A solo quest inside an American Metal Genre
Directed and edited by Spring M. Chase,
'Generator Doom' Metal Documentary was a concept until it took fruition in the latter part of 2010. It has been a three year plus long journey that took the director along the grids of an American atlas that stretched from East Coast to West Coast, North to South, Midwest to New England. Starring Doom Metal veterans and established musicians,
producers, artists and photographers that help to capture and coin a term in American music history. An honor was taking in filming these walking legends in their hometowns, vintage graveyards, rides along backstreets, into living rooms and up close in the recording studio. Beating all odds from the time the underrated genre may have been Doomed from the get-go, the director took upon herself to preserve apart of metal's geography on America's home soil. In the midst of such dark, such doom a glorious film will prevail.
WELCOME TO MARYLAND: HOME OF DOOM
December 28, 2012
Finally, I had entered Maryland; Home of Doom Metal, and one step closer to concluding a film adventure that started in Los Angeles, CA a little over three years ago and now standing in Washington. D.C. Once I landed at the Lincoln Airport, I held on for dear life to a camera that I had rented from Infinity Video, and climbed aboard the rails that took me through and under the downtown district, and across the outskirt suburbs where I filmed band members and stock footage of the early band houses that are left standing, vacant and abandoned. The first night in Maryland I was found face first on a king size mattress in a hotel in Rockville, MD completely exhausted from being lost almost the entire day, which is easy to do without set destination. The next morning was spent heavily researching and mapping out the city in front of me with little time left to compose all the interview questions.
Iron Man were on board next, and if there is one person that knows Maryland and Doom Metal inside and out, he goes by the name, Alfred Morris III. Much of the press have coined him the name, the "Black Tony Iommi", and when I asked about the time he was honored to meet the 'real' Iommi, I found that he was much like in my own shoes now of finangling his way backstage to do so. Al grew up with a father who played music, so it was inevitable that he found musical instrumentts in front of even his own childhood. He took many of the younger musicians under his wing and taught several Maryland members a chord or two, while honoring Black Sabbath by forming a tribute band.
I am eagerly awaiting to view the footage on a full screen with editing options in front of me, however, films are most certainly easier said than actually afforded and done. At one point, I was standing in the kitchen above Iron Man's band practice basement, when I was asked as to why I am doing this by a family member of the band. Simply put, I do it for the art of making music. I do it not neccessarily for the bands, but for their music. I have been doing promo for bands for nearly 15 years now, and I have always been questioned, and often question and re-question my ownself. Like any goal that anyone has, one will struggle with or be driven by the highs and lows of that goal. I have been put down, left out, taking blows from complete strangers, and made friends out of worst enemies and vice versa. I've dealt with liars, rumors, gossip, bullshit, flakes and phonies for as long as I can remember booking or writing for bands. It started by wanting others to hear and listen to the music I was into, while many labeled and criticized me now. It's merely a trial you have to desensitze yourself from. Many times I have to escape from the pressure and the hyporcrisy by releasing fears and anxiety through another productive outlet, but it would be a death of my spirit to end the journey simply over opinions and views from others of myself, because music has been a strong part in molding my soul, which I survive everyday to keep total control over. However, at times, it is difficult to make friends with the people behind the music that you feel closest to. Sometimes impossible.
By day three, I was on my way to Baltimore for a metal fest, known as, MDF. I was welcomed in Baltimore by bums urinating on the sidewalks, and knew I needed to latch onto the camera even harder. I ran into many friends and metal travelers from all over the map. Morbid Angel made the audience a little more wordly than the rest of the days following. Sunday particularly interested me specificly because of the Doom Metal line-up. I caught up with Yob's frontman, Mike Scheidt for some commentary that we filmed down the street. after watching acts from everywhere but Maryland it would seem. As for Maryland Doom Metal members, many were absence, excpet for the presence of Wino on stage Sunday.
Much like the feeling I had when I moved to Detroit in 2002 to form my own, unique Doom Metal band, I was in Maryland 10-20 years too late. Much of the groups have disbanded while many have either moved away, or evacuated. Many of the venues they once played are hosting new events under new name changes, or some are no longer left standing. Maryland would begin to look more like a ghost town from my seat back on the train on my way back into D.C. from Baltimore.
After day four rolled around and came, I was picked up in Silver Springs, by Spirit Caravan and Ex-Pentagram member, Gary Isom, who took me on a fullspeed chase through his hometown neighborhood in his doom hotrod through backstreets and into Wheaton High School parking lot. He was interviewed, and only hours before my nightmarish experience back at the airport. All of these places, people, streets, maps and events pave the way to a foundation for a music genre identifying it's home in Maryland. One thing that is dually noted about Maryland's Doom Metal is Hellhound, a label from Germany, had a lot to do with it. Even if some of the best times in the Maryland's music scene have long but passed, doesn't mean we all should let them fade without a proper depiction of it's historical past. Until we meet in the future,
By now, I trekked high across barren, So Cal desert lands, repeatedly stomped through toxic dumped cities, one after another and searched deep underneath the fresh paw prints left behind from the hounds of Doom
Metal. None of the places traveled before had appealed to me with as much Doom as the way New Orleans did. Once a thirtsy, thriving city rich of color and full of French culture now resembled a dismal, waterlogged morgue scenery, set with damaged real estate and pummeled ports in some areas while gas lantern-lit, cobblestone walkways with antique elegance were revived in others. For some ironic reason, the french Quaters came out barely unscathed from Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. The center and epitome of 'DOOM' sat off in the distant horizon with the Superdome in the corner of my eye as an uneasy reminder. Life in the Doom Ages was beginning to look short, brutal and dim surrounded by devastation, black market internet dealings and religious conspiracies. Within any mind thats stable, the ultimate Doom outlook that is feared by many is a future with little light along with zero rights, liberty and freedom. New Orleans had clearly underwent this by the grim look of the ethnic residents sitting porch-side. The French Quarters stood with whatever integrity still holding it up and glistened witha reflection of the harsh reality of what Doom truly means to the people who either play or sponsoor a scene for it, or have continued to prophesize it's meaning.
I could hardly see why Saint Vitus founder, Dave Chandler had relocated to it until I opened the doors to the head shop he worked at. Inside were clearminded, healthy grounded people serving up herbal supplements and chilled Chai Tea Lattes. I quickly learned it isnt the haunted taverns and voodoo lounges keeping New Orleans bound on the United States map, but the people. Dave Chandler was one of these magically, musically inclined, well-cultured people quietly residing in the shadowy image left behind and in pale comparison to other rivaling Doomed US Cities. Whatever is in those herbal lattes is keeping Dave Chandler above sea level in body, mind, and spirit as well as ahead of the music industry nowadays. Since 2002 he has collectively and inheritably resurrected his heavy metal highschool sweetheart named after a Black Sabbath song, and better known as, Saint Vitus. He's currently recording a new record, re-releasing "Born Too Late" singles, while playing Finland the first time with Saint Vitus, and also wrapped up the Metalliance tour this summer, which in his words was, "good exposure". He handpicked a nearby Odd Fellows cemetary to be interviewed in that he also exchanged marital vows in. We exchanged questions and answers from front to back of Saint Vitus, and questions that ranged from band members, lineup, song structures, originators and the end times. It was our collective effort that made it a successful interview for the upcoming film, and whether Doom Metal is here to stay or another faded, past to American history, Dave and I aren't giving up anytime soon on learning about the future, present and past of Doom Metal. Afterall the man is noted and quoted for writing the National Doom Metal Anthem, minus a word or two, "Born Too Late".
The year: 1979. Pink Floyd released, "The Wall", Sid Vicious overdosed on heroin and Sony invented The Walkman that sold for $200.00. Chances are you were watching television programs like, M*A*S*H and films such as, The Amityville Horror in your Jordasche and Wranglers. 1979 also brought upon an imperative year in our astrological 'Doom Dateline' on a few notes and separate factors. Aside from Pentagram, Deathrow and Saint Vitus, the only one other American Doom metal act making a bit of noise for themselves was a little, big Illinios band named, Trouble.
Trouble formed in Geneva, IL in '79 by Frankenstein frontman and founder with monster-size hair,Eric Wagner, along with Bruce Franklin, Rick Wartrell, Ian Brown and a drummer, nicknamed, Oly (Jeff Olson). It was in the same doomed birthplace that I found Eric Wagner residing thirty years later. I arrived in the small town at his newly constructed studio in a half a million dollar home, called Alpha Sound Services to find him behind a giant mixing board with his same enormous hair. Trouble unlike any other in the 'League with Doom', exploded with some commercial success in the mid Eighties for a genre that many of the major labels never picked up and ran with. We spoke album making endeavors and his parting with past labels where he learned two very important things. "How to ripped off and how to write music." They toured throughout the midwest, making fast friends and playing thier home away from home in Doom Country, Maryland. When I interiewed Eric Wagner one-on-one, he reminenced on the "old days", stating that, "the Maryland Doom scene was always already there at the bar to greet us everytime we came in town."
Although currently parted from the group, Trouble lead vocalist, Eric Wagner was present during the band's crucial and doom-moving albums, such as their debut and 1985's "The Skull'. When he spoke of the self-reward he is given from comprising albums that convince suicidal teens to reconcile and reconsider life again, you could nearly hear the gentle choke in his mouth. We hit it off well, and not to mention have many of the same numerical peeves with reoccurring numbers. There were more awkward moments when, not only did I feel I was one of those anti-social teens he transpired and influenced art out of, but as if 1979, the year I happen to be born was back in full waxing moon tilt.
2011 started out slow, drugged and dragged out, and just when we thought the best of Doom may lay ahead of us, we began to realize how far along it's already came. After three decades, there is often one outcome; a musician becomes so entirely bitter and burned out by the industry, he gives up. Eric Wagner's knees however, show no signs of weakness and we wont expect to see the man buckle anytime soon. "I can't go to some places still to this day and people are trying to party with me, and this is more important (referring to the soundboard ahead of us) Had with made it any bigger than we did, I probably wouldnt be standing here today." Many may play music for 30 yrs only to grit their teeth with the taste of bittersweet revenge until learning to love to play all over again, but you can mark my words E.W. is in love with music more than ever before, and isn't nowhere close to becoming a bitter hasbeen. He took us back a few chapters into his life story where seclusion and bleak times contributed to writing albums like, "The Skull" and yet, overcoming the Rock N Roll excess of drugs, alcohol and debauchery, comes with the job. We can find Eric and his cords more grounded than ever, nowadays, with sparks igniting in his eyes to play an unreleased track of his upcoming project,The Blackfingers for three hot camera girls in his studio making for a total hair fest film, behind-the-scenes with a twelve pack of Rolling Rock on the bar counter and a plethora a music making paraphenelia. The rest is Doom Metal documentary making history.
High On Fire's, choke-hold vocalist, Matt Pike may be a direct descendant of the late Confederate soldier, Albert Pike who wrote the book of laws for the Freemasons, but he is a leader and narrator within his own doomed generation for another topic that comes to mind. I am noticing some similar characteristics and traits amongst the youth during the production, in which I refer to as the 'New World Disorder', with an almost apparent-like, deathtrip attitude while recognizing the decline we're in and the clear and present threat of Doom near. Besides the significant amount of untreated mental illnesses and clinical depression running rampant, this metal genre could be identifying itself with 'Doom' in particular, because it hits home to them the most than any other. This new 'North American DeathTrip' isn't anything the other old, foreign countries haven't already underwent from the czars of ancient Rome to the British discovery of America, devastation and oppression have had it's impact.
We met years ago on his debut tour with Superjoint Ritual, and ever since then we have overcame every single one of our indifferences. He agreed to be interviewed, however upon my arrival at the Southgate House, Pike's fatique was clearly evident, therefore I took on his opening, female-fronted act Kylesa who are more modern pioneers to this epic genre making it's course and presence known across this continent. Kylesa's guitarist Laura Pleasants received my unidived attention the moment I stood 20 feet in front ofher because it is rare to find a female this advanced with playing the guitar. During the interview she gave mad props to Doom Metal forefathers, and a sentimental shoutout to Lori s. from Acid King, who came before her. There is no denyng the West Coast impacted this scene but I could argue that it orginally started out there as she speculated that it did. In fact, I am on my way to Maryland next with this film to document the origins that it allegedly evolved from first. In the several I have asked, when the first time the word 'Doom' ever occurred to them, many can't pinpoint the year, but I have a gut feeling will uncover once my two wheels cross the Maryland border.
The New World Doom Disorder isn't up to anything new that history or the movies hasn't repeated already. The sense of Doom is a part of our cultures and history, whether the leaders or followers are deathripping til the end of another century, The New World Doom Disorder involves many roles and leaders that leaked in from Britain originally after the Holocaust and other forms of world tyranny. It started in Europe because of our ancestry and origins that started there, but is America where Doom could ultimately find an untimely beginning to the End to? Laura left us with a some commentary until then of a few members and regions that impacted her 'Doomtrip' the most in the modern day Doom Metal society.
Straight out of military school, Matt Pike moved to the Bay Area of Northern California as a troubled deliquent charged with several car radio thefts. There would be one object that would take Pike's focus off the detention centers and that would be a Gibson guitar that he would later tour with for several years following. Sleep, originally named Abestosdeath are inaugurably the most volume depth defying act known for it's dragged out wattage fuled from thier fuzz-filled pedals and Green Matamps that would later transpire and attribute to the bands low tempo style. Whether or not, 'Doom is in the Room' when High On Fire play, is another Metal History Chapter Matt Pike writes every night in front of some new city.
It didn't take long to run into more doomed, Dog Days back on the West Coast attending the Power of the Riff festival, in which Goatsnake and Corrosion of Conformity headlined a free event that as long as you "paid" attention, and rsvp'd the weeks beforehand you were standing amid the two-story, fuzz-filled doom haze amongst So Cal's finest, rarest , underground Doom breeds. We can thank the internet for moving massive quantities of organized Doom at the blink of a bandwidth's eye; therefore marking the beginning and birth of a technologically advanced marketing, revolutional montser. Metalheads have it made and this could be for good or bad. Back in the day, if you were attending a metal festival, chances are it was because 15-20 band members hustled tickets and delivered the mssg via snail flyer dangling halfway on a street pole with staples doubled up and down it. Now if you want to promote your show, you upload, copy and paste images on any chirping, tweeting device you can get your palms on besides the public library card. Is the worst behind us, or is this modern technology merely contributing to more doom and Dog Days in clear, present and conveninet view of us? There is an abundance of questions deriving from the first four interviews, and more will come as a slight handful have been answered and not in which the particular order they come in. Without getting too techincal in an ancient religion, foreign philosophy or internet, brainwashing propaganda, I want this film to express the interior motives behind the musicians in Doom Metal movement orginating in the early 1970's and peaking in the late 90's ; A Generation that evolved after an era of worldly oppression, dictators, Slavery and Holocausts occurred. It's complete irony that I am documenting and recording Doom during it's foretold time on the Myan Calendar, amongst century old books of Law and during the current culling and decline of Generation X which is sought to be those born between 1961-1981. Doom marks the spot! Whether Doom Metal is channeling these ancient revelations from within as many have depicted before or calling the Pale Horse even closer upon us at full, heavy, dragged out speed will pose well for visual graphic and stock footage I have in mind to splice between storyboards, but not the films interior motive. Education in both Rock and History is my own personal objective that along with an elite Doom Crew of qualified metal mechanics, journalists, directors, and visual aritsts thriving inside an ancient, prolific force will graciously help compose the future in which we slowly approach.
The Doom lineup was dispensed evenly on throughout the night. It boiled down to the one specific Southern Lord recording artist, owner, and 'Operators in Doom' that I came for. Goatsnake have been in my record crates since Mans Ruin and Southern Lord Recordings had everything to do with distribution. Some members in the music industry were meant to collaborate, like constellations mapped out above and before our eyes. Greg Anderson, Pete Stahl, Scott Reeder and one odin-channeling drummer were amongst these paths destined to cross right in front of mine of August 8th. Their style is primitive, pure, voluminous California-Native adrenaline Doom aligned right down their spine, on time and in tune as if we're all standing in the gallows and the sound is echoing back off walls off the truth of the noose around our necks and unforetold in front of eyes. Either there was some politics involved or Goatsnake sounded extra, damn better than any other band's sound produced that night. What comes natural to Goatsnake is producing this thick, Blues-influenced Operation Doom, because Southern Lord Recordings, if not Rise Above Records or Hellhound, have been number one supporters of the scene for a long run now. Either they planted nitro booster in their stacks or certianly carved the Earth's crust a new Grand Canyon in the earthshaking performance. Earthquakes present a lot of Doom feeling on the West Coast, and precisely why a lot of chilled attitudes are kicking it out west and resulting in relaxed musicians set on doom level-headed mode.
BEYOND THE SUPER DOOM
Psalms Of Doom
PLACE OF DOOM
October 23, 2010
I admit. My direction was temporarily hindered by the doomed arena I was situated in of drug-addled, new age Doom hipsters and bitter, back-stabbed rock stars with tricks, snickers and snide comments from one of their two split tongues. I needed refuge and to find some solid source of steel salavtion before my view was clouded by indecisive meddlers. I had to rid myself of these snakes draining me with their toxic doses of band and broad drama before my film was derailed in a mound of manuer they personally handdug. Little did they forsee the passion and drive behind the steam engine governing my speed that will blast through thier horseshit barriers blindfolded becasue thier boulders and common "rock falls" are irrevelant to it's cause. I plan accordingly, before and after Doom's Day, therefore it was necessary to call in cameraman back-up from Troy Burnette from Eye Sore Video in Asheville, NC for Victor Griffin's commentary and live footage for my upcoming Doom documentary. Not only was it a sight for sore eyes crossing the pristine natural forces of the Cherokee Lake that bound Kentucky to Tennessee, but was music to my dark ears to hear Place of Skulls raw, untainted Doom across the DownTowns barroom during a soundcheck of a new song called "Day Spring" in Victor Griffin's own birthplace and hometown in Morristown, TN.
Beforehand, I arranged to meet with the cameraman to shoot stock footage of the historical town, before the interview located in front of his black chevy van w/ trailer. The town was in a dilapitated and dismal state, as any current US economy is imagined to be, but appealed to me a couple times with a comic book store, punk/goth apparrel and the grim abandoned industrial buildings residing on hilltops nestled in the valley. With a once rich and promising outlook, downtown Morristown was built much like mini New Orleans, with two-story, bi-level walkways and Spanish-style architecture for railing. The only thing this mining, Boom Doom town was missing were people. It was the perfect noise-free enviroment to capture the vintage appeal that applies to Victor's multiple guitar taste and style. He's rolled with the best of them, touring with Cathedral, playing in Pentagram and forming Deathrow. When folks like Tony Iommi are no longer around, it will be guys like Victor Griffin that hold the fundamentals and foundations down for lead guitar generations to come. His signature style encompasses a perplex philospohical nature, that too many Purists brand as "Born Again" however Victor has yet to be undead, and his religious touch shows in influences as early as Pentagram's "Burning Saviour" after his return from Cathedral.
"You wouldn't have wanted to know me back then. I was drinking heavily on that tour," Victor recalled. "They woke me up in my bunk on the bus with an airplane ticket home early from that tour.In life, you have to overcome a lot of darkness... I simply did it through prayer."
It was the same turning point Victor Griffin would later chose when forming Place Of Skulls in 2000. It was obvious he struck home with some cords that affected other Doom veteran correspondents. Scott 'Wino' Weinrich of Saint Vitus/ The Obsessed and Ron Holzner of Trouble joined Place Of Skulls in July 2002.
During the interview I asked how he met Wino and spiritual reasons for folding with bands to his personal opinion on the nearing of Doom's Day. He didn't leave anything to our curious imaginations and the interview really hit home base with the footage I need to expand the concept I haver to express, seeking for deeper meaning to why these musicians pull stings.
Speaking of other parts that tugs, plugs and pulls at Victor Griffins heart. He has operated Griffin Cycles since its spawn near his quaint Tenessee home with an illustrious garden that I was honored to visit following his gig on10/10/10.
He is currently revamping a chopper for his fellow Arizona rock comrad that he previously built before but now requesting a paint job. Whether he is writing new revelations with extra reverbaration, or touring with bands of pastor present, his boots hardly sit still. He can single-handedly provide the necessary co-founding origins of Doom Metal even though he can hardly pinp point the exact date/yr the word first came into existence. The audience at the DownTown was a roasted blend of Southern, hard rock rebellion with every cause which in particular for this event was for a local Morristown native, named Jeff Greenlee who recently died of Cancer. Again, we have Griffin, contributing to every reason he rocks, wrencheds and breaths. I applaud his endless efforts toward both bends and formation oin Metal. One thing he will never lose touch of his the ability to bring people together to celebrate life as much as he would teach one to celebrate the end of it.
Prophets Of Doom
Doom Metal for one reason or another has stayed hidden from America's immediate masses, as if its to be discovered in the next Iron Metal Age by the exterrestials who discover earth long after mankind's hatred towards each other and nature singe their very existence. Perhaps, its on Mars where the Doom Metal masses are already gathering by the cloaks, but as for earth its obscure as an endangered Rhino tusk, hacked off and preserved in Europe for the most part, where it most likely conceived a speck of light source to begin with that can only be seen by galaxies abroad. For the very life of me, I have yet to figure out how it died off before the members playing it did but as far as self-propohesizing goes, I may have just nailed an ill-fated, warped bully on his nosebleed.
I hammered back at the hammer lanes and interstates ahead of me most recently to attend Days Of The Doomed Fest in Kenosha, WI before taking off an entire winter to settle into editing previously filmed commentary footage. Its slow going and the funds even slower as the economy shifts and turns most US citizens into an epic trafiic jam that by no means is a harmonious line and sold-out wait for Roadburn Festival. Touring the United States engages others in a royal, brutal roadrage cyber bullying affair in moments flat as bands strive and manuever road and bridgeways for breadcrumbs, ratting each other out for whatever moldy reason that doesnt set well on their sabbotaging, sour mouths. Im glad I chose to ride the hammer lanes with Gates Of Slumber to attend the Days Of Doom Festival where Mercyful Mike Smith presents a unexplainable happening; A Doom Metal Festival on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois. It was rare treat to us in the Midwest to gain a perspective of upcoming Doom Metal bands.
I was also most recently spotted in Baltimore for the infamous Death Fest to collaborate with Swedish veteran Doom Metal heavyweights, Candlemass. Catching a redeye flight in Baltimore after my farm chores was a splendid occaion, however staying awake for thier encore was a near death experience that I recommend only for the paranormal. It was with mere coincidental luck of the Irish that I contacted their newest member Matz on the internet from the hostile early the next morning that I gained the right to interview two members in thier posh hotel lobby, now equipped with a short vegan feminist Camera-woman in tow. Once again, its the supporters, fans, cast members and crew that have kept me going for certain. If I were to rely on the rhetoric and controversial slander, Id be overwhelmed with the lack of self-gratification this film has expensed my passion and pocket book with. If you were to ask me a year ago, who I give the most credit for supporting this film and my well being, it would certainly not be the same people in my life now. What dooms around, comes around. This is why a highways poet's life of drifters of newcomers and old isnt going to end anytime soon. Best!