An Evening With Eerie Von

Last Saturday night, I left the confines of Comfest a bit early to attend something extremely profound & unusual, especially for deep in the deadlands of Ohio. The Shrunken Head, a relatively new rock & roll club near downtown, was hosting the first stop of Eerie Von’s Misery Obscura tour. Von is well known for many things; photographer & “fifth member” of legendary punk band The Misfits, bassist for Samhain & Danzig, and later for his own solo efforts which have dabbled in everything from Goth rock to Country. But for this tour, Eerie was doing something completely different – he was presenting a gallery of his own personal photographs and paintings (many never seen before) which he has amassed over the years, from the teenage beginnings of The Misfits thru to session shots from Danzig I & beyond, all interspersed with fantastic depictions of the macabre he has painstakingly committed to canvas. As an added bonus, he performed a live acoustic set to further celebrate the event.

Von is a trained photographer & it shows. Even at a young age, himself no older than his Fiendish subjects, his ability to capture early live performances or rudimentary publicity shots (the infamous ‘Cave’ photos) went well above his years. This collection is a sampling of an even larger catalog that is slickly displayed in his book ‘Misery Obscura’ from Dark Horse publishing, of which copies were available on this night. Von’s preference for shooting in black & white is the perfect compliment to the brooding subjects of his lens, but it is the sharp clarity of his shots and imaginative use of perspective that make for some truly compelling imagery. One particularly enthralling picture was of Glenn Danzig laying a rose on the grave of Elvis Presley (a fan favorite, he later told me). Another had the original line-up of Danzig standing inauspiciously before the darkly sighing shores of Loch Ness. And for any fan of The Misfits, the youthful photos of Jerry, Doyle, Glenn and Arthur are like ascending the steps of punk rock Mecca.

His paintings are as enigmatic as the man himself. Acrylic pieces painted on canvas, they are more abstract than I would have expected, yet all very intricately crafted with finite detail and splashes of color that brightens them without diluting their sense of horror. I’m hard pressed to liken them to any other artist, the trippy misshapen figures a seeming portraiture from hellish, nightmare realms.

As the artist, instead of standing aloof to the side while guests viewed his work, Von walked among us (pardon my pun) with the passion of a new father displaying his twisted offspring. My camera phone captured him (shown) enthusiastically explaining the back story of one of his works to curious guests, his insight adding another level to what was already visible.  Amazingly, anyone who approached him was given this same kind of personalized one-on-one; not the obligatory “hi, how are you?” but a bonfide conversation – and sometimes a lengthy one, but that seems to be modus operandi for Eerie Von.  When I asked him about his rumored 2-4 hours A DAY of responding to fan emails, he answered “You’ve got to. I mean, even Elvis did it. Every morning, he’d walk down to the gates of Graceland.” Then he added with a smile “And nobody’s bigger than Elvis”.

Finishing off an intimate evening that felt more like a private party in his living room, Von was joined in a short acoustic set by guitarist Michael Ulery (who had the unenviable task of accompanying on guitar sans rehearsal – yikes!). Songs were a mix of originals like “Lay The Blame”, “The Wagon”, “It’s True” with a few of Eerie’s faves from his other bands (Samhain’s “To Walk The Night” and Danzig’s “Going Down To Die”). His unpretentious delivery & sarcastic wit brought a smile to everyone’s face – despite obvious glitches in the performance.

When it was all said & done, I left The ‘Head that night feeling like I just been witness to something uniquely personal – an opportunity to be escorted through both the history and macabre future of an iconic rock musician & artist.  How often can you leave a venue and say that?

Movie Review: Green Lantern

I went to a sneak preview of ‘Green Lantern’ last Wednesday, but with my crazy life I’ve just now had a chance to talk about it.  Since then, LOTS of negative reviews have surfaced and to be honest – as silly as parts of this movie were, I don’t really think it deserves to be totally bashed.  IMDB.com is currently giving it 6.4 stars out of 10, after almost 5,000 votes.  That seems about right, but let’s start at the beginning.

Ryan Reynolds plays the much coveted role of Hal Jordan, who is arguably the most famous of the SIX different incarnations of the Green Lantern that have been in the comics (and I’m sure some geek out there will correct me with a little known 7th version buried in some obscure ashcan issue of Justice League, somewhere).  Think what you will of Mr. Reynolds, but he naturally resembles Hal Jordan, he’s capable of acting and according to 98% of the women of the United States (and about 10% of the men), he’s very easy on the eyes.  He’s a MUCH better choice than the notorious Jack Black version that was in the works a few years ago, which was mercifully canned due to ‘extreme negative fan reaction’.  We call that ‘common sense’ in these parts, but I digress.

Jordan is a crack test fighter pilot and general cad, with huge daddy issues and a real problem with authority.  When an alien being assigned to guard our part of the universe fatally crashes down in his neck of the woods, it’s no surprise that the superior intelligence of the alien’s ‘power ring’ chooses Jordan as the next successor to the role of Green Lantern – cause like there was NO ONE ELSE MORE QUALIFIED ON THE WHOLE PLANET.  Yeah, the story reaches a bit (mind you – the ring overlooked Superman for the job).  Ok, it reaches A LOT.  But hey, it’s true to the comic, so you gotta give’em that much.

Anyhow, Jordan reluctantly accepts the mantle of responsibility and is whisked away to be trained by other Green Lanterns who come to find that humans pretty much suck at this super-hero thingy.  Should’ve picked Superman, I tell ya’.   Meanwhile a pissed off intergalactic blob monster is bent on destroying the universe & no one in green tights can seem to kick it’s ass.  The horror, the horror.

Female love interest Blake Lively is completely unbelievable in her role as a Top Gun fighter pilot/business prodigy Carol Ferris but I think this is more due to her smokin’ hot looks and youthful appearance.  Sorry Blake – they really needed someone a little rougher around the edges, but you shore are purty.   Call me.

CGI dominates the remaining storyline, albeit very well done CGI.  Still, it doesn’t make up for character development, plot or pacing – but it shore was purty too.  I liken the whole experience to the Spiderman or Ironman movies.  If you think those should’ve won an Oscar for best picture, then you’re gonna poop yourself over this new one.  If you’re like me & see it for the entertainment it was intended to be (money sucking, franchise making entertainment at that), then you might snicker inappropriately at parts of the story, or find yourself rooting for the villain (“Blast him again, monster thingy.  Blast him again!!”) but it’s ultimately a good escape and the 3-d has come a long way from when Friday the Thirteenth tried it in the 80’s (“What was that blurry thing?” “it was Jason” “Oh, I thought it was an albino wrestler”).

I recommend catching this one while it’s still on the big screen because nothing at home can deliver the eeew’s and aaah’s like a two story movie screen full of 3 dimensional greeniness.  Along with the obligatory over-priced buttered popcorn while sitting in seats that smell like old ass.  Ah, it was good to get back to a theater again.

Tweets From The Walking Dead

I rarely use Twitter, but I do have an account (linked from this site, in fact). I noticed recently that I’m being followed by Shane Walsh, the deputy on AMC’s The Walking Dead (a show I absolutely love, BTW).

What’s interesting is I’m not being followed by the actor Jon Bernthal, I’m being followed by THE CHARACTER. And yes, he updates with lines like “Am fighting zombies as you speak” etc.

Digging a little deeper, I see that there are about 10 characters from TWD that have Twitter accounts, including a least one zombie. Pretty creative use of social media, if you ask me. The show isn’t premiering it’s second season until October, but with a simple free Twitter account, the producers can keep it top of mind.

Nicely done, folks. Keep those tweets comin’ – and maybe throw in a hint or two about the new season.

RIP Seth Putnam

According to Anal C**T’s publicist, and as seen on  Blabbermouth.net HERE, vocalist Seth Putnam apparently died of a heart attack yesterday at age 43.  Very sad news, indeed.

Despite their extremely offensive lyrics & song titles (of which many fans have always suspected were for shock effect more than anything), Putnam & AxCx showed themselves to be full of humor (albeit very dark humor), with a ‘devil-may-care’ attitude towards . . . well, just about everything.  Still, listening to their new album “Fuckin’ A”, you hear genuine musicianship marrying the staple AxCx Grindcore sound with 80’s metal riffage in a combination that is sure to surprise both fans & detractors alike.

Further down this site, you’ll see just recently I reviewed what I didn’t know at the time was one of the final AxCx shows ever.  Wish now I had actually had a chance to speak with Seth as there are few anti-rock stars that can rival him.   I completely disagreed with some of his song lyrics (‘Ha Ha Holocaust’ comes to mind) but respected his right to express himself – and the balls it took to say what he said.

Love him or hate him, we just lost a strong & unique voice in the metal community.  If I had a band, I would write a song called ‘Dying is Gay’ in tribute to Seth.  Where ever he is, I think he’d laugh his ass off over it.

Rest in peace, man.

Jay Yuenger’s Blog

Ever since I stumbled across this blog, I’ve been checking it regularly.  You may remember it’s author, Jay Yuenger, as just ‘J’, the guitarist for White Zombie during it’s heyday.  In fact I was lucky enough to meet & even sit in on an interview with Mr. Yuenger during those days – awesomely down to earth dude.

He’s a record producer now, but I find his blog to be as mesmerizing as I wish this one was (no comments, peanut gallery).  A combination of ‘found’ photos, ‘found’ sounds, music gear, music trivia, philosophy and insights – honestly, it’s why creative people should have a blog and update it often (again, no comments from my regulars).  Go check it out, there’s tons of interesting stuff to pore over (I especially liked the ‘La Sexorcito Vol. 1’ as a synced soundtrack to the original ‘Star Wars’ article – gonna have to try that now).

Check it – www.jyuenger.com

Rock On The Range Day 2 (Sunday, May 22nd 2011)

Actually, this was the third day of rock n’ roll goodness, but it was the second ‘official’ day of the festival. If you’ve been following along, you already have that figured out.  Anyhow, here’s the highlights of the rainier, muddier second day;

Saving Abel – Get the ‘Show Must Go On’ award for lead singer Jared Weeks discretely vomiting into a bucket just prior to walking out on stage (blue vomit, so I hear).  Whatever that drink was, I’m guessing he won’t be ordering it anytime soon.  Regardless, the band played a rockin’ set & no one in the crowd were even suspicious of his suffering.

Pop Evil – Out of Michigan were a pleasant surprise, being not so much ‘Pop’ but a whole lotta old fashioned rock n’ roll (I guess that would be the ‘Evil’ part).  They reminded me of a ballsy Creed but looked like an Outlaw biker gang.  Definitely check’em out!

All That Remains & Black Label Society – Two bands that I’ve seen countless times, and never tire of either of ’em.  ATR was possibly the heaviest thing to hit RotR this year, singer Phil Labonte running amok across the stage with boundless energy.  Songs included ‘Forever in Your Hands’, ‘Hold On’ and of course ‘Two Weeks’ was their finale.  Zakk Wylde had to have scared the hell outta some of the younger rockers, with his blistering fretwork, angry vocals and street smart stage presence.  No ‘In This River’ sadly but he did play (among others)  ‘Concrete Jungle’, ‘Parade of the Dead’, a relentless 7 min. guitar solo and closed it all out with ‘Stillborn’.  Watch & learn, young ones.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – First time I’ve ever reviewed a band I didn’t hear.  Yep – got in line for an autograph thinking that guitarist Duke Kitchens (pictured with his reality escape kit) was Zakk Wylde.  Awwwkward.  Nice bunch of guys, and I promised I would review their sampler CD at a later post (which I will).

Puddle of Mudd – Get the ‘Just Damn Glad To Be Here’ award as they were the last minute replacement for Stone Sour, who had to drop off due to sudden illness.  Ironically, they were the only band that it rained for all weekend.  Vocalist/guitarist Wes Scantlin made the most of his time by energetically dominating the stage before eventually diving into the crowd itself much to the chagrin of the security folks.  Top notch set included ‘Control’ (with some War Pigs goodness), ‘She Hates Me’, a cover of AC/DC’s ‘T.N.T’ and of course the radio staple ‘Blurry’ – which I must admit I have a fondness for as well.

Hollywood Undead – I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – one of RotR’s strengths is the variety of the acts it offers.  Case in point – Hollywood Undead are a Rap/Metal act I wouldn’t normally give 10 seconds of my time to hear.  Now, having seen them headline the second stage, I’m impressed.  Unlike conventional hip-hop, all instrumentation was played by. . . musicians.  Not sampled.  If there were drums, there was a drummer.  Guitar riffs – a guitarist jamming it out.  HU had by far the strongest crowd reaction of the weekend, and deservedly so.  Just seeing ‘Hear Me Now’ performed live was an amazing experience.  Check’em out, seriously.

Disturbed – I’ve often been critical of this band in the past, but their influence is undeniable.  Sporting a state-of-the-art stageshow, David Draiman & co.  delivered a true metal show deserving of headliner status.  Many who witnessed it, and then ‘A Perfect Circle’ after them, wished Disturbed had been the closing act.  They should’ve been.  Arena metal performed about as flawlessly as it can be done, with a dizzying array of radio hits.  ‘Nuff said.

A Perfect Circle – Was ultimately a disappointing end to a stellar weekend.  The video monitors were shut off (much as vocalist Maynard James Keenan has them shut off for Tool shows) without regard to the fact that 30,000 people were trying to see the band’s little ant-sized bodies on a dimly lit stage.  And of course, MJK stands to the back so only his silhouette is visible.  Fuck that!  Glad they played ‘Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums’ and ‘Judith’.  Otherwise, the visual fest that they SHOULD’VE been, considering their considerable talent and catalog of songs, was usurped by Disturbed.  Long live the new kings, I guess.

All in all, Rock On The Range continues to blow me away and with the ever increasing range of musical variations they present year after year – I’m hopeful this mammoth event continues here in Columbus for years to come.  Join me next time, won’t you?