I was commissioned by #Playboyportugal to write a 4000 character piece on our experience abroad the ultimate Metal Cruise: #70000tonsofmetal. I wrote the article in Portuguese, of course, but here follows the possible translation with some changes (including a lot of extra characters) to accommodate foreign readers.
Befor I dwell into that, just a quick consideration: not everybody liked the fact I wrote for Playboy. Some people were quite angry about it for reasons I can only imagine but that for sure root on being prude and a conservatism I wouldn’t expect coming from people who follow my band #MOONSPELL and my lyrics thus aware of my erotic drive and liking and my eternal fascination for women intellectual and physical attributes without any kind of self-imposed boundaries and far away from sexual discrimination of any orientation. One can argue if Playboy is the right place for venturing and affirming these values but I, for one, have always seen these publications as acts of freedom for both of the sexes. In a world that has just celebrated #Internationalwomenday, the discussion between sexes has never been so polluted by radical positions from side to side which are troubling a converging, based not only in a rightful equality of rights and duties; but also contemplating the DIFFERENCE that women and men should celebrate on a daily basis as a warranty of their survival and of their familiar and social structure. So, in a nutshell, I don’t think that if a girl exposes her private parts on a magazine that she is a whore, a witch, an attention-seeker (even tough she will get all kinds of attention, some she couldn’t think of, life’s a gamble) but much more (and more times than one can think) she does it because she wants to affirm her beauty and communicate it into the world. If that brings purity into it or not, we have already too many limits and values that can measure that scale for you. As far as I am concerned, women are free to do whatever they want and if we understand and accept it just as it is, I strongly believe that situations of exploitation would lessen. Exploitation is the sharpen point of a longer spear that hides inside daily routine and inside four walls. And all that is grave and serious but it roots in a culture of puritanism and chauvinism that religions, societies, men and even women (believe it or not) wish to perpetuate in the ugliest of fashions.
I might get back to this, later on. But let’s chill out on that for a while and find out what went inside these ship of very happy and content fools:
FULL STEAM AHEAD
Boat: Independence of the Seas. Tons: 154.407. Cruise speed: 21.6 knots. Length: 338.91 m. Origin: Miami, Florida. Destination: Falmouth, Jamaica. And back. Inside this huge vessel, 1360 crew members to take care of a sell out cruise crowd of 3000 hungry metalheads. Hungry for music, Sun, and a great time on board. Add the bands: 60 acts from 19 different countries who played for fans coming from every continent.This time there was 72 nationalities on board, a record-breaker for the cruise. From Sri Lanka to Canada, from Russia to South Africa, from Australia to Brazil, you name it. Costa Rica, Egypt, Dubai, Cuba brought up a certain exotic flavour to add to the massive presence of the Metal G5 nations: Germany, US, Scandinavia, Spain. Amongst them a few Portuguese. Us, Moonspell, my wife Sonia T. on her first cruise ever, Mariangela (The Murtas) De Murtas (Portuguese by marriage, Tristania singer, proud Sardinian!) who got married with our quite lucky even if super low key guitar player Ricardo Amorim. Our FOH master Jorge Pina always with us, a cruise veteran and our only real crew for this North American run with Epica that ended for us in Orlando, the day before we set sail. Goes without saying we had a great time with the lady and gentlemen of Epica. Such a sweet crowd they have, and we felt welcomed every night by the band and the crew and the crowd like if we were truly important and not just a support band. Great attitude. And that Starkill band, really cool, young and talented guys ready to take the world and all the metal cute teens (who met them at the merch booth religiously after every show) by storm. Great they made it into the cruise as well!!!
Some other Portuguese on board: Patricia from the pool deck bar. She never stopped, i saw her in every shift, night and day, either I was drunk or not, always delivering. Portuguese girl power! And Mario (forgive me if that’s not your name but XX and Coronas have washed many of my memories away) performing hard and fast at breakfast. Curiously, he’s from Alcobaça, the same small Portuguese town (with a big monastery) where my wife’s (motherland, as a really smart friend would put it). Amazing. It’s really true. We can find people from there everywhere in the world. Plus some cool fans we met already at the boat check in and came to say hi.
5 stages this time, 2 gigs per band: 120 concerts plus an All Star Jam, which became one of the most attended shows and a highlight for the whole cruise, where under the friendly and agile coordination of the awesome Jeff Waters from Annihilator, bands teamed up for the first time ever together (us, Delain, Lacuna, Vader, Krisiun, Diamond Head, Dave Lombardo) and played a great repertoire to a full house. Me and my buddies were left to butcher Metallica (For Whom the Bell tolls), Scorpions’ Blackout and Pantera Cemetery Gates and ufff…Motorhead’s Killed by Death. Just a few hours ago we shone brilliance at the Labyrinth’s bar karaoke and our heads were still smoke-filled and boozed out when we hit stage for that jam. Jeff made it alright for us when he sent for fresh beers.
Well, you may rightfully ask (especially if you’re reading Playboy in Portugal) what the fuck is a Metal Cruise, after all? It’s a cruise like no other. Of course you got the shops, the SPA, the restaurants, the casino, the bars, but this kind of cruise couldn’t be bettering showing its concept: its peculiarities and idiosyncrasy. Inside, entertainment spells M.E.T.A.L. in its all and best shapes, endless forms. Even on the great small details and inventions that have become by now boat standards (the metal karaoke where you can sing along to Suffocation if you want; the splash contest always won by a triple XL dude; the guttural voice workshops) and of course the spontaneous moshpit in the jacuzzi, splashing beer and water and sweat and what else all over the surroundings. Watch your step! As Carnival approaches some people just wear a custom through all of the trip. I saw Valderrama (legendary Colombian football player), a lot of pirates, odalisques, and some other I couldn’t figure out in between their too many or too little clothing. They wander through the 14 stages of this huge boat. Some people wear flags on their backs, like super-heroes from Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Australia, Portugal. Of the world.
What’s again curious is that the inventor of this magnificent event is a Swiss who now lives in Vancouver. Andy Piller, our skipper. We met long ago in the nineties, he booked us and Type O Negative in 1996, during their worldwide October Rust tour. We had just released Irreligious, back then. He was literally watching the sea and cruises go by when he had this epiphany: why not a Metal cruise then? And as the man of action he is, his and his crew have put together something that became, probably, the most awaited event of the year for many bands and fans. And it’s all about making it better and bigger now, which is always a good route to take,as far as I´m concerned. This year 70000 tons set a new record for nationalities attending and bands playing. In the first year, 2011, I remember talking to the Portuguese boat accountant and he telling me how happy the cruise was with the bar income, as metal heads were thirstier than anyone else on former cruises. Pure logic.
It was Andy (Piller) who came out and gave the farewell speech after our last song for that night (Full Moon Madness), revealing next year’s destination (Haiti) to the roar of the crowd. And it was him that put us up to play the entire Irreligious album on our first set on the boat to dedicate to his wife Laura, a huge fan of that record. I am sure no one did mind us doing that, to celebrate the twenty years of this album, as the atmosphere on that show was simply incredible for everyone, on stage or attending.
So, besides Andy, who takes sand to the beach? A wife to a Metal cruise? Well, I did. And so did others. And my wife (who’s a singer as well, go figure) got everyone’s attention in the karaoke when she did a redemptive interpretation of Sinatra’s My Way at the karaoke. Suddenly, the mood changed, spirits were up and ready for the follow-up Bocelli’s song by Fabio Leone and for me and Ricardo definitely killing everyone’s mood with our drunken version of 3 little pigs by Green Jelly. Yeah, the stuff we remember when we’re wasted…But coming back to women and wives, this is also the love boat in a way. Not that anyone introduced their show to the soundtrack of that famous TV serie (I think the joke wore out on the second edition), but there’s this commotion in the air, a great, loving vibe that sets the difference between this festival on high sea from the ones in firm land. The absence of a proper backstage area or VIP tent, made many bands think twice before joining this enterprise of the seas. It took a couple of years to get this going, to validate what really is a great atmosphere, made of and under a different approach. Face to face, mouth to ear, drink after drink, the reputation of the festival crowd has been validated and that’s why many bands are doing their premier on board. Take Cradle of Filth for example. They were having the time of their lives!
Even between bands that undeniable sense of competition vanishes. Egos are diluted in a time well spent. Bands watch other band’s shows. They remember good times. They hug and kiss. We all roam though the deck, on a small selfie marathon with the fans. It might get exhausting some times, but the drink the fans pay you after the pictures works gold and satiates. It’s an almost noble atmosphere in which a family with a baby on their lap, mingles with the bikini girls, playing their games, in the jacuzzi. Metal freedom!
The Pool girls. Samantha and everyone else. They are a big part of this. They bring style and sexy to the whole event and they are true metalheads who stage dive with the fiercest. They help organising all the cruise, a whole year round job, and they are never too tired for a kind word, a tip, a drink. They welcome everyone on board and give you the program. They are there, great to look at, great to hang out and talk with, and giving this cruise that female touch an event like this deserves. In a genre (Metal) that is often (wrongly) accused of chauvinism, it’s just great to observe otherwise here at 70000 tons. Here people are relaxed, comfortable on their skin, they connect. After all, we can’t throw false moral here, it’s a cruise, things should happen. This harmony is also very evident on the pure worship that most of the female Metal singers (in great numbers, this year) invoke on their fans. I have seen this while touring with Epica but here there was a big confluence od female fronted bands on this bill that bring a honest smile to those singers’s fans that you can’t avoid to stare at because it’s quite pure and incantatory. Let there be rock of course, as much as one can take, but sometimes it seemed that the very angels were around us while we roamed through the boat. Was that because of Jamaica?
We gotta talk about it. It’s awesome. Just go there.
THE RETURN OF DARKNESS AND EVIL
The trip back is quite violent. The weather is awful and the pool deck stage has to be closed down. Then, eventually, the whole deck. Bad luck for us as we had a superb slot there, coming up that (last) night and people were excited. Inside, the boat was shaking. When we get relocated to the Alhambra Theatre, we can feel and hear the waves banging against the boat. The audience oscillates from one half of the venue to the other. Trés Chaplin.But what’s incredible is that no one, or almost no one, stayed inside their rooms. Everything is packed around and inside. The atmosphere it seems to be undying here. Next day: full breakfast for everyone, recovering the lost souls with coffee and eggs. The disembark is orderly. Out in the port, when we return to Miami, everyone that leaves the boat is gleaming. Today, here in Portugal, it has been raining all day. A whisper inside my head…Haiti…
So this was it, I hope you like it and that you don’t unfollow this blog for tainting my words on the devil’s publication. My friend Hugo (Vinagre) is the one of the editors of Playboy Portugal. He came from Maxmen Portugal, and we did some stuff together there, even a former 70000 tons report from its first edition which was very well received by its readers. When he came out of one Journalism’s most prestigious formation centres in Lisbon, as a newbie,no one really wanted to give him his time for an interview. Well, I did and he became friends, and made many interviews and cool pieces together. And as he climbs up the ladder, he doesn’t forget about his friends and roots. For fuck sake we were listening Anthrax’s (great) new album together and he even reviewed a best of from Anthrax on the music reviews page. Thanks brother, it’s all I say. To sum it up, Playboy is much more of a lifestyle magazine with spice and unfortunately maybe for their die-hard nude pics’ followers they are approaching more of an universe of publications like GQ, for instance. Well, it doesn’t really matter, enjoy the reading and let’s hope for the best. Maybe you prudes just need to chill inside this awesome boat and life live as it should be lived.
With thanks to 70000 tons crew and fans; Andy Piller, a friend and a true skipper; Samantha Guitor and Pool Girls and Hugo Vinagre at Playboy Portugal.