Diary of a Metal Fan: The Early Years

Written by Matt Drummond

When I’m writing these installments, I’m doing it in hopes that you, the readers, relate to my story. For you youngsters, I hope reading this will give you an insight into the metal journey us old schoolers took. I write about metal because I love it and I want to express how metal has shaped me into the person I am today. We all have a story and this will describe the early years of mine.

It wasn’t really until Junior High School that I started to inject heavy metal into my life. I grew up in a pretty nice suburb of Chicago called Arlington Heights. Directly behind me lived Nathan Maves, and next door to him lived Wayne and Brad Novak. In the late 80’s, early 90’s, the four of us were inseparable. We rode around on our skateboards terrorizing the neighborhood. We were constantly on the lookout for open garages and upon finding one we would investigate for refrigerators or cases of beer to “borrow.” I distinctly remember hearing ‘I’m the Man’ by Anthrax one day while skateboarding in the Novak’s driveway. This wasn’t the song that blew my mind, but it was the song that planted the seed. After hearing it I asked my Mom to take me to the record store so I could use my lawn mowing money to start my metal collection, and that’s precisely what I did.

I remember the excitement and fear as I picked up the cassette (yes, cassette) of ‘Armed and Dangerous’ by Anthrax. Step one was complete, now I just needed to pay for it without any inquiries from my Mom. Luckily, it all went smoothly and I couldn’t have been more excited. With my first metal album in hand I had no clue what madness was to follow.

When 1992 rolled around, I entered high school and a blazing wildfire of metal was ignited. My neighbor, Nathan, who was two years older than me was my ride to and from school. One day while riding home in his ‘85 Buick Riviera (aka ‘The Riv’), he popped in Pantera’s ‘Vulgar Display of Power.’ It was an overwhelming feeling of “this is what my life’s been missing” and I knew things in my life were about to get flipped on their head.

During this time my Dad had been diagnosed with ALS and I was harboring a lot of anger that I was unsure how to deal with. Pantera was better than any diagnosis I could’ve gotten from a doctor, or therapist. The aggression and anger connected with me in unexplainable ways. One thing I can say is it helped soothe my anger inside. Recently, I watched Hatebreed’s video for ‘Looking Down the Barrel of Today.’ This video flashes text that describes the way Pantera made me feel to a T. Heavy music HAS helped me through some very hard times and it’s NOT just music to me.

With ‘Vulgar Display of Power’ opening the floodgates I quickly started to break down every dollar I made, not into a cash total, but into a number of CD’s I would be able to purchase. Enter Sepultura, Sacred Reich, White Zombie, Deicide, Obituary, SLAYER, and many more. All I wanted was more metal; it had become part of me.

With my crew of metal fans beginning to take shape I really felt like I had found people that understood me, and music that defined me. Cooper, Shane, Mickey, Byron, Ted, Latta, Hilton, Szumanski, Bruchert, O’Keefe, Chidley, Ziolo, the Aulich brothers, and the Scully brothers, I’m talking about you guys.

In the summer of ‘93, I was given the job of feeding Nathan’s families cat while they were out of town. By now, metal had staked its claim in me, and when I heard Deicide was coming to Chicago I saw only one logical choice. That choice was find the keys to ‘The Riv’, pack it full of my 15 year old buddies, and head downtown to see Deicide. Looking back on it, I realize what a crazy thing that was to do, but I was crazy then and I’m crazy now.

I’m gonna leave it at that for now, I’ll pick up next time at the Deicide show.

Stay metal and horns up!

Matt

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