King of Australian metal PR Chris Maric is shortly to undertake the most important bike ride of his life - of which more below - but first have a trip around the man's earliest metal memories...
Good day to you sir, and can I take this opportunity to wish you good luck on your upcoming bike ride… I know quite a few of the people doing the Heavy Metal Truants ride and I can quite confidently say it’ll be the evening ‘recovery sessions’ that you need to watch out for! Anyways, on with our chat about your Metal Origins! What are your earliest memories of heavy metal? “My earliest memories are a bit scary – I would have been about 9 or 10 and used to visit my local record store for the usual Top 40 pap. I kept noticing all these older teenagers with long westie hair all around the ‘Import’ stand and one day drummed up the courage to have a look. For a while I figured Lars Ulrich was the front man for Metallica and Nicko McBrain for Iron Maiden as they seemed so prominent in their photos and scared the shit out of me looking so mean. I remember getting into Bon Jovi via a Summer 87 LP I won and really liked the rock, from there it was relatively slow progressing to heavier things. I saw Overkill’s Years Of Decay album in a shop and figured that was ‘real heavy metal’ and vowed to stay away (laughs). In 1989 I was in first year high school and Mötley Crüe released Dr Feelgood. I was sold then and there and from the end of that year I was on a metal overdose. My year 8 high school diary had a list of all the tapes I had, which was about 10. By the end of the year I had about 5 pages! Every kid with a tape I didn’t have, I managed to get to lend it to me. From then on there was no turning back!”
What was the first metal album you bought with your own cash? “I think it was the Cliff Em All VHS tape – remember the majority of my collection was built from tape trading (or just tape borrowing) in my first year or so. The first tapes I got were Slippery When Wet and The Final Countdown at 9 years old with a Brash‘s gift voucher my auntie gave me (laughs) – I do remember my first CD purchase which was actually about 2 years before I got a cd player – Def Leppard’s Adrenalise”.
Are there any bands you loved as a youngster that cause you to wince now and ask ‘what was I thinking’ ? “I didn’t really discriminate but it took me a few years to get right into things like black metal properly… but I would listen to Bathory and then put on Poison if the mood took me. I’m kinda glad I never went full glam though. Id read about bands like Bang Tango, Love/Hate, Tuff and things like that but it was far too glammy for me. Although I did get the D’mont album after they supported Mötley in 1990″.
Who were the first band you saw live – please feel free to include no-name local bands if that was your first interaction with live metal “My dad was a truck driver for Show Freight in the late eighties’s and early ninetiess so I got to see the U2 Rattle and Hum and Bon Jovi New Jersey tours – I guess Jovi was the first big rock show. I learned years later that the George Thorogood tour he was assigned to came a day before the assigns went out for the ...And Justice For All Tour – I was beside myself!”
How hard was it growing up to get info on the bands you loved- was there much mainstream media coverage where you lived? “Hot Metal was my bible – I bought every issue from #9 onwards which had Nikki Sixx on the cover and had every one including the ones that came afterwards, Loudmouth and another title – Sadly when I moved house my 20 year collection of Hot Metal, Metal Hammer and Terrorizer stayed in a box that got caught out in the rain for weeks and got completely ruined. I have a pile of Hammers from the mid 90s about 6 inches high that remain. It sux cause of all the ones that couldve been saved, they are pretty boring issues! Three Hours Of Power began when i was in year 8 or 9 too and Helen Razer got me into so many new things too! I ended up hosting my own show during my uni years from 95-98 called Earache (no Digby never rang to tell me to stop using the name) ‘Give Yourself An Earache, Monday nights at 10 on MCR”.
Do you think the internet has taken away the mystique of being in a big band for young people today ? Do we know too much about our heroes in 2016? “The mystique a bit yeah, just before doing this I posted a Dark Throne thing to Instagram for work and when searching tags Fenriz is just everywhere goofing off. When I was 14 and Dark Throne were scary as hell, all that stuff was rarely glimpsed, you’d see a picture every now and then in a mag and rumours were held as truth (he kills goats on the full moon etc) these days a tweet can undo that shit in seconds. We never stopped wanting to know all there was about our heroes though – I ate up every word that Lars spoke and wanted to know more – Having to wait in anticipation was both torturous and exciting as I think you appreciated the knowledge way more and certainly held on to it longer too. I still quote lines from metal home videos in my daily life like they are part of my vernacular. I dont think a teenager today will be quoting youtube clips when they are nearly 40 (much laughter)”.
No, somehow I think you’re right! Were you a big festival goer as a junior headbanger? “I went to my first Big Day Out in 1997 on the Gold Coast – Fear Factory, Soundgarden, Offspring, The Prodigy et cetera and went to a few of the ones around like Alternative Nation; Equinox Festival at Macquarie University was cool too – Tool played second to Midnight Oil who were met with 10,000 backs as everyone left after Tool finished – Most of the metal I saw as a late teen was at the Hordern Pavilion– Sepultura, Pantera, Alice In Chains – I didn’t have all that long as a punter seeing bands until I began working at Sony where I was part of the industry at 22″.
How hard/easy was it for you to get to big gigs growing up? Would you have hitched hundreds of miles to see your favourite bands if necessary? “Getting to the city from Campbelltown was an epic trip in the mid nineties. We’d get a lift to the station from a parent and spend 90 mins on the train getting to town and then walk down Clarence St to Utopia, it was a pilgrimage for sure. Later on getting to places like the Phoenician or into Surry Hills was all about the train or someone driving. There was actually a lot of local action in Campbelltown at the time too, bands would actually venture out from the city to play the burbs! Local ones of course”.
Of course… What five albums have stayed with you since your formative metal years? “Metallica – Master Of Puppets – I listen to this album once a week and have done for twenty five years, Its perfect – actually no, if it was remastered to be louder, then if would be!
Bathory – Twilight Of The Gods – When I first heard this I wanted to be a viking. Every epic sunset or storm thats brewed since 91 has been called a Bathory moment by me to this day
Pantera – Cowboys From Hell, – In many ways better than VDOP to me – Its urgent, so powerful and kicked my arse just when I needed it most – You can keep Medicine Man though.
Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time – not their best but it was the first one I ever heard and was immediately smitten. It took me a good few years between learning who Maiden were and hearing them for the first time in 1990.
Megadeth – Rust In Peace – I hadn’t listened to this in a while actually and with news of Nick Menza’s passing I put on the headphones and listened from start to finish and pretty much all of 1990/91 flashed before my eyes. I had a big A2 poster of the album on my wall and Nick was definitely an influence on my drumming (along with Lars and Steven Adler). We used to call walking to school the Dawn Patrol so yeah a very important formative album.
Skid Row – Slave To The Grind. The debut was amazing, then this came and destroyed it. I wanted to be Rachel Bolan for about 5 minutes and the three power ballads on here (Quicksand Jesus, In A Darkened Room & Wasted Time) were played every time a girl shut me down at school”.
‘Bathory moment’ – very good. Whenever there’s a night sky with clouds wreathing a full moon I always refer to it as an ‘Iron Maiden sky’ – comforting to know somebody does these sorts of things as well as me! Now, did you have a metal crush? I had lifesize posters of Lee Aaron and Doro Pesch on my ceiling in 1986… “Not really there weren’t many women of rock around a decade later – I had posters of Cindy Crawford instead (laughs). If anything I had a crush on Susanna Hoffs”
Perfectly reasonable. Anything else you’d like to reveal about your metal upbringing? “I think like all kids once exposed to it I became all consumed by it. To the point of losing friends in high school for endlessly crapping on about it. Thankfully nothing has changed, I still crap on about it and I’m sure people are still sick of me doing it!”
Chris is taking part in the fourth intalment of the Heavy Metal Truants Charity Bike ride in England next month which culminates at the Download Festival at Castle Donington on June 10. The charity ride supports the Nordoff Robins Trust, the Teenage Cancer Trust and Childline
There’s still time to contribute to Chris’s fundraising effort by going here – but time is running out!: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ChrisMaric