For the past few weeks we’ve all seen the articles posted about Kevin Lyman‘s statement on Mayhem Festival, the metal scene and more. Since then, we’ve heard Kerry King share his thoughts on the tour, and Randy Blythe even chimed in with his thoughts on the matter as well. While we at SkullsNBones pride ourselves of NOT being the TMZ of metal, I’ve been asked enough, online or in person, about this matter, so I’m going to share my thoughts with you all. This is from my perspective; a fan, just like all of you. I live and breathe this music, and this conversation needs to stop. Let’s start from the beginning…
Earlier this month Kevin Lyman, cofounder of the Mayhem Festival, was quoted as saying this to the Detroit Free Press: “The bands at the top all demand a certain level of fee to be on tour. Unlike punk rock, metal never knows how to take a step back to move the whole scene forward. That’s how punk rock was. That’s how we nurtured punk rock. BAD RELIGION would take a little less than they could on their own to bring the whole scene forward, so we could make sure we had a good [touring] package around them. Metal doesn’t seem to have that concern, never has, never has since I was working in the clubs in the ’80s. It’s always about a ‘me, me, me’ thing. What happened was metal chased girls away because what happened was metal aged. Metal got gray, bald and fat. And metal was about danger. When you went to a metal show, it was dudes onstage; there was some danger in it.”
I have a ton of respect for what Kevin Lyman has done for the scene over the past decade. It is, and I repeat, NOT EASY to put together a festival of this magnitude and have it be successful for this many years. It’s pretty remarkable. He obviously knows what he is doing, but there is no doubt that the quality of bands has diminished on the bill, and therefore the attendance has gone down. It went from four stages to two, the headliners started to repeat, and honestly, I’ve haven’t gone to the last two because there wasn’t enough there to get me excited. Just my opinion, but that’s how I feel.
As for his statement on the metal scene, he couldn’t be more wrong. Granted, he did retract his statement somewhat, but let’s face it, you said it dude. We all read it, and it pissed a lot of people off. The metal scene is bigger than it’s ever been right now. Young bands are coming up, and doing amazing things, and he completely ignored them to put on bands that he knew would sell tickets. I get it, you have to pay the bills, but don’t talk about the scene if you’re not really supporting it.
Remember the year when Behemoth was on the side stage with The Black Dahlia Murder and Cannibal Corpse in one Summer? I do. Remember Machine Head and Anthrax destroying the side stages as well? I do. Now what do you have? Aside from a few bands, you’ve thrown on acts of lesser quality, less passion, and less drive, when the real young metal bands that need that outlet are playing small clubs and living on shirt sales daily.
While it’s great for respectful bands like Thy Art Is Murder and Jungle Rot to get that crowd in front of them, I’d be surprised if they don’t come out of it bankrupt when they could have made money elsewhere. It used to be an honor to some bands I know to play the side stage at Mayhem, and now I know it’s the last thing they want to do because financially it’s a nightmare. Metal didn’t get grey, bald and fat, you’re just out of the loop. It’s time to pass this on to someone who knows the scene today, and that wants to help these bands as much as possible. You got King Diamond and Slayer, yes, but for a lot of fans, that just wasn’t enough to pay the admission.
Speaking of which, Kerry King has been in the “news” a lot lately, and so let’s look at what he’s said about the festival. In a recent interview with Metal Insider, he said “Absolutely I know this tour wasn’t booked correctly. Gary Holt made the comment that usually there’s the Main Stage, a second stage, a third stage, and then that piece-of-shit record stage… Now what they’re calling a second stage is at best a fourth stage and they’re wondering why people aren’t showing up. I think they waited too long and think all the talent that could have been on this took gigs in Europe. Because there’s nobody here touring. It’s easy to fill these stages, but I guess they wanted a different price point, take away the second and third stage which I think had a lot of value. To me, a second-stage headliner is ANTHRAX, MACHINE HEAD. Whoever booked this made a gigantic error.”
He even added later, “This is usually where people would come out and just party all day, and they’re passing on the party ’cause the bill’s so shitty.”
Well you can’t blame the man for being honest. Obviously, I agree with pretty much everything Kerry has said, but should he have said it now? No. Definitely not. Kerry is a legend in our scene, so when he says these things, people listen. His fans listen. Therefore, they may skip this tour. If he made these comments after it was all said and done, fine, but this didn’t do anything positive for the festival that is already dying in a lot of people’s minds. Then again, he’s Kerry “fucking” King of Slayer, and he’s earned the right to speak his mind whenever the hell he wants.
Whether you agree with him or not, Kerry is a living legend that has survived decades in this scene, so he isn’t talking out of his ass. I’m sorry to those fans out there, but apart from four or five bands, this lineup is shitty. The price is too much, and there are better tour options out there. Again, I think Kevin has just grown out of the scene, which is not his fault, just how it is. Just please wait until the tour is over Kerry. I have a ton of respect for you, but this didn’t do anyone any good. But fuck it, you’re in Slayer, so you have the right.
One final note is on Randy Blythe‘s response to Kevin’s statements. He posted this powerful message on his Instagram: “Y’all know I don’t talk about my band much here- it’s not my thing, this account is for my photography & other creative endeavours- but I must take a moment to speak about something that irked me recently, as I felt it was a bit insulting to our fans & the metal scene that supports my band (especially the females). “What happened was metal chased girls away because what happened was metal aged. Metal got gray, bald and fat.”- this generalization was recently made by Mayhem Fest cofounder Kevin Lyman about OUR METAL SCENE- I call BULLSHIT. I wanted to wait until we were on tour to address this, soooooooo…. looking at the HUGE crowds we have played to on this 4 band bill so far (all singing along to our METAL songs & with PLENTY OF GIRLS in attendance), I gotta laugh- I ain’t the youngest dude in the world, but from my vantage point, the METAL SCENE appears to be doing just fine. I, a dude from the punk scene of the 80’s (AHEM… punk rock existed long before Warped tour, btw- I know, because I WAS THERE) who somehow became the singer of a METAL BAND, just became a nationally best selling author- I’ve met PLENTY of younger fans who have bought my book, & many were FEMALE. Lamb of god, a METAL BAND, has a new album out- at this very second, we are in a VERY TIGHT race with Jill Scott (an awesome R&B singer I am a fan of who has a HUGE audience) for the VERY TOP slot of the Billboard charts, & if enough folks buy the album before Thursday, we will have our first #1 record- Jill Scott has a much larger fan base than us, but metal fans actually BUY RECORDS- even if we get a #2 or #3 (AGAIN, by the way- not our first top 10 debut), it will still be HUGE. There’s TONS of YOUNGER METAL BANDS too- the metal scene is ALIVE & HEALTHY, & it will continue to GROW & the younger bands WILL become headliners, if the fans support it- so far, that DOESN’T seem to be a problem. So sorry, metal isn’t watered down pop BULLSHIT for the teeny bopper masses, but it is HEALTHY. So thanks for coming out, buying our records, & singing along, y’all! Thanks for forming new bands & keeping it alive! We appreciate & love you! We ain’t pretty, but we are definitely HERE, & I’m not bald or fat.”
I’ve said this many times over the past few years, but I’ve never gained any more respect for a man I didn’t know in such a small amount of time than I have with Randy Blythe. How he handled himself throughout the whole Czech tragedy, to his photography, and positivity, he is just a superhuman to me, and his response is perfect. Metal fans buy records. Metal fans support their bands. Younger bands will become headliners. The future is brighter for our scene than it’s ever been. The bottom line is that it’s not up to festival co-founders anymore, it’s up to us, the fans. We see our legends on stage, and bow down to them. For them to stay on that stage, we must continue to support them. Whether it’s a local band or Lamb Of God, they are our lifeline.
Buy albums, buy shirts, keep this music alive, and prove to those out there that say it’s not that big of a deal. It is. It is our blood, our heart, our source of inspiration. Randy gets it, we all get it, now it’s time to come together and prove it. Enough talking about who’s in the right or in the wrong, our job is to support what we love. Argue on the TMZ sites all you will, but the bottom line is that we, as fans, have kept metal alive, and by sticking together, our beautiful music will never go away.