Gateway Bands or How I Got into the Hard Stuff.

16 Jan
Ooh Crikey It's.. Lawnmower Deth

Ooh Crikey It's.. Lawnmower Deth

I hardly have the most extreme taste in music in the world. I’m not fond of death metal or tr00 kvlt anything. I’m not all that excited by Sunn 0))) or Swans. Yet when it comes to parties, my selections are guaranteed to clear the dancefloor in seconds, leaving only perplexed looks and furrowed brows. Perhaps I’m just going to the wrong parties.

It may not be extreme but my taste is certainly not mainstream. You won’t catch me cranking up Keane or raving to Rihanna. There’s a fun little thread on Metal Sucks asking which album turned you onto metal for the first time.

It got me thinking about the various gateway bands that led me from the fringes deep into the various scenes I’ve loved over the years.

Over a few posts, I’ll wind my way through my own personal gateway bands from metal through to punk/grunge/indie, hip-hop, electronic music, jungle, downtempo, dub and back to metal again.

Metal (first time around)

Lawnmower Deth – Ooh Crikey and Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet

It was 1990 and a school trip to France. Bored on the long coach journey of my taped-off-the-radio dance mixes (I was 12 and had 50p a week pocket money), I shared headphones with the guy next to me and this what we listened to, split over two sides of a C90. I badgered him into making me a copy, which I still have.

I realised later that Lawnmower Deth was a thrash-parody but at the time I’d never heard anything like it – I was hooked.

I haven’t listened to this for 20 years but I remember the intensity of experiencing thrash-punk riffage for the first time. The silliness of the songs appealed to my adolescent sense of humour and certainly acted as a trojan horse for the heavy.

I still find myself singing songs like Satan’s Trampoline and Flying Killer Cobs from the Planet Bob as I make breakfast in the morning.

I had no idea until I wrote this post that Lawnmower Deth were on Spotify, which is brilliant, or that they had reformed and were playing major festivals, which is even better. The version on Spotify is the longer 1991 release on Earache, with an extra 10 (!) live tracks.

Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi, the marijuana of the metal world

I know I am not alone in tracing my love of heavy music back to a group of poodle-permed pop-rockers from New Jersey.

Secretly, I still have a soft spot for their finest hour and many fond memories of belting out Livin’ on a Prayer as a drunken teen in the park.

Professing any kind of appreciation for Bon Jovi is fatal for your credibility but there’s a reason why it’s the 21st best-selling album of all time. It’s catchy as hell.

I still know all the words to You Give Love a Bad Name despite the tape having gathered dust for two decades.

Like a sponge, I was soon sucking up all the rock and metal I could copy onto cheap cassettes. Anything from Iron Maiden and Metallica to ZZ Top, Slayer and Ozzy to Rainbow, Guns n’ Roses to Morbid Angel and Anthrax and a whole lot in between. Most of which I still have in an old shoe box and will never throw away.

It’s funny how such cheesy records can kickstart such serious passions! I’d love to about the gateway bands of any of my readers…


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