There is a lot to be said for staying power. In a world where everything seems disposable, sometimes even music seems like something that can easily be tossed aside or forgotten. Local bands come and go — mostly go — but some soldier on and avoid succumbing to things like adversity and age.
Valley metal veterans St. Madness are celebrating their 30th anniversary this weekend with a show on Saturday at The 44 Sports Grill & Nightlife. The west-side bash, according to Patrick Flannery, a.k.a. “Prophet”, the band will play about 15 songs spanning their career, including fan favorites “Arizona” and several songs off their new EP, "Last Rites: The Final Blessing."
“It’s going to be a mix of old and new songs and focus on the current lineup of the band,” Flannery says.
Originally Crown of Thorns, St. Madness has a long history in Arizona. The band has played shows with a wide variety of popular heavy bands including Flotsam & Jetsam, Sacred Reich, GWAR and Death. There have been a number of lineup changes, but lead singer Flannery is practically giddy when talking about his current lineup.
"I'm really fortunate because the guys I have in the band, they think very similarly [about music] to the way I do. We don't have arguments. We don't even have disagreements. We're all older guys and I think that is why we don't fight. We all did that when we were younger and learned that it doesn't get you anywhere," Flannery says.
During past anniversary shows, St. Madness have brought back previous members to join in the fun, but this time, as Flannery says, it will be the current lineup of the band providing the entertainment on Saturday. Flannery is the only original member, but he is joined by guitar players Sid Ripster (a.k.a. Scott Tower) and Messorem (a.k.a. Ted Beer), bassist Devlin Lucius (a.k.a. Dale Cannon) and drummer Evil T (a.k.a. Tim Conroy).
To borrow a basketball term, St. Madness also has a “sixth man” in Margie Johnson, who is also Flannery’s significant other. Johnson has been managing the band for 28 years and plays a significant role in every aspect of their career.
“Margie has been backing the band 100% the whole time. She and I sacrifice and save money and do whatever we can to make the best albums that we can make. We don’t go out to eat very often and sacrifice a bunch of stuff, but it’s really important because we know the music is going to outlive us,” Flannery says.
The story of St. Madness is intriguing, to say the least. Arizona has been home to many a theatrical band such as Blackhouse Twins, Les Payne Product and Meatwhistle, but St. Madness is the only one to have been featured in a museum exhibit (at Tempe History Museum) and honored by the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2013. The Valley metal vets, in the tradition of KISS, have also cultivated a reputation for wearing incredible face makeup during their gigs.
“I knew a number of musicians who jumped ship from metal (in the 1990s) and suddenly were wearing flannels and Doc Martens and changing the music they were playing to go along with the fad of the day. This upset me because Arizona was always a metal and punk mecca, and suddenly people were calling metal stupid, etc. Margie and I were out shopping one day, and I told her that at our next show I was wearing face paint because I needed a change. [The band] also made a decision to make our music heavier and heavier so that in a sea of alternative bands, we would stick out like a sore thumb, and it worked,” Flannery says.
Now 61, Flannery's not even supposed to be here. The singer was diagnosed at 8 years old with the same rare blood disease as John Travolta’s "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" character. His parents were told that he would probably not see his teens.
“I was constantly sick and getting pneumonia. Every time I got sick, my family thought I was going to die. I’ve been hospitalized so many times, but I live in a time now where they have IV treatments that can extend my life. I should not be here, but instead I go to the hospital every other Tuesday and get an IV treatment of concentrated gamma globulin and it boosts my immune system,” he says.
Flannery has been entertaining people with his truly excellent voice for six decades now, starting out as an Elvis Presley impersonator during his high school years in the late 1970s and early '80s. Still a dedicated Elvis fan, Flannery got turned onto heavy metal in high school and never looked back. The sound St. Madness has cultivated is definitely a classic, heavy metal sound with deep rock and roll roots in the vein of KISS, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest and Queen.
“As the music started getting heavier and heavier, I really enjoyed the metal sound of it all. Nothing makes me feel like loud, heavy metal music. I tell people, ‘I don’t have to go to rehearsal — I get to go. I get to go to a place and make really loud music and sing loud for a couple of hours and when I drive home at night, I’m at peace with the world. It’s therapy…it’s beautiful,” Flannery says.
St. Madness anniversary show. With Show Me God, Empire of Dezire, I Don't Konform and Torso. 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at The 44 Sports Grill and Nightlife, 4494 W. Peoria Ave., Glendale. Tickets are available here.