Backstage Adventures

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The Adventures of Zoë

Jim Martin and me (aka Zoe) c Mark Leialoha/Artist Publications

Jim Martin and me (aka Zoë)
Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, 12/28/87

photo © Mark Leialoha/Artist Publications
digital effects © Joy Williams/Artist Publications

Chapter 7 -

In which Faith No More opens for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Zoë fends off Metallica's James Hetfield


Faith No More is a band that Zoë is convinced is going to break big someday.  She'd first been asked by their management to interview the band, and that had happened in New York when they played the New Music Seminar in 1985. (The first time she'd seen them play, at the tiny punk club Mabuhay Gardens on Broadway in their home town of San Francisco, she'd been too tired to do anything more than slump in a corner and watch.)

So at the Seminar a few months later, she'd connected with the band's guitarist, Jim Martin. After the interview, thrown out by the guards because the club was closing, they'd gone raging around the City That Never Sleeps.  (This had led to rumors, "but, hey, people are gonna think what they want to think," Zoë figured.)

"Well, here I am once again, zooming up I-280 on the way to The City for another gig.  At least this time it's a show I'm sure I'll really enjoy: Faith No More opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Warfield Theatre, one of my favorite venues. And I got Mark the gig for his his first photo shoot for Rip magazine. Should be a really cool time," Zoë was reassuring herself this bright, crisp, cool day late in the autumn of '87.

Taking the Embarcadero Freeway and then through the back streets south of Market, Zoë arrives at Mark's studio, parks and they go on to the Warfield in his pickup. Inside, only Jim Martin, the guitarist, is on hand. "The rest of the band's been stopped by snow on the Grapevine (coming over the San Andreas mountains) out of LA," Jim reveals. "We don't even know if they'll make it here in time for the show."

"Oh, damn!  There goes my interview.... But at least we can take a few shots of you, Jim, and one with me for my the 'West Coast Wire' column I write for another mag—and we can hope and pray the rest of the band arrives soon."

The band does arrive in time for the show, but just barely, and by this time the place is absolutely packed.  There's nothing to do but hang out in the tiny dressing room allotted to the opening band at the Warfield—it's too crowded to go out into the audience, even to try to get to the bar. "Thank God we at least have a bathroom in here," Zoë muses," then notices Mike Borden, the drummer, climbing over her head to pee out the window 'cause the bathroom's engaged.

It's so crowded in the Warfield that the temperature is unbelievable. Soon, it's really crowded in in the dressing room, too, as besides the band there's Zoë, Mark the photographer, Jim Martin's mother ("Who are you?" mother wants to know. "Oh, just a reporter. Say, what does a nice, middle-class lady like you think of a son who grows up to look like him?" Zoë nods toward Jim. "Oh, you know," mom answers, "no matter what they look like or how old they get, they're still your little boy...") and a couple of friends helping play roadie for the evening. Actually, there were supposed to be more people here, but word reaches the band that Metallica can't get in.  By the time they've arrived, the place is so jam-packed the Fire Department has shown up and told the promoter, in no uncertain terms, that if one more person enters the building, they'll shut the whole place down as a fire hazard. 

"Whew," Zoë mutters, this place is a hazard to your health already. You can see steam rising off the audience, and the show hasn't even started!"

Red Hot Chili Peppers c Lisa Johnson/Artist Publications

Red Hot Chili Peppers
photo © Lisa Johnson/Artist Publications

"It's 110 degrees in here!" someone kindly informs the group. And then it's time to start. The band emerges from the dressing room and most go up on stage, but first Mike Borden and a friend, side stage, drop their pants and... "Gotta do the dickie dance before going up there," Zoë's informed, much to her astonishment. "It's a tradition."

The band launches into it's set, the audience moshes madly, one girl keeps throwing herself on stage—trying to, apparently, to eat the singer, Chuck Mosely, alive. A guard keeps pushing her back into the audience until, totally exasperated, he literally throws her down the stage stairs.  Undaunted, she tackles the stage again....

The heat continues to rise, and soon Zoë's helping the guards drag limp bodies into the dressing room, the only source of fresh air, where they work on reviving girls who've fainted in the crush and the heat.

Finally, the Chili Peppers are on stage and give new meaning to the word "hot."  "Wow," Zoë marvels, "Flea looks exactly like Jaco Pastorius when he's playing. Brilliant!" 

After the show, when the audience is finally gone and everyone is packing up, and you'd think that everything would quiet down, a huge row erupts. Seems the new promotions guy at some local radio station—who'd been complaining all night about how nobody tells you anything in this business, but you're not supposed to ever make any mistakes—had been secretly taping the Chili Peppers. He got caught. "Well, that's the end of his wondering what to do. He's dead meat now," Zoë reflects. "He was right about one thing, though: you're not supposed to make any mistakes."

It seems to take forever before the bands are paid, but finally all the business is cleared and everyone heads out to dinner, where FNM is joined by James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett and his wife Rebecca, Lars Ulrich and his wife Debbie, Jim Martin's brother Lou, and a few others who've known each other for years. Everyone's having a rollicking good time—except Zoë, who hasn't a clue what all the insider jokes are about 90% of the time.

The next night FNM and the Chili Peppers are playing a venue in a South Bay city, Santa Clara to be exact (the heart of Silicon Valley). Zoë and Mark are there early again, hoping to finally get the band photos for Rip. While setting up, the Chili Peppers' manager comes by, "Why aren't you doing my band?" he plaintively whines. "'Cause I learned long ago that to try to cover more than one band at a time was just too much stress. Hell, it's hard enough to get it right for just one! Besides, I don't have an assignment, and I don't work for free." And he slinks off.

Jim Martin & Lars Ulrich c Steve Jennings/Artist Publications

Jim Martin & Lars Ulrich
I-Beam, San Francisco, CA 9/28/87
© Steve Jennings/Artist Publications

There's more hanging around, of course, and this time James Hetfield had made sure he would get in—he came early, too. Zoë'd met James once before, at a Faith No More gig at the I-Beam. That time, he and Lars had been around in the dressing room all night and everything had been cool until after the show.  Then, Lars and James came over to where Zoë and Jim were talking, and joined in. Zoë, ever the smart-mouth, said something that set Lars off.

"Who's she?" Lars had suddenly demanded of Jim, "Is she all right?" 

"Yeah, she's all right," Jim had assured him. 

"Well, OK," Lars had snarled, "but you can't publish anything I've said all night!"

"Don't worry," Zoë'd shot back, "If I take 'fuck' out of it, you haven't said anything anyway!"

James had thought this was pretty funny, and Zoë could tell he was somewhat intrigued with her. But that didn't prepare her for what was to happen this night:

At first, everything was fine. Everyone hung out in the dressing room, chatting before the show. Zoë perched on a staircase and started asking James impromptu questions, dumb questions, since she really wasn't prepared to "interview" him, just the sort of silly thing you'd say to someone you'd just met at a party for instance: "Oh, those are neat pins on your jacket, tell me about them..."

When James answered reasonably, civilly even, everyone acts amazed: "Wow," Jim's brother Lou marveled, I've never heard him respond to anyone who asked him that question before! "Hmm, Zoë muses, "I'm onto something here, maybe I've a chance to get that rarely bestowed access to the infamously closed 'Metallica family.'" And turning to Mark she urges, "take a picture, take a picture." "I don't dare," Mark quavers—he knows the band's reputation. "Oh, do it," Zoë urged, "instinct tells me it'll be OK." And it was. James doesn't bat an eyelid.

Jim Martin & James Hetfield c Mark Leialoha/Artist Publications

Zoë with Jim Martin of Faith No More and James Hetfield of Metallica
Santa Clara, CA, 12/29/87

photo © Mark Leialoha/Artist Publications

Not wanting to get hurt, Zoë stays on the side of the stage during Faith No More's set, well away from the moshers and stage divers. But when the Chili Peppers came on, James—who, unlike a lot of musicians, is a big guy, over 6 foot—talks Zoë into the audience: "C'mon, I'll protect you," he promises. And they push their way in front of the stage, near the amplifier stacks.

Next thing she knows, James is helping Zoë back to her feet—she's been hit by a stage diver and knocked down. "Some protection!" Zoë pouts, just as she's hit again. But this time she's slammed into the amplifier stacks, cracking her head. "That's it! I'm outta here," and Zoë stumbles backstage again. "The view's not so great, nor the sound, but at least I'm safe here."

Or so she imagines.

Dizzy from hitting her head, Billy Gould reaches into his duffel bag. "Here," he says, "take these. They're l-tryptophan, a brain chemical. They'll help you." But the wooziness remains, though she does spend the next half-hour helping Billy untangle his hair from a dangly earring—all that head-banging is always causing problems of one sort or another.

Finally, the show's over and Zoë finds herself suddenly alone with James and Jim's brother Lou. "Here," James says, "let me hold your coat for you." And he takes it and puts it behind him, out of reach.

"Huh?" Zoë thinks, "something funny is going on here...."

"We want you to put this on," Lou says, holding up a large-sized Faith No More shirt T-shirt.

"Oh, OK," Zoë says, and pops it over her head.

"No, we want you to take your other clothes off first."

"What? You've got to be kidding! I'm not taking anything off," Zoë insists, heading back into the dressing room, hoping for some help out of this awkward situation. But the band is in the Chili Pepper's dressing room; the only other person in this dressing room now is a friend of James's. 

"Come on, we want...." they keep insisting, slowly backing Zoë into a corner.

Finally, Jim Martin re-enters the room. "Eek, Jim, help me," Zoë wails, "They're trying to make me take my clothes off!"

"So?" Jim says, looking away.

"Jim!  I told you, I'm a reporter, not a groupie! You have to help me," a note of panic creeping into Zoë's voice.

And, fortunately, Jim responds, turns around and says to his brother and James Hetfield:  "Lou. James. It's time to go home."

"Oh, but we want to go home with Zoë," Lou leers.

"Now!" Jim insists. And walks them out of the venue, leaving Zoë to collect her coat and go home. Alone.

Interview with Faith No More next
History of Metallica next


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