Tales From the Metalnomicon: Ian Christe of Bazillion Points

Welcome to Tales From the Metalnomicon, a column delving into the surprisingly vast world of heavy metal-tinged/inspired literature and metalhead authors…
Bazillion Points Books boasts such an absurdly badass catalog it is difficult at times to believe the publishing house actually exists outside the fantasies of discerning connoisseurs and devotees of underground rock and metal. But real it is, and they’ve now got five years worth of wicked literary manifestations to serve as irrefutable proof. Our comrades and partners over at Metal Sucks already marked the anniversary with an excellent and exhaustive interview of publisher Ian Christe, so the Metalnomicon chose instead to ask the author, Sirius XM radio personality, and all around heavy metal renaissance man to muster up a Bazillion Points soundtrack. As you will see below, Christe knocked it out of the park…

Hello! If after repeat listening you discover that this playlist suits you, you’ll be qualified to spend the morning heaving heavy boxes of books at the Bazillion Points HQ. We have worn ruts in a lot of records working around the clock for the last five years!

HELLHAMMER — “Messiah”

This morning, the rooster crows, the purple cloud passes, and “Messiah” rips open a new day. Tom Gabriel Fischer came to me with ONLY DEATH IS REAL: An Illustrated History of Hellhammer and Early Celtic Frost nearly one hundred percent complete. He didn’t just have an idea or a couple cool stories — he had wrung himself out for years already writing the book. Jesus, what a powerhouse that man is. He’s also prone to saying profound things. Once he told me, and I’m paraphrasing as best as I can remember: “I didn’t choose this path. I didn’t choose to be ridiculed and faced with great difficulty. It chose me. It was the only option available, it was all I had, there was no other alternative.” Must be nice to have everything you do and say mean something!


AC/DC — “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”

This 1976 film of AC/DC playing on a moving flatbed truck in downtown Melbourne is the greatest rock video of all time, and when Bon Scott and the Rats of Tobruk Pipe Band lay into the bagpipes, it’s like they’re smacking me in the face with lightning bolts to wake me up after I fainted, realizing that Bazillion Points author Mark Evans, who wrote Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside/Outside of AC/DC is right in the middle of it all, playing bass. That’s real, somehow, and I still can’t believe it.

THE FIX — “No Idols”

Putting John Brannon from Negative Approach on the cover of TOUCH AND GO: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine, by Tesco Vee and Dave Stimson, just felt so fucking great. But the book, mainly the essays by Brannon, Rollins, Ian MacKaye, Keith Morris and others, was actually edited by Steve Miller, singer from an equally ripping early Midwestern hardcore band, the Fix. He’s also just written a book about manly Michigan rock, called Detroit Rock City. The Fix are caustic and destructive to the max. Their first single is worth thousands, but the band can’t benefit from that because the copies that Touch and Go Records founder Tesco gave the band were stored next to a radiator. Midwestern winters are cold, so of course they melted. A little while after the Touch and Go book came out, a young art student wrote to thank Tesco and Steve. Her boyfriend bought a singles tote at a yard sale and found the record inside. She sold the Fix record for $4500 on ebay, and wrote to thank Tesco and Steve, saying now she could afford to pay her tuition and buy a laptop. Steve sang a bunch of Fix songs at the Touch and Go book release party at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit, it was flattening.

MAYHEM — “Deathcrush”

Picking a song from METALION: The Slayer Mag Diaries could have gone a lot of ways, since roughly every intense band ever is covered somewhere in 744 pages. But I think Mr. Metalion agrees that Mayhem’s “Deathcrush” is beyond special. He had befriended Euronymous and Necrobutcher, and watched Mayhem grow as a band. He taught them about tape trading, and egged them on other Norwegian bands still wore poofy hair and striped pants. The dedication on their first record, handwritten by Euronymous, says it all, and came as a total surprise to Jon: “This mini-LP is dedicated to METALION and the mighty Slayer Mag. May he live for a LONG time, that man.” Arne Babb always wins.

NIHILIST — “Abnormally Deceased”

By the way, our Swedish Death Metal book has way more flannel shirts than the two books we’re doing with Sub Pop cofounder Bruce Pavitt! First off, how the hell does this sublime video exist? I think Swedish Death Metal is the greatest account of the birth, rise, success, and crumbling of a music scene ever written. According to author Daniel Ekeroth, Nihilist basically ceased to exist because everybody in the band wanted to kick out Johnny Hedlund, but they were scared. They only pretended to break up, then reformed almost immediately as Entombed. Corpse did the same thing, and became Grave! The members of Nihilist met at a Swedish youth camp at around age 12, we made sure to mention that fact when talking about the same camp in Daniel Ekeroth’s hilarious follow-up to Swedish Death Metal, the essential Swedish Sensationsfilms: A Clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers, and Kicker Cinema.

ATTACK — “Ooa Hela Natten”

Okay, speaking of the Swedish Sensationsfilms book, the drummer in the video for this mind-hammering and catchy smash hit from Swedish is a celebrated prog and jazz player named Dr. Åke. Does he look creepy to you? Well, he’s also the star of one of Sweden’s only attempts to produce a horror film, Blodahren — or the Bleeder. In that film he’s a demented psychopath with a strange birth defect that makes him bleed from the eyeballs and chase an all-girl rock band through an old house. He also pushes a baby carriage around. Great stuff!

FABIO FRIZZI — “Zombie (Main Theme)”

Like a lot of the people involved in our books, Fabio Frizzi has become a real friend. He was very young when he did the Lucio Fulci movie themes, so he is still very youthful now, which surprises a lot of people. He’s just a great composer and musician. If a scene calls for terror, he’ll give you terror. He actually used to play with the guys who formed Goblin as a teenager, but he left because his career got an earlier jump than theirs. He borrowed Claudio Simonetti’s Mellotron for his scenes in MELLODRAMA: The Mellotron Movie, the first time they’d talked to each other in years. Fabio’s score for The Beyond is a masterpiece, but I love the Zombie theme so much because it summons images for me of New York in the 1970s, with lawlessness, excessive heat, and the freshly built World Trade Center towers.

MUDHONEY — “No One Has”

In 1988, I was just getting over the rush of hearing Mayhem, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Terrorizer, and Carcass the year before, and was finally getting into the Stooges and Blue Cheer. A friend tipped me off to this new thing called Sub Pop Records and I got to see Mudhoney that October. I got way into it. In a weird way, they seemed something to me like an American Celtic Frost. I reviewed their first single for a Texas zine called Grey Matter, and called them “Celtic Frost in Converse” or something. Well, now Bazillion Points has just gone to press with Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989, a thick book of photos and tour journals by Sub Pop cofounder Bruce Pavitt documenting Nirvana, Tad, and Mudhoney gone abroad, a long way from Aberdeen, WA.

SACCHARINE TRUST — “A Human Certainty”

Incredibly original LA band, Saccharine Trust deserve to be ranked alongside Husker Du in terms of emotional impact. Their Pagan Icons is perfect record — the only problem is that it’s too short. They aren’t as well known as the other main bands and contributors in WE GOT POWER!: Hardcore Punk Scenes from 1980s Southern California, such as Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Descendents, Circle Jerks, and the Adolescents, maybe because they were already a little bit more poetic and evolved. Anyway, get into Pagan Icons! They played the record in its entirety at the book release party in Santa Monica, on a bill with Adolescents and White Flag. Historic!

METALLICA 1982 — 1983 Demos

James Hetfield just told an interviewer last week that Brian Lew, coauthor of Murder in the Front Row: Shots From the Bay Area Thrash Metal Epicenter, suggested the title No Speed Limit as a replacement when Megaforce Records told Metallica they couldn’t call their debut album Metal Up Your Ass. Might have worked if the band had called itself Skull Orchard, like Lars initially wanted to do, according to Ron Quintana. Like most early Metallica/Slayer/Megadeth youtube videos, this one relies heavily on photos from Murder in the Front Row, but still doesn’t really scratch the surface of the more than four hundred pics. Well, enjoy listening to an hour of zit-faced early Metallica, I gotta go!

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