Local Wire

Heavy Issues

I'd love to say that I have a huge grudge against Marshall Beck and his heavy metal band, Rebirth. That would make this rant a lot more straightforward, because then I would just pinch him out of the air with my chopsticks, like an annoying fly.

But the thing is, I don't care enough to lift a finger. Sad to say, the Phoenix music scene is teeming with haters, and I usually just ignore them altogether, knowing that no one can please all of the people all of the time.

This isn't politics, people, it's music -- don't be so damn bitter about what should be one of life's simplest pleasures.

Thank my editor, then, for instigating this Stiletto. She happened to walk into my office a couple minutes after Beck's nasty e-mail landed in my inbox, out of the blue. It makes me laugh thinking about it now, although at that moment I was ready to rip him a new one.

"Michele, don't write back to him!" my editor insisted. "You have to call him out in your column!"

I didn't want to. I wanted to hit the delete button. In his e-mail, Beck accused me of refusing to support the metal scene, or any kind of heavy music in general. He thinks my tastes are limited to "emo and scenester type music," and that I'm intentionally ignoring a significant part of the local music community.

And he told me, "I plan on slamming your poor intentions every time I step on stage for this month of April" -- apparently by handing out my e-mail address so that his meathead friends can send me equally vitriolic messages. He concluded, sarcastically, "The days of emo and scene shall come to an end, as I plan on doing my personal best to destroy them. Have a great day! Your friend, Marshall Beck"

Um, okay, dude. Are you sure you're not just pissed that your own band didn't get any press, while other heavy bands did?

Beck copied his jovial little note to me and pasted it in a few MySpace bulletins, from both his personal page and the Rebirth page. I know this because in the MySpace world, I am his friend. Funny, huh? I doubt Beck even knows his thousands of MySpace friends, but I do know most of mine. And the ones I don't personally know, like some local bands, I figure I'll meet eventually. No, I haven't written about Rebirth in New Times, but I'd checked out the band page -- and Beck's personal page -- on MySpace a few times before the day I got his e-mail. In other words, he was on my radar, and just because I didn't write about him didn't mean I was ignoring him. (Keep in mind, Beck is the kind of dying-for-attention guy who constantly uploads new pictures of himself, then posts hissy-fit bulletins when nobody's taken the time to leave him comments.)

Beck's grandiose proclamation to the vast metal universe netted me a whopping three feedback e-mails. One writer claimed that New Times hasn't covered any metal besides Job for a Cowboy. I guess he doesn't pick up the paper much. What about the feature about super-brutal And the Hero Fails, or the story on death metal vocal coach Melissa Cross?

Another dude's typo-filled message informed me, "Your closed minded apporach [sic] to the suprisingly [sic] popular metal scene is regretful because you are ignoring the proud portion of our society known as 'metal culture.'" Yeah, that was eloquent.

And the most outstanding response? "WOW, you are a poor example of human logic and moral. I mean playing favorites with metal and emo? C'mon. Emo has NO talent or potential, and it is inevitable it will soon fall. In other words -- YOUR [sic] A C**T!!! So please be cool to the metalheads over in Arizona (or anywhere else) and be fair -- all musicians deserve an equal chance at publicity."

So this guy's calling me a cunt (I can read between the asterisks), yet he asks me to "please be cool." He's trashing the entire emo genre, yet telling me to be fair to all musicians. Such dazzling intellect! Reminds me of the jocular metalheads who used to beat up "fags" when I was in high school.

I'm sure Beck thinks there's a grand conspiracy to shun Rebirth, but it's actually somewhat accidental that the band didn't get a write-up. (Blame it on Satan!) I looked back at archived e-mails from him last year, when he inquired about coverage, and I told him, sure, we'll consider your band. And indeed, I sent his DVD to one of my writers for a review. It didn't work out; the writer wasn't interested. Beck sent me a Rebirth CD a few months ago, and this time I intentionally gave it to a freelancer who loves metal. But she didn't want to write about it, either, so what does that tell you?

Beck knows nothing about my personal tastes, especially when it comes to metal. And he shouldn't take it personally that I prefer the stoner/psych/Sabbath end of the spectrum over his Slayer and Pantera-style head-banging. In any case, our music section isn't so much about my own tastes, anyway -- it's about covering all kinds of sounds. Open-minded people dig variety. And yeah, people with narrow tastes in music might be annoyed that New Times doesn't cover more of their genre.

But why should I apologize? In this case, I'm dealing with an elitist metalhead who thinks his genre deserves more ink than anything else we might cover, including hip-hop, hard rock, Americana, indie rock, experimental stuff, hardcore, punk, ska, world music, industrial, garage, pop, electronic, blues, dance music, rockabilly, reggae, or any hyphenated combination of the above.

And don't forget emo.

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Michele Laudig
Contact: Michele Laudig