The holiday season is winding down, and we at New Times hope that you had a great 2014. As we look forward to the New Year, I wanted to recap some of the best Metal Mondays blogs of the year.
These were picked based off of social media shares, how much they got music lovers talking, as well as my own favorite interviews. Here's looking forward to a very metal 2015!
December: One of my usual favorites to write is the annual Gift Guide for Metalheads. This is because the topic doesn't just apply to the holiday seasons -- obviously you need to buy that lil' metal head in your life a birthday, anniversary, or congratulations gift, or just a token of appreciation for being so awesome.
This guide is totally relevant in 2015, and includes tickets to the world's loudest month, where eight U.S. concert atmospheres take place in April and May, as well as beer, wine or liquor created by your favorite metal band.
November: Rob Halford has a deep love for the Phoenix, and he always talks about how he's glad the L.A. scene hasn't stolen more of the Valley's great musicians away. In Judas Priest's Rob Halford on Why He Loves Phoenix, we chatted a few days before Halford's 63rd birthday about the new blood in Judas Priest's music, as well as his thoughts about Dimebag Darrell, since it was a few days shy of the 10th anniversary of the guitarist's death.
October: My love for heavy metal and whiskey go hand-in-hand, so Phoenix Heavy Metal Bands Enter the Whiskey Game was a blast to write. Local rock band Digital Summer released Headbanger Whiskey, described by Hoffman Cellars, as "a unique blend of White Whiskey (a.k.a. White Dog) and aged Whiskey that marries like Plant, Paige, Jones, & Bonham."
Then there's Coldcock whiskey, whose original investor list includes none other than John Reese, the Phoenix-born music executive who has founded or produced such festivals as the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest, Uproar Tour and recently KNOTFEST.
The bands on board with both of these brands are all about strengthening the industry, with business models based around artists directly sharing in profits.
September: Richie Cavalera's Band Incite Leads the Pack on Strong Phoenix Metal Releases in September painted a good picture of just one month in the Valley's rich, diverse metal scene. It features a short interview with Richie Cavalera about Incite's 2014 release Up In Hell, and how the Arizona metal scene has a lot of energy that needs to be noticed. A few other bands released albums that month -- Godhunter, Lago, Singularity, Virulent, and Some Call Us Heroes -- and that new music is mentioned here too.
August: New Dragonforce Record Features Johnny Cash Cover, Guitar Solos Recorded on Yacht. In this article, Dragonforce always proves to be an anomaly to me. Guitarist Herman Li says that people have described the band as "Bon Jovi on speed" and "Journey meets Slayer," and I gotta say I agree. When I interviewed Li right before the release of their new album Maximum Overload, it was clear the band was challenging themselves, and their brand of "Nintendo" metal, a ton on this ninth album.
We chatted about a lot of "firsts" for the band: it's the first time they worked with an outside producer, the first time they recorded a cover song ("Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash), and the first time they incorporated a thrash metal element. Not to mention Li had a hilarious story about how one of the guitar solos was recorded on Zoltan Bathory's [Five Finger Death Punch] yacht--standing up while the yacht was moving.
July: While the interview with Cannibal Corpse's George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher got almost six thousand shares, I think the most influential Metal Mondays in July was, The Making of the Phoenix Metal Scene: A Peek at the Men and Women Behind the Curtain.
While the Valley music calendar is packed with metal shows each month, I think it's important to get to know the people behind the scenes, from producers to club owners to promoters. After all, they are the very people that keep the scene running like a well-oiled machine. And yes-- I know it's impossible to highlight ever industry pro who contributes to the local metal scene, but I just focused on a few noteworthy figures that I personally know.
June: I'm constantly on the lookout for ways to combine my two loves of charity work and heavy metal. Believe it or not, Seven Charities that Show Headbangers Have The Biggest Hearts just goes to show that opportunities abound. These seven charities were either founded or established by a heavy metal band or musician, and stand for a range of causes, from Alice Cooper's redemption of failing music programs at children's schools, to cancer research in the name of Dio, to Slash's affinity for animal conservation.May:
I had a toss up this month betweenmy interview with Devil Driver's Dez Fafara
, discussing how the "earth knows how to purge itself of brush and people" andGolden Gods Awards 2014: Guns N Roses, Joan Jett, and More From Heavy Metal's Biggest Night
. However, I had a lot of fun covering the Golden Gods, so I gotta go with that piece.
From interviewing musicians on the "black" carpet, to covering the live performances, it was a night packed with metal. Many people were there specifically to see Axl Rose get the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award (and see whether he was going to deliver live), and to watch Joan Jett rock the stage and make history as the first female to receive the Golden God Award.
However, one thing that I ended up focusing on was not a problem at the event -- but a problem within the industry. It was so apparent that even after the editor of Revolver magazine -- the publication that founded the awards -- read my piece, he tweeted out his agreement at the issue.
April: This month brought another toss-up. I enjoyed interviewing Mikkey Dee for Motorhead's Mikkey Dee on Lemmy's Health, the Motorhead Cruise, and the Key to Success, especially since we talked the day they kicked off their new LA tour, eight months after they had last played on stage, the longest in Dee's entire career.
But my interview with Alice Cooper for Alice Cooper's New "Doc Opera" Details Drug Abuse and Other Sordid Stories was more newsworthy. I've had the opportunity to interview Alice Cooper quite a few times, but this was one of my favorites.
Super Duper Alice Cooper was unveiled as the first "doc opera," and is a detailing of Vincent Furnier's childhood from a preacher's son to his transformation into Alice Cooper, followed by a brutal battle with the character that almost killed the real man behind the makeup. It isn't about glamorizing the hedonistic, chaotic and typical rock star lifestyle; it's a story of strong family bonds and how they can get us through the darkest of times.
Before the film, Cooper had never opened up about his cocaine abuse or really the break up of the band. But he felt that you have to touch base on everything in order to make a successfully documentary. This made for quite the entertaining interview.
March: With a headline like Metalocalypse's Brendon Small: From Death Metal to Playgirl, it's hard not to pay attention. And if you haven't seen Metalocalypse, then you must've been living under a rock for the past several years.
Small basically created a cartoon band that somehow became the highest-charting death metal band in history, and he ended up co-headlining alongside Mastodon in said fictional metal band, all from the fan demands. Oh yeah. And he's convinced music school can sometimes make you lose your musical identity. He's also done an array of other things -- including directing a Soundgarden music video and yes, posed for Playgirl -- that you have to wonder how it all came about.
February: The last time I told people I was going to 'Nam, I was actually heading off to backpack through Vietnam and Cambodia for a month. But when I headed off to NAMM this past January, there were no jungles to navigate through. This time, it was through thousands of cutting-edge instruments, recording products, and music enthusiasts. Suffice it to say, the National Association of Music Merchants is the ultimate Disneyland for musicians or anyone who's a hardcore music enthusiast.
The Biggest Metal moments of NAMM is a solid recap, and when I re-read it, I'm transported back to that event.
Manufacturers and retailers spread across a 1.6-million-square foot convention center to display their most technologically proficient products and sponsor upcoming and famous musicians. From watching Marty Friedman shred at a Paul Reed Smith guitar demo, before wandering into a tucked away guitar showroom to see Testament's Alex Skolnick jamming out in a corner all alone on a guitar... and then seeing Steven Tyler admire a wall of guitars at Korg? It was sensory overload.
January: Phil Anselmo Actually Doesn't Know How to Wind Down For the past decade, Phil Anselmo has never been into too many appearances or doing many interviews, but in 2014 he rose up and seemed to be just, well, everywhere.
This January interview was one of his firsts for 2014, and he had only really begun to open up to the media again a few months prior. Our 45-minute conversation spanned everything from his Housecore Horror Film Festival (October was its second year), to his New Orleans Saints, to the three albums he would take to a deserted island. He also became a little choked up talking about how emotional he gets around the holidays, reflecting on memories of Pantera. A year later, this interview is still relevant in what Anselmo is contributing to the heavy metal scene.
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