Monday, February 16, 2009

DEATHRASHER


Those of you who have been visiting this blog for the past three years may recall a nostalgic rant about my first horror convention experience called Gore Shriek Memories. I've always felt it's important to hail those who came before and, when I wasn't underscoring what a nerd I am, that blog attempted to speak to the importance of influences and meeting artistic "elders" who graciously pass the torch. I mostly wanted people to remember Gore Shriek, a really fun 80's horror comic that got me excited about the promise of horror art when I was a kid. I also mentioned that it was at Fantacon in 1988 that I met a guy named Johnny Deathrasher from New Haven, Connecticut. I was 16 years old and proudly wearing my Misfits shirt when this longhaired wizard came up to me and said, "Do you like fast music?" Johnny must've been at least 10 years older than me cause he had facial hair, a cool girlfriend, and a toddler in his arms (his son must be legal drinking age by now!). We both loved Voivod but he was actually friends with Snake and Blacky! He talked excitedly about bands I had never heard of like Heresy and Revenant and handed me a copy of his zine Deathrasher, the one with the dog giving the middle finger salute. He also gave me a P.T.L Klub 7" he had just put out called 'Nobody Cares Anymore', which I still have to this day! Johnny was a very cool guy who took the time to talk to me about all kinds of crazy shit and didn't have a lame attitude like so many older dudes I met back then. I never forgot that. That's the underground spirit that has stuck with me to this day.

Fast forward 20 years. A copy of Mental Funeral zine arrives in the mail. Mental Funeral is a great read and I'm drooling over Bill's arcane knowledge of all things bloody, naked, and loud when I notice a review for a DVD called Cooking With Johnny! After all these years Johnny is still around...and he has just released issue #11 of DeathrasheR (it looks like he's added a weird capital 'R' to the end of the name now). The new one picks up exactly where my old copy left off. And it comes with a compilation CD of live stuff he recorded at shows between 1985 and 1987, including a killer reverb-drenched Saint Vitus tune that seems to go on forever! The liner notes are hilarious as Johnny shares diehard anecdotes like the one about driving to a show in a pickup truck in the pouring rain while his friend sits in a tent on the back of the truck. This guy makes me feel like a fucking poser, and I mean that in the very best way!

I've been thinking a lot about the economy lately and how shit tends to trickle down. The highbrow "fine art" market is drying up, small printers that have kept independent newsprint publications alive for years are closing shop along with glossy mags like Metal Maniacs, and I expect small distros and venues will suffer hard too. But for those of us who have been toiling away in the trenches without financial backing or sponsorship of any kind, the economic forecast doesn't mean so much. Speaking for myself, I've survived several recessions and the fucking 90's with my fortitude intact (yeah, don't let anyone tell you how great the 90's were...anyone who was actually around will agree that the 90's were a fucking bleak time for underground music and art). Convenience has killed something very important in our time: struggle. It has become so easy to record and share music, to immediately throw a drawing in front of thousands of internet "friends", to download information and get instant gratification in the form of "comments", that we're now choking on a glut of sub-par mediocrity. But when situations get hard, the weak tend to drop out. Move on. Grow up. Sell out. Maybe the current economic crisis will inadvertently serve as the cruel gardener we need to weed the soil. Maybe we will witness a great purging and purification. This could be a great renaissance for underground culture! Independent media and D.I.Y. projects could become even more vital as more accessible mainstream outlets dry up, wither, and die. Good riddance. As for the rest of us: ONWARD! Strength through strife! Oh yeah, to get your own DeathrasheR stimulus package just drop Johnny a line.

3 comments:

Leon said...

AWESOME little trip down deaththrasing memory lane, Herr Dread!

Deathrasher Fanzine 1984-1990 said...

Dude, this is so awesome to see. It's the best review I ever received. Everything was just perfect about it, now your making me look like the poseur here hahahahaha Thank you for taking the time to write this review and taking the time to write me after all these years.

Paulie said...

DEATHRASHER RULES! Always has. A nice tribute, thanks for putting this up!