The Dark Side of Living La Vita Local

I love going to live metal shows, especially when there is a mix of local and national acts. I love it best when the venue is intimate and I could, if I was so inclined, reach out and touch whoever is onstage or bump into one of the musicians trying to get to the bar. There is nothing like turning as you’re ordering a drink to find Shannon Lucas waiting for a water and saying to him, “Hey, great show tonight.”

cory and lucas

Cory met his extreme drumming role model, Shannon Lucas. He is a very good example of graciousness.

What chaps my thighs is those bands who feel they are above their fans and the local musicians that made their headliner show possible. They hide out in their vans or cheap hotel rooms, avoiding the people who bought their records, who sold or outright bought the tickets because they couldn’t sell them, and who buy their merchandise so that the tour machinery can keep moving to the next city.

I’ve talked to a number of local bands in my area and the consensus is this: they feel taken advantage of by the national acts, specifically the ones who behave as if they are “too good to walk amongst the rabble.” Let me explain how I understand the tour machinery to work.

1. A promoter secures a headliner band that has a reasonably large and devoted following. A fee is negotiated that will be paid to the headliner.

2. The promoter then lines up a number of local bands, and dependent on the cost of the headliner’s fee and the number of local bands, divvies up a set amount of tickets that will cover the expenses of the show.

3. The local bands have to sell their number of tickets or buy them if they can’t sell them. Usual excuses from potential customers is “It’s too expensive,” or “Can’t you get me in for free?” or “I’m too tired.”

4. All tickets sales above and beyond the expense tickets are then divvied up between the local bands (in theory). Sometimes the local bands get paid but usually not.

Of course the cost of playing with the headliner can pinch a few purses, especially if the local band is still building a following or their fan base does not align with the headliner’s subgenre. I’ve been at proggy metal shows where I’ve spoken of thrash metal and my audience has looked at me like I pooped in my hand and threw it at someone.

This is how the system works. Everyone knows it. I’m not telling anyone something new. I’m not inciting a revolution here.

henry rollins

Rollins knows it’s just common courtesy. We’re all people on this big blue ball hurtling through space.

If you’re the headliner, don’t act like you’re above everyone else even though you have certainly earned your place at the top of the totem pole. Don’t hide away from the bands that are making your livelihood possible. They accepted the yoke of playing with you not just to showcase their talents in front of your fans but to meet you as well. Shake some hands. Let them buy you a drink, even if you prefer soda pop.

Graciousness wins you loyalty even though there may be nothing you can do to help the bands supporting you other than say “good show” or offering some technical advice. Face to face time is important, especially in heavy metal, because it is a minority genre in the music industry. You’re fighting for every single fan you have. Pissing people off with indifference earns you bad word-of-mouth. Even if it’s not true, bad mouthing has a ripple effect.

I offer words of warning to established and struggling metal bands. Don’t get above yourself. That entitled attitude, that superiority complex, is exactly what heavy metal and punk rock have raged against since their inception. Once you cross that line, you’ve gone to the Dark Side.

Do you have a differing point of view? Are you a national act that would like to shed light on your perspective? Hit me up in the comments.

©2014 iokirkwood.com “The Dark Side of Living LaVita Local”  All Rights Reserved.

In between bouts of writing for metaldescent.com, blogging, and banging her head, I.O. Kirkwood is the author of “Subatomic Revolt” in Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series and the short story “The White Carpet,” a finalist in the Scribes Valley Publishing Fiction Contest in 2013.

My Sweet Shadow, To You I Look No More

I had talked about metal music and recalling unpleasant memories in an earlier post. Wouldn’t you know it, I had the most vivid, controlled recall of my life a few days ago. I was alone, almost as if the part of my mind that controlled access to those memories had read the post, and I was fully aware.

As the memories unfolded, I expected my soul to cringe. I expected to die of mortification or to turn into a psychopathic killer that police would shoot in the middle of the street if I didn’t off myself first. I expected to disintegrate into dust or burst into flames.

Guess what?

I think it’s obvious none of those things happened. I started to laugh, actually. I laughed at the things that had crippled me for so long. I started to sing. In the middle of the night. I banged my head. I raised the horns. I danced with joy.

I sang the song of my people:

 

…Tamed with confidence of a brighter future
I found a flame in the burnt out ashes… burn out, burn out!
Fueled, these new shores burn, dark past lies cold
Shadow, my sweet shadow, to you I look no more…

–“My Sweet Shadow,” In Flames, from Soundtrack To Your Escape

 

I’m free.

Every time I think about it, I start to cry. Happy tears.

I’m fucking free and I am on fire!

 

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “My Sweet Shadow, To You I Look No More” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Metal Grrrl: I Am A Subject Not An Object

I move in male-dominated circles. I’m a metal junkie and yes, I’m learning the ropes, but I’m not some vapid groupie who is only on the scene for the 5:1 male-female ratio that stacks the odds in my favor. I’m going to shows, buying albums, buying merchandise, and writing about metal. Of all the genres of music, it is the most diverse, fascinating, and intellectually challenging.

I am an attractive female, a rarity on the scene relatively speaking, but the way I look is an accident of birth. First and foremost, I am a mind and a heart and a set of unique predispositions that are infinitely complex and interesting. I have thoughts and feelings like any other person and I want to be treated as a person, a subject.

Too often, I find myself the object of other people’s projections, male and female, and it frustrates me. Few of the people who project their assumptions on me mean any harm. Those that do are dealt with quickly.

Metal is a divine gift...

Metal is a divine gift…

Here are the assumptions in the order of their irritation factor:

Assumption #1: I have to like the kind of metal you like because I don’t have the capacity to know what I like about metal.

Assumption #2: I pretend to like metal because the metal scene is the male-female ratio equivalent of Alaska.

Assumption #3: I can’t appreciate the raw energy of metal because I’m a helpless, passive female.

Those are my top three pet-peeves. I do understand that these assumptions are based on partial fact, but usually the model of choice is the girlfriends or wives of musicians in the genre. I’m not knocking these women either. Just because my ex-husband liked baseball and played in a league didn’t mean I had to do the same.

Assumptions are like spiders. I HATE spiders.

Assumptions are like spiders. I HATE spiders.

I will address each assumption, so if I’ve handed you my card at a metal show and you thought you knew what I’m about, you can read this post and get the skinny on what I’m REALLY about.

Assumption Buster #1: I studied music. I’m a vocalist. I was raised in a musical family and I’ve raised an extreme metal drummer. Thrash metal is one of my favorite subgenres, but I also like Djent, Groove, Melodic Death, Progressive, Power, and the list goes on. I think my least favorite genre is Black Metal though I do enjoy black metal elements in other subgenres.  WARNING: A band can’t tell me their music is Mathcore and then have none of the Mathcore elements in their compositions. I will call that and I will bust balls.

Assumption Buster #2: I don’t pretend anything. I won’t pretend to like a band that sucks. I won’t spend my money on a band that sucks. I won’t pretend to like you and I don’t care what band you’re in if you’re a douche-bag. I won’t deny that I prefer guys who prefer metal. I won’t deny that I like the odds. I don’t pretend.

Assumption Buster #3: I got knocked down at the last show I attended. I wasn’t even in the mosh pit. I was singled out and dragged from the sidelines against my will by a guy twice my size. Needless to say, when I got back up, my inner Beast was growling and I was about a hair’s breadth away from an old-fashioned Irish war spasm a la Cu Chulainn.  I busted chops as I waded back to the sidelines and my Beast approved. Don’t tell me I can’t appreciate raw energy because I’ve been familiar with metal and mosh pits longer than you’ve been out of diapers.

The lesson here is even though you’ve met me, assessed me, and dismissed me with one or all of the above assumptions doesn’t mean you know me. Any more than I would know you based on the metal head stereotypes that have cropped up over the years.

So check your assumptions at the door. I’m here to enjoy a metal show. Everything else is gravy as long as it’s based on the actuality of my being a subject: a thinking, feeling individual with an autonomous existence that transcends stereotypes and projections. I’ll return the favor. I promise.

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Metal Grrrl: I Am A Subject Not An Object” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Current Work(s) In Progress

blog-hop-button.jpgHaving a Sanguine writer’s personality, I’ve discovered that I must have multiple writing projects going on at the same time or I will despair of ever completing anything. Though I am a dramatic and accomplished story teller, I am easily bored with the nuts and bolts of writing and I can be derailed if I hit a snag in the writing process (why won’t this character die???).

Find out what your writer’s temperament is here.

A sanguine temperament can make completing stories—difficult. I’ve learned  a few things that promise to help me reach my goal of consistently producing finished works.

1. Diversify: this means it’s okay to have more than one project going on at a time. Each project has its own virtual planning book. If I get stuck on a project and lose my zest, I will mark where I left off, close that book, and open another one.

2. Compress. Instead of trying to write out a novel over the course of a year, I’ve taken to writing short stories. Eventually I can use them as the foundation for a novel.

3. Limit. I’ve been taking on projects that have deadlines and defined parameters. Sometimes, when the sky is the limit, I’ll get lost in the wide, blue yonder. Limits force me to honor my end of the bargain and harnesses my creative energy.

 

ignoring passion

I am currently working on the following:

1. Ruth Snyder’s blog hop which falls under number 3. I have enjoyed writing for this so much that I’m going to search for another blog hop.

2. A short story that plays on the Ballad of Tam Lin which falls under number 2.

3. A romance novel.

4. Another series through my publisher that has me working closely with several other authors to create an origin short story. I can’t wait to start this!

5. Just in case I get stuck, I’ll write a review of something: a book, album, or show to pull me out of a rut. These are like instant gratification bonuses for me.

6. Last but not least, I’m looking to get some of my poetry published. I need to polish it up and start submitting.

I know this looks ambitious to some and it certainly isn’t a work style that suits everyone. I wanted to share how I work to see if anyone else works this way and possibly offer a few pointers on getting the most out of my writer’s temperament.

Tell me about your writer’s personality in the comments. Stay calm and keep writing.

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Current Work(s) In Progress” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Rage With the Beast

I’ve been asking myself why metal music makes me shiver. Particular songs just make my skin prickle and bring such intense, all-over pleasure that it has caused me to question some fundamental understandings about myself.

I asked my son about this and he told me, “You’re getting in touch with your rage.” He should know. I think he inherited mine in utero.

angry

My son says his beast looks like a tall, roaring flame with a mouth full of teeth. Mine looks more like this. You can dress it up, but you can’t take it anywhere.

I agree that metal, especially extreme metal, can be comparable to shaving unhappy bears and setting them loose on an innocent population. But why do I love it so much? Before it had made me so uncomfortable that I ignored it.

All music is an expression of the human condition. Yes, even the vapid boy bands with their bubble gum pop riffs and saccharine lyrics express a human condition whether I agree with said condition or not. Based on this premise, I followed the threads backwards.

From an early age, I remember fear. I remember helplessness. I remember not having the power to say “no” though I screamed it in my mind. I remember pain. I remember rage. I remember crying so much that it seemed that all I tasted were tears.

I do not remember the actual events. My mind has suppressed them so successfully that only once in a blue moon will I have a complete recall. The recall is hellish.

dont pray for easy

See, I ran from my past like a tri-athlete There were years when I forgot what it was like to cry because I hated the taste and the sensation. I laughed at the most inappropriate times. Verbal arguments were fought with a desperation and viciousness that left my opponents stunned. I was ready to swing whenever I felt remotely threatened. Until I went to therapy. Until the first recall.

It’s never convenient to recall. The recall doesn’t happen while I’m sitting at home alone or with a trained therapist. The recall doesn’t care if I’m at work or if I’m at the grocery store. I am helpless in the face of it—frozen—as my awareness is transported to a  brutal moment of physical degradation in another place and time. Sometimes I am three years old. Sometimes I am in middle school. Always, I am young and I am helpless.

During a recall I receive a quantum packet of FML in about thirty seconds. No lube. No consideration for whether there are spectators or not. No “thank you” afterwards.

At first I thought it was because I was in therapy. But when I had reached a point where therapy had done what it could, including medication for an incapacitating anxiety disorder that rendered me agoraphobic for three months, I realized that I needed to take control of my past.

wired to suffer

I started by asking for tears. In 2009 I cried de Nile River. That was when my love for heavy metal truly blossomed. All the old standbys from my adolescence came into play: Sabbath, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Metallica and some newer, angrier hard rock/heavy metal acts like Godsmack, Alice in Chains, Black Label Society, Chevelle, Mastodon and QOTSA got their time. Anything that talked about the rage and the helplessness, the establishment and the insanity.

I realized that the music was a natural release valve for all the pent up rage that boiled inside of me. What I didn’t realize until five months ago was that the above mentioned music only scraped the surface.

I have October 8, 2013 marked as a turning point. I went to my first all extreme metal show. Screams and growls mostly. Blast beats a requirement.

At this show were a number of thrash metal bands, three of which stood out for me. The first was my son’s band Xstrophy and I go to almost every show now because they have opened up a whole new world for me. The second was Exemptus just because they have a sheer energy that engages me on a visceral level. The third was Battlecross.

If you’re friends with me on FaceBook, you know that this band is my all time favorite thrash metal band. It isn’t because the music is phenomenal. It isn’t that they are just all around great guys who know how to put on an amazing show. Though the aforementioned certainly contributed, what made them special is that their music helped me communicate with my Beast.

worst day

I wish I had started that young…

For the first time, I could get in touch with my rage and it didn’t scare the crap out of me. Together, my Beast and I could thrash and wrestle and scream and growl, and let me tell you, it feels freakin’ incredible. No one gets hurt, least of all me, and I come out grinning like a fiend.

The happy side effect is that instead of getting bludgeoned by total recall, my rage is feeding me the feelings in small doses. Instead of going catatonic, I get to step back and examine the pain, the helplessness, and the fear from a place of empowerment. I never expected something as extreme as, well, extreme metal to be so therapeutic. From In Flames to Meshuggah to After the Burial to All Shall Perish, I am discovering a whole new world inside of me where the things that go “grrr” in the night are my allies. \m/

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Rage With the Beast” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Genre of Choice: Paranormal Fantasy & Horror

blog-hop-buttonEven as a small child, I was fascinated by the forbidden. I was the geek in the corner of the room with her nose in a tome of The Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Even with the sanitized endings, I knew the stories told of gruesome things. The story of Bluebeard was my favorite.

Bluebeard is the shadow in us all. One of many illustratons at http://bit.ly/1cnhIXw.

My favorite authors are Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Karen Marie Moning, Jim Butcher, and Kevin Hearne. They all incorporate elements of the monstrous and the forbidden with the ethereal seductiveness of the Fairy Tale. They tell of death, destruction, and gruesome things happening in an alternate history from the one in which I live. So close and yet so far away.

A deep part of me yearns for the magic of the Fairy Tale while the part of me that has seen the ugliness of humanity knows that the gruesome is just beneath the surface. The genre explores themes of acceptance, good v. evil, the beauty v. the beast, and loyalty v. betrayal. The action never stops and the characters are gritty and powerful.

When I grow up, I hope to produce epic works in the genre I love to read. That doesn’t mean I will. Sometimes what I love to read does not come out in what I write. There is a part of me that balks when I ask the question, “How can I make my protagonist suffer even more?” Hopefully, I will outgrow this situational compassion and destroy worlds.

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Genre of Choice: Paranormal Fantasy & Horror” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Advice to Newbies

blog-hop-buttonAs an author, copy and content editor, former publisher, and a former board member of the Baltimore Writers’ Alliance, I have given this advice to a number of aspiring AND established writers.

Suggestion One:

Keep writing, save everything, even if you think it’s crap. Get the word count under your belt because it is the foundation upon which your published work will rest and it will help develop your writer’s voice. It’s the doing that makes you good and the good stuff gets rewritten and edited until it is publishable. Keep these four words of wisdom in mind: FIRST DRAFTS SUCK. ALWAYS.

Suggestion Two:

Know your market—your target audience. Read what they read and make sure you enjoy it. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong market. There are so many genres and subgenres out there, you shouldn’t have a problem finding your niche.

Suggestion Three:

Research the tools of writing such as structure, point of view, and tension. Follow the blogs of writers whose work you enjoy. Sign up for newsletters on writing. There are many books out there on writing and no matter your level of professional acclaim, it is always, ALWAYS good to go back to the basics and review them with a matured sensibility.

moon portal

Suggestion Four:

Start writing a blog. Write about the things that vex you, the things that make you deliriously happy, and the hobbies you have. Show people the many facets of you. Even though your followers may not be thick on the ground now, the followers that fall onto your path later are going to look at previous posts to get a better sense of you. Use this tool to build a sense of connection with your readership. I personally enjoy WordPress.com but I also have my posts published on Blogger because of the connectivity with all my other Google apps.

Suggestion Five:

Think about how appropriate it would be for you to adopt a pen name now before you become a public personality. I work in law enforcement and use my legal name to perform my duties. I was creeped out by how often the people I came into contact in my official capacity would Google my name and find my public profiles such as LinkedIn and Facebook. I had to change my public name to protect my livelihood and my privacy. If you do adopt a pen name, choose something unique and yet eponymous to your intended genre. Google it and if the name doesn’t have hits, run with it.

Suggestion Six:

It is never too late to start building a social media presence. Start with goodreads to participate with other authors and readers. Once you’ve established your brand and gotten an idea of which direction you’re going, set up a separate Facebook and Twitter account under that brand. Pinterest and LinkedIn are other good mediums. Learn how to use them now and you’ll be ready to promote your work and commune with your readership.

 

Copyright © 2014 iokirkwood.com. “Advice to Newbies” by I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.