TIAS’s Senior Hair Band Correspondent scores world exclusive with the Group of Death
If you were one of the lucky few who snagged a t-shirt in Seattle during the Supporters Summit, than you might know the Group of Death. For the rest of you, it’s merely the hardest group, with the toughest teams, pooled together in one group during the World Cup draw–which goes down today at Noon, setting off a full day of wholly unique soccer events in New York…
Which brings us back to the Group of Death–not the group, but the band. The vagabond heavy metal band of soccer loving, hairspray abusing, face painting leather freaks that tours once every four years. Talk to them and it’s, “awesome this,” “melt off that” to the point where the music becomes the least of your problems when trying to glean any sort of information out of them. Or at least that was my experience with the band of misfits-doesn’t-even-get-it-close. The Group of Death. Why they wanted to do an interview with TIAS, I’ll never know. Should I feel proud? Ashamed? Or scared about just how easy it is to find me?
And on Friday, it will be very easy to find me, as it’s one of those great days to live in New York. World Cup draw at the international bar or restaurant of your choice from Noon-3. At 4pm I’ll be at Niketown NY to finish up my first on-camera work during Live With Landon, a streaming event broadcast live on Facebook. Then straight from there to Nevada Smiths for the opening night of GoD’s world tour, which I think is called ‘GoD Help Us’.
Somewhere while sitting down with the four members of the Group of Death, between their music making me self conscious and their juggling causing my ears to bleed, I was able to get in a few questions and three separate confrontations.
TIAS: I don’t mean any respect with this question but why have I never heard of you guys? Around since 1958? 14 albums? You look kind of young for those numbers.
Baron von Steve (vocals, bass, vuvuzela): Don’t worry, man. No respect taken. We’re surprised that you haven’t heard of us. We’re huge in Southeastern Asia and many of the Central American countries. If you spend any amount of time in Belmopan, Belize, you wouldn’t be able to escape the Group of Death. They love us over there.
And as far as our age, you’re right. The Group of Death is like a soccer-inspired heavy metal version of Menudo. It’s been around for over 50 years, but our membership changes all the time. Except, you know how Menudo has an age limit? In the Group of Death, you have to retire when it becomes obvious that you can no longer shred. We call it getting Black Carded. Once you get that Black Card, you’re out. It’s pretty intense but everyone understands, it’s all about the soccer-inspired music. When you lose that focus, you gotta go.
Is this supposed to be funny?
The Ant (guitar): That depends. If you think it’s funny to show up to a concert and have four of the most badass musicians ever completely melt your face with their awesome songs and unconditional love for the greatest game ever then, yes, we are hilarious.
A question for Steve - Did you get your singing training in the coal mines of Appalachia or Wyoming?
Steve: True story: When I was kid, I took voice lessons and was studying to become the fourth generation von Steve to sing with the Vienna Boys Choir. The day before my big audition, The Ant and I were kicking around a soccer ball when all of the sudden I see a zeppelin flying through the sky. No kidding – a real live zeppelin like you see in those crazy black-and-white movies. So I’m staring at this thing fly past and The Ant kicks the ball to me. Hard. It hits me smack in the throat and distorts my windpipe. I lost my melodious pipes and had to change my sound. Oh, and I started eating glass on stage. That probably had some effect.
I heard Spinal Tap was talking about your guys at a recent show. Something about yanks wouldn’t know a football if they ordered it at a drive-through window? what’s your response to that?
Joel “Jooooeeeeellllll!” Trucadero (guitar): The Tap loves football and they get pretty heated about it, especially when someone starts talking about England’s choke-worthy history. As far as us yanks and our knowledge about the game, that must have been Nigel yapping. The dude has more opinions than the Brazilians have chants and, in either case, I can’t understand any of them. I will say this though: next time a yankee comes up to your drive-through window, make sure you have our orders ready because we don’t want to waste time.
OK, so a joint show with Spinal Tap is probably out - but what bands would you like to share a stage bill with?
Monster Matt Amretsnom (drums): “Heavy Metal” is not a sound, it’s a state of mind. We love musicians and bands who share that state of mind with us. That’s why we would want to jam with the original head banger, Ludwig von Beethoven. That dude was melting faces way back in the day and that is a serious feat because everybody used to powder their mugs so you know he had to work for it. We’d also love to play with some of those Gregorian monks. Those guys are intense. They’d be chanting and all that while we’re blowing out monitors. It’d be awesome.
Now you say it would be a mistake to underestimate the Group of Death. But what about over-estimation?
The Ant: When you come to a Group of Death concert, it’s easy to overestimate how long it will take us to completely rock your world and transport you to a place of footballized metalness. You might think it will take three or four songs for us to get inside your head but when you hear us rip into the opening chords of “Welcome To The Group of Death,” you’re ours in like three or four seconds. And that is a documented fact.
How many times have you seen Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure?
Steve: Somewhere between 150 and 175 times but only twice with sound. The rest were just studying techniques.
Where do your WAGS fall into the ratings chart? Up with the Arsenal and Manchester Uniteds? Down with Preston North End? or is it more like Watford during the reign of Sir Elton John?
Matt: Our WAGS are above ratings. This is something that we are very proud of.
What’s it like to make out with lady with a melted face?
Steve: It’s like eating an ice cream cone on a hot, summer day: you gotta work quick and choose your spots wisely, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious.
Even Metallica cut their hair. By keeping the sprayed-up mullets, are you sending an underground message to all the douche bags out there still hanging on to their autographed copies of “look what the cat dragged in”?
Joel: First of all, the term “mullet” has negative connotations and, in reality, some of the best players in the history of the game have showcased long, flowing locks that were still manageable up front. Secondly, If Samson understood the power of hairspray, he never would have cut his powerful mane. Thirdly, instead of listening to “Look What The Cat Dragged In” you should be listening to our monster hits on “Heart Stoppage Time.”
Who do you think should have won last season’s Rock of Love with Brett Michaels? That Heather is a real bitch isn’t she?
The Ant: Sorry, we don’t know. We play heavy metal, not poseur pop.
Yeah, umm, right, so what would The Group of Death’s reality show be like?
Joel: We would take four of the most radical football stars on the planet and teach them how to rocker out with their soccer out. It would be totally awesome and at the end of the series, they would play a huge concert at Nevada Smith’s. Then they would know would it’s like to really live the dream.
Who is going to win the world cup?
Steve: Easy, the Group of Death.
That’s not even a team. But you sure are confident. Could this opinion be as misplaced as your ego?
Come on Spangler, you know that no matter how many teams compete, the Group of Death always wins.
Catch The Group of Death live at Nevada Smiths tonight (shows 5pm and 8pm) and keep your eyes peeled for a GoD documentary.
Join Clint Dempsey, Jonathan Bornstein, Robbie Rogers, and of course Landon Donovan for Live With Landon, a live streaming event on Facebook. Rob Stone is hosting, and I have the privilege of handling the man on the street segments, as well as a short promo piece. Join us won’t you?