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Tommy Lee Net Worth 2023: Pamela Anderson Divorce Settlement, Prenup

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As the lead drummer of Mötley Crüe, Tommy Lee’s net worth has always reflected his rock star lifestyle—whether we’re talking the good or the bad. Of course, this includes the period of his life in which he was married to Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, so we’re diving into exactly how Tommy Lee’s net worth compares to hers below.

But first, let’s get to know Lee’s career thus far. While the drummer has made headlines in recent years as the subject of biopic projects like Hulu’s Pam & Tommy or TNT’s Pam & Tommy: The Tape That Changed America, he’s also largely known as a drummer to the legendary heavy metal band, Mötley Crüe. Lee’s interest in music was sparked when he was just a child after he received his very first set of drum sticks at the age of four. Later, when he was a teenager, Lee got his first full drum set and dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music full time. His first band was Suite 19, which he started in L.A. after being influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Kiss. During one Suite 19 show on the Sunset Strip in California, Lee met his future bandmate, Nikki Sixx. It was Sixx who convinced Lee to leave Suite 19 to start what would one day become Mötley Crüe.

Lee quickly shot to fame thanks to the band, which soon included lead vocalist Vince Neil and guitarist Mick Mars alongside Sixx. With Mötley Crüe, the drummer has since released 20 albums—including studio, compilations and live records—six of which have gone platinum. As a solo artist, Lee аlѕо fоrmеd а bаnd knоwn аѕ Меthоdѕ оf Мауhеm before taking his talents to the screen on his own reality series, Tommy Lee Goes to College on NBC.

While his professional career has clearly been a huge success, that doesn’t mean that Lee’s life hasn’t had any roadblocks. The drummer’s divorce from Pamela Anderson and the multi-million dollar lawsuit over their infamous sex tape took a toll on him throughout the years—not to mention, it had an impact on his net worth. Read on ahead to find out about Tommy Lee’s net worth today, along with how much he’s made from Mötley Crüe and how it compares to his ex-wife Pamela Anderson’s net worth.

How much did Tommy Lee make with Mötley Crüe?

tommy lee motley crue Tommy Lees Net Worth Is Surprising Compared to Ex Wife Pamela Andersons—Heres Who Makes More

Image: Everett Collection.

As a founding member of the band, Tommy Lee’s Mötley Crüe earnings have made him the richest member of the group today. According to The Richest, Lee’s paychecks with the band began with their 1981 debut album, Too Fast For Love, which earned the rockstar an estimated $1 million in record sales. Two years later, the group’s sophomore album, Shout at the Devil, earned Lee a whopping $4,335,000 and went on to become certified 4x platinum by the RIAA.

Following their breakthrough record, Lee went on to earn millions more for his work with the group—including an estimated $4.3 million for 1985’s Theatre of Pain, $4.2 million for 1987’s Girls, Girls, Girls and a stunning $6.4 million payday from the album Dr. Feelgood in 1989. In addition, Lee and his bandmates raked in hundreds of thousands of more in earnings from their compilation and live album releases, such as their 1998 Greatest Hits record, which reportedly brought in another $500,000 for Lee alone.

Altogether, The Richest estimates Lee made over $26 million as a member of Mötley Crüe over the years. His ex-wife Pamela Anderson, by comparison, was earning around $300,000 per episode of Baywatch, bringing home a salary of around $6.6 million at the peak of her career.

What is Tommy Lee’s net worth?

So, what’s Tommy Lee’s net worth today? According to Celebrity Net Worth, Tommy Lee’s net worth is $70 million as of 2022. By comparison, his ex-wife Pamela Anderson is worth a reported $20 million as of 2022.

While Tommy Lee’s net worth is pretty impressive today, this doesn’t mean that the rockstar hasn’t faced his fair share of money troubles—and many of them date back to his relationship with the Baywatch star. The pair, who famously got married after only four days of knowing each other, quickly faced financial issues after they returned from their honeymoon when Anderson moved into Lee’s Malibu house. At the time, Lee’s home was being renovated; the newlyweds, however, were unhappy with the work that was being done on the property and decided to fire several of their employees without pay. Unfortunately, it was one of the worst choices they could have made.

Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee

Image: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill.

One of their ex-employees took revenge after he was laid off by stealing the couple’s honeymoon sex tape. The former electrician—whose name is Rand Gauthier—destroyed the original tape and went on to sell copies of the clip to the highest bidder. As soon as Lee and Anderson found out, they filed a $10 million lawsuit against anyone they suspected of having a copy. In 1997, the court imposed an injunction against Gauthier, prohibiting him from creating or distributing copies of the tape. But it was too late; he already made $77 million off of the tape.

Anderson and Lee were forced to enter into a confidential settlement with video distribution company Internet Entertainment Group, which went on to make the tape available to subscribers for a fixed price on its site. “It was ridiculous. It was a total invasion of our privacy. This is, like, sacred, you know,” Lee said of their leaked sex tape during a 20/20 tell-all. “Not being able to do anything … about it was adding so much frustration and stress to our relationship. It was just consuming us.”

Tommy Lee 1998

Image: AP Photo/Nick Ut.

But this wasn’t the worst of it. Lee and Anderson’s marital woes came to a head in 1998, when Lee was arrested and sentenced to six months in jail for felony spousal battery after a physical incident at their house that prompted the Barb Wire actress to petition for divorce. Following his divorce, Lee was required to attend therapy, perform 200 hours of community service and contribute money to anti-domestic violence organizations. While the total expense of Lee and Anderson’s divorce and ensuing custody battle from 2001 to 2002 was never made public, this period in the rocker’s life certainly cost him.

In 2022, Anderson and Lee’s life and sex tape scandal was made into a series Pam & Tommy, in which Lily James played Anderson and Sebastian Stan played Lee. A source told Us Weekly in January 2023 that Anderson released her Netflix documentary, Pamela, A Love Story, because of how the biopic “sensationalized” her life. “The Hulu series played a huge role in Pam deciding to share her story,” the insider said. “She hated how sensationalized the story was and wanted to be able to tell hers from the beginning.”

In an interview with Variety in January 2023, Anderson revealed that she “refused” to watch the series. “It was just shocking,” she said. “Tommy probably thought it was funny. I remember Tommy writing me a note saying, ‘Don’t let this hurt you like it did the first time,’ because he had heard through the kids that I was kind of struggling with the idea of bringing this all up again. I don’t think he was portrayed kindly. I just know that I refuse to watch it.”

She also called the creators of the series “assholes.” “Salt on the wound. … You still owe me a public apology.” she said. “It just looked like a Halloween costume to me.” Still, she told Variety that she didn’t have anything negative against James and even invited her to the premiere of her documentary in January 2023. “I said to Netflix, ‘I’d love to invite Lily to the premiere of the movie,’” Anderson said. “I think it’s hard to play somebody when you don’t know the whole picture. I’ve got nothing against Lily James. I think that she’s a beautiful girl and she was just doing the job. But the idea of the whole thing happening was just really crushing for me.”

She also explained to Variety why she didn’t consider herself a “victim” by what happened to her by Pam & Tommy or anything else in her life. “I’m not a victim, and I’m not the damsel in distress,” Anderson said. “I’ve made my choices in my life. Some obviously were made for me, but I’ve always been able to find myself again. And it’s created a strong person and a strong parent.”

Image: Courtesy of Dey Street Books.

For more about Pamela Anderson, read her 2023 book, Love, Pamela. The memoir takes readers through Anderson’s life and career, from her childhood as a deeply shy daughter of unprepared parents in Vancouver Island to how she became the blonde bombshell she’s known as today and found herself on the cover of magazines, sets of movies, arms of rockstars and the halls of the Playboy Mansion. The book, which is described as “honest, layered and unforgettable,” also explores how, as Anderson’s star rose, she lost control of her own narrative and became the subject of the tabloids and paparazzi who crafted a public perception of her she no longer recognized. In Love, Pamela, Anderson “breaks the mold of the celebrity memoir while taking back the tale that has been crafted about her.”

Pam & Tommy is available to stream on Hulu. Here’s how to watch it for free.

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Demon Hunter Announce More US Tour Dates to Celebrate 20th Anniversary

Long-running Christian metalcore act Demon Hunter have announced that they will continue the 20 Years of Exile Tour in April with a number of US dates. The first leg of the tour began in 2022 and commemorated two decades since Demon Hunter released their debut album, Demon Hunter.

Because 20 Years in Exile (shouldn’t it be 21 now?) is supposed to be a celebration of Demon Hunter’s career, the band will play songs from all eleven of their albums. Demon Hunter haven’t played numerous cities on this tour in nearly a decade, so if you’ve been craving a career-spanning set from Seattle-based Christian metalcore band Demon Hunter and you live in one of those cities, this is your chance.

“Twenty Years In Exile” 2023 U.S. tour with special guests Opponent:
April 14 – Lawrence, KS @ The Granada Theater
April 15 – Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater
April 16 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Urban Lounge
April 17 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
April 18 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
April 19 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
April 21 – Roseville, CA @ Goldfield Trading Post
April 22 – Las Vegas, NV @ Backstage Bar
April 23 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
April 24 – Mesa, AZ @ The Nile Theater
April 25 – Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
April 26 – Lubbock, TX @ Jake’s Backroom
April 27 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
April 28 – Memphis, TN @ Black Lodge
April 29 – Nashville, TN @ Brooklyn Bowl

Demon Hunter’s last album, Exile, was released in October 2022. It featured appearances from Max Cavalera and Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner, the latter’s first studio recording since he had a 10-hour open-heart surgery to repair an aortic rupture and dissection suffered onstage with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal legends. Exile charted at number 200 on the Billboard 200, as well as number one on Top Christian Albums and number three on Top Hard Rock Albums.

Demon Hunter Announce More US Tour Dates to Celebrate 20th Anniversary


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49 Rising | Music | Style Weekly

Few bands carried as much momentum out of last year as Southwest Virginia’s alt-country champions, 49 Winchester. “2022 was really, really good to us,” says lead singer and songwriter Isaac Gibson.

His group debuted at the Grand Ole Opry, rocked Nashville’s storied Ryman Auditorium for the first time, and performed for more than 5,000 attendees — their largest crowd yet — at the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. It was a series of life-altering moments for the band that formed fresh out of high school nearly a decade ago in Castlewood, which is located north of Bristol.

“I don’t think any of us would have imagined that we were going to be able to accomplish something like that — being onstage at the Opry,” Gibson confesses. “It was a really high honor. Same with the Ryman, a place with so much history, a place where so many of my heroes have played.”

Despite stringing together those moments of arrival on the national scene, 49 Winchester has stayed remarkably true to where they’re from. The proof is in the numbers. Not only are they named after Gibson’s former street address in Castlewood, their most popular song by Spotify play count — “Russell County Line” is currently approaching eight digits — describes the gravitational pull of home. “If you wonder how I’m doing, know that I am doing fine / But I wish I was in Virginia on the Russell County line.”

Straight out of Southwest Va.

The population of Russell County is a small fraction of that count, a clear sign that 49 Winchester bottled something universal when they recorded the song for their 2022 album, “Fortune Favors the Bold.” “This thing I tried to relay through [“Russell County Line”] — it’s amazing to see people really latch onto it and connect with it. Even people that haven’t been here and haven’t seen what life’s like in Central Appalachia.”

Growing up in Castlewood, Gibson had plenty of exposure to music, with a talented singer for a mother and a father who loved classic and Southern rock, from REO Speedwagon to AC/DC and Molly Hatchet. Gibson’s own passion for music took off with the rise of file sharing, and his first instrument was a bass gifted by his aunt when he was 11 or 12. Guitar followed a couple of years later, though he didn’t start writing songs until the end of high school, in 2013. In fact, the first songs he wrote are on 49 Winchester’s 2014 self-titled debut album.

“We’d never been in bands prior to this band,” Gibson notes. “The first time I ever sang in front of people was the first 49 Winchester show. The only people that had ever heard me were my parents who heard me from my locked room upstairs and the boys when we started rehearsing for the first show we ever played.”

“This band has pretty much encompassed all of my musical history,” he adds. “Every ounce of it.”

As a result, it’s tempting to see his trajectory as exceptionally linear. But there’s plenty of variety in the tastes and approaches among 49 Winchester’s membership, particularly when it comes to a shared metalhead past. “We all went through that stage,” Gibson says. “I thought for sure I would be in a metal band… Those influences still pop out from time to time, especially when [lead guitarist] Bus [Shelton] is playing. Bus’ guitar sound is one of the things that definitely makes 49 what it is, and his guitar hero is Jim Root from Slipknot.”

Gibson counts Willie Adler from Richmond heavy metal band Lamb of God among his own guitar heroes. Richmond holds a special place in 49 Winchester’s recent past, as well, thanks to a jam-packed June headlining set at Friday Cheers. “That was unreal,” he says. “People knowing the lyrics, people screaming back… It’s good to have those things as far away from home as Richmond is. It’s [our] home state, but we’re five-and-a-half hours out. It’s cool to see our fanbase all over the country growing and developing.”

The road has been kind to 49 Winchester, and the group shows their love in return on “All I Need,” the fourth track from “Fortune Favors the Bold.” Gibson sings about the joys of touring, from learning which bandmates snore to time spent driving from city to city: “Packed into this van like sardines inside a can / That’s the only life that I wanna lead.”

The next step

That road-readiness is paying off in the form of an expanding fanbase and bigger stages, but there’s special validation in how their stock rose during the pandemic, when no shows were happening. A big reason was their third full-length album, appropriately titled “III” and released in 2020 with the knowledge that it would sink or swim without audiences being able to hear the songs live. “We didn’t know how long this delay was going to happen,” Gibson says, “but we knew we had some new songs, knew it was time to get a new record out, and we thought, ‘COVID or not, we’re going to [release] this thing.’”

It swam, generating favorable reviews and positive momentum at a time when many bands were lying low. “We actually probably came out on the other side of COVID looking a lot nicer than we did before,” Gibson notes.

How nice? Their next album gained the support of New West Records, a label that’s home to both Americana legends and newer acts looking to level-up. 49 Winchester had prided itself on independence but found it could maintain creative freedom while gaining a big promotional boost for “Fortune Favors the Bold.” “It was pretty amazing to have a team of that many people working so hard to promote something that you’ve poured your whole life into. That was something that we’d never had before, and something that we didn’t realize the benefit of until we were right in the thick of it.”

“Fortune Favors the Bold” was recorded in early 2022 at White Star Sound, located in a rural area outside Charlottesville. That setting made Gibson feel right at home. “It’s in the middle of nowhere,” he says. “It’s a great recording studio with an apartment attached to it, and it’s right beside a goat farm [laughs]. So it was a great place to get isolated and hide and be creative [with the] fellowship of one another, and not let the outside world in a few weeks.”

That fellowship has kept the founding members of 49 Winchester — Gibson, Shelton, bassist Chase Chafin and pedal steel player Noah Patrick — together through countless shows, four albums and one big transition to adulthood. At this point, it’s as much a family as a band.

“We’re all from the same little podunk town in the middle of nowhere,” Gibson says, “so we can understand a lot about each other’s struggle to get established in the music scene… We just love each other and love the music that we make, and we want to keep doing it forever.”

49 Winchester will perform at the Broadberry on Friday, Feb. 3. Doors open at 7 p.m. and Colby Acuff will also perform. That show is sold out, but the band will also perform on Sunday, May 21 at 3:40 p.m. during the Dominion Energy Riverrock festival on Brown’s Island. Admission is free. For more information, visit riverrockrva.com. To hear and purchase “Fortune Favors the Bold,” visit 49winchester.com.







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‘We‘re Building the Embassy as We Speak’

“Hell yeah, they did it right, picking me,” says Amanda Shires, on being named as one of Record Store Day’s 2023 Ambassadors. Unlike most of the previous stars to hold the position (like last year’s ambassador, Taylor Swift), Shires actually did time as an indie store clerk. She can also offer a heck-yes in support of her co-diplomat, Jason Isbell, a fellow singer-songwriter and her husband. Together, these heroes of Americana-style rock ‘n’ roll know very much of what they speak when it comes to celebrating brick-and-mortar shops and/or vinyl — two conjoined phenomena enjoying major resurgences as of the 2020s, after having been considered at death’s door at the Napster-happy turn of the century.

“They’re the ‘First Couple’ of record stores, as far as I’m concerned,” says Record Store Day cofounder Carrie Colliton.


Isbell and Shires have never made a big deal of that first-coupledom in the form of their respective releases, and never had both their names on the spine of a record before (although she frequently performs as part of his 400 Unit band when not busy with solo projects). They do so for the first time with “The Sound Emporium EP,” a four-song record that is coming out as an exclusive for Record Store Day on April 22, 2023. (For anyone waiting to find out the rest of this year’s exclusive RSD releases, those will be announced some time in February.)

Isbell and Shires shared details of the joint record as well as thoughts about community, clerking, favorite stores, socks and other related topics in a phone call with Variety.


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Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires on Being Record Store Day’s Ambassadors

“Hell yeah, they did it right, picking me,” says Amanda Shires, on being named as one of Record Store Day’s 2023 Ambassadors. Unlike most of the previous stars to hold the position (like last year’s ambassador, Taylor Swift), Shires actually did time as an indie store clerk. She can also offer a heck-yes in support of her co-diplomat, Jason Isbell, a fellow singer-songwriter and her husband. Together, these heroes of Americana-style rock ‘n’ roll know very much of what they speak when it comes to celebrating brick-and-mortar shops and/or vinyl — two conjoined phenomena enjoying major resurgences as of the 2020s, after having been considered at death’s door at the Napster-happy turn of the century.

“They’re the ‘First Couple’ of record stores, as far as I’m concerned,” says Record Store Day cofounder Carrie Colliton.

Isbell and Shires have never made a big deal of that first-coupledom in the form of their respective releases, and never had both their names on the spine of a record before (although she frequently performs as part of his 400 Unit band when not busy with solo projects). They do so for the first time with “The Sound Emporium EP,” a four-song record that is coming out as an exclusive for Record Store Day on April 22, 2023. (For anyone waiting to find out the rest of this year’s exclusive RSD releases, those will be announced some time in February.)

Isbell and Shires shared details of the joint record as well as thoughts about community, clerking, favorite stores, socks and other related topics in a phone call with Variety.

Record Store Day always has a good pick of ambassadors, whether it’s St. Vincent or Brandi Carlile or Taylor or Metallica.

Isbell: They picked the right people, with us. We’re the most ambassador-ish people I’ve ever seen.

Shires: I’m currently learning how to tie a bow tie, though.

Isbell: We’re building the embassy as we speak in Nashville.

What’s meaningful to you about celebrating retail, and records, both?

Shires: My return back to touring out [with the 2022 release “Take It Like a Man”] was visiting all the record stores, and it’s just a beautiful thing. The community’s wonderful. There’s more than just records you can buy there or not buy there. You can make friendships and …

Isbell: …meet people in person. In person, where you can’t be catfished. It’s hard to catfish somebody in a record store.

Shires: It’s discovery. It’s that sense of not everything is learned or known, and you find it in some kind of magical way. Predetermined determination, I guess.

Isbell: With the fact that vinyl’s doing as well as it is these days, it means you have to wait a little bit longer to put an album out if you’ve recorded one [due to pressing plant backups]. But it’s worth it — I feel like it involves people more in the process of listening to music and understanding just the overall creative statement that the artist is trying to make. Because you get all these pictures you can look at. And it keeps you from getting too terribly high, because you gotta get up off the couch and flip the record over at some point.

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires 2023 Record Store Day Ambassadors image (Courtesy Record Store Day)

Shires: It feels sometimes like it’s hard to always be a fan of music when you’re in this job, but you can go into the record store and still be a fan of music, and also meet fans of music.

Isbell: They [indie stores] are such a huge part of our career. We came up in stores and doing signings. And a brick and mortar record store, to me, sort of replaces some of the value on the music itself, because sometimes it feels like what we’re making is worthless. People are just out streaming it for free and listening to it while they’re doing other things. And I’m not saying that that’s the end of the world, but it’s nice to have a real building that’s devoted and committed to selling records to people. That feels like: “Hey, we’ve still got a real job.”

And vinyl sounds great, especially if you have a good system. The vinyl upswing is keeping a lot of our friends in business, from record stores all the way down to artists and managers and agents and everybody in the business. It’s been a boon for all of us.

Can you talk about the joint EP you’re putting out as an exclusive for RSD?

Isbell: This year me and Amanda recorded four songs for Record Store Day, together in the studio. One of mine that hasn’t been released on anything else, and one of hers too — mine is “Hired Gun” and hers is “Old Habits.” And then we did an acoustic version of “Tour of Duty” with me and Amanda and (400 Unit guitarist) Sadler (Vaden). [That’s a remake of an older Isbell original. originally released on a 2011 album.] And Richard Thompson’s “Beeswing.” It’s a four-song super-set.

Shires: All wars of the heart, it turns out. I just now determined that in thinking of them.

Cover art for Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires’ Record Store Day exclusive EP

Isbell: “Beeswing” is hard to play, as Richard Thompson songs are.

Shires: Early on in our dating, Jason was trying to impress me by learning it.

Isbell: I put it up on YouTube and she’s the only person I gave the link to. So somewhere still, lost in the catacombs of YouTube, is a video of me playing that 12 or 13 years ago.

Jason, you had a couple of RSD exclusives before. They say that most RSD titles don’t really appreciate that much in value, and the amount of profitable “flipping” that happens is really overstated. But in your case, I just looked up “Live From Welcome to 1979,” which you put out for Record Store Day in 2017, and I saw a copy being offered for $400 on eBay. Glad I got that when I did.

Isbell: Oh, wow. You should have never told my wife that. Now I’ll die without a copy. [Shires laughs.]

Shires: You know, the “Georgia Blue” record that you just did for record stores [an album of covers of songs by Georgia artists, released exclusively on vinyl for Record Store Day Black Friday 2021], that did a lot of good, I think, so congratulations, Jason.

Isbell: Thank you. And I think they’re pretty happy about the fact that we put “Reunions” out a week early for record stores on vinyl [in early 2020]. Because we were all on lockdown and nobody was going to the record store, and I think that helped a lot of the shops out, at least for a little while.

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires perform during the 2019 BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at Prospect Park Bandshell on June 19, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
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You both worked in record stores at some point, right?

Isbell: I did for a little while, at Pegasus Records (in Florence, Alabama). Not for very long, but I would get tickets to shows; the owner of the record store would let me have the tickets if I would work the counter for a few days for each ticket. I was terrible at it, though. She was pretty good at it. Her store, Ralph’s Records (in Lubbock, Texas), is still standing. Pegasus is not there anymore.

Amanda, do you have any distinct memories of your stint in music retail?

Shires: Working at Ralph’s Records was great, but I had this guy that worked with me that played Fugazi nonstop. One day I’d had enough and he was like, “It’s come to the end of the record.” I was like, yes, I know, thank God. He was like, “It’s your turn, I guess.” And I reached for the quickest thing I could find, and it was that “Songs of Love and Hate” record with Leonard Cohen, and I’d never heard it before. And that is when I fell in love with Leonard Cohen. So I owe my entire existence to that day in the record store.

Isbell: If it hadn’t been for Fugazi, you never would’ve found Leonard Cohen. [Laughter.]

Shires: And I remember when the [release] days were Tuesdays, not Fridays. And I also remember what it looks like to see 300 (used) copies of Ace of Base after everybody had their heyday with that.

Isbell: When they saw the sign. I’ll tell you, it still feels great to walk in and see your own album on vinyl at a record store, if it’s in-cap or something, or one of their best sellers — like, Amanda’s record [“Take It Like a Man”] was one of the best sellers at Grimey’s in Nashville this past year. That’s genuinely exciting for us, because then you feel like the community that you’re a part of really does care about the work that you do.

Shires: Working at the record store, I was able to have the first pick of records when they’d come in, like if I bought ’em back that day. And that’s how I acquired a huge amount of my record collection. But I sold that entire collection to move to Nashville, to pursue my dreams of becoming a waitress. And I’m just now started getting comfortable with rebuilding it, going to the record store with Jason, or with Mercy [their 7-year-old daughter]. Even Mercy’s into records now. It’s a beautiful thing.

Isbell: She’s got a little record player that Amanda got her, and she’s got a little wall display where she puts her favorite records up. And right now it’s like three of Amanda’s records, and Demi Lovato.

Shires: Yeah. And just the poster of the Harry Styles album.

Isbell: She likes the poster, yeah, more than the album, I think.

Do you have a favorite record store in the world, besides the ones you worked at or had that early connection to?

Isbell: Every time we put a record out, we’ll do a show at Grimey’s to celebrate it. And I love the staff there, and Mike Grimes, and it’s a place that feels like home.

Shires: I agree, Grimey’s. And also, you can’t not say Amoeba, especially with their awesome putt-putt game that they let you play [behind the scenes]. And then, the folks at Rough Trade are always nice in New York. The Twist and Shout —is that Denver? — is a good one.

Isbell: And then there’s the heavy metal shop in Salt Lake City. That’s a really good spot.

Shires: Anytime a record store has prayer candles, especially ones with Larry David or whoever, I’m into it.

Isbell: Or Rosalia… [Laughs.] It’s fun.  It’s like what we used to call a head shop, right?

Shires: I like record stores where they’re organized and clean and they also sell things like socks. Like, when you’re on the road, you might need some fresh socks.

Isbell: Yeah, although the socks always say stuff like “Get shit done.” I don’t mean it as a bad thing. I just mean the socks that you buy at a record store always have some sort of wit to ’em. They’re got pizzas or aliens on ’em or something.

Shires: I’ve got some lovely rainbow socks.

AMANDA SHIRES AND JASON ISBELL
ALYSSE GAFKJEN




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Here’s a Look at All the Brides and Grooms in the Experiment — The Latch

10 couples are set to embark on the Married At First Sight experiment, with things kicking off on January 30.

That’s right, 10 new brides and 10 new grooms will meet for the first time at the altar on their wedding day after being matched by relationship experts, John Aiken and Mel Schilling, and clinical sexologist Alessandra Rampolla.

Meet all the contestants appearing on Season 10 of MAFS 2023:

The Brides

Alyssa, 35, NSW, Executive Assistant

It’s not the first time Alyssa will be walking down the aisle. The 35-year-old has been single for 12 months since her seven-year marriage ended. She shares a two-year-old son with her ex.

The Utah-born bride was raised Mormon and family is a huge part of her life. However, she’s found dating as a single mum extremely hard, especially on dating apps which she finds overwhelming.

Walking down the aisle again, Alyssa is a little more trepidatious but hopeful of finding love once more.

Nine

Bronte28, WA, Online Beauty Educator

Bronte describes herself as an outspoken, fiery, and confident “pocket rocket”. The 28-year-old has no trouble getting approached by men but is constantly finding herself in “situationships” with guys who end up breaking her heart.

After being burnt by men in the past, Bronte is entering the experiment with some trust issues but is putting her faith in the MAFS experts in hopes she can open her heart again.

Caitlin27, QLD, Makeup Artist

Caitlin is a hopeless romantic who admits to falling very hard, very fast, but always for the worst men.

With high standards and an unwillingness to settle for anything less than she deserves, Caitlin has struggled to find anyone remotely close to her forever person. But after two years of no intimacy, she’s looking to the experts for an “intervention”.

Claire31, VIC, Kindergarten Assistant

Claire was raised in a chaotic Greek household, so it’s no surprise the bride describes herself as apologetically loud, direct, vivacious, and energetic.

Claire is a self-professed tomboy and car fanatic but, despite the tattoos and rock-star vibes, there’s a softer side to her. The 31-year-old is “all in” for finding for her soul mate to have kids and grow old with.

Janelle28, WA, Beauty Influencer

Janelle is a driven, self-assured woman who grew up in a strict Singaporean-Chinese family.

She describes her upbringing as tough at times, but Janelle is incredibly close to her two brothers and parents who are still happily married. The 28-year-old is looking for a partner her family will love and approve of.

Lyndall27, WA, Accountant

Lyndall has been living with cystic fibrosis and never thought she’d make it to the age of 30, let alone marriage and children. She didn’t prioritise any long-term plans but, with new medicine extending her life expectancy and giving her the lung capacity of someone without CF, she has a renewed outlook on finding love.

She is now taking risks and grabbing life by the horns and is looking for someone who will live life the same way.

Melinda32, QLD, CEO, Fashion & Beauty

‘Alpha female’ Melinda is a confident, sassy businesswoman who finds herself the centre of attention in any room. But, while Melinda has no problems attracting men, the right kind of men always seem to elude her.

Beneath her tough exterior, she’s very emotional and can get in her head about the smallest things, leading to constant conflict in relationships. She hopes to find an ambitious man who is equally business-minded. But he can’t be clingy and must be patient with her, she asks.

Melissa41, NSW, Hairdresser

At the age of 41, Melissa is looking for what she thinks is her last shot at real love.

After a 10-year marriage and co-parenting her son, Melissa has no problem meeting men, she craves a long-term relationship and believes that the clock may be ticking on finding the right person.

She’s upbeat, charismatic, cheeky, flirtatious, and very comfortable with her sexuality, and she expects her man to keep up with her.

Sandy36, VIC, Dental Hygienist

Despite being in her mid-thirties, Sandy has never been in a serious relationship and has had very little experience with men.

The 36-year-old grew up in a strict Indian household and her parents were huge on upholding the traditional values of Indian culture. That meant she was not allowed to mix with boys and had no male friends. She went to a girls’ school and studied dental nursing with women.

With her parents still happily together in an arranged marriage, Sandy believes the MAFS experiment could work for her.

Tahnee, 27, NSW, PR Manager

Fast-talking, passionate, and bubbly, Tahnee is ready to take things to the next level and ditch her dating apps!

She is fed up with the shallow, swipe-right culture that results in ‘situationships’ being all about looks and no real connection.

Tahnee is hopeful that the experts can help her tick true love off her bucket list.

The Grooms

Adam35, QLD, Business Owner

Cocky and confident, Adam is a modern-day entrepreneur who is always on the lookout for the next business opportunity.

He was in a long-term relationship in his twenties for almost 10 years. They became engaged before he realised he was too young to settle down. Now at 35, he’s done with dating apps and wants to find something more meaningful with someone who is ready to settle down.

Cam, 27, NT, Carpenter

Aussie larrikin Cameron grew up on a farm in Queensland before moving to Darwin to work as a carpenter in Indigenous communities in the remote Northern Territory.

He’s never had a girlfriend, so taking part in the MAFS experiment is way out of his comfort zone.

Dan42, QLD, Digital Marketing Business Owner

Dan has been married twice before and is a father of a teenage daughter but is still on the hunt for Mrs Right.

Career-driven, charming and successful, semi-retired businessman Dan is looking for someone who is healthy, fit, and motivated like himself, and who can match his lifestyle, dreams, and ambitions.

Duncan, 36, NSW, Cyber Security Sales

Meet Prince Charming. Duncan is a chivalrous gentleman who has no trouble meeting women but often finds himself in relationships that aren’t compatible.

In a relationship Duncan is “the best friend and the lover” and he’s searching for a woman with class, emotional intelligence, and confidence.

Harrison32, NSW, Builder

With a bone-dry sense of humour that can catch people unaware, Harrison is serious about finding true love.

Despite being a single dad to his three-year-old, Harrison is open to having more children with the right woman. But he won’t just settle for anyone – he sets the bar “ridiculously high” to achieve greatness in love.

Inspired by his parents’ 33-year marriage, Harrison is ready to settle down with a beautiful woman who shares his zest for life, goals, values, and sense of humour.

Jesse30, WA, Marriage Celebrant

Formerly in a heavy metal band, Jesse is now a Perth marriage celebrant who officiates in a rock star style.

Having done over 500 weddings, Jesse finds himself surrounded by a constant level of love and commitment that leaves him wanting that for himself.

Jesse is extremely fussy when it comes to choosing partners and has a rather large number of turnoffs which gives him the “ick”.

Joshua40, NSW, Advertising Client Director

Josh is the self-proclaimed and self-deprecating ‘station wagon’ of relationships – stable, dependable, and solid.

Since his marriage ended, Josh has attempted to navigate a whole new dating game that has evolved dramatically since he was last single but struggles in the modern world of apps.

This loveable single father of two is simply looking for his plus-one.

Layton, 35, NSW, CEO, Biotech

Layton has been a self-starter from the young age of 19. The entrepreneur has started a number of successful businesses, including his latest project in medicinal cannabis for pets.

Being so career-driven, the 35-year-old doesn’t commit to making love a priority and often puts work first. Being the only single person in his close-knit group of friends he’s finally realised that something must change.

Ollie26, WA, Voice-Over Artist

Confident, charismatic, and mature beyond his years, Ollie definitely knows how to use his words to get what he wants.

He may be young, but he’s no fan of modern dating and has sworn off swiping to find love. He’s had one serious relationship and knows what it’s like to fall in love – he just hopes that next time it’s with ‘The One’.

Shannon30, VIC, Personal Trainer

At first glance, Shannon might seem like your average carefree bachelor but deep down he’s a sensitive soul in search of love.

With a three-year-old daughter he loves dearly, Shannon was in an on-again-off-again relationship with his ex-partner for many years. Although they share custody, he has ended things with his ex and is ready to move on with someone he can build a future with.

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.





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Matt Vaughan looks back at 35 years of Easy Street Records

By Patrick Robinson

Matt Vaughan has owned Easy Street Records,in the West Seattle Junction seemingly forever, since he has been part of the Seattle music industry for over four decades. Westside Seattle spoke with him recently about his career, why he’s become friends with so many music stars and how he and the store have evolved over time. For a dozen years, Easy Street had a second location in lower Queen Anne but rent increases and lease terms forced its closure. Today the store in the junction continues to thrive with its popular cafe, vast collection of vinyl and CD’s and numerous in-store live performances. In the past those performances have included such luminaries as Pearl Jam. Macklemore, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Kings of Leon, Brandi Carlile, Patti Smith, Paul Westerberg, Franz Ferdinand, Lana Del Rey, Dierks Bentley, Robyn, Jack Johnson, Jurassic 5, Wanda Jackson, Steve Earle, Regina Spektor, John Doe, Dick Dale, My Morning Jacket and many others.

easy street outside
Easy Street Records has stood at the corner of Alaska and California Aveunes in the middle of the West Seattle Junction for 34 years. Photo by Patrick Robinson

 

inside
Inside Easy Street records there’s a visual language all its own. Photo by Patrick Robinson.

 

Westside Seattle

You started in the music industry before you ever owned Easy Street Records, and you were on tour with Queensrÿche. Is that right? How did that happen? 

Matt

Yeah, my mom had been an independent radio promoter in the 70s and into the 80s, and as she was moving out of that, she wanted to stake her own claim, do something on her own in the music business. And she went with my sister and I to Lake Hills, which was near Bel Red Road and a skating rink, and they had a barrel of bands there and there was one band called Meth that was playing that had a phenomenal 5 octave singer and another band called The Mob that had this twin guitar attack, and one amazing drummer. They were all young, 17 years old. But they were on the same baseball team so they had been friends for four years and this other guy he was a little bit older was from Tacoma. Somehow my mom got him in the parking lot and got him talking about maybe this singer should go with that band and she reformed the two bands. I think they knew each other through some older brothers and knew the scene a little bit, but short story is that she ended up getting them a record deal with EMI Records before they’d even played their first show. 

queensryche the warning
Queensryche 1984 album The Warning

Their first show actually was coming up and they went by the name Queensrÿche because the hit song they had was called “Queen of the Reich” and they needed to come up with a name real quick. 

And Queensrÿche was born out of the Lake Hills skate hall. We got all around the band scene.  There were a handful of bands around that time, Shadow being one which was Mike McCready’s band, The Friel Brothers, TKO and Rail so there was a good hesher scene out there.

You know BMX bikes and and Mopar and sitting on your #2 pencil all day long. I mean they this was a kind of an “Over the Edge” feel.  If you ever saw that movie, that’s the kind of scene, that suburban metal scene that they were in, so they get signed and their first show was to open for a band called Zebra and it was cast as a heavy metal “Rising Star” show. 

I believe it was at the at the Moore or the Paramount and Queensryche blew them off the stage… and that was their first official show.

Dio heard about it (Ronnie James Dio) who was an American singer, phenomenal musician in his own right, but everyone always assumed he was English because he was the lead singer of Rainbow and his band deal, I believe, was English.

He heard about them and he was a supporter of anything that was American Metal that was different and he took him under his wing and put them on tour. And that was the beginning of the band. But I was, at the age of 13 and all through my high school years, water boy. photographer, stagehand and a young voice of reason for Queensrÿche, who are are great guys and still not that old.

I mean they got started at such a young age. But not sure what the status of that group is currently.

So my mom was in the music business and I had a stepdad that was a record collector and my father worked at and coined the name for a record shop called Campus Music in the 70s. 

He wasn’t my stepdad, yet at that time, but that’s the background he came from and he arrived on our doorstep one rainy night in 1979 with a hefty bag and his long hair, he never left.

The following week, how I really kind of got to know this soon to be step Dad was him asking me to help him alphabetize all his records. My stepdad had 12,000 records and so it was my job to alphabetize it and I flourished in it because I was a baseball card collector. I was used to doing all of that, you know? Alphabetizing and putting them in categories.

There was a lot of old rockabilly that popped out and Bowie and Velvet Underground and Doors and prior to all these records coming in the house my mom would take my sister and I to the shows that she was promoting, and the bands and the songs that she was promoting. 

For example, The Who comes into town 1978. That was my favorite band. She takes my sister and I. And that was a game changer for me. It was phenomenal.

Back then they were in the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest band in the world and my mom and her friend are just sitting up in the rafters and letting me roam around by myself and the moment I remember the most from that particular show, it wasn’t the splits that Daltrey was doing or Pete Townshend’s windmill guitar or Keith Moon knocking over his drum set for the third time. It was this. These two older kids handed me a joint and I’m 10 years old. I looked back at my mom and. She just starts laughing, (gestures shaking her finger to mean “no”). The Fleetwood Mac Rumors tour she took me to that and SuperTrampBarry Manilow and the Bay City Rollers… I mean all of this. 

Westside Seattle

That’s quite a range. 

Matt 

All of these kind of bands were around in the late 70s and I’ve got to hand it to her for initiating me into the music world, but she only had a handful of records like Songs in the Key of Life (Stevie Wonder) and we heard all that content.

It was her emotion with music and and her desire to turn people on to the songs which she was working. Her claim to fame was she was the first person, man or woman to get Bob Marley on commercial radio and that happened here at KJR with Rastaman Vibration.

Westside Seattle

What is it about West Seattle and the music business?

Matt

There are still a great amount of people here in the music industry from the 70s to today that’s never changed.

Westside Seattle

Why is that? 

Matt

Some of the radio stations were close by. KJR for example so you have guys like Gary Crow living out here.

ABC Music was in Georgetown which was kind of the distro-promo headquarters for the city. So you had all these label reps and every label had a branch. Now they don’t have that today other than SubPop.

I think one reason we have so many musicians here in West Seattle is because of it being a bedroom community.

There’s a good amount of people that are still kind of punk rocking nature out here in West Seattle. 

Westside Seattle

In terms of their attitude?

Matt 

Yeah so people give more allowance towards, you know, jamming in your basement.  It’s no surprise that garage rock comes out of West Seattle. You know, with the Sonics and later Mudhoney which is amazing and it’s just not going to stop. 

mudhoney crowd
The crowd for Mudhoney during the SubPop Anniversary show on Alki Beach. Photo by Patrick Robinson

 

There’s actually some folks in town that are working on a documentary a major producer and director are getting ready to release. They got the green light for a major cable company to do the the story on Seattle music. I think their working title is “Seattle: The last great music revolution.

Sonics in store
The classic Seatlle band The Sonics with the late Van Conner of Screaming Trees during an in-store performance.

 

Westside Seattle

Are you going to be part of that? 

Matt 

I’m consulting a little bit helping them out. You know, tracking people down.

Westside Seattle

Well, you have a lot of connections and that makes a difference. So you grew up essentially in the music business, at least ancillary parts of it. You’re exposed to a lot of music, went to a lot of shows. But then you got a job at a place called Penny Lane. In the junction and there are a lot of stories about Penny lane. 

Matt

There were a handful of firsts there. So yeah, I was a Capitol Hill rat kid. I went to elementary school all the way through high school there and then in my sophomore year Queensryche was doing so well because my mother and my stepfather were the managers of the band and that band was taking off. They were soon to have a platinum selling record, soon to win their first Grammy. Headlining their own tours, were just about to put out to what would be considered one of the greatest metal records of all time. Operation Mindcrime.

And we as a family, as a band, everyone is making money and all of a sudden I find us going from this, you know, two-bedroom home in lower Capitol Hill to this life. But I was going to Seattle Prep, which was across the street from my house, which was really the only reason I went to that school. 

You know my grandmother paid for it. I went to Garfield for one day. My grandmother drove me there and then they said ‘We’re taking you to the school across the street with the Big Cross on it.’

That’s where I played baseball and basketball, but I never thought I’d actually get inside. But that was when it had gone from all boys to a Co-Ed school. 

And it was kind of hard for that school to actually get registration for some kids, being in Capitol Hill. And me being on academic probation, tough school. I wasn’t ready for it, but I stuck with it and we moved to my sophomore year. I needed to get a job and I was going to the record store up here called Penny Lane. Before I knew it, I had the six to nine shift, five days a week and the owner there. Willie McKay, turned out be a great mentor for me and the guys that were working. And now I say guys, because we could only have guys. Men, boys working there because we didn’t have a bathroom. That store where Virago currently is, there’s no bathroom there, so you just used bottles. 

Willie wasn’t as sexist as it was out of practicality. So I became friends with with the folks at West Seattle Speedway and Hobby so I could use their bathroom at this time and time went on. But what happened there after a couple of years there at Penny Lane was that Willie’s wife was having an affair with someone working at the shop and he really wanted nothing to do with the store anymore and he was a big ski bum anyways and had a job waiting for him at Crystal Mountain. 

He’s like ‘I’m done done with my wife and I’m done with the store.’ Wow, now it’s quite a pivot. The name Easy Street came about because at the very same time during those years I was working for my stepdad who later would open up his own store on the east side called Easy Street Records and it was a really cool kind of short lived store and it had gone out of business right around that same time and I would work at both stores, one completely on the other end of town being Bellevue and then the other being all the way over here. So neither one saw competition. You know, to have this guy work both stores no problem. 

Well, through that I was able to put the two guys together as my stepdad was closing his store. He went into rehab, out of rehab back in rehab and the landlord had shut the store down. Locked it up. All the product was still in there,  So it was kind of my job to find a way out of this mess for him while he was in rehab. I’m still in high school coming out of high school. And Willie was going through his marital problem and I presented an idea ‘Why don’t I find a way to work it out with your landlord out here? Get your product out. Unlock the door. Get product out. I’ll keep the lease over here in West Seattle. Willie can go his own way.”

There was a year and a half left on the lease. 

And Willie agreed to it. So Kim and my stepdad agreed to it and Kim and I were essentially going to be partners.

And we did that for about six months and we called it Easy Street. Penny Lane was kind of a generic term for a record store. There was a lot of Penny Lanes around the country. 

Plus, I didn’t want to be known as five and dime, you know, Penny Lane kind of store? 

Westside Seattle

But down the street was another record store called Turnabout? 

Matt 

Turnabout Dave, yeah. 

Westside Seattle

Was he competition for you at that point? 

Matt

A little bit. I say it was 50/50. Plus he had all the Harley stuff. He had all the leathers and movies. So after about six months my stepdad moved to California and they were no longer managing Queensryche so they essentially had to get out of town. 

They lost the house, lost everything and the family moved away. They were going to sell the store. And I didn’t want to. 

Westside Seattle

How was Penny Lane doing at that time? Were you selling records? 

Matt 

Well, there were a lot of record shops that were closing around that time. That was the time where CD’s were coming out and if you remember that even now it’s surprising to think that was about 1983 to 84. 

They had just started to come out around the 84-85-86. It was it was a cassette CD driven market. By 87- 88 most definitely so. 

You know, I say that the store opened in 1988 because that’s when I kind of officially took it over and lease was in my name. But there was six months or so to a year where no one really knew who who was manning the store, who owned the store? Did Willie still own it? Any of the guys that were working for Willie? Were they involved? No one really knew and it appeared as though it was going to take the fate of so many other record shops. The CD’s were $18.99 if you remember Dire Straits, SadeTerence Trent D’arby. I mean these were $18.99 CD’s and on top of that you had to reformat your store or figure out a way to get them into your record bins. 

The old timers had already gone through 8 tracks and vinyl of course. If they were into video it was laser discs and you know, VHS, Betamax, all this… so many different formats. They kind of threw their hands up like, hey, I’ve had a nice run. I’m out you know they weren’t buying into this new format again that the record companies were pushing.

Westside Seattle

But vinyl was still selling at that time. 

Matt 

Well it was  but it was soon to be at .001% of the market  shortly after that. Yeah, it never officially died. It rose its hand out of the dirt. 

Westside Seattle

Because CD’s really took over. Well, since then it’s made a resurgance. So you were still in the location where Virago is, and then you moved the store. How’d that come about? 

Matt 

In August of 89. It you know, if you remember, that location was a bit of a taboo corner, not unlike the old Godfather’s Place where Great American Diner is currently… yes who seems to be doing a great job, but that corner had had terrible floods. People’s Drugs had gotten shut down for selling Valium over the counter. Russell’s Shoes came and went. There was another one that came and went. They were turning them out every year. 

Westside Seattle

But that’s the Hamm Building which is a historical building now. 

Matt 

Yeah, Thank you, So it opened it there in 1989 with predominantly CD’s with a wall of cassettes. Now cassettes sold as well as CD’s for me for number of years. You know a lot of staff that I have currently that were kids coming in buying their first cassette. A lot of that’s because of all the high schools around and the cars and the boom boxes and so with all the young people around, we saw a lot of facets, especially hip hop. 

Westside Seattle

It makes sense. Except you couldn’t hear it on the radio. 

Matt

Yeah yeah, cassette singles, right? But yeah, vinyl still was important to me. It was a passion for me. I was still a crate digger. I was still out jumping around. I was still buying records at  estate sales and garage sales.

Westside Seattle

So when did you start buying records? 

Matt

Penny Lane had a pretty good following with that. 

Westside Seattle 

Goes all the way back to then? 

Matt

Yeah, and if you remember a lot of the old timers might recall right at the front door it was just a trough, it was like a bird feeder. Really for all the vinyl heads and everything was, you know, under $5 for the most part.

People were giving away their records to get CD’s. Exactly, and so that was around the time when I started the CD Club, which is still, you know, what? 34 years strong? The card I think looks the same as it ever has and you know bring your records in trade them for CD’s. Get your stamps. Get half stamps for used and that’s how I was able to gain enough revenue to get into the CD game and actually purchase new CDs, you know. They were costing me 10 bucks a pop, you know?  

And I didn’t have the market share or the relationships yet to get any kind of discounts so. But before I knew it, I had a basement full of vinyl and you know, I had maybe 3 bins upstairs of vinyl and the main people that were purchasing were you know, the the vinyl heads that have always been around but also a lot of the. Young DJ’s and hip hop kids and so we kind of became a a crate digging palace for a lot of them and then if in you could get in by appointment, you could go down in the basement. It was a free for all and it was just records stacked everywhere, nothing was in order. 

And the basement is still there. It’s not my office, but it’s where all of it went.

Westside Seattle

When people go to a look for a used record are there specific genres that are more aggressive that drive your business more? In other words, I’m looking for a Run DMC record, right? Is hip hop, the genre? Country music?  Is it opera? is it classic country? Are there genres that are more commercial drivers for you? Is it everything? 

Matt

We’re we’re not ones to just donate records away or certainly not toss them in the landfills you know. A Sinatra record is there, that’s the chairman of the. Board, I mean come on. That’s not a dollar record.

Westside Seattle 

What about an old Slim Pickens record? Can it be easy for you to find it? 

Matt 

You might, you might find it in the in the $5 or the three for $10 bin. We do have that. I mean we do have cheap records everywhere and after a after a while we got to turn them on. That’s when we donate everything to lifelong.org and they have a thrift shop here on Broadway. 

Westside Seattle

What about rare records records that are there were very few were made of very few were sold, but now they’ve gained popularity and everybody wants it. What do you do with those? 

Matt

They go in the glass case  We have a Miles Davis Bitches Brew in there currently you know, first pressing of that. We have Nirvana  Nevermind first pressing but you know we’ll throw a Dolly Parton record in there too. 

We’re not ones that put it on online first and foremost, and only if it’s something that is more regional elsewhere will we do that.

I’m in the Easy Street business. I’m not as much in the record business necessarily. I believe that. You know, we just we need to be a destination, you know. And if I’m just going to be throwing everything online, well, then it becomes not as fun for me and remember the audience, right? Its not as fun for the staff.

Westside Seattle

The obvious question, how does a record store that sells the physical medium survive in a world where everybody’s streaming things to their phone. It’s the instant gratification. It’s the two opposing worlds. How do you survive? 

Matt

Well, there’s two ways to survive. Either you can be a destination, or you can be a warehouse. And your record store can turn into a mail order online marketplace place. And they’re out there. They’re out there, they’re out there in this city, you know, you might go into stores and wonder how they afford the rent. Well, they got three people on back churning out packages and their best customer is the UPS man. 

Westside Seattle

Is there a mystique around Easy Street?  Have you consciously built up its aura? Why do rock stars want to perform there?  What makes it a destination? 

Matt  

In Easy Street’s case it’s West Seattle and it’s that location. You know that it’s pretty poetic to have and there’s a sense of duty having a corner location, especially in a building like that, on a crossroads like that and the Walk All Ways. 

You know I was inspired by folks like David Bowie or Johnny Cash, Prince and Curtis Mayfield. You know, people that could innovate throughout their career and in a way, I feel as though I have to do that as a small businessman and I had heard Andy Warhol once say, “The greatest form of artistry can can be owning your own business,” and when he opened up his Factory, you know and I actually had to be a businessman I was like man, now I really got to get crazy. 

Westside Seattle

Have you reinvented yourself over time and was it easy for you to reinvent the store?

Matt

Well, we’ve gone from being a vinyl store, to a cassette and CD store to. well, back to a vinyl store, a cafe, a bar and a performance place. 

My first job was working at Montlake Rec. Center, so I mean I I have this, that’s still part of me of being the you know boys and Girls Club of of West Seattle and we hope to be the identity of West Seattle or the hopes of what the identity of West Seattle is and why we are still here after all these years.

34 years on that corner. It has a lot to do with so many families living here. Yes, young people growing up through Easy Street. Then they have families. It’s a safe place for kids to come. There’s not a lot of safe places out on the street, you know. 

Westside Seattle

Not all of them are places that appeal to a huge range of ages. And the music industry does. Kids don’t want to go into a gift shop for women, they don’t wanna shop for ladies clothes, that’s not their thing but music is. 

Matt

I need to talk to my daughter. She’s only 8 and that’s where she wants to go.

Westside Seattle

Everybody can come in Easy Street and find something they like. 

Matt  

Yeah, and that’s why we carry all genres and you know to your point of what genre people are looking for or what constitutes a rare record, I mean jazz, for one is always going to sound better, but I don’t listen to jazz streaming. I can’t, it’s just not the same. Those are becoming harder and harder to find. You know original Blue Note or even Verve. CTI label there. American Music. You know our art form as Americans. Is is comprised of. Jazz, music, Blues, country and western. Grunge, you know? And it’s my responsibility I feel, and I’ve always felt this way. It’s my responsibility to always be kind to those American art forms and those genres, absolutely. Even if they’re not selling during a period of time, because they will come back. There’s a lot of chatter online then elsewhere about how music has either not evolved or has evolved.It seems to be they say, eating its own tail when you’re doing the resampling. These kinds of things I’ve heard other people say that. That’s just another kind of instrument where you take a beat from one record and plug it into your new one.

Westside Seattle

But what’s your take on what’s happening to the state of music? 

Matt

Well, have you ever tried to sample or use a drum machine? … I mean, it’s hard to do, it’s very creative and you could say that you know even having a guitar is cheating. I mean we all strum it. You know, for the most part, the same way. You need an instrument to create your music. Every year I find new bands and and new artists that I fall in love with and that that hasn’t waned at all. So anyone that would say that… The glory days are behind us when it comes to music that then they’re Too old? They’re not listening to Phoebe Bridgers. They’re they’re not listening to Steve Lacy. Today you know the new R&B and soul that’s out there is on par with anything we’ve ever seen, and I think if you if you blink, you might miss it because It’s all happening right now and you have predominantly. female driven, you know, with artists like SZA and Jazmine Sullivan and Jorja Smith and.  

I think you’re going to see some really aggressive heavy punk rock coming up. From what I’ve been hearing, some really great bands. There’s a band Turnstile, they’ve been around for a couple of years. My favorite band in the last few years. 

Yeah, there’s a band called Show Me The Body that I love. No, I disagree with that completely. Yeah I mean yes, classic rock is over. Yes, that’s true and and that its become that has essentially become the new jazz. 

Westside Seattle

Well, it’s still selling. 

Matt

I’m sure. So is Miles Davis and so is John John Coltrane. 

People are coming in and buying new copies of Sketches of SpainKind of Blue, Love Supreme. Those are consistently going to be in my top 100. And they’re still selling every year. They still sell. Yeah, as does Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and The Doors LA Woman. I mean it’s yes but by the same token though, Mazzy Star sells gold. Mazzy Star sells really well. Interpol, Arcade Fire now. These are somewhat recent catalog releases, but they’re considered modern,

These are catalog records that are going to be in the Pantheon as well and will always be top 500 sellers for us. 

Westside Seattle

What about bands like Porcupine Tree and progressive rock of that kind?

Matt 

Man, when you’re a fan of that, it’s hard to ever get out of it, absolutely.

Westside Seattle 

Is there anybody that you’re still starstruck by? 

Matt

I’ve been starstruck, yeah. 

Westside Seattle

By who? 

Matt  

David Bowie. Erykah Badu…

I had gone over to Vedder’s house one time and we were listening to the new Springsteen record a couple years back and he didn’t tell me he was going to have any friends over and walk in and there he was playing Pickle Ball with John McEnroe. I love Johnny Mac, but that was more just kind of surprised how once the starstruck then turned into a really fun night. 

matt and eddie
Matt and Eddie Vedder at West 5. 

 

pearl jam flags
Pearl Jam flags hanging at Easy Street Records. Photo by Patrick Robinson

 

Eddie wearing Easy Street hat
Eddie Vedder wearing an Easy Street hat before a concert performance.

 

Westside Seattle

You’re very close friends with Eddie Vedder. And he wore an Easy Street shirt during World Series, so he likes to honor and promote you too. 

Matt 

Well, yeah it goes both ways. You know I’d walk through hell with a bucket of gasoline for any member of Pearl Jam, or for that matter, Soundgarden. And then Alice In Chains.

Chris Cornell .. temple of the dog
Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, performing here with Temple of the Dog. Photo by Kimberly Robinson

 

Westside Seattle

How’d you get to be close friends with those guys? What what do they mean to you? 

Matt  

I I’ve always lived in Seattle is part of it. Yeah, don’t have too many enemies. There’s there’s a bit of trust that goes back and forth. I supported them from the beginning, in some cases before they were signed. Back when they were consigning records you know, Head and the Heart and Macklemore are s great examples of bands that you know needed a needed a bit of a handout or even advice and so you help them. 

Matt and Macklemore
Matt and Macklemore.

 

Matt 

A lot of record stores these days tend to be a little bit more “used centric”. You know that’s where your profit margin is going to be and we most definitely are. 

Still that you know that’s where we got our start. But I love breaking bands in Seattle out of Seattle. It’s good for our economy and it’s good for our youth and gives our young people and even our trained musicians some hope to believe that they too can make it, or at least feel welcomed. 

And part of the scene and in West Seattle alone I’m going to guess you have probably. 2000 to 3000 quality musicians with a good amount of them making a living at it. On top of that, you have another thousand or so in the music business.

They may have retired, but have made a living from it. There’s nowhere else in King County or maybe even in the northwest that could ever see that? 

Westside Seattle

What about Brandi Carlile? She used to appear at Saltys on Alk in the 90’s  

Matt

First met her when I first opened the cafe and there would be this young girl, probably a teenager then yeah, just probably writing lyrics, drinking a cup of coffee, maybe a slice of bacon and that was it and didn’t know anybody but we knew each other just from her coming in.. She knew a few other folks too, but that was at the back when you could just sit in a cafe and have a cup of coffee and that was it and stay there for a couple of hours.Then when I had my Queen Anne store I had heard of this girl that was playing up the street at the Paragon and was doing a residency up there and we’d have customer customers coming down. asking  do you have Brandi Carlile’s music? Then we heard that enough times that we heard that she had gotten a demo deal from a small company called Red Ink. We were, you know, supposed to bring her to the shop and give her her first “in store.” 

And then then we met up we put a a date together on when she would do her performance. 

I believe it was a street date of her EP, just small just a handful of songs. That was the first thing that anyone could could buy from her. You know, as far as hard goods go. 

We’ve had six in-stores since. Amazing? Yeah.. Her and Tim and Phil  have become very good friends and I can’t say I’m surprised with her success when she just played on Saturday Night Live. I’ve always believed in her and this is where she needs to be. You know she needs to be a superstar. What she’s done for young women especially, you know. Those in the gay and queer community. I mean, she’s made it normal, you know.

Westside Seattle

Well, she’s a genius. I mean that helps. 

Matt 

Yeah, well yeah. And and the twins have been with her along for the ride. 

Brandi and her poster
Brandi Carlile at Easy Street Records with her poster. 

 

Brandi and the Twins
Brandi Cariile and her bandmates and collaborators Phil and Tim Hanseroth at Easy Street
A poster
A poster advertising her first in-store performance at Easy Street.

 

Westside Seattle

Yeah, incredible talents, but we were told she bought you a van. 

Matt 

Well, it was her old touring van. It was the the van that they did their first three tours in and there was 180,000 miles on it. If you remember at the very start of the pandemic. I was delivering music. I was in the old Easy Street van parked right there and it’s not moving. 

Hasn’t moved for six months and I had to we we had to eliminate doing the deliveries because I lost the muffler and it got broken into and it was down to you know a 3 cylinder and we were having issues with it. I had to suspend all services and and I had done some deliveries out to Maple Valley for Brandi.

Westside Seattle

You’re taking records to her?

Matt 

I did that for Eddie and McCready and a handful of people I was all over town. I did almost 1000 deliveries.

They call you, they call you up and say, hey, I need this record. 

Well, you could do it. It was online. It was an online service and I could do up to about. 30 a day. And I did that for about five months, until finally I just couldn’t couldn’t do it anymore. With the van being in the sorry state that it was, I get a call from Tim Hazeroth and he says, ‘Hey, can you do one more delivery for us? They all live on the same block in the same neighborhood in Maple Valley. 

“And can you just put it all in one box and we’ll we’ll sift through it. And can you, just, you know, maybe drive your your family car and we heard that you suspended all services.” OK so  ask. ‘Could bring my son with me? 

We go out, get out there and they’re out there. With chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked, and there’s a van off in the corner with all his doors open, a white van and they got some Merle Haggard or something playing in the in the stereo and they said, ‘What do you think of the van?’ and I’m just kind of rolling my eyes and I go ‘Don’t rub it in. I got I don’t have the money for a van right now.’

And they walk me towards it. Put me inside it, hand me the keys. Start it up. And then said, ‘You know years ago they used to let you in King County buy a van for a dollar. Remember that? Used to be able to buy a used vehicle for a dollar.’

They said, ‘well, they’ve changed the rules on it. It’s now 10. Dollars. that’s it I drove it away. 

Westside Seattle

But it recently got stolen

Matt 

It did recently get stolen and then found just three blocks away from where I was born over by Providence Hospital. 

Westside Seattle

Did Brandi hear about this? 

Matt

Yeah, they posted about it and with her posts and a handful of others. Including yourself, eventually it got found. 

Westside Seattle

So what’s the most memorable In- store performance you’ve had?

Matt 

Yeah, I get asked that question a lot and. But you know, we came off just just a couple of weeks ago. Having one of the most memorable with the Head and the Heart. Reign Wolf is one that comes to mind. 

Brandi Carlisle, of course. Now in that in that case, what was special about the last time she performed was it was for the record. “By the way, I forgive you  and the only way to get in was to purchase the record and we capped it. It, you know, a few 100 people was all we could get in. We eventually opened the garage door so the whole block could take it in, but that one was extra special because she was.

She played the record in its entirety. No one had heard it. It was brand new and it was drew people to tears. I mean, it was clear that this was a groundbreaking record for her and was going to put her on a whole other level, which it did. 

Yeah, so she went from being, you know, a Northwest darling having a nice career to and going from one label to another. You know bouncing around to where she is today. And it starts with that day it starts with that release date. 

I’m so proud of her and so, so proud of what they’ve accomplished. 

And when I say I’m an observer or bit of a surveyor, I get more out of the success that others are having or even. The joy that someone gets from a record that I may not see again. You know a rare record. There’s so many record stores. Guys like myself that have these amazing record collections and at times I have. But I prefer when it’s a commodity. It’s your duty and your responsibility to let the fish out, you know. 

Westside Seattle

Well, that that being said, do you have any records that you’ll never sell of yours? 

Matt  

I have a Velvet Underground and Nicos first pressing that’s signed by Lou Reed and. You know, I got to spend the day with Lou and so it brings back a lot of memories. 

He performed at the old Queen Anne store.

Westside Seattle

Tell us about the experience of Black Lives Matter the day that it it had the demonstration in West Seattle. It was remarkable for a number of reasons it was peaceful. It was deeply emotional.

Matt

Yeah, that is one of the most special moments that’s ever occurred outside and inside our doors for sure. I was inspired by some postings that I was seeing online with some some kids just talking that we’re looking to march and protest would have recently happened with the tragedy of George Floyd and all that was happening around that time and Breonna Taylor of course too, and one thing that I saw was it will and it said to. We’re hoping to end the March in front of Easy Street in the middle. Of the junction I was like. Wait a second now. You know, we all believe in peaceful protests, but we’ve seen over the years and we saw it here. 

Westside Seattle

On Capitol Hill with the CHOP.

Matt

And all through downtown, yes, and so there was a reason for pause. I the more I stayed on task with what they were talking about and and following their their feed. I was able to get in touch with the parent that was of one of the kids. And I said, ‘hey, let’s meet up”. And so we, the parent, and I met up at the shop and discussed. How we can make this peaceful? Ensure that it’s peaceful. We know what their intent is, but this can can go another way and we’ve seen it go another way.

We only had 48 hours. He was on board with me to ensure that it was going to be safe. How we were going to do that?  I said, well, let me call Dow. Let them know what’s about ready to happen, yeah? 

Westside Seattle

Dow Constantine, King County Executive. 

Matt 

And Dow met up with me the next morning. And I say, ‘hey, we need we need security, but we don’t need force. He’s like I’m all on board.’ I said we’re we’re going to need, he said. ‘We’re going to need staging. We’re going to need some guest speakers,’ and he implored me to run with it. You know he certainly has other things at hand, but he was very much in in touch with me about it all and I said well. I’d like to have Donald Watts and Ayron Jones and they’re both on board, and we have a girl named Erica who’s never spoken in front of a large group. But she is from the boarding school and she’s going to be reading a poem, and there was a handful of others as well. But you know, those were our headliners. He was certainly on board with all of that, and to our surprise there was you know what 5000 people or so that came through the junction that day and was arguably the most peaceful march and protest that King County saw throughout that entire time. 

Black Lives matter demonstration
The Black Lives Matter demonstration in June of 2020. Photo by Patrick Robinson

 

Westside Seattle

But not just that time, but I can’t think of another sizable demonstration that was as peaceful as well organized as emotionally driven as that one so. 

Matt

And we had Derek Moon deejaying, and turned into a little bit of a party afterwards, and you know you got to have your music. 

Westside Seattle

Music’s always had some sort of a political bent from Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and the protest protest songs of the 60s up through Tax Man with The Beatles and many others, of course. So where do you think that’s headed? Is is hip hop doing that for us?

Matt 

Most definitely, hip-hop and punk rock and alternative music. You know you’re seeing it even with jazz having a bit of a revival. Not surprised that we’ve been so taken by so many female artists over the last few years. And I think it’s because we are in this emotive state of being as people, and I don’t know if it’s maternal or big sister or whatever it might be, but it’s overall, it’s honesty. It’s authenticity. We’re seeing some beautiful music by so many.

I won’t be surprised again if our top five sellers have at least three or four women in the band or leading the band, or solo artists themselves. That’s what happened last year.

Westside Seattle

So how does that tie into people’s belief systems and ways of thinking about the world? Is it that we we’re drawn to a more feminine sound because we want more empathy, what is it? What’s driving it? 

Matt

Well, some of the angriest people artists tend to be the older ones. I don’t know if you’ve listened to Neil Young lately, but I mean they they have a lot to say and some of that, I think, is possibly that they see themselves as mentors or looking to bridge a gap between the two generations… Propel some of the young artists. And like I said, I think you’re going to see some phenomenal punk rock come out of this. You know you look back on 1976 in London. You know, with the Sex Pistols and the Clash and the Damned and all that. And you know, great music, coming out of that and the strife that was happening. 

Here, in London at the time, or even in Seattle at the same time, then the whole New York CBGB scene with the Ramones and Talking Heads and Blondie and Johnny Thunders and the rest of it. You know we’re coming through a period that is one of serious concern. One that has got us all looking inside. We need confidence as a people and then women’s voices can lead us that way. I feel that that’s what’s happening. Yeah, Mother Teresa is leading the band. 




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RICHIE FAULKNER’s ELEGANT WEAPONS Project Will ‘Surprise’ People, Says RONNIE ROMERO

In a new interview with Pete Pardo of Sea Of Tranquility, singer Ronnie Romero (RAINBOW, MSG) spoke about ELEGANT WEAPONS, his new project featuring guitarist Richie Faulkner (JUDAS PRIEST). Ronnie said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “That’s something Richie [brought] to the table a couple of years ago. He call[ed] me and said, ‘Listen…’ If I remember correctly, he had the album recorded already, but he told me [at the time], ‘We feel that doesn’t work with the singer we have. So we’re gonna try with another singer.’ So I recorded a song, and then they loved it. And we ended up working together. And the plans are we’re gonna release the album in, I think it’s gonna be May, it’s gonna be released by Nuclear Blast. And then we’re gonna make some summer festivals around Europe. Then probably we’ll go properly on tour, if everybody’s okay. And probably we’re gonna record a second album, and then we will see.”

Romero went on to say that ELEGANT WEAPONS is “a very solid project,” adding that “it’s not something we will do once, and that’s it. And also we’re not doing it because of a contract that we need to fulfill. It’s because we really want to do it together,” he explained. “Richie is a cool guy; we are friends. And the rest of the guys also. Andy Sneap, [who did] the production, is a cool guy also. And we really want to see what happens with the band because we think people are gonna be very surprised about what they’re gonna listen on the music side. It’s not the typical thing Richie and I were doing for the last few years. It’s a different thing. And I think the people are gonna like it. So we will see what happens. And we’re gonna build the house from that point.”

ELEGANT WEAPONS, which is rounded out by Dave Rimmer (URIAH HEEP) on bass and Christopher Williams (ACCEPT) on drums, has announced the following 2023 European festival appearances so far:

June 16 – Clisson, France @ Hellfest
Jun. 23-25 – Cartagena, Spain @ Rock Imperium
July 02 – Bologna, Italy @ The Return Of The Gods
July 28-30 – Ebbw Vale, U.K. @ Steelhouse Festival

ELEGANT WEAPONS‘ debut album, “Horns For A Halo”, was recorded with bassist Rex Brown (PANTERA, DOWN) and drummer Scott Travis (JUDAS PRIEST) and was helmed by acclaimed British producer Andy Sneap, who has previously worked with JUDAS PRIEST, ACCEPT, EXODUS and MEGADETH, among many others.

Regarding the ELEGANT WEAPONS band name, Faulkner said: “In almost any endeavor, the craftsman needs the right tools for the job. For a musician, those tools are things like their instruments, their voices and the emotions that the right combination of all those can bring to the surface. You can also consider it a reference to the instruments we play, because they’re almost antiquities now. So yes, it references our instruments and also this kind of music, where we’re carrying on the tradition of the greats like SABBATH and DIO but also bands the guys are connected to, like RAINBOW, PANTERA and PRIEST.”

Richie and Rex have been friends for years, so when Richie was recording “Horns For A Halo” during the pandemic, he called on his friend to record the bass for the album.

“Well, Rex brings a sound, first of all, that is like no other bass sound,” explained Richie. “The way he plays bass is instantly recognizable. But I got involved with Rex, you know, as with a lot of things that we do, as humans, really — we got involved as friends first. But Rex has got a great way of hearing the way the bass parts and the drums interact together. I mean, Rex‘s parts just breathe grit and life and dynamic into the songs. So it’s a pleasure to have him on the record and it’s a pleasure, obviously, to know him and have him as a friend — he’s a legend.”

As for Travis‘s involvement with the LP, Faulkner said: “I always wanted to make a record with Scott playing on it outside of PRIEST. His technique and style are legendary but also his groove.”

When it comes to the live show, there was no other bass player even considered other than Rimmer. Davey and Richie go back over 20 years and they played the bars and pubs of London and England together, night in, night out for many years. Their musical relationship is almost telepathic in the way they communicate, from that early hard graft together on the circuit.

Davey is an untouchable player,” Richie said. “In sound, style and presence. A killer writer too, contributing great songs with URIAH HEEP. A great friend and a great musician.”

When it came to choosing the drummer for the touring band, it was a no-brainer for Richie to enlist fellow Nashville resident and good friend Williams. Christopher had played and recorded the initial demos for the “Horns For A Halo” album, and was the obvious choice for the drum position. A phenomenal player, a great personality and a consummate professional.

And finally there’s the new hotshot on the scene, Romero, Chilean-born, now living in Eastern Europe.

Ronnie‘s got that heritage,” says Richie, “and he nailed his parts in a week, which was a testament, really, to how good the guy is and how perfect he was for it. And he’s just such a lovely guy, and, I think, one of a dying breed. There’s not many people like him. There’s good singers, like [Rob] Halford and [Ronnie James] Dio, but there’s not many of them. He’s really something special. When he sings with RAINBOW, he sounds obviously like Dio, but when he sings this stuff, there’s something in there that comes out of him — he’s his own monster, with his own trademark quality, which is an important thing to have.”

Producing is PRIEST‘s touring guitarist of the past five years Sneap, who has been respectful of Richie‘s vision concerning a certain classic sound he wanted across the expanse of the record’s 11 songs (ten originals plus a cover of UFO‘s “Lights Out”),and that is a signature Flying V through a Marshall Plexi amp.

“With the Marshall Plexi I’ve kind of gone back to the ‘70s, really,” figured Faulkner. “And, you know, it’s just one channel. And I’ve been using a prototype Flying V by Gibson, a blue Flying V with signature pickups, which I had been using on the PRIEST tour. I used it on the whole record, every track. So it’s pretty straightforward technology-wise — the Flying V through a Marshall on 11.”

As for the music, Richie described it as “a mix of Jimi Hendrix, PRIEST, SABBATH, solo Ozzy and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, but with a lot of melody, sort of old school and modern at once if that makes any sense, and actually down-tuned a whole step. The Marshall Plexi basically does one thing, but you’ve got to crank it to 11 for it to have that distorted sound. It hasn’t got a lot of bells and whistles on it or different channels and effects. It basically does one thing and does it very well. But again down-tuning creates more of a modern sound, and by using the classic sound of the Marshall Plexi, you get that juxtaposition, that contrast. All told, there are a lot of guitar solos and the songs are on the heavier side. And even though there’s a lot of melody, it’s still going to shake your bones.”

Specific to the songs, Richie explained that, “Me and acoustic don’t really get along, so there’s only one mellow song on it, a sort of smoky, haunted, New Orleans kind of tune called ‘Ghost Of You’, with de-tuned 1920s piano on it. That one is about a memory, or ghost of a lost love. But that’s about as acoustic as it gets. I’m not really attracted to acoustic guitar in general. It’s mainly kind of heavy and full-on, really. There’s a song called ‘White Horse’, plus ‘Horns For A Halo’, which is like Tony Iommi crossed with ALICE IN CHAINS. That’s about the way we justify the bad things we do. When we turn up on Judgement Day, will the angels kind of confuse our horns for halos, if you know what I mean. Then there’s ‘Rose Girl’, which has a bit of a psychedelic ’60s hippie vibe. It’s about the rose girl who sells roses to the patrons at a strip club, and reflecting on what her life is all about.”

Besides having these stories told, another mandate of the band is for Richie to propose more fully than he can across a PRIEST record, his own voice or style as it pertains to the guitar.

“Yes, everything that you do, without sounding pretentious, is trying to find your own voice and extension of your voice,” he said. “I’ve been in cover bands all my life. Then you find yourself replacing K.K. Downing and it’s, like, ‘Now what am I gonna say?’ I can’t sound like K.K. Downing. I can’t sound like Eddie Van Halen. I can’t sound like Zakk Wylde. So it’s refining and honing what your voice is, constantly fine-tuning what that voice is. And hopefully when people listen to it, they’ll think, ‘Oh, that’s Richie.’ In every song and every solo hopefully there’s that sound, that narrative, that voice, and hopefully it stands the test of time.”

But really, the over-arching mandate with ELEGANT WEAPONS is to perpetuate the rich legacy of the traditional proto-power metal invented by the heavy metal titans of the ’70s and ’80s, most pertinently JUDAS PRIEST.

“All four of us have got that original DNA in us, as does the new breed of traditional heavy metal fans,” Richie said. “And so maybe a band like ELEGANT WEAPONS, hopefully we’ve got the credibility to make those original bands proud, because we were accepted by the members of those bands and by their fans. That’s really the idea behind ELEGANT WEAPONS — to keep flying the flag for this style of timeless heavy metal.”




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MICHAEL SWEET ‘Would Certainly Pray’ About Hypothetical KING DIAMOND Collaboration

During a January 24 appearance on SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”, STRYPER‘s Michael Sweet talked about meeting MERCYFUL FATE singer King Diamond — whose real name is Kim Bendix Petersen — for the first time when the two bands performed at Mexico’s Hell & Heaven Metal Fest on December 4, 2022. Regarding how the encounter came about, Sweet said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “When we got to that festival in Mexico, I walked into our dressing room, and right next to ours it said ‘MERCYFUL FATE‘. And I said to myself, ‘Okay, there’s no way I’m gonna leave this festival without meeting Kim.’ And I spoke to someone, and they spoke someone and arranged us meeting. I went out in the hallway, and there he was. And he said, ‘Michael, nice to meet you.’ I said, ‘Oh, it’s so nice to meet you. What’s going on?’ And he was all smiles and very gracious. And we talked about the weather where he lives and the weather where I live, and just regular stuff. And it was really incredible. Because you have this idea of what it’s going to be — good versus evil; and is there gonna be a war? Is there gonna be this? And it’s the exact opposite. And that’s really the way life is nine out of 10 times.”

When host Eddie Trunk asked if there was any discussion about their differing religious beliefs, Michael said: “No. [It was just] two dudes talking. And we enjoyed each other’s conversation. And if we were out at a restaurant, we would have hung out and had some wine and broke bread together and talked more.

“It’s just interesting because some people from both camps freaked out,” Michael admitted. “Most people were positive, but some people from my camp are, like, ‘Did you get to talk to him about the Lord?’ I’m, like, ‘Really? You’re kidding me, right?’ So I’m gonna go up to Kim and immediately say, ‘Let’s talk about the Lord.'”

As for whether there was any talk about him and King doing a duet, Sweet said: “That’s something I would have talked to him about. I did not, and maybe that will happen someday; that would be amazing. But we just talked about regular stuff. And it was brief; it wasn’t a long conversation — maybe five minutes, six minutes. And his wife wrote on my Facebook page about how she wanted to meet me and meet the band and how great it was that Kim and I met. It was just really cool, man. It was amazing.”

Pressed about whether he would be open to doing a song together with King, Michael said: “Sure. Of course. Let me put it this way: before I do anything, I think about it, and not to sound silly, but I do pray about it. I pray about everything that I do, like, ‘Should I do this?’ And some people might think, ‘That’s weird,’ but it’s just how I live my life. And I would certainly pray about that, as I did do in SWEET & LYNCH,” referencing his ongoing project with legendary guitarist George Lynch, who describes himself as a “freethinking atheist”.

Sweet previously reflected on his meeting with King during an interview last month with Waste Some Time With Jason Green. At the time, he said: “I just met Kim, King Diamond [of] MERCYFUL FATE. In all these years, I’ve had this perception of Kim, and then I met Kim, and he was so polite — one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. [He was] very cordial and friendly, and took a picture and shook my hand and looked into my eyes and engaged in conversation. And you could tell he was interested in talking. And I just was blown away. And all those perceptions were annihilated because I felt like, ‘Okay, here’s this guy that probably won’t like us — or like me.’ And we had a great conversation. If we went to dinner and had a dinner, we’d probably have a great dinner. But we’re polar opposites. So I find that very interesting. And at the end of the day, it makes me realize that we’re all the same — we’re all flesh and blood; we all have feelings; we all have emotions; and most of those are the same.”

Michael also spoke about his conversation with King in an interview with Metal Edge. Asked what he and King discussed, Michael said: “The weather, the birds, the bees. It was just a normal conversation. It’s like, wow, he has this persona. We have this persona. You’re Satanic. We’re Christian. But then when you break it down, we’re just people.”

In a 2013 interview with Indie Vision Music, Sweet explained why STRYPER plays with secular bands. He said: “A lot of Christians have given us a ton of heat over the years for doing that. Not understanding… ‘Why do you guys play clubs? Why do you play with secular bands?’ Well, why wouldn’t we? Aren’t we to go into the world… into the dark… and bring the light? I mean, that’s what we’re called to do as Christians. That’s why we do it. We play clubs, we go to places where no Christian bands go. We play with mainstream secular bands so we can play to their fans and we can talk to them. I mean, that’s kind of the whole point in what we do. We’ve been doing that for thirty years and there’s no sign of stopping. We’re planning on continuing to do that, of course. It really works for us. Again, it’s kind of cut us off with a lot of people in the church, because they think we’re not really Christians, or we’re this, or we’re that. It’s like, okay, whatever. Someday we’ll all stand before God and we’ll know who was real and who wasn’t.”

Even though STRYPER‘s third album, 1986’s “To Hell With The Devil”, made Sweet and his bandmates the first contemporary Christian act to score a platinum album, the group has often felt unwelcome in Christian circles, with some members of the church feeling that Christianity and heavy metal are incompatible.

In a 2018 interview with the Detroit Free Press, Michael said that STRYPER was never fully embraced by the heavy metal and hard rock communities, largely because of the band’s Christian lyrics.

Formed 40 years ago, STRYPER‘s name comes from Isaiah 53:5, which states: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

STRYPER‘s albums include “To Hell With The Devil”, “Second Coming”, “No More Hell To Pay”, “Fallen”, “God Damn Evil”, “Even The Devil Believes” and the band’s latest effort, “The Final Battle”.

Heaven and Hell.. it was a pleasure to see Michael Sweet of Stryper yesterday at Hell And Heaven Fest 😈

Posted by MERCYFUL FATE on Monday, December 5, 2022




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