Saturday, April 07, 2012

Welcome To Hell

The exciting sequels to No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn and Witching Hour!

"Ancient cries crying, acting fast upon the way of the dog.. Welcome to Hell.."

A million years ago in the Old Metal Days, Trace Rayfield and Umlaut were penpals and soldiers in the Metal War. Fast forward to the 21st Century and we've reconnected and have picked right back up where we left off as kidz: METAL. In 1983, Trace contributed to my fanzine Whiplash including some mind blowing historic interviews... like what was one of the first interviews Venom ever did in America. His interview appeared in Whiplash #1:

WHIPLASH: Do you guys have regular jobs?

Trace interviewed Cronos and Abaddon together before the show and then chatted with Mantas after the show. The interview was recorded in the bathroom of the venue they were playing in New York… but I’ll let Trace tell the story:

By Trace Rayfield

Trace with Mantas & Cronos

April 1983.

My friend Bob Monko and I arrived in New Jersey after our 900 mile journey from St. Louis to see two New York shows by two of our favorite bands, Venom and upstarts Metallica. These would be Venom's first shows outside of England. We didn’t know jack shit about the New York area, so we figured Jon Zazula’s Rock ‘N Roll Heaven record store would be a good place to start. Of course, Jon was promoting the two Venom / Metallica shows on Staten Island that weekend, plus we wanted to check out his vinyl stock that might be of interest.

We got a hotel right across the street from the mall that housed Rock 'N Roll Heaven so that we could be close to the action. We certainly got Jon’s attention after explaining the distance that we traveled to attend the shows, in addition to dropping a couple hundred bucks on much needed product from his flea market style record store. In addition, I expressed an interest in interviewing both bands for my California penbanger pal Brian Lew, who was planning a new fanzine 3,000 miles away in San Francisco. Who better to ask than the promoter of the shows? We were assured we would have full access to the bands upon arrival at the venue. This was something my buddy Bob and I were not quite used to!

After mapping our way to Staten Island for the first show on Friday night, Jon informed us that it would be best to wait until Saturday or Sunday to do any interviews. We thought, O.K., here comes the old “dust off”. We were not very optimistic at this point, other than we had already met Lars of Metallica in the parking lot of the venue. The shows were at the Paramount Theater.

We had only heard the demo and early live tapes of Metallica with Dave Mustaine, and saw the photos that Brian had sent me, but we loved what we heard and saw from Metallica. Well, the California upstarts went on to shred the New York crowd with their new guitarist Kirk Hammett. Next up was Venom with tons of pyro to demolish the hungry New York bangers. Unfortunately, there were plenty of technical problems during their set. Later during our interview, Cronos said the problems happened because "American electricity is shit". Alrighty then.

Back at Rock ‘N Roll Heaven the next day, we are promised appearances by both Metallica and Venom, which certainly peaked our interest. Venom soon appeared to the delight of the local punters as well as your's truly. One kid even had Mantas' broken guitar neck that was sacrificed during the previous night’s show. Autographs and photos abounded, then the band headed for their next in-store appearance that Jon has arranged at Zig Zag Records in Brooklyn.

At this point, my buddy Bob and I departed with James and Lars of Metallica in tow for our 4-hour odyssey that resulted in the adventure documented here: No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn. This was followed by a night of more drunken debauchery, including an earsplitting performance by Canada’s Anvil at L’Amours rock club in Brooklyn. Then the next day we arrived back at The Paramount for a second night of the Venom / Metallica onslaught.

In true underground Metal style we are directed to the backstage restroom (bog) since it was the only quiet place to conduct an interview with Venom. I've posted the audio of the entire interview here:

Listen for Metallica’s opening number 'Hit The Lights' to signal the end of our interview.

Our Venom interview tape in hand, we scurried downstairs and into the sea of denim & leather to soak up the weekend grand finale. Metallica was on point once again even with Kirk’s inexperience with the band. Fortunately for both Venom and Johnny Z., things went off near perfect for Venom’s second American show ever. Venom would not return to the States until almost 2 years later to tour with Slayer and Exodus.

We were lucky enough to be invited to the after party at the Zazula Mansion back in New Jersey (actually it was a modest suburban home). More drinking and debauchery ensued but Marsha Zazula kept everyone in line. An unexpected highlight of the weekend came when Venom’s manager asked us if we could give himself and Mantas a ride back to their hotel. Let me think about it.. Duh!! Get in and let's go!

Their manager jokingly asked me if I wanted to be their road manager as they were impressed by my ’79 Chrysler Cordoba. Considering the tiny matchboxes that they called cars back in England I'm sure my car must have seemed like a limo to them. As a departing gift, I gave Mantas my wooden Black Metal inverted cross necklace that my brother made me at his tool and die job back in St. Louis; I'm wearing it in the pics that are posted here.

Pure exhaustion is the only thing that forced us to fall asleep after the whirlwind of the previous 3 days; that and the anticipation of our 900 mile journey back home. No pain - No gain! I was pleased to deliver the interviews to Brian a couple weeks later which of course went on to be in Whiplash #1 and the rest is underground Thrash Metal history.

Trace's autographed 1983 Venom trophies