Metal of Honor Harness the Power of Metal for Charity

A few weeks back we brought you a list of our favorite heavy metal charities. Here's one that we saved for this week, since Phoenix metal lovers can interact with this one as part of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival this Friday, July 11, at Ak-Chin Pavilion.

That's because this charity is Metal of Honor, which helps raise money at Mayhem Festival tour stops for charities benefiting veterans.

See also: Seven Charities that Show Headbangers Have the Biggest Hearts

At the 2014 Golden Gods Awards, I found myself talking with Phoenix-born music executive John Reese about heavy metal charities; specifically a charity he created called Metal of Honor. Quick history lesson here, guys:

Reese started out running a concert security company before working as the tour manager for Guns N' Roses' 1989 Los Angeles Coliseum concerts with the Rolling Stones. After that, he went on to become a partner with Big FD Entertainment, where he represented several artists, including Blind Melon and Guns N Roses; acted as a career consultant to The Cure; and founded dozens of festivals, including KNOTFEST, the Jagermeister Music Tour, the Mayhem Festival, Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare, and the IDentity Festival.

Right now though, he's fully focused on the 2014 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, set to tear through America's cities this July and August. The eclectic line up touches on all aspects of metal, featuring vets like Cannibal Corpse, Korn, Body Count and Mushroomhead, and newer acts like Avenged Sevenfold, Asking Alexandria and Suicide Silence -- just to name a few.

But Mayhem's most stand-out features are all about giving back to the community, from the impressive recycling program to the charity program that was started in 2011 is the aptly named Metal of Honor.

"We created Metal of Honor; it's a part of Mayhem," explains Reese. "Our audience is very military, both active duty and veterans. A lot of them go to our shows, and a lot of them go into battle listening to heavy metal music. So we wanted to do something to give back to the military."

Metal of Honor hones in on some very deserving charities, including Pathway Home, which is a PTSD rehabilitation facility in the San Francisco Bay Area; and Hope for the Warriors, which is similar to Wounded Warriors but not as large. Mayhem has raised more than $150,000 to date for the organizations.

The festival also supports Puppy Rescue Mission.

"The foundation brings dogs back from Afghanistan that were left there; these [Afghani] dogs saved a bunch of soldiers' dogs by alerting them in advanced about insurgents coming in," says Reese. "The soldiers and their wives started this rescue mission to help them bring the dogs back ... that gave the soldiers so much comfort."

They raise a ton of awareness, and yes -- since it's heavy metal, you know that there's some alcohol involved; ColdCock Whiskey is a big sponsor, as well as iHome. In fact, at every one of the tours dates, they pick a hometown hero in each city and bring them on stage to tell his story and what he's done for the country. Then he gets a Metal of Honor guitar signed by a number of acts on the tour.

"Once a metalhead, always a metalhead. We can ask any of the bands to participate in these charities, and they always say yes," says Reese. "The musicians and fans are so loyal to the genre. It's an endearing quality that people have that listen to heavy music.

"It's not just about putting on a show and trying to make money; it's about giving back to the community and giving back to the people who help make it possible for us to do what we do and live how we want to live."

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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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