Category Image End of the year status 


A couple of weeks ago I received an email from an assistant editor at Bass Player magazine. He had heard from his girlfriend, a UCLA ethnomusicology grad student, about my Metallica dissertation and wanted to know if I'd be interested in contributing something to a special feature the magazine was doing on Cliff Burton, Metallica's most famous bassist (who was killed in a bus accident in 1986). Of course I said yes, and the next day I sent them about 600 words riffing on some of the ideas mentioned in the feature's companion pieces (an overview written by Megadeth guitarist Dave Ellefson, and an analysis of Burton's well-known bass solo "Anesthesia"). Made some cash, as well.

Separately, I'd been thinking and doodling on ideas for the first chapter of the book and I'd really like to make sure more bands besides Metallica are given some amount of coverage. I'm really interested in the human story of 80s thrash metal and would like to approach it from the standpoint of the personal histories of the musicians and their relationship to thrash. Most importantly, I'm interested in how that relationship changed and developed over the next ten years or so, into the late 80s and early 90s. I want to know more about what it felt like as a person in his early 20s to be involved in this music and how those years are viewed from the vantage point of his late 30s and early 40s. Dave Ellefson presents an potentially interesting way into those questions (because of his history with Megadeth) and I'm hoping to be able to contact him thanks to the Bass Player article.

Also, last week I drove up to Sacramento to see Metal Church, another of the 80s thrash groups. The band released a new album this year and were on the last gigs of a U.S. tour. The show was at a dive called The Roadhouse and it was one of those places where it's easy to chat with band members. Metal Church is also not surrounded by throngs of screaming fans and loads of beefy security at this point in their careers (if they ever were), but when you've only read about people in magazines it's still a simple rush to chit chat. The band was just finishing their soundcheck when I waltzed into the club and there was a wait of about 90 minutes before the opening band started so I talked for a little bit with one of the Metal Church guitarists, Jay Reynolds. I didn't get a chance to mention the book project to him, but I was also primarily interested in letting the band's founder, Kurdt Vanderhoof, know about it. Metal Church had some good success by the mid-80s in the thrash world, and there are some Metal Church demos from '81-'82 that are basically contemporary with Metallica's No Life Til Leather demo that I'd really like to hear. Fortunately, after the show, I caught Kurdt coming back into the club from their RV and was able to tell him briefly about the project and give him my business card. He expressed enthusiasm for helping out and I'll see about contacting him after the holidays. It was by that point 12:30 am and I had an hour's drive home, so I couldn't talk to him more (and I wasn't prepared), but I'm happy my "mission" was a success. 

Posted: Wednesday - December 22, 2004 at 11:26 AM