Friday, May 30, 2014


Portland has a rich tradition of throwing uncomfortable "surprise" birthday parties for me, primarily so "friends" can use very unflattering photos on the flyers. Why should this year be any different? The Old Ones at The Lovecraft are responsible for this year's atrocity. Feel free to come down and toast a senile geezer on his special day. In lieu of gifts, please consider making a charitable donation of your rarest records to my collection...  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

R.I.P. Patrick Woodroffe

To be perfectly honest, writing eulogies for artists and friends I've adored is getting downright exhausting at this point. Not to mention depressing. So instead of mourning the loss of Patrick Woodroffe this week - the artist who gave us Judas Priest's Sad Wings of Destiny and Budgie's Bandolier to name only his most well known album covers - allow me to suggest you find a copy of his 1976 book 'Mythopoeikon' and curl up while enjoying this short set of music I assembled back in 2010 for a UK website that asked me to blab about 10 songs suitable for long sits at the drawing table. If you strictly limit yourself to music of a particular genre, you will inevitably be disappointed by the songs I've selected (and what a sad little life you must truly live). However, if you're receptive to great music that doesn't necessarily have pictures of goatmen fucking jesus on the cover, you just might enjoy the trip.

Patrick Woodroffe
(1940 - 2014)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


(1940 - 2014)

I first became aware of H.R. Giger as a very impressionable young child while flipping through my oldest brother's records during the late 70s. I came across Emerson Lake and Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery LP with the brilliant gatefold split, an iconic melding of Eros and Thanatos. That painting left a huge impression on me, especially the subtle impact of Giger's monochromatic technique. The intimate gray tones immediately struck me and the design made the sleeve an engaging tactile experience. Who knew the whole thing was a cheap euphemism for blow jobs? Some years later as a teen I came across To Mega Therion and those two album covers remain among my childhood favorites. Around that same time in the mid 80s I stumbled into a hippy poster shop on West 8th Street in New York City called Psychedelic Solution and learned more about the man behind those album covers. The hippy behind the counter was selling postcards of Giger's 'Illuminatus I' that really blew my mind and if I had to pinpoint a seminal moment in the evolution of my own heavily shaded style it was that afternoon at Psychedelic Solution. Then I saw Alien (it was released in 1979, but I didn't get around to seeing it until much later in 1986). It suddenly occurred to me that the man was everywhere, and as an early stimulating force in my creative development his influence permeated my brain at an almost subconscious level. That's where his best ideas will burrow and breed, if you let them in. Entire library shelves could be devoted to the theory and technique of his vast legacy, so there's no need for lengthy pontification here. I only wish more contemporary artists were liberated by his style instead of simply aping his biomechanical inventions - after all, this was an important but relatively small aspect of his overarching oeuvre. There is so much more to his body of work to explore (pun intended), such as the perverse surrealist drawings he created during the 60s that look like Hans Bellmer and Francis Bacon on dubious speed and viagra. Incidentally, some of those were hastily scrawled in ballpoint pen! Giger is an artist who has cast such a monolithic shadow over popular culture and the "dark arts" that at this point it's almost easy to take his immense vision for granted. Of course that would be a grave mistake. 

Dennis Dread


Monday, May 05, 2014



The cat's out of the bag. Legendary headbanger Siki Spacek is bringing his latest incarnation of Black Death to Portland, Oregon on July 4th, 2014. Don't worry if you can't sing a single Black Death song. Even the most devout metallurgists are relatively hazy when it comes to this Cleveland, Ohio oddity (plus you've still got almost two months to learn). During their decade long run from 1978-1988 they only released one LP and one 7", which were intended to be sold together, plus two songs on Clubside Records' Cleveland Metal compilation and they never performed outside of their hometown. Yet their influence, charm and notoriety have assumed nearly mythic proportions over the years, not to mention staggering collector prices for a vinyl pressing that still nobody has definitively numbered. The mastermind behind this musical fist in the face of bullshit is Mr. Reginald Gamble, a proud leather clad Sagittarius born on December 10, 1958, better known to the initiated by his colorful stage name. The secret to Siki's enduring power is his soulful high pitched delivery and his ability to craft catchy as hell songs that hold their own alongside the best NWOBHM. Message board champions love to flex their virtual muscle by trotting out obscure bands, but the fact is, most unknown bands remain that way for a reason. Siki's songs for Black Death are loaded with sweaty sexual aggression, shredding guitar acrobatics and outrageous lyrical wit. Think Blackie Lawless if he was raised on Motown 45s in a Midwest ghetto. It's metal to the bone, but possessed with the unbridled don't-give-a-fuck-ery of the most incendiary punk rock. It's music that makes you feel, if only for those fleeting 40 minutes, that even you could start a band and maybe someday make a record that fans will still be blasting three decades later. As his debut album approaches its 30th anniversary, I decided to give the Iron Messiah a call to find out more about his upcoming Portland appearance. Turns out he's even cooler than I had imagined. And that's pretty damn cool. So lock the door and keep your parents out and turn your music up LOOOOOUD!!!! Here comes the Wrecking Crew...

Dennis Dread: Ok, so the big question everyone is gonna want to know is what lineup will you be bringing to Portland for the East End Block Party in July?

Siki Spacek: Well, Philip [Bullard] from my first lineup that’s on the album, he passed away. And the other guitar player was trying to go around with a fake Black Death band and was misleading people into thinking I was in the band just to get people to come out and hear them play. They was playing all my songs and music. The lineup I’m bringing with me is my current lineup. It’s the guys from one of my side bands Siki Spacek and The Resurrection. I have my rhythm section from that band and the bass player originally should’ve been on the first album with Black Death but he was on tour with some other group. He was doing some rock/jazz fusion thing. I also have one of the original guitar players who was in the band from 1986 to 1988, Vincent Lindsay, and we recorded the second unreleased Black Death album that was called The Trainshop Maneuvers. That was when the speed metal thing was going on. It’s a different take on Black Death, but we’re gonna be doing some of those songs in the future hopefully. I’m bringing my best talent with me. I’ve got a better guitar player [now] ‘cause the other guitar player was really more a prop than anything else…

Are you talking about Greg Hicks?

Yeah, Greg Hicks. And on that album it’s only two solos of his that’s actually recorded on there. They had me overdub my solos, but they didn’t let me know I was doing his parts.

You’re credited on the LP for writing all the songs and all the lyrics.

I write the music in every band I play in. That way I know it’s gonna sound right, it’s gonna sound heavy! I’ve been blessed to have a little talent with catchy melody lines… [breaks into the opening line of ‘Street Walker’, sing-along ensues…] Haha! Yeah, we gonna have t-shirts and shit too and DVDs recorded from when we performed in Chicago at this metal festival with Grim Reaper.

Is it true that Greg Hicks copyrighted the logo and the band name?

All he’s got is that stupid ass logo that’s on the album cover that I could not stand. He just trademarked the fuckin’ logo on that first Black Death album. That stupid ass logo! He can keep that shit, I could give a shit less! But he doesn’t own my songs, I own all my music, that’s why they’re not playing out no more. He had some nazi guy playing drums, some guy name Dennis actually, who had nazi flags all up in the fuckin’ practice room!

It seems like an odd band for a nazi to play drums with…

Exactly! Exactly, man. And that Wikipedia bullshit that he put up about the so-called “legacy of Black Death”? He’s full of shit. And then in this fake Black Death band that he had, he’s supposed to be the guitar player, but this motherfucker was playing bass. Playing bass! What kind of shit is that?

Tell me about the early 80s Cleveland metal scene. What bands were you playing with back then?

It was a lot of guys out here with bands, but they didn’t get a chance to play in a lot of the clubs until after they let us play. At first they thought we were like a novelty act, you know what I mean, some dark guys playing heavy metal, right? But heavy metal is a lifestyle, it’s a culture, it’s like religion. Either you get it or you don’t, y’know? Not everybody is called to wear the denim and leather. And those that ain’t called upon it, they look at us like, “Look at those motherfuckers…” Just cue in the Twisted Sister video! Haha! “Yooou, mister!” We played with Destructor, Shok Paris, Breaker…   

Did you ever play with Jagged Edge?

Oh, Jagged Edge! Hell yeah! Jagged Edge, Sorceress, Cerebus...There were very few [bands] that we didn’t play with. But the thing was, a lot of these guys headlining the shows, like Breaker or Shok Paris, were pretty boy metal bands like Mötley Crüe. When they first came out of high school they could pass for transvestites, but now they look like ugly potbellied guys. Haha! But I mean everybody had the big hair, that was the thing back then. Hell, I even had a hair weave! I had big hair back when we first started Black Death in ’78.

Jamie [Midnight] told me he jammed with you for a little bit.

Yeah, Mr. Sagittarius, like myself, hell yeah! I jammed with him down in Kent at one of the shows we did ‘cause he covered one of my songs when he was playing with Boulder. On the first album he recorded ‘Scream of the Iron Messiah’, which we’ll be playing when we come out there.


And listen, thank you for bringing us all the fuckin’ way out there, dude. Can we play for an hour, man?


We can play for an hour?


Aw sweet, damn, thank you! Thank you! Cause dude, we’ve got so many goddamn songs! We already have three albums worth of songs, not to mention the Trainshop shit!

I understand you’ve never actually flown on an airplane before…

No, I’ve not. Ok, here’s a light comin’ from the cloud from heaven and the angels are singing, “Yo, Dennis! Thou hast been chosen! Siki Spacek’s first flight will be due to you!” ‘Cause I said the only way you can ever get me on a flight is if we have to go across to Europe…

So is the band planning on knocking you out like B.A. Baracus from the A-Team?

Haha! Right on, ‘cause I’ve got a fear of heights I’ve been dealing with...

You’ll be ok, man.

Hell yeah, ‘cause I’m gonna get stoned!

Don’t bring weed to the airport…

No! I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize us coming out there, man. Y’know, this is a long time coming, man. Let me tell you, if nobody liked the music I play I would still play it just for myself, but when people like what you’re doing, that’s something special. And for it to go worldwide like it is and for you to get us to come out there and share us coming out there with the rest of the Portland, Oregon metal fans…

I gotta tell you, for me, it’s an honor to have you coming out.

No, no. The honor is all ours, please. Especially mine. ‘Cause I walked away from this shit in ’88. It was [hard] trying to find the right musicians and then everybody kept trying to pigeonhole it, “Play with all black guys! Play with all black guys!” When with me it was never a contrived thing, it just happened to turn out that way. ‘Cause the guys that I cut the album with, they didn’t even listen to heavy metal, they was playin’, “I shot the sheriff but I did not shoot the deputy!” Haha! They was playin’ shit like that! As far as metal went, Black Sabbath was ok. Cool. But then I took them to see Judas Priest the second time they came to Cleveland, the Hellbent For Leather album had just came out. I kept trying to explain to them what heavy metal was, “This band you’ve got to see!” And when they saw it, then they got it. ‘Cause I used to be the only one dressing in leather and studs and all that shit.

You can hear the Priest influence on the record for sure.

You heard the song ‘Dreamer Deceiver’ by Priest?

I love that song! [another sing-along ensues…]

Well, I wrote a song called ‘Have You Seen Her’ with a similar chord progression and you know I had always kinda’ sung with that high pitched voice, ‘cause I couldn’t sing low. And I thought that was gonna sound weird. I said, “Damn, they gonna think I sound like The Temptations!” Y’know, Eddie Kendricks, “Oh, I see her face everywhere I go!” Haha! Then my friend Squeaky said, “Hey man, this group ripped off your song,” and then he turned me on to Priest and I heard that and I said, “Aha!” Their version was better than mine, how they had it structured and everything.

In the song ‘Black Death’ you have some vocal patterns that are very similar to Rob Halford’s on Hellbent.

Yeah, we’re kindred spirits. He gave me a direction to go.  ‘Cause I’ve been hearing heavy metal in my head since I was a kid, before I even learned how to play. As a matter of fact, ‘Street Walker’ was in my head back when I was in junior high. Actually before junior high, because I didn’t learn how to play guitar until my sophomore year in high school. That’s when I learned how to play guitar and the first song I learned to play was Jimi Hendrix ‘Hey Joe’.  One day I’d like to do my little Hendrix tribute thing. Y’know, it takes a Sagittarian to do a  Sagittarian…

Did Black Death ever play outside of Cleveland?

We played in Pittsburg and that place was sold out. That was when we were Siki Spacek and The Resurrection. 

But back in the day as Black Death?

No, we never left Cleveland. I never played outside of Cleveland until it was the Siki Spacek and The Resurrection thing. And it didn’t matter what I called it, ‘cause after that it was Iron Messiah, they always called it Black Death. I’d tell the guys that was announcing us before we go on stage, “Ok, the name of the band is Iron Messiah.” They’d get up to the mic, “And now from Cleveland…BLACK DEATH!!!” I’d say, “What the fuck??” So anyway, this will be the furthest we’ve ever travelled to. Prior to Portland, New York was the farthest and that was in a van with a bunch of equipment. I’ll never do that again!

This is a very special event!


I’ve always wondered why Cyndi Lauper is thanked on the LP.

Oh yeah! I squeezed Cyndi Lauper’s tit. I don’t know if you know the Cleveland radio station WMMS, The Buzzard, 100.7? WMMS is pretty much the big rock radio station here in Cleveland and they had this Coffee Break Concert thing where you could get in free, like during the daytime, people working downtown could go there on their lunch break at 12 o’clock and see some bands. I saw Yngwie Malmsteen there with Alcatraz before he went out on his own and Priest played there the first time they came to Cleveland. 

What year was that?

That was ’78. They had just released Sin After Sin. Then they came back in ’79 when Hellbent For Leather came out.   

Damn! So what the hell happened with Cyndi Lauper?

Oh right! So the day she was in Cleveland she performed at this Coffee Break Concert thing, we were down there to record some [promotional bits] like, “Hi! I’m Siki Spacek and when I’m in Cleveland I listen to 100.7, The Buzzard!” So she was down there to cut some shit too and her road manager came in and that’s when she found out her album went platinum with that, “Oh, girls just wanna have fun!” shit. But she don’t talk like that in real life, she just talk like some chick from the ‘hood or somethin’. But anyway, we took pictures with her and she put her tit in my hands. Her left tit. I ain’t never gonna forget that…

And she got a thank you on the record for that?

Yeah! Why do you think she looks so wild and extreme now?

She’s been touched by Siki!

Now imagine if I had put the tongue to her…

Maybe she would’ve had another platinum record!

Yeah! Right! And it’d been Black Death! Or Siki and Cyndi! Or Cyndi and Siki, I don’t care whose name is first…

Why did the record come out with a 7” instead of two separate releases?

Some of them had that little 7” EP and some of them didn’t. The only reason it came out like that was because the group that I originally cut the album with, again, like I mentioned earlier, they weren’t really heavy metal and you have to teach people some things…We play those same songs [now] and they’re nowhere near as long as they were when I played with the first line up, the ‘classic lineup’ we’ll say. Jamie [Walters] and Jeremy [Kursik] played me some bootleg recordings from the Pop Shop and some shows we did around the area and I was listening to these songs and I’m like, “Damn this motherfucker’s 15 minutes long, 12 minutes long! What the fuck?!” Black Death shows are legendary. We played like The Song Remains the Same, damn near two hours of shit and that’s only because the fuckin’ songs were 15 to 20 minutes long a piece! And there were some songs that didn’t make it on the album and in my opinion a couple of them are heavier than some of the songs that did. You’ll hear this on the [new] EP and then on the next album. This EP we’re calling The Return of the Iron Messiah, speaking about moi, ‘cause that was a nickname they gave me. “Iron Messiah!!!!!” Just ‘cause I wrote that song…

So those songs were released on the 7” because they didn’t fit on the LP?   

Because they were so long, and Billy [Peters, founder of Auburn Records] thought all of ‘em were good songs and he wanted, “Here comes the Wrecking Crew!” and…what was on the other side of that?


Yeah, ‘Retribution’!

Are you playing ‘Retribution’ in Portland?

Oh, hell yeah! We’ll be doing ‘Black Death’, ‘Street Walker’, ‘Last Prophet’- that was another song that didn’t make it on there- and ‘The Rise of the Beast’…Y’know, it’s funny you should mention Halford and Priest because everybody usually says I sound more like King Diamond [starts singing ‘Evil’ and trails off]

Do you know how many copies of the LP were pressed and how many came with the 7”?

I think he definitely pressed more than 1000 ‘cause this shit has been international, man. I got fan mail from England, Germany, Chile, Peru and even more from Poland! From motherfuckin’ Poland, dude! And this is before Reagan tore the wall down...

So you don’t know the exact number of records Auburn pressed?

No, I don’t. But it had to be more than 1000. Just the geography tends to lend itself to that, ‘cause [fan mail] came from such a wide dispersed area. But he wants to re-release it…

I hope you see some money from that…

Oh, I will on this. That’s the only reason he hasn’t tried to put it out again yet, because the contract was a one shot deal. So this time shit will have to be negotiated and I’m about to put my songs with a publishing company. I didn’t know nothin’ about that [back then], otherwise I would’ve been receiving little stipends all these years.

Did you get paid when the record came out in ‘84?

He offered me money in ’85-’86, and I turned it down. The album was released across seas on Halloween ’84, [but] it wasn’t released in America until ‘85. Well, if he only pressed 1000 copies to send overseas, how many do you think he pressed for here in the States? But that’s ok, I don’t stress too much about that. He was a fan…Anyway, the band I have now is a hell of a lot more professional, the songs are tighter, more concise and I have a guitar player with me who can play guitar. He has a Glenn Tipton style to his playing. There’s the Judas Priest reference again!

What are you most looking forward to seeing when you get to Portland?

The fans. The club. And to play. And just to see everybody out there. If it’s anything like Chicago, it’ll be crazy. We rocked! We played with Grim Reaper. I always thought Grim Reaper was a local band…

They’re from England.

Yeah! And I didn’t know they were fans of Black Death, but I was talking to this guy backstage and I thought he was a fan and, surprise on me, he got up on stage and was playing guitar left handed and shit!

Hendrix style!

Yeah man, Jimi Reaper! Haha! Y’know, back in the old Cleveland days the only band we hung out with that was cool with us was Destructor. A lot of the other groups got kind of intimidated ‘cause I mean, hell, these big dark guys and shit…but see, my leather is black, my skin is brown. I’m not a black guy, ok? I’m a brown guy! Haha! And I smoke green! Haha! I got a rainbow, but it ain’t gay! It’s brown, green…

With red underwear!

Yeah! And red underwear! Now, the only reason I had on that underwear was we were at the old Cleveland Agora [Theater], it had caught fire down in the club part but upstairs it was like a recording studio. So we went upstairs for the photo shoot for the album cover and I had my Fredericks of Hollywood spandex on, y’know, this real sheer shit, I didn’t know that they had this thicker shit for guys. So anyways, I’m doing my poses, y’know, you’re crotch squats with one leg stuck out, the classic Yngwie pose. And I think I Yngwie’d a little too much, cause my shit ripped! And I didn’t have on no underwear and everything was hanging out! Luckily my girlfriend was there so she gave me her underwear…

Haha! And what’s up with that giant safety pin?

Oh, yeah…I just had that…I was holding something together with that…And I had that long leather coat…I looked cool! Sweaty like a motherfucker, but I was cool!

Damn right you were!