I am the youngest of four children in my family, and the only boy, so my sisters definitely had a hand in shaping my tastes in tunes. When I think of Tina, the oldest, I remember her sitting on a bean bag listening to Billy Joel records on huge curly-cord headphones. With Tara, the second in line, I picture her blow drying her hair in the morning listening to the Go-Gos. And then there was Tricia. Trish had a little more 'tude, and she was more inclined to be rocking some Bon Jovi, Def Lep, Motley Crue, and Van Halen. Trish had a dual cassette deck, and I would sneak into her room and dub her tapes when she was out. MTV came to Neillsville when I was about ten, and I was hooked, especially to the more rocking stuff. Beyond that, in the following years, there are a handful of specific incidences that I remember being stepping stones for me in the way of discovering proper metal.
*At the Warrens Cranberry Festival in Warrens, WI, Trish and I came across a guy selling bootlegged cassettes, just like official releases, but when you opened up the tape case, there wasn't anything printed on the inside of the packaging. I bought Run DMC's "Tougher Than Leather", and Trish bought Ozzy Osboure's Randy Rhodes Tribute album. I still have, and love, that Run DMC tape, but I was really fascinated with Tricia's purchase.
*In sixth grade, I met Bob, who thoroughly schooled me in the ways of good metal. Bob turned me on to Danzig, Metallica, Megadeth, as well as punk-bordering-on-metal stuff, like DRI, and Misfits, oddball acts like Dead Milkmen, and strait punk rock from the Ramones, Minor Threat, and Dead Kennedy's. I have to admit that I didn't bite right away, at that time I was rocking Def Lep's "Hysteria" 24-7, but I was intrigued by the things Bob was introducing me to.
*Somewhere around this same time Metallica performed "One", live on the Grammy Awards, and the ripping hook in that song really got to me. I bought "And Justice For All" out of the tape rack at the Kwik Trip down the street (my go-to source for the hottest releases) and began a strict regimen of listening to that album repeatedly. I still wasn't sure if I liked it, it was just so....different. Almost frightening in it's aggression.
*Like many of my peers, I bought into the BMG Mailorder's "12 albums for a penny" scam. You could choose a genre that you liked best, and they would send you a catalog with choice albums of that general sound. I ended up choosing Alternative/Modern Rock initially, moving over to Metal years later, but through BMG's Alternative selections, I did discover some good stuff like the Pixies, Sisters of Mercy, the Smiths, and Sonic Youth.
*I discovered Thrasher Magazine at the local grocery store in sixth grade as well. I would buy anything that Thrasher featured in music reviews or in the advertisements, 9 times out of 10 this strategy was a winner.
I still feel good about what I was listening to from sixth grade, all the way through to high school graduation. I listen to a lot of it to this day. Faith No More was a big one for me. Suicidal Tendencies, Black Flag, Helmet, Clutch, Tool, Danzig, and Slayer.
Here is where I fell off. One thing happened, and one thing didn't.
What DID happen was Nu-Metal. I specifically recall watching Limp Bizkit play at the Rave in Milwaukee, sometime around 1999, and thinking "yeah, this is good, this is where metal is going in the future." What DIDN'T happen was my acknowledgement of black metal, death metal, grind and doom in their formative and perhaps most important years.
*My buddy Dewey took me on a trip to Youngstown, Ohio in 2002, to a three day doom/stoner metal festival held at the Nyabingi bar. We slept in his van behind the bar, and those three days saved me from the dark path I had been treading with the nu-metal thing. I finally found my place. Huge stacks of amplifiers, down tuned guitars, zero rock star ego, and the slow tempos of DOOM! We got to see sludge pioneers Eyehategod, Mastodon in their first year of touring, and slow-pop sensation FLOOR, which is probably my favorite band ever. I was back on the righteous path. My new found interest in psycadelic/stoner/doom metal sent me back through the years to discover my love for the originators of the genre like Black Sabbath and Sleep, as well as metal staples like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Scorpions, which I was never really into back in the day.
The whole psychedelic doom and power metal sound has evolved so much in just the last decade, it's really a diverse genre with some great acts. Neurosis, Yob, and High on Fire have taken the Black Sabbath sound over the mountain, and it's not such a low-brow thing to be a metal head anymore. I love so many different styles of music, especially in the last few years, my record collection has really become much more eclectic, but I will never escape from the clutches of METAL.