A Commitment to Dedication
Names and places have been changed for obvious reasons
“So what are the cops like in this town?”
This was the opening night of the Accept’s 2011UStour, and the anticipation in the room was high. The band was reformed with a new singer, less personal drama, and armed with a phenomenal new release. Longtime fans were hungry for what was to come.
When you’re wearing a press pass at a show, which I was, people want to talk to you. In large part because they all believe the pass can gain them an introduction to the band, but the time was past for that. My access to the band had ended after the sound check.
If you’ve never heard of Accept, they were the other German metal band from the 1980’s. They also invented speed metal, thrash metal, and instantly became responsible for birthing every adrenalized bastardization of heavy metal with their brilliant 3:49 double bass blast of music, Fast as a Shark. By playing at previously unimagined speed, they established the template for every breakneck, whiplash-inducing, double bass driven metal song to follow. Double bass drumming would never ever be the same.
I like to compare this song to breaking the 4 minute mile, first achieved by Roger Bannister on May 6, 1954. Three minutes, 59.4 seconds, and all expectations from running and runners was forever changed. This record was beat two months later by, it doesn’t matter. Bannister got there first. He has a statue, and was knighted. And we’re still talking about him. He got there first.
And in the same way, Accept set the bar. Fast As a Shark was released in 1982. By 1984, bands like Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer were all playing twice as fast, but someone had to be first to go there. I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with several original members of Accept; they all said the same thing: “We didn’t really think about it. We wrote it. Recorded the song and that was it.” Many a great artist has been similarly modest when it comes to their unintended seminal moment.
When I mention the song to guys my age, whether they were into heavy metal or not, they can all say the same thing, “I remember where I was the first time I heard it.” Such an unprecedented audio experience, it sticks out in the memory, monumental for the huge shadow it casts. Two dozen men or so in this informal survey, professionals, artists, and working stiffs, lit up at the thought, more than happy to tell me, “I was at the Drive in movies with my buddies waiting for, I don’t remember what movie, but; that song!” a grin forms on his face in delight at the recollection. The rush of it all.
I was waiting for an early morning bus to school. PJ Sutch played it on his boom box and the five of us stared in complete disbelief. We played the song over and over at least five times in a row, trying to make sense of what we were hearing.
But back to opening night inOrlando. . .
Rogelio introduced himself to me in between opening acts. Rogelio, not his real name, originally fromPeru, tells me he drove all the way fromSavannah, five hours away, to see his favorite band ever, play tonight. “I got to work when they’re playingAtlanta, so I had to come now.”
I nod my head in acknowledgement. “Wow, but five hours? That’s a long drive.”
“I had to come tonight because I’m working tomorrow. And all week my car’s been making this noise so I don’t trust it. I went to rent a car, and I found out my license was expired. I was really bummed out. But then outside, as I was leaving, I saw this old pick-up truck with the keys inside; I thought, why not?”
“You mean you,”
“Yeah man. I borrowed it. Yeah. I filled with gas, I mean it took me five hours to get here, and this is like my favorite band, EVER. My older brother used to play them for me back home inPeru. They were already broken up when I discovered them. But there’s nothing like these guys. I had to be here. Couldn’t miss it for nothin’. Last time they was having a reunion, I was living inPeru.”
Rogelio bought us some drinks and explained further. “If I missed this, I don’t think I could ever forgive myself. I mean, I‘ve waited what? Fifteen years. I still listen to all their CD’s all the time, you know?”
I used to think I was dedicated to bands. I’d never quite ventured into the felony realm of actual Grand Theft Auto for an artist, although it’d had crossed my mind, I always chickened out. I figured there’d be another chance to see them play again. But this level of emotional commitment reminds me of the line from Hair, “I wouldn’t kick Mick Jagger out of bed; but no, I’m not gay.”
Rogelio did answer his own question. “I should probably cool it with the drinking. I don’t need to give them a reason to stop me with a stolen truck.”
A few days after the show I sent him some photos. He thanked me, and said he had filled the truck with gas and parked it a block from where he’d taken it, with just 1000 or so extra miles on the odometer.
And yes, Rogelio said, “The show was absolutely worth it.”
This is an excerpt from the authors Ebook, Cheap Women and Cheaper Beer available at: Amazon.com