Hard N Heavy Reviews #1: Raw


Many many moons ago, there was no internet. Well there was, but it was this weird text-only thing where you had to sit a phone (which was not yet mobile) on a little cradle, and it was all balding dudes with ponytails bitching about Star Trek. At least that’s how it looks in my mind; hell, I only was around computers, internet-ready or otherwise, starting in the late ’90s like most of y’all. But either way, there were no websites, there was no YouTube, and getting information about anything that wasn’t covered in newspapers or just happened to be on TV at the same time you were in front of a TV was not a thing you could just casually stumble ass-backwards into. So we had magazines; these big papery things with words and pictures in them, and they came out once a month usually, and they were real big with musically minded people, especially if their musical minds were on things that FM radio wasn’t going to touch or MTV was going to stick after midnight. So in the 80s and 90s, the world became absolutely flooded with various and sundry heavy metal magazines, and at some point, people started saying, “hey, why not just do something like this in video form?” and video magazines happened, which were basically like a music-based TV show, but with no commercials and some cussing. And people loves them some cussing. One of these was called Hard N Heavy, and as looking back at regular paper metal magazines has kinda become a thing I’m all about lately, I was pretty pumped that 20 of these Hard N Heavy tapes popped up on Hulu Plus at some point. (I dunno if they’re on regular non-paid Hulu, but you might check, I guess. And if they’re not, someone’s probably got them on YouTube or BitTorrent by now. Information finds a way, and that way is usually piracy.)  This isn’t the full run of these tapes, as what’s on Hulu starts with stuff from 1993, and I’m pretty sure this thing started in 1989. But anyway, what’s called Episode One is from ’93, and it’s entitled Raw. Let me tell you about it.

perry farrell

Perry Farrell Interview: We start the festivities with the dude from Jane’s Addiction, and hoo boy, this thing right here is a downer. Like a normal interview you’d expect to see follows a real standard, “hey, we’re so-and-so, and we’re great, and we got this new record, and it’s the best, and y’all should buy it, and funny story goes here” or whatever, but this, man… Holmes is in a real bad place when they sat down to talk to him, and not just in the way he looked like warmed-over death at the time. He spends the entire time going on about how everything in his career is terrible, and the industry is screwing with him, and he’s completely lost all his creativity and can’t write songs anymore. Shit gets weird at the end, where he actually cheers up and smiles a little, with a weird comparison about Janet Jackson and salads that kinda makes sense, but I’m not in the business of straight-up transcribing shit, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations, but then maybe five seconds after talking about how festive a Jane’s Addiction show was, dude practically starts crying and we’re back on Perry Farrell Suicide Watch again. Heroin is a helluva drug. It’s really sort of an uncomfortably intimate moment where you’re elbow deep inside a troubled artist’s tortured soul, and when they cut away from him, it’s followed immediately (and jarringly) by a shitty cartoon of a Hard N Heavy tour bus running over an MTV van and then squeakily humping it. Legit rock star tears, followed by animated vehicle-rape. This is no video magazine, folks, this is art.


Red Hot Chili Peppers Interview: Hey! It’s more dudes who have done their Herculean best to drastically reduce the world’s supply of narcotics, but this time, it’s time to have FUN! They’ve got wacky hats and they talk about perpetrating funk into your anal cavity, and everything is wacky hyperbole and funky grooves and energy and stuff like that. And after watching Perry Farrell slowly melt into a pile of facial tics, we needed this sort of relief. And man, it’s weird to think that there was a time when the Red Hot Chili Peppers were a thing, doing crazy music that other people weren’t doing and running around with tube socks on their ding-dongs, instead of what they are now, which is basically nonthreatening soft rock for people who can’t get into the harsh death metal styles of devil music like Sublime or Collective Soul or whatever. I’m old enough to remember a time when wearing an RHCP t-shirt was a thing that made you cool, and I can’t imagine there would be much further away from cool nowadays. Like a Chili Peppers shirt would signal that you were more than likely the life of the party in 1992, but in 2015, showing up at the party in one would have you be greeted with one of those “trying to be polite, but not happy at all to see you” attempts at a smile, followed by the hostess telling her husband “can you come to the kitchen, dear, I need to talk to you about something” through gritted teeth, which would eventually lead to a divorce. Because you just had to wear that shirt, you jerk. Also, in the early 90s, Anthony Keidis looked so much like Corey from Trailer Park Boys that I kept expecting Ricky to magically appear, call him a fuckin’ idiot and demand smokes from him. So Anthony Keidis looks like Corey, Chad Smith looks uncannily like Will Ferrell, and if you squint just right, Flea kind of barely resembles an alternate universe version of a young Udo Dirkschnieder from Accept, just from a much less dark timeline. (For those you keeping track, modern-day Udo Dirkschneider looks more like Darkest Timeline Patton Oswalt.) So I’m sure there’s someone who The Other Guy looks like. So I’m announcing a new Terrible Violence Contest, where you guys can figure out who he looks like, and your prize will be me going “ohh daaaaang, he DOES.”

This gets followed by another shitty cartoon, involving a biker lady with her boobs out, but then gets followed by Chuck D and Flavor Flav telling you that rap will never die, and I don’t know what’s going on anymore; seriously, I am freaking out. Art.


Black Crowes Interview: Man, we are really straying away from any concept of hardness or heaviness here, aren’t we? Anyway, it’s two dudes from the Black Crowes, and they’re talking about something, but the first time I watched this thing, I got distracted by a big pile of kittens that was on the couch and that stupid Magic-style card game that the WWE put out for people’s new-fangled cellaphones, and I can’t be bothered with Black Crowe types when Chunk is attacking Buzz’s tail and I only need a few more cards to fully level up my pair of Ultra Rare Erick Rowans and combine them into a Pro version of the card. And the second time I skimmed over this for the purpose of getting screen captures, the same kittens had knocked over this giant bottle of Mexican vanilla, and I spent the time putting the bottle upright and scrambling for paper towels. Was a mess, but the kitchen smells like pudding now. Basically, the story of my life is me finding ways to not care about the Black Crowes. It’s not you, Black Crowes; it’s me. Anyway, I think whoever made this sensed that I might be losing interest after this band and that I might not be mentally prepared for another bizarre cartoon transition, so they just flew right into the video for “smells Like Teen Spirit.”


Nirvana Interview: Man. I dunno if this was from before heroin and fame and Courtney Love and whatever other factors were at play finally crushed Kurt Cobain’s spirit and sent him off to voluntarily join the Choir Invisible, but man, these dudes seem to be having a great time. Everything is just jokes and laughs and good times, and there’s this dark shadow hanging over it the whole time, because you’re living in the future, and you know that the dude in the middle blew his fucking head off. Meanwhile, Perry Weepy McSadpants Farrell is still alive and well and sober and putting on festivals every year, and if all you had to go on was Hard N Heavy interviews, you never would have seen that coming. Now I’m remembering back to when the Cobainocaust happened and I was in junior high, and shitheads all across my school showed up with their hair dyed red as some weird show of solidarity with the dude, and it took all my inner reserves of politeness to point out that the dude was varying levels of blonde for most of his life, from birth to the point where he decided not to have the top of his head anymore. I think that was the first time I had some severe “ugh, these kids today” thoughts, and I was like 13 at the time. Christ, I am old.  So very old. And now that I think about it, Nirvana and the whole Seattle thing that they triggered might very well have been the absolute last time that the new big deal in pop music was something that was actively marketed to people above the age of eleven or so. Grunge happened, then the Kurtpocalypse ruined it, so grunge went away, and the music industry as a whole just sort of threw its hands up and said “fuck it, have some Spice Girls,” and that was the end of finding cool stuff in the tape section of K-Mart. So remember, in a roundabout way, Justin Bieber, One Direction, and that stretch of what felt like a decade where every single Rolling Stone Magazine cover had the Jonas Brothers on it are all probably Courtney Love’s fault.


Faith No More Interview: You know, I like Faith No More and have a bunch of their CDs and all, but I can’t remember a single thing they talked about. I have no specific memories of what was going on at the time, but I was distracted by something, and I can’t remember what that even was. Cell phones, pets, shiny objects, who can say. So I’ll just mention the time a few years after this when Mike Patton had cut his hair off and grown a mustache, and an interview with him came on MTV, and my mom saw it and said something about not liking how smarmy he looked, and that was probably the first time I ever heard that word, and it stuck with me forever. So whenever I see Mike Patton somewhere or hear his name, I immediately think of him as The Smarmy Guy. Smarmy, smarmy, smarmy, smarmy. Smarm.


Chainsaw Kittens Interview:  We still haven’t had an real heavy metal band on this heavy metal video magazine, but it’s taken this long to get to somebody no one’s heard of, so that’s something, I guess?  I think my only recollection of them was seeing them in an ad in some punk ‘zine from ’96 or so, and from what I can recall, it was for a split EP with another band they had done, and it was kind of buried halfway down the page, after a bunch of other bands. Like if the ad was an old wrestling poster, they wouldn’t have been relegated to the “… And Many More” part at the bottom, but they definitely weren’t “Harley Race vs. Wahoo McDaniel” in large print at the top. So I’m pretty sure big things were expected from these dudes on a big-time, major label level, and in the end, they ended up being mid-carders in the underground. Fuck. Anyway, if you held a gun to my head and told me to describe what the song they played on here sounded like, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Like one minute it was there, and the next it was gone from my brain forever; some serious “change it until a good video comes on” stuff. I started to zone out on this one, but then the dude on the right mentioned how he was from Bartlesville Oklahoma, and the rest of the band was from Norman, and daaaaang, I used to live in Norman. I might have encountered these dudes in real life. I might have sold them produce at some point. Hell, they never exactly tore up the charts, so I might have even worked with one of them at one point. Then, he starts going off on how everyone here is really into inbreeding, and the starry-eyed wonder of whether I knew any of these guys evaporated, because oh man, that dude just came off like a complete mealy-mouthed little prick. You know what, dude, when I went to the back and got those green onions for you that time, I dropped them on the ground, and I didn’t even wash them off. So nyah. Your band never got big, and your dreams are dead, and I’m glad. Butt. I can’t remember if the dude on the left did anything objectionable, but man, between the hair and the sweater, he totally looks like a Sensitve Best Friend from every movie with a grunge soundtrack, ever. Which can go either way, I guess.


My Sister’s Machine Interview: Gotta get the obvious out of the way first: These dudes sound exactly like Alice in Chains, like to a creepy extent, maybe as much as Alice in Chains sounds like Alice in Chains. It is weird.  And not like some “Stone Temple Pilots are ripping off Pearl Jam, despite the two bands not actually sounding even the slightest bit alike” junk either; I mean they sound just like Alice in Chains, for real. And whoever the unseen interviewer is was probably at least somewhat of a little shit-disturber, because it starts full speed ahead with the singer guy commenting on people saying they sound like Alice in Chains. Weird thing though, is that the guy pretty much just sort of says, “well, yes of course we do.” Which was refreshing as hell, but the guy goes on to point out how they were both from the same place, listened to the same stuff, and a lot of them had been in bands together, so it’s not so much a ripoff as it was two bands evolving from the same things into the same thing. Like what if there was some deeper meaning behind all of this, and the sister referenced in the name was actually Alice, and her Machine involved Chains of some sort, and seriously guys, I’m not high. Anyway, I can’t remember much else from the interview, because I watched this like a week ago, but My sister’s Machine was a pretty good band that probably didn’t make it just because another band was doing the exact same manner of things in public before they were. (and AiC did it better, but I’m trying to be nice here) Bummer. Also, since it’s been a week or so since I watched this, just assume there have been more weird/bad cartoon segments, and just assume they blew my mind.


Megadeth Interview: Finally at the end of the tape, an actual hard and heavy band for a tape called Hard N Heavy. And this was Megadeth not quite at the height of their powers, but early enough on the down slope that a Megadeth CD was something people looked forward to with excitement more so than apprehension. And it’s… not very interesting. It’s just Dave Mustaine talking about the video for “Symphony of Destruction,” while going over political points that 13 year-old me might have heard and gone “wow, this guy really knows his stuff,” but 34 year-old me can tell that he’s not actually saying anything. Religion and business and the military and government, man, and these guys don’t do shit for us anyway, am I right? Like even before he found Jesus, lost his mind, and settled down firmly on the side of religion, business, the military, and government, Dave still kinda sounded like a dope trying to sound smart. Meanwhile, Nick Menza stands beside him silently, because he knows that if any band member other than Mustaine speaks in public, they get put in the box that Dave made, and it gets very hot in the box sometimes. Sometimes, you might disappear forever, like whatever became of Jeff Young or Chuck Behler. Mustn’t upset the master, precious. Master is very good to us. Yes, yes, he is.

NEXT TIME: I don’t know, because I haven’t watched it yet. Ha!