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So You're Metal. Now What?

If you're reading this website, you like metal. Actually, you probably love it and consider yourself a metalhead. Not a closet metalhead, either. The kind of metalhead that wears the distinction proudly. All your family and friends know that they can give you a Motley Crue T-shirt for your birthday and you'll be happy. Great.

Now what?

How much does metal define you and your life? Recently I realized that maybe metal - the 80s variety of course - was all anyone really knew about me. No, I don't mean like my parents or my husband. They know what really defines me - where I came from and where I'm going.

I wonder if we - as "super fans" - use our music as a shield.

I'm not a shy person, but I'm quiet. I don't easily interject myself into conversations and I don't just walk up to musicians and start talking. I leave that to other people. Still, when I'm in a social situation - and it usually revolves around music - having this website to mention doesn't hurt. But what are we missing?

I wonder if my friends - the people I consider some of my best friends - really know anything about me? Oh sure, Heather knows just about everything about me. But we worked together. We saw or talked to each other every day of the year for over three years in a row. When we weren't at work we were either at a show or shopping. That was life. But the rest? I don't know anymore.

I started a new job at the end of May. I love this job, by the way. But anyway, I was immediately defined as the young rocker. I mean, I didn't do anything to deter this definition - I suppose it fits - but sometimes I feel like I've lost my real identity. Maybe I'm having a pre-mid life crisis or something. The other day, one of my coworkers was talking about Shakespeare. Everyone was stunned when I threw out some facts and it was as if no one believed that Shakespeare was my focus of study when I was an undergrad. I mean, it's not like you can get a degree in Glam metal. Of course, if you could...I guess I could teach a course on it or something. That might be kind of cool. I digress.

Ever feel unfairly defined as a metal fan? Then again, you can't be who you're not. Respect, walk and all that I guess.

Reader Comments (7)

Sounds like you've encountered some prejudice against certain types of music. There are many stereotypes associated with almost any genre of music, and I think that metal fans are subjected to some of the worst.

Of course, anyone buying into those stereotypes is never a fan of metal, and rather than be open-minded they find it easier to buy into the prevailing dogma of the metal fan as someone of very average intelligence, probably prone to substance abuse, not always practicing proper hygiene, loud, scary, often antisocial, etc., etc.

I think that you'll find that those that believe those stereotypes about metal fans also fall back on other social stereotypes about other "classifications" of people in society because, let's face it, it's a hell of a lot easier than taking the time to actually get to know a person and THEN form an opinion about them. We love our labels within this culture, whether it's metalhead, emo, democrat, republican, jock, brain, or whatever.

I guess that there's nothing wrong with having those labels, but realize that just because a person falls within one of those classifications, that doesn't mean you know all that much about who that person really is. My love of metal, or even just music in general, is just one aspect of my character. It's something that I have a passion for (as do others on this site).

I also have a passion for coaching my 10 year old's baseball team, and do you think some of the other parents would be a little freaked out to learn that I'm a headbanger with an extensive collection of metal music? How about that I love to plug into my Marshall and play at volumes that make my ears bleed? If they didn't already know me, some probably wouldn't want their son to play for me. But I promise you that after having played for me for several years, they wouldn't be frightened by my love of metal at all, because they don't see the 'metal' stereotype when they see me. They see the coach who loves to teach baseball and treats every kid on his team like one of his own. Anyhow, I think you get my point.

I have a 14 year old that loves metal as well, and I think he already notices some of the weird looks he gets when he tells his pop music loving friends that he loves to crank up Megadeth, Dio, Manowar, Ratt, Dokken and many other hard rock/metal bands. I just make sure that he knows that he's not completely defined by the music he chooses to listen to any more than he's completely defined by what baseball team he roots for, or what his favorite kind of food is. I think he's defined by his intelligence and passion for life, by his zeal for living and wanting to get out into the world and make a difference, and probably most importantly by the manner in which he treats others.

I think you're right Allyson, in that sometimes people will use something like their love of one particular thing, like metal, as a shield between them and the rest of the world. It's convenient to let that define who we are and may limit our 'emotional' exposure (for lack of a better term) to others. It also kind of feeds our 'pack' mentality - we like to run with others that share similar interests because often they will also think like we do. I'm as guilty of that as anyone else.

But, I also believe that personal growth is best facilitated by hearing opposing viewpoints and having others expose us to things that we wouldn't normally be exposed to if left to our own devices. So keep an open mind, be proud of who you are and enjoy the opportunity to see that surprised look on the faces of your friends and colleagues when you completely shatter their ridiculous stereotypes. Sorry to be so longwinded.
September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRich
I hold a fairly public position and supervise over 200. Someone said recently, "Oh, you are a former metalhead." I said that is accurate, except I take exception to the "former" part. Define me, please!
September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSMK not SMF
I actually "reverse discriminate" when it comes to my love for music and most all things 80's. I am baffled when someone tells me they don't have a favorite band/genre of music OR that they're just "not that into" music. I cannot fathom a life in which these things did not exist. GOD bless them all. lol.
September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDamnp78
The funny thing is, I'm only very rarely (if ever!) defined as a metalhead. I wear lots of different roles, just like putting on different outfits. But the metal thing generally only comes out when I'm in an audience as a punter.

I work around performers all the time - I talk shop with people - but I only talk about my personal taste in music when I'm asked directly. I never volunteer my opinion on music. I don't bring it up, and therefore it doesn't tend to define me. When those facts ARE exposed, most people are quite dismissive and tend to start excluding me. Even other metalheads tend to do the "glam isn't real metal" thing. That's probably a big reason why I don't bring it up. I don't use glam as a shield - instead, I shield glam.

It's funny but I think a part of that comes from the fact that I don't dress like anything that would locally be described as a "metalhead". Metallers around here are pretty much all clompy workboots and black t-shirts. When I wear that look at work, I just blend in with all the other stage crew! :D But in my downtime it's short skirts and heels, and generally much more glam... only no one in this country really recognizes it as glam because they don't see glam anywhere else. I probably just look like a hooker! :D
September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKiki Chrome
I definitly use music as a shield. I'm more or less not known as a metalhead but I can see some people double take (especially here at Fraciscan University) when i tell them that my influences and likes are Ozzy, Quiet Riot and the like. But yeah, it helps me keep going day in day out.
September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
I've never really dressed or acted metal. I had longish hair as a teen in the 80's, but it was gone in my early 20's. I'm well educated, have a pretty good job, house in suburbia, a family, etc. In other words, metal-guy is not the first impression that people usually get from me.

So as soon as people hear that I'm off to some crazy show, or they hear my car stereo blasting Murderdolls, Pantera, Slipknot or whatever, I always get a reaction something like 'YOU are into METAL?!', as if it's impossible to fathom that someone with a so-called normal life can like this type of music. In some cases, I'm sure that it's lowered the amount of respect they had for me, but whatever. More often than not, I just get a huge kick out of the reaction and love that I'm defined as a metalhead!
September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBryon
Great thoughts, all!

Even Rich, who I now know will keep an open mind when our President lays out his plan of action to fix the economy.

As far as my Metal background is concerned...

Why do you think I pose as an Advertising Executive by day and Metalboy! by night?!

I laff all day long considering the various characters I interact with at major Fortune 500 Companies and if they only knew about the fact that I live, dream, eat, sleep, love all things Metal, even listening to stuff I don't particularly like to expand my knowledge and misguided opinions about it.

But when someone does discover my passion for Metal, they are generally quite tolerant and often amused. Most people are positively fascinated when they learn of my "Heavy Metal Love" (Helix).

If anyone freaks, it's a certain type of woman I would define as conservative. She could be 18 or 50 and anything in between. They're even Alt-Rockers, Grunge Chix, Pop Divas, Rap Chix or a combination of all, but rarely Metal.

And they think I'm psycho if I mention my love for Metal. They actually have this look of incredulous consternation or discount or invalidate everything I say in a conversation from the point I tell them I'm into Metal.

Of course, they could also be detecting that I'm completely nuts, regardless of my "Metalness", hahaha!!!

Same usually goes for their friends, Moms and Dads, Brothers, Sisters and Relatives,Even their dogs, if they aren't into Metal, either.

Then again, I was standing in line to get on an Air Tran flight heading for M3 earlier this summer and the guy in front of me, who looked like a complete Repugnicant A*s (sorry, Rich) in a bad taupe Tommy Bahama shirt and Dockers shorts laffed when I told him where I was headed and said that he had just seen Ratt with his wife and friends and was going to see the Scorpions later that month.

I was flabbergasted, though I kept my cool.

My nephew-in-law, who's just turned 40, is a hard core Metalhead, yet he's a top executive at a major health insurance company and Ozzy is his all time fave. You'd never know it, looking at this guy sporting a Brooks Brother's Polo Shirt with the little lamb on it. Rich, you'll be pleased to know he's a Hardcore Conservative Republican who is also willing to drive the country into the ground by conducting unecessary wars while cutting taxes at the same time.

My niece, age 37, who he's married to, is a total Classic Rocker and listens to stuff like the Stones, "Hot Rocks" on her iPod when working out at the Gym. She's not into Hair Metal or any Metal at all, yet tolerates his appreciation of all things Metal, though, not in her presence and not for the kids, the oldest, aged 6.

I do sometimes sneak their kids stuff like a YouTube clip of "I'll Be There For You" by Black'n'Blue once in a while, as that song has a positive message and the singer looks like an escapee from the scarecrow factory who got caught in a custom painting room at Monster Garage, judging from his outfit.

My youngest niece, there's like is into everything Hard Rock and Metal with a warm spot in her heart for Poison. I only discovered this like 10 years ago when we were discussing bands, go figure.

My eldest niece really isn't into music but says she likes Kix, hahaha!!! When she dropped me off at M3, she reminded me that she saw 'em off "Blow My Fuse".

The one in the middle is totally and forever the 8th member of The Breakfast Club, as her deal is 80's New Wave Pop, though I doubt she even listens to music, per se, with the occasional Electronica Chill Mix CD thrown on for cocktail hour being the exception.

But alot of people like my neices, lose their true passion for the music in general. They've let it go, like a cast off collection of Barbies or Hot Wheels, as they've gotten older because "there are simply more important things in life"... a concept I personally find unfathomable.

And then there is US! Bringbackglammerz all, with our Opinions, Band Obsessions, Borderline Stalker Love For A Particular Artist (right, Kiki? Hahahaha!!!), Dismissive Attitudes Toward Sub Genres of Metal (Guilty! Apologies to most of the NWOBHM!), yet we all come together here to duke it out or not or just comment on Allyson's consistently excellent editorial content including her many contributors who also comment.

I'm sure there are some who have already posted here who may think I'm classifying and delineating, but that is how we define ourselves and others.

Here's to Rick, though, for flagging the need to be open-minded, which I sometimes forget ("Down The Irons" and now Shadow has me listening to the stuff).

Lord knows, I've gone through my musical phases. I really do love it all, but it took me a long time to get back to 80'/90's Hair/Glam/Sleaze Metal and what they seem to be calling a genre that really belongs in the same category but duzn't run the risk of getting an "Explicit. Parental Advisory" Sticker on it, something called 80's/90's AOR Melodic Hard Rock. Done right, the stuff is Metal, well Party Metal or Glam Metal, whatever name we want to slap on it -- basically Warrant knock-offs.

Recently, I have discovered a treasure trove of Indy stuff from those years and I recommend others to do the same if you really love the stuff. You will discover what a huge world the Metal World really is/was.

Allyson more than occasionally posts on some lost gem from the Late 80's or Early 90's that are true discoveries. Kiss Of The Gypsy, a great recent discovery. There is tons of stuff from Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, The U.K., Australia, Japan, all over that sound like they're right off the L.A. Strip circa 1987! And some of it, to be honest, is as good or even superior to all our faves we keep dancing on the head of a pin over.

Then again, it's fun to run across a kid bagging groceries at the Farmer's Market with a Jimmy Page hairdo circa "Song Remains The Same" (the "after the haircut" footage) wearing a Judas Priest T-Shirt with some hottie Teen Queen at the register all fascinated as we discuss the Battle of the Bands he just won and his bag, no pun intended, is not Pennyback (Sorry, there, Al) Slipshod (Sorry, Bry) or Hindirt or whatever band du jour that basically sounds like Darius Whozeewots fronting a super group formed by former members of Slayer and Creed.

We talk about the Utopian Ideal to Bring Back Glam! and it is, to some degree, happening, more than ever, through a significant number of 'True Teenage Rockin' Metal Believers' who have inadvertantly been exposed to it by Rockband and Guitar Hero as well as Dad's CD collection.

I was also given encouragement by a recent visit to Bed Bath & Beyond, another horrifying place that is further testament as to what is wrong with this country. The old lady that was helping me had a rose tattoo on her arm. Something came over me to ask her if she had ever seen any rock concerts. "Yes", she replied. "Which one was your favorite?", I asked.

"Oh, that would have to be Led Zeppelin"

"Have you ever heard of Ratt"

"Oh, yes."

Metalheads Unite! (except if you like Anthrax, hahaha!!!)

Metal Horns Up!


A long time ago around '69
They gave it to the little child
You were born to Rock!

You were gonna tell who to burn
To immortal fame
By holding up a wicked flame
That you were never gonna stop

I want it
Time and time again
I need it
Or I will go insane

I got it racing through my veins
Since the day I heard my name

Born To Rock!
I was Born To Roll!
From the day I was born!
I was Born to Rock!
Born to Roll!

All right! C'mon!
Show your stuff!
Are you here?
Are you with us?

Get Ready to Roll!

-- excerpt from "Born To Rock" by Sweet Lips, from the album, "XOXO", Released November 1990 on Vogue Records, France (Happy Hunting, Glam Gang! This one so ROXX!)
September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!

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