Published on July 2nd, 2014 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Metal Monday Roars Back Home to West Ashley
On June 16, West Ashley indie music venue the Tin Roof switched gears and went totally metal … cheesy metal. That night marked the debut of the newly revived “Metal Monday” series.
Designed as a bi-weekly, hard-rockin’, live-band karaoke night, the all-star house band features drummer Shawn Krauss (of CO., the Specs), bassist/guitarist Mike Grimm (of Melted Velvet), guitarist/bassist David Grimm (of WADATA), and singer/emcee Emily Richards (formerly of Action City Blackout).
The lineage of Metal Monday dates back 10 years to the ol’ Johnny Ola’s days in Avondale.
Sometimes billed as “Haireoke,” the original Metal Monday band formed in 2004 when guitarist/singer Ward Williams, bassist Jonathan Gray, and drummer Evan Bivins (all of popular art-pop band Jump, Little Children) hooked up with guitarist Kenny Harris (of the Films) to kick off a weekly series at Johnny Ola’s, a West Ashley dive bar situated where the Voodoo Tiki Bar now resides.
Eventually, singer/guitarist Josh Kaler (of Slow Runner) and bassist/guitarist Chris McLernon (of Iron Cherry, Weird Science, and Saigon Kick) joined in around the time the series moved to the old Cumberland’s venue on King Street.
After a festive run at Cumberland’s, Metal Monday landed at Wet Willie’s in East Bay Street with Kaler, Gray, drummer Jack Burg, and fill-in bassist Donnie Polk handling the core band duties. The series drew decent crowds for about a year, but faded away around 2010.
With two shows at the Tin Roof under their belts, the new Metal Monday crüe is tightening up and expanding their repertoire. On every other Monday, sign-up sheets for would-be metal singers will go out at 9 p.m. at the club. The performances always begin at 10 p.m.
Metronome Charleston spoke with singer Emily Richards this week and about the new series.
Metronome Charleston: When and how did this new Metal Monday series start coming together?
Emily Richards: It really just came from our love of metal, performing, and the lack of live band karaoke in Charleston these days. We’re just here to give the people what they want: more metal!
Metronome Charleston: Is it fair to tag you as the band’s lead singer and the event’s emcee or ringleader?
Emily Richards: Sure. Emcee Sleazy E, the Moderator of Metal. I can dig that.
Metronome Charleston: How did you and the band feel about the show on opening night two weeks ago? It seemed a bit and raw and loose at times, but we saw and heard a lot of energetic action and funny performances from those who signed up to sing — from first-timers and amateurs to seasoned vocalists like Elise Testone.
Emily Richards: We had a blast the first night! Last Monday [June 30] was the second installment, and it was even better — more people, more talented singers/performers, and an even bigger party. We couldn’t be more stoked. And we encourage everyone to get up on stage with us, live-band karaoke virgins or seasoned vets.
Metronome Charleston: A lot of local musicians and metalheads have fond memories of the original “Metal Monday” events at the old Johnny Ola’s in West Ashley and at Cumberland’s on King Street. What are some of your fondest memories of those early days with the live-band karaoke series?
Emily Richards: Ah, the good ol’ days. Wow, Johnny Ola’s is taking me back! The old Cumberland’s was hands-down the biggest party on a Monday night in Charleston. There were a few Mondays that they reached capacity and there was a line of people outside waiting to get in. And such talented performances. This guy got really into his song he ended up in nothing but his boxers by the end of it. Actually, I seem to remember several “stripped down” performances taking place now that I think about it. It was such a blast.
Metronome Charleston: Did you have any favorite rock/metal classics to sing back in the initial heyday of Metal Monday?
Emily Richards: Of course. AC/DC and Mötley Crüe, for sure. The Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane” was my jam in those days. I think I go through karaoke phases. It’s fun to explore new genres and styles and challenge yourself vocally. I went through a female singer phase and sang a lot of Scandal and Tina Turner. Right now I’m really into the high register metal vocalists like Bruce Dickinson [of Iron Maiden], Michael Matijevic [of Steelheart], or Michael Kiske [of Helloween]. That shit is a workout!
Metronome Charleston: It seemed like the Metal Monday band always included a wide variety of ’70s and ’80s rock, hard-rock, punk, and metal classics with maybe a few additional nü-rock and modern metal tunes. It wasn’t unusual to hear a Joan Jett or Blondie song backed with super-heavy Metallica or Maiden. Has the new Metal Monday band tried to feature that kind of musical variety so far?
Emily Richards: Yeah, we try to mix it up. We want people to have a good time and find a song that they can give a kick-ass performance to. We’ll be adding more selections as the weeks go on — Hair Metal, Heavy Metal, Rock, Glam, Hardcore, and everything in-between.
Metronome Charleston: You and the core band — Shawn Krauss, Mike Grimm, and David Grimm — have had only a few weeks to brush up on tunes. How’s the set list looking so far, and what are some of the hits and faves you plan to add over the summer?
Emily Richards: The list is growing quickly. The guys are all insanely talented musicians, so it’s awesome to get together and watch how quickly they fly through these songs. It’s exciting to pull out some of these old records again, too. I haven’t really explored some of this stuff in years. We’re coming up with artists to add to the list daily. Next up: Thin Lizzy, Autograph, and Kix!
Metronome Charleston: Will there be any guest musicians joining the Metal Monday band from time to time this summer?
Emily Richards: Without a doubt. Of course, we’ve already had the wonderful Elise Testone come out and rock with us. I heard the cats in Iron Cherry with be on tour again this summer and hitting Charleston, so keep an eye out for those crazy bastards to bring a party through Metal Monday. Ryan Ashhurst [of Stone Mountain Freeway] is getting off tour and will be headed back to town, so he may be our first guest. Can’t get much more Metal than that, huh?
Metronome Charleston: Is there any hair metal or pop metal too cheesy for the band to consider covering?
Emily Richards: No. Mo’ cheddar, mo’ better!
Metronome Charleston: What is the main goal for Metal Monday this summer?
Emily Richards: In the immortal words of Steven Sweet of Warrant, “Our Philosophy? Have fun, get laid, get drunk.” I think that pretty much sums it up.
Metal Monday returns to the Tin Roof on Mon. July 17. Admission is $5. Doors open at 9 p.m. Visit reverbnation.com/venue/tinroofwashley for more.
Photos by Ballard Lesemann.
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