The Unassuming Metalhead – November 2015 (“Middle School Friends”)

the unassuming metalhead

I think we can probably all agree that middle school is a weird time. You’re pretty much at peak awkwardness during this window: hitting puberty, discovering the opposite sex, first realizing how confusing members of said opposite sex can be, etc. In my case, I was also discovering heavy metal music, which only added to the awkwardness factor. That’s not to say I consider metal or its fans to be inherently awkward, but at my particular middle school…let’s just say it didn’t sit well for someone scrounging for any spare popularity point he could get among his peers…  Continue reading

The Unassuming Metalhead – September 2015 (“Dad”)

the unassuming metalhead

Metal was always going to be a tough sell for my dad. The guy listens primarily to orchestral music, and has for as long as I’ve known him. To be fair, his occasional departures from that realm are pretty out of left field — you’ll also find Blondie, Eurythmics and Enya in his CD collection, for example — but not quite so far out as to constitute metal. Hell, this is a guy who got legitimately upset when I told him I listened to a pop-punk band called Diarrhea Planet; how d’you think names like Cattle Decapitation or Dying Fetus are going to go down?  Continue reading

The Unassuming Metalhead: Stories from a Guy You Can’t Believe Listens to Heavy Stuff

the unassuming metalhead

“Wait…YOU? Like metal?”

That’s usually how it goes. I’ll reveal to someone—a friend, a colleague, a date, you name it—that I’m into heavy music, and they’ll do this gaping, wide-eyed expression with their head tilted to one side. As if metal fandom is some kind of odd disease or syndrome that’s somehow managed not to deteriorate my physical and mental well-being.

Me: “I do. Problem?”

Them: “You just don’t look like someone who’d listen to metal, that’s all!”

There it is—that ever-so-slightly judgmental undertone with which metal fans are so often pigeonholed as “others.” And chances are, you know the stereotype: we’re all long-haired, hard drinking heshers with black band t-shirts and lots of tattoos; we associate only with other metal fans, and wouldn’t dream of listening to anything but heavy music; we headbang to everything.

Except no, that’s not it at all, actually. Sure, there are plenty of folks that fit that description, but there are also plenty that do not. Like me. I keep my hair short, rock Adidas Sambas more often than combat boots, and have even had the audacity to hit up the Governors Ball Music Festival each of the last three years, each time, just two weeks after getting my ‘bang on at Maryland Deathfest. I don’t fit the mainstream’s preconceived notions of a metalhead. Hell, most people don’t.

I could get into the range of different people I’ve met at shows over the years, but I’d be here all day—and at any rate, that isn’t the point. I’m not trying to lament the mischaracterization of metalheads among the masses, because frankly…I don’t care what the masses think of my listening habits, and nor should you. What I am trying to do, however, is to share some of the interactions I’ve had with them around metal. Because they’re often quite hilarious.

So that’s what The Unassuming Metalhead will be all about. I’ve got no shortage of stories from times when I’ve revealed my metallic tendencies to others, so why not use them to entertain the masses? And for this first edition, I’d like to describe the time my grandfather caught me listening to AC/DC…    Continue reading