Monday, November 13, 2006

Quiet Riot - Stories from the Vault Vol. 1

(note: Barnstormer FilmBlog received so much attention from last week's Def Leppard post that the higher-ups thought I should continue this theme a bit; please also note that these stories were cobbled from old email messages and that no attempt was made to clean them up at all -- this should be remedied when our college interns start up again this Christmas holiday)

story #1
when Quiet Riot's Metal Heath album came out back in '83 (I was in jr. high), some knucklehead who got on at my same bus stop would sit in the very back of the bus and start side one from his giant boom box (see also: ghetto blaster) at high volume every day on the way to school. the ride to school lasted the exact amount of time needed to play the first two songs -- "Metal Health" and "Cum On Feel The Noize" -- in their entirety.

about three days into this routine this cool tall kid upperclassmen guy (I was in 7th grade, he was in 8th grade -- he seemed like an adult by comparison) asked me what I thought of all this and, trying to show off with how smart I [thought I] was, I said, "you watch, in less than two weeks they'll all be sick of this and he won't be playing it anymore." and the older/taller kid said, "I don't know, people really love it." sometime the next week the kid wasn't playing it (I can't remember what took its place or if he was playing anything at all). I remember the cool kid said to me, "I guess you were right -- you called it." and I was pretty much ruined for thinking I was a genius the rest of my life.

story #2
the funny thing about that bus ride was, I had actually picked up the Metal Health cassette myself. it has the distinction of being the first cassette I ever bought (up until then it was all LPs: my dad said that vinyl albums were better; better to buy the vinyl and make a tape copy for the car -- that guy was a genius way before I was). for my birthday that year I had been asking for a decent stereo and dad had been looking around, but all the cheap units in the jr. high school kid price range were, as he put it, "all just pieces of crap." so as a surprise for my birthday, thinking I was still a few years away from owning a decent stereo, my dad bought a new set of speakers and two 50-foot lengths of speaker wire in order to patch me in (going under the house and running the wires in the crawl space) to the main stereo in the living room -- my room was now the 'B' speaker setting. fucking sweet. as he's setting things up in the living room and I am minutes away from rock nirvana in the comfort of my own interior design (posters of Grace Jones from the latest Bond film, Spuds McKenzie [and friends], a cross section of the U.S.S. Enterprise) my mother asks me about the first thing I'm going to listen to. Quiet Riot. "who are they?" well, they're this crazy rock band, they're so crazy they even spell stuff weird on their album -- like, "noise" is spelled N-O-I-Z-E and "come" is spelled C-U-M. my dad immediately spins into action from somewhere behind the TV set. "Robert John! -- how dare you say that in front of your mother?!"

I swear to you: at the time I had no idea what that meant. after that I pretty much inferred that everything in rock music was directly related to sex. even the subtleties of "Slick Black Cadillac" on Side Two weren't fooling me anymore.

story #3
when I was at UAF (the University of Alaska, Fairbanks) I was known as "Rockin' Rob" from my DJ moniker at the local student-owned commercial rock station -- KSUA, 103.9 FM, broadcasting from "College, Alaska". it was an AOR station and we played rock all week and then classic rock on the weekends. I saw all my first concerts through them, and for free. I missed the chance to see Warrant in my first month at the job (October 1989) because I didn't know anyone at the station yet and I didn't have a ride (but somewhere on an old backstage pass list is my name for that show). my first concert would end up being Joe Satriani, in Anchorage, a 6-hour drive away (this time I had peeps and we carpooled in a big caravan). two years later I was still working at the station part-time but decided to work full-time that year for Student Activities (coordinating events for the students: dances, bringing in comedians*, that kind of thing) --

*one year we brought up Laura Kightlinger and I remember trying to act cool with her backstage and tried to get her to talk about the comedy scene (all the while dropping names and trying to show her that I kind of followed comedy), but she would have none of it. basically just grunted at me. I remember something like "yeah, there's a lot of comics around..." I remember that was the first time I'd ever seen a comic's set go out on a complete fizzle. She said (to complete silence) "well, I guess that's it. I don't think I have anything else." The audience was stunned at this. "...let's see, I told you about my Mom...and about [something else]...yeah, that's all my stuff. Goodnight." -- but that's a story for another post.

-- and the weekend that the newly re-formed Quiet Riot was in town (not one of these lame half the band is new shows, but one with the original singer), I was on the guest list but wasn't allowed to go because my other boss kept saying (all evening) that they "needed all staff on duty" at the Starvation Gulch events that night. what is Starvation Gulch? it's basically an excuse to get the campus to go nuts and show their spirit and decorate their halls (all that shit) and it climaxed with halls competing in a bonfire contest (for the biggest and most original). and these things were freaking HUGE. local businesses would save their shipping crates all year and donate them to the halls, bringing truckoads and truckloads of crates all day to a big empty lot on campus. seriously, these things were roughly about the size of two storey warehouses, but ablaze they seemed much bigger. anyway, all night I kept asking my supervisor if "things appeared under control" enough so that I could slip away and go to the concert, and each time he said "I'm sorry, I really need you here." keep in mind that there about about nine bonfires raging all around, each of them bigger than your house, there are several large fire trucks parked all around, campus security, maybe even an ambulance (I can't remember), and the seven of us on staff are basically standing around at a table handing out hot chocolate. what the hell was I contributing? -- or for that matter, what the hell could I have done if some kind of "situation" arose? -- there were firefighters onhand for christ's sake. anyway, whoever the comedian was that night (it might have been High Fink, but I think he came a different time) was hanging out with us and listening to all of this and later, when he started out his set, he led with something about how it was great that we [the audience] decided to come see him instead of Quiet Riot. "Quiet Riot?...I didn't realize they were still together... (blah, blah, blah)" -- he even worked in a mention about this kid who was really crushed that he couldn't go because his boss wouldn't let him. and everyone laughed, of course.

fuck that guy. and fuck my old boss, too.

bonus story (from my friend Jimmy)
I only have one really good Quiet Riot story (and I still have a spot in my heart for those bozos, what with them using Slade covers for not one but two singles), and that is that when Metal Health came out, I was probably at the tail end of my freshman year of high school, and in the begining of my sophmore year, say Oct of 1983, I went to the Spectrum in Philly to see Black Sabbath with Quiet Riot opening the show. Not only was it my first metal show, it was first experience of acid. So, by the time Sabbath comes out, with their flaming upside down crucifixes, I was convinced that I was watching Christians getting eaten by lions and shit like that. Good times.


Post a Comment

<< Home