How 80’s Punks Found Metal… And Changed it Forever!
Suicidal Tendencies Growing up in Venice in the 80’s and embracing hardcore meant you most likely were down with Suicidal Tendencies. The extended family of this band was called The Suicidal Boyz – some people called us a gang, but I saw it more as a family. Ground zero for all of our activities was Mar Vista Park; this was the place where the Westside punks of all different races would gather before shows to get our drink on. Ric Clayton, the Suicidal Tendencies go-to illustrator, was a legend amongst us young punks because he was someone we looked up to. The first day I went to his house, I thought he would be blasting Discharge or G.B.H., but when I got there he was playing the Motörhead Iron Fist LP. He told me how awesome this band was, and what an influence they had on him and his art, and while I was at it, I also needed to check out a band called Venom). Being the music nerd I was, I went and found out all I could about Motörhead and Venom, and while listening to them, I understood why Ric was so into them – even though they were playing metal, I could hear and feel a punk vibe.
I started to notice hardcore kids all over the States championing these bands, meaning you would see their logos turning up on leather jackets, jeans and t-shirts. Around the same time, I started kicking it with the Suicidal Boyz drop out-turned-metal-head-stoner Mike Roth from Santa Monica. I give him credit for bringing the debut LP’s of Slayer, Metallica, Exciter, Raven, Oz, and Tank into my reality. We would spend our weekends listening to metal, because it felt more underground then hardcore did at the time. We were not alone in our love of the speed metal riffs; so many punk bands began embracing the metal sound in their songs. Case in point was our very own Suicidal Tendencies – all you have to do is listen to their debut record to hear Grant Estes’ metal guitar solos. Many of us at the time didn’t understand why Mike went and found a long haired dude to play guitar for them, but once we heard him play it all made sense. There were other Venice bands that got the crossover sound right, like No Mercy, Beowülf, Chaotic Noise, and later bands like Cryptic Slaughter.
I moved to San Francisco as a 15 year old in 1984, and this is when and where I saw the punks and metal heads really come together. You had bands like Exodus, Death Angel and Possessed, and clubs like Ruthies Inn that catered to the crossover scene. A good example of this unity could be seen at the last Crucifix show in SF, where members of Metallica were in the house right up front near the stage. The Bay Area had a way more down to earth scene than L.A., so it’s no wonder that speed metal was more popular up there, while down south Hair Metal was Queen. The Bay Area misfits just came together with no judgement – it did not matter if you were a punk, peace punk, hardcore kid or metal head. I know for a fact that my time there gave me a love for metal that I hold to this day. I will never forget seeing Mercyful Fate’s first San Francisco show ever at the Kabuki Theater – it was a madhouse full of metal heads and punks. Then in the mid to late 80’s, Crossover/Thrash/Speedmetal became a genre of its own, with bands like Anthrax, Voivod, DRI, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Discharge, Necros, Void, The Accused, Amebix, Nausea and many fucking more!!!
Ric Clayton of No Mercy – World Famous Artist