Archive for June, 2008

SLAYER’S “STILL REIGNING” DVD…the morning of

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Slayer
Augusta Civic Center
Augusta, ME
July 11, 2004

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(These photos and many others now available for sale.  Email: IamKevin@fairwarning.com)

***
The first of a five-part series I am doing this week as I look back at the making of Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD. From load in to load out, I was there with the band.
***

For years, Slayer had wanted to perform their classic album, Reign In Blood, in its entirety for their fans. Jeff Hanneman, one of the visionaries of the band, wanted to take it a step further. His dream was to somehow have the band perform the closing track, Raining Blood, onstage while a shower of blood rain poured down on the band. I got the call from management, it was time to make Jeff’s dream a reality…and it was happening in just a few days – Augusta, ME of all places.

Slayer was on the Ozzfest tour and planned an off-day show in Augusta. Slayer wanted this show to be an event: First – Slipknot, Hatebreed and God Forbid were all on the bill as the openers (amazing in its own right); Second – Slayer was playing a full set, then as their encore, playing the entire Reign In Blood set; Third – if that was not enough, Slayer was going to somehow make the impossible possible and have it pour and shower blood during the final song of the night.

No one knew exactly how to make the bloody rain work, or if it was going to work at all. They only had a few days to figure this gimmick out, build it, and to pull it off. To make things even more stressful was the decision to film this show for a home DVD. There would only be one chance to make this happen, no practice runs, no re-shoots. The crazy thing is, from my experience in Slayer World, things always seem to work for the best when things are rushed and done at the last minute. Don’t ask me why, but it is true…the more stress and the less time, the better the outcome.

The band flew me in the night before and I arrived at the venue around 10am. They wanted me to document as much as I could that day (you can see a lot more of my photos in the Still Reigning DVD packaging). When I got there, it was mass chaos outside, behind the venue as teams of riggers, plumbers, special fx crews, stage managers, etc. all put their heads together to figure out how to build a contraption that would pour blood on the band, then cover the entire stage with a constant, steady shower of blood rain. Also, this contraption needed to be built in a way that the band could still play their instruments, they needed to avoid flooding the stage and, most importantly, it was important to not get the crowd showered in blood in order to avoid any lawsuits. There was a lot to accomplish and it was just hours before the show and nothing was built, the plans were still being worked on. Needless to say, there was a lot of tension from the band, management, the DVD production team and the venue. These photos really capture the stress of that day. Everyone, including the band, were questioning whether or not this was a good idea.

Stop by tomorrow and every day this week as we get closer and closer to Slayer hitting the stage in my weeklong retrospect of Slayer’s Still Reigning DVD.

Pasadena Openers…Witch

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Witch
Perkin’s Palace
April 7, 1984

***
Part five of a five-part series that I am doing this week on local L.A. bands in the ‘80s that were opening acts on some big gigs at my favorite venue as a kid – Perkin’s Palace in Pasadena California.
***

Witch was another credible metal act from Los Angeles. Formed in 1982, they had instant street cred thanks to their drummer, Punky Peru, who was great friends with Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee and was also asked to join W.A.S.P. At some shows, Punky would slice and punch his face until it was dripping blood – compare that to Blackie Lawless who was still drinking fake blood from a skull.

Not only did Witch have a loose canon for a drummer, but their singer, Peter Wabitt, was also a bit of a madman on stage. Wabitt’s vocals were dark, eerie and powerful. Another aspect that I thought was really cool about Witch’s live show was their guitarist, Ronny Too. I love Flying V Guitars, they just look so metal, and Ronny would always bust them out.

Witch played some big gigs in their career, headlining over such local majors as Slayer and Lizzy Bordon. But this show at Perkin’s Palace proved to be a huge show for Witch. Witch was direct support for the debut performance of Ron Keel’s Keel, following the breakup of Steeler. Ron Keel was the hottest unsigned name in Metal in L.A. at the time and needless to say, there was a lot of hype on this show and it was packed to the rim.

Witch was just about to release their EP, The Hex Is On, and the Los Angeles rock radio station, KLOS, had just premiered a few of their songs, including the show-stopper, Damnation, on The Local Music Show a few nights before the show. KLOS had also premiered a few of Ron Keel’s new solo songs – the L.A. Metal Community was thirsty to hear more from all of the bands on the bill.

I remember looking up at the balcony that night and seeing hands, arms and bodies hanging over the edge. It was definitely an oversold show. Here is one for the fans: this show at Perkin’s Palace was produced by DeeDee Lewis, who would later marry Ron Keel…kinda’ cool how things work out sometimes.

Photographed with my trusty, smuggled in Canon AE-1 and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm lens. Shot on Kodak negative film.

Help to save and preserve The Raymond Theatre (aka Perkin’s Palace):
http://www.raymondtheatre.com
RaymondTheatre@aol.com
http://www.myspace.com/raymondtheatre

Pasadena Openers…Malice

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Malice
Perkin’s Palace
March 16, 1984

***
Part four of a five-part series that I am doing this week on local L.A. bands in the ‘80s that were opening acts on some big gigs at my favorite venue as a kid – Perkin’s Palace in Pasadena California.
***

Malice originally formed in Portland, OR and transplanted themselves here in Los Angeles where the metal scene was exploding. After only six weeks of rehearsing, the band’s first gig came in November 1982 (Thanksgiving to be specific) appearing at The Troubadour in West Hollywood – headlining a bill with Metallica and Pandemonium as opening acts. Apparently Metallica drew 17 people, Pandemonium 120 and Malice 64. After three more shows Malice was headlining the Roxy and within two years they had their major label deal with Atlantic Records.

Malice were a very Judas Priest influenced band, with the vocalist sounding almost exactly like Halford – we sorta’ loved Malice for just that reason alone. All of their songs provided exactly what my buddies and I needed – healthy portions of loud, wailing guitars and strong, Halford-esque vocals.

Malice made their initial vinyl appearance on Metal Blade Records’ Metal Massacre compilation album – they were the only band to contribute two tracks – Captive Of Light and Kick You Down. The quintet’s demo quickly swept through the tape trading world and propelled Malice to the list of L.A.’s finest. Malice soon found themselves at the center of a record company bidding war. Atlantic Records snapped up the band in July 1984. Surprisingly, the band’s original demo comprised half of Malice’s first album, 1985’s In The Beginning.

I remember reading the rock mags and metal fanzines and seeing that Malice was poised for stardom based on their Judas Priest brand of Heavy Metal. This band had a great following, but somehow got lost in the shuffle of the Glam/MTV Hard Rock movement. Malice basically disappeared after their 1989 E.P.

Photographed with my trusty, smuggled in Canon AE-1 and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm lens. Shot on Kodak negative film.



Help to save and preserve The Raymond Theatre (aka Perkin’s Palace):
http://www.raymondtheatre.com
RaymondTheatre@aol.com
http://www.myspace.com/raymondtheatre

Pasadena Openers…Odin

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

ODIN
Perkin’s Palace
March 16, 1984

***
Part three of a five-part series that I am doing this week on local L.A. bands in the ‘80s that were opening acts on some big gigs at my favorite venue as a kid – Perkin’s Palace in Pasadena California.
***

Odin was fairly new to the L.A. rock scene, but they rapidly built a strong and legitimate following around the rock circuit. Their street cred became undeniable, quickly getting the band added to the big shows – like this one at Perkin’s Palace. At this point, Odin had just recorded their first 7” single, Caution (which I bought that night at the show for $2.00). Despite the homemade artwork and misspellings on the single, Odin looked like a band on the verge.

From 1983 through 1985, Odin’s sound was heavy and fast – pulling influences from bands like Armored Saint and Metallica, but adding the Blues elements of Aerosmith and Van Halen. Odin’s opening act days were numbered, and the band soon found themselves headlining most of the rock venues in Los Angeles.

I was a big fan of this band, their early material was the perfect combination of chuggy guitar riffs and melodic metal hooks mixed with raw, punk rock production. Their 7” sounded like it was recorded in a basement for $10, but this was the perfect sound for this band.

After their first full release, Don’t Take No For An Answer in 1985, I – along with many others – lost interest in Odin as the the band became influenced by the early stages of “hair metal.” Odin drastically changed their sound, their live show, their clothes, their hair, and their overall outlook on music. I was pretty bummed out that a solid, quality band would give in so quickly and jump on the “hair metal” bus, especially after working so hard to gain the respect that they had built. But, for every one of me that they lost, I am sure they gained two or three “hair metal” fans…but that was not my thing.

Legendary club owner,Bill Gazarri, proclaimed that Odin would be bigger than Van Halen, but Odin’s potential remained unfulfilled. A major label deal failed to come their way. But it would be their appearance in The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years, that would turn the band into cult metal heroes or the laughing stock of rock, depending on how you look at things.

Photographed with one eye on the camera and one eye looking over my shoulder on my trusty, smuggled in Canon AE-1 and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm lens. Shot on Kodak negative film.

Help to save and preserve The Raymond Theatre (aka Perkin’s Palace):
http://www.raymondtheatre.com
RaymondTheatre@aol.com
http://www.myspace.com/raymondtheatre

Pasadena Openers…SIN (featuring Rik Fox)

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

***
Part two of a five-part series that I am doing this week on local L.A. bands in the ‘80s that were opening acts on some big gigs at my favorite venue as a kid – Perkin’s Palace in Pasadena California.
***

It isn’t often that a bass player is the body and soul of a band…but like the band Talas, this was an exception. Bassist Rik Fox had just been let go from L.A. “should have beens”, Steeler. Fox, who was also in the first generation of WASP (which he also penned the band name) knew just about every big name in the Hollywood rock scene. With Steeler and WASP now behind him, it was time for Fox to form his own band – SIN. Musically, SIN’s approach was a cross between Angel and Judas Priest.

The line-up was made up of relatively unknown L.A. players: Carl James (drums); Howard Drossin (guitar); Vince Gilbert (keyboards); and Art Deresh (vocals). Art Deresh was a pretty good singer, but there was a big rumor going around that he was hygienically challenged. In other words, this guy was ‘stinky! People complained and talked about it all the time. Unfortunately, I discovered this for myself first hand one night at an after party at his home…that was some wicked B.O.!!

SIN quickly became one of the fastest rising new bands on the L.A. rock scene, playing a handful of gigs at Perkin’s Palace. Having Rik Fox and SIN open for his former band Steeler that night at Perkin’s Palace was a bold move by the promoter. There was a lot of tension and a lot of curiosity in the audience – this could have opened up a huge can of worms. All the bands killed that night. It was another amazing lineup and quite a bargain at only $7.00.

Photographed with my trusty, smuggled in Canon AE-1 and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm lens. Shot on Kodak negative film.


Help to save and preserve The Raymond Theatre (aka Perkin’s Palace):
www.raymondtheatre.com
RaymondTheatre@aol.com
MySpace – Official Raymond Theatre Site

Pasadena Openers…Leather Angel – 1983

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Leather Angel
November 25, 1983
Perkin’s Palace : Pasadena, CA

***
Part one of a five-part series that I am doing this week on local L.A. bands in the ‘80s that were opening acts on some big gigs at my favorite venue as a kid – Perkin’s Palace in Pasadena California.
***

First, a little background on the venue. The Raymond Theatre was a beautiful 2000 capacity theatre built in the 1920’s. Vaudeville shows, movie screenings and live plays were the original uses of the theatre. In 1979, the venue broke into the live concert market and the theatre became known as a live venue named Perkin’s Palace. An incredible list of artists have performed on the Perkin’s Palace stage : The Cure, Motley Crue, Phil Collins, Black Flag, Bad Religion, Depeche Mode, The Ramones, and many, many more.

Growing up as a teen, I went to a lot of amazing shows at Perkin’s Palace. Luckily for me it was only about 20 minutes from my home and I could usually talk my Mother or my pal Erik into driving to some of the early shows. The ticket prices were low and you always got a handful of L.A.’s best bands – handpicked by Gina Zamparelli, who had to be the greatest promoter in L.A. in the 80’s. When Gina’s name was on the flyer or on the ticket, my pals and I knew that every band, whether we had heard of them or not, were worth getting to the show early for.

Steeler was super-buzzing at the time. They had an incredible LP out on Shrapnel Records and the band was filled with talent. The openers for that night – Leather Angel, Rough Cutt and SIN were three of the coolest up and comers in town. SIN was the brainchild of bassist Rik Fox, who had just left Steeler to form his own band – there was some competitive energy that night. Rough Cutt had just been picked up by Wendy Dio (Ronnie’s wife) for management. Leather Angel was an all female heavy metal band, they really stood out in terms of Local Metal Bands in Los Angeles.

I first saw them as Obsession when they opened for Motley Crue at Perkin’s Palace the previous year. Motley had taken a liking to them and that helped to build their street cred in L.A. Soon after, legalities arose with another band using the same name and the girls were forced to rename the band to Leather Angel. The band was fantastic both live and on record. They kept up and played with the best of L.A.’s Metal acts – Ratt, Motley Crue, Steeler, Black & Blue, etc. Their EP, We Came To Kill, was a solid release with some local radio airplay. The record proved that this band was just not a bunch of good looking chicks, these girls could rock and they were serious about it.

[On a personal note – their manager, Keith Dyson, once tried to extort photos that I had taken of the band and threatened to take my mother’s home. I was barely 15 years years old when Keith Dyson threatened me, and I didn’t really know any better, I was intimidated and terrified. What kind of manager threatens a little kid with a camera? Keith, if are reading this…call me, call me collect…I am not a little kid anymore.]

Leather Angel later went through a handful of lineup changes and changed their name to Jaded Lady. Jaded Lady’s claim to fame was their appearance in Penelope Spheeris’ 1988 film, The Decline Of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years.

Photographed with my trusty, smuggled in Canon AE-1 and a cheap, no name 70mm-210mm lens. Shot on Kodak negative film.

Help to save and preserve The Raymond Theatre:
http://www.raymondtheatre.com
RaymondTheatre@aol.com
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=74238887

Jump…Might As Well

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , on June 20, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

Van Halen
May 14, 1984
Los Angeles Forum

Van Halen had now broken through to the masses. It was no longer just us long-haired rock/metal fans at their shows. Their hit single, Jump, had propelled them into the big-time…even my mother was singing along with Van Halen.

I had some pretty decent seats for both nights at the L.A. Forum, so of course there was no way I was walking through those doors without my camera. I remember looking over my shoulder for security guards and snapping when they weren’t looking. Although this photo has never been published, I have always loved this shot. I really felt that this image captured the feeling of where Van Halen was at that point in their career. I felt that there was some sort of symbolism in the image. David Lee Roth all alone on that stage holding an oversized “Jump” banner. Little did we know that Dave was about to jump ship.

This image stuck with me for years, and it really was my final memory of the Classic Van Halen lineup. The 1984 tour would mark the last time that I would ever have to smuggle my camera into a Van Halen show…it was all done legally with photo credentials from then on.

Photographed with my trusty, smuggled in Canon AE-1 Program and a cheap, no name 80mm-300mm f5.6 lens. Shot on Kodak Negative Film.