Monday, June 2, 2008

My Guitar Pick Collection

Out of all the relics I still own from my golden years in the world of metal (1990-1995), I think my humble collection of guitar picks is both my favorite and most cringe-worthy. Here are the stories behind these picks.

I remember the Deicide show where I scored this priceless Glen Benton pick, they were touring for Legion. At the time, I loved Deicide but I was already aware of how silly they were, and I remember laughing as Glen growled "I smell a christian in the audience" between songs. This was the tour during which they started selling the tshirts that said "the killing of all that is holy" on the back. Nearly every redneck in the audience was rocking that shirt, and Glen was wearing that ridiculous mask during the first three songs or so. Remember that mask? It looked like something your mom would buy from the African decor section of Pier 1, or World Market to hang on the wall. In retrospect, the whole thing seems so incredibly ridiculous. To be fair, my going down on the beer soaked floor to find the pick Glen had thrown mid-song is just as ridiculous.

Here we see Glen's reaction upon hearing playback of what the bass drums sounded like in every Deicide album that was recorded at Morrisound.

Another Glen Benton story. My brother and I wrote a letter to Metal Maniacs back then and it was published. Because of that letter, we got lots of mail from people all over the country, including a few from people in prison. I guess those metal dudes in the slammer would, from time to time, get tired of raping each other and would write people whose addresses were printed in magazines. One guy wrote us from a prison in a nearby state, and sent us a photocopy of a drawing he had done of Glen Benton. I would give my left hand to have that drawing today. Anyway, along with that drawing he sent us two pictures, one of him and his creepy redneck/metal buddies in jail, and the second one was of him meeting Glen at the very show where I caught this pick. In the background of that picture, it was possible to see yours truly standing around staring at Glen Benton. Even though I remember thinking Glen was a douche at the time, the picture tells another story. I seem to be admiring the I guess my memory must be a bit cloudy.

This pick is from the first reunion tour the Misfits did in 1996. I remember hearing before the show that their new singer was called Michael Graves. I was psyched to see the leading Postmodernist architect and product designer singing for such an influential punk band. Sadly, it was not that Michael Graves. It was Michale Graves (note the spelling), and he turned out to be a dope, and a bit of a creep.

The guy I was hoping to see as the new singer of the Misfits

Anyway, before the show we saw a large crowd gathering in the club's parking lot. It looked like a fight was about to go down, but as we got closer we saw that it was something far more sinister. Members of the Misfits had a bench press on tour, and they were lifting as the small audience cheered them on and counted their reps. This is without a doubt the silliest moment in musical history.

This one barely has a story. I saw Gorefest play with Fear Factory, and I found this pick on the floor shortly after their set on the side of the floor in front of the bass player who was going through picks like Paul Stanley. I was bummed that the pick was a generic Duncan, and that I couldn't get the guy from Gorefest that threw it out to sign it. So I put the awful "GF" you see here in Sharpie. Aside form being a boring story, it's also a bit embarfassing.

My brother gave me this sweet Helloween guitar pick as a gift. It glows in the dark! That's no joke. The other side has the name "Markus" in a script typeface. Markus is Helloween's bass player. If you didn't know that, go punch yourself in the face six times. My brother got the pick, if I remember correctly, from a guy that worked at a guitar pick factory. What an awesome job...just sitting there inhaling plastic fumes all day, screening the Helloween pumpkin on guitar picks. Some guys have all the luck.

Fear Factory guitar pick that was given to me and signed by Dino Cazares. He helped my brother and I get in for free to this show by making us carry his guitars and pretending we were his roadies. Fear Factory had little pull in the world of metal back then, so he couldn't add us to the guest list. I remember him being really short. I also remember standing behind the drumset during Fear Factory's set and watching Raymond Herrera play with huge steel-toe construction boots. The man was a machine that night. A Mexican, boot-wearing, drumming machine.

I honestly don't remember seeing Panic play, though they may have played with Epidemic at some point. Those two bands were guilty pleasures of mine, since they were still playing somewhat melodic thrash during the height of the death metal years. They dressed like absolute dopes though, somewhere between Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted's Excellent adventure, and those awkward metal kids in your school that tried to skate because they saw a picture of Scott Ian with a Variflex board somewhere.

This pick is perhaps the one that brings me the most shame. Signed by Obituary's bass player Frank Watkins, this may look like a simple pick to you...but it's not. It's a symbol of my stupidity. Obituary did a signing in a small, out of the way record store before their show that day. My brother and I went, and waited in line with a handful of people in order to get stuff signed. We had a couple of posters and pictures taken out of our more recent Metal Maniacs, and they were kind enough to sign everything. Since there were so few people there, we made some conversation with the guys, and they joked about having to sign old pictures of the band, back from when James Murphy was still in the band. I remember the drew horns on Murphy's head, and (I believe) wrote the word "fag" on his forehead. I have to find that poster to confirm this. In any case, my brother and I left and went towards the neighborhood where the show was. With hours to kill, we walked around until we saw the members of Obituary having lunch in a quiet restaurant. I waved to them, ans signaled that I wanted to come into the restaurant. The rest of the story is blury to me, but I swear that it's true. I remember sitting there, on the bench of a booth next to theirs basically watching them eat. I have no idea why I did's so incredibly embarrassing to even think about. As much as I liked Obituary, they were certainly not a band I was absolutely nuts for in a Menudo sort of way, but this anecdote tells another story. I can't remember how long I was there, or if they talked to me at all during that time. I think I asked them some questions, and probably made awful attempts at conversation. I'm surprised they put up with me at all. From there, I honestly believe that I followed them to the venue and got to go backstage with them. I barely remember this, but I have proof...and that proof is the pick. I remember the guys being nice enough to sign picks for me (probably trying to get me to leave), and Donald Tardy gave me two signed sticks (which I still have), and I watched Obituary play from the side of the stage. Donald was hitting fantastic rimshots every time, and his playing was hypnotic. I'm amazed that I only remember small details of that day, but perhaps its for the best. Following Obituary around like they were the Spice Girls is something I'll never forget. But clearly, I actually have.

Another post-show find from the floor of a venue, this one had real meaning to me back in the day. I was a huge D.R.I. fan as a kid, and getting to see them live nearly blew my mind. They were opening for Testament during that tour, but where I lived they were booked as headliners. Their opening band was called The Legacy, which is a Testament song, and album and was their original name. It didn't take a genius to figure out Testament would be opening, but the hush-hush quality of that show still makes me scratch me head. I had heard of Metallica booking themselves unanounced in small clubs as The Four Horsemen. Megadeth, in an attempt to do everything Metallica has ever done, had often booked themselves as Vic And The Rattleheads. I could undersand the reason why a band that would normally play arenas or stadiums at one point having to use an alias (however unimaginative or ill conceived) in order to play a club. Testament, however, was playing the very venue they had played only months earlier, and would play again the subsequent year.

Stupid facial piercings? Check. Contrived facial hair? Check. Cornrows? Check. Man-tits? Check. The angle and position of his his horn-throwing hand reminds me of that insanely racist black impression Robin Williams does. You know, the one when he holds out his hand at that very angle and says "yo yo yo", and then crosses his arms ala RUN DMC circa 1984. Ugh.

When they came out on stage, Chuck Billy came out and suddenly said "Ha ha! We are........TESTAMENT!". You could hear chirps in the silence of the crowd. Anyway, Testament played a good set of only old songs, but D.R.I. blew them away. By this point, Definition had just come out, and they were clearly limping along (musically speaking) but the show as fantastic.


  1. The Misfits "bench press" story is fucking priceless. Hilarious.

    Oh, and I still think "Acid Rain" is the best D.R.I. song ever. No question.

  2. Haha, that Glen Benton story reads just like some Twilight Zone script. I mean, I would laugh my ass of and be creeped out at the same time if I ever recieved a bunch of pics like that from an inmate.

    And I'm probably making it seem better in my head but please post that drawing if you ever find it. I need closure!

  3. I saw Deicide three times during the '90's, they were always on tour with a band I wanted to see (Dismember, Kreator, and one I forget now). I hate Deicide. Boring live band. Had less than zero on Kreator circa 1994.
    Anyway, at my first Deicide show I was waiting in line for the pisser, which is sort of backstage at the Masquerade in Atlanta. I saw Glen pacing around between bands scowling at Creation. He was wearing a black trenchcoat, need I say more?

  4. i am very proud to say that my brother out did himself with this post. i remember every story on here, so let me fill in some blanks:

    - the deicide dhow was with vader.

    - the guy in jail was in a prison in indiana and we never wrote him back.

    - we saw misfits twice on that tour. first in louisville. a girl showed her tits to a roadie to get the set list after the show.

    - i love michale graves misfits, i dont care what people think of me.

    - michale was not lifting weights in the street, it was just jerry and doyle. dorks.

    - that gorefest show was with dismember and FF. that was the second time we'd see FF and dino remembered us. we were SO happy.

    - the story on the helloween pick is 100% tru. my friend worked in the place they made picks. i have a few others from him, including a set of slayer picks, one for each dude.

    - the FF show on this story was with obituary and it was the same show we got their pick and drumsticks, BUT that was NOT the obituary show where he sat in a perkins like a retard. of course i was sitting outside, wishing i was inside with him. 'cuz he was so damn cool, he got to chill with obituary. that show was with cancer.

    - DRI are awesome live. i saw them recently and they still kick ass. before this show my bro hung out with kurt in the bus. im surprised he didn't mention that part.

    hey, bro, you gotta bust out the flower that john tardy drew for you!

  5. AWESOME - Thank you. I think this is the funniest (you know, the kinda funny but not dumb thing) I ever read in a blog. That little piece about the DEICIDE gig, where your memory collides with the photo of yours, hits the nail right on its head. Metal is so embarassing that we have to have techniques of the self in order to get to grips with the whole thing. "Bending memory" is one of them (blogging another one). Wonderful! More please!

  6. solid post. also, graves-era misfits is great.

  7. Excellent post. I too am a geek when I see a band live. I always hang around and try to meet the band, maybe score the set-list.

    And yes, Michale Graves Misfits is supreme!

  8. misfits suck without danzig and DRI are weak after 4 of a kind. you guys are poseurs.

  9. lucho, maybe that inmate sending you a picture with you in it wasn't just a coincidence, maybe he knew who you were. and now he's pissed 'cause you never wrote him back. and with every rep he benches, he's vowing to "kill that little cocksucker" once he gets out.

  10. Great post! I collect guitar picks too. Great seeing all of your pick. My favorite is a old Johnny Cash guitar pick, by Steve Clayton, Inc.
    It is a black pick with white writing on it. From what I know it is quite a rare one.

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