Friday, March 19, 2021

Classic Metal Class Tomorrow - The Sunset Strip and LA Connection!


We have the next session of Classic Metal Class coming up tomorrow.  Like a number of the sessions so far, we're going to be focusing on a lot of music history, centering on one main area and time-period.  This time around, it's the early to mid-1980s and it's the Los Angeles (and larger California) metal scene!

The title is deliberate.  The Sunset Strip wasn't the only place where up-and-coming heavy metal bands found their audiences, but it included a number of venues that were absolutely central to the complex and developing story.  L.A. Connection, of course, is the title of that Dio-era Rainbow song from the album Long Live Rock and Roll. I selected it precisely to highlight the important influence established, non-L.A. musicians would exert on the ongoing development of that scene running from the late 70s well into the 80s.

I'll be joined by my co-host and colleague, Scott Tarulli - guitar professor at Berklee School of Music, practicing musician, and fellow metalhead (check him out here) - and as usual, we'll be meeting at Noon Central Time, Saturday March 20.  Here's the link to join the Zoom session.  We usually present together - delving into the issues we've set out for discussion - for anywhere between 30-40 minutes, and then engage with questions and comments from participants.  We schedule these to run 90 minutes, but the conversations get pretty intense and involved, so sometimes we do go a bit longer!

This session, among the topics we'll discuss are:how LA became such an important location both for established artists and bands who would often frequent venues like the Rainbow and the Whiskey-A-Go, and for up-and-coming metal bands.  We'll also be discussing what established artists made important contributions to producing and promoting these new artists (Ronnie James Dio and Gene Simmons are examples), the rise of new record labels providing a home to metal bands, and the growing influence of MTV and music videos on the genre in this era.

Some of the main bands we'll discuss include Van Halen, Quiet Riot, Rough Cutt, Ratt, Dokken, Motley Crue, WASP, Armored Saint, Great White, Keel, Lizzie Borden, Leatherwolf, and Vinnie Vincent Invasion.  Although we'll be discussing them as well in a later episode specifically devoted to thrash metal, we'll also be touching on Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer.

So join us tomorrow at Noon for another great conversation about this key era in the development of classic heavy metal!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Classic Metal Class This Weekend - Metal In America in the 1970s!


We have a session of our monthly classic metal class coming up this Saturday at Noon Central Time. I'll be joined again by Scott Tarulli - professor of guitar, studio and gig musician and bandleader, and fellow metalhead - and this time we're discussing more music history (and veering into some philosophy as well).

The topic this session is heavy metal bands, music, and identity in the 1970s, specifically in America.  So in addition to tracing out the influence British metal exercised in catalyzing American metal in the 1970s, we're also going to be tracing out the development of distinctively heavy metal scenes (like that of LA in the late 70s and the early 80s.  And we'll engage in some analysis - maybe even some argument between us - about what American bands really qualify as "heavy metal" and which are better described as "metal-adjacent" or "kinda metal" hard rock.  We might even indulge in some wild counter-factual speculation about how metal might have developed differently if Jimi Hendrix hadn't met his untimely death (we'll see!)

So it'll be a mix of music history, sociology, philosophy, and musicology, all centered around American bands and musicians.  To give a little foretaste, I'm going to claim that bands that are definitely American metal in the 1970s include Sir Lord Baltimore, Bang, Pentagram, Montrose, KISS, Twisted Sister, Riot, Van Halen, Cirith Ungol, Mickey Ratt, Quiet Riot, and the Plasmatics.  There's also a part of the story to be told about Dokken as well.

We're also going to discuss how we ought to classify acts ranging from Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, Aerosmith, Foghat, Ramjam, Mountain, Y&T, The Runaways.  Does their music in the 1970s qualify as "metal", or should they be just lumped in to the larger genre of "hard rock"?  (I like to call them "metal adjacent")

So, High Noon (my time), this Saturday, February 20!  Here's the Zoom link for the session.  I hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Classic Metal Class Session 8 - NWOBHM and Metal Identity

We are starting off the 2021 year of monthly Classic Metal Class sessions this Saturday with a discussion that continues delving into the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) in the early 80s.  This time the focus is on how the musicians and fans were involved in something that was not just a musical movement, but involved developments of what we can call a more and more self-conscious "metalhead" identity.

There are a number of aspects to this, and I'm sure the conversation - as always - will stray a bit past the limits of these topics, but what we plan to discuss include:

  • the progressive formation of consciousness of self as "metalheads"
  • the thematization of heavy metal as a type of music and experience within song lyrics
  • the development of and influence on genres of metal by bands in this period
  • the continuities between older British, American, and European metal and the NWOBHM
As always, I'll be joined by my cohost and special guest, Berklee School of Music guitar professor and fellow metalhead-since-childhood, Scott Tarulli (you can check him out here).  We'll kick the ideas back and forth for half an hour or so, and then start responding to questions and comments - we always get some great ones from participants!

Here's the Zoom link for the session - the session is this Saturday, 12:00 PM Central Time.  Hope you can join us for what will be a rich conversation about classic heavy metal!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Classic Metal Class Session 8 - Delayed To The New Year

Ordinarily on the second Saturday of the month, my co-host Scott Tarulli and I would be holding Classic Metal Class around noon.  We had lined up a session in which we'd be following up some threads of thought started in last month's session, focused on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but we decided just a few days ago to

In addition to having our own businesses and clients, Scott and I both teach at the college level, and this semester has been simply a SLOG!  We talked it over and decided that we both need a bit of downtime before doing another Classic Metal Class.  It's not a matter of planning and preparation so much as a question of bringing energy to the sessions - and right about now, our reserves are a bit tapped out.

We'll be starting up the classes again in the new year of 2021, and we hope that you can join us for that.  I'm also planning to get in a bit of writing here in the blog, once the bulk of my final academic grading is behind me.  So I'll see you in the weeks to come!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Classic Metal Class Session 7 - New Wave of British Heavy Metal

We started our discussion of a major movement in the development of heavy metal - the New Wave of British Heavy Metal - in Classic Metal Class session #7.  We turned over so many interesting topics that we'e going to return to it in the next session.  If you missed the class session when it took place, and you'd like to watch or listen to the discussion, here's the recording

The Fall semester is at last starting to wind down as well, so I'm hoping to be able to start writing posts regularly here again in Heavy Metal Philosopher.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Classic Metal Class This Saturday - The Ethics of Farewell Tours

Right now, due to Covid-19, tours and even one-off concerts are largely on hold.  But there's already talk of tours starting up once we eventually find a way to deal with the pandemic.  And some of those tours - you can guarantee it - are going to be carried out by metal bands that already did their farewell tour (in some cases, more than one!)

Some time back, we examined the question "Farewell Tours - Can You Repeat Them?" This was provoked by one of Dee Snyder's interviews, in which he criticized bands that, after announcing and doing a farewell tour, went back out on tour again, making a solid case for this practice being unethical on a number of counts.

Snyder has been a consistent voice and example on this issue, and weighed in on it in a number of interviews over this last year (for example here and here).  Eddie Trunk also weighed in recently with a quip.

Last year, Chris Krovatin authored a good piece on the topic of farewell tours in Kerrang!

So my co-host of Classic Metal Class - Scott Tarulli - and I decided that this would be a good topic to examine in depth for session six. You can join us on Zoom for the session this Saturday, Noon Central Time.  

We'll be recording the session, and we'll be reading and responding to questions and comments from the participants - so if you're there, your contributions will make their way into the class video.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Videorecording of Classic Metal Class Session #5 - British Mid-Late 1970s Metal

We held Session 5 of Classic Metal Class several weeks ago.  This time, we intended to return to a focus primarily on music history, but we ended up going into a lot of discussion about technological and sound development aspects of the period we were discussing.  I won't say "strayed" or "digressed" because all of that discussion - led primarily by my co-host Scott Taruli - was both very well-informed and extraordinarily useful for understanding the development across the sound vectors that we call "heavy metal".

The official topic for this session was mid-late 1970s British heavy metal - so all the major bands,  developments, tours, continuities and changes in sound in England, Scotland, and Wales.  I used whether or not a band managed to bring out at least one more-or-less metal album in those years as a proxy for whether to include them in the discussion.

Those years were a time, of course, in which the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was coalescing, growing, and getting ready to burst forth.  Saxon did manage to get their first album out by 1979 (as did the somewhat less favored Samson), but some of the other really key players in the scene - like Iron Maiden - hadn't yet got to that stage.  So 1979 winds up being a good cut-off year.

We'll be revisiting some of these bands in later sessions - particularly Motorhead and Judas Priest - and we'll also be devoting some sessions to the NWOBHM movement.  But it was really worthwhile to focus in on those 1970s years in the development of British heavy metal.  Here's the videorecording of the session!

Our next classic metal class session will be coming up later this month, on Saturday, October 10.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Classic Metal Class Session 5 - Mid-Late 1970s British Metal

We have another session of our monthly Classic Metal Class coming up tomorrow at Noon Central Time.  Here's the ZOOM LINK to join us!  Guitarist and Berkelee School of Music professor Scott Tarulli will be joining me as a special guest again for this session. 

In Session #5, we will be looking at the mid-late 1970s (1974-1979) and the ongoing development of heavy metal as a more and more self-conscious genre of music. We'll be discussing this ongoing history, features of metal in that era, and how the sounds were getting heavier and harder, leading into early 80s metal.

While many of the main bands that comprise the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (e.g. Iron Maiden, Raven) were active in the pub scene, and producing demos at the time, we're going to be focusing on the bands that were producing albums in this time period.  So, among the bands we'll be discussing will be Judas Priest, Motörhead, Budgie, UFO, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Whitesnake, Gillan, Saxon, Girlschool, Quartz, Nazareth, and Magnum

I hope you can join us for it! If you can, you get to participate in the discussion.  We will be recording the session as well, just like the four previous class sessions, all of which you can view here.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Classic Metal Class Session 4

If you missed session 4 of the Classic Metal Class, and you'd like to see what we covered, the videorecording of the session is now available for you to to watch or listen to.

In this session, we discuss the importance of mimesis (imitation, reproduction) in music and the arts generally, and in classic metal specifically. 

We focus in particular on issues that arise out of one main mode of mimesis. This is a particular kind of band, tribute bands, which are centered entirely around mimesis.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Classic Metal Class Session 4 Coming Up On Saturday


We took this last month off from Classic Metal Class, but we've got a really interesting session coming up this weekend, specifically on Saturday at Noon Central Time  We'll be focusing on an age-old issue in the arts, the role of Mimesis.  That's a Greek term that can be translated as "imitation," and discussions about the nature of art (including music) have long viewed it as involving - or even at its core, just being - mimesis.

There are a number of other issues connected with this that we'll likely explore in upcoming episodes, but the one that we're going to focus on here is rather specific.  There's a phenomenon that is essentially one of imitation in metal, and that is Tribute Bands.  

We've all seen them either live or in other media like YouTube videos - bands whose entire purpose and point is to imitate another band, going past just covering their music to imitating their appearance, their style, their ethos.  Sometimes, they're dead-on.  Sometimes they're from the originals.  Sometimes they rock. And sometimes they suck.  

But there's thousands of tribute bands out there, so we're going to discuss what distinguishes tribute bands from other ones, and examine the range of values they provide, deal in, or exploit - and what their relationships are with the original metal bands they imitate.

Guitarist and Berkelee School of Music professor Scott Tarulli will be joining me as a special guest again for this session.  I hope you can join us for it! If you can, you get to participate in the discussion.  Here's the ZOOM LINK to join us at Noon Central.

We will be recording the session as well, just like the three previous class sessions, all of which you can view here.