Sitting backstage at one of the biggest rock festivals in the South should be reveared as one of the highlights of my writing career. Watching people mill around, looking at the staged instruments of the next 3 bands to play, looking to see if that was COREY TAYLOR that just breezed by, if I would get to bump into MIKE MUIR from SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, talk to JOSH RAND of STONE SOUR, or knowing that beyond the edge of the stage was the dropping off point where literally thousands of fans could watch the efforts of this giant production come together seemingly effortlessly for their viewing pleasure. 

On this Saturday, some of the most influential musicians were to grace this massive stage and this night was special because originally scheduled, that would not be here was SOUNDGARDEN. We all know the story and well, if you're reading this hundreds of years in the future and aren't sure why SOUNDGARDEN wouldn't be playing on May 26th, 2017 - go look it up. I do not want to go into the deets here because this isn't about SOUNDGARDEN or CHRIS CORNELL, they just happen to be part of the story. LIVE, the band from the mid 90's who wrote one of my favorite songs LIGHTENING CRASHES, would play instead and now that doesn't seem like a fair trade off, it would have been if what happened, had not. 

Prior to getting backstage on the main stage, we were in the Media area doing the press dance with bands and I was patiently waiting for an email to come through with the time I was to meet the guitar player in the band that changed the course of Rock Music forever by seeding the part of the branch of Rock that we now call Heavy Metal, specifically Thrash. His style of playing is THE reason that bands like METALLICA, MEGADETH and SLAYER even exist. I mean, honestly for me, this was huge and interviewing this man was the sole reason I took this gig.  As the afternoon was coming to a close and I was wrapping up with the band Ded., I kept seeing a man I thought looked familiar, walking around the media tent back and forth from the stage. I thought he was either lost, or looking for someone and I made a mental note as I was talking to members of the band Ded. that when he made another pass, I would stop him and introduce myself.

I didn't get that opportunity though. Literally about 20 minutes after I said my last words to JOE COTELA of Ded., we were shuffled to shelter from a massive storm that included a tornando warning that was bearing down, right at that moment. The shelter we were herded into like cattle was the main stage. Now, we were upstairs in this loft that overlooked the stage with all of the gear and people flitting around like a flies to honey. The massive and I might add, thin garage doors were down to protect us; which we realized that was just as much protection as a piece of tin foil in the even a tornado was to roll through the grounds. 

Yep, we were right in the thick of a huge weather system in northern Oklahoma; the magnet for tornadic systems to pop up at any given moment. We were at ROCKLAHOMA 2017 where fans had been "rocked like a hurricane" only with tornadoes, the last three years. For the next two and a half hours, we took shelter with about 100 other VIP fans, tour managers, sound engineers and stage crew members waiting out the storm, in hopes out campsite was still in tact about a mile away.

We went down from the loft area to sit down after standing up for almost two hours. After sitting for about 5 minutes on a riser a familiar shuffle of a person walks by and sits down on the riser next to a lady I was sitting next to. I looked over at my manfriend, MF for short (that's what I call him because he is not a boy in any regard) and he smiles and says, "Guess you are supposed to get that interview afterall!". It was BRIAN TATLER, of the band that is the reason we were all there if you want to drill down to the origin of Heavy Metal; DIAMOND HEAD. I smiled back at the glorious MF and leaned over to my left. 

"Mr. Tatler?", I asked after tapping him on the arm. He looked over as I introduced myself and we started talking about our containment in probably the most dangerous place we could be in if a tornado blew through this very spot. Being from the U.K., he wasn't accustomed to this weather and was a little stressed to say the least. We kept talking behind the back of the stranger in the middle and I told him that I was scheduled to interview him but that I my connection to the Internet was shotty at best and I wasn't getting my email which made it almost impossible for me to do my job. He said that he was not getting good service either and we grumbled about that. He was disappointed that the band would not be playing because they had a flight the next day at 10 AM and wondered how the festival would handle the backlash from people and artists that didn't get to play. 

My favorite part of our conversation was his account of how the music he was writing evolved from bands like DEEP PURPLE, JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN and why they wrote lyrics like AM I EVIL (1980): 

My mother was a witch, she was burned alive
Thankless little bitch, for the tears I cried
Take her down now, don't wanna see her face
Blistered and burnt, can't hide my disgrace

27 every one was nice, gotta see them,
Make them pay the price
See their bodies out on the ice, take my time

Am I evil, yes I am
Am I evil, I am man

The answer he gave me, totally surprised me. And while I won't reveal it here, if I get the chance to sit with him again, this will be one of the things we talk about the most. It is so godam interesting and why the relevance of music as art has been overshadowed by those that people that want to compartmentalize the reactions of the human condition. 

Ras walked by and Brian grabbed him and introduced us and we exchanged a handshake and the "what's up's". Brian and I continued talking about his thoughts on being what he is to music, those he directly influenced and why DIAMOND HEAD is making a comeback now, 39 years later. While I won't tell you what he said, I can tell you how he said it. He said it with the most revered place of gratitude to the bands that were before him. How excited he was that Ras had made strides with metal fans as the new signer for DIAMOND HEAD a few years back. 

When most people his age were in retirement, Brian is working. He's touring and playing like a musician in their 20's is playing. He values his ability to still be a part of the craft he started back in 1976. His humble view on his place is so awesome because in many ways DIAMOND HEAD was done before they began. As the conversation was trailing off and it looked like the storm was winding down, he said that he hoped that our paths would cross again and that we could do an interview. I shook his hand and that familiar shuffle carried him out the door. 

DIAMOND HEAD is currently making appearances at festivals all over the world and LIGHTNING TO THE NATIONS was listed in Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time. To watch BRIAN play with DIAMOND HEAD in person would be sick AF and those fans of metal and all the subgenres that spawned from his music should, no better buy their records, support their band and solidify the band's foundation in Metal even more, not only for the band but because their are lessons learned from history. Which ones will stand out and become relevant to you?

Until Next Time - MRML

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