This is a long post, so enjoy it.
As the foremost authority on washed-up metal nobodies, Metal Inquisition takes it's job seriously. It's for this very reason that we had a hard time ignoring the two emails that were sitting in our inbox, asking where "thrash metal grandfather" Jonny Z is these days. Granted, these emails were from Jonny himself, but nevertheless we found the challenge worth pursuing.
Who is Jonny Z?
If you don't know who Jonny Z is, don't worry...you're not missing much. I could play the "I'm way old school" card and make fun of you for not knowing...but really, what would that say about me? To make a big deal about my vast metal knowledge would be like bragging about the fact that I know in which episode of Perfect Strangers Balki mixes up the sugar and the salt (episode 18 by the way). While some might be impressed with such amazing knowledge, pretty much everyone would laugh at me and point...as so many people (mostly women) have done throughout my life. Having said that, I'll give you a quick rundown on why Jonny Z is mildly important, within a musical style that was itself only mildly important (more than 15 years ago) to a small group of acne-faced teenagers.
Is that Johnny Z and Billy Milano having a perfectly normal homoerotic moment at an MOD show as they both sing into a phallus....or is it two disgusting fat Italians fighting over an ice cream cone?
Jonny Z had record store in a flea market in New Jersey. He signed Anthrax and Metallica, ran Megaforce records, and then listed himself and the Executive Producer of every horrible thrash metal album throughout the 80's, in order to keep making money off of these bands long after their members had been forced to sell their Toyota Corolla's in order to pay rent at their parent's houses. This, more or less, is all you need to know. I'll stop there, because the idea of looking into the seedy underbelly (and what a fat belly it is) of Johnny Z's musical career simply brings up troubling and painful memories for all of us. What troubling memories you ask? Well, much like a Vietnam vet has trouble sleeping under ceiling fans, I too have issues remembering all that was the 80s thrash scene, and Megaforce Record's output in particular. One part Holocaust, and one part 9-11, the musical output of Megaforce Records and the bands associated with Jonny Z are enough to make even the strongest man dry-heave. There's Overkill, Anthrax's, MOD's Surfin' MOD, not to mention the entire Testament catalog. Yes, "Practice What You Preach", I'm looking at you, and your badly mixed bass. But anyway....why are we looking into the matter of where Jonny Z is today? Well, there's those two emails from him that I mentioned earlier where he begged for some exposure in order to sell the six thousand remaining copies of the first Kings X album that are still sitting in his basement (by the way, remember how Kings X were deemed to be "the new Beatles" by the press, including Rolling Stone?) Aside from the emails urging us to talk about him, there was the unbelievable curiosity we had regarding what kind of house being the "executive producer" on Kill 'Em All, and that one live Trust album will buy you. It was with that question in mind that I released the Metal Inquisition hounds, in order to find Mr Z. By the way, I don't use the phrase "releasing the hounds" as a figure of speech. Most of our investigative reporting is done by an actual group of hounds, five well-trained dachshunds to be exact. These dachshunds have a real nose for sniffing out thrash metal empresarios, the movers and shakers of metal if you will. Sadly, because their training is in searching for "emprasarios", they returned rather quickly to the MI headquarters having found no information. I quickly realized my error. I had told them to look for an "empresario", not a fat annoying guy who is best known for his cameo in MOD's True Colors video. Having realized my error, I gave them a new task: "Go look for information about fat Italian dudes who produced Attack Of The Killer B's, and profit from the work of lesser douchebags." This was a command they understood. Sadly, they found Alex Perialas' house in Ithica NY. By the way, how great is it that if Alex Perialas, a man who accomplished so much during his life, ever Googles himself, he'll see that our blog comes up higher in the results than his own MySpace page. He recently wrote a comment on that post about his house, which leads me to believe that he's an okay guy....even if he did produce Overkill's entire catalog. His comment said:
Alex@pyramidsounstudios.com said... AP says life is good and I still know how to get a guitar tone bitches!! This site is some funny sh*t.
Thank you Alex!
Where is Jonny Z today?
At first, I thought I had found this elusive figure of the metal world rather easily. I assumed, incorrectly, that Jonny had finally gone ahead and tried his hand at crafting his own music, rather than simply profiting from the tiny amount of talent that bands like Anthrax could piece together. I found this CD, and thought I had found my man. I quickly realized that wasn't the right Jonny. Then, I found another Johnny Z in the greater New York City area who claims to be a "maestro of sound and entertainment", which means he will DJ your son's Bar Mitzvah, or your amazingly fun company picnic. Quickly, however, I realized I had found the wrong Johnny Z. While they are both "maestros of sound and entertainment" (what would you call the I'm The Man EP after all), one was fatter than the other. With the MI hounds still out searching, I realized how horrible I really am at investigative work, and how terrible the MI dachshunds are at their job.
Having found the wrong Johnny Z twice over, I re-re-released the hounds...having had them smell a copy of SOD's album to track the scent. Quickly, the correct Jonny was found by the MI hounds. Redemption at last. Jonny Z, the real one, lives in Bucks County Pennsylvania. He lives right by the New Jersey border, which I fully understand. Much like flies don't often fly far away from feces...Italians don't often move far away from Jersey. My excuses to fellow poster Mr Gene Hoglan's balls who is both Italian and a Jersey resident. I know he wont be offended, however, because he knows these things are true. I mean, if I suddenly explained the concept of gravity to you...would you be offended? No, because you know it's true. You'd probably say "Right, right, I know...keep going with your story already...sheesh." So anyway, he lives in Pennsylvania now...not New York or New Jersey. Why?
Having co-opted what little juice and iconography the New York City hardcore scene had back in the day (see picture above), I suspect that Mr Z and his family had to flee the greater New York City area in fear of retaliation from members of DMS, or perhaps because of threats from from New Jersey's own Mucky Pup. Those dudes were straight up Jersey gangsta's. Just look at this terrifying picture that the New Jersey Gang Task force sent me:
Can you really blame Jonny Z for having fled New Jersey due to fear of retaliation from Mucky Pup? These guys are a mix of extras from the Sopranos, with a tiny bit of Juggalo, and two parts douchebag thrown in for good measure. Man, nothing says class like purple MC Hammer pants, a sweet Nike tracksuit and dress shoes.
Funny you should ask, because the Metal Inquisition hounds came back from Bucks county quickly, and much like Lassie, their doggie noises were easy to decipher. "What is it girl? Where does he live? Near New Jersey? What? You want to take me to his house? It's by the well? Please take me there!" So I followed the hounds, and they took me here:
Now look...I'll be honest with you. As much as I want to laugh at the non-cohesive styling cues of the house, as much as I want to laugh about it's "1984 contractor chic" aesthetic values, or its unsuccessful blend of materials and decidedly middle class decor...I have to admit I was surprised that Mr Z could live in a house that is not falling apart. It's size alone was not what I expected. At 1.9 million dollars, in what is basically a semi-rural area of the east coast, I guess being the executive producer in Kill Em All as well as Fistful of Metal really does pay the bills. Seeing this house (all 5 bedrooms, 6 baths and 7,669 square feet of it) suddenly made me feel bad for Joey Belladonna. Why? Because earlier this year, we reported that Joey was living in upstate new york in a house that is merely valued at 300k. How can this be? Jonny Z has a nicer house than the guy who played drums in the musical epic known as I'm The Man? Life, it turns out, is not fair at all. I mean, was Jonny the one waring the indian head dress on stage for all those years? No. Was Jonny there to coach Scott Ian through his hairloss tantrums of '87? No. It was Joey who was there...and now Jonny Z has a nicer and bigger house? Joey is so broke these days, he can't even afford a full mic stand. As a result of all this information, I have finally been able to answer one of humanity's most pressing questions: Does god exist. The answer: Yes, there is a god. Sadly, like most of us, he hates Joey Belladonna.
Back to Jonny Z's house. As much as I was ready to laugh at his tiny, shitty house...I have to say that the house's hefty pricetag (1.9 million) left me silent. Suddenly, the Metal Inquisition offices were almost completely quiet, and all that could be heard was Seargent D practicing the main riff from Forced Entry's "Macrocosm, Microcosm" on his guitar. Putting the Forced Entry song aside, I suddenly felt guilty about having wanted Jonny Z to be living in a small house that looked like a pile of rubble, much like members from Manowar do. I remembered the last time I had a similar feeling of guilt, which was when Peter Steele of Type O Negative (and, more importantly, Carnivore) did a spread for Playgirl. I remember wanting to laugh at Mr Steele's man-junk, but when faced with photographic evidence of what he was working with...I suddenly felt shame, sadness and desperation. Wait a second...wait. Did I just willingly tell the whole world that I saw Peter Steele's Playgirl layout? Damn this truth serum, damn it all to hell!
See, I can explain...although I KNOW that my explanation sounds as made up as they come. Hear me out. When that magazine came out, I was living in Miami. My friend had introduced me to a gay friend of her's, who was an ex-punk rocker turned drag queen. A stretch, I know. This guy had the magazine, and showed it to me. I know you will all say I made this up...but it's totally true.
Okay, where was I? Oh yes, his house. So there you have it...it's big. Bigger than Joey's, and not too horrible looking considering the awful taste that Italians usually have, and the low quality of construction available in the United States.
What else is Jonny Z up to?
Like any other 57 year old man-child, Jonny has a Myspace page and a blog. It's in his blog that we can learn the most about this unlovable man...the man who first had Raven tour in the United Sates. Did you just read what I typed? This is the guy we can thank for bringing Raven to the US? Wow, next up I'll do an article about the Immigration officials who signed the visas for the 9-11 hijackers. But back to his blog. In said blog, we learn about Jonny's obsessive collecting of Nightmare Before Christmas action figures. Just read the quote below, which surely explains his passion for this movie:
“It made me think…What is this Jack really all about…is he really as deep and complex as these faces portray him….we figured there must be something more to this film…” - Jonny Z
If that statement doesn't grab you and tugs away at your heartstrings (mine are tuned to a drop C, for heavier riffing) I don't know what will. I don't know exactly what that quote means, so I'll leave it up to you to figure it out (much like a community college proffesor would when introuducing his students to Nietzsche). I do understand one portion of this quote, however, and that's the question he poses, that of there being "more to this film." As it turns out, MI staff contacted Tim Burton to see if there WAS in fact more to this film. We called his office, and identified ourselves as the guys who "wrote that funny post about the houses that the guys from Manowar live in". They hung up. So that settles that one. Oh, I forgot to mention that Jonny Z also owns an action figure store in New Hope PA, and lists the following people as his heroes:
- Malcolm X
- Ahmet Ertegun (founder of Atlantic Records)
- His wife
I'll let you all ponder that list, but rest assured that some PhD theseis work will be done on it very soon.
What do the demi-stars of thrash metal say about Jonny Z? What does the media say about Jonny Z?
I know that all of you consider us to be the absolute authorities on horrible music that no one cares about, and we thank you for that. Still, in order to keep our status as a peer-reviewed scholastic journal, we have allowed almost-well known bands comment on the man himself. Please watch the videos below.
First, let's all watch a news story about Jonny Z's Rock N' Roll heaven record store from back in the day.
In this video, Anthrax talk about the famed store that Jonny Z had in a New Jersey flea market, a store that has been discussed in every single interview that Anthrax, SOD, Raven, Venom, Testament and Overkill ever did. Megaforce Records insisted that all bands signed to the label mention the store, and Jonny's importance to the scene in all interviews. In some videos, you can actually see Jonny standing off camera pointing a gun to their bands, thus insuring that all mentions of him were included. Jonny Z is first mentioned in this video at 1:10. Please don't get distracted by the amazing poodle haircuts or hairy eyebrows.
Incredibly annoying video of Overkill, where they discuss Megaforce records and Jonny Z...as they were contractually obligated to do. Like most bands from Jersey and Long Island, Overkill claimed to be from New York City, as you can see in this video. Please note the fashion statements made in the video, which are incredibly tasteful. Notice how the one guitar player who always tried his hardest to look exactly like James Heatfiled (even using the same guitar as James and rocking the same long sweatbans on his forearms) takes a break from swinging from Metallica's balls and quickly pays homage to Max Cavalera by wearing some sensible urban camo. Johnny Z/Megaforce Records mention occurs :30 seconds in.
So what have we learned today? Absolutely nothing...except that making Lars Ulrich share some of his wealth as a result of you having been the executive producer on one of his albums almost 30 years ago will buy you an almost-nice house in Eastern Pennsylvania. Class dismissed.