From the Swine archive – Rivet Head by Richo (April 2006)
from time we time we’ll post up some of our classic pieces from the massive archive (OK, when we can’t be arsed thinking up new things to get fucked off about) – see archive link right for 6 year’s worth of scalliban snarling. Here’s Richo’s boss piece from 2006 about being a scally smelly and dropping Garys at Pantera gigs.
RIVETHEAD – A personal journey through Heavy Metal
The first time I ever really noticed a grebo was my first day in secondary school (Autumn 1977, St Judas’s, Catholic priests and that). It was a truly horrific day. I realised that the comfort of 4th year juniors had gone forever and I was at a school where there were grown men with long hair and beards who weren’t there to teach, they were wearing the same school uniform as me. Two things stick out in my mind about these grebs, apart from the facial hair – one was the clobber, which was predominantly a thin olive green Italian army jacket over the school blazer or occasionally a “Neil out the Young Ones” army greatcoat, and the other was the artwork, usually on their British army rucksacks but sometimes on the back of their jackets as well.
Let’s face it, Grebo Rucksack Art is never gonna be given its dues in the same way as New York Graffitti Art, but to me it was just as good. It was usually band logos done in felt tip, occasionally motorbike logos as well (Triumph, Norton, Beezer, Harley – deffo no Jap crap). The most popular band ones were Rainbow (dead hard, especially one lad’s bag that had the cover of “Rainbow Rising” done in paint. He ended up as a mad skin at Everton as well, weird eh ?), Yes (the one off “Close To The Edge”, complicated that), Led Zep (easy), Genesis (the one off “Seconds Out”, a pure doddle), Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Motorhead, Judas Priest (the “Unleashed In The East” logo), KISS, Deep Purple and Rush (“2112” etc). There was a few weird ones as well, one lad (a prefect) had “Foghat” on his bag and us Kes-lookalikes used to pester him to death when we were stuck inside during rained off dinner times – “Who are Foghat then, never heard of them ?”. He never told us, in fact he never spoke to us at all – he just dealt with our harrassment by giving us a Jimmy Page style rock-god sneer, (AKA “the archscowl of supermusician ennui” – Lester Bangs, that’s who). Turns out Foghat were shyte as well, a poor mans Molly Hatchet tribute band, not fit to lace Lynyrd Skynyrd’s in-flight Southern Boogie cocktail.
Grebo coats were similarly customised. The best one I ever saw was a lad who we knew had definitely smoked at least one joint, who had the cover of Hawkwind’s “Space Ritual” done on the back of his Italian army jacket. In school we’d sometimes peer into the 6th Form Chemistry lab cos we used to have to go through the science block to get to the gym for PE. Inside, huddled round the Bunsens, would be loads of mad scientists with white lab coats, totally covered with grebo band logos, Germanic and Celtic symbols (runes man, I blame Led Zep 4), fuck-off Druids and the like. I’m pretty sure our school’s “Chemmo” labs were a franchise of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love and the eager students were cooking up micro-dots. It’s the only possible explanation. I don’t think I ever saw a teacher in there with them. He was probably out taking Confession or doing Mass or blagging freebies off CAFOD.
As I went through the school years, the grebo hordes remained pretty untouched as some of us started to ditch the snorkel parka and birmos for POD, Kios, Samba, Nastase, wedge haircuts and the like. You’d start to see the “heavys” out of school at youth clubs or just knocking round and they’d be wearing denim jackets with all the band names embroidered on, leather biker jackets if they had money, cowboy boots and studded belts and wristbands. Like Phil Lynott or The Zutons. I started hearing some of the music myself at this time began to get into the tunes – particularly early Genesis, the Bon Scott incarnation of AC/DC, Purple, Led Zeppelin, Tull, Free and many more. I can also vividly remember some lads in school sporting black armbands when both John Bonham and Bon Scott croaked – I don’t remember anyone doing similar for Ian Curtis or him out The Ruts.
After leaving school, my main watering holes in town were definitely grebo free. The Yankee Bar and Daley’s didn’t cater for the rock crowd at all, although I did see Liverpool prog-rock covers band Drama and Tull friendly Groundpig in Houlihan’s Bar (Daley’s back room) a few times – the audience were all footy heads though. As well as that, the Yankee Bar Juke Box had more than it’s fair share of classic rock tunes that used to get battered during the lock-in all-dayers. “Freebird”, “Paranoid”, “Silver Machine” – I must have heard them in there hundreds of times, B-Sides too. One of my most vivid memories of that legendary boozer is seeing the whole back room nodding silently along to the extended “Freebird” guitar solo. I started to realise that being into Metal and being a match-head were not mutually exclusive. I knew it wasn’t just me that was putting Sabbath’s “The Wizard” on the jukey or secretly listening to “Powerage” at home. And so it came to pass that a few of us like-minded short haired closet Metal heads would venture forth from the Yankee Bar, usually around 9.00pm so we could bid adieu to the “can’t take him anywhere” lunatics that were left, and enter the murky and dangerous world of the Liverpudlian Rock Crowd’s Clubs and Boozers.
Wood Street was Liverpool ‘s Grebo Central. I think it still is now, despite being surrounded by new glizty bars and apartment complexes. The hub of it all was The Swan boozer with its excellent jukebox and weird array of real ales. Going in there was a strange experience for us, as it was often similar to that bit at the start of “An American Werewolf In London” where the 2 yanks go into the country boozer and the in-bred locals all give them the skunk eye. For one thing, we were in our early 20s and the Swan regulars seemed to be 40-something groolers, all beards and giant arms and evil bike boots. Man Utd away meant fuck all to them, but the Bulldog Bash was a reality. Mostly we were tolerated, but the general air of sullen resentment meant that we didn’t linger in there too long. Rainfords seemed a better bet, a 2.00 AM club near the old Probe Records. This was full of a younger crowd that came there after bevvying in Milo’s, a rock boozer in St John’s Precinct. They seemed to be influenced by the horrible LA Hair Metal bands of the time such as Motley Crue and Poison, both the lads and the girls – there were no arlarse bikers at all in there. This time the sullen resentment came from us, we used to look at these divvys and once the Newcastle Brown had kicked in we’d berate them for their lack of style (“where’s yer combat coat”, “you look like a tart” etc) and cak taste in music. This wasn’t Metal, this was Poodle. We’d usually end up in the corner chonging or hassling the DJ to put something on that we liked, a bit of Led Zep, Sabbath or AC/DC. Mostly though the playlist was pure cak – Cinderella, RATT, Def Leppard, Skid Row, Warrant and Bon Fuckging Jovi. This era of Heavy Metal was superbly captured in the documentary film “The Decline And Fall Of Western Civilisation Part 2”. One of the lads had this sadly now unavailable classic on video and loads of the dialogue entered our everyday language – “I’m fucked up, but I’m a happy camper”, “I’m a true rivet head”. The highlight of the film is the ramblings of the utterly wasted Chris Holmes from LA mentalists WASP as he gets interviewed while sat on an inflatable armchair in his swimming pool, hammered on vodka.
A chance to experience the old school grebo experience arrived when a lad we knew in North Wales invited us down to see Hawkwind appearing at the Tivoli in Buckley in 1987 (incidentally the Yankee Bar got raided by the drug squad on the same night). We’d seen Hawkwind in Liverpool loads of times, but usually there were more scallies there than grebs. A couple of us went and it was a pure throwback. There was definitely no poodles in attendance as we walked into the venue and saw 2 columns of about 30 grebs standing facing each other and doing that weird dance they used to do – I dunno what it was called but they stood legs apart and sort of moved their arms by the knees, then the hips, then over their heads and then bent forward to simulate choking the chicken. I can’t remember what tune was on but me and my mate (Benetton jeans, POP84 coat, New Balance trainers !) were buzzing off the whole ambience when the support act came on – Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts. Fuckging Hell. The lead singer (Dumpy, I presume) was about 9 foot tall, with a huge beard that he’d dyed luminous green. He was wearing a ballerina’s tutu and a massive pair of motorcycle boots. His guitar (Gibson SG) looked tiny in his hands as he launched into the opening number – “I’m Only Happy When I’m Riding Me Hog”. Fantastic. Soon after 2 separate biker gangs turned up, the Henchmen and the Gypsy Demons (they had their “colours” on). One of the “chapters”, the Henchmen I think, sported a natty line in Bavarian peaked caps, complete with peacock feather. By the way, “The Henchmen” – that’s a proper name for a gang: footy firms take note, especially you, Game As Fuck Alliance. By the time The Hawks came on we were twisted after sharing a bong with a couple of lab-coated chemists at the back of the hall. Needless to say, Hawkwind were utterly brilliant and we had a boss night with no snarling whatsoever.
After a few months (might have been years actually) of hair metal we jibbed Rainfords and headed back up to Wood Street . Musically the scene was changing as the poodle heads were being usurped by the harder sounding and meaner looking Thrash Metal bands – Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Testament. These were more of a throwback to the original Black Sabbath blueprint – their uniform was big basketball high tops, black skin-tight drainees, black T-shirts, dead long hair. No make-up. The music was crunching and minimalistic. Megadeth’s lead singer Dave Mustaine was an archetype of this style. The main boozer was The Wilsons, near the bottom of Wood Street . Once again, the regulars eyed us suspiciously, particularly if you tried to get a grip of some young Stevie Nicks-a-like at the bar ( they’d always blank us, or ask “What are you lot doing in here ?”). Sporadic violence between ourselves and the bouncers peaked with a mass brawl inside and outside the pub when 8 of us went in one Thursday night. We took a pummelling off a well known local motorcycle gang who objected to our short hair (I think), and the resultant revenge mission afer the Villa game the following Saturday meant the end of our jaunts round the “metal yards” for good – in fact the whole of town got swerved for a month after that one, no sense in getting shot for Metal, not unless Rob Halford subliminally tells you to do it do it do it that is. The only one that stayed on our visit list was the Cumberland (“The Cumbo”) which was a late-bar pub-rock type gaff that featured covers bands who did loads of booze blues, Led Zep, Joe Walsh, Hendrix and Bad Company stuff. It was run by a tolerant manager who turned a blind eye to the football crowd smoking “that rocky leb shyte” while he was busy at the bar entertaining CID in from the Main Bridewell over the road. It’s gone now, it’s been turned into a Gay Bar.
It didn’t really matter anyway as E’s had kicked off in Liverpool and for the next few years the disco biscuits held sway. The State, The Quad, The Mardi, The Twilight Zone, Le Bateau and many others opened or relaxed the dress code. Everyone started growing their hair long and cultivating beards, weed was everywhere. All in all, it was a pretty good going-out scene except for one major drawback – what I wouldn’t have give to hear AC/DC’s “Live Wire” at full blast in the Quad All Nighter just once, instead of bastard hardcore. Even though we didn’t go to the boozers and clubs any more, musically there was some great bands coming out – we were all into Suicidal Tendencies, Soundgarden, Kyuss, Prong, Pantera, Bodycount (Ice-T’s side-project), Monster Magnet and more. We took the plunge and started dropping E at Metal concerts. We saw Megadeth, Korn, Mordred, Mindfunk around that time. The best of them all was Pantera’s Royal Court appearance in 1994, where 5 of us didn’t really blend in with the assorted tattooed and pierced mosh pit denizens, but we didn’t give a fuck anyway as our ears bled and our jaws hung off. It was wild in there, a great band at their peak (“RIP Dimebag, we hardly knew ye” – WSAG Messageboard, 2004), a mental crowd and killer class A’s – ROCK’N’ROLL ! Imagine our hilarity as we stood off to have a blow during “Rise” and spotted Swine’s very own Doughboy, stood up and frozen momentarily in the spotlights in the front row of the stalls, barking out the vocals along with Pantera’s lead grooler Phil Anselmo, word for word-perfect in a smart Ralph Lauren shirt, Levis , and Clarks Suedies ensemble. He’d had 2 of them yellow ones……..
I haven’t got a clue what’s going on with Metal now. Kerrang and other Rock music channels are on 24 hours a day, featuring videos by tattooed skate punks or Alice Cooper’s grandchildren who mostly sound shyte to me. Then again, I hate all music made by “young people” these days so what do I know. I think I lost touch with the new world of Metal when MTV stopped showing “Beavis and Butthead”, which I’m sure you’ll agree was a sad day in broadcasting history. No Beavis meant no-one to tune me into the new stuff. Not that it really matters as the new stuff is only the old stuff done again, faster or with even more round-the-bend lyrics or whatever. There’s old grebs in our work who go to System Of A Down concerts with their kids so it’s safe to assume that Metal, like the poor and wools at Anfield, will always be with us.
And one last thing, Maiden were always shite.
Thanks to Johnny Boy Gomez, Degs Lee Roth, Bob The Bear and The Frug Lord for the corrections, reminders, lending me loads of tunes over the years and valour behind enemy lines.
The Playlist – 20 Grebo Classics
Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf
Radar Love – Golden Earring
War Pigs – Black Sabbath
Space Truckin – Deep Purple
The Stealer – Free
Four Sticks – Led Zeppelin
Hassan I Shaba – Hawkwind
Down, Down – Status Quo
Whole Latta Rosie – AC/DC
Cross Eyed Mary – Jethro Tull
Jailbreak – Thin Lizzy
Kill The King – Rainbow
Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh
Overkill – Motorhead
The Butcher And Fast Eddie – Rose Tattoo
The Grange – ZZ Top
Black Betty – Ram Jam
Detroit Rock City – Kiss
Freebird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Black Metal – Venom (the live video version. The funniest of all time, bar none. It makes Spinal Tap look like Schindler’s List)