I remember those guys.
Used to play gigs in little venues I used to go to in London. Used to.
Maybe they’re still goin, I’m not into that scene so much any more.
Industrial metal covers of pop songs. Helped you to realise that some of the lines in these pop songs were actually pretty dark and sinister. They just sing em with a smile, and it goes into your brain without you noticing.
Infecting you. Infesting you. A thousand little bugs crawling in to your skull to nest and lay eggs, every time you hear the radio, see an advert, watch a screen…
But when a guy in a silver suit he probably got from a charity shop, with so much black and white facepaint dripping all over him cos he’s covered in sweat that he looks like a tortured panda’s dying hallucination, fucking fullon screams it at you, looking straight in your eye, mind, with all kinds of effects to make his voice echoey and deep…
It’s like communing with the Devil himself.
All the dark and twisted shit cluttering up your subconscious that most of the time you try and pretend isn’t there. All there in the music, talking to you. You can’t help but listen, give them the time and attention they crave from you.
I mean, I was pretty stoned at the time. You know some of that skunk in London that they put all those chemicals in, I mean, it goes a long way. Depends on who you know.
Anyway, just try it sometime, when you hear a pop song, just saying the words like a real life person would say them, if they were being really creepy and intense.
“You can stand under my umbrella any time, darlin, just come up close to me now…eh, baby?”
“Ella, ella, eh? Eh?”
Or what about the other way around? All these songs where women are singing about how their man is everything, how they’re so sad if he’s not there, and how theyre gonna sex him up good. Or whatever it is they say these days.
I mean, these women should not be giving relationship advice to little girls. They got some pretty screwed up priorities.
Don’t be moping over some man, girl! You don’t need that piece of shit, get out and build your own life up. Sing a song about that.
A lot of men singing about basically stalking women they used to go out with. “I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU! ALWAYS!”. They’re gonna set themselves on fire. They are going to make their ex’s lives hell, trying to guilt them into taking them back. They are obsessed to a degree that is ruining all their future chances of happiness, and they are proud. They are singing to the rooftops about it. They are calling on other men to join them
To create an army. An army of men stretching across the globe, bound together in an age old secret conspiracy. They won’t let their women get away. They belong to them.
If a man owns a women, and another man has sex with her, or even looks at or touches her, the first man has the right to declare battle. That is the ancient code, as it has been since ages past.
Men listen to and take orders from other men. Even if a man and a woman are saying the same thing, it is always the man who is right. So just listen to them.
Whichever man you choose as leader, make sure they are loud, and intimidating. Hope they are smarter than you, but don’t worry too much about that.
On these principles the army of men is created and sustained, passing it’s legacy down through the ages. Some men have tried to desert from its ranks, to pursue different kinds of relationships, but the Army marches on, the deserters usually trampled underfoot.
You imagine the tramping boots as you hear the pounding drums.
Synthetic beats mixed somewhere behind the scenes, combining with this guy right here, with his shirt off. It was a good shirt too, fitted in well with the whole aesthetic. But he must be working up quite a sweat just keeping these beats going. They may be repetitive, but they’re fast and strong.
You can imagine the tramping sound, with screeching sounds of guns and bombs, planes and tanks, even submarines and aircraft carriers, through the guitar amps, bass amps, whatever the fuck speakers all this crazy shit with the laptop and the keyboard is plugged into. Does he really need all that to make this noise? Or is he just showing off? Surely he could be replaced with a tape? Unless he does some awesome keyboard solo at some point… could still happen…
The army of men is suddenly REAL, right there on stage, too real for some it seems, judging by how many of the paltry crowd are wallhugging.
But the real embodiment is the solitary mosher. He has been going for almost half an hour, punching imaginary rivals, square in the jaw, on every 8th beat.
Every now and then someone comes and joins him for a bit, sometimes a small group. At one point there were even 16 of us up there, almost for a whole song.
It starts of all smiles, people approach him cautiously. They try and replicate his swinging motions and punching movements. Some of them risk an early assault. Some of them don’t. When there’s a few of them they start jumping into each other and see whether he joins in.
After a while they start to feel embarrassed, slightly freaked out, and they go back to the wall.
But I’m loving it, just standing in the middle. I would dance if there were more people or if I was more drunk, but these were London prices. I was making this rum and coke last as long as possible, but it was slipping away quickly.
The barlady had told me I didn’t look 18. I thanked her for the compliment. And it worked.
That was when I was seventeen, when It started getting harder, just as I should have been getting asked less, because surely I looked more like I was 18 then than I did when I was 14? I never had any problems then, unless my obviously really young, drunk friends came in at the wrong moment and spoke to me.
No-one at a heavy metal gig ever gave me vibes like I shouldn’t be looking at their girl. I mean, a lot of them didn’t have girls I guess. I certainly didn’t.
People were moshing instead of fighting each other in real life. Some of them. Some of them probably were more aggressive than the average person in normal life too. But loads of metallers are just like hippies dressed in black with more of a spikey vibe.
That’s how the music came about after all, straight out of the psychedelic rock scene in the late sixties. Music for people whose trip’s gone bad, perhaps. Or just dark, which isn’t necessarily bad.
It was times I found myself surrounded by young men out at nightclubs that I felt like I had most to be afraid of. People who’s professed taste in music, clothes and lifestyle just happens to almost exactly match the adverts aimed at them. These are people that I am scared of.
The army of men. Dressed in shiny suits. Waxing their hair and their bodies. Wearing sunglasses and driving around in sports cars with house music and RnB blaring out of them. In this day and age!
They got the same up tempo beat pounding in their head the whole time. But to them it’s not harsh and loud, like its coming from outside, like with heavy metal. With mainstream party boys the house or techno pulsing beat is softly packaged for them, so that it slips through their ears and right into their chests, synchronising to their heartbeat, bypassing the brain, which is assaulted by siren like noises and auto-tuned voices speaking in the imperative tense. Unconsciously the code is programmed into them and they find themselves marching in step, repeating the code to others as if it is a divine law the holy spirit has revealed to them, that they may tell all the world and destroy all blasphemers against.
I’m not trying to imply that all guys who listen to heavy metal are cool, non-threatening guys sympathetic to feminism, and who you could trust not to rape you. No way am I saying that.
But I was there, in that scene, or at least, on the edges of it, but feeling like part of it, like it meant the whole world to me, was what defined me and everything. And I wanted to be defined against all this shit that was being advertised at me, cos even if I didn’t understand what it was as well as I do now, I understood enough.
And that’s the same reason a lot of other people were there, and are still there. Dressing in black, listening to bands no one else likes.
I used to wish one day a band who had really gotten everyone going would have the balls to call for the whole crowd to just march right then and there to the houses of parliament and try and start a revolution. Because it felt powerful to be there, like an army, but a fucking crazy one, and army of freaks who couldn’t be controlled, even by each other.
An army with a different code:
I’m gonna just freak the fuck out, right? Right here next to you and I don’t give a fuck what you think about it. My arms are gonna be flailing about and I’m gonna jump around and shake my head around and I am probably gonna bash into you an awful lot.
As are hundreds of other people. But the thing is, you can just do the same thing. Go wild, let yourself loose. Free all that fucking tension, get out your anger your hatred your grudges your jealousy your bitterness your RAGE!!!
And if you bash into me, its fine, I mean, I’d be a hypocrite to object when I’m gonna do the same to you, right? And hey, if you fall down or get squished or get into a real fight or just generally are having a bad time, we’re all gonna help you out, and theres a whole lot of us here, don’t be afraid. We ain’t hitting you cos we don’t like you.
It’s a different code, and one which I found difficulty in explaining to the uninitiated. That it didn’t matter what we looked like to one another, or it did, but in a totally different way. That we all wanted to look as unique as possible, even if we ended up copying each other a lot for lack of ideas, at least we were still looking different from how a society we hated was telling us we had to look.
We weren’t there to pick up chicks. That’s something some mainstream clubber girl asked me once.
“So you just bash into each other? What if you like some girl, you just bash into her?”
Maybe. Why the fuck not? But it never happened to me.
And the girls I knew were feminist girls. They talked about things I didn’t understand, but I knew that most guys never even heard about these things or would even try to understand them if they did. I liked these feminist girls more than I liked most guys, even though I never managed to have sex with any of them. And I liked them more than girls I probably could have had sex with if I’d just played the game more.
I was a freak, self-conscious, hiding my emotions, obsessing over girls I would never talk to or even try and learn anything about. Waiting till wild house parties would come along so I would hopefully be drunk enough to kiss some drunk girl, or do more if I could. I did things I’m not proud of now, of course, but I never raped anyone.
But in my conscious, sober life, there was no one. Years and years went by like that. Music and what I thought of as “politics” or “philosophy” filled up my brain, my life. And TV of course, for though I hated, or professed to hate everything on it, I was still hooked in. And after we got cable it was a place I could sometimes be exposed to good music, on the right channels, if I was lucky.
I felt like I was dark and twisted and I wanted everyone to look at me like I was dark and twisted, to say dark and twisted and deep sounding things to affect something in them. To make them think I was interesting, even if they still didn’t like me. It seemed easier than just trying to get them to like me.
Being nice to people seemed like some kind of betrayal. But I was never really that evil. All in my head, most of the time. I gradually grew out of it, realised a lot of the music and stuff surrounding it was just the same bullshit as what I thought I was against, just in a different wrapping.
But that was what was so great about the Scraemin Daemons. They didn’t care. They loved this music, and they loved playing silly big riffs, unoriginal as fuck, to pop songs everyone knew the words to so could scream along with as they got drunk. They weren’t making any money out of it, none of the bands I used to see made money, except maybe the big ones the magazines told me I should go and see.
Scraemin Daemons were just a bunch of forty something guys with a hobby. They probably didn’t have the same dreams as I did as a seventeen year old of being a big rock star and travelling the world, starting revolutions everywhere I played. But they were HEAVY METAL.
You had to give em that