THE BREAKDOWN ROOM - Rock. Writing. Redefined.


If This is the Youth of Today...


During my most recent visit to Hot Topic -- which I do for the same reasons a marine biologist frequents Sea World -- I overheard a local teen discussing his new, up-and-coming metal band. Hiding behind a rack of knee-high vinyl boots, I listened with a jaded ear as this MENSA candidate touted the virtues of his new musical endeavor.

Surprisingly, he started off strong, citing his strong work ethic and dedication to "staying true." I thought to myself, "Ha! That's an easy enough sound bite to generate. Whaddya got to say next, Cochise?"

Well, color me emo pink and call me Rosie. He followed this up with even more conviction, recounting how, when forming this arena-bound beast, he had struggled to find members with the perfect balance of musical ability, passion and willingness to grow.

At this point, I was rapt. This skinny bugger had my attention. I leaned in closely, nearly impaling myself on a studded Hello Kitty wristband. The Hot Topic clerk seemed equally as focused on this conversation, nearly popping a vein from underneath her latest star tattoo. With all the confidence in the world, the teen continued on about crafting song titles, playing local halls to generate buzz, and maintaining aggressive, yet discernible vocals.

I nearly lost my balance. Could it be that today's youth has a better grasp on metal than we did at that age? Maybe, just maybe, these kids have finally learned a thing from their forefathers, honoring the genre's roots, putting music before image -- nay, before all else.

I ignored his next few comments about background videos, intro music and the merits of insulting the crowd to start a circle pit, chalking up his ignorance to youthful exuberance and lack of experience. Then the clerk fought through the chain mail attached to her lip to ask, "What do you guys sound like?" -- an inquiry to which the teen offered a quick chuckle and a defiant glare.

"We sound like us."

I looked happier than a pervert near a playground, smiling ear to ear while eavesdropping on this teenage wunderkind. After muting my joy, I randomly selected a black Job for a Cowboy t-shirt (size Extra Medium) to blend in, when the boy ended this fascinating exchange and at the same time, crushed my spirit worse than Oprah crushes her bike saddle.

"If I had to answer that, I'd say we take a lot of influence from classic metal, like Linkin Park, Slipknot and As I Lay Dying…"

He was 17.

Speed Picking

Did anyone hear that Dave Mustaine remains bitter about being fired from Metallica in 1983? In related news, Mustaine has fronted a Grammy-winning, multi-platinum band for nearly 25 years and Cliff Burton is dead.

Like most of the free world, I was devastated when the recent Saigon Kick reunion went south, ending fans' hopes that the innovative 1990s rockers would bury all 63 hatchets that sprung up after "The Lizard." It's worth noting that this "reunion" was sparked by former vocalist Matt Kramer, but would not feature fellow original members Jason Bieler, Tom DeFile or Phil Varone, which is roughly equivalent to dining at a McDonald's that has a clown, but no burgers, fries or fat kids stuck in a ball pit.

Kramer plans to record new SK material with the reunion lineup, which now features a horn section, GE Smith from the "Saturday Night Live" band and three former members of LA Guns.

In the amount of time it took you to read the previous story, Joey DiMaio became 183 percent more metal.

In reading, I see that John Bush is about to rejoin Anthrax, following a one-off show in London, England. Although nothing is official at press time other than a few random comments from Frankie Bello and Charlie Benante, it seems that the bad blood stemming from the band's 2005 reunion with Dan Spitz and Joey Belladonna has disappeared. According to 'thrax guitarist Scott Ian, it only took five minutes on stage with Bush to regain the "old magic." But it took quite a bit longer to convince John to take five when the band begins its Dan Nelson-era reunion in 2019.

BREAKING NEWS: Saigon Kick is now fronted by Neil Turbin.

In sad news, the slow, agonizing death of print media has forced Metal Maniacs -- America's only good hard music magazine -- to go belly up in the wake of rising costs and lost readership. Thankfully, the magazine's spirit lives on through its own newly-updated Web site, which effectively delivers the classic Maniacs experience. The new site brings you timely reviews, hard-hitting editorials, dated photos of King Diamond, and a high-tech interface that allows virtual newsprint to rub off on your fingers as soon as you open a page.

Based on recent estimates, 1980s glam shock metal rock self-aggrandizing kings of all media, Lizzy Borden will finally match WASP's present-day relevance by 2011. The two bands have continued to produce similarly-dated material for the better part of two decades, but the gap has closed of late, thanks to Lizzy's recent insistence that Tipper Gore still controls music. When asked about his competitor's recent surge, WASP frontman Blackie Lawless simply replied, "I'm writing a concept album about the evils of organized religion that will raise a few eyebrows at the PMRC. Then you'll see…"

Congratulations to Queensrÿche, who recently performed Operation: Mindcrime in its entirety for the 1,138th consecutive show. When asked about the accomplishment, singer Geoff Tate screamed, "Sweet dreams, you bastard!" at our reporter, then proceeded to stab himself in the tongue with a plastic fork while shivering in the corner of his dressing room.

Concert organizers are fervently working on a new festival tour, set to feature immensely talented bands that have only achieved critical success, while maintaining consistently low album sales and a complete lack of marketability. Headlined by King's X, Annihilator and Overkill, the remaining lineup was set to be announced last week, but organizers changed their minds soon after, saying, "...even you guys wouldn't recognize these bands."

Copyright 2009, Brian Heaton. All Rights Reserved.