GETTING INTO MUSIC

I'm Andy and have been into heavy metal and rock for more than 25 years. I am from the old school of heavy metal when it was at it's greatest in the 1980's.


Getting into heavy metal was a little bit of a challenge for me as I came from a strict Christian upbringing with my dad being a joint pastor of our local Evangelical Church. When all my friends got into IRON MAIDEN and MEGADETH etc at the ages of around 10-12 years old, I was not allowed to follow their example and to be honest did not really like music at all except for when mum and dad put on The Beatles (that music itself had a lot to answer for I think!).

My sister got a clarinet thingy when I was about 14 years old as she was having lessons for this so I got given the same amount of money to buy something and I went out and brought a CD player as they were quite new at that time and thought I'd be cool having my own when my friends just had record players and tape decks. As I was new to music and did not know what I liked or wanted, I scanned the shelf for an album with a good cover and came across QUEEN - A Kind of Magic. It was great and tracks like Gimme the Prize and Princess of the Universe were excellent and incredibly heavy with screaming and crunching guitars. That was it, I was sold and needed loud guitar music to listen to. The rest of the album is great as well but the heavy guitars were what caught my attention.

 

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GETTING INTO METAL & UPSETTING THE APPLECART

I joined the local library which hired out CD albums and scanned the heavy rock and metal sections for good covers just as I had done with Queen. I came across IRON MAIDEN - The Number of the Beast. It probably was one of the best album covers I had seen but I knew I had to hide it from my strict Christian parents as it was asking for trouble. I myself was and still am a Christian but needed to find out stuff for myself. I was brought up to believe both from family and general people that heavy metal and loud music was of the Devil. When you are a teenager, all you want to do is discover stuff for yourself and a lot of these myths turn out to be here say or twisted and passed to the next person.

A group called the PMRC was active in the USA and suicides and all sorts were being blamed on heavy metal. Unfortunately the more you are told not to do something or it is wrong, makes you want to do it so I guess we have the PMRC and similar groups to thank for some excellent songs aimed at them - like Hook in Mouth by MEGADETH.  

Quietly listening to IRON MAIDEN - The Number of the Beast, I carefully went through the lyrics. The music was astounding with track after track pumping out incredible music finishing with Hallowed be Thy Name probably one of my all time favourite songs. The lyrics to me did not seem satanic despite the title. It was almost like reading a series of history and life lessons. Songs like Invaders about Vikings, Run to the Hills about Indians, Hallowed be Thy Name about someone going to the gallows....it was great. Other songs based on TV programs or films and the  song The Number of the Beast!!!!! It transpired this came from Steve Harris the bass player, founder of IRON MAIDEN and main song writer having a nightmare after watching The Omen. In some peoples eyes, this made IRON MAIDEN a Satanist following band rather than actually sitting down and working out what the song and the band where about. Granted, the album cover was pretty evil but a great piece of artwork and something that not only sells albums but appeals to the majority of people. These guys were not Christians so any gimmick to sell albums was done. I brought an album through it so it proved to be a good gimmick. I now was comfortable that listening to IRON MAIDEN was not going to corrupt me or make me turn away from believing in God and being a Christian. However, that was when the problems started.

   

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GROWING APART, JOINING A METAL BAND & GETTING MARRIED

Getting more drawn to heavy metal as a Christian, meant growing apart from church going friends and family to a certain extent. My sister was heavily involved in the church with teaching and stuff and I felt like a little bit of a disapointment to my family as I was not as involved. I had a lot of people tell me I was going wayward and listening to heavy metal was bad so it probably pushed me away further from wanting to get involved in the church. You have to remember that in the 1980's, heavy metal was the centre of all things bad and satanic (or so we were led to believe) so there were churches and groups of parents going around in both the UK and USA stiring up heaps of trouble and having mass protests and burning of records. This actually made heavy metal more popular however and to the young teenagers, a must do to hack your elders and parents off (although hacking my parents off was not on the ajenda even though it did). I still kept my faith though and continued to go to church but I started to spend more time with fellow metal heads who did not judge me and got myself an electric guitar and bass guitar and preceded to teach myself how to play them and then formed a heavy metal band called Tantrum with my mates. It was pretty crap to be honest as I had to teach the rhythm guitarist his parts whilst I was on Bass and also teach some of the lead guitar parts . But it is one of those things you dream about doing and becoming famous. It soon split up after me and the lead guitarist got girlfriends and the other guitarist and drummer couldn't. You never know, they are probably famous now in some band (which I doubt) but I would not trade that in for what I have now. I ended up marrying my girlfriend and nearly 20 years later, am still married to her with 2 kids and have never looked back. Pretty much a record in this day and age. I sometimes wonder what road I would have gone down if I had not met my wife. I was a promising guitarist but young and women were a more attractive propersition than being with a bunch of blokes that fought over who was best for the guitar positions in the band etc.

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FIRST THREE CONCERTS - aged 17

My first concert is a little embarrassing to tell you about but 3 weeks later I went to a different concert which is not embarrassing. I was about 17 years old with hormones flying around and fancied BELINDA CARLISLE after seeing her on her Heaven is a place on earth video. The album cover was pretty good and the music is actually really good with good session guitarists playing etc. I decided to go to the concert with my cousin at Hammersmith Odeon (now The Apollo) in London, England.



Two weeks later I was back at Hammersmith Odeon with my heavy metal friend Trevor to see METALLICA. My ears nearly burst but it was amazing. It was their ...And Justice for all tour. They had DANZIG as their support band who were pretty good themselves. I was off work the next day playing golf with my dad but could not hear a single thing as my ears were still ringing really badly.

 
(one of my many framed souvenir ticket, program and limited edition picture disc displays - 'ONE' - 10" Picture Disc)


I recovered pretty quickly and my next concert again at Hammersmith Odeon was IRON MAIDEN on their Seventh Son tour. This was the first of more than a dozen or so concerts I have been to see IRON MAIDEN in. They range from seeing them play one song, The Trooper, with my wife at a little venue called The Astoria, London when they showed off their new guitarist Janick Gers during a BRUCE DICKINSON concert to seeing them again with my wife headlining Donnington on a couple of occasions. I saw them for the last time in England before emigrating to New Zealand with my wife's sister and her friends at Earls Court, London in 2000 on the Brave new World tour. I then saw them 9 years later with my 10 year old daughter headlining their own stadium concert at The Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand in front of 18,000 people. That is not bad considering there are only 4 million people in the whole of New Zealand. Next IRON MAIDEN concert I am going to will be in Sydney, Australia again with my daughter (now 12 years old) as I did not want to miss out seeing them again. I could not risk seeing if they were coming to New Zealand as it is unlikely being as the Mt Smart Stadium concert in 2009 was their first for 13 years. Still if they do announce a New Zealand gig, all the better. I will be at that to but will probably be in the doghouse with my wife due to the cost (New Zealand wages are pretty crap but the lifestyle is second to none).

   


After this point, I couldn't tell you an exact amount of concerts I have been to but it is well over 200 and most of the ticket stubs and T-shirts are still in my possession.

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BACKSLIDING AS A CHRISTIAN

The next few years saw me backslide a bit as a Christian, not because I wanted to but because of the stick I got from all angles about being into heavy metal and how it was harming me and was satanic. It sort of prevented me being involved in the church and not a good image for my dad either as a pastor. If you have read the Alice Cooper book, he had the same problem as his dad was a pastor as well and put him in a few awkward situations as a pastor. I then grew my hair long and it has not been cut now for 23 years. That was just an additional problem but I have found that since living in New Zealand, it is not such a bad thing and you don't seem to get judged for having long hair.

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LAST THREE CONCERTS IN ENGLAND BEFORE IMMIGRATING TO NEW ZEALAND

Between 1988 and 2000 I had been to hundreds of concerts and seen hundreds of different bands play in all sorts of venues from the famous little Marquee Club in London to the full blown huge Donnington Rock Festival. I had been squashed in the Marquee, splattered with mud at Donnington and moshed and thrown in the air at Wembly Arena.

It was now time to leave England for good but I had to fit in a few last concerts to say farewell to the end of an era. I knew going to New Zealand would mean a few sacrifices. Firstly family of course followed by my beloved Wimbledon Football Club and then the concerts.

First up was PANTERA at the Brixton Academy on 30th April 2000 supporting their Reinventing the Steel album.  I first saw PANTERA supporting MEGADETH on the Countdown to Extinction tour at Hammersmith Odeon, London, 30th September 1992 . They were incredibly cool and the power of the music and guitars was great. It fitted me like a glove and I soon adapted my guitar playing style to Dimebag Darrell (RIP). Vinnie Paul on drums was amazing as well and I have never been able to copy the speed at which he plays his double bass drums.  I went to the Brixton Academy concert with my wife's sister and her friends. I warned her about moshing and getting crushed but being young, she charged straight up the front and into it all. She came out for breaths every now and then but then straight back in again. At the end she managed to catch the bass player Rex Brown's plectrum which she gave to me and I have used it ever since for my guitar.  The disappointing thing about the concert was Phil Anselmo's constant talking and ranting between songs. He was smashed out of his head and the band had to stand around waiting for him to finish before hitting the next song. This was not what I came to see or pay for so was a little peeved at this. This was the forth and last time I would see PANTERA because although they later came to New Zealand, I decided I did not want to pay to see a drunk rant on about crap. Dimebag Darrell later got shot and died in 2004 so PANTERA were now gone forever.



Next up was IRON MAIDEN on 16th June 2000. This was about my 11th concert going to see IRON MAIDEN but little did I know it would be another 9 years before I saw them again due to their absence from New Zealand touring. They were at Earls Court and I again went with my wife's sister and her friends. It was to support their Brave New World album and the first tour and album since the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith back into the band. It was such an awesome gig and one you come to expect from a band like IRON MAIDEN. Bruce was on top form flying round the stage and now the band had 3 lead guitarists that really hit it off together. Adrian Smith was my favourite because of his precise playing which I always admire. Dave Mustaine of MEGADETH being the other precise lead guitarist. I like to hear it played as it is on the album unlike Kerry King of SLAYER who said in an interview aimed at Kirk Hammet of METALLICA that it is crap to play the same solo and just improvises on stage.



The last concert was the best. ALICE COOPER. I first saw him at Wembly Arena, London for the Trash album tour. I had seen him probably just as many times as IRON MAIDEN and most of them my wife attended as well. It was like an annual thing for us both to hop on the motorbike and travel off to central London to catch an ALICE COOPER gig.  We duly hoped on the motorbike together for the last time before the bike was sold and headed off to Hammersmith Apollo. The gig was being filmed for his Brutally Live DVD on 19th July 2000.  As ever Alice put on an incredible show and it was a great way to finish up my days of concerting in England. I would see Alice again but not for another 9 years and this time with my 10 year old daughter in Auckland, New Zealand.



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BUGGERING OFF TO NEW ZEALAND

I got married back in 1992 and after a lot of health problems and pregnancy complications for my wife, had our first child in 1998. We had traveled all round the world to fill the gap of not being able to have children when we wanted them and after finally having our first daughter, decided in 1999 after yet another jetset round the world tour with an 18 month old child that we were going to do a bunk and get out of the rat race of London and England and emigrate to New Zealand. I had traveled 25 miles each way across London for 12 years and had enough. We sold up our house, cars, motorbikes, a few guitars and got on a plane for New Zealand. I have to ashamedly admit I stuck up my fingers at England as the plane took off as I was completely over it and the system. I would however still miss family, watching Premiership Football (Wimbledon FC supporter) and going to the wealth of concerts available on tap in London.

We landed in New Zealand with 8 suitcases and a 2 year old daughter. Now what? We had no jobs, house, car or anything. We hired a people carrier, crammed into it and eventually after 2 weeks found somewhere to live. Shortly after that my wife started works and 2 months later moved into our new house 20km's north of Auckland with a range of over 20 beaches to choice to go to within 10 minutes travel. This is the life. If you want something in life and it feels right, go for it. Most people are to scared to do something or have not thought it through but everything is possible.

We joined our local Baptist Church and in no time at all we were getting involved with church ministry again. I had no perceptions sitting on me or living in the shadow of my sister who was heavily involved in the church back in England and teaching bible classes etc. I was accepted for who I was, my hair as well and went on to teach in the children's groups, play drums, guitar and bass in the church worship team and went on a short term mission to Cambodia with the family. I remember teaching voluntary Bible in School to a few schools in the area and the kids used to say your cool because your different and have long hair and tattoos. Kids are great to teach and work with as they do not judge you full stop. Adults are a different kettle of fish though. Christians can be anyone, not just normal looking people with suits on or sandals and socks. God loves everyone - even rockers with long hair. Look, if Alice Cooper the king of shock rock can become a Christian and be saved, then you know that there is hope for you.

   

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NEW ZEALAND METAL CONCERTS, STAGE DIVING & NUTTERS

After being in New Zealand a few years, I noticed concerts were pretty scarce. No one came here. Only tourists. I managed to catch MEGADETH on  9th August 2002 in Auckland which was my first concert in New Zealand but went on my own. Some nutter climbed onto the top of the speaker stack and threatened to jump into the audience. All I could think as Dave Mustaine looked up at him still singing, is they will not come back if he jumps.



Thankfully he did not jump and MEGADETH came back last October with SLAYER to Auckland. This was now about the 10th time of seeing MEGADETH and the 3rd time for  SLAYER. That was my fifth NZ concert and was a seriously mental concert. I stupidly took my camera along to take a few photos as I had done for an ALICE COOPER concert so that I could frame them with my ticket and album for the tour but got the tape confiscated by the tour manager. I would like to apologize to MEGADETH for this but had no intention of distributing it for profit. At the ALICE COOPER concert and IRON MAIDEN concerts in Auckland you are allowed to take photos with non professional cameras so I 'assumed' I could do it there. Thankfully the camera was not confiscated. I had some great shots as well. People were surfing over other people and stage diving. I was in a front row seat on the next level and people were jumping off the balcony to get into the standing part and then racing into the middle to avoid the security guards. Still all those photos disappeared with the tape. SLAYER were okay but the crowd got a bit silly so I left early as I was also actually hacked off about the photos and myself for doing it without finding out for sure if it was okay to do in the first place.

  


The second heavy metal concert I saw in New Zealand was with my wife in 2008. DEF LEPPARD came to Auckland to the Vector Arena. It was okay but the sound was appalling and you could hardly here the mix properly. They should have shot the sound guy.  I've seen them about 5 times and 3 of those with my wife but this was the first time in New Zealand I had been to a concert with my wife.

 

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IRON MAIDEN, SORE BACK AND PUKED ON SHOES

The forth concert was IRON MAIDEN at the Mt Smart Stadium in 2009. Their first show for 13 years and 18,000 people turned up. I am in the fan club so I got 2 standing tickets. One for me and one for my 10 year old daughter. She loves IRON MAIDEN. The chaps in IRON MAIDEN often mention how they are amazed at all the new young people and the old original fans that mix together. Basically, us older fans bring our kids up on IRON MAIDEN and then take them along to the concerts so as long as IRON MAIDEN are here, you will end up with 2 or 3 generations of fans turning up. LONG LIVE MAIDEN. People were great with her and we talked to quite a few people. Others were complementing her on her outfit and her IRON MAIDEN headband tied around her head, calling her quite a little rocker. She was on my shoulder for the entire set of about 2 hours. After the first couple of songs I had a brief rest and put her down for 30 seconds before picking her up again but 4 songs in a lady a little worse for wear in the drinking department decided to throw up all over the floor in front of me and my shoes. That was it. I couldn't move away or put my daughter down so lasted out the rest of the concert with her on my shoulders which I am still paying for a year and a half on with terrible back issues. She loved the concert of which she saw everything close up and I saw virtually nothing but had the most awesome and best time ever at a concert. It was the first heavy metal concert and more importantly first IRON MAIDEN concert for my daughter and myself together and I jumped up and down with her on my shoulders the entire time catching glimpses of the band on the bit screens and occasionally live on the stage. When we got back to the car to drive home I left my puked on shoes in the gutter as there was no way they were coming home as a souvenir.

   

     

   


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ALICE COOPER COMES TO TOWN

Every time a concert for ALICE COOPER is announced, me and the wife get really excited and have to get tickets. When we heard Alice was coming to town we were ecstatic. Just one problem though. Our eldest daughter loves Alice as well and wanted to come. Our youngest daughter who was 6 at the time was also a fan and wanted to come but we did not feel it was right to take her so my wife had to sacrifice her ticket. In hindsight, we should have all gone but money was a bit tight and when you have to buy 4 tickets for concerts, it breaks the bank.

I acquired an ALICE COOPER 'The Nightmare Returns' embroidered back stage flight jacket years ago from a friend and my wife normally wears it to concerts but this time it was past on to my daughter. Every concert we go to, people come up and tell us what a cool jacket it is and offer us stupid money for it. One chap in London at an ALICE COOPER concert offered us thousands of pounds for it but it is not for sale. It is priceless and an Alice back stage jacket. Why would we want to sell that. Needless to say, we got a lot of jealous eyes pointed our way and also a heap of complements on my daughters Alice eye make up.

The concert was better than anything we had seen before from Alice. He got killed 4 times by hanging, Iron Maiden, Injection and beheading. It was called The Theatre of Death tour so what did you expect. Alice likes doing concerts in a close theatre type setup so you get that feeling of watching a classy theatre show. He also says he does get close to crossing the line as far as being a Christian is concerned but argues his show is no different from a Shakespeare play like Macbeth and he is right. This is a concert to entertain and entertain he does. He dropped some of his songs which he feels are not appropriate now to sing but he has such a great amount of songs, he is spoilt for choice.

I took my camera with me to this concert and got great photos of everything. We were allowed to take them in as long as they were not professional close up cameras. I like rock stars like this who don't stop you doing this because we are the fans and you can easily download professional photos from the web but sometimes you like to have your own memento of the concert.

The first thing my daughter said when we came out was when are we going to see him again. She loved it and thought all the ways he died were great. She like the beheading on the guillotine the best but could not work out how he did it.


   


CHRISTIANITY & HEAVY METAL

A lot of metal fans and bands don't like Christians and often slag them off saying they are not real fans and are trouble but hopefully you will be able to see my passion for heavy metal and see a lot of us are actually just the same as every other fan. The concerts alone should speak a lot about me.  Christianity gets a bad rap just like heavy metal. A lot is brought on by people objecting to certain stuff without knowing anything about it like IRON MAIDEN for instance and their Number of the beast album.  Before anyone can judge anyone else, proper facts need to be looked into. The same can be said within heavy metal.  Dave Mustaine of MEGADETH is getting a lot of crap said about him for being a Christian. All he has done is try to fix stuff the got broke like relationships and his life in drink and drugs. Christianity helped him clean up and become a better person. His music is still the same if not better and he does not ram it down peoples throats either. Why then do we see attacks on him and his religion. The same reason Christians attack Heavy Metal. Lack of knowledge and facts.  People like Dave Mustaine and Alice Cooper along with many other great rock Christian musicians are trying to bridge the gap between heavy metal and Christianity without being overpowering. You will not here them preaching at concerts and sometimes they may overstep the line and not act very Christian. Dave Mustaine still has his little rants at concerts every now and then but hey we are all human and when your button is pressed it takes a very very strong person not to react in a poor manner.

A few of my friends and people I know that have become Christians have decided to take a step back from being involved in the heavy metal scene or listening to the music but it is all personal choice and how you feel about it. No one should really be judging anyone else on a decision they make for their life. If I am asked to share about God, i'll happily do it but I won't barge into a group of people and tell them they are going to hell and need to be saved. It is all about respecting a persons wishes and feelings and as long as someone is there to help if they actually do need it in the future or guide them if required, thats okay.

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I hope you have liked this section on myself and concerts etc and hope it inspires you to maybe have a bit of a different view on Christianity. Whilst there are a lot of things you have to get right in your life when you become a Christian, it does not mean that you have to join a monastery and become a monk. You will still make bad mistakes in life but you will know that despite the amount of mistakes you will make, someone is always there ready to forgive.

The below link shows you can still fall down as a Christian but get up again afterwards.