Every year, I pick at least one festival I would not normally attend, go with an open mind and see what happens. This year that festival will be the M3 Rock Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion on May 3-4 in Columbia, Md.
What’s so special about M3? What’s the draw? For people who dig what’s called “hair metal”, the M3 lineup is a dream come true. Friday night is the kick-off party, or “Kix-off,” since Maryland heavy metal legends Kix will be performing that night, along with the super young up-and-coming locals Bad Seed Rising (more on them later this week) and sleaze balladeers Danger Danger. Friday’s headliner is the the aggressive L.A. hair band godfathers W.A.S.P. Saturday starts early and features headliners Bret Michaels Band and Twisted Sister with support from Jackyl, Firehouse, Steel Panther, Kings X, Great White featuring Jack Russell, Loudness, JSRG (former members of Vixen), Love/Hate, Steelheart, Tuff, Trixter, Streetlight Circus, Korupt, and In the Pink.
I know a little about some of these bands. I’ve seen Twister Sister a couple times live. I am very interested in seeing Japan’s heavy metal powerhouse Loudness and the prog rocker King’s X. I have something of an idea of what it will be like, but for the most part, I will be a stranger in a strange land. It’s possible that the hair metal phase was just something that skipped me.
To gain insight on the genre, I decided to question some hardcore hair metal heads about their love for this style of heavy metal. I picked fans from different age ranges and backgrounds. They include Lindsey “Turnbullet”, 24 of Silver Spring, an ex-Floridian and government worker bee; Hector Ub, a 30-something from Washington, D.C. who hosts the Latin American metal radio show “Imperdonables Del Rock;” and a married couple, Tess Spradlin-Collins, 41 of Baltimore, who works in health care and is a part-time DJ and her husband Chuck Collins, 39, a bartender. Most interviewees will be attending at least one if not both days of the event. Lindsey and Hector are newbies, but Tess has gone every year since M3 started five years ago. Chuck has attend all but the first year.
What band(s) are you most excited to see at M3?
Lindsey: W.A.S.P.! If I stay for Saturday, then definitely Twisted Sister.
Hector: Well, all of them are really good but Kix, W.A.S.P., Firehouse, Steel Panther and Bret Michaels are my faves.
Tess: W.A.S.P, Twisted Sister, Tuff, Love/Hate, Steel Panther, Firehouse, Danger Danger, Great White and Loudness. Almost all of them!
Chuck: Twisted Sister, Loudness, Kix, W.A.S.P. and Steel Panther.
Of the lineup, which band did you listen to growing up, if any, and why?
Lindsey: W.A.S.P. and Twisted Sister, my dad listened to heavy metal when I was a kid, so I did, too.
Hector: That specific time frame of my life was very special, growing up around the amazing sound of rock and roll and hair bands made a difference in my life. Firehouse is really special with songs like “When I Look into Your Eyes.” It reminds me of a girl I could never have had (she didn’t like long hair dudes, hahaha!) and of course Kix with “don’t close your eyes” and Bret Michaels with “Every Rose has its Thorn” — that was one of my first songs that I learned to play on my guitar. And how could I forget Twisted Sister with songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and ” I Wanna Rock,” songs that made me feel free and wild back then, a feeling I want to revive, and that’s why I’m not going to miss this huge festival.”
Tess: I was in junior high when I was first discovered “hair metal.” Twisted Sister was one of the first bands I heard, along with Quiet Riot.
Chuck: Twisted Sister along with Quiet Riot, and Motley Crue were definitely the gateway into metal for me. I guess it was around 1983-84. From there I discovered Ozzy, Judas Priest, Dio, etc. Then came the flood of thrash, punk, hardcore, death metal, doom, black metal and every other subgenre classification that have sort of defined most of my life for the last thirty years.
How would you characterize this kind of “metal’?
Lindsey: Total glam hair madness (and I make no apologies!), except King’s X.
Hector: For everybody else it is glam and heavy rock, but for me is a feeling with no other name than happiness!
Tess: It’s poppy, cheesy, fun, silly, good time music, some of it is really bad, but I still love it!
Chuck: Although it’s called “hair metal,” I think that’s a misnomer. It’s just rock n’ roll as far as I’m concerned.
What about this style of music appeals to you?
Lindsey: Big ridiculous aesthetics and “anthemic” songs. I love a good sing-a-long. I also love drag.
Hector: Metal is my favorite and you can include any sub-genres. I’m also into a bit of 90’s alt-rock and some reggae music (Yeah Bob Marley rocks), I’m open minded about music I guess from my musician background.
Tess: It is fun, happy music. Some of the band members were very pleasing to the eye. No one can write a ballad like a hair metal band.
Chuck: It’s fun, it’s goofy, and it reminds me of my youth.
What sort of sights do you expect to see in the crowd?
Lindsey: Oh, it’s going to be prime people watching. Lots of big hair, overly tanned people, tight jeans. People who never grew out of their 80s glam phase. Lots of people with kids. Alcohol consumption.
Hector: I never expect any violence at this kind of festival. It is always full of people wanting to have a good time, enjoying the bands and making friends. I have seen whole families, teenagers, and kids learning and having an awesome time with the music of these amazing bands.
Tess: Sadly, since this type of music has all but died, you will find a lot of people holding on to their youth. I would say the finest of the white trash would best describe what you will see at M3. The people watching will be amazing.
Chuck: I expect to see lots of winners. The people watching is half the fun of this event.
What does heavy metal music mean to you?
Lindsey: It’s everything from the music to the gear to the look to the attitude. Metal has been a big part of my life for a long time and yet, I can’t succinctly describe what it means to me. I guess that means I should shut up and not do the genre a disservice.
Hector: It means my life, for me is not a style, but it is a way to live. Some people ask me sometimes why the long hair, why the rock band t-shirts and jeans. I just say it is who I am, it represents me, who I’m inside, a wild and free spirit. I couldn’t be another person. This is me being me since I can remember, and I love who I am, hell yeah!
Tess: I like a lot of different types of metal, there’s nothing too philosophical about it.
Chuck: Heavy Metal has pretty much helped to shape the person that I am today, as corny as that may sound. Most of my friendships were forged on common musical interests, my chosen profession stems from being a musician/fan of music, namely metal. My wife and I started talking to one another at a metal show. Lastly, it has afforded me the opportunity to own thousands of black t-shirts.
Is there anything else you want to share?
Lindsey: I’m really looking forward to it! I love bands that really get into over-the-top live shows. It’s always more fun to watch that than a bunch of dudes who stand there and look bored while they shred totally insane arpeggios or whatever. You’re great, everyone knows, but I want to be entertained, damn it.
Hector: This festival is going to be magical. Even if you already have seen these bands and you know how they rock, come and have a good time and tune in my radio show IMPERDONABLES DEL ROCK www.facebook.com/imperdonablesdelrock, Tuesdays 9:30 pm on www.honduradio.com
Tess: You can share my love of hair metal with me on the second Saturday of every month upstairs at The Otto bar. I DJ “The Hair Ball,” a night of all hair, glam, and sleaze.
Get updates on M3 at their Facebook page here.