By ANDY LYONS (digitalBURG) – One of the most exciting nights in the hard rock and metal industry is the Revolver Magazine Golden God Awards. It’s a night that brings artists and fans together and celebrates a genre of music that seems almost forgotten in the world of mainstream award shows.
Golden God performer Halestorm did win this year’s Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for the song “Love Bites (So Do I),” but in a genre with plenty of bands deserving awards, it seems like other award shows either ignore them or focus on artists outside of the hard rock and metal genre.
Coverage of this year’s fifth annual Golden Gods was broadcast on AXS TV, Xbox Live and even streamed on Revolver’s Facebook page, so there was quite an audience viewing from home, as well as gathered at Club Nokia in Los Angeles. Sebastian Bach, of Skid Row, and Jose Mangin, of LiquidMetal on SiriusXM, hosted the preshow, with Bach interviewing artists on the Black Carpet and Mangin talking with fans waiting to enter the venue with several artists stopping in. Fozzy front man and WWE superstar Chris Jericho hosted the event for the fourth straight year.
In the early hours of May 2, the day Golden Gods aired, news broke that Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman died of liver failure. The broadcast became a tribute to Hanneman, with presenters, performers and fans all paying homage.
One of the staples of the Golden Gods has been the special collaborations and performances. This year was no letdown. It included Anthrax with Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown on Pantera’s “This Love,” Halestorm with David Draiman of Disturbed and Device on Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” Five Finger Death Punch with Rob Halford on their new single “Lift Me Up” and Rob Zombie and John 5 on White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss ’65,” Stone Sour with Clown and Chris Fehn of Slipknot on Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave,” and Danzig with Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein playing a Misfits set.
One of the craziest performances was The Dillinger Escape Plan with Chino Moreno of the Deftones on Depeche Mode’s “Behind the Wheel.” Before Moreno joined them, lead singer Greg Puciato tore apart the stage. He pulled prop guitars out of the backdrop and smashed them, and mutilated his forehead so blood was running down his face as he screamed into the microphone. Moreno joined the band for the song and the antics didn’t stop there.
Toward the end of the song, Puciato grabbed a wooden torch, lit the end and picked up a bottle of clear liquid. As he began spitting fire, Moreno could be seen leaving the stage at an expedited pace.
The performances, collaborations and covers are part of what makes the Golden Gods such a special awards show. Revolver Shreditor-in-Chief Brandon Geist, who answered some questions about the Golden Gods via email, said that the special collaborations are something they’ve been pushing for as the show has grown.
“That’s why people really tune into the Grammys and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions, I think, to see those once-in-a-lifetime covers and all-star jam,” he said. “And we knew that if the Gods was really going to be more than just a rock concert where some trophies are handed out, we needed to follow that model. It’s been an uphill battle because coordinating those collaborations is very tough. Bands have to learn new songs in many cases, and they need to rehearse with artists outside their band who have their own, different schedules. In most cases, those special performances have never been rehearsed before sound check, which makes it all the more impressive how well they’ve always turned out.”
Geist said that Moreno had never sung “Behind the Wheel” with Dillinger before the day of the show, and that Draiman had never sung “Whole Lotta Love” with Halestorm before day of the show, either.
Not only are the performances an important part of the show, but when the show takes place is a factor as well. I saw the Deftones in Springfield, Mo., the Monday before the show. They played in St. Louis on Wednesday, made an appearance at the Golden Gods in Los Angeles on Thursday and were in Memphis for a show on Friday. Geist said the logistics can be a “pain in the ass,” but having the Golden Gods during the kickoff of the U.S. summer tour season means that an artist or band is mobile.
“One of the reasons we have the Gods when we do is actually to just beat the heart of the summer festival season, both in the U.S. and even more importantly overseas,” he said. “If a band is touring in the U.S. during the Gods, at least they could theoretically fly in just for our show, though we have had artists fly in from overseas just for the Gods in the past. For example, the year Asking Alexandria performed, they flew in from Europe just to play, and one year Jonathan Davis flew in from Brazil just to make an appearance.”
Since its inception five years ago, the Golden Gods have been broadcast on MTV2 and VH1 Classic, but the broadcast was not live or its length was reduced from a three-hour live show to a 40-minute broadcast. This year’s show was broadcasted live and unedited, and Geist sees no reason to move from AXS TV and Xbox Live.
“It was rough. Bands and labels were bummed and pissed (about the broadcast being cut for time), and more than anyone, we were pretty much disconsolate,” he said. “So much blood and sweat goes into the show, to see it slashed down to a highlight reel is pretty heartbreaking. AXS TV and Xbox LIVE right now feel like the perfect places for us and really forward-thinking homes for us. I love that we’re able to have a lot of real-time interaction with the viewers.
“The show is also live-streamed on Facebook, so on a certain level, I don’t really know where there is to expand. At this point, there’s really no excuse anymore for not tuning in.”
As a fan of the genre, it’s been awesome to see who’s won, who’s performed and collaborated, and most importantly, to see how all of the big names in the hard rock and metal world interact with each other. The concerts I go to are testament to the family atmosphere of the genre. Artists backstage at the Family Values 2006 tour all barbecued and hung out together. Festivals such as Rockfest in Kansas City, Mo., or Mayhem Fest tend to have artists and bands interacting together at signings, merchant booths and on the stage. That same atmosphere carries over to the Golden Gods.
“I think what the bands really love about the Gods is the feeling of camaraderie,” Geist said. “The Gods, particularly backstage, is like a hard rock and metal family reunion, and the familial vibe is very real and very cool.”
Since other award shows like the Grammys tend to focus on pop music and other genres, it’s nice to have a show that really encompasses hard rock and metal and what it’s really about. There’s an entire lifestyle involved, and the Golden Gods breathes life into that lifestyle.
“I think the bands, and the fans, just really appreciate having a night when we get to celebrate the music and subculture we love, which is so often ignored, if not outright derided, by the mainstream,” Geist said. “I mean, I think some of the musicians, like, say, Phil Anselmo, think award shows are kinda lame when it comes down to it, and they’re not wrong. In general, I f****’ hate award shows, but as far as they go, the Gods are by far the coolest. And it’s not really about who wins or loses anyway. Just the fact that the Gods exist is a win for all of us who love hard rock and metal.”
This year’s show seemed to be the pinnacle for the Golden Gods, with performances that encompassed what the awards show is all about. The special guest collaborations with each performance really made each one unique. But Metallica performing a four-song set, including collaboration with Rob Halford, of Judas Priest, really brought the show full circle.
“To me, this year has really been the culmination of five years of hard work,” Geist said. “Getting Metallica’s stamp of approval, so to speak, is amazing. That was always a goal, from the very beginning when we first even just dreamed of starting an award show – make this show so awesome, so important, so legitimate, that the biggest metal band in the world, and one of the biggest bands in the world, period, would not only agree to play it, but want to play it.”
Revolver, its sponsors, and the artists and bands have all made the Golden Gods a special event that the entire hard rock and metal world look forward to every year. Billboard even carried extensive coverage of the awards and the events surrounding it, marking how important the show is to the genre. Each year brings better performances and crazier antics. The show is becoming one of the must-see, must-attend events for the hard rock and heavy metal world.
“I think the main thing is now the show is important enough and respected enough and known enough that it really is like the Grammys for pop music or the Oscars for movies, where if you are those industries, you cannot miss it,” Geist said. “So whether you are on tour in another part of the country or world, it doesn’t matter; you need to be there.”
For a recap of the categories and winners of the Golden Gods, visit revolvermag.com/goldengods2013/?page_id=479.
To see the Q&A with Brandon Geist in its entirety, visit marchionofchaos.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/brandon-geist-interview/.