All posts by David Bronstein

David Bronstein is best known to longtime AlternativeNation.net readers for writing his in-depth pieces on the life of the late great Layne Staley, telling the story of his life from childhood all the way until his final days. David can be reached at davidjbronstein (at) hotmail.com

Top 10 Guns N’ Roses Concerts

After nearly two decades of whispers, hopes and rumors it really is true, Guns N’Roses are getting back together again for a reunion tour. Right now it looks like we’re only going to get 3 of the original 5 members. But that still means that Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan will share the same stage together for the first time since July 17th, 1993. That date over 22 years ago was the final show on the band’s 2 year Use Your Illusion tour that ended triumphantly in Argentina.

Since then, Axl and Slash had a falling out of epic proportions, and Slash left the band in 1996. Duff followed a year later, and Guns N’ Roses’ only original member was Axl. Throughout the 2000’s and as recently as 2014, Axl had been touring with various different members on the Chinese Democracy tours. Duff filled in for some special guest appearances, and helped the band out almost full time on their 2014 South American tour. Original guitarist Izzy Stradlin even appeared from time to time, but there was no sign of Slash being asked back.

Last summer that all changed when Axl and Slash finally broke the ice and started talking again for the first time in 19 years. The reunion tour is due to kick off with a headlining slot at the Coachella Festival on April 16th. However what is the betting that the band play some low key warm up shows beforehand? It’s happened in the past most famously when they played two small club shows in 1989 before supporting The Rolling Stones. And then of course their 3 warm up shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco and The Ritz club in New York before the start of the Use Your Illusion tour. Patrons in LA keep an eye out for possible shows in the coming months.

To celebrate the return of the core of the most familiar Guns N’ Roses line up, we are taking a look back at some of the band’s all time greatest gigs. These shows are from the band’s formation in 1985 up until 1993.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2K6n_w6AwM

10. RIVERPOINT AMPHITHEATRE, ST LOUIS, July 2nd, 1991

This show will inevitably always be remembered as the infamous riot show, as Axl dived into the crowd and grabbed a video camera from a ‘fan’ who was bootlegging the show. An outraged Axl stormed off the stage and a riot ensued that caused millions of dollars of damage to the bands equipment. But there was so much more to this show than actually meets the eye. Up until that incident which took place almost 90 minutes into the set, we were witnessing one of the great Guns shows. It was intense, mean, and Guns N’ Roses were living up to their old tag of ‘the most dangerous band in the world’. Sure, right from the start Axl looked in a bad mood, but he put that negative energy into the show and it worked for the most part before exploding. If one show summarized the Use Your Illusion tour, it was this one. It literally had everything.

9. PERKINS PALACE, PASADENA, December 26th-30th, 1987

Four shows were played over 5 nights at the Perkins Palace as part of Guns N’Roses holiday season homecoming shows. These shows have reached legendary status with Guns N’ Roses fans. Because of an injured hand, Steven Adler did not play at any of these shows, and instead Fred Coury of Cinderella filled in. During the four shows, 10 different songs from Appetite For Destruction are played, and staple covers such as “Knockin’ On Heavens Door” and “Mama Kin” are also belted out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHHPnQvaxGs

8. JACK MURPHY STADIUM, SAN DIEGO, September 30th 1992

This show was part of the infamous Guns N’ Roses/Metallica co-headlining tour of summer/fall 1992. Whilst the tour had its ups and downs, which included a 2nd Guns N’ Roses riot in Montreal after Axl walked off stage after hurting his vocal chords, it was nights like this that made it all worthwhile. Unlike regular set lists at this time, the band started the night off with its first four songs from Appetite For Destruction. The band were in a good mood, especially Slash who had become an United States citizen that day. Earlier in the day the crowd were treated to Bodycount and Motorhead.

7. GIANTS STADIUM, NEW JERSEY, August 16th, 1988

This show is most famous for fans as being part of the video for “Paradise City.” The rest of the footage would be coupled from the bands Donington Monsters of Rock show in England which took place just four days after this one. This may have been the first show where Axl wore his infamous white leather coat, a coat that would usually be worn during “Paradise City.” The band opened up for Aerosmith and Deep Purple and finished the set calmly with “Used To Love Her”.

6. THE MARQUEE, LONDON, June 28th, 1987

Guns N’ Roses’ first ever European shows were in London, England and they played 3 nights at the infamous Marquee Club in Soho. The shows were a sell out, and over those 3 nights 1,500 fans got to see them in the tiny sweatbox. However, it is their 3rd and last show which is remembered the fondest. The bulk of the material was from the upcoming Appetite For Destruction, but covers such as “Nice Boys” and AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” were thrown in for good measure. This show completed the band’s 10 day stay in London.

5. WEMBLEY STADIUM, LONDON, June 13th, 1992

Most reviewers agreed at the time that this was one of the hottest gigs on the Use Your Illusion tour. Just before the band took to the stage the Sid Vicious cover classic “My Way” roared from the PA and they kicked off with staple set opener “It’s So Easy”. During the show Axl has a troublemaker ejected from the venue and screams at him “Wanker”. Somehow a stage invader makes it on stage and hugs Slash, Axl teases the crowd that he may be married (this was to then girlfriend Stephanie Seymour), and Brian May of Queen joins the band for two classic Queen tracks. Whilst a backing band of several may have bloated the tour, by this time there were still evidently nights where it all clicked. Faith No More and Soundgarden opened the show.

4. BUDOKAN HALL, TOKYO, December 10th, 1988

Ever since Axl Rose knew that The Beatles had played in this infamous venue, he wanted to play here. It finally happened 3 years after the band’s formation. The crowd were really into the show, which was a surprise given how conservative Japanese crowds were back in the 80’s and early 1990’s. The band play 17 songs, including 10 from their debut album.

3. THE RITZ, NEW YORK, February 2nd, 1988

This show, at the now sadly defunct Ritz, is the most accessible for any fan wanting to see what ‘old’ Guns N’ Roses shows were all about. That’s because this show was professionally filmed by MTV and the band didn’t let anyone down. Axl, Duff, and Slash stagedived during the gig and played a no holds barred 60 minute set to a frenzied crowd. You can tell this is a rock band in the absolute prime of their careers, and they were loving every minute of it. Steven Adler spends the show with a constant smile on his face without missing a beat. For most fans back in the day, The Ritz show was their official introduction to the band from LA.

2. THE ROXY, LOS ANGELES, March 28th, 1986

Complete sleaze, Axl backcombed hair, Duff the punk rocker, Izzy cool as shit, Slash (probably drunk) but on cue, and Steven Adler smashing those snares like its his final show- this was Guns N’ Roses on top of the world. What made this show extra special is that two sets were played. One at 10PM, and then another at midnight. The shows almost didn’t happen when the band were stopped and searched by police for drugs outside the venue. During the show a stripper dances around the stage and the band play 16 different songs over the 2 sets. This was a night of celebration so to speak as the band had signed with Geffen Records just two days prior. The ads for these shows said ‘why are we playing? Because we need the money’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3hwCciqBEE

1. GREAT WESTERN FORUM, INGLEWOOD, August 3rd, 1991

Whilst the small club shows will forever be remembered for Guns N’ Roses in perhaps their purest form, the band proved that they could still bring it live to arenas and stadiums throughout the world. But on the night of August 3rd, 1991 something unique happened. Guns N’ Roses, in their farewell to LA as they departed for their European leg of the Use Your Illusion tour, played for almost 4 hours. It remains the longest Guns N’ Roses concert ever. However, as startling that fact is, this isn’t why this show is at No. 1 of all time. The band simply put on an awesome performance that called back to their glorious club days, but also brought with it things to come from this tour. 18 of the 31 tracks came from Use Your Illusion I and II, still by far the most tracks played from that record in one show. “You Ain’t the First”, “Dead Horse” and “Yesterdays” were given their live debuts and “Locomotive” a song rarely played live was also unleashed. Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, a close friend of Axl, did back up vocals on “Don’t Cry”, and Sebastian Bach of Skid Row sang along on “You’re Crazy”. Unbelievably, the show finished at 3:30AM and unfortunately some of the crowd had to leave, as the band would simply not leave the stage. Certainly a rock n’ roll show that went down in history.

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Top 10 Faith No More Songs

Edited by Brett Buchanan

If you try and describe Faith No More’s blend of music, it’s beyond certain that lead singer Mike Patton will go and screw up your theory with their next release. FNM have been tearing up the rock n’ roll rule book ever since they formed over 30 years ago. They have a guy on drums, Mike Bordin to you, The Puff to band members, who thrashes his sticks every night like it’s his final show. And on guitar Jon Hudson has riffs that make his guitar literally bleed. On bass Billy Gould always seems like he’s having the most fun out of everyone, and on keyboards is the ever lovable Roddy Bottum. Vocals are managed by the one and only Mike Patton. He has to have one of the greatest vocal ranges in music history. He can go from death metal, to funk, jump to rap and then 70’s soul without missing a beat.

The band continued to inspire with each new record, and after they split in 1998 it seemed that we had witnessed the last of their crazy antics. However, a decade later they reformed without promising us too much, and certainly with no commitment to the immediate future. But all that changed after the band released their new album this year, Sol Invictus. It was warmly met and meshed well with some of their great past records into one without giving up the individuality of what Sol Invictus was all about. The record was followed by a European festival tour and a U.S. tour, amongst other shows, and everything was deemed a huge success. Faith No More still have the gift that has been embedded in them since the 1980’s.

The Sol Invictus tour looks like a wrap for this year, and with FNM you never know what will happen next. Hopefully they will stick together and manage their solo careers at the same time. Next year offers no plans of more shows, but you never know. However, to celebrate what may be the end of their latest tour, here is a list of the 10 greatest Faith No More songs ever recorded. Now there are a couple of rules. The first is that no songs have been included that are on movie soundtracks or B-sides, just studio releases. Trust me, putting together a top 10 list of their songs has been a difficult task, without the added problems of some of their glorious non studio tracks. The second rule is that all songs must have been originally recorded by Mike Patton. Sure Chuck Mosley is well loved and for good reason, but we have to remember that Mike has really shaped this band and has been the lead singer now for 26 years.

10. SEPARATION ANXIETY (Sol Invictus)

Arguably the best song on the band’s latest record, “Separation Anxiety” is in your face and is a real throwback to the Angel Dust days of Faith No More. Bottums’ ghostly keyboards, Patton’s high voice and Hudson’s guitar, which feels for the most part like a spinning wheel into a downward spiral, is spot on. The song has featured in almost all of their 2015 live shows.

9. HELPLESS (Album of the Year)

Album of the Year, which would be Faith No More’s final studio recording up until this year’s Sol Invictus, was recorded at bassist Billy Gould’s home studio. The album received mixed reviews when released, but it has slowly garnered acclaim through the years. “Helpless” is arguably the stand out track, however even though it was suggested as a single release, that never came to fruition as the band would break up in 1998, the following year.

Helpless tells of somebody that feels utterly alone in the world and just wants someone to notice them. Patton sings” “I even tried to get arrested today, but everyone looked the other way.” Helpless was never going to be radio friendly with a whistle as a chorus and a scream from Patton of ‘HELP’ repeatedly which ends the song. However it is an outstanding song that unlike some of the other tracks on the album has stood the test of time.

8. THE GENTLE ART OF MAKING ENEMIES (King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime)

This song is all about two moments: The opening guitar riff change, with due credit to then guitarist Trey Spruance, who never toured with the band for this record, but was part of the recording process. Then of course there are the many changes in Patton’s voice. The softly spoken deep laconic tone at the songs beginning, followed by the demon like possessed Patton half way through the song. Then another shift in tone when we get to the fourth verse where Patton sounds more recognizable. This song live is one of the band’s many highlights and usually creates a pit of some kind. The very first lyrics are open to interpretation of course, but the following: “The words are so familiar all the same greats, the same mistakes it doesn’t have to be like this”, seem very relevant to Kurt Cobain who of course committed suicide just a year before this record came out in 1995.

7. THE REAL THING (The Real Thing)

Considered a classic song and played hundreds of times, usually as a show opener, “The Real Thing” is a monster. Starting off incredibly slowly and silent, the song grows and grows until it builds into a frenzy, but never gets completely going and isn’t meant to. It is what you want it to be but could well be described as a personal achievement or finding something in your life that is pure and authentic. However the most surprising aspect of “The Real Thing” is its lyrics. Deep, meaning and poetic may sound cliché, but when you consider that Patton was just 21 years of age it is a surprise because it feels as if it has been written by a person twice his age.

6. JUST A MAN (King for a Day, Fool; for a Lifetime)

The final track to be heard on King for a Day, “Fool for a Lifetime” would throw fans a little, with a slow beginning and Patton almost singing us a lullaby. But just when the verse repeats and we aren’t expecting a chorus, the song goes through one of the mighty middle 8’s and gives us one. “And every night I shut my eyes so I don’t have to see the light shining so bright I’ll dream about a cloudy sky, a cloudy sky.” The song at that point turns into one of FNM’s most special, perhaps most accessible songs for newcomers in their back catalogue. The song finished off complete with a backed choir as it finally just fades out. “Just a Man” has proved to be a crowd favorite for many years and still, after 20 years is played.

5. EPIC (The Real Thing)

The song that launched the Patton era of Faith No More, and spearheaded the band into everyone’s living rooms via MTV. The video seen today looks goofy, and the band have moved a million miles away from the tune that is “Epic.” However, the song has remained a rock classic. It’s like a huge piece of bubblegum and energy that resists to be stopped. “Epic” is the one staple song that is always played during live shows. And it’s particularly interesting to see how Patton changes up the vocals on the song, but with Hudson replicating that Jim Martin riff so well, it is a song that cannot be turned into anything else. It will always be “Epic.” A head banger’s wet dream, but this song sums up the band perfectly when the end comes by way of Roddy Bottom’s dreamy piano outro.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66HhbZc9MXU

4. CRACK HITLER (Angel Dust)

Crack Hitler starts off like the opening to a 1970’s cop show and then hits us with that familiar keyboard, Bordin then kicks in with the sticks and Patton sounds almost inaudible until the chorus. “He’s the one no doubt walking on a tightrope.” The song is based on a drug dealer that the band knew. Billy Gould once said, “Crack Hitler is about this drug baron who takes Crack and compares himself with Hitler, because he commands enough depended people. So he thinks he’s the biggest one…you know what’s funny about all this? His skin is not even white! He’s colored and he thinks he’s Hitler? We all laughed a lot about him, so we had to dedicate him a song.”

3. MIDLIFE CRISIS (Angel Dust)

The Puff’s drums in the intro are one of the most recognizable moments in rock music from the 1990’s. Quickly followed by Gould’s bass, “Midlife Crisis,” which appeared on Angel Dust, is perhaps the most radio friendly song on the album. So it was no surprise that this song was given a single release and a video to boot. Arguably “Midlife Crisis” contains the band’s most catchy chorus and is always a crowd favorite and thus a staple of the bands setlists each night.

2. CAFFEINE (Angel Dust)

One of the heaviest songs on the Faith No More back catalogue, Jim Martin’s guitar, which was held back for much of Angel Dust, gets to rip here, and he doesn’t let this opportunity go to waste. Patton screams, and Gould, Bordin and Bottum hold the groove together. “Caffeine” was written during Patton’s sleep deprivation experiment whilst writing lyrics for this album. A firm non believer in hard drugs, a route that Patton could have easily chosen, the only drug choice for him was, and is, Caffeine.

1. EVERYTHING’S RUINED (Angel Dust)

The highlight of a superb album, “Everything’s Ruined” can be interpreted to mean a number of things. One theory is that the song is about capitalism and families in particular who push their young kids on to the career ladder before they can experience their youth. Patton’s soul destroying lyrics at the end don’t have a happy ending either: “But he made us proud, he made us rich but how were we to know, he’s counterfeit now everything’s ruined.” The video to the song couldn’t be any more different to the lyrical content, with the band messing around in front of a screen showing random pictures. That is until you stop and think that videos back in the day cost around $250,000 to make. Capitalism? The band went the other way and made the cheapest looking video in their career.

Soundgarden, Pearl Jam & Neil Young Honor Kurt Cobain: Reading 1995 Retrospective

Photo credit: Rolling Stone Magazine, August 1995
Edited by Brett Buchanan

Next weekend the Reading festival will welcome Metallica, but 20 years ago a slice of Seattle and alternative rock came to Reading to raise the spirits of fans still grieving over the loss of Kurt Cobain

If Kurt Cobain’s death really did spell the end for Grunge, then the Reading Festival in England, 16 months after his 1994 suicide, was a reanimation of sorts.

The August bank holiday festival, which dates back to 1971, had already had its fair share of artists from Seattle and alternative music from across the pond. Nirvana had performed at Reading in 1991 and then infamously headlined the following year. The Sunday slots in 1992 were filled with a mostly Grunge alternative collective mass, with Screaming Trees, Mudhoney and the Melvins joining Nirvana.

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Pennywise opened the main stage at Reading 1995 with a rousing version of “Territorial Pissings.” This led to a stage invasion rarely seen at a festival before or since.

The ever popular Blind Melon followed with a ten song set and a lively Shannon Hoon, on what was proving to be a particularly windy day. This show would be the band’s final with Hoon in England; with Hoon tragically dying 8 weeks later from a drug overdose in New Orleans.

White Zombie, Babes In Toyland, Buffalo Tom and Pavement also played, but the main acts that would make Reading 95 so memorable were yet to play.

Mudhoney were back at the festival promoting their new record My Brother the Cow, but it was the older material that got the greatest reactions. “Fuzzgun 91,” which had not been played for 4 years, and “Touch Me I’m Sick” were welcomed enthusiastically. They finished the set with The Dicks classic, “Hate the Police.”

The last time Soundgarden were in the UK, the news had filtered through that Kurt Cobain was dead, and yet the foursome were due to play at the festival a year before. However, singer Chris Cornell was struck down by polyps of the vocal chords and the band had to pull out at the 11th hour. Playing in 1995 was a major moment for Soundgarden, and the crowd respected the fact that they had returned as soon as they could to the festival to make up for the disappointment a year prior.

Soundgarden kicked off their set with “Searching with My Good Eye Closed.” 10 of the 18 songs were from Superunknown, and the 80 minute set led to nonstop crowd surfing. The set included a cover of The Doors’ classic “Waiting for the Sun,” and just before “Head Down,” Cornell admitted that this was his favorite Soundgarden song. The set ended spectacularly with The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The long dragging bass of Ben Shepherd, the slow drums of Matt Cameron, and the snarling guitars of Cornell and Kim Thayil served during a dusty, windy, and cloudy early evening ended their set as if the stage was literally eating them up.

After a delayed start, Neil Young was the final act of the night. What made Young’s appearance so special was that his backing band was none other than Pearl Jam. The two forces of music had gotten together that year to collaborate on the fantastic record Mirrorball.

They opened up to a wall of flashes from the photographers eager to get as many pictures as they could of this historic moment. The first song was “Big Green Country” followed by “Song X.” With the crowd in a frenzy, as members of Pearl Jam had not toured in the UK since 1993, the atmosphere was electric. Most of the material came from Mirrorball, but Young had no problems diving into his older tunes. “The Needle and the Damage Done” seemed like a poignant tribute to Cobain, and “After the Goldrush” was played for an extended amount of time. The set finished with “Rockin’ in the Free World,” a song that Pearl Jam themselves would adopt in many concerts also as their show closer.

Reading 95 was indeed the last gasp of the Grunge era when the bands were still recognized in their prime of their careers, and it was definitely a fitting tribute to Kurt Cobain.

Metal Artist Spotlight: Evil Scarecrow

If Evil Scarecrow were a movie it would probably start with a Star Wars themed prologue, you know the drill, ‘a long time ago in a galaxy far far away….. By the film’s end you would have been put through the collective works of Ed Wood, Roger Corman and Andy Milligan and still be scratching your head as to what it was all about. However you will also be yearning for a sequel.

The five some who spawned out of Lincolnshire, England originally and are now based in Nottingham have been making heavy waves in the last few years. Fusing their brand of metal with outrageous sets that would have Edward Scissor hands running for cover, Evil Scarecrow are the perfect tonic for making you believe in the music genre once again. Refreshing certainly comes to mind.

However trying to describe the band to the uninitiated isn’t the easiest of tasks- you really do have to see this band live.
The current line up comprises lead singer and guitarist Dr Hell, Brother Pain also on guitars, Kraven Morrdeth on bass, Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist on drums and Princess(and yes she really is) Luxury on keyboards.

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Photo: David Bronstein

I caught up with Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist and he was as expected pleased with the reaction from their latest gig- playing at the Download Festival in England. “Everyone just got into it and that’s a collective thing from the entire band, not just myself, it was an absolute thrill and honor to play here.” And the drummer is still a little wet behind the ears, “I’m actually the new guy in the band, but I’ve been here for four years.”

The future plans for Evil Scarecrow are as follows according to the sticks man. “We’re hoping to go on tour throughout UK mainland towards the end of the year, and it would be great to play some more festivals next year, Hell fest in France would be something else. But to play here is huge, it was amazing. I never get nervous before gigs but I did for this show,” says the Ringmaster.

Evil Scarecrow has given us some crunching good material in their time. Debut album ‘Crowcifiction’, an EP titled ‘Hell Dog’ and a second album ‘Sixty Six Minutes Past Six’, but it is their live performances which pit them against the rest. If you come to an Evil Scarecrow gig you’ll be putting your cell phone to one side. You’ll have to as you’ll be too busy doing the crabulon- we’ll speak about that later. But this is the band’s key success, playing wickedly great music and also involving the audience, getting them to interact and even giving out instructions on how to dance. The synchronized line dancing presumably winging its way from hell is a highlight.

So far in their careers they have played at the Nottingham Rock City, Bloodstock, Hammerfest and even in Grimsby- but surely the highlight so far was their appearance on the hallowed grounds of Donington Park aka Download this year.
Packing in the Maverick Stage to some 2,000 souls not one person came away without a smile plastered on their face by the end. During the gig, we got to raise our fists and make them talk, witnessed a robot with an alien’s head aka John Hurt/Kuato make of it what you will and got to listen to some seriously great tunes.

Kicking off with Rise seems incredibly apt for this band with the opening lyrics only resonating what Evil Scarecrow are all about- ‘Is there a reason we’re all down here together? I feel the lowdown is that we’re all too low down. Why us? Why here? Why everything?

Robotron follows and by the time they launch into Space Dementia the energy is running at a thousand miles through their veins, and it’s bloody infectious.

There aren’t many bands that could get away with covering the Thunder Cats cartoon theme tune during a set, but to attempt this at Donington and have everyone in the palm of your hands tells you everything you need to know about Evil Scarecrow. They finish the set off with Crabulon the one where fans move in motion to the licks of Dimitri Pain’s guitar. Evil Scarecrow will be winning over more people that’s for sure, and for now they are indeed (pardon the pun) outstanding in their field.

Review: Slash, Motley Crue & KISS Rock Download Festival

Photo credit: Andrew Whitton

Edited by Brett Buchanan

The sun was finally out for the first time this weekend at Download and workers had laid down hay all over the main arena in an attempt to stop fans slipping and sliding. This definitely helped the artists- Saturday had seen Muse’s Matthew Bellamy and Mike Patton of Faith No More hit the stage floor.

Pop Evil opened up the final day of the festival and despite such an early start, they attracted a decent crowd. Most of their set was borrowed from their latest release, Onyx. There aren’t many bands from Alaska that can claim that they played the hallowed turf of Donington, but then there is 36 Crazyfists who followed Pop Evil with a near hour set of nu metal, still inspired by a genre that burst out of the scene in the late 90’s. Unfortunately 36 Crazyfists were on the wrong stage and their sound was lost on the main one despite valiant attempts.

It’s always welcome to see the Cavalera brothers performing together again, and the greatest Brazilians since Pele did not disappoint. Kicking off their set in furious style with Babylonian Pandemonium, we were treated to just under an hour of brutal hits. The biggest cheers inevitably came when the band launched into Sepultura’s Refuse/Resist and they further enlightened the crowd with finale Roots Bloody Roots. by the end of the gig the mud was back, and the art of moshing had returned to the festival.

If you wanted to see something bizarre at Download, the Maverick stage was the place to be. I hadn’t seen anything like Evil Scarecrow before, a five piece that got the 2,000 plus revellers making noise, dancing in synchronization, and doing the crab dance! There was a robot with an alien’s heads shimmering from its midriff on stage, men in test card suits, and grown men crying. Oh and of course there was the music. Crunching guitars straight out of Nottingham led to everyone coming away with a smile that suggested we had witnessed a very unique band indeed.

Back on the main stage we were treated to Tremonti who brought their brand of hard rock with dashes of speed metal to Download. By the reactions from fans, their debut here will be the first of many. Blackberry Smoke, with a laid back Southern country vibe, entertained the masses, and they certainly have a growing fan base. The crowd were swaying to the likes of Leave a Scar and Fire in the Hole.

After Blackberry Smoke, we went back into a time machine to the 1980’s for the rest of the festival. After a short delay Billy Idol ran on stage and opened up with Generation X’s Dancing With Myself, which certainly warmed sections of the crowd. However the problem with Idol is that when he strayed from his 80’s hits, he was mostly hit with a wall of silence. But Idol who wasn’t afraid to poke fun at his own expense, and he was able to churn out the hits, which included universally known tracks like White Wedding and Rebel Yell. The hits kept the 80,000 strong crowd entertained as the rain started lashing down once more.

There’s always a special turnout when Slash returns to Donington, and this was no different. Featuring Miles Kennedy and the Conspirators, we were treated to old fashioned rock and Slash solo’s galore in a 75 minute set. Slash wasn’t about to disappoint fans of Guns N’ Roses either- four songs were played, opener Nightrain, You Could Be Mine, Sweet Child O’ Mine, and show closer Paradise City. As good a singer as Kennedy is, it was clear that he struggled on the GNR hits, and Slash’s over usage of reverb only added to the problems. This was a pity considering that when they did concentrate on their own material they were more than confident.

It was fitting that Motley Crue, who had made their UK debut at Donington in 1984, was playing one of their final British gigs here. Like them or not, it’s still some kind of celebration that these guys are still with us after their drug fuelled heady years, and here they are the original band on their final tour. However it’s clear from the beginning that the Crue were suffering from technical difficulties to put it mildly. Vocalist Vince Neill struggled throughout to sing louder than the crunching guitar of Mick Mars and the deep bass of Nikki Sixx. The other problem is that like Billy Idol, Once the Crue strayed away from the hits the atmosphere leaned cock rock.

But the worst was yet to come when even hits such as Dr Feelgood and Girls Girls Girls got little reaction. The mass of fireworks ended up being the main highlight and performing to a mixed audience of fans simply didn’t work out. The dedicated fans will no doubt hope to experience something much better during the band’s arena tour later this year.

This year’s Download is wrapped up by the one and only KISS, and although the New Yorkers can easily be dismissed as nothing but a novelty act at this point, they have been doing this for so long, that fans can all acknowledge that KISS simply entertain. The KISS Army, which includes everyone sitting on their deck chairs to event organisers backstage, are well represented. With only two original members left in Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, KISS still gave us what we expected. The logo on stage was lit up by a thousand bulbs, the dry ice, the pink/purple haze, Simmons choking on blood, Simmons wagging his tongue, Stanley zipping across half the field, and a spectacular fireworks display. In between we got the hits, which means Deuce, God of Thunder and a triple delight for fans during the encore: Shout It Out Loud, I Was Made for Lovin’ You and Rock and Roll All Nite. And by the end, whilst not rushing out to get the applications to become a KISS Army member, many did end up leaving the event with a spring to their step.

Review: Muse’s Matthew Bellamy Almost Pulls A Dave Grohl At Download Festival With Nasty Stage Fall

Photo credit: Richard Johnson

Written by David Bronstein and Marc Edwards
Edited by Brett Buchanan
Download Festival Saturday Review

A downpour and a mud bath of epic proportions didn’t dampen fans spirits, and in true British style the masses of revelers descending on Donington Park had a ball. Matthew Bellamy though had a scare during Muse’s headlining set, when the singer slipped over on the stage’s catwalk. Fortunately Bellamy picked himself up, and continued the show. This comes just a day after Dave Grohl broke his leg in Sweden at a Foo Fighters concert, forcing the band to cancel two shows.

The day’s proceedings kicked off with Heart of a Coward at 11am and if any fans were chasing a rest bite from a Friday hangover these chaps showed no mercy delving into a frenzied 50 minute set that only set us up for the much loved Welsh quartet Funeral for a Friend. Opening up proceedings with Pencil Pusher the band ran through a set that included Streetcar, You’ve Got A Bad Case Of The Religions, and set finisher Escape Artists Never Die. Vocalist Matthew Davies-Kreye was on fine form and interacted well with a Donington crowd, who even this early were ready to clearly enjoy themselves.

Fellow British rockers, Mallory Knox, making their debut at Download loaded fans with a fuse of alternative rock mixed in nicely with post hardcore and drummer Dave Rawlings had fans jumping on their feet. At this rate it should be no surprise to see them return here higher perhaps next year higher on the bill.

But there was no doubt that the day didn’t kick into full blown mayhem until Hollywood Undead took to the main stage. The Los Angeles genre hopping piece had the crowd in the palm of their hands with opener Usual Suspects and swapping vocal duties between J Dog, Da Kurlzz and Johnny 3 tears frequently brought a whole difference ambiance to the festival that worked emphatically.

Australian metal core outfit Parkway Drive followed after a small delay trying to clear what had become a haphazard stage, due to frequent bursts of rain and mud that had been thrown onto the walkway. Relying on material from their 2012 album ‘Atlas’ as well as their well received debut Killing with a Smile, Parkway Drive literally assaulted the senses as fans were treated to a near 70 minute set.

By the time Chicago’s finest Rise Against came on the weather had eased up as they launched into crowd favorite ‘The Great Die Off’. Tim Mcillrath represented a ball of energy, ceasing the stage like he owned it. But ultimately their style of music is more suited to a club venue as their sound became lost in the damp clouded atmosphere of the park.

In keeping with the heavy North American influence, A Day to Remember lavished the crowd with their pop punk hits from a back catalogue stretching back twelve years. The Florida outfit ran through hits including The Downfall of us All, Right Back at it Again, All Signs Point to Lauderdale, and a cover of Oasis’ Champagne Supernova.

Just after 7PM, the familiar chords of Midnight Cowboy rang around Donington and that meant only one thing- Faith No More were here. Making their return to Download after six years each member clad in all white kicked off with newbie

The low-fi song from new album Sol Ivictus, titled Motherfucker, only heightened the anticipation of what the veterans would give us. The set was filled with familiar hits like Midlife Crisis, Epic, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies and perhaps the band’s finest song in a generation, Superhero.

Frontman Mike Patton was in good spirits. Daring to tread the mud drenched walkway during Easy, pointing out a bored looking fan at the front of the crowd and borrowing a security man’s headset to claim that there was a terrorist attack. It was a triumphant return for the San Franciscan band.

In between the main stage the park was laden out with two more stages showcasing the best of upcoming talent and veterans making a welcomed return. Testament and Carcass created perhaps the largest mosh pits of the day, and Marilyn Manson treated a dedicated set of upwards of 10,000 fans to a near 90 minute set that opened with Deep Six and finished with The Beautiful People.

Seattle band The Pink Slips drew an impressive crowd to the tent of Jakes stage and were an eclectic mix of punk rock fusion. Front woman Grave, the daughter of ex Guns N’ Roses slinger Duff McKagan, was a throwback to the absolute best notions of 1990’s rock whilst also having a complete sense of individuality. Ending the set covered in blood sauce. Her father, also the band’s manager, was waiting in the wings and seemed impressed by her Download debut. He should have been.

Once upon a time the prospect of Muse playing at Donington would have been seen as a controversial decision. But in short the band from Devon were spectacular. It helped according to front man Matthew Bellamy that their latest album Drones was perhaps their heaviest to date. As expected the pyro technics and light show were spectacular but at no time did this take away from the raw talent of a band who have grown into a natural stadium headlining act. Running through tracks including Supermassive Black Hole, Dead Inside, Madness and crowd favourites Uprising and Knights of Cydonia, Muse’s crunching guitars, heavy bass lines and frantic but calculated drumming made the band one of the heaviest Saturday night headliners the festival has had in some time.

All that was left were the huge black beach balls, fire rising to the sky, fireworks and smoke and of course the dreaded mud.

Guns N’ Roses’ Early Days Retrospective, By Marc Canter

All photos credit: Marc Canter, article edited by Brett Buchanan

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of Guns N’ Roses, and Marc Canter, a friend of ex-guitarist Slash, was the first person to document the band. Canter would photograph and film the band, and collect tickets and ads from the very first day that Guns N’ Roses formed. He wanted to document his best friend’s band, which ended up being one of the most successful and well known rock bands of all time. In 2008 Canter was finally able to publish his photographic essay, detailing the band’s first historic gigs, with Reckless Road. Recently I caught up with Marc Canter, and we discussed how he got into photography, his relationships with GNR members, and why he stopped photographing the band.

You knew Slash I believe from high school, how was Slash as a youngster? Did he start playing guitar young?

Slash started playing guitar in 1979 and he caught on quick. Even when he just started playing, the notes he would choose to play would get into your bones and give you chills.

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Slash and Steven Adler knew each other from a young age. Was Steven the second future member of Guns N’ Roses you were introduced to? And if so what was your opinion of him when you first got to know him?

Yes, Steven was the next future member I met. I first met Steven in the summer of 1982 and thought he was a bit too out going and in your face, then on New Years Eve 1983 he showed up at a gig that Slash was doing and wanted to join the band. A week later he was in. The band was called Roadcrew

How did you get into photography, had it always been a passion?

My friend Jack Lue, who I went to see a lot of concerts with, used to shoot every gig. One day in April of 1982, Eddie Van Halen was going to be playing a song at the Roxy with his hero Allan Holdsworth, and Jack was not going to be able to make it, so he gave me his camera and showed me how to use it. I liked the photos that I took and found my sister’s camera, a Canon AE1, and started shooting gigs. Slash had a gig a month later at Fairfax High School, that was the first time I shot him. Later when I shot Guns N’ Roses, I used 400 speed film 35MM and I would shoot about 3 rolls per gig.

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When did you first meet the rest of the band: Axl, Izzy and Duff. Was it days before the first gig, or had you met up with them before? Were they encouraging of you documenting them?

I met Izzy and Axl in May of 1984, then Slash and Steven joined Hollywood Rose, but Izzy then quit to join a band called London. I met Duff a few months later after Hollywood fell apart while Slash and Steven were trying to put Roadcrew back together. He jammed with them for a few days and then moved on because they didn’t have a singer. Then 6 months later GNR was together with Izzy, Axl, and Duff, and they needed Slash and Steven to join because they lost Tracii Guns and their drummer Rob Gardner and had some gigs booked. They were happy that I cared enough to document them and help pay for things they needed to get them to the next gig.

June 6, 1985 at the Troubadour would be Guns N’ Roses’ first ever gig, and you were there. How was the atmosphere, were you excited for the band, how much do you remember from this legendary show?

I was there and it was a great gig. The songs were played a bit slower then they used to be back when it was Hollywood Rose because they took away one of Steven’s bass drums. There was a groove this time. Also now you are able to really hear Axl sing, all 5 of them had a great stage presence.

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Is it true that the band’s first ever live song was Reckless Life? Did this have an influence on your future book title?

“Reckless Life,” “Shadow of Your Love,” and “Anything Goes” were the first songs that Axl and Izzy did together when they started. “Don’t Cry” was the first song that was put together for GNR. Reckless Road, the name of my book, was really going to be the name of a chapter in my book right after the band got signed because of all the crazy drug use that was going on at that time.

After the band’s first show at the Troubadour, they went on a mini tour up the west coast towards Seattle, a trip organized by Duff who hailed from Seattle. From not being paid, small crowds, the car breaking down, and borrowing equipment, everything went wrong for them. Duff would go on record to call it The Hell Tour, did you have any input on that tour?

I did supply the 8×10 photos that they needed to put in the window display for the gigs. They were all shot at the first Troubadour gig.

What are your memories of the Sunset Strip back then?

The strip was cool. There were a lot of bands out there promoting their stuff and hanging out at the Rainbow. Flyers were up everywhere. There was a nice scene going on for about a year or so.

Could you ever believe that seeing the band and documenting them in their early days, that they would go on to such success?

I knew how good they were and knew that they would make it, but I didn’t know how big they were going to be. MTV really helped them get their music to the world.

Axl Rose is arguably one of the greatest frontmen of all time. As a close friend of his for many years, what was he like to you?

100% Axl never changed. He was a rock star from the start. Axl is a good guy, he will do anything for his friends. We were very close, and I know if I need something other than his support of my book that he would be there for me.

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Was there ever any difficult experiences for you in photographing the band? Any venues that you had difficulty shooting the band in?

I remember they did a 3 song acoustic set at the Central, and they told me I couldn’t shoot. Axl told them: “Then we’re not going on.” So the band did support my work.

How did you feel when the band made it and their videos on MTV were on rotation? Did you get the chance to go to any video shoots?

It was so great to see that happen. I did go to the Jungle and Paradise City shoots.

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Robert John was also photographing the band (John would go on to publish his own photographic history of the band in 1993), what was your relationship like with him?

We got along well and are still friends. Robert came along at the end of 1985 and became the band’s photographer. That was what he did for a living, I was just doing it for a hobby.

At one point you stopped documenting the band, and why?

When the band left Los Angeles to go on tour, I had to stay behind. My real job is working in my family’s business Canter’s Deli. However, every time the band did gigs in Los Angeles, I documented them. Now I just see the gigs and enjoy them. There are hundreds of people taking photos at the gigs these days so I don’t need to.

Did you attend any of the band’s Use Your Illusion gigs?

Yes, two in Cleveland June 4th and 5th of 1991, and five in Los Angeles: in August of 1991, another two in San Diego in early 1992, and two more stadium gigs they did with Metallica in the fall of 1992 at the Rose Bowl and the LA Coliseum.

Reckless Road is without doubt the final word on the band when it comes to their early days, but it took a long time getting the book published, why was this?

I started putting the book together in 1993 and it took 15 months at 5 hours a day to do. By the time I got done, the band was starting to fall apart, and there was no record in sight. My agent was too greedy to get the book out there and wanted a big advance. So the book sat for another 12 years until I found some people that wanted to help me get my work out.

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How did it feel for you to finally get pictures that had been in your personal collection for 2 decades out there and to the fans?

It was a big load off my shoulders to get them out there. I know first hand what it is like for a fan to get a hold of that kind of stuff. I grew up a big Aerosmith fan and would have killed to get my hands on that stuff from them.

Do you maintain good relationships with all of the band members in the present day?

With Slash, Steven, and Duff I do, Izzy disappeared when he quit the band back in 1991, and Axl and I remained very close up until 2007. He was not ready at that time for me to put it out. He was trying to focus on the new band and didn’t want anything to do with the old band. So he didn’t want to work with me and help finish his part with the interviews that we were doing. He did help me in 1994 and was proud, and was really the only one who cared about the book and loved the work at that time. So he is still upset with me and disappointed that I promoted the old band. I’m sure one day he will find peace with it when he is not so upset with Slash anymore.

You are now the owner of Canter’s Deli, do band members still drop in and say hello?

Slash was there a few days ago with his son. Duff and Steven come around about once a year.

President Obama made a surprise appearance at Canter’s Deli, how was that like for you?

It was cool, we didn’t have any notice that he was coming. I talked to him about the history of Canter’s and he took photos with all the employees.

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(Marc Canter, far left)

Marc Canter is the author and photographer of Reckless Road: Guns N’Roses and the making of Appetite for Destruction. He is also the owner of the family run Canter’s Deli in downtown LA.

Exclusive: Actor Mark Patton Looks Back At Troubled Production Of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2

Interview conducted by David Bronstein, article edited by Doug McCausland

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge was released a week shy to the original’s first anniversary in the fall of 1985 almost 30 years ago. The sequel centered around the character of Jesse Walsh, played by Mark Patton, whose family recently moved into the former Thompson residence featured in the original classic. I recently had a chance to talk to Mark Patton, who chatted about his early career and the troubled production of the horror sequel.

Patton was born in Missouri in 1964, and by the early 1980’s was swept off to the bright lights of New York City to pursue his acting career. “I think I was born to be an actor”, confesses Patton. “It chose me. I had the good fortune at 15 to have a wonderful teacher Miss Mildred Fulton, she took charge of my life. She worked with me, instructed me and stretched me. I won every award that could be given to High School Actors. Soon after she pushed me off the high dive by informing me that I would go to New York City to have a career…. I did as I was told. New York was thrilling, it was the first place I felt completely safe. I could breathe there; I had no fear of competition that had been worked out of me in school.”

He soon got starring roles in movies such as Come Back to the Five and Dime: Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and Anna to the Infinite Power.  “I came to A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 with a fairly impressive resume, I had actually auditioned for the original movie and came rather close to doing it,” confirms Patton. The character of Jesse Walsh was still unfulfilled even though the cameras were set to roll- it was time for destiny to play its part. “It’s true that the role of Jesse was a tough one to cast, I am told it was a very long process and they were getting ready to shoot and had no lead, so of course the other parts could not be cast without him. I was told later that I had been rejected by the casting director and only the fact that one of the producers found my publicity photo on the floor and read my credits with Robert Altman did they say, ‘what about him!?”. I sensed still there was reluctance, yet they had to bring me in at this point. I read and within 48 hours I was cast. I knew the minute I finished my first audition. The original film was then screened for me on Hollywood Boulevard, in the middle of the night. I watched it in a theater just me and a friend.”

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 begins with the now iconic image of the bright yellow school bus driving down a typical American suburban street. Only this is no ordinary street as we soon find out we are on Elm Street and the young tense passenger sitting in the bus is teenager Jesse Walsh. “In the first dream scene we tried to give the image of how Jesse sees himself- the clothes the colors. My hair was flatted with a product called ‘Ten Ex’, I think most of us see ourselves less beautiful than we actually are, so this was Jesse’s low self esteem look”, remembers Patton.

The first time that Jesse encounters Freddy one on one is in the new family home, this part is perhaps one of the film’s most infamous scenes when Freddy quips the now immortal words to Jesse: ‘You’ve got the body’- before peeling back the skin on his own head revealing his inner organ ‘ and I’ve got the brains’. “That scene”, confesses Patton, “has been much dissected by many film buffs and scholars. Freddy is very tender with me in this scene, he is very gentle as if he is talking to a lover or trying to seduce me. The filming aspect was technically very complex because they had to have the exact correct lightening for Freddy’s eyes and his glove. Because most movies film out of sequence, I had actually filmed many more scenes with Robert Englund before this first one in the movie. Robert and I had a very good chemistry and the same approach to acting so we worked well together. Ultimately it is a scene that I am proud of, but of course we were just doing our jobs.”

Patton rejects talk that Freddy set out to bully Jesse, rather Freddy’s main motive was to use Jesse to kill for him. “I have very strong feelings about hazing and bullying and I do not feel this was really the case with Jesse and Freddy. I go back to that first scene, yes Jesse is terrified and defenseless against Freddy but I think Freddy took a different approach with Jesse. In the other installments he bullies the girls and wants to kill them, here he wants me to kill for and with him. I hate what is happening and am in fear but he wants to kill other people, people who have love for me. He could have killed me at anytime but did not.”

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Jesse’s girlfriend Lisa is played by the actress Kim Myers and Patton himself had a hand in choosing her for the role. “Kim was a dream, it was her first movie. She was chosen by myself, Jack Sholder, Michael Murphy and Robert Russler. There were three girls at the end of the casting, but for me it was always going to be Kim. Many people have stated she looks like Meryl Streep, and Kim has even said that she was hired because of that reason, but that is false. Kim was hired because she is very talented, she has a dignity about her in the work place and in her life, and that shows up on the big screen. Kim is now in her 40’s and she is stunningly beautiful. All the time I see guys melt at her feet when we are on tour. She is totally charming. As you know we walked away from this alive, and I reject the theory that Jesse was the boy mentioned in Part 3 who cut off his own eyelids to stay awake. Freddy released me, he let me and Lisa go.”

Jesse’s parents were played by Hope Lange and Clu Gulager. “Hope and Clu, I loved them both. I have great respect for them”, reminisces Patton. “I grew up watching Hope on television in ‘The Ghost and Mrs Muir. Later in life when I became an actor I was very aware of her amazing career, Hope treated me with a lot of respect. She asked my opinion on matters on the set and stayed in every scene with me. This is not always the case with movie stars some are just there to pick up the cash and trust me I have worked with people like that. Clu and Hope were a class act.”

One scene that Clu Gulager has become famous for with the Elm Street faithful is the bird scene, in which the pet goes a ‘little crazy’, before exploding in mid air. Gulager bizarrely informs us that his son must have planted a ‘cherry bomb’. “The bird scene should have been cut,” says Patton. “It was inept and did not work. That’s the responsibility of the director Jack Sholder. I have to say he does not seem like a deep thinker. Now the bird scene could have been something like a homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, you had all the toys in the paint box to do that. We had Hope Lange the icy blonde; in fact we had three blondes and the inept man we really never needed to see the bird. I felt Jack was unprepared for this film; he did not do his homework. He now seems to be embarrassed about Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 and makes light of it. This tone is the mark of a failed director, Jack along with David Chalkin who wrote the story should be grateful to Jacques Haitkin (the cinematographer), Robert Englund, Kim Myers and myself. We managed in the mist of a horrible script and poor direction to pull a movie together that was worthy of continuing a world renowned brand. Nothing in Nightmare on Elm Street should cause embarrassment if you did the best you could do. Honestly Jack was a nice man, that’s the best I can say about him. I just feel there were many missed opportunities on Nightmare on Elm Street 2, it could have been so much darker.”

The soundtrack to the sequel is just that though; scored by Christopher Stone, it’s a theme that the viewer is instantly introduced to as the title credits are rolling. The haunting track continues throughout the movie. “That score stands alone as a wonderful CD”, Patton recalls. “I think it was perfect for keeping the film on track. Of course you know I did not hear the score until the film was finished and about to go into the theater.”

In real life Mark Patton is gay and was upset by some people working on the movie sequel who suggested that the film took a certain approach because of his sexuality. “David Chalkin [the writer] and the set designer had their own secret agenda, playing with a gay subtext that they thought was subtle but was anything but. I know I am being harsh but I have very strong feelings about David I think he is a weak person without much spine. Even in Never Sleep Again he misled people about the gay Nightmare on Elm Street until, that is, they found me. I told them I would only speak if I could be honest. So after I filmed my part they had to call David back in and then he came clean while still insisting that I, by my own choices made this movie a Gay film. I believe in playing to the script. I played what was written.” Did director Jack Sholder help Patton? “Jack was too naïve he was not aware which is a powerful statement. Did he read the script?.”

The ‘scream’ of Jesse Walsh has been much talked about amongst fans and general viewers, either being considered as too unrealistic or too girlish. Patton likes to think otherwise. “The scream has a lot of power, and that is why we are still talking about this film. I know many people thought that it was too girly or womanish, many hated it then, and some still do. But I will stand by the fact that the movie still holds up today. It has been a doorway to many a good conversation and an equal number of fights”, jokes Patton.

Being possessed by Freddy came at a cost for Patton who had to endure hours of makeup, including one scene when his tongue turns an evil green, and when Freddy literally bursts out of his body. “The tongue took nine hours to apply and I could not eat or smoke for that time. I hated it but I did it. The tongue is now owned by one of the foremost collectors of Nightmare on Elm Street props, Mike Becker, a real historian on everything to do with the movies. All of my effects were applied by Mark Shostrum, of course we had no CGI only puppets and make up. The scene with the blades coming out of my fingers, that arm was a life cast, the rest is just fabulous make up and acting. The same holds true with the transformation scene. To this day people love it because of the acting, the lights, the makeup. That whole scene is thrilling!”

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In the final scenes of the movie, we see Lisa confront Freddy in order to get her boyfriend back. “We aimed for a love conquers all aspect at the climax of the movie. And I would have been happy for the movie to have ended there,” says Patton. But as we know Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 had one more surprise for us viewers when Jesse, his girlfriend and another friend are seemingly led to hell in the final scene again with the school bus. “I would say this was a soft ending. I would have liked to have ended it the scene before, but have Lisa killed-(sorry Kim), and then black out and done. That is a horror movie ending which in my eyes would have been scary and real.” Then there is the Freddy arm that rips out of their friend (Sydney Walsh’s) stomach. “In regards to the arm coming out of the character of Kerry”, says Patton, “I think that was poorly executed and really should have been re shot. You can see that the hand gets stuck in the blouse compare that to Sissy Spaceks hand at the end of Carrie which was obviously the hope and reaction that we wanted. The arm was a prop arm and really should have been the arm of Robert Englund. Robert acts with his arms, his glove, it was a missed opportunity.”

Viewers are left wondering if Jesse and Lisa did indeed survive the ordeal or if Freddy as the subtitle suggested really did get his revenge as the bus heads off into the desert and into hell. Patton says, “I have thought about the ending a lot. I believe that Jesse and Lisa survived and moved to New York City and became ‘Will and Grace’. A kind of sweet fairytale ending. But if Freddy did kill Lisa off beforehand as I had suggested I think that would have been a fantastic opening for Part 3.”

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge was a huge hit making over $30 million dollars at the box office and with a budget of just over $2 million, everyone was happy. But lead actor Mark Patton had other worries.

“Personally for me the movie was a nightmare”, states Patton. “After it was released I was living in a world where homosexuality was a career killer. As my teacher once told me, ‘I do not need to play vulnerable, I am’. It shows and you can see what I am thinking and this is what makes a film actors career, not a movie star but an actor. When all the name calling began in earnest I had no protection, I chose to walk away from my career rather than fight, what at the time I thought was a losing battle. If all people could see in me was a gay guy, then there was no hope of a career, so I left. Now it is a different time and I am back. Still discussing the same issues but from a different place.”

Edited by Doug McCausland

20 YEARS LATER: LOOKING BACK AT ALICE IN CHAINS’ 1993 EUROPEAN TOUR AND MIKE INEZ REPLACING MIKE STARR

“It’s typically us,” enthuses a tired and weary Jerry Cantrell. “If we were gonna change our bass player then he had to have the same name, the same haircut, dress the same and smoke the same cigarettes.”  Cantrell breaks into laughter, which has been short on supply this past week.

Twenty years ago, Alice in Chains had just played their biggest show ever in front of 80,000 screaming Brazilians. Whilst that in itself could be a celebration of how far the Seattle quartet had come since their breakthrough album Facelift, the show would also mark the final one for original bass player Mike Starr. The details of his exit are to this very day shrouded in mystery. Did he walk? Was he sacked? There is even one theory that voodoo was to blame, when Starr and the band visited New Orleans for an MTV special a few months before the Brazilian shows.

Right after that night’s performance, Starr and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana (who were also playing on the bill) did drugs together, and according to Starr ended up overdosing. His friend and lead singer, Layne Staley, slapped him around and gave him a cold shower in the hotel room.  Starr lived. But his days with the band were numbered.

Cantrell and the band have been in London, England for two days, flying direct from Brazil. Cantrell and Staley are in a west London hotel, a stones throw away from Harrods, and are being interviewed by a British rock magazine about their upcoming European tour- surprisingly the band’s first as headliners.

Throughout Cantrell speaks fluently, only interrupted by Staley’s constant crunching on his cereals (he is eating out of the box). Despite the brilliant reviews for their new album Dirt and their looming tour the interview switches back to Mike Inez- the surprise newcomer to the band.

Inez had met Alice in Chains on the band’s recent tour with Ozzy Osbourne, Inez had been part of Ozzy’s touring band. With Starr already on thin ice, Cantrell and Kinney started talks with Inez, though nothing was finalized until Alice had flown to Brazil. When Inez told Osbourne that Alice in Chains were interested in having him, he said it with trepidation. It was never needed. Osbourne infamously told Inez, ‘do you like hospital food?’, a puzzled Inez stared back. ‘Because’, said Osbourne, ‘I’m gonna ram my foot so hard up your ass, if you don’t take the gig.’ Inez took it and the rest was history.

Inez met up with the band in London, and ‘smoked many joints on my first day,’ according to Inez. From there on in the band holed up in a studio in Finchley, north of London, for rehearsals. Though Inez knew a few tracks, namely Would, he would have to learn  over twenty songs for the upcoming tour and had less than a week to do it.

To prepare Alice announced a gig at the 500 capacity Underworld in London’s Camden. The show was an instant sell out and a success. Kicking off with Dam That River, the set included six songs from Dirt and five from Facelift, leaving the lucky patrons more than satisfied.

That very same night legend has it that lead singer Layne Staley visited the Astoria nightclub in central London and after met up with Kurt Cobain across the road, which housed an 80’s nightclub that was a front for drug dealers. That club was called the back beat, and would go unnoticed for almost a decade after. But how real could that story be?  Nirvana were not on tour, so in all possibility Cobain could have been in London. He was sick of Seattle at that time, and may have opted to fly to England instead of going home.  The story has never been confirmed nor denied.

THE NEXT PART OF AIC’s EUROPEAN TOUR WILL FOLLOW SHORTLY

LOOKING BACK AT ALICE IN CHAINS’ FIRST SHOWS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM: PART 1

Edited by Brett Buchanan

It’s March 22, 1991 and we are on London’s Charing Cross Road.   This was back when the Astoria nightclub was just that and not another railroad station, and when the neon flashy white-blinding lights and the black box building meant that you had arrived at the infamous Marquee Club.  It’s a cold day, but in the afternoon there are already disillusioned teens and ‘hairy’ adults who have formed a queue stretching past the nearby pizza take away all the way up to another famous club, The Borderline.

Some have tickets, others are desperately seeking them.  Tonight the club is hosting British magazine Kerrang’s 10th anniversary party. The headliners could have played on their own and the show would still have been a sellout. Especially Megadeth, who had already sold out the 4,000 capacity Hammersmith Odeon in a few days time.  It’s easy to see why there is a buzz at a venue tonight that holds 500 people and has a stage the size of your bedroom.

Joining the guitar wielders are British rockers The Almighty, who would go on to become hugely popular in the UK and the rest of Europe. And opening up proceedings are a little known quartet from Seattle, Alice in Chains.

“I don’t even remember why I was working that night,” recalls Suzi who worked the box office at the infamous club. “As you can imagine the show was a sell out, and there was such an electric buzz, if I recall Metallica and Aerosmith had played here and you could sense the same excitement about that show.”

Whilst the antsy queue grew substantially during the afternoon, Alice in Chains were enjoying themselves as tourists in London. The band took the boat trip down the River Thames.  Suzi recalls. “They told me they took that opportunity because the boat went near to Hammersmith, where they were going to play with Megadeth that week, and they wanted to check out the size of the place. At that time, Alice were not known in the UK, so it was a big thing for them. They were really cool, they ended up doing what all unknown bands did first time they played The Marquee. They just chatted to some fans (of the other bands) and hung about in the foyer chatting to me.  They looked like rock stars but if no one knows you, then you can be relaxed about that. I remember they kept asking for weed. It came across as if they thought it was legal in Europe or something, I suppose they had heard of the stories in Amsterdam?”

Suzi describes the band as being cool and relaxed. “You got that feeling that when they were going to hit the stage, that they would kick arse as we say in England. But when they were not on stage it’s like the guys from Bill and Ted, y’know like everything’s cool and let’s get drunk. I suppose at that young age you’re going to get out of control there and then and then see what happens after. But I could see that this band probably did have a future.”

That night Alice in Chains came on first and opened up their six song set with ‘It Ain’t Like That’ and wrapped it up with ‘Man in the Box.’  Suzi recalls, “The final song was surreal, because I didn’t know the title but I had heard the song. It was only years later that I learned that Man in the Box was popular in the US at that time, some people cheered during the beginning of the song, so obviously they knew it already.”

Though Suzi only worked the box office she recalls that the small club was like a family and this usually meant that once everyone was packed in for the night’s show, she would often receive a backstage pass. “They usually always gave me one. The thing is I usually just sat there opening up cans of beer for the bands. That show was hectic and crazy though. Because to have these three bands all on one bill and some egos flying around in such a small club it was a little tense. Backstage at The Marquee was SMALL. Basically two small rooms that stunk of piss most of the time. And of course Megadeth wanted their space and tonight it wasn’t going to happen because of course we had to accommodate Kerrang’s journalists so it was cramped. Like throwing a party in your front room.”

Suzi remembers Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley well. “I didn’t even know his name but he was so recognizable, his piercing blue eyes and I believe he had some wacky haircut, maybe long dreadlocks at the time. If you stared at him because of his frame it’s like you don’t want to mess with that guy. But actually once he talked it was the complete opposite. He was down to Earth, nothing fazed him. He wasn’t freaking out that Megadeth were in the same room, y’know because he wasn’t famous at that time but they were. I mean he had respect but really he couldn’t give a fuck. What I most remember is that he spoke to me and wanted to know about my job.  Bless him he looked a bit devastated when I told him that the club was not on the original site- which was on Wardour Street, just a stone’s throw away.”

After the show everyone moved on to bigger surroundings for the after show party, but Layne wanted to go somewhere first. Suzi recalls. “Layne just kept going on about the pub, the Intrepid Fox, he wanted to go there. He had read it was a famous pub that rockers would hang out in. He was correct as it was.  Slash from Guns N Roses was once chucked out there for getting too drunk. I didn’t go with him, I still had a job to do, but I believe he went there. Sadly it’s not
there any more.”  Neither is the old/new Marquee according to Suzi, “Yep that’s gone too, it’s a crime when you think about it. It still has wonderful memories for people that attended so many memorable gigs there. We never had trouble and there was no security at those shows. Fans would turn up and just be cool and enjoy the show.”

The site of The Marquee club where Alice in Chains played their first ever UK show no longer has the atmosphere of a long line of branch pubs. Interestingly though, the pub has kept ‘the shape’ of the old club. So if you’re ever in London take a visit, pop some AIC on and maybe just maybe you can recall that memorable day in 1991.

LOOKING BACK AT 1991’S RIP PARTY FEATURING PEARL JAM, ALICE IN CHAINS & SOUNDGARDEN

LOOKING BACK AT 1991’S RIP PARTY FEATURING PEARL JAM, ALICE IN CHAINS & SOUNDGARDEN
WRITTEN BY DAVID BRONSTEIN & EDITED BY BRETT BUCHANAN

Official media invitations to the fifth RIP PARTY to be held at the Hollywood Palladium on Sunset Boulevard read ‘Blowout, Massacre, Party, Whatever! And while thankfully there was no massacre, there was a blowout. There was even a rumor that Metallica would close the show as secret special guests.  The kings of metal had shared the stage with members of Guns N’ Roses and Skid Row a year previously at the same venue, but by the fall of 1991, Seattle musicians had invaded Los Angeles.

The party included Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, along with Thunder and the one and only Spinal Tap.  Jonathan Gold put it bluntly in his Los Angeles Times review that the bands from the Northwest did not add much to the Sunday night’s proceedings. Gold commented, “But for most people the highlight was probably Spinal Tap.”

The gathering in LA was the first public show that brought together three of the four heavyweight bands from the ‘grunge’ era, into a live setting.  Nirvana the missing piece, were over 2,000 miles away in Atlanta promoting Nevermind. Lonn Friend, who was the editor of RIP magazine at the time and a regular contributor to Headbangers Ball with his segment ‘Friend at Large’ recalls the organization of putting such a show together.  “I organized the gathering. I booked the talent for all seven RIP parties, personal calls and relationships and creative partners.  Columbia flew me up to Seattle with Kevin Kennedy PR and Nick Terzo A&R to see Alice in Chains at a theater, before the first LP (Facelift).”

Moments after Pearl Jam’s set, Eddie Vedder, along with Chris Cornell and Layne Staley, were whisked backstage for a short interview with Friend.  For many fans of this era, this segment, infamously archived now on YouTube, is the crème de la crème of footage documenting the Grunge scene. All in the same space at one timem and all in their prime. For the so called Generation X this was Jagger, Lennon and Morrison in one room.  “(That year) RIP covered Alice in Chains, they played our Seattle party with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, I did a brief interview for my MTV Headbanger’s Ball segment with all three singers backstage.  I was blessed to foster strong relationships and wear the ‘gatekeeper’ colors,” says Friend.

Staley stood behind Friend and proclaimed about the city that he loathed, “It’s the best thing that ever happened to LA,” concerning the Seattle bands that were playing that night.  Vedder seemed hesitant, even a little shy, whilst Cornell looked the most relaxed.  Immediately following the interview, Staley took to the stage with Alice in Chains and they opened up with ‘Sickman,’ which would appear a year later on Dirt. The only other song from that album played that night was ‘Would.’  Duff McKagan from Guns N’ Roses joined the band for set closer ‘Man in the Box.’  McKagan, who was born in Seattle, had hooked up with the band a few days earlier at a Pearl Jam gig, and thereafter members of Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains crashed at McKagan’s house.

Three hours later when Spinal Tap finished the show, and it was definite that there would not be an appearance from Metallica, the crowd dispersed.  But alas there would be one final special guest: Temple of the Dog!  By this time however only 500 of the 4,000 patrons were left in the building, underlining the saying that the show is never over until the fat lady sings.

Soon after the show, Alice in Chains joined back up with the Van Halen tour and the three singers would not be reunited until Pearl Jam’s pirate radio show over three years later in January, 1995. The RIP parties were indeed something unique, bringing the absolute best talent together for one memorable evening.  It is evident that in the early 1990’s, rock fans were spoilt for choice, but it all came at once and departed far too soon.

Lonn Friend who went onto write two books, Life on Planet Rock and the inspiring Sweet Demotion: How an Almost Famous Rock Journalist Lost Everything and Found Himself (Almost), reflects warmly about his time at RIP . “We chronicled the decade of decadence it was a group effort.  RIP was the best of its time.”

REMEMBERING LAYNE STALEY RETROSPECTIVE

PART 1: Alice In Chains’ Early Years

PART 2: Clash of the Titans Tour

PART 3: The Sap Sessions

PART 4: Lollapalooza 1993

PART 5: Mad Season

PART 6: The Final Years

PART 7: The High School Years

AlternativeNation.Net Interview With Paul Rachman, Alice In Chains “Man In The Box” Music Video Director

How did you get the job to direct the video for ‘Man in the Box’ ? Considering that Alice in Chains were a fairly new band at that point.

Paul Rachman: On Halloween of 1990, two months after ‘Facelift’ had come out I saw the band play at the Cat Club in New York City and they blew me away- I loved them. The next day I called the video commisioner of Columbia records his name was Kris P, saying that I wanted to work with the band.

They had just done a video called ‘We Die Young’ but that single didn’t fly. In late November, a month later they asked me to write for the ‘Man in the Box’ video. I got it and we shot in mid December of 1990.

‘Man in the Box’ was Layne Staley’s song, how close did you work on ideas with him?

Paul: The band was touring at the time (with Iggy Pop) I received a few phone calls and fax exchanges with Layne. He had written the song so I collaborated with him conceptually but at a distance since they were touring. Layne’s idea for the video and song were based on the images of a rainy drippy barn and a baby wuth his eyes sewn shut. I took those ideas on board and came up with an animal farm, but used an adult for the eyes sewn shut idea. I remember for the animals there were a couple of horses but production brought in the pigs, the cow, the chickens….. There had never been a rock music video with animals in them before.

 The ‘Man in the Box’ video is quite striking, dark and almost eerie.

Paul: A lot of my work in the early 90’s was pretty dark. Layne was very very magnetic and inspiring. It was easy to visualize his ideas because there really was truth in them. I really feel that when you watch the video that it matches the song, it added to it, and transcended what it needed to do to reach their audience and beyond.

You said that Alice in Chains’ first video ‘We Die Young’, did not fly- ‘Man in the Box’ not only took off, it went for a better word into orbit.

Paul: Colombia Records loved it, MTV loved it, the band loved it. It hit the ‘Buzz Bin’ rotation almost immeadiately. It just clicked. I remember Metallica saying that ‘Man in the Box’ was their favorite video. In September of 1991 it got an MTV award nomination. It ended up losing to a shitty Aerosmith video, one of the ones with Alicia Silverstone in it. I remember sitting at the awards and when they read who had won it started with ‘A…..’ my heart skipped and then I heard ‘Aerosmith’.

But you know I think the video is more important today than Aerosmiths.

How long did ‘Man in the Box’ take to shoot and how were the band during the day?

Paul: Well it was a long day, a 14 hour shoot. The band were great to work with. They were young, fresh and eager. There was only one or two full band set-ups so most of the time when the video was being shot we worked on individuals. When you watch the video you can see their youth and vitality. Layne was beautiful in his close-ups he is almost babyfaced and his eyes are piercing.

They were a young band with hope, they were touring but did not know their destiny yet. They were the type of band working hard because they wanted to make it, nothing was guaranteed for them in the winter of 1990. No one knew what would happen, at the time of the shoot they were a band that could have fallen flat out after 50 or 60 thousand records sold or something. They were a fun rock band to hang out with, easy to be around. I could definitely notice the change when I would see them later in their careers. They had become rock stars by then.

‘Man in the Box’ is shot in sepia color- was this risque in terms of promoting a new band and for the video itself?

Paul: It fit the mood and the look. I actually shot on black and white film for ‘Man in the Box’. Before shooting I visualized a black and white video with a little bit of color in the hand held 16mm shots in the cages outside. After when I was in color correction the sepia tinted really gave the video a warmer but more intense feel. The band’s droning, grungy sound was dark in itself. The song and video have definite moods.

What are your memories of Layne Staley?

Paul: I remember a few months after the video was completed I was in Seattle directing the video for Temple of the Dog which was a collabaration between Pearl Jam and Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell ( this video was the first time that Eddie Vedder had been filmed). I was hanging out with Layne one night and I could tell that the rock star life style was going to affect him. He was a bit tired and rawn out but still very friendly. He was a very sweet, talented, sensitive and inwardly emotional. He was very comfortable and confident with his ideas and his art and music. He never really second guessed himself, he was always forward moving with his thoughts. I don’t remember him as ever hesitant or asking too many questions. He just did it. On that set they were very cooperative and friendly. I mean look at the video. I asked the front man to sit in a corner of a real dirty barn tied up and sing. To most frontmen that would seem demeaning and negative, Layne just did it and you can see he is in that moment. There is almost a vulnerable sadness in his eyes and face in that hat scene.

When the video broke, the band were obviously estactic- how about you?

Paul: I was psyched and very satisfied. I was able to really bring the element of mood into the music video which was always what I was trying to do. I felt I had really achieved that with ‘Man in the Box’. First and foremost it was a great song and a great band that inspired me. I mean I saw the band live first and then I went after that video as a director because I felt something about the music. In the end it’s success was the ultimate reward but the making and working on it was very very satisfying. ‘Man in the Box’, put me in a different league vis a vis the record companies and the music biz too. It still stands up well today.

I have always thought it was an introduction to Alice in Chains. In England when the video first aired and Layne screams ‘Jesus Christ’, everyone just looked at each other. It was a big thing at the time.

Paul: It was an introduction. I wanted the video to create that curiosity. You have three and a half minutes, there is only so deep you can go and shoe the band.

The final scene of the video with the man with his eyes sewn shut. For first time viewers it’s mindblowing. The answer is right there in the lyrics but it’s still a shocking moment.

Paul: Yes you got it- and that’s what it was supposed to do- no more -no less. A blind caretaker on a farm. One who cares but cannot see. A reaper of some sort who cannot choose based on what he sees. Jesus was one who did not judge too. The character is dark and gloomy, but I did not have anything obvious on or specific on him. Just an uncomfortable feeling.