The Morbid Reality of HEXX
Quest For Sanity was originally released first in Europe on the Under One Flag, Music For Nations Label. Then, almost a year later in America on Wild Rags Records. The Watery Graves EP would follow about a six months later. Our anger and frustration grew at the lack of success with Quest For Sanity and Watery Graves. We certainly did not receive the recognition or payoff we hoped for with our evolvement from the power metal style of our first two albums to the speed/thrash/death category. We gigged and toured the U.S. as best we could and thought the albums really our best efforts to date. “What the hell do they want?” we thought, “Not heavy enough? Not fast enough? Really?! Obviously we will have to take it up a notch–or two!” So we did just that, and got going on writing another album–fast!
This was our attitude when we were writing songs for what would become the bands last and most brutal, aggressive and complex musical offering of our collective careers. We were still smoking all the pot we could get our hands on and consuming as much alcohol as we could get down out gullets. We did not speak it aloud but knew this would likely be our last album if it was not successful–so we had an all or nothing approach to the songwriting. We became completely obsessed with writing the most brutal album we could generate.
Clint Bower and I were the main songwriters, like a Lennon and McCartney team. We had a friendly rivalry going to see who could write the most brutal, complex and hard to play songs. I would go and write Morbid Reality and he would come back with Birds of Prey, and so on. We were also in a friendly competition with our friends Sadus to see how ridiculously complicated and brutal we could make our music.
Morbid Reality was written first which set the pace and sense of urgency and intensity of the album. I had been
studying piano for years off and on and had been working on a piece that was a variation of Russian classical composer Alexander Scriabin’s work entitled the Poem of ecstasy. I used a slight variation of his theme for the piano intro I played and recorded for Morbid Realty and if you listen, the theme is continued throughout the composition, particularly at the end of the piece.
While Clint was working on The Last Steep and Birds Of Prey I was working on Morbid Reality and Blood Hunter. Blood Hunter was inspired by every vampire story or movie I had seen and applied to your average greedy business man, or in our case, record executive. We already had Watery Graves in the can so as Clint finished up Fire Mushrooms I was put the finishing touches on Persecution Experience. Both of these songs are pretty self explanatory if you read the lyrics. Spider Jam was something we would goof around with at practice or gigs just for fun. The musical arrangement was based on the music soundtrack to the old 1960’s TV cartoon Spider Man.
After we had all the songs together we
made a live recording and shopped the tape around to all our record label contacts. Nobody wanted anything to do with it. By this time the whole heavy metal thing had pretty much run its course and the Seattle Grunge rock sound was starting to take over, so we could not get anyone to fund the next HEXX record. This only added fuel to our fire—and pissed us off even more!
We figured, “Fuck it. Fuck everybody! We will somehow come up with the money and record the album ourselves and even start our own record label if we have too!” Nothing was going to stop us. We would not be ignored We were determined to make this album and shove it down everybody’s throat whether they liked it or not! Again, keep in mind, we were smoking a lot of dope, and drinking excessively during this whole process. That being said, we all somehow managed to come up with about a thousand dollars apiece and still managed to keep our day jobs through all of this.
We booked a two week block at Starlight sound studios in Richmond California and talked John Marshall into spinning the knobs in the studio for us. We were so well rehearsed, determined, and focused that the recording went very quickly and easily. The whole album was recorded and mixed in two weeks and
we were working with Kent Mathew on the concept for the cover art.
An explanation is probably in order regarding the cover art for Quest For Sanity, Watery Graves and Morbid Reality: we were smoking a lot of pot and we came up with this totally baked idea of a reverse trilogy concept using the android you see on the cover of Quest For Sanity, this is the end of the trilogy, he has totally gone mad and is trying to let all the demons out of his head by using the bone saw. Watery Graves is the middle part showing our guy washed up on the shore after a brutal but meaningless battle with the forces of evil–so he thinks. Morbid Reality is actually the begging and origin of our character being borne of technology. Note the baby ripping his way out of the technological vagina. This was no accident, again in our defense we were pretty pissed off–and did I mention we were smoking a lot of pot? Good times.
Morbid Reality to us was representative of the fact that despite all our hard work and determination, we had still failed; failed to be successful as musicians, as songwriters and as recording artists.
With the artwork completed we shopped our package we had worked so hard on and put everything into. Nobody would even acknowledge we existed—not even to tell us to fuck off. Here we felt we made the speed/trash/death metal masterpiece of the century and yet we could not even give this stink bomb away. Another soul crushing highlight in the career of HEXX!
I had all but given up hope of getting this record out. It seemed our genre of music
was becoming extinct. Then one of the guys from Sadus told us we should send our stuff to this German label called Century Media. I got the mailing address and sent our last package in. In fact, I think it was my last personal cd of the record but I did not care, I would never listen to this music again–a reminder of our miserable failure.
A few weeks passed and had forgot all about sending the package to Century Media. As I got home from work tired and dirty from a long days toil of painting houses in the California Berkley hills, I noticed the light was blinking on my answering machine. I was only half listening to the playback while fixing myself a strong cocktail when I heard some woman talking in a strong German accent saying something about how great Morbid Reality was. I spilled my cocktail all over my dresser wildly trying to get to the answering machine to replay that massage. It was Century Media offering to put out our masterpiece, Morbid Reality! We were saved again at the last possible moment. I remember thinking, “Why do we always have to cut these things so close?!”
This breathed new life into Hexx. This would be the best record deal we would have to date, with distribution in Europe and the U.S., tour support, a budget for print ads in all the major magazines and tons of interviews in the trades. We were happy beyond our wildest dreams. They seemed to really get the record and believe in it, and us. Of course, we never let on that we had pretty much given up and were ready to kill ourselves right before they called us.
We had been planning on attending the Foundations Forum Heavy Metal convention in LA. We had gone the year before and it was a good chance to network and promote your band. Heavy Metal bands from all over the world would be attending this convention. All the record labels would have suites with free food and open bar. You could just walk around and go into EMI’s room and drop off you demo package and schmooze with people from the music business. It was a real challenge not to get too hammered with all the free booze flowing around– good thing by now we were seasoned professionals!
We were so excited, just being picked up by Century Media and about to catch a flight to LA to attend the big Heavy Metal
convention. Century Media was going to have an advertisement in the convention program guide announcing Morbid Reality. It was a very proud moment for us knowing that other bands would be talking about it and some would be envious.
Just prior to leaving for LA we were at the apartment of our manager, Russ Rudolf, who lived at the Alice Street Hotel in downtown Oakland. We just finished smoking a fat joint and drinking a few ice cold beers and were all piling into the elevator on our way to the airport. We were stoned with a nice beer buzz going as well. The 5 of us were in the elevator when it stopped on the 3rd floor. The doors opened–and two police officers swiftly stepped in and smashed up against us. Here we were , with our black leather jackets, long hair and dark sunglasses, freshly stoned and reeking to high heaven of booze and marijuana. We all had bags of weed on us and who knows what else. An awkward silence ensued. We were trapped with these two cops! It was only for 3 floors, but man that seemed like a long elevator ride. When we got down to the lobby and the doors opened, at first the cops did not move. They stood there blocking our way from exiting the elevator. Finally
after another awkward moment of silence, one officer slowly turned around and looked at us, smiled and said,” Sure smells good in here!” Then they both just walked away. We were way too stoned to really take in what had just happened. When we got outside into the parking lot we all just started laughing hysterically–I think we laughed all the way to the airport!
Later that same day, we were in our hotel room in Los Angeles. Having sobered up on the plane ride we were ready to get back into party mode and go mingle and carouse about the convention. We had our trusty ice chest stocked with plenty of ice cold beer and a big bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon working its way around the room. Our manager lit a big fat joint and we were in party mode once again having narrowly escaped the clutches of the long arm of the law back home in San Francisco.
By the time we were ready to head down into the lobby and join the fun at the convention we were even more stoned and buzzed than we were when we shared the elevator ride with the two police officers. We thought nothing of it; we were always going around high on something or other back in those days.
We left our room walked down the hall and all piled in the elevator to go down to the lobby. This was a much taller building than Russ’s apartment in Oakland.
Our room was way on top, so we are slowly making our way down to the lobby of the hotel when the elevator stops at a floor and three long haired metal looking guys stepped into our elevator. They looked a little familiar. Taking a closer look without trying to appear to be staring, I noticed how old and haggard they were– at least compared to how we looked at the time. It slowly dawned on me that it was Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill of Judas Priest! I looked at Clint, John and Bill and could see it was starting to dawn on them too! Once again, we were totally unprepared for this, being so stoned we were just frozen with shock and disbelief. We were sharing an elevator with some of our most admired heroes ever! I thought, “Quick, somebody say something!”. Another awkward silence ensued. None of us had the guts to strike up a conversation with them. This was the opportunity of a lifetime to connect with these guys and we were blowing it big time. I finally worked up something savvy like, “Hey, what’s up guys?”
They looked at me and politely replied with something like, “Alright man, how’s it going?” That’s it. That was all I had. I was so baked and nervous I could not think of anything else to say. When we got down to the lobby I think I might have said something like, “Alright guys take it easy, have a good time.” I felt like such a stoned idiot. I turned to Bill, John and Clint and said, “Hey man, we got to stop getting so stoned before we get into these fucking elevators. I’m starting to get a little freaked out by this shit!” We all looked at each other and just burst into laughter. We could not stop laughing–it was all just too much. We laughed all the way to the bar and could barely order our drinks!
This record being released was a big deal for us being that it would be our first release on the new digital compact disk format. Yes, we are that old! Century Media set up a modest U.S. tour to get the word out about the new release. Before the tour they flew us to New York to perform at the big death trash metal festival of sickness held at the famous Ritz theatre in Manhattan. This is where they filmed the Jackie Gleason show back in the 1950’s. We were very excited and proud to be on the bill. Arriving at LaGuardia airport we were horrified to learn that our guitars, bass and drum equipment we checked had disappeared! My Gibson Flying V, Clint’s Gibson Explorer, Bill’s Gibson Thunderbird and Johns Flight case with his snare drum and some hardware were just gone. The airport personnel did not seem concerned about it at all. They told us to run along and they would get in touch with us if any of our stuff turned up. We were so upset but there was nothing we
could do about it. Fuck!
A girl that worked for Century Media, who lived in Queens, picked us up and brought us to her basement apartment. It was around St. Patrick’s Day, mid-March, and it was very cold in New York–much colder than us California boys were used to.
Having our guitars and stuff being stolen or lost would mean we would have to play the big festival the following night using borrowed guitars and equipment which really sucks. You always play better on your own instrument.
It was after 2am and we were all starving. Our host recommended an all night diner just down the block from her place. We put on our jackets and stepped out into the frigid night air of Queens New York. None of us had been to Queens before so we thought it was very cool. The diner had a big neon sign: The Little Deer Head Diner. It looked like an old diner from the 1940’s or 1950’s that you might see in an old black and white movie. It was dark, dingy and kind of funky inside with not many customers, just one burly scruffy looking old guy with a dirty white t-shirt on, sleeves rolled up, cooking behind the counter. On one arm he had what looked like a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve and on the other he had some tattoos exposed. He reminded me a bit Popeye the Sailor from the old cartoon, but this guy was bigger. Unshaven and rough looking, he had a cigarette dangling from his mouth right over the food he was cooking–a big long cigarette ash hanging precariously off the end.
We sat down and started looking over
the menu. Sometimes you forget how you must look to other people when you are in a band like HEXX and walk into a restaurant in the middle of the night. In those days we always wore pretty much the same thing all the time, Blue or Black jeans, black t shirts and black leather jackets, our long hair hanging down and some or all of us would usually still be warring our dark sunglasses even at night to try and hide how stoned we were. We had smoked a joint on the walk to the diner, of course, so we were pretty high and real hungry. After a while the cook came over to our table and just stood there looking at us. He did not say anything. Just stood there looking like he really did not want us in his diner.
Sensing maybe this guy did not like us too much , we thought we would all just order the same thing to make things go easier. Your basic scrambled egg, bacon and toast breakfast with hot coffee. As a rule in those days, I always enjoyed having a strawberry milkshake when I ordered breakfast in a restaurant. It was kind of my thing and I had been doing it ever sense I was a kid and all the guys were used to it and thought nothing of it.
Someone gathered up the guts to tell him we would all just have the #2 breakfast with eggs scrambled and coffee. The guy still said nothing. We began to get more uncomfortable. Then for some reason he looked directly at me as if he knew I wanted to say something. In my most polite and respectful tone of voice I looked him right in his big blood-shot eyes and asked, “And, please sir, may I please have a nice strawberry milkshake to go with mine?”
His face grew beet red, his eyes narrowed and he sneered—giving me the dirtiest look I had ever received, then he turned and walked away without saying a word. We were not sure if we were going to get our breakfasts or not. And a nice strawberry milkshake for me seemed even less likely. Of course, being freshly stoned we just fell about in fits of laughter. It was late, we were tired from the flight and the stress of losing our equipment weighed heavily on our minds. I certainly did not intend to come off like a smart ass, but I guess that’s how I must have looked to that big scary looking cook working the night shift at the Little Deer Head Diner somewhere in the middle Queens New York.
It took us a while to calm down and stop laughing about my foolish request for my stupid strawberry milkshake. We considered just returning to the apartment and forgo having anything to eat and just try and get some sleep, but Bill noticed the cook looked busy cooking up a bunch of food and since now we were the only ones in the place we thought we better stay. If we walked out after he cooked all that food he would probably track us down and kill us!
Somebody blurted out, “I wonder why they call this place the Little Deer Head Diner? That’s an odd name.” We looked around the place and kind of shrugged our shoulders. Then above the front door to the diner I noticed a very small deer head mounted onto one of those little trophy plaques. It was roughly the size of a cat with tiny little antlers. I pointed and said, “Hey man, look at that tiny little deer head stuck over the front door!” Everybody turned to look and we all burst into uncontrollable laughter once again. It did not take much to get us
all rolling laughing, being pretty much high all the time. It took us another five minutes to calm down from that laughing spell. Our good friend was headed over to our table with his arms full of plates–it looked like we were going to get our breakfast after all! It sure smelled good and we were super hungry by now. He brought all our meals and coffee without saying a word and with the same mean sneer on his face.
There was no strawberry milkshake. The food was as you would expect from an old greasy spoon dinner in the middle of the night in Queens New York. The eggs were runny, the toast was cold and the bacon was rubbery. We were so hungry we did not care, we just started eating.
Deciding not to press my luck about the milkshake I just let it go, but half way through our breakfast the cook came over and carelessly plopped down a large cloudy glass of what looked like dirty dishwater in front of me. I looked at the glass of brown liquid and looked up at him. He had a crooked little smile on his face and said “Don’t got no Strawberry, only Chocolate,” and turned and walked away. It was a dirty glass of luke warm chocolate milk. I was speechless. Of course Bill, John and Clint burst into uncontrollable laughter–again.
Having a big show at the Ritz theatre in Manhattan the following night with Nuclear Assault we thought we better get back and get some sleep. We all found some space on the floor and got into our sleeping bags for the night. It was very cold outside so our host had all the windows shut tight and the heater set to what must have been cremate. Clint fell asleep immediately and began snoring really loud; when you shared a room with Clint you knew you were not going to get
much sleep. He snored like he sang, loud and with everything he had, he would snore so loud and strong he could suck the drapes from the windows and the wood paneling off the walls! It was a long night. Bill, John and I did not get much sleep, however, Clint, woke up fresh as a daisy and ready for action.
The next day when we were getting ready to head into the city for the gig, a knock came at the door. It was the airline with all of our guitars and equipment! We were overjoyed, everything was there and nothing was damaged or broken. All was right with the world!
Arriving at the gig we discovered we were one of the opening acts. We were okay with that, just feeling lucky to be on the bill at all, and the place was sold out so we knew we would have a big crowd to play to. The theater was huge and packed to the rafters. We were feeling pretty good and maybe a little cocky. We had been busting our ass for a long time now, and to think of how low we were between the time of Under the Spell and Quest for Sanity, we began to think we were finally on our way up the ladder–where we clearly belonged. With Century Media behind us now the world would get to see how truly awesome HEXX really was!
Warming up back stage in this huge locker room, we smoked a joint like we always did before a show. Being both cocky and high we decided to open the show with Morbid Reality which was probably the hardest song for us to perform live because of its speed, complex riffs and arrangements.
A voice came over the loud speaker in the dressing room, “Attention, will teen sensation HEXX please report to the stage.” We were on! It was dark and the house lights were down. Guys were leading us to our amps with flashlights. You could hear how many people were out there but you could not see them. There was not going to be a sound check for us. Looking back, I guess our performance was the sound check for all the other bands. We had standard Marshall stacks which is what Clint and I were used to so we were fine. I think they were the same JCM 800s we used back home. John was having some issues with his one of his foot pedals and his snare drum. He was franticly waving to us to wait. (We had acquired John’s snare drum from Lars Ulrich of Metallica about two years back. John still uses it as his main snare drum for HEXX to this day.) The stage manager was signaling us to start. It turned out our set time was only 25 minutes so we had no time to waste. I could see John was still not ready and was having trouble getting his hardware together in the dark. Then suddenly, over the PA system an announcement: “Welcome to the biggest bla bla bla Heavy Metal festival of sickness in the world! Please welcome from San Francisco California, Century Media recording artists…..HEXX!” The crowd roared and it caught me off guard
and scared me a little. At the same time we were flooded with bright stage lights from all directions. Unexpectedly, a feeling of paranoia, self doubt and confusion washed over me. I looked over to my right to Clint and Bill, also looking equally unprepared and confused.
After they announce your name like that you have to start right away–no matter what. I looked back at John and could see the look of terror and frustration on his face. I did not do the piano intro to Morbid Reality live so we would just go right into it. John just shrugged his shoulders and gave us our four count on his high hats.
The sound on stage was really loud, at first all I could hear was my guitar–way too loud. I could not hear the drums at all. For the whole song you could hear the sound constantly changing in the stage monitors. Yup, we were the guinea pigs for the sound men alright. I don’t know how we did it but we managed to get through Morbid Reality without totally train wrecking and having to stop. I looked at the stage manager to tell him we needed drums in the monitors. He just pointed at his watch and waved his hand in a circle signaling us to keep going and start the next song.
When you’re in the comfort of your own practice room or studio recording environment , all these fast and complicated songs sound pretty cool and impressive. Somehow they lose their luster in a situation like this! The next song up was Watery Graves, which is not exactly a walk in the park either. None of them are. What were we thinking writing and recording such fast and complicated songs?
The sound finally started to come together a little better on stage and we could at least hear the drums in the monitors now. At least good enough to hear that John was having major problems with his equipment. He was playing on a drum set he had never laid eyes on until a few moments before, and was franticly trying to make the necessary adjustments. We managed to get through the rest of our short set and the crowd seemed to like us okay, but we knew it was a total disaster. We felt like we sucked major ass and let everyone down at this huge gig. In addition, right before we went on we were told that the top people from Century Media were there to see us perform, as well as all the trade magazines and radio stations. Coming off the stage we just wanted to crawl into a deep dark hole somewhere and die. But oh no, we still had to do the meet and greet and go out and face all the people that wanted see us, talk to us and take pictures. There were thirty something bands at this thing and we just opened the show. Things were just getting started. It was going to be a very, very long night for the boys in HEXX.
Having survived the gig in Manhattan, upon returning home to San Francisco we were determined more than ever to make up for our lack luster appearance at the Ritz theatre. Our tour would start in about 10 days and we wanted to be sure we would be ready and able to just kill it at every show. Back then we practiced the set 2 times every night 7 nights a week, every week, month after month. It was the only way we could keep playing the music tight and still stay stoned!
After much rehearsal and we were ready to start our tour. Century Media rented us a van and a trailer and told us to be sure and keep the receipts for gas, food and hotels. The tour was 3 or 4 weeks long starting in Chicago with the Chicago Metal Fest. We enlisted the help of our friend Derrick to help with the driving, loading of equipment and handle the sales of our merchandise at the shows. Derrick also was one of our sources for KGB, (killer green buds).
It took us two or three days to drive from San Francisco to Chicago. John Shafer was driving the van as we started to get close to the city limits. Derrick had brought plenty of weed with him, enough to last 5 pot heads for three or four weeks and we had been smoking joints all the way to Chicago. The speed limit when towing a trailer in the U.S. is usually 55mph but that is very slow so we would always push it to 65 so we could make better time. Big mistake. As we pulled into the Chicago city limits we saw several Highway Patrol cars perched on the side of the freeway just ahead. They had their radar guns out and we drove right into their trap.
Apparently they were aware of the big evil heavy metal festival going on that weekend and were watching for vans with out-of-state plates full of long haired weirdoes inside.
Well, that was us alright. John pulled our rig over to side of the freeway and we waited for the officers to approach our vehicle. By this time several other patrol cars were pulling up and all these cops were getting out and surrounding us. We knew we were busted for exceeding the speed limit and would likely be issued a speeding ticket. But when one of them finally came up to the passenger side window and taped on it with his billy-club I started to get a real bad feeling. This cop was big and fat with a real smug look on his face that let me know he was going to be a total dick. Clint was riding shotgun at that time and he had a bad attitude about cops, as did the rest of us. (We had a bad experience with San Francisco Police when we were all drunk and rowdy coming out of the Mabuhay Gardens club on Broadway one night. We had just finished thrashing around in the pit to MDC, aka, Millions of Dead Cops. We liked MDC and thought that they had a tongue in cheek kind of humor about their band and their anti cop message. I guess the SFPD did not take it in the humor intended because 6 or 8 of them were waiting outside. As the crowd filed out with us included, anyone that bumped into one of the cops was immediately thrown to the ground and handcuffed. This started a near riot because it just put fuel on the fire and guys started fighting with the cops
and everyone was yelling and calling them Nazis. One of our road crew, Kevin Wetterling, was arrested and taken to jail.)
Clint rolled his window down and the cop stuck his head in and took a good hard look at all of us in the van. He was way too close to Clint and I thought to myself, “Oh shit, here we go. Clint is going to lose it and bite this cops lips off or something.” Luckily, before that could happen, the cop pulled his head out of the van and out of Clint’s biting range. However, he did start waving and signaling to the other cops to come over. He stuck his head back inside the van and said, “It sure smells like dope in here. Ya’ll been smokin’ that dope?” “Ah, no officer sir, not us”, Clint replied with his best smart ass tone of voice. “Yeah, well then what’s this?”, the cop said as he reached in and grabed a big fat roach just hanging out of the open ash tray on the dashboard. We would typically wait until the ashtray was full of roaches, then take them all out and roll them up into a super-joint . We had not done that yet that day so the ashtray was full of roaches. They ordered us out of the van, handcuffed us and put us each in the back seat of separate squad cars. We forgot Chicago had zero tolerance for marijuana–short term memory loss I guess, after all, we were from California!
I was really beginning to worry because they towed the van with the trailer and all our gear away somewhere. An officer finally got in the squad car I was in and asked me where we were going, what we were doing with that trailer, and what was in it. I told him that we were a rock band from San Francisco just starting out our tour and coming into Chicago to play our first show and that the trailer was packed with our musical equipment. He said, “Well, first of all your tour is over. You are all going to jail for possession of Marijuana with intent to sell. Your van and trailer is being impounded, and we are going to take that van, trailer and all your equipment apart bolt by bolt and screw by screw.”
I said. “Really, for a hand full of roaches?” He said, “ No! For that big bag of grass we found on one of your guys.” I assumed they found one of Derricks bags of weed.
The police station was conveniently nearby so we all wound up there at the same time as the van and trailer. They started unloading the trailer and were going through all the guitar cases and trap cases. They had half the van unloaded when we heard a bunch of the cops all hooting and hollering and jumping up and down and high fiving. They had found what I thought was Derricks main stash. It was a bigger bag of weed than they had found on Derrick. These stupid cops were acting like they had just won the super bowl or something.
We knew we were in trouble and I was just sick inside thinking, “What have we done? We had overcome all these obstacles to get the point we were and now, before we even had our first show on our tour to support our new album on the best record label we had ever been on, we were ruined! Our tour over before it even began, we were all going to jail.
Century Media would surly drop us and our records would be pulled from the shelves and taken off the market. We would never see our friends and family and girlfriends again.” In addition the cops kept telling us how popular we were going to be in prison with all that pretty long hair!
I saw Derrick being pulled from a patrol car and showed the bag of weed. I later found out Derrick had admitted all the weed was his. They took him inside for what seemed like hours while the rest of us waited outside handcuffed. We had never been busted this badly before so we did not know how things are supposed to go. A while later Derrick came walking out of the police station without handcuffs. They removed the handcuffs from rest of us and told us to beat it and we had better go straight back to California, and if we ever were pulled over in Chicago again we would all go straight to prison and they would throw away the key! We were in total shock, they were letting us go. We weren’t going to jail after all! They just made Derrick pay a fine and agree to appear in court in a few months. That was it, we were free to go.
We quickly loaded back into the trailer everything the cops had dragged out, and drove away–getting on the freeway heading out of Chicago and back towards California. A patrol car followed us to just outside of the Chicago city limits. We pulled over at the next rest stop to take a piss and figure out what to do. Derrick says,” Alright we got to unload the trailer.” I said, “What for? We just got through loading half of it back up!” He said, “ I got to get out the real ‘big bag’ of weed buried way in the back that the pigs did not find!”
Unknown to everyone but Derrick and John, Derrick had stashed a whole pound
of killer green buds in one of the big drum flight cases way in the back of the trailer. Luckily the cops stopped looking when they found what they thought was our main stash. We unloaded the trailer, got some weed out of the ‘big bag’, sat at a picnic table, rolled a joint and smoked it while we plotted a new route to the Big metal festival in Chicago. We still had time to make it to the show and we were not going to miss it. The Chicago show went great as did all the other shows on that tour, the Milwaukie metal fest being the highlight.
We could not have been happier, we were doing what we loved and had overcome so many obstacles that would have certainly killed other bands off. The tour went well until towards the end. We started going through what is known as the Bible belt of the United States. We were a little naive about this part of our country, and soon became very uneasy and disturbed by all the religious billboards along the highway. Praise the lord this, Jesus saves that, Sinner beware, Repent evil doers…….on and on with the religious brain washing. One Sunday morning passing through what is known as a dry county, we were horrified to find out that we could not buy beer there. Horror of horrors! What were we going to do now, we were totally out of beer and it was Sunday morning. We knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore– we were in Oklahoma! We did not fit in there. One place we stopped was real scary. We decided to take a side route as a short cut to save time. It was summertime and very hot. We had been drinking beer all day in the van and we were looking for a gas station to stop at and take a piss and fuel up the van. We were running out of gas and we had no choice but to stop at the next available place. It was starting to get dark and we were running on fumes plus we really needed to find some toilets, and not all of us just had to pee.
The road kept winding and turning with nothing but religious billboards along the way. We were regretting getting off the main highway when we finally came upon this creepy old gas station. It was run down, dirty and looked like it was still in the 1950’s or early 1960’s. There were 5 or 6 toothless red neck looking characters sitting in front rocking back and forth in rocking chairs, it was weird–they were just staring at us as we drove up to the gas pumps. We hesitated for a moment, nobody wanted to be the first to get out and ask for the bathroom key. Finally Bill said, “Fuck it, I gotta go”, and got out of the van. The rest of us slowly piled out. Clint was driving so he went up the red necks to find out about paying for the gas. I headed for the restroom on the side of the building. All the while I could feel the eyes of those weird guys watching me. When I opened the door to the men’s room I was overwhelmed by the stench of feces and the swarming of giant red neck type back-woods flies. I flicked on the light switch but the lights would not come on. The place was filthy and dark but I had to take a dump real bad. The stall door lock was broken and would not close all the way. Realizing how much I missed my nice clean toilet back home, I hovered over the bowl trying not to let my bare ass come in contact with the dingy disgusting toilet seat while trying to hold my pants up from the urine soaked floor. That’s when I noticed that there was no toilet paper in my stall. I was half way through my acrobatic bowl movement when I heard someone come in. “John, Clint, is that you?” I said. Through the crack in the stall
door I saw a big dirty pair of boots walk by and take the stall next to mine. This was one of those toothless- psycho rocking-chair red necks! “Really, he has to come in the very same moment that I’m in here?” At this point I am trying to finish up and get the hell out of there. I started to feel panicky, “How long have I been in here? It seemed suddenly darker now. Are the guys ok? Did they get scared and drive off and lave me here with these crazy red necks?”
The guy in the stall next to me grunts and all of a sudden I hear him let out a big fart, followed by a big splash and what sounded like a river dumping into a lake! Then he starts laughing! “Fuck this, I am out of here finished or not!” I pull my pants up and waddle as fast as I can back to where Clint has just finished fueling up the van. All the guys are back inside the van waiting to go. Clint and I jump back in the van and we take off as fast as we can. Now, thinking back, none of those weird looking toothless red necks said a word to us good or bad either way. They were probably just nice plain back wood God fearing folks. But to young stoned guys like us from California, that whole situation seemed like something right out of a horror movie!
The next day we got back on the main highway and headed to our next to last gig in Tulsa when we were stopped to fuel up again and decided to call our manager to see how things were shaping up for the rest of our road dates. He was so glad we called in and so were we. He told us, “Whatever you do, DO NOT GO TO THE GIG IN TULSA!” The local church and sheriff’s department there found out
about us coming to perform, they got a hold of our new record and did not like our lyrics and were waiting for us to pull into town and lynch us before we could corrupt the youth of their town.
At first I thought he was joking, but he was dead serious. He told us he had seen this kind of thing before. He said that when the church and the Sheriff of the town was against you they could kill you, bury you and that would be the end of it–no trial, nothing! They have it in their minds that you are doing the devils work and that they are doing the lords work and they are justified in doing whatever they wanted! Well, you can’t argue with crazy right? Needless to say, we got out of Oklahoma and headed south to Brownsville Texas to finish the tour and were met by an overwhelming crowd of drunk, but very friendly and supportive, Mexican head bangers. They were so happy to see us it made us feel great. The language barrier was erased by the contrasting love we could feel coming from them for our music compared to the ignorance and hate we felt from the authorities from the Oklahoma fiasco. I felt sorry for those kids of that town who were waiting to see us and were deprived because of the church and sheriff’s department. Oh well, I am sure they thought they were doing right by those kids censoring their freedom of choice and all–yay, USA!
After the tour was over we quickly got to work writing another album, thinking Century Media would surly want a suitable follow up to Morbid Reality. We probably should have checked with them first. We spent months writing the new
album, this time we were going back to our power metal roots. We discovered how hard it is to perform those long complicated speed metal epics night after night on the road. We had 10 songs finished, and when I tried to contact Century Media about setting up studio time to record, they would not even return my calls. Apparently most of the personel who was supporting us at the label had quit or been fired. By then the metal scene was dead and Nirvana was all anyone wanted to know about, so that was it for HEXX– for the last 27 years that is.