So somewhere around age 14 I decided I was going to be a heavy metal and hard rock fan. I don’t know how it happened, but there in the midst of a Midwestern suburban upbringing, private schools, and several pairs of Dockers, I decided it was going to be up the irons from here on out. There really wasn’t any rebellion element, as I thought even then, as now, that teen-age rebellious behavior is embarrassing and indicative of an inability to introspect and nurture an independent self-concept. When I went to the record store to buy “Kill ‘Em All,” I was typically wearing Gap khakis and a collared shirt, and then went and hung out with people who dressed the same but who might have listened to Dave Matthews, or (eeugh) Tupac, and engaged in weekend activities such as not smoking pot and not planning to gun down everyone in our 6th period English class on Monday. So I listened to Metallica, Ozzy, Tool, Type O Negative, Black Sabbath, etc pretty much in a vacuum. I recommend being a metal fan only under those circumstances. Want to see what I mean? Go to Ozzfest.
There’s really no eloquent way to say this so I’m just going to come out with it – a lot of the people there are pretty screwed up. Going to an amphitheater hosting Ozzfest is like walking into a convention center that double booked meetings of Campus Spree Shooters of Tomorrow and the Oxycontin Enthusiasts – hyperaggressive, faux-gothy bros playing human pinball down in the mosh pit blended with navel-gazing kids who evidently paid $50 to go see their favorite bands and not smile once, even when Ozzy plays “No More Tears” and Zakk Wylde does the solo and it’s awesome because he plays part of it with his teeth and then Oz brings out this huge mother of a water cannon and squirts the first row and howinthefuckdoyounotcrackasmilewhenhedoesthat?!
Anyway. Not well, the Ozzfest crowd. My happiest day, musically, was when I got a job that paid well enough for me to pop for pavillion seats, thereby allowing me to avoid an inordinate amount of mixing with the hoi polloi on the lawn. But while their behavior, when you’re up close and in person, is bad enough, things are ten times worse when they attempt to employ the written word. When you actually get a window into their minds, you realize very quickly that metal fans are the worst kind of fans to have.
None are more irrationally unforgiving. Pop fans will put up with anything. People still buy Ashlee Simpson albums, even after she Milli Vanilli’d her Saturday Night Live performance and, in a classy move, tried to pass it off as a miscue on the part of her band. Matchbox 20 has a bunch of fans, and when they come out with a new album, you never hear about a mini-revolt of people who complain about their new sound. Madonna hasn’t come out with anything notable, much less good, in decades, but every time she releases new music people are all over it. Red Hot Chili Peppers? They’ve churned out the same mid-tempo balladish music for the past 3 albums and you never hear anybody bitching about them.
But metal fans? Holy shit, if you’re in a metal band and you wear the wrong t-shirt in a promotional photo, the internet explodes. So when you make a record that doesn’t sound exactly like your first one, if you start to sing a little more rather than scream everything, if you downtune a guitar that you usually don’t downtune, you can kiss at least one third of your fan base away – and that one third that’s defecting is going to be extremely vocal about it.
It’s incredible. They will sling conceivable permutation of the word “faggot” – “fagit,” “fagot,” “faghit,” etc. If you have the letter “S” in your name, it will be replaced with a “$,” cleverly implying that you have sold out – i.e. “Lar$ Ulrich.” While we’re on the subject of Lars, he and his band mates have been labelled “MetalliCA$H,” “Selloutica,” and of course, “gay.” Your band has lost it, fallen in love with getting on MTV, you’re a bunch of clueless, out of touch poseurs. You are suddenly the worst band that ever took to the stage. Everything you do from here on out will suck. All your fans are mallcore loser sheep queers. They wouldn’t know real metal if it smacked them across the face.
Metal fans are a complete liability – if I had a band, I think the only way I could get through the day would be to carefully avoid any kind of user-accessible media; it’s bad enough to have to deal with some guy who couldn’t sing or play guitar to save his life tell you that you suck, but when they tell you in a poorly punctuated message board post where every third word is misspelled and every second word is a puerile dick joke, I think I might sink my career by releasing an album called “Screw You If You’re Buying This.”
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