RIP Mick Deth

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I am truly shocked and saddened to hear of my buddy Mick “Deth” Morris’ passing. I wasn’t aware of his heart condition. It’s increasingly weird as the older you get, the more people you know die before their time.

I met Mick when 18 Visions opened up for Mushroomhead and Lamb of God at the Birch Hill Nite Club in NJ in 2001. He was always super cool, humble, affable guy. Although we never did extended touring with 18V, we got to do some spot dates together like Furnace Fest 2002, and a show later that year w/ Everytime I Die, Bleeding Through and Avenged Sevenfold opening.

18 Visions deserves credit for being a trailblazer. For better or worse, they brought style to hardcore scene. They wrote the script for bands like Motionless in White and Falling In Reverse to follow. And when 18V did it, they were playing with real hardcore bands, and it was not always cool with the status quo. That takes some balls.

We stayed in touch over the years as he started to work for Hatebreed, and even chatted about jamming together at some point. Unfortunately, it never happened. I was just enjoying his Instagram feed last night. This sucks. I’ll miss you dude.

GOD FORBID Announce 1st Shows of 2013

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You asked for God Forbid shows, you got em. After taking a brief break this year, the God Forbid fellas decided to book a couple local dates. We apologize to fans who don’t reside in the Northeast of the US. Hopefully we can venture out at a later time. Check the dates:

Aug 2nd – Wilmington, DE @ Mojo 13 (Rescheduled show) 21+

Aug 3rd – Trenton, NJ @ Club RHO (Ride for Dime Philly w/ Shadows Fall, Thy Will Be Done & more) 17+ Click here for advance tickets!

Amazing video about Race, Music, and Identity

Someone sent me a link for this video on Twitter, and I have to say it really touched me in a personal way. I am surprised that it was released 5 years ago, and I am just seeing it now. This young lady eloquently tells a story that I relate to very much. I understand what’s it like to never truly fit in; To be caught in between cultures. Being bi-racial tends to put you at odds with uniformity.

I often see many things through the prism of race. I can’t really help it. My favorite Podcast is called The Champs. I identify with the show because it straddles the White and Black experience, but with affection for both equally. It’s hosted by comedians Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher. You may know Neal Brennan as the co-creator of Chappelle Show and Kasher is a self-described ex “wigger” from Black dominant part of Oakland. Both these guys are white, but have a deep affinity for Black culture. The hook of the show is that they only have non-White, but mainly Black guests. A good deal of the conversation is about race and culture, and tackles many issues that I don’t think are being talked about in main stream outlets. They grew up with “Black” culture which is just another way of saying modern Hip Hop and street culture. I think this is a reflection of America’s evolution. In many ways, Hip Hop culture which was on the fringe in the early 80’s has become the mainstream Pop culture. Ice Cube is the spokesman for Coors Light. Jay Z is besties with the President. Diddy is pretty much the next Donald Trump. I think even the “wigger” category has been marginalized. In general, people, white or not have come to accept Hip Hop culture as mainstream.

Unfortunately, this has not swung the other way in equal effect. Although there have been some strides, say in the Black Hipster movement or the Backpack Hip Hop genre, having a dissenting cultural preference within the urban sect of the black community can be extremely difficult. I grew up in New Brunswick, NJ, which was a mostly poor Black and Latino city. Later, we moved and I went to an upper class private school for High School, which was 95% white. I really got to live in both worlds, in terms of race and class. I like rap and R&B. I’ve seen New Jack City and Menace II Society 9,000 times. I was lucky enough to have a large Black side of my family and would attend big family reunions with the fish fry, collard greens and all the rest. I pretty much quote Chris Rock as if he were Neitzsche. It’s not a secret I love basketball. I say the word “nigger”, a lot. Mainly to my friends.

With all of that said, I like a lot of “White” stuff too. In fact, in many ways I probably identify with White culture more than Black culture or what would be thought of as Hip Hop or Street Culture. Do yourself a favor and check out this website Stuff White People Like. I love pretty much 50% of that list. Well, mainly coffee and all of the TV Shows (The Wire, Mad Men), not all the pretentious liberal posturing bullshit. I’m not trying to keep it real, or keep it hood. I want to live someone where safe. For the most part, I can’t stand the vapid, materialistic elements of Bling Hip Hop. I understand that all of the braggadocio and macho chest thumping exists because strength, money, and power is all that is respected in the inner city where weakness can get you killed. There is very little room for frailty, or neurotic self examination. Perhaps if I stayed in the city, I would have a little more “street” in my blood, but I always wanted out of that type of environment that didn’t fully value nuance or an oddball like myself.

Another great thing about The Champs Podcast is that they also aren’t afraid to criticize the more (self) destructive parts of Street culture, and call out a lot of the “ignorance” that tends to perpetuate in the community. This type of criticism was also detailed heavily in a brilliant cartoon show called The Boondocks. The show satirizes Black culture from the perspective of a young, radical, Black protagonist, who is ultimately the voice of the show’s creator, Aaron McGruder, who is a Black man. It is social commentary at it’s finest. If these criticisms came from a White show runner, than it would probably never make it to the air for fear of being called racist. The show eviscerates BET, Gangsta Rap, unhealthy Black eating habits, and even blind Obama supporters. The show got severe backlash from many prominent figures in the Black community. It pissed people off because it told the truth, at least from McGruder’s perspective.

The Champs and The Boondocks common bond is that they both give the modern Black intelligent counterculture a voice while still showing a deep appreciation and respect for those things considered traditionally Black. Above all, they keep a racial dialogue afloat that pokes at things that are considered politically  incorrect, but are altogether necessary for collective progress. Because of our unique history, this is distinctly an American issue, but it’s important to keep talking and being honest.

What is this all leading to, and how does it relate to the video up top? I’ve always been someone whose never really fit in and struggled with identity. That was until I discovered metal and hardcore. The element of those scenes that I gravitated towards was the idea of challenging the systems and domineering paradigms that surround and engulf us. God Forbid didn’t form to buck any trends, but if our impact was that we could make it ok for a few Black kids to follow their hearts, and be who they want to be, than maybe it makes everything we did worth it. I just hope I live long enough to where a Black person speaking English fluently and crisply, is not referred to as talking “White”. No race should have domain over education, and Black culture needs to stop feeding this fire.

You’re race doesn’t define you. The religion you were raised with doesn’t define you. The town you grew up in doesn’t define you. We are lucky enough to live in the most free society that has ever existed. You should try everything out that interests you. You can like Wu Tang and Doctor Who. Be like Russ. Express yourself.

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Show Announcement

May 29th – New York, NY @Tammany Hall

I will be playing an Acoustic Set with my old friend Tommy Vext for another old friend Tim No 37’s Rock N Roll For A Cure event honoring Elizabeth “Mama 37” Martinez’s battle against T Cell Lymphoma.

Hosted by:                                                                                                                      Jennifer “Jenncity” Arroyo and Joshua Hawksley

Performances by:                                                                                                                    KILLCODE (acoustic performance)
The Von Frankensteins
Beyond Visible
Circus Life
No Change For Machines
Jackson James
Breakage Rising
Brand of Julez
When Winter Fell

Proceeds to be donated to
Elizabeth “Mama 37” Martinez
The American Cancer Society
The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

21+      $15
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The Dilemma

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Things just got real for many of us in the metal/hardcore music community. To be more accurate, things have actually become dramatically surreal due to the recent arrest of As I Lay Dying founder and frontman, Tim Lambesis, who has been accused of hiring someone to murder his wife.

I’m sure it is no surprise to many who know me, that Tim is a friend of mine. I have countless acquaintances from my years in the music business, but I only have maybe a dozen very close friends that I stay in touch with regularly, make sure to visit when they are in town, confide in, perhaps seek council. Tim is one of those people. I saw him less than two months ago and interviewed him for a forthcoming podcast. I went out of my way to interview him first for the podcast because of the interesting philosophical conversations we have had. I also recorded a guitar solo for the new Austrian Death Machine album, and discussed having him do guest vocals for a possible solo album I may do.

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THE TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’ (Posted Oct. 5th 2011 on Metalsucks.net)

Singularity

There seems to be a firestorm in the metal world regarding the state of the industry, Spotify, illegal downloading, and the philosophical struggle between capitalism and artistic integrity. Lines have been drawn in the sand and it’s getting fucking personal. I have remained rather silent on the sidelines but all of this action has inspired me to enter the fray.

But I’d like to approach this discussion from a different angle than the one that has been taken thus far – one which deals with some issues that are beyond music. Perhaps you could call it a political discussion, or a cultural discussion, or even a philosophical discussion. I want to talk about the idea of ownership, and what exactly that means in our modern, western paradigm, which is one rooted in competition-based capitalism.

Continue reading “THE TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’ (Posted Oct. 5th 2011 on Metalsucks.net)”

SAD BUT TRUE (Posted Mar. 18th 2011 on Metalsucks.net)

The Dude

I was inspired to put some thoughts down after reading Sergeant D.’s post about what a terrible decision it is to commit yourself to the band life at a young age, because eventually the wheels will fall off and you’ll end up just like some morose version of the Anvil story: Sad, old, broke, and disillusioned by shattered dreams of rock stardom.  I know his blog was supposed to be funny and sarcastic, and was even sprinkled with a hint of sour grapes: Not getting to be that “cool band guy,” but justice being served down the line by seeing how those guys ended up. But I have to say that post hit home for me, because in many ways it was about me. I mean generally, not specifically. I’m pretty sure Sergeant D. didn’t follow me around and base his post on me autobiographically.

I graduated high school mentally unprepared for the real world; I never really grasped the idea that I would have to get up everyday and work a job I didn’t feel connected to for the rest of my life. Being a “grown up” was something I didn’t want any part of and couldn’t relate to.  Music was the only thing I really loved, and I seemed to be good at it, or, at least, it seemed to come easier to me than most of my peers in the local scene I was involved in. I didn’t picture myself being a musician for a living, either. My heroes, like Pantera and Megadeth, were mythical to me. The idea that you could actually do that with your life just didn’t seem real at the time, so I just went with the flow and didn’t really set any long term life goals or follow any solid decrees. I only lasted one semester in college, and left to work to focus on God Forbid because it felt like we were on to something. Within a year of leaving school, the band was signed to Century Media, and within two years, we all quit our jobs and transitioned to being a full-time touring band.  That was ten years ago.

Continue reading “SAD BUT TRUE (Posted Mar. 18th 2011 on Metalsucks.net)”

I AGAINST I (Posted Nov. 2nd 2010 on Metalsucks.net)

Dolph Lundgren is really from Sweden
Dolph Lundgren is really from Sweden

For my opening salvo, I suppose I should mention that it has been a long break between blogs. I’ve been meaning to get back to it, but this summer has been a very busy one filled with the musical composition of the new God Forbid album as well as a new project I’ve been working on, in addition to the daily pursuit of living life and getting by. I hope to contribute more frequently in the near future.

If you’ve followed my articles in the past, you may notice that I often address music history, and pertaining to this site, heavy music specifically. I have a great respect for artistic pioneers and the roots of where the most admirable and brilliant music stems from. I was the type of kid who would read liner notes and interviews by my favorite bands to find out who influenced them. I would always want to climb that musical family tree to see where it lead.

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COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION (Posted May 13th 2010 on Metalsucks.net)

OldPeople

In the last few years, something seemed to happen and I barely noticed. Suddenly, I’m no longer the young kid at the show. I’m one of the guys hiding out by the bar. I’m not crowd surfing, not covered in sweat with my shirt off, and I’m certainly not moshing. I’m also not randomly yelling “Slayer!”, but that seems to span all demographics. I became… (gulp)… an adult. I don’t know what the range is in the ages of the followers of MetalSucks, but I’ll assume that it’s a mix of younger and older metal fans. I am 29 years old, but I still feel relatively young and energetic considering my opening salvo. I’m the youngest member of my band, and younger than a good majority of my friends in bands and the industry.

With that said, I think there comes a time for all metal heads, and probably all adults for that matter, when you look at what is popular amongst the true youth culture (16-24), and you feel as if not only do you not relate to it, but it feels alien, as if it’s creation was not meant for your consumption (which it wasn’t) – and it also seems inferior to music that you grew up with. I’m only 29, and I’m already having “back in my day” moments. It kind of scared me, and I began to wonder if I was being obtuse and a little too set in my ways, or if my analysis was accurate.

Continue reading “COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION (Posted May 13th 2010 on Metalsucks.net)”