fanboyjer

Fanboy Jer post #12

Tuff (this is going to be long…deal with it)

Tuff …There is a reason Tuff is the last entry into the Fanboy Jer posts. No one else did the ‘band/fan’ relationship better.  In fact, anyone promoting their own product should be forced to study how Tuff did things.  Sure, times have changed, but the concept of sheer gruntwork hasn’t.  

Tuff worked their asses off D.I.Y. punk-rock style.  They were nationally known before they were signed, selling out the Sunset Strip before they were signed, etc.  When they WERE finally signed by Atlantic Records and released their debut album, “What Comes Around Goes Around” in 1991 …it was all coming to a halt, a grinding, grunging halt to the hair metal ride.  In fact, I’d argue Tuff’s “I Hate Kissing You Goodbye” was the very last song of the genre to reach the masses.  It made it to #3 on Dial MTV (…never forget…) and that was it…for everyone in leather pants.  

Back to 1991 though… I was 16, headed toward 17, devouring Metal Edge magazine, so I was more than aware of 'Rock On The Rise'rs’ Tuff.  I bought the album the day it came out at Record Alley.  Which lead to writing a fan letter, joining their fan club, calling their hotline (which I still know by heart I believe), etc.  You know, same drill as all the others.  I got my newsletters, Dial MTV postcards, birthday wishes, etc.  I even got a swank ass Tuff folder (see above) to house all the incoming mail.

At some point, their lead singer Stevie Rachelle called me to thank me for the support etc.  Things like that automatically increased fandom by 666, so you were ready to work even harder to spread the Tuff rock gospel.  

Months later, Tuff announced a tour date in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, it was as Annies…which was 21 + up, therefore I couldn’t get in (this caused me to miss Tyketto, Southgang, Lillian Axe, Kik Tracee, and more during these crucial hair metal years).  Since my Mom rules, she drove me and my friend Tina down to Annie’s early in the day, with hopes to meet the dudes in Tuff after a soundcheck or something.  Total shot in the dark. 

We arrived at Annie’s to find the Tuff Muff Tour Bus and staked out our spot in the parking lot.  Eventually the guys were coming off the bus, heading in and out of the club.  Tina and I approached the bus, and before I even said anything, Stevie Rachelle from Hell says “Jeremiah?”

Cue my head exploding.

I asked how he knew who I was, to which he replied…and bands take note, this was before cell phones, email, etc…. “Oh, when we hit a town I look up what fans are in the area. I remember calling you a bit ago.”   This still gives me major “WTF?”.

Stevie then proceeded to hang out with us chatting, signing autographs, taking pictures, etc…then, HE.INVITED.US.TO.SEE.THE BUS.

If you didn’t grow up in this time, you simply do not understand this.  I am a 16 year old kid from Kentucky who has only seen tour buses in those “life on the road” Bon Jovi videos.  A tour bus was like the fucking batcave.  Sacred, secret, and only seen by the inner-circle.  This was UNFATHOMABLE in my brain. Stevie even invited my Mom to come hang out, to which she declined and stayed in the car…bless her :)

This day lead to a lifelong friendship with Stevie.  Even when Tuff wasn’t in the public eye anymore or even active at points, Rachelle was sending me birthday cards, Xmas cards, or just calling to check up on me.  Over the years, I was finally able to see Tuff many times.  Stevie has never let me pay for a show, a shirt, a cd, etc.  In fact, sometimes I’d randomly receive a priority mail box full of Tuff and random other band’s stuff he thought I’d dig. 

I continued to push the Tuff name whenever I could help.  For instance, when I started working at Phil’s Records…I took all Stevie’s products on consignment and we were cutting him sales checks a few times a year.   When he released “American Hair Band”, I pulled a pretty good move to get it played locally on the biggest rock station in Cincinnati.  One of their DJ’s came into the store and was hoping to get a discount on some CDs for his “Big Hair” show, so I made him a deal that I’d give him a huge discount if he promised to play “American Hair Band” twice on his show.  He did, it blew up for the show, and I was routinely calling Stevie for more boxes in the following months.  I was thrilled to be still helping out when I could.  It was the least I could do.

Through the years, Stevie has gone above and beyond many other times.  He never treated me like a 'fan’, even from the first phone call.  Here I am in 2012, almost 38 years old, and he still makes the time to check in with that kid in Kentucky, in between putting out a new Tuff record (that rules!), running the infamous Metal Sludge, and being a kick-ass proud father.  The guy is golden.  And it all started with a fan letter….    

Thank you Stevie, much love and respect my brother.

So that wraps up my “Fanboy Jer” series. I hope you dug reading it, as much as I did reliving it.  If I end up coming across other stuff, I’ll still throw them up for fun, we’ll call’m 'bonus tracks’….  but this is the good stuff, the important stuff.  Thanks to all the bands who cared, it meant more than you know.

'Cooper, KISS, the Ozz and Motley, Poison, Axl, Jon Bon Jovi, Skid Row is…the Youth Gone Wild.’

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Fanboy Jer post #4

Stone Temple Pilots / Pearl Jam / Nirvana

Stone Temple Pilots …so now we enter the grunge phase, like the rest of the world.  As much as i love my hair metal, it needed to die as a mass commodity.  People always blame Nirvana, I blame the hair bands themselves.  Anyway, sorry but the grunge years aren’t nearly as interesting.  The only thing I really remember about this is I wrote the letter addressed to Scott Weiland I think…and got a letter from the bass player.  I felt bad because you can see all the effort he put into it, including a signed 8x10.  He did answer my question as to why they thanked the Rollins Band on their album.  Either way, STP fandom was short lived….and i’m glad Robert DeLeo wrote back instead of Weiland, the king of phonies.

Pearl Jam … I am a massive Mother Love Bone fan.  So when news came out that Jeff & Stone’s new band were on the way, I was stoked.  I bought “Ten” the day it came out, a promo copy actually from the local record store.  while this stuff isn’t impressive, I included it to tell a story.  That may look like an 8x10 of Pearl Jam, but it was just a glossy flyer. Pearl Jam’s people sent me stacks and stacks of these to give out.  I took them to local record stores and left them with the free weeklies and posted them on corkboards.   I ended up befriending a guy at Phil’s Records named Charlie and giving him one of these flyers.  We talked about Pearl Jam and Mother Love Bone.  Soon I was bugging him for a job.  I hounded them until they finally hired me in February of 1993.  This lead to pretty much everything for me….friends, family, adventure, etc.  It carved the adult I would become.  It saved my life.   I think Pearl Jam would dig that.  (btw, Pearl Jam on the ‘Ten’ tour is still the greatest show I have ever seen and I still adore the band furiously.)

Nirvana …i had completely forgot about this one.  The entire letter is very Nirvana, including the fun merch order form.  Here is where I blew it though, as you can see…the bottom of the page has parts missing.  I had cut out Kurt, Chris, & Dave’s autographs and put them in a photo album I kept all that stuff in.  I guess the 8.5x11 paper didn’t fit.  Although, if it had been kept in tact, it wouldn’t be here…it’d have been sold on ebay.  Fun Nirvana story… the first time I heard them was in Phil’s Records (a different location than the one mentioned before).  I asked the guy at the counter what was playing, and he said “this is a band called Nirvana.  It comes out in a few weeks.”  It was “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and it grabbed me like it did the rest of the world.  That counter guy would soon become one of the most influential people in my lifetime….from music, to politics, to just learning how to navigate the world. 

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Fanboy Jer post #10 

A few months ago, I posted a collection of crude drawings of various hair metal guys I’d found on the web years ago.  I thought they were hysterical, yet innocently awesome at the same time.

Well, it’s my turn to show my ass now.  I drew these in ‘89 and '91 it looks like from the dates.  It drives me nuts the Skid Row logo is so sloppy, since I could still do that perfectly in my sleep.   I guess I spent excessive time on Bas’ hair and rushed to finish it…Haha.  

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Fanboy Jer post #8

Warrior Soul / Skid Row … 

Warrior Soul … as you can see from these 2 photos, I didn’t fuck around when it came to my 2 favorite bands.  Warrior Soul was a band I really didn’t expect much fan interaction from, as it’s just not really part of what they did.  They were more ‘serious’ than most the bands I was into.  But they had a good fan system set up between the “Salutations..” record and “Chill Pill.”  I remember something to the effect of a point system. The more you did to help spread the word, the better the pay-off. For example, if you wrote to all the magazines on a list and sent photocopies of your letters…you’d get an autographed 8x10 or poster.  Which as you can see, I did.  They also did one of the cooler things I’d encountered.   About 6 to 8 months before “Chill Pill” was released, I got a cassette in the mail with the first 3 songs from that album on it.  The note basically said “these are some new songs we’re working on for the next record, hope you dig.”  No band, on a major label, had ever given away tracks that early for free.  This was pre-internet, so it was a BIG deal to a die-hard like myself. 

I’ve followed Kory Clarke’s career since that first WS record, and still to this day cool shit is happening for me because of his band.  My photography was used all over the live Trouble LP he appeared on (“Live In Los Angeles”) and most recently, I was thanked in the liner notes of the brand new Warrior Soul record “Stiff Middle Finger.”  I didn’t have to 'kickstarter’ or anything like that, Kory thanked me because I’ve stayed in contact and supported all his independent efforts over the years.  Had you told 16 year old me this would EVER happen…no way.  I’m still absolutely that fanboy, driving 4 hours to see them in a few weeks :)

Skid Row …i really wish i had anything of note for the Skid Row portion of this.  They were and are still my all-time favorite band (Bach era only).  However, the band were just too gigantic at the time to be part of any fan stuff.  Their “fan club” was one of those deals where it was ran by a professional company who specialized in that sort of thing.  You got the same package of newsletters, guitar picks, bios, and xeroxed autograph photos as you would for any platinum artist. No perks. No connection.  I belonged to 2 different ones they ran over the years, the Skid Rowd Crew and the Chain Gang.  I’m only documenting them here because it’s them, therefore it was important to me. I basically paid $10 or $15 bucks for all that crap. Lame. However, I would like to note years later I met all the various members of the band except Rob, and they were very fan friendly and into hanging out.  Sebastian Bach gets a lot of shit for being what everyone wants him to be, a rockstar lead singer…but the dude was always over-the-top great to me.

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Fanboy Jer post #6

New Bomb Turks / Chainsaw Kittens

The New Bomb Turks …remember the counter guy who told me about Nirvana? Well, after I started working at the record store, in one evening he turned me on to the Jesus Lizard, the Laughing Hyenas, and The New Bomb Turks.  Those three bands in ONE NIGHT.  It was like he jammed a stick of dynamite in my mouth.  Head Exploded.  The bizarre part of finding all this is I have no recollection of corresponding with Eric Davidson (the singer) at all.  Yet, here’s a pile of them.  Fun facts… I once saw the New Bomb Turks play on a bowling lane, at what seemed to be an abandoned Red Lobster in Dayton, Ohio.  To show how things come full circle, I once had a guy tell me “you sold me my first New Bomb Turks record. I owe you.”  Also, the subtitle of my tumblr is taken from this song

Chainsaw Kittens …A “Florence Phil’s” band.  Meaning, one of the main bands we played constantly at the Florence, KY location of the record store I worked at (Phil’s Records).  We all loved “Flipped Out In Singapore.”  It’d put it in my top 10 albums of all-time easily.  The singer, Tyson Todd Meade, was this dainty little man with a southern drawl who could let out a face-clawing scream with the best of them.  Once I dove into the Kittens stuff, I found out Tyson was also a gay man.  As a WAAAAAAY in-the-closet 18 year old, it was rad to find another homo who like to rock instead of dance.   I’ve never talked about that to anyone, so you’re getting a scoop here tumblr pals.  He was/is a big inspiration.  The ‘Zen Kitty’ Newsletters you see in the photo always came with a nice little personalized note from Tyson at the end.  After the Kittens end, Tyson eventually ended up in Shanghai teaching English.  After many years away from the music world, he is currently working on an album with his Chinese students that was funded through a kickstarter campaign.  I’m stoked to hear it…it’s good to have him back in front of a microphone.  

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Fanboy Jer post #3

Armored Saint / John Bush 

Armored Saint  …here we begin my transition into heavier stuff.  I fell in massive love with Armored Saint’s “Symbol of Salvation” album.  Fired off a fan letter and John Bush wrote me back this letter, as well as throwing in a pin and sticker.  I love his words of encouragement at the end.   I still think “Sound of White Noise” and “Stomp 442” are the best Anthrax records.  I’m glad John is doing well with voiceover work now.  

Fanboy Jer post #11

God this is embarrassing to read, so you better enjoy the laugh.

Writing to the magazines all the time, one of my letters finally got published in RIP Magazine.  RIP was far and away THEE cool magazine….they covered all facets of the hard rock world, not just the hair metal.

I must confess, the “Metal Edge” line was absolutely calculated to attempt to get printed.  It worked, so don’t judge me!  Metal Edge definitely had a ‘Teen Beat’ slant to the way Gerri Miller ran it. Truth be told, I had a subscription to both magazines and Metal Edge was my hair metal bible.  I actually had a letter or two published in that magazine as well.

All those magazines back in the day were so vital.  From news to networking.  None of them aged gracefully though, and the last few years of print hard rock mags were dismal.  But I’m not here to talk about that, I’m here to celebrate the “Ask Del James” and “Rock On The Rise” eras.

Those magazines meant a lot and gave me some of the best times of my life.  I still have friends to this day that I made because of penpalling through the fan directories.

Fanboy Jer post #7

Among the stack of fanboy mail, I found this.  A list of bands I’d seen live.

I’m guessing the year is about ‘93 or '94 based on the final entries.  Some of these I have no memory of seeing (Damn The Machine, Stick, Don Caballero, etc).  I know there was a list prior to this that was on notebook paper…I wish I had that too.  The numbers in parenthesis would be how many times I’d seen them to that point.   It’s funny I put (100) next to the Laughing Hyenas.  It sure seemed like they played Sudsy Malones about every 3 weeks for a few years.  

I wish I’d kept this log running…it would be silly, thousands long. If I had to guess, the bands I’ve seen the most in my lifetime would be Gil Mantera’s Party Dream, High On Fire, the Riverboat Gamblers, and Warrant. I think that list is a pretty good reflection of who I am…haha.

(where the hell did I get Candlebox stationary?)

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Fanboy Jer post #5

Rollins Band / Fugazi

Rollins Band … good god, I have no idea where to start with this one.  I discovered Henry Rollins in 1992.  Yeah, I went backwards, fuck your cool points right there.  I went Rollins Band THEN Black Flag.  "End of Silence" was a life-changing record.  Not necessarily for the music, but more for Rollins ethos.  He became my life coach.  I attacked all his books, back catalog, spoken word etc.  I was one of the editors of my high school paper and it seemed like every issue had some Rollins-based review by me…which I’d send to him.  Henry always wrote me back and thanked me for the kind words.  I still follow anything and everything he does.  The man has never let me down. Never. 

Fugazi … with the new found Rollins fandom, came the eventual checking out of Fugazi.   Do you even realize how much this stuff was messing with my head? I was use to bands that had lasers and power ballads and wanted to fuck all the chicks.  Suddenly, I’m immersed in the Henry Rollins/Ian MacKaye mindset?   Much like Henry, the Fugazi dudes always wrote back and were more than kind.  I was only able to see them live once, but it was glorious as Ian scolded crowdsurfers for kicking people in the head.  Finally I’d found the smart guys.  Little Jeremiah was growing up. KYEO is my jam.

Fanboy Jer Archives: The Backstory

As my boyfriend will tell you, my personality leads me to live in extremes.  "All or None" is how he puts it.   When I am into something, I’m obsessive and basically an idiot.  But sometimes that idiocy is a blast.

I’m about to blow up your timelines with a very small glimpse into my teenage years.  All that mattered to me was music and pro wrestling (we’ll get into that later). While the kids in high school were going to dances, football games, parties and proms…. I was scouring RIP!, Metal Edge, writing fan letters to Kik Tracee, and trying to go see any band with leather pants and X’s in their name at a club I could get into being under 21.  I was writing Japanese pen pals, trading 12th generation Vain demos, and putting up flyers at the local record store for whatever band would send them to me.  This was all pre-internet kids, I had to work and hustle for every scrap of info, autogrpahed 8x10, and unreleased track.

As you can see from what I post…not much has changed, yet everything has changed.  I take great pride in all of it.  I’m still a big dumb metal kid at 38.

Over all that letter writing and hotline calling, I’ve made incredible lifelong friends and been on countless adventures.   For fuck’s sake… in 1991 I was calling the Tuff hotline and telling them how ‘bad ass’ i thought their record was.  Cut to a few years ago, and I’m calling Stevie Rachelle (Tuff’s singer) as I drive around LA trying to find a hotel, and he drives over to meet up and gimme the scoop on cheap digs.  That guy is one of the best human beings I know to this day.  There are plenty of stories like that…all because I wrote some fan letters or called a hotline while laying in bed Sunday night, dreading school.

So let’s dive in to the fanboy archives.  This is just a small fraction of what I had.  The only reason I even have most of this is because my brother found it stashed in my parents house. (Thanks Brady!) I really wish I’d saved everything now, because all of this makes me smile huge.

Enjoy

-jer

i am going to tag each post with #fanboyjer so if you want to see them all in one place, just click the tag word.

Fanboy Jer post #9

The O.G’s of Street Teamin’.

Above is an example of the magazine list I talked about in post #7.   Bands would send you lists of magazines, video channels, and other pertinent media outlets and ask that you write, no “demand!” said-outlet cover them.   You’d request MTV to play their new video,  ask “Faces” or “RIP!” magazine to interview them, etc… Stacks of flyers or postcards to pass out at shows were always an essential as well. You’d also get a list of radio stations or clubs to call and request the band’s new single.  In return, some bands would give you free tickets, some would call you, but there was almost always some kind of pay off for your hard work if you were willing to do it.

Another essential to this type of thing was the hotline.  Not a 900 number or anything, but basically the band would just have a regular toll-call voicemail with their current info blitz, and you could leave messages.  Sometimes they called you back, hell…sometimes they answered!  I remember chatting with Jimmy Driscoll from Trouble Tribe a few times, because he answered their ‘hotline.’   Silly me, I completely envisioned this scenario of the band jamming in a warehouse, randomly answering their hotline.  When we all know it was probably the second line at the parents or girlfriends (because the band would never have the money to pay a phone bill, duh.)

I used to have a list of every band I ever wrote, who responded, what they sent, etc…because I am a nerd.  I wish I had that list to show you now.  It was pages and pages long.

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Fanboy Jer post #1:

Wildside / Tyketto / Little Caesar / Electric Love Hogs 

Various letters and postcards from…

Wildside … a few letters from singer Drew Hannah.  we actually corresponded for a bit. I eventually got to see them at the Hurricane Surf Club in Cincinnati, Ohio.  During the show, he introduced one of their brand new songs for the next album called “Crash Diet.”  Because of my tape trading, I knew that was an unreleased Guns N Roses song and not THEIR song as they tried to make you believe.  Either way, Drew was a super nice guy who always took the time to write back.

Tyketto … letter from singer Danny Vaughn and autographed post card.  Unfortunately, I was never able to see Tyketto.  They played at our local metal mecaa, Annie’s… but I was too young to get in.  Fun hair metal nerd fact… the video I linked won an award from a national bricklayers association or something.  btw, Danny Vaughn can sing like a motherfucker still.

Little Caesar … letters from Ron & Fidel from Little Caesar.  Not only did Fidel write me back, he also called me.  This was the first time a band member had actually done this. I freaked the fuck out.  I had seen an MTV News clip about how some dude had called Slaughter’s hotline and invited them to crash at his house when they were in town, and they actually did.  So, despite living with my parents…I offered their place up to Fidel & the boys on their next run thru Cincinnati.   My Mom would’ve totally made them food and my Dad would’ve got hammered with them…no doubt in my mind.  If only….

Electric Love Hogs … postcards from John Feldmann of the Electric Love Hogs.  Not only did John love that my address was 666, but my street name was Hogreffee.  All kinds of stupid synergy there huh?  Bands always loved my 666 address of course.  In retrospect, the Love Hogs were awful and only hooked me in because of the Motley Crue connection.  But John was a super good guy and was the first dude to ever put me on a guest list and take me backstage at Bogarts (the local bigger club). I was trilled to see him go on to bigtime success with Goldfinger (ugh) and his production work.  Dave Kushner from this band went on to be in Velvet Revolver (double ugh).  Fuck it though…good dudes who treated a teenager from Kentucky like a brother.