Note: On this date in 1984, This is Spinal Tap was released. The mock documentary about a metal band on the downslope of it’s career is required viewing for any band, and still holds up today. November 11th, 2011 was “National Metal Day,” and this is a column we first ran back then. Happy 30th Annicrsary, Spinal Tap!
We all know why today, 11/11/11, is being dubbed “National Metal Day.” No, it’s not because VH1 Classic says so. It’s because of Spinal Tap! And if you don’t get the significance of the number 11, then stop reading this and go watch This Is Spinal Tap ASAP. But it’s not just the humor that makes This Is Spinal Tap a classic comedy.
To the outside metal fan, Spinal Tap’s antics and mishaps seem too absurd to be true. To the metal musician, though, the scenes in Spinal Tap hit too close to home. Many bands can attest to having their own real life “Spinal Tap” moments, while some bands (like Black Sabbath) can even claim they’ve inspired some of the film’s classic scenes.
So with that in mind, we decided to celebrate 11/11/11 by asking some metal bands and musicians to share with us their greatest real life “Spinal Tap moments”. Here’s what some of your favorite metal artists had to say:
Brian Fair (Shadows Fall/Death Ray Vision singer):
It was 1999 and the third show I had played since joining Shadows Fall. We were opening a huge show for System Of A Down and Fear Factory in Clinton, MA. It was our biggest show since I had joined the band and the first time we were playing to a few thousand people. It being 1999, I was rocking some baggy ass jeans with a serious gangsta sag. About two songs in, I jumped off the drum riser ala David Lee Roth and felt something loosen around my waist. It seems my ghetto ass belt had ripped in half. I tried to hold up my pants to finish the song and realized that they were just too big to keep from slipping down. I said “fuck it” and just whipped them off and decided to finish the show in my boxers. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I was rocking a pair of Mickey Mouse boxers that day. Not metal. At least I avoided having anything slip out through the dickhole.
Dez Fafara (Devildriver singer):
Simple. Hottest day in Arizona on the Ozzfest . Someone spilled water on the stage and it was like “ice!” I walked out in front a huge crowd chanting DevilDriver and slipped, landed flat on my back and was staring at the sky ! Moments like that, ya gotta laugh. And I did …..
Richard Christy (Charred Walls Of The Damned drummer/ Howard Stern Show personality):
I would say that my most Spinal Tap moment ever happened early on in my drumming career. I was 17 years old and playing a keg party with my first band Syzygy at Elm Creek Lake near Fort Scott, Kansas. We had 10 kegs of Milwaukee’s Best and there were about 500 crazy Kansan metalheads at the party. I had my drums set up on two wooden picnic tables that were pushed together and we were blasting through “Seek and Destroy” by Metallica. I was banging my head like crazy and all of the sudden something felt weird. My hi hat and snare drum were the only parts of my drumkit still making noise. I looked in front of me and my kick drum and two toms had fallen off the picnic table onto the ground 4 feet below. I was kicking the kick drum so hard that it pushed my drums forward without me noticing and my drums ended up stage diving! I played for the next minute on my floor tom, snare drum and hi hat while several party goer’s, buzzed on copious amounts of Milwaukee’s Best, tried to lift my drums back upon to the picnic tables. The drums were back in place for the final beat of the song and the whole band was laughing their ass off. I’m glad I got my most Spinal Tap moment (so far) out of the way at the wee age of 17.
Tommy Decker (Spineshank drummer):
In 2001, we were asked to be a part of Ozzfest, along with Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Linkin Park and a ton of other bands. Our 2nd album The Height of Callousness had just come out and it was doing well. At the time Jonny had short black hair with a red streak in it and I (Tommy) had bleach blonde spikey hair (This fact is important to the story). Jonny and I were hanging out backstage when some guy with an ice chest invites us over for a beer. We spend the next half hour with this guy, drinking beer while he tells us how awesome we were. How our record got him through his prison sentence and how everyone in the prison he was at loved our record and how we were gonna be the next big thing. He went on to tell us that we were the best song writers of our generation and that we were sure to get rich and famous. He laid it on so thick, that i started to believe him. i thought “this guy is right, we are pretty awesome” He went on for another 10 minutes until we had to go to our photo shoot. As we walked away, he yells to us “Fuck yeah Mike, Fuck yeah Chester Linkin Park rules!!” He thought he was talking to Linkin Park all along. Jonny and i were pretty silent on our walk back.
Lance King (singer/ founder of Nightmare Records):
Driving to a gig in Omaha in mid winter the bus’ “Oil sending unit” goes bad, and our engine locks up on a two lane road in the middle of FREAKING NOWHERE. Before cell phones were something other than in Mission Impossible and cost $1000’s, we had a CB radio. To stay warm we had to run the propane stove non-stop, it was -20 below zero on the plains and windy as hell that day. We radio’ed out, but it took about 2 hours to get someone there to tow the bus and help us unload the stuff into another rental truck to get the gear to the gig.
By then the windows in the bus had about a half 1/4 inch of frost on the inside, and could see little. All could and SHOULD have been avoided by a $10 freaking part. We lost a week on the road waiting for the bus repair, racked up hotel expenses, missed our next shows, and paid $2500 for a new engine. It was a Spinal Tap moment!