drew Brees is, so we know the window is south."

I admitted I was a Chiefs fan, and that's when I learned he was one as well. Fuckin' right. Because when it comes to talking to Anselmo, anyone who knows me understands that this is my ultimate and only fangirl moment.

The most awkward moment was with Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, regarding whiskey. How is that even possible? Well, it is. I froze and asked him where his Jack Daniel's was. He said, "my hat." I asked him to share. He wanted nothing to do with it.

Who knew that Gene Simmons gets out of interviews by telling reporters to look behind them to see his sister and say hi, and then scampering away before the reporters turn around?

And Rob Zombie avoided interviews quite deftly, though I didn't mind much since I interviewed him so recently. However, I did stalk his wife, Sheri Moon, trying to find the right moment to throw her into the backseat of my car.

The actual awards show was full of performances that were not to be missed.

It kicked off with a few songs from Anthrax, who then paired up with Rex Brown and Phil Anselmo of Pantera to bust out "This Love."

Next was Dillinger Escape Plan, definitely one of my favorite performances of the evening. Singer Greg Puciato cut his forehead open, climbed every structure in sight, ripped apart pieces of the Golden Gods set, and breathed fire during the hardcore band's performance of two songs from their forthcoming new album. Next was a heavy version of Depeche Mode's moody "Behind the Wheel," with Deftones singer Chino Moreno.

Then Halestorm came on and knocked out songs like "Love Bites (But So Do I)" (how is that song so popular again?) and an interesting version of "Whole Lotta Love" with David Draiman before Stone Sour took the stage. They finished their set with Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave," along with Slipknot's Shawn "Clown" Crahan and Chris Fehn, both in jumpsuits, joining in on extra percussion.

Misfits founder Glenn Danzig had ex-bandmate Doyle join him on stage for a mini-set of Misfits classics, including the anthem "Last Caress." And Five Finger Death Punch played a set with Rob Halford, bringing out Rob Zombie and John 5 for a huge rendition of "Thunderkiss '65."

Last but not least, Metallica kicked off their set with mid-'80s classics "Disposable Heroes" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" as the audience sang every word back to them.

"Now it's time to bring out someone who can actually sing," Hetfield joked, as Halford walked out with a cane for "Rapid Fire." The evening closed with "Seek & Destroy."

Golden Gods Awards winners included:

Best guitarist: John 5 (Rob Zombie, solo) Best drummer: Arejay Hale (Halestorm) Best bassist: Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead) Best vocalist: Corey Taylor (Stone Sour, Slipknot) Best new talent: Device Best live band: Slipknot (Taylor cried while accepting the award) Comeback of the year: Tenacious D Song of the year: "In the End" by Black Veil Brides (although they've won three years in a row, the audience still booed, prompting the members to grab their crotches and flip off and berate the crowd) Album of the year: Koi No Yokan by Deftones.

In conclusion, metalheads need to care more about this genre in order for it to thrive. It may all go back to my interview with Otep about why she's leaving the industry. Or maybe it's because channels aren't ready for the non-ballgown-wearing award shows or circle pits, or that people feel metal is dying because all the legends are.

Either way, it's still a long hard road out of hell for metal.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise