We all know why today, 11/11/11, is being dubbed “National Metal Day.” No, it’s not because VH1 Classic says so. It’s because of Spinal Tap! And if you don’t get the significance of the number 11, then stop reading this and go watch This Is Spinal Tap ASAP. But it’s not just the humor that makes This Is Spinal Tap a classic comedy.
To the outside metal fan, Spinal Tap’s antics and mishaps seem too absurd to be true. To the metal musician, though, the scenes in Spinal Tap hit too close to home. Many bands can attest to having their own real life “Spinal Tap” moments, while some bands (like Black Sabbath) can even claim they’ve inspired some of the film’s classic scenes.
So with that in mind, we decided to celebrate 11/11/11 by asking some metal bands and musicians to share with us their greatest real life “Spinal Tap moments”. Here’s what some of your favorite metal artists had to say:
Brian Fair (Shadows Fall/Death Ray Vision singer):
It was 1999 and the third show I had played since joining Shadows Fall. We were opening a huge show for System Of A Down and Fear Factory in Clinton, MA. It was our biggest show since I had joined the band and the first time we were playing to a few thousand people. It being 1999, I was rocking some baggy ass jeans with a serious gangsta sag. About two songs in, I jumped off the drum riser ala David Lee Roth and felt something loosen around my waist. It seems my ghetto ass belt had ripped in half. I tried to hold up my pants to finish the song and realized that they were just too big to keep from slipping down. I said “fuck it” and just whipped them off and decided to finish the show in my boxers. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I was rocking a pair of Mickey Mouse boxers that day. Not metal. At least I avoided having anything slip out through the dickhole.
Dez Fafara (Devildriver singer):
Simple. Hottest day in Arizona on the Ozzfest . Someone spilled water on the stage and it was like “ice!” I walked out in front a huge crowd chanting DevilDriver and slipped, landed flat on my back and was staring at the sky ! Moments like that, ya gotta laugh. And I did …..
Richard Christy (Charred Walls Of The Damned drummer/ Howard Stern Show personality):
I would say that my most Spinal Tap moment ever happened early on in my drumming career. I was 17 years old and playing a keg party with my first band Syzygy at Elm Creek Lake near Fort Scott, Kansas. We had 10 kegs of Milwaukee’s Best and there were about 500 crazy Kansan metalheads at the party. I had my drums set up on two wooden picnic tables that were pushed together and we were blasting through “Seek and Destroy” by Metallica. I was banging my head like crazy and all of the sudden something felt weird. My hi hat and snare drum were the only parts of my drumkit still making noise. I looked in front of me and my kick drum and two toms had fallen off the picnic table onto the ground 4 feet below. I was kicking the kick drum so hard that it pushed my drums forward without me noticing and my drums ended up stage diving! I played for the next minute on my floor tom, snare drum and hi hat while several party goer’s, buzzed on copious amounts of Milwaukee’s Best, tried to lift my drums back upon to the picnic tables. The drums were back in place for the final beat of the song and the whole band was laughing their ass off. I’m glad I got my most Spinal Tap moment (so far) out of the way at the wee age of 17.
Tommy Decker (Spineshank drummer):
In 2001, we were asked to be a part of Ozzfest, along with Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Linkin Park and a ton of other bands. Our 2nd album The Height of Callousness had just come out and it was doing well. At the time Jonny had short black hair with a red streak in it and I (Tommy) had bleach blonde spikey hair (This fact is important to the story). Jonny and I were hanging out backstage when some guy with an ice chest invites us over for a beer. We spend the next half hour with this guy, drinking beer while he tells us how awesome we were. How our record got him through his prison sentence and how everyone in the prison he was at loved our record and how we were gonna be the next big thing. He went on to tell us that we were the best song writers of our generation and that we were sure to get rich and famous. He laid it on so thick, that i started to believe him. i thought “this guy is right, we are pretty awesome” He went on for another 10 minutes until we had to go to our photo shoot. As we walked away, he yells to us “Fuck yeah Mike, Fuck yeah Chester Linkin Park rules!!” He thought he was talking to Linkin Park all along. Jonny and i were pretty silent on our walk back.
Lance King (singer/ founder of Nightmare Records):
Driving to a gig in Omaha in mid winter the bus’ “Oil sending unit” goes bad, and our engine locks up on a two lane road in the middle of FREAKING NOWHERE. Before cell phones were something other than in Mission Impossible and cost $1000’s, we had a CB radio. To stay warm we had to run the propane stove non-stop, it was -20 below zero on the plains and windy as hell that day. We radio’ed out, but it took about 2 hours to get someone there to tow the bus and help us unload the stuff into another rental truck to get the gear to the gig.
By then the windows in the bus had about a half 1/4 inch of frost on the inside, and could see little. All could and SHOULD have been avoided by a $10 freaking part. We lost a week on the road waiting for the bus repair, racked up hotel expenses, missed our next shows, and paid $2500 for a new engine. It was a Spinal Tap moment!
Kasper Martenson (Barren Earth keyboardist):
We played in St. Paul, Minnesota, last February (2011). After putting up the keyboard rig and doing the sound-check, I was asked to move the keyboards half a meter backwards in order to make room for the local support band. I complied with this request, but left the sustain pedal where it was, since I was to return the keyboards to their original position later anyway. But by the time we were due on stage I had completely forgotten to move the keyboards back. As is customary for us, it is me who starts the show by playing a short piano intro. When it was time for us to start, I walked to the keyboards and started to play. About half a second later, I realized that the sustain pedal which I desperately needed was situated half a meter in front of the keyboards. And I just had to reach it, otherwise the intro would’ve been ruined. This resulted in an uncomfortable but acrobatically impressive stretching of legs which would have made even David Lee Roth jealous…
Nicolas van Dyk (Redemption guitarist/keyboardist)
We were supporting Dream Theater in Milwaukee. On the first note of the first song, my low D string snapped, throwing the guitar out of tune. I am the only one playing at that part in the song so stopping was not an option. I made it through that, eventually swapping out guitars, but before that song was even over Ray ran out just before his vocals begin but our bass player was being animated at that point and swung his six string bass which is about the size of a telephone pole and cracked Ray pretty hard on the side of his head. Ray wasn’t too pleased, to say the least.
Shortly thereafter, the lights got cut. I don’t mean some, I mean all. We were in total darkness and couldn’t see our instruments. They were out for a maybe thirty seconds but it felt like ten minutes. Has to be the worst show we’ve played by a long shot!
Jonah Livingston (Ramming Speed drummer):
During our first European tour we had this awful rental van that had pretty much everything wrong with it. Third gear didn’t work, when it rained water came shooting in every window, it had the wrong size tires, you couldn’t change the oil due to rust… the thing was just a shit box. We didn’t have a driver so we were already kind of winging it and when we pulled into a gas station before our first show in Sweden the battery died. We managed to get Kalle, the show promoter for that night on the phone and he arranged to have the guy from a local auto shop come check it out. Of course that dude didn’t have a tow truck and needed to get us back to his shop to start working on all the corrosion under the hood. Dude straight up looked like Mr. Clean and just tied a rope from the front of our van to the back of his car and used that to pull us to his shop. The whole thing was so ridiculous and over the top, but we eventually got a new battery and made it to a killer show in Malmo with Government Warning and Wasted Time! Here’s a photo of our poor van playing tug-o-war:
Jeremy Wagner (author of The Armageddon Chord/ Broken Hope and Lupara guitarist):
The best “Spinal Tap moment” I can think of is this one time when Broken Hope played Hollywood in the mid-90’s. A promoter flew us out to Hollywood to do a special headline gig. We flew to LA and brought our guitars, amp heads and some light gear. We rented a van at LAX airport and drove to the venue the next day. At the venue, we accidentally locked the keys in the van and all of our gear was in there. We literally spent 7 hours heatedly arguing amongst ourselves about whether or not to break a window to get in the van and retrieve our stuff. It was the stupidest thing, ever! Haha. No cops could help us, either. While we stared at all of our equipment, I stepped away and got in touch with the rental car company and actually got a spare key to open the van. By the time we unlocked the van and got to our gear, we missed sound-check, the opening bands played and we went right on stage late. It sucked. We could’ve saved a lot of heartache by busting a window.
Rick Tauber (Seven Day Sonnet guitarist):
A few months ago we had a one-off gig booked in Gulf Shores, Alabama. What no one told us was that we were playing at a family friendly outdoor venue/restaurant in a resort town. The band and crew, mostly dressed in black with facial hair and tattoos, stuck out like sore thumbs in a sea of flip-flip, ambercrombie and bikini clad beach bodies. We kept telling ourselves that the night crowd would be different, and perhaps receptive to our hard rock/metal sound. Well, it wasn’t, and they weren’t. We played in front of little kids and old people that were probably expecting to hear Jimmy Buffet covers, but instead got us. No clapping, no booing; Just silence and shocked faces after each song. I remember saying to our sound guy as soon as we got off stage, “I’ve officially lived out a Spinal Tap moment in real life. That was just like the scene when they [Spinal Tap] played ‘Sex Farm’ at the Air Force base in front of the officers and their wives!”
Jon Bodan (Halcyon Way guitarist):
There used to be a venue in Atlanta called 3 Bears Café, which had this hippie kinda restaurant in the front and this great rock venue in the back. Supposedly this place is on the list of ‘most haunted’ locations in Georgia. We played a couple of shows there before it closed, and both times my amp died before the show….one time for no apparent reason that we could ever figure out. One time a tube blew up. One time we ran a video slaved to our click track, and the battery in the thing died. It was metal!
Louis Abramson (Jolly drummer):
Jolly was almost named “None More Black.” And Anadale’s guitar amp goes to 9…
We were on a headline run in the UK, way back when this neuro-virus was doing the rounds around the whole country. Our Guitarist Alex, and our drummer Rob both got it bad and it had them, would, and should have been bed-ridden through at least a week of the tour, but they decided to carry on and get through the worst part. We were playing in a shitty venue in High Wycombe that’s a seedy strip club by day, and a venue by night. During the show, Alex had to run off stage to throw up. So he ran through the crowd and outside, got on his hands and knees and as he went to throw up, realised his hand was on a rat. He threw up, got back on stage and just about finished the set.
Matt Fox (Shai Hulud guitarist):
Despite our band having gone through drummer after drummer, and the fact that I do indeed “Break Like The Wind,” my greatest and most true Spinal Tap moment was when we were on tour somewhere in the midwest (probably not TOO far from Cleveland), circa 2003: the other guys were on stage, and I couldn’t figure out how the hell to get there, lost, bumbling about in the multi-level labyrinth that was this venue’s backstage area. And just my luck, neither a kindly minotaur nor skeevy club manager in sight to put me on the right track. There I went, guitar in hand, heart palpitating, from floor to floor up and down any new staircase I came across in hopes of hearing some semblance of crowd or stage noise, or finding a scrap of masking tape from decades back that might have scrawled upon it “This way to stage, asshole.” No such luck. In the midst of an all-consuming panic attack (one I probably never fully recovered from) I opened every unassuming, unlocked door I could find until… Eureka!
That venue can “Lick My Love Pump.”
Greg Burgess (Allegaeon guitarist):
So last tour we were in Dallas, and being way more metal then everyone else in the band, I require every instrument I play to have points. Well the bottom fin on my Xiphos ripped right through the crotch of my shorts second song in. So here I am rockin’ out while the audience could stare up and inspect my goods.
Here’s one, more of a funny story really. On our way to a last second show in Salt Lake City, our guitar player Ryan had to go to the bathroom super bad but we didn’t have time to stop if we were to make it on time. So he found a gallon water jug that had been half empty in the back and just unleashed into that, without anyone knowing of course. Well, after the show all the bands were leaving from the side of the venue where the vans were parked when all the sudden we hear this loud pop or boom come from the van in front of us and liquid was sprayed in all directions like one of those log rides at amusement parks. Un-aware to anyone else, Ryan had put his piss jug under the tires of the bands’ van in front of us and when it exploded (all over the venue, van in front of ours and our van and everything else) he started laughing hysterically, it was at this moment everyone realized what had just happened. A mixture of urine and old stale water had just exploded in all directions and all over everything.
On the Uniting the Powers of Metal tour we were using our Van for the first time on a 2500+ mile trip. We honestly didn’t really know what to expect but knew it was a good vehicle. Before we even got to Jacksonville (roughly an hour north of our hometown) the van just DIES in the middle of rush hour traffic. OMG we need to be in NYC tomorrow. Cops come, Rednecks toe us with their truck to a local ford dealer where they try to get us for everything we have. Needless to say we fixed it with a Fuel Filter in the parking lot of the hotel we stayed at. We had to use this cable guy’s flat bed trailer to lift the van up so we could get under it. Ran like a champ after that, screw you Ford dealer. [And here’s video of the incident]
Andreas Allenmark (Cipher System guitarist):
This was a couple of years ago when the old drummer Pontus was still in the band. We were traveling to a gig and had a pause to take a leak. Johan, Henric and Pontus stood next to each other outside and all of a sudden Johan farted. Pontus, who didn´t want to be outdone, gathered all his strength to make an even louder fart. Right after that we saw his body getting tenser and he said “I pooped myself!” He then had to walk more than 300 feet over a parking lot to a gas station to wipe up what presumably was in his pants. When he came back he had a big smile on his lips and said “I didn´t spill anything!”