I’m sure you know, but May has been “Metal Month” over at VH1 Classics. That means lots of metallic countdowns, a bunch of Behind the Musics, and a new four-part documentary, Heavy, airing this week. I happened to catch the first part of Heavy last night, and while it was mildly more interesting than most talking-head shows on VH1, it didn’t offer anything new.
But—and here’s where I make my devil horn hand gesture—to my sheer delight, the channel has also been airing The Decline of Western Civilization, Part II: The Metal Years. The last time I saw this film was on HBO not long after it originally came out in 1988. In other words, I was in 7th grade and was fully under the spell of Motley Crüe, Poison, and the rest. Within the year I’d begun growing my hair, wearing all black all the time, and faux-moshing in my bedroom to Metallica and Anthrax.
Seeing Decline Part II back then was enthralling, just because my adolescent self was shocked that a movie would be made about the music I liked. And of course it didn’t hurt to see Paul Stanley in bed with three hot babes, and the sexy dance competition later on in the film.
Seventeen years later, the documentary was fascinating in a whole new way. It is so much more compelling than Behind the Music or Heavy could ever be, just because the bands don’t get the benefit of mocking themselves in retrospect. Here, they are taking themselves 100% seriously.
Even more fun than watching C. C. Deville say he can’t make this music unless he’s sober, or watching Ozzy Osbourne fail miserably at making breakfast—but not as fun as watching the guy from W.A.S.P pour vodka over his face while floating in a pool, with his mother looking on and only mildly disapproving—is all the wannabe bands that are so damn sure they’re going to make it. Bands like London, Seduce, and Odin. The guys in Odin are the most laughable, as they sit in a hot tub and the singer, Randy O., declares that he'll commit suicide if his band does not make it.
Of course, after the movie was over, I immediately went to the interweb to see if I could find out whether or not he had the Metal Ballz to follow through with it. Of course, no. But I did find this interview, in which Mr. O. has reassuringly not yet risen above self-mockery. The interview—which you really must read—is of the 20 Questions variety, which Randy answered by email just a few short months ago. His response was apparently beyond editing. Here’s my favorite part:
5. Rate a vocalist 1-10. 1 being a joke and 10 being the shit!
Sebastian Bach = 10++++++++++++++++++
John Bush = 7
Bret Michaels =0
Robert Plant =10
Don Dokken =3
David Coverdale =7
Jizzy Pearl =0
Vince Neil =5
Jimmi Bleacher =O
W. Axl Rose = I WILL KICK HIS FUCKING ASS ANY WHERE, ANY TIME, AXL, YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME AXL, I GOT A PIECE AN I WOULD LOVE TO GET IN THE RING WITH THIS RIP OFF ARTIST/freak show. 10 HE IS A GREAT FRONT MAN BUT HE FUCKING guy RIPED MY ASS OFF I SEEN HEM AT SO MANY OF THE ODIN SHOWS FRONT AND CENTER AND BACK STAGE AS WELL ... I do want to play with slash. And before I die I hope to get that chance.
6. What rock star deserves a smack in the mouth and why?
AXL. FOR BEING SUCH A DUMB ASS BREAKING UP THE NEXT STONES, LED ZEPPLIN I CAN KEEP GOING. I WOULD LOVE TO GIVE AXL A SMACK
IF HE WASINT SUCH AN ASS HOLE he would give a little credit to the O man
The man obviously has very complicated feelings about Axl Rose. Surely he’s written a thank-you letter to Tommy Hilfiger this week, after the fey designer delivered Rose some "November Pain."
Metal Month is not over yet. If you haven’t seen Decline Part II lately, or if you haven’t seen it before at all—even if you weren’t a fan of the music—check your local listings. It will be re-aired a couple more times before the month is over.