Dec 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, Fellow Pounderers!

I'm not quite sure how it happened but another year has come and gone, and aside from some different aches and pains I feel exactly the same as I have for years... twenty three or so.  I may look more homeless than I did last year at this time and my crazy sideburns may be a little nuttier now that they are white than they were when they were still red, but in my heart I'm still excited about what I might do when I grow up. I'm just glad that no matter how old I am people who are a few years older than me still call my "... just a baby".  Your concept of 'old' changes as you grow older yourself.  I have no problem with that simple, transparent defense mechanism.  It's cheaper than blowing your savings on a new Corvette and a fling to make yourself feel young again.  Let me take this time to thank any of you who may have ordered a new Corvette for me for Christmas "Thank you!  I have never felt so young and vibrant!"

Nov 28, 2013

Black Sabbath vs. Led Zeppelin: Who Needs Football on Thanksgiving When You Have This Matchup?

Every now and then metal dudes and dudettes toss around one of the great, unanswerable questions that has vexed metal scholars for decades.  No, not "Who's gonna go to the store for more beer?" but the question of which band was heavier, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin. Heavy metal would not exist without Black Sabbath, but Led Zeppelin also had a lot to do with how heavy music took hold in pop culture.  Led Zeppelin was one of the biggest rock bands of all time.  There are but a few bands I can think of that put "big" into perspective like them.  However, the relatively recent acceptance of metal into pop culture has cemented Black Sabbath as one of the most important bands in the evolution of all of rock's sub genres.  Black Sabbath's fans are just as fanatical now as they were forty years ago.  Both bands affected the trajectory of heavy music as much as any other band I can think of, and both had a vibe that freaked the hell out of people who were not fans of their music.  I'm not sure that I can really answer this question in a way that will satisfy everyone, but I can give it a shot.  This is probably a volatile topic for a lot of people, so I'll try to be careful.

Oct 30, 2013

Decompositions Studios: My Other Outlet

I started this blog back in August of last year with the loose idea of sharing my ideas about music and the many things I have learned over the years while playing with some of the coolest dudes, and best friends I've known since I was around twenty years old. Confessor and Loincloth have been huge parts of my life, and I could never truly express how grateful I am to have been able to go down the underground highway ( no pervert, that's a different highway ) with all of the guys who have stepped in and out of those bands.  But before I became a drummer I thought I would be some type of visual artist.  I met my oldest friend on the first day of eighth grade, and he really nudged me towards exploring the illustrator side of myself that I had only played around with before meeting him.  Danny Gallant and I were nearly inseparable for several years, and we were partners in crime together.  Because of the joy I got out of spending all night up in my room drawing I applied to a magnet high school here in Raleigh where I met several people who had equally significant impacts on the direction of my life. Phil Swisher helped guide me towards playing an instrument, and Monica and I met on the campus of Enloe High School, becoming the very best of friends, then boyfriend and girlfriend.  Jump ahead several years and months of online stalking, and  I was finally able to coerce her into marrying me.

Oct 28, 2013

Haunting Your Own House

In the spirit of Halloween, Monica and I wanted to share some of the fun we have had here at The Shelton household celebrating all things horrifying, morbid and blood soaked.  We whipped together some pretty cool props for a Halloween party a couple of years ago and everyone who showed up had a great time.  We hope that all of you have fun this year, and that you get as creative as you can with your costumes and that you scare the crap out of someone, even if it's yourself!  This is the only time adults get to act like kids and get away with it, so tear it up... or tear it limb from limb.  

Oct 27, 2013

Halloween, Heavy Metal and Horror Movies: The Three 'H' Club

Once you get beyond longer hair, lots of black clothes and beer bellies there is one thing that most metallers seem to enjoy universally.  No, not drugs... okay maybe two things.  The one that I'd like to write about tonight is metal's cinematic brother from another mother; the horror movie.  Just in time for Halloween.

Metal and horror have quite a bit in common.  Both try and explore the dark sides of the human experience, and both are quite comfortable using gruesome imagery to shock people into a thumb sucking fetal position.  Sometimes bands or performers will use horror to shock their audience, and it usually works out very well for them.  Before Marilyn Manson we had Alice Cooper and of course, bubble gum music's queens of shock rock, Kiss.  In underground metal, plenty of acts have followed King Diamond's lead and used horror fiction as themes in their music.  Look at how long Gwar has been around.  And well before any of them we had Screamin' Jay Hawkins popping up out of coffins as far back as the late 50's and early 60's. Horror and rock are coconspirators in America's dark counterculture history that have finally become so ingrained in our psyche that we have Ozzy Osbourne selling us cars with "Crazy Train", and in case any of you haven't noticed, zombies have been lumbering into our commercials for the last two or three years.  Horror and metal were meant to be together.

Oct 4, 2013

Touching Cloth: A Celebration of Heaviness

There are a lot of things about being in a band that are inspiring. Playing live, and the looks on people's faces who are loving every second of your set provide the kind of inspiration that can make you forget about how mundane your nine to five gig is.  I particularly love the random "God DAMN!" that you sometimes hear a nanosecond before the applause starts at the end of a song when someone has just had their face melted off in a completely unexpected way.  Then there is the inspiration that comes from finally having your crap together enough to make it into a studio, where you actually get to 'hear' your music as an outsider. But the most inspiring thing about playing in a band comes in the practice space.  No, not the hookers and blow.  I have actually never seen either of those rock staples in our practice rooms.  I'm referring to that spontaneous moment when everything clicks and you and the three or four guys you've been playing with for so long hit upon something that reminds you of why you ever wanted to play music in the first place... superbadass riffery!  

Last weekend Loincloth had a marathon practice schedule as we took great advantage of Tannon's visit to Raleigh.  Normally, Loincloth songs are constructed at roughly the same pace tectonic plates push up mountains, which is almost as long as it takes to get a human to pick up the phone and pretend to listen to you when you have a question about your cable bill.  Last Saturday, Tannon and I had one of those moments with a new riff when all we could do was laugh at how heavy it was.  We were able to get the entire rough sketch for a song strung together that night.  With the addition of one tiny note to a riff we already knew, the two of us found ourselves propelled into a world of chunky delight!  Knuckle dragging, plodding heaviness. Loincloth's lone reason for existing.  After hookers and blow, of course.

Sep 22, 2013

Confessor Welcomes New Blood

Well, I have had a pretty busy week and I have not had a chance to sit down and write about developments in Confessor's search for a rhythm guitarist until now.  I am happy to report that we have found a guitarist and he has accepted our invitation to join the band!  I know that I speak for all of us in Confessor in welcoming Marcus Williams into one of the world's most hard to describe metal outfits.  There have been a lot of smiles in the practice room over the last three weeks as we watched Marcus blaze through some of our material with almost no time to prepare for tryouts.  We are all very comfortable with how he has interacted with us and how he has absorbed the music, and our slightly skewed perspective on the alchemy that is forging different influences into twisted metal.

Sep 7, 2013

Jasmine Update: Two Limps Forward, One Hobble Back

There are a few simple rules in life that everyone needs to keep in mind at all times. One of those rules is to never ask "What else could go wrong?"  Life views that as a challenge, and to inquire of the powers that be what else they might have in store for you is to invite stress.  Stress, heartache and an endless appetite for whatever money you may have set aside for that honeymoon you haven't taken since getting married back in 2006.  Jasmine's road to recovery has been full of turns and close calls.  She seems to be headed towards a more stable and predictable path now, almost ten weeks after I snapped her leg in two ( my boots are fine, by the way ) but for a while there Monica and I were afraid things might not be fine at all.

Breaking your own dog's leg may seem funny on the surface but trust me, unless you're the kind of person who thinks of torturing animals as the "gateway drug" to tapping into your inner serial killer, it ain't all that cool and it costs quite a bit of money.  Jasmine was doing pretty well for about a month after the accident.  The vets where we take all of our little critters ( I even took my pet scorpion, Tyson, to a vet once several years ago! ) know us and our pets by name, and they always ask how they are whenever we have to bring one of them in for a check up.  Jasmine had a pin inserted into her right shoulder that went all the way down to her elbow.  She hobbled around well enough in a way that was cute, kind of funny looking, sad and pitiful all at the same time.  She was doing okay for awhile, but then we noticed that her leg started to really swell up over the course of a couple days, and that was when things became scarier than they were the night I tripped over her.

Aug 3, 2013

A Fond Farewell, Brian...

Earlier this week Brian Shoaf, rhythm guitarist and founding member of Confessor, decided to step aside and let the remaining members of the band determine our fate as we begin to settle into the writing process for our third album.  Brian put in twenty seven years as the anchor guitarist for one of the world's most curious metal bands, well over half of his life, and felt as though it was time he moved on to enjoy other projects, and some of the things in life that pass you by when so much of your spare time is taken up by being part of an active band.  We will miss his contributions and his presence throughout the rest of Confessor's ride, but we all understand exactly where his heart is and wish him well.  Confessor is the kind of band that counts on the different influences each member brings to the writing process, and Brian's touch will be missed ( only Brian can "Shoaf" a riff! ) but I am someone who can find a silver lining in everything.  Confessor's dynamic is changed now, which means there are new doors to open that we may never have considered before.

Jul 19, 2013

Drummers to Check Out

Over the years I have had many conversations with people who wanted to know who I had been inspired by as a musician while seeking a path to my own voice.  I have also had many conversations with people who were sure they already knew my influences.  I'm not sure that those in the second group have ever been close except for once or twice.  I came along early enough in underground metal that there were not very many "superstars" to look up to as inspirational figures.  Metal was pretty clumsy at first, and its sheer aggression was still exciting enough that bands didn't have to find so many ways to set themselves apart.  The term "underground" was synonymous with "not so slick" which meant that only the guitarists had really developed ideas at that point in metal's evolution.  Rhythm sections had not caught up yet, though they would in a very big way years later. 

I would like to run through some of the drummers who really made an impression with me as I have tried to refine different aspects of my own style.  Not all of these guys have had the same kind of impact on me, but they have all made me think about different things I might be able to try in the bands I have played with.  Some will be well known to other drummers while others, even if they are famous in their own right, may not be so well respected or often considered when dude talk leads to drummers.  I like different drummers for different things, which is the same way I process music.  I don't listen to a handful of bands with really similar sounds.  Instead, I like to find the one band that paints a picture the way I like and then I look for something different .  It's easier for me to hear the subtle differences in drummers than it is to hear noteworthy differences in similar bands.  Most drummers are at least good enough at what they do that they can pull their weight, and plenty are far better than that.  The ones that stand out to me have more than just subtle finesse and solid chops.  Those drummers are a dime a dozen.  The ones that raise my eyebrow apply something familiar in new ways.  They seem much more creative to me than everyone else, or they find ways to be busy without jumping out as the star of the band.  You may not agree.  Agreeing with me is essential to the success of this blog, so I suggest you rethink your positions if you find yourself at odds with my own.

Jul 8, 2013

Jasmine's Road to Recovery

I would like to thank everyone who has asked about Jasmine and wished her well.  She has been a real trooper through all of this, and is actually hobbling around a little better every day. She is just the sweetest dog ever, and it breaks our hearts to see her limping around the house.  She is obviously feeling better than she was at first, and has even bounded up the stairs to our front door a few times. She has also flopped onto her chin a couple of times out in the yard, but she is getting the hang of things.  The Cone of Shame is a little awkward for her, and because it sticks out so far it really exaggerates her clumsiness, but she doesn't seem to care when she gets her treats.  Yes there is a little guilt there.  As Early Cuyler asked once on Squidbillies, "Why do we always hurt the ones we hurt the most?"  Indeed cartoon, land dwelling, redneck squid... indeed.  Jasmine is absolutely playing up the pity angle these days, but why have dogs if you aren't going to spoil them.

Jun 30, 2013

Ouch! How to Feel Like the World's Biggest Jerk in Two Quick Steps...

Wow!  Last night sure did turn on a dime for the Shelton household.  I was only about ten steps away from chowing down on some sauteed peppers and onions and faux sausage sandwiches while we started a horror movie when I discovered something.  Brittle old dog bones break pretty damned easily!  If you ever want to feel like a complete a-hole, I found a way do it in the amount of time it takes to blink.  All you need is the sweetest dog you have ever known and some steel toe boots.  

Jun 23, 2013

Some Things Never Change...

Being in a truly unique band has always made for interesting reviews.  Not all of them have been positive, and sometimes you wonder why the reviewer ever thought they would like what you do.  Check this one out...

Confessor were nothing more than five guys having a blast writing and exploring music together.  We were completely into what we were doing and everything we did blew open a new door for us in the House that Metal Built.  We all came from the high school smoking court world of metal, but instead of following bands that spent most of their money on hair products and mascara we turned the other way and saddled up to the much more wide open world of underground metal.  The ugly side that preferred to swallow whole and crap out the likes of Poison and Whitesnake while burning out their bewildered, poo covered eyes with King Diamond riffs and Slayer's mean precision.  We definitely didn't care what anyone thought about our music because we wrote for ourselves.  We always said that we wrote the music we wanted to hear because no one else was writing it.  We never could have guessed that anyone would find our music polarizing.  I have always been flattered that people either love us or hate us.  To me, that means that we made a real impact with people.  Apparently we hit one reviewer so hard he held onto his contempt for what we do for twenty years.  Ya' gotta love that! 

May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Wow!  Somehow my mother had her forty seventh Mother's Day today!  That means that I must be in my late twenties, right?  Well, maybe not but who's counting.  My mom insists that the adorable little tyke in this photo is me, but I have seen all of the pictures of myself as a baby, a kid and an adult, and I know there has never been a day in my life when I was even close to being as cute as this guy.  I won't question her about this obvious impostor on her special day, but I will grill her about it later!

My mother had me when she was nineteen years old.  Hell, she was still a kid!  Circumstances changed pretty quickly after that and she had to raise me on her own for a bit, with help from grandparents and even some great grandparents. I never remember thinking that she was having a bad day throughout my entire childhood.  That means that she did a wonderful job of making sure I never knew how tough things must have been for her as a single mother at the age of twenty, and of making sure that I was happy which could not have been easy all the time. For that I am forever grateful.  

Here is a great big hug to all mothers, and a thank you for all that they do and all that they sacrifice for their snot nosed, whining, temper tantrum throwing little brats.  For all of the times we catch things on fire, send our little brothers and sisters into the emergency room, dump the entire contents of their purses into the wishing wells at malls, and all of the times the police call in the middle of the night to let them know that their son is okay but the motorcycle may be totalled... Thanks!  Whether we show it or not, we all love you and we never would have made it out of diapers alive without you!  Some of us may actually still be in diapers were it not for you so remember, it could be worse.  If you think your six year old making a scene in a department store is embarrassing, try making a forty six year old sit in the middle of the men's shoe department until he cries himself out!  I love you, mom!  Thanks for everything!

Apr 29, 2013

Flashback: Hunkering Down in the Studio During a Tornado

There are many things that happen in the studio that can catch you off guard.  Usually they have to do with some moody piece of expensive electronic equipment throwing a temper tantrum and deciding that though it may be of perfect use for whatever vision the band has at that specific moment, it would rather not cooperate with the producer, opting instead to mock everyone in the room.  The poor producer/wizard may try any number of incantations to unlock the magic inside said device, but the more the band wants it to work, the less likely it shall.  I am very fortunate that there are no wires or manic depressive circuit boards whose fragile egos require the correct combination of compliments for me to be able to play music. I have a hard enough time figuring out which direction I have to flip a wall switch for the lights to come on.  Having to work around electronics with a mind of their own would be the end of my musical journey.  Me hit things with stick.  Me make sound that way.  Me happy.

On April 16th, 2011 Tannon and I were in the studio with our own producer/wizard, Greg Elkins, when we got a call alerting us to a different kind of wrinkle headed our way.  There was a tornado that was coming right towards our section of town!  We were getting updates from Monica and from Greg's soon-to-be wife, Heather.  Both of them were gathering pets and finding the lowest points in their respective homes as the twister bore down on us all.  At the studio things did get pretty hairy for a bit, but I had no idea what a close call we had until I went home later that afternoon.

Apr 6, 2013

Evil Dead - 2013: A Horror Fan's Take on a Remade Classic

Anyone who knows me and Monica knows that we are huge horror movie fans.  When I was a kid there were two movies that made me squirm.  In "The Wizard of Oz" when the Wicked Witch of the West told Dorothy "I'll get you... and your little dog too!"  I knew she meant me.  I know, I know, hardly a scary movie, right?  But for a six year old the thought of someone threatening a little dog was unimaginable.  What kind of monster would want to hurt a puppy?  Now, after having several dogs throughout my life I understand how much fun it can be to push them around, but when I was a kid I didn't get it.  The other movie that freaked me out was "Nosferatu".  You have to realize that when I was growing up television was very different.  You got three channels and a fourth one that had a lot of static.  You had to get up to change the channel by twisting the vice grips that were permanently attached to the broken channel knob, and sometimes you had to move the giant rabbit ear antennae to clear up the image.  You were held captive by whatever was on because there weren't two hundred channels to flip through.  "Nosferatu" came on pretty frequently, and when that damned vampire lifted straight out of his casket stiff as a board, I had no way to process it other than wetting the front of my pants.  As an adult I find that to be an effective way to get out of uncomfortable situations.  No one can focus anymore when the person they are confronting has a basketball sized wet spot growing down their jeans!  Try it, you'll be amazed.  It's a real game changer!  You can feel the power shift over to your side while the other guy sees that he may have overcommitted, and is trying to figure out exactly "how real" he wants things to get.

Fast forward to my teenage years.  Two movies cinched my love for horror.  Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, "The Shining" and Sam Raimi's quirky, low budget gem "The Evil Dead".  I've been a devotee ever since.  I have plenty of friends who love horror movies in the same way I love metal.  Most metal sucks.  In fact, most metal is embarrassing.  When it's good though, it's the best of everything I love about music and creative expression.  The same holds true for horror movies, and the two art forms are actually very closely related. Both delve into the taboos of society and the dark recesses of the human experience. Americans are particularly fascinated by real life horror, and especially the phenomenon of serial killers.  Being scared or made very uncomfortable is a rush.  I suppose that when we were hunter/gatherers there were more chances to feel that life or death rush that is absent when walking through the mall these days.  Well, that might depend upon which mall you frequent, but you know what I mean.  A good horror movie makes you feel alive.  And damned happy to be alive!

Feb 11, 2013

Confessor, 2013: Beginning to Write for Our Third Record

It is difficult to believe that Confessor have been around for over twenty five years.  There have been bumps and turns along the way that found us all doing other things, but after a quarter of a century we find ourselves with only one "new guy", and that is pretty astonishing.  That new guy actually joined the band nineteen years ago.  Pretty soon he'll graduate from the discipline building role of "coffee preparer" to that of "co-writer of heavy riffs".  If my coffee is either too weak or too hot between now and when his graduation ceremony takes place, we may have to review his pending status in the band, but I feel pretty certain he'll make the cut.  The most important thing for Chris to remember is that he continue to avoid making eye contact with fully accepted members of the band until he is completely sworn in.  "Do you, Chris Nolan, swear to uphold the purity of the Riff and to promote heaviness and rhythmic confusion during good times and bad times, and to offer yourself to no other band, in this court of the Sabbath Black, which doth include the divinity of The Late One; Ronnie James, and do you bind yourself to the whimsy of The Four; those members who precede you and whose blood, sweat and tears have created the oddity known to the world as Confessor?"  He will have a brief "Praising of His Peers" speech that he will have to recite without note cards, and a small monetary sacrifice equal to two years' worth of practice space rent, and then he will be free to submit riffs to please the band.  If they do not please the band, he'll have to start the nineteen year process all over again, so the pressure is on, but I think he is motivated enough to nail it and to become the newest official member.  We didn't have this protocol when Shawn joined, but we see how crucial the process is to maintaining appropriate levels of ass kissing.  Chris will still have to bring us our coffee, but as long as it's delicious he can write riffs for our third record.

Feb 3, 2013

The Poundry is Pleased to Announce the Newest Member of Our Family, Ripp!

Monica and I have been keeping tabs on this German Shepherd for several months now.  We first learned of his story via a German Shepherd Rescue group asking for donations to help pay for an emergency ear surgery he was in desperate need of after years of neglect. All that we know of his past is that there was a court order to remove him from the property of the people he lived with in South Carolina, and that he has been in foster care since May of last year. Untreated ear infections were allowed to harden in both of his ears and as a result, Ripp has lost all of his hearing. His hearing was long gone before the rescue took him in, but he was in pain because of the infections.  The surgery removed both of his ear canals and closed off the openings, so he doesn't even have a way to receive sound.  How's that for a chapter in The Chronicles of Suckiness!  That which robs you of your hearing then drives you mad with chronic pain and discomfort...  He's recovered really well, though there is a recurring topical infection that we are treating.  He is incredibly sweet, playful and more than a little goofy.  All three characteristics are wonderful to have in a dog, and we are delighted to be able to provide a stress free home for such a sweet boy!

Jan 28, 2013

Editor's Pick: Decapitated, "Carnival Is Forever" - The Meanest Band on Earth

It's no secret that I think popularity nearly made metal irrelevant.  Pleasing the masses very rarely pleases the people who are passionate about something.  The people who care most about a thing are usually ignored for the purpose of satisfying the far greater number of people for whom opinions are based on superficial packaging, or cursory glances at a movement without knowing much about its origins.  Once Nu Metal became a viable commodity in the 90's the chances of truly original heavy bands getting noticed became greatly reduced.  That's what trends in entertainment do; ignore innovation. In fact, trends stifle innovation as more and more people imitate a sound or a look that raked in big bucks for someone else, somewhere else.  Trends limit the scope of creativity because less people are interested in doing something new.  People may try to refine something old, but fewer push forward to see what they might come up with that could be truly unique.  Add to that the necessity of a company to meet its obligations, and the focus becomes funneling talent into a proven money making product... a "sure bet", to the extent that there can be such a thing.  In the Nineties, Nu Metal took a small handful of the primal attractions to heavy music; thick guitar sounds, pent up rage and low end frequencies, and made them the only things that mattered.  Enter the seven string guitar and singers who never stop yelling.  Yep, my beloved form of music was dealt a significant blow as it was taken out of the hands of people who respected its limitless opportunities for creativity, and delivered into the hands of people who were more interested in "units sold".

Profit is not, in and of itself a bad thing.  But when profit is the motivating force behind a creative endeavor, creativity takes a back seat.  I for one, do not have the patience to wade through a bunch of bands' music to see who might do something moderately interesting on two songs.  I prefer bands that create an entirely different space for me, and do so consistently.  In the last few years, Poland's Decapitated have impressed beyond compare, and have become my new favorite metal band.  They are certainly the most exciting metal band I have heard since Opeth and Necrophagist gave me hope for the genre after being disgusted with its lack of creativity for the better part of a decade.  Though their newest album, "Carnival Is Forever" has been out for well over a year, it is new to me, and I have to say that the bar has been raised as it pertains to metal being taken seriously.

Jan 26, 2013

Thanks to King's Barcade and Everyone Who Came Out!

Damn!  What a great show!  We all had a blast at Kings last Saturday night during Loincloth's first show in Raleigh. It was our home town maiden voyage and a homecoming all wrapped into one.  Old faces and new faces were grinning from ear to ear as we unleashed our metal mayhem onto the streets of Raleigh's bustling party district just off of Fayettville Street Mall.  It was nice to see so many loved ones in the audience as we brutalized their beloved little tushies from the stage.  Demon Eye and Solar Halos got things off to a great start with their very well oiled rock machine sets, and everyone in attendance was primed for Loincloth by the time we took the stage.  It was great to be able to feel the anticipation filling the room! The place just kept getting more and more packed throughout the night and we were definitely ready to rock the joint.  It was on!

Jan 14, 2013

Alright Raleigh... Here We Come!

Our first show in Raleigh is finally upon us, and Loincloth cannot wait!  Kings Barcade has invited us to have our home town inaugural blow out on its stage this Saturday, January 19th.  Loincloth welcome Demon Eye, Solar Halos and our own Tomas Phillips to rock the capital at 14 West Martin Street.  Eight bucks before the day of the show, ten bucks if you get your ticket Saturday.  Either way, it's just a decent tip after a great meal!  Hell, have a great meal, stiff the server and come check out all of the bands...  Okay, maybe you shouldn't stiff the server but should instead bring enough for cash the restaurant and the show.  Oh yeah, and some t-shirts, cd's etc...  You'll be a better, happier person for it!  Be there, or be square.  Or surf the sofa eating potato chips and hot dogs on white bread, wondering why no heavy bands ever play in your living room and why all of the action is downtown.  We'd rather see you at Kings though, with all of the full, happy people who are getting their asses rocked off!  Your call, old weiners and stale chips or a night of getting your butt handed to you on a twisted metal platter!

Jan 12, 2013


These are some photos from our trip out west that may be interesting to some but were not included in any of the descriptions of our adventures.  I'm just throwing these in for the curious among you to browse through.  Click "read more" to see them all.  I just realized that if you click on a photo one time you can see a slightly larger version of it, and a scroll appeared at the bottom of the screen from which you can click on any of the photos in this post to see them slightly larger.  There's no charge!  At least, I hope there's no charge...

             Portland: From our hotel window

Jan 9, 2013

The Final Embedded Reporting Installment: Los Angeles, and "The Power of the Riff" Show...

And finally we came to the big show... The Power of the Riff show at the Henry Fonda Theater on Los Angeles' Hollywood Boulevard.  Greg helped put this annual event together to coincide with what the Mayan calendar mysteriously described as "the end of an era".  This day of metal sub genre mayhem brought Void Ov Voices, Loincloth, Black Breath, Dead in the Dirt, Corrosion of Conformity, High on Fire and Sunn together under one roof to rock what some believed would be The End of Days.  Unless we have all been thrust into an alternate plane of existence ( would we ever know? ) the very fact that I am able to write about this show now proves that it was a night just like any other, except for the metal beat down of the people in attendance at the club.  The era that ended may have been the part of their lives before The 'Cloth and six other bands blew their minds.

I had only been to Los Angeles once before, and I was actually in the city for just a few hours before Monica picked me up and took me to her parents' house when she was still in high school.  The only thing I remember seeing in the city was a group of Hispanics getting frisked by the police against a wall.  Monica's first trip into City of Angels stuck in her mind because she saw a woman squat and pinch a loaf right on the sidewalk.  Yes, L.A. has it all if you know where to look.

Jan 8, 2013

San Francisco at last...

We only had a three hour drive to San Francisco after stopping at one of those roadside motels where people either collect money for their kidnapped victims, or dump their bodies. That was our reward for braving Grant's Pass and the death-snow the night before.  We were just happy to have made it down the mountain alive.  The idea that many people never made it out of this particular motel alive never swayed us one bit.  We were tired and there was no reason to continue.  I had made the trip from northern Washington to San Francisco before, laying in the back of a truck.  I mean laying, too... not sitting.  I was traveling with C.O.C. and the only room for me was on top of the speaker cabinets.  To put it bluntly, it blew!  Needless to say, I missed the view on that trip. This time I tried to soak it all in.  Just before you get into San Francisco the hills and trees begin to look like miniatures for a movie adaptation of a Dr. Seuss story.  The hills are really pronounced, but perfectly soft and smooth like green gumdrops with an even blanket of grass.  Trees grow in clusters here and there, but there is nothing like it anywhere I have ever been.  It looks like someone from another planet was trying to imagine what things here on Earth might look like.  Very strange, but captivating in a strange and curious way. 

Jan 6, 2013

Seattle, WA and Haunting Thoughts of The Donner Party

We made it to Seattle and checked into our hotel by about six o'clock Monday morning.  I got up around eleven and had just enough time to get some coffee and something to eat before we had to meet the other bands for load in.  Thomas met me while I was finishing up my breakfast on the fly and we talked about how the trip was going.  I've known Thomas since I was sixteen and it was great to be able to travel with him again.  He and I were in a band called Bloodbath back in high school.  We were kind of like a crossover band before the term existed.  Punk roots tempered with a touch of Celtic Frost and Iron Maiden. Regardless, my first band experiences were with him and it has been wonderful to have them again almost... gulp... thirty years later.

I had been looking forward to the show in Seattle.  It seemed like it would be a good one and I spent a long weekend there some years ago and had a really good time.  Unfortunately we didn't have much extra time because our drive after the show was about fifteen hours down to San Francisco, and believe it or not, it rained a lot while we were there.  Our hotel was not far from the University, but not close enough to take advantage of the kinds of stores one finds around campuses.  We did need some things from the Radio Shack and UPS stores that were right down the street when we left the next morning but other than that, coffee was the only thing nearby that I benefited from personally.  Rain and coffee... welcome to Seattle!

Jan 5, 2013

Next Stop: Bellingham

I was out of the hotel before anyone else every morning.  I have to be at work at 7:00 during the week, and I was always the one walking around town whenever Confessor traveled, so it was no surprise to find myself alone in the mornings.  Also, two of the guys often end up awake until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning, but I can manage on less sleep than most people.  I knew I wouldn't have time later in the day to scope out our surroundings, so if I wanted to find things to photograph I had to do it before load in or whenever we left for the next town.  It's camera brain.  I had already checked out things around the hotel in Portland, but coffee and a surprisingly good cheese danish seemed a nice way to start the morning.  I used to drink coffee only when I would visit family.  It seemed kind of special, and I associated it with people I cared about.  A few years ago I had coffee two mornings in a row at work and I've had a cup every workday since.  Twice is all it takes sometimes to start a lifelong habit.  Ask any substance abuser!  My cup isn't always great, in fact some mornings it's downright disappointing, but every morning I have high hopes.  Wow!  I guess the "Brown Lady" really does have her hooks in me!

Jan 2, 2013

Embedded Reporting: Arriving in Portland for the Sunn shows...

Showing up to your airport terminal before the first shift airline employees report to work was new to me.  I can tell you that there are other things in life that are far more awesome, but we checked our baggage pretty quickly once people showed up to man the ticket counters.  I always choose window seats.  I can halfway escape my surroundings by soaking in what there is to see from six miles up, and I always wanted to be able to fly when I was a kid.  I was pretty jealous of birds and wondered if they took their superhuman powers for granted.  Birds get to see things like this shot of us landing at Chicago's O'Hare Airport for our connecting flight all the time, and you don't have to work if you can simply fly to wherever food is.  Like being able to fly wouldn't be cool enough on its own!  And unlike us people, birds don't have to pay for tiny bags of peanuts or worry about plummeting to their grisly demise.  Nor do they have to save for months to fly, which is good since they don't need to keep jobs.  Yep, I enjoy getting to fly every now and then.

Jan 1, 2013

Challenges, pt.3: Performing on a kit other than your own...

It is not always practical to travel with something as monstrous as a metal drum kit. They tend to take up a lot of space, and airlines charge twenty five bucks for your first checked bag, thirty five for the second and one hundred for every bag beyond that.  My own kit would have to go in eleven cases, so you can see how impractical it can be.  I have had to play on rented drum kits before, and it is always awkward.  Even setting up my own kit at shows can create some difficult playing environments.  My drums move ever so slightly away from me at the practice space so sometimes at shows I end up setting them up closer to me than I may have grown accustomed.  I'll know within a song or two because my shoulders will get tight right away. Kick ass!  Ten songs to go and I'm already fatigued!  Yes indeed, playing on a kit other than your own provides some interesting challenges.