Music and hockey: an all-star forum, part two

Ryan Kennedy
Saves-the-Day

On Thursday, I unleashed part one of a hockey and music forum featuring some of the people I like to talk about on those two topics. Here now is the conclusion of that session. Once again, the panel is composed of the following all-stars:

Nathan MacKinnon: Calder Trophy-winning center for the Colorado Avalanche, hip-hop head.

Drew Stafford: Veteran Buffalo Sabres right winger, heavy metal fiend

Boyd Devereaux: Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings. Now retired, his company Waking Sound makes hockey promo videos featuring highlights set to music. He also founded the label Elevation Recordings, which put out psyche/noise/underground artists.

Vinny Karpuszka: Arena DJ for the Pittsburgh Penguins, heavy metal enthusiast

Sunaya Sapurji: Junior hockey writer for Yahoo! Sports and its Buzzing the Net blog

Uffe Bodin: Editor in chief and writer for Hockeysverige.se.

Arun Bali: Guitarist for Saves the Day, die-hard Red Wings fan now living in Nashville

Now onto the big topic: Metallica. I know a lot of players love the band, but I find many don’t distinguish between old and new Metallica, which I find insane.

VK: We play a lot of Metallica at Consol Energy Center. We sometimes joke that they’re the house band. We play stuff from “Kill ‘Em All” all the way up through “Death Magnetic.”
Personally, I love old-school Metallica. Their first four albums are crucial, with “Ride The Lightning,” “Master Of Puppets” and “…And Justice For All” being mandatory for any metal fan. “The Black Album” until now…well, I’m not the biggest fan of that stuff.  I understand that as artists they expanded their horizons and wanted to try new things and broaden their sound – and that’s great, I fully support any band or artist doing that – I just prefer early Metallica.

AB: My upbringing definitely included a lot of Metallica: “Kill ‘Em All” up through “The Black Album.” Do players have a hard time distinguishing the difference between old and new?  I find that insane as well. Maybe they aren’t listening close enough or just want to bang their head to something. Other than “Death Magnetic,” I prefer the old stuff when it comes to Metallica.

DS: Pre-“Black Album” all day, everyday.

SS: Music is so subjective – it’s all personal preference. Bands have to grow and change, but I pretend new Metallica isn’t happening. My cut-off is “The Black Album,” which I’m lukewarm about. For me, it got even worse after Jason Newsted left. Too much drama. “Master of Puppets” and “Ride the Lightning” are genius though.

Maybe it’s a generational thing for players? They’ve grown up with iPods shuffling songs and albums constantly – maybe that makes it more difficult for them to discern the old stuff from the new?

I’m with you there. I can’t help but like “The Black Album” because it had some really strong singles. At the same time, you can point to the change in style there as the beginning of the end for them. So it’s bittersweet, I guess? I think we can agree that the incredible “Some Kind of Monster” documentary ruined a lot of the band’s mystique (particularly the Dave Mustaine/Lars Ulrich therapy session).

SS: I agree 100 per cent on “Some Kind of Monster.” During those therapy sessions you could see the band turning into Spinal Tap right before your eyes. More rock, less talk about your multi-million dollar art collection. I sort of feel sad for Kirk Hammett (who always looks so chill) for having to deal with all the drama.

VK: And to top it off it was filmed around the recording of arguably the worst album of their career (at the least the worst sounding record of their career), “St. Anger.”

I know you’ve played Mastodon at the rink before, but I was curious if there is a sonic/acoustic reason that certain metal songs wouldn’t work in such a large setting. For example, the vocals on “Crusher Destroyer” or other early Mastodon tracks tend to be harsher than more recent songs. At the volume you’re spinning, does that matter at all?

VK: You hit the nail on the head with the word “vocals.” I do my best to avoid playing any metal with harsh vocals, which can be pretty tough! Some songs I’ll edit around the vocals and try to loop the main riff. Pantera’s “I’m Broken” is a good example. That lead riff just crushes, but once the vocals kick in I think the uninitiated or non-metalhead would be turned off to it. So I made an edit with just the riff and play that. As far as the audio quality of metal going over the PA, it generally sounds pretty sick. The PA system at Consol is tuned to more or less be a rock and roll PA system. Plenty of low-end and the hi’s and mid’s are nice and crunchy.

Do you think you could get away with playing the new Mastodon track “High Road” at the rink, assuming you went with the chorus, where it’s a little more singy than growly?

Hmmm, I’m not sure about that one. No doubt I’d love to play it; it’s got that great opening riff that’s consistent through out the song. And it’s not as proggy as recent Mastodon material has been; it’s a pretty straight forward rock-metal tune. It’d make a great warm-up song, that’s for sure. I think the vocals are acceptable. What it all comes down to is how recognizable it is to the fans. If the local alt rock radio station is spinning it consistently, then that’s kind of our go ahead to put it on our playlist.

Drew, you’re a big Mastodon fan, what do you think of the new album?

DS: It’s great. Those guys just know how to write good songs. Their tone is first-class and Brann is one of my favorite drummers, so I’m a little biased in saying that he always sounds awesome.

Boyd, with Waking Sound you put highlights to music. Is there anything particular that makes a song work? I know you used Black Mountain once and I thought it was great, though I don’t know if I could identify why.

BD: It depends on what we’re trying to get across in the video, but I always look for the music to attach feeling to the footage. Now whenever I come across a great song or section of a song in my listening I habitually imagine it overtop of hockey footage. I think heavy riffs or beats work well because of the power and speed of the game, but I really enjoy selecting music that initially seems like a stretch but somehow fits when we try it in the editing suite. Which is the most fun about doing this video work.

Finally, any opinions on Skrillex?

NM: Can’t stand Skrillex, ha ha!

SS: It’s a symphony of car alarms going off.

DS: I’m not a fan, but good for him for jumping on a trend and cashing in while it’s hot. Unfortunately, I went and saw Transformers and the whole time I was like, “this is Skrillex.”