An Irresistible Charm

Y’KNOW, BACK in the days when Kerrang dared let me write for ‘em, I took great pride in the fact that, in an interview situation, I could win a band or band member over within moments of our encounter. Yet, there were two customers who were impervious to my disarming charm; they would be, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P.

The name’s Zell, Brain Zell

Although, actually, my first meeting with Mustaine was quite…cerebral. I was hangin’ out with a band called Flotsam and Jetsam, who were, at this particular time, on tour with Megadeth. In the hotel bar, I was sitting on the same couch as Dave, when he leaned across the person between to ask me what my name was. “Ray,” I replied. “Brain?” exclaimed Dave in astonishment. “Raaaay,” I exaggerated, like a moron. “Your name…is Brain!?” he insisted again, with a quizzical expression. I actually left it at that, realising this coulda gone on all night! Still, I did consider changing my name to ‘Brain Zell’…!. Plus, considering this incident was a million years ago in the late ’80s, to this day, Ginger Wildheart will still say to me, with mock puzzlement, “Your name…is Brain?!”.

My next meeting with Dave, was years later in his hotel room, in a Kerrang! capacity. Any gag or quirky aside I fired at the guy, was met with a deadpan expression. My best material bounced off him like bullets off Superman! For the first time in my ‘Kerrang! career’, I had to bite my lip, play it straight, and get it the hell over with…!

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Legless Children

The Blackie Lawless episode took place back in a time when the frontman was still a major Kerrang cover star. I was ushered into his hotel room, to find him sprawled on his bed, watching TV, wearing only a, erm, ’snug fitting’ pair of white shorts. I mean, Blackie is a giant of a man, and, seeing his endless frame lying down, I kinda felt Lilliputian in comparison! And, like Mustaine, the ol’ killer Zell sense o’ humour didn’t phase him. In fact, he kept shushing me, because unfolding global events on CNN appeared to take priority over my stupid questions about Heavy Metal.

The oddest thing I recall, though, was, how Blackie never got up to politely greet me when I arrived or get up to shake my hand or anything when I left. In fact, I don’t think I saw his legs twitch or move the whole time I was in that room. I started to wonder, if, maybe, because of his mass and particular centre of gravity… that he couldn’t get up unaided and this whole scenario was a scam! I pictured his road crew coming in before and after I left with some kind of hydraulic winch-device, that hauls him up or lowers him down. And, I surmised, normally, he must need to wear some kind of motorised exoskeleton under his jeans to sustain and propel him.

So, yeah, saw right through the whole Blackie con. Takes a lot to fool me. As Dave Mustaine will attest, my name…is Brain.

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