Sunday, August 18, 2013

I like heavy metal and sea shanties*

Yes, those are three of the four solo KISS albums. I'm missing Ace Frehley's contribution which also happens to be the only one of the four that won't make your ears bleed. Best song on his album - "New York Groove". Interestingly, it sounds exactly like the many of the disco classics that KISS fans railed against in the seventies. That's probably partially why I like this song as much as I do.

Anyway, people are always a little surprised to find out that I like bands like KISS, Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Guns N' Roses. I know all the words to more Motley Crue songs than most normal people probably will admit to and I can honestly say I prefer Whitesnake over White Lion. I like the sound of Tom Keifer's voice and "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)" is my favorite Cinderella song. I thought the casting of Sebastian Bach on Gilmore Girls was inspired (and I'm assuming he wore his own leather pants since he paid so much for them when Skid Row hit it big). My metal love leans more towards glam metal bands than speed metal bands (with the notable exception of Metallica). I occasionally make Stryper jokes (that no one finds funny). I've seen Def Leppard in concert twice, Metallica once, and recently saw Black Sabbath for the first time. Ozzy is a strange, little man shuffling around on stage but man, he can wail. And Tony Iommi is a boss.

But I'm not a true metal fan; I'd consider myself a casual fan. I do alright when around other metal fans but eventually they'll figure out I that my favorite Crue song is "Without You" and I'll be laughed out of the room. I will never be like the little girl at the Sabbath show who owned it and has probably listened to Sabbath since she was in the womb. I'm sure she knew more of the songs than I did. I recently re-read Chuck Klosterman's heavy metal opus Fargo Rock City. This was the first Klosterman book I read when I started reading his stuff (it's my second favorite; Killing Yourself to Live is my favorite). In the book, Klosterman recounts how he "discovered" Motely Crue and became a metalhead in rural North Dakota. Like me, Chuck found metal because of his older brother. I can't help but enjoy these songs and appreciate bands that can out-glam David Bowie. I often wonder how much hairspray Poison used in the 80s.

I always think about this when I start to make a mix tape. How much metal (glam or othewise) is too much metal? If I listened to my brother the answer would probably be there is no such thing as enough metal and he'd also tell me I picked the wrong Van Halen song (this was an actual conversation we had over email recently). If I asked either of the members of the album club I belong to, they'd probably say none because neither seems to want to listen to any metal. I mentioned Metallica at one of our meetings and they both visibly shuddered.

There are metal songs and bands for mass consumption and then there are metal songs and bands that are only for the true fans. Def Leppard, although one of the more successful bands of the genre, is often dismissed by true metal fans because they're songs are "too commercial" (which really just means sorority girls know the words and dance to the songs at bars). Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Skid Row, and Whitesnake probably all fit into the same world as Def Leppard. Most of my friends would probably admit to knowing and/or liking a song by one of these bands and might even sing one at karaoke. Even Guns N' Roses could go on this list because most people like "Paradise City" and/or "Patience" (my 2nd and 3rd favorite GNR songs). I am not a true metal fan because I like to many of the commercially successful bands and their radio friendly songs. The crowd at the Sabbath show probably wouldn't have appreciated me bringing up the fact that Twisted Sister was in the first Pee-Wee Herman movie ("Burn in Hell" was playing and it was in the movie towards the end when Pee-Wee is on the film set stealing his bike back). Those are the ways that I enjoy metal bands and for that I will never truly be a member of the KISS army or whatever. My 5th favorite KISS song is "God Gave Rock&Roll To You" from the second Bill and Ted movie so clearly I'm just a girl who likes power guitars and long drum solos.

And this brings me back to the mix tape I'm currently working on for album club. The theme is summer music and I've selected a sub-theme of road trip. I've come up with exactly what I'd want to listen to if I was driving somewhere fun this summer so I guess that the mix works. But I still wonder if it's balanced enough: What is the proper balance of metal to punk to country to pop to The Smiths? So far, the mix includes three metal bands (Metallica, Van Halen, and Guns N' Roses), two punk bands (Rancid and The Stooges), one Smiths song, 70s era Heart, Liz Phair circa 2003, and Dolly Parton. There's also my favorite Bowie song to end the mix and nuggets by Neil Diamond, The Mighty Lemon Drops, and The Replacements. It's a weird road trip but those are the kinds I like best.

*This is a quote from one of my favorite characters, L.P., on the show Treme. I spent all of season three believing that L.P. was going to be killed and was so happy when he wasn't. This was what he told a girl in line at the airport as he left New Orleans.