Thursday, September 30, 2010

On The Outside, Looking In - Jay Berndt

Well folks, got another update from Jay Berndt on his tour stories from days not too long ago. Would the mention of Slayer peak your interest? If so, then read on and find out about Tom Araya and his depth of musical knowledge...

You Can’t Judge A Book by Looking at the Cover

Old saying or my favorite Bo Diddley song…. But it’s really true. We humans are quick to judge based on appearances. I honestly think we all have been guilty of it one time or another. I’ve seen it happen so many times with musicians. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion; the more brutal a band seems to appear, the more down to earth and really awesome they are. Judas Priest? Very gracious and kind. Marilyn Manson? Surprisingly normal. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth? Actually a really nice guy. Motorhead? Total gentlemen. Hell, my parents hung out with them back stage at Ozzfest and my mother said “I like that Lemmy. He is a charming man.” And indeed, he is but that’s a story for another time…

But the band that really takes the cake is Slayer. We were scheduled to start a tour with them immediately after we finished Ozzfest in 98’ and a number of bands told us horror stories of opening for them. Mostly that the audiences chanted “SLAYER, SLAYER, SLAYER” and threw things at the opening bands. Or how Slayer had ignored the other bands during the entire tour. Needless to say, I was a bit fearful. I think we were doing 40 or so shows with them, and I just didn’t want any strife. I mean, it’s fucking Slayer! They were pretty much the heaviest, gnarliest music I listened to and I was just looking forward to seeing them play every night never mind anything else. Even though Sharon Osbourne (who is indeed incredibly sweet) kept saying she loves her Slayer boys, I kept hearing these nightmare stories, and it got to me.

So we left right after the last Ozzfest show in Washington DC and drove straight to Seattle, WA for two days straight. I slept maybe three hours that whole trip and drove a huge chunk of that trip. We arrived in Seattle, checked into our hotel, got a couple hours of sleep and went straight to the gig. Well, we played less than stellar that night. Frankly… We sucked. I sulked off to the dressing room and sunk into a chair. A few minutes later, Tom Araya walked in eating an apple with a knife and asked how’s it going? I told him I was down because I thought we played like shit. He said “Well there’s always tomorrow. You guys will turn it around. I really like your band.” and walked out. Well, that certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. The next night, Tom brought us into their dressing room and introduced us to Kerry King as he was lifting weights. He stopped, looked really annoyed, and said “I really like your album. You pussies going to drink with us tonight?” All I could do was laugh. Surprisingly enough, we hung out with Tom, Kerry and Paul (Bostaph) pretty much every single night and really had a lot of fun with those guys.

Sometime in the middle of the tour, I got a song stuck in my head. I didn’t know who it was by and I didn’t know any of the words. But I knew the melody and I kept singing it over and over. I did know it was a kind of AM Gold 70’s song but that’s about it. So I’m humming the tune and our bass player Marty asked “what are you humming?” and I told him I didn’t know. “Well sing it”, but I told him I didn’t know the words. So I did my best of singing a few bars and Marty said it didn’t sound familiar. So this went on for about a week with everyone in my band, and everyone in Slayer’s road crew. Nobody knew the song. So we’re all at this family style seafood restaurant somewhere in Florida having dinner. And of course many of the patrons of the restaurant are just horrified by our presence. We’re just eating, drinking and having a great time. I’m humming the song again and our guitar player Mikey says "why don’t you ask Tom?" And Tom says “Ask me what?” "I tell him I have a song stuck in my head and I have no idea what it is." He says “Well sing it”. So I start singing it, Tom suddenly gets really excited and his eyes go wide. He yells “SISTER GOLDEN HAIR!!” And I said “Huh, well who is it by?” He looked at me in disbelief and screams… “AMERICA!!” I said “You mean like 'A Horse with No Name' by America?” Tom screams “YES!!” Meanwhile the entire restaurant has stopped what they’re doing and looking at us. Tom Araya, singer of songs about serial killers, Nazis, and Satanism… Jumps up on the restaurant table, starts playing air guitar, and singing “Sister Golden Hair” by America at full volume. And singing it beautifully, I may add.

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