(Photo: Ryan J. Downey)
Johnny Depp stunned the crowd when he joined Marilyn Manson onstage on Wednesday at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards. As thrilling as it was for Depp to be playing guitar on "The Beautiful People" and "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" during a night that saw performances from hard rocking artists like Evanescence and Slash, Revolver Magazine creative director Josh Bernstein said there are still two dream bands they have yet to land for the annual event.
"The first year, we had Ozzy right off the bat. I don't think we would have had a show without him. Having him here was incredible. Last year, Lars [Ulrich] and Robert [Trujillo] from Metallica came. But I want the full bands and I want them performing," he said. "When that happens, that will be pretty good; Metallica and the original Black Sabbath. It's our fifth year next year, too, so it would be a good fifth year celebration. So, if [those two bands] are reading Billboard..."
(L-R): Carl Severson (Partner, Good Fight), Eric Rushing (Manager, The Artery Foundation), Ash Avildsen (Owner, Sumerian Records), and Nick "Biggie Grimaldi (Manager, Good Fight) at the Golden Gods Awards. (Photo: Ryan J. Downey)
Metallica wasn't there this year, but their music certainly was. Trivium covered "Creeping Death" with some help from Corey Taylor ( Slipknot, Stone Sour) and Robb Flynn ( Machine Head). Dee Snider ( Twisted Sister) sang "We're Not Gonna Take It" with Black Veil Brides. "Gossip Girl" star turned Pretty Reckless rocker Taylor Momsen also joined Manson, prior to Depp's arrival. Hosted by professional wrestler and rocker Chris Jericho at Club Nokia (LA Live) in Los Angeles, this year's event featured honorees like Gene Simmons and Rush, a video for a recently unearthed Pantera song and several metal presenters.
"All these existing award shows, over the years, heavy metal has been kicked to the wayside," Bernstein said. "The awards are given away during the day, the awards are combined and unless you're Dave Grohl, you're kind of not allowed into the party. Pop music, country, hip-hop -- all of that stuff is great, but metal never really had its moment to shine. We wanted to do this for years, we finally put it on. It was shocking that nobody had done it before. It's long overdue."
Amy Sciarretto (Publicist, Roadrunner) and Matt Polen (Head of Marketing, Century Media). (Photo: Ryan J. Downey)
The Grammys were a part of the event in a way, as the History of Heavy Metal exhibit opened right next door at the Grammy Museum. But the awards were certainly hard rock and metal specific, with many of the associated managers, agents, publicists and other industry folk whose bread and butter revolve around heavy metal shredding mingling backstage in the exclusive VIP area. In previous years, the show has been shot live to tape and aired on VH1 Classic several weeks later. The fourth annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards, presented by Epiphone, was broadcast on XBOX LIVE (as well as the Revolver Facebook page).
" VH1 was a great partner and we love those guys," Bernstein said, while acknowledging some of the improvements of this year's setup. "The show was an hour, including commercials, so it killed me on a personal level to book some of these bands, some from overseas, to perform and then some of their performances wouldn't even make the air. I felt like that was against the reason we started this award show. Also, we always wanted it to air live, versus six weeks later."
Carl Severson (Partner, Good Fight) and Matt Ash (Manager, Raw Power Management) get intense. (Photo: Ryan J. Downey)
Organizing all of the presenters and performers hasn't been without its challenges. "In England, for example, there are big festival shows, everyone is in town, and you can do an award show around it. There's no central home to heavy metal [in America]. So putting on an event of this stature and having everyone be around between touring and recording schedules, Coachella, Lollapalooza, South By Southwest -- it's hard finding that exact window of time to get everybody here in the same room. But now, in year four, we've kind of claimed this week and people kind of plan around us, which is amazing to see."
The VIP area was abuzz with talk that Depp would appear with Manson as a surprise, but nobody saw him back there beforehand or afterward. Damien Echols, one of the West Memphis Three whose cause both Manson and Depp famously championed, walked through the area on his way to introduce Manson. His presence alone seemed to all but confirm the rumors to most, which of course were proven true. Several VIP industry folks who chose to watch the most of the show on TVs in the lounge rushed into the main hall to see Depp slinging his guitar and wearing his cowboy hat live, in the flesh, once they knew he was there.
Don Robertson (President, Century Media Records) and Tom Ackerman (Product Manager, Century Media Records) (Photo: Ryan J. Downey)
Industry folks on-hand included Century Media's North American President Don Robertson, special projects manager Tom Ackerman, head of marketing Matt Polen and head of new media Stephanie Shoulders; Roadrunner Records publicist Amy Sciarretto; longtime Rob Zombie manager Andy Gould; Outerloop Management's Mike Mowery; the Artery Foundation's Eric Rushing, Bret Bair, Will Stevenson and Shawn Carrano; Rick Sales Entertainment's Kristen Mulderig; King Artist Management's Scott Koenig and Mike Gitter; The Pantheon Agency booking agents Amanda Fiore, Matt Andersen and assistant Alex Areza; Mercenary Management's Rob "Blasko" Nicholson (also bassist for Ozzy Osbourne) and Dan Tsurif; video director Zach Merck; Good Fight Entertainment's Carl Severson, Chuck Andrews and Nick "Biggie" Grimaldi; travel agent Kerry Craft; Metal Blade Records founder / CEO Brian Slagel and Vice President Mike Faley; longtime Hatebreed manager Steve Ross; Sumerian Records and Sumerian Entertainment's Ash Avildsen and Shawn Keith; Matt Ash of Raw Power Management, who recently opened the company's LA office; Adrenaline PR publicists Maria Ferrero and Rikki Zazula; The Agency Group's Dave Shapiro; radio personalities Jose Mangin and "Full Metal Jackie" [Kajzer]; Richochet Management's Jerry Clubb; and members of several bands who were presenting, performing or just hanging out, including Slipknot, Anthrax, As I Lay Dying, Fear Factory, Zakk Wylde, Lacuna Coil, Asking Alexandria, Vinnie Paul Abbott and Gene Simmons' son, Nick.
Jamey Jasta (Vocalist, Hatebreed) and Brian Slagel (Chairman & CEO, Metal Blade Records) (Photo: Ryan J. Downey)
Musicians and industry people rubbed elbows, shook hands and chatted about all things metal as they drank booze and ate burger sliders in the darkened VIP area, which featured a bar, several couches, a DJ spinning thrash classics from Metallica, Exodus and Slayer and several flatscreen TVs broadcasting the action from inside the venue, where fans cheered the presenters, winners and performers. "There's a sense of community in metal. And kind of everybody is here," noted Severson. "When my wife asked me why I was flying out here [from New Jersey], you know, it's networking. I'll see a bunch of people here that I email with and talk on the phone with all of the time. It's good to spend an evening hanging out. Because everyone is here now, most of us also setup a few meetings."
In addition to networking opportunities, there was also plenty of "swag" to be had for VIPs. The gift bag given out in the VIP area contained goodies like The Rolling Stones Ladies & Gentlemen box set; Marshall Major FX headphones; a Samson Chromatic Tuner; Gears of War and Forza Motorsport video games for XBOX; a Manson blu-ray; Slash's live CD / DVD; Zakk Wylde's new book, "Bringing Metal to the Children;" a hardcover The Walking Dead graphic novel and more.
Kerry Craft (Travel Agent, Preferred Travel Inc.) (Photo: Ryan J. Downey)
"I started working with Guns N' Roses in '89 and I've been invited to every award show that there is. It's just not something that I do," said touring festival promoter John Reese, who is a co-founder of Golden Gods Awards friendly tours like Rockstar Mayhem and Rockstar Uproar. "But this is true to my heart. It's important to support. There are enough people supporting pop, dance, and all of that. I've been involved with metal for 26 years and I'm here to back it."
The VIP Lounge at the Golden Gods Awards. (Photo: Ryan J. Downey)
"I do all kinds of music - I do an electronic tour, I do a rock tour, I do all kinds of things, but metal fans have more passion than any other fan," he added. "That's why we need an award show for metal. Because metal fans and metal artists deserve to be recognized. The Grammys, God bless 'em, giving a damn award for Jethro Tull [infamously over Metallica back in 1988 when the Recording Academy introduced a "metal" category]? Give me a break."
John Reese (Co-Founder, Rockstar Mayhem, Rockstar Uproar) poses with Ernie C. (Lead Guitarist, Body Count) (Photo: Ryan J. Downey)