DOWN THE HATCHET! 

The details on this fractured fairy tale are a bit foggy. We had to check in with drummer Mike Lamm who attempted to “fill in the gaps” on the exact location of this foamy incident, but regardless of where it happened…this is one for the archives. 

Some of us thought this happened at the infamous Channel in Boston, but we can’t find an account of the date of the gig and Mike swears it happened at Mr. C’s Rock Palace up in Lowell Massachusetts sometime in the summer of 1983 or 1984.

Any who!…it involves the band Molly Hatchet. All the original members of the hard rockin’ “Hatchet” have since passed on so you’ll have to have a little faith in our recollection of this incident. 

We were opening up for Molly Hatchet on this hot summer night, and we were excited about the good size crowd that was expected. We got to the venue a little early to catch their soundcheck, hoping we’d get one too, and when we arrived at the club, the band was already there and enjoying the “pre-gig” festivities. 

Molly Hatchet had a reputation as a hard-drinking party band that loved to play, and on this night, they showed their party muscle. 

In their contract rider, they had a clause regarding “beer”. The club’s stage manager told us that they had something in the agreement that stated the beer must keep flowing! 

Beside the stage was a big trash barrel, filled with ice and beer cans. The band and crew had already dug deep into the supply before they even started tuning up. 

Molly Hatchet must have been working on some new tunes, because the soundcheck went on for a while! 

We hung out waiting to put our gear on stage, but it was looking like we weren’t getting a soundcheck. Meanwhile…Molly Hatchet had gone through that first barrel of beer and was busting thorough the 2nd one in record time. 

It was way past soundcheck time for us and the doors were about to open, but the band keep playing, jamming and drinking beer! They went through another full trash barrel when they finally stopped and we scrambled to get out stuff on the stage. 

The club manager was a little ticked off, cause he had to keep filling the barrel but he seemed to calm down when they finished their soundcheck, anticipating that the band would be leaving the club and coming back for their set later in the evening. 

Molly Hatchet didn’t leave. 

We set-up..ran to some closet that was supposed to be a dressing room to throw on our stage clothes and the doors opened and the place started filling up. Meanwhile… The barrel had been relocated to just outside the bands dressing room…and when we looked in it as we headed to the stage to play our set…it was empty! 

The club manager filled it up again…we played to a great crowd and had a solid set and were making our way back to the dressing room when we saw the club manager having a fit cause the band and crew had finished off another barrel. We couldn’t believe these guys could stand - never mind play! 

We toweled off, and threw on tee-shirts, …and the club manager said something about “fixing these guys real good” regarding the unbelievable consumption of beer. He had crawled into some dusty dark space near the stage and pulled out about 3 cases of “Narragansett Lager” beer that looked as old as the Native American waters it was named after.  Skunk Beer for sure… 

He loaded up the barrel, the guys in Molly Hatchet were having a good ole’ time…and taking their time getting on with the show. The crowd was restless. 

They finally made it to stage…and tore into a ripping set…Narragansett cans in tow. We didn’t stay for the entire set and we packed our van full of gear, but took one more peek at that barrel, now full of water- that had made its way back to the side of the stage again. It was almost empty.  Band didn’t seem to care what they were drinking! 

Don’t know if that barrel got filled again, and we wondered what the club manager stuck in there for the next round. That was hardest we’ve ever seen a band party, AND play at the same time, and it should get filed under, “never attempt this with guitars in hand”!

The TRUTH behind the great METALLICA heist of 1984 

The Metallica “heist”. It was January 1984. We had made some noise with our single Teenage Livin’ which was a #1 song on WBCN’s local music watch. The band’s fan base was growing and we landed an opening slot for the band Metallica at The Channel, a good size club that held up to 2,000 people when it was packed. 

The night before the gig, we got a call from the club’s booking agent, and he asked us for a favor. Metallica’s equipment had been stolen and they needed to borrow our gear. Like Metallica, we also played with Marshall stack amps and Tama drums so he figured we’d help them out.  We agreed. The link to the article from Metal Injection (see the article here) states that AFTER the gig at The Channel, was when their gear had been stolen, but it was BEFORE the show… and that’s why we got the call. 

Our road crew had to show up early and they weren’t happy about it. They were setting up the stage for Metallica’s sound check when a truck with gear lent from the band Anthrax or this could have been before Anthrax lent them equipment - pulled up into the alley behind the stage to load in borrowed gear. 

No one had told Metallica’s road crew that we were lending them our gear… AND no one told us that Metallica didn’t need our stuff after all. 

Communication Breakdown. 

The road manager from Metallica started screaming at our road manager to get our shit off the stage! He was probably pissed off cause his bands gear got ripped off…on his watch. 

Opening acts never put their equipment on the stage until the headliner tells them to. Big no, no. 

Well the yelling didn’t go over too well with our crew. There was some screaming and yelling back, the situation came close to blows thrown between our crew and theirs… and after a few threats someone finally passed the information on to Metallica’s crew what we had done. 

Nobody apologized. We didn’t get a soundcheck either… 

On with the show. 

Metallica was OK…but the best band that day…and that includes Metallica… was another local band from Brockton called Steel Assassin. 

Great guys who played a tight, ripping set of new wave of British heavy metal… They had a great stage show to. 

It turned out to be a great gig for us…although we were more of a “hard rock” then a metal band, the all ages crowd were into it. We picked up some new fans- James Hatfield wrote Fade to Black in response to the bands gear being stolen.

Halcyon Days!

Doctor....Did you take my meds? 

It was December 1984 and I had just joined Axminster in October of that same year. The band had already had a bunch of air-play and was gigging all the time and my first few shows with them were at The Paradise Rock Club with Alvin Lee and a WBCN Lunch Time show at a packed Celebrations Night Club on a Thursday afternoon. Free Hot Dogs and cheap beer! The gigs so far held promise for where we wanted to go as a band. 

In the short time together, we had a written a hand full of tunes and the band couldn’t wait to get back into the studio to record. We booked time at Normandy Sound Studios with Phil Greene at the controls and Hirsh Gardner producing. 

The basic tracks for Only A Stranger, Hands Wettin’ The Wheel and Hold Me Closer went down pretty fast, and Steve banged out the lead vocals right after. 

It was my turn to go into the studio and lay down my solos and fills. I was well prepared and was having dinner with my girlfriend just before I was about to drive down to Rhode Island that evening to cut my tracks. Steve and Mike Lamm were already at the studio cleaning up some vocals and I was going to meet them down there at little later. 

At the time, I was living with my girlfriend and her uncle. “Uncle Sam” had some mental health issues and my girlfriend and I watched out for him, kept an eye on his well being and made sure he took his psychosis meds. 

Right after dinner, my girlfriend handed me my vitamins and I gulped them down just before packing up my guitars. I guess I missed the memo - because a short time later, my girlfriend asked me what I had done with Uncle Sam’s meds? 

By accident…thinking they were MY vitamins…I had taken them. 

At first panic set in…What was I going do? And then… they started to hit me. I was in a fog…no way could I drive an hour away to Rhode Island, never mind record! 

I made my girlfriend drive me to the hospital. I told the ER folks what had happened and as the effects of the meds were now in full swing, I asked them if they could pump my stomach…. do SOMETHING!…I had a recording session to get to! 

They proceeded to ask me if I was suicidal. 

Then…they shipped me over to the Psych Ward to “talk” to someone. 

My girlfriend made the frantic call to the band to tell them I wouldn’t be making the session. Now…I had just joined these guys, and Steve and Mike were probably thinking they had just brought in a junkie guitarist to the band! 

I was out of it. 

The session was moved to the following day. 

I went home to “sleep it off” and the next day, I was thinking clearer, but still in a little fog. Steve came and picked me up, cause’ I still wasn’t comfortable driving and we headed down from Boston down to the studio. We made small talk on the way down, and I think I nodded off a few times on the drive. 

The amps were already set-up and mic’d when we got there. I tuned up and started on working on the licks to Only A Stranger first. 

We couldn’t get the right feedback, so Engineer Phil Greene had me climb up onto of the console so my guitar would feedback being so close to the monster-sized…and very loud playback speakers I was now standing 2 feet in front off. 

I think Steve had to stand behind me to make sure I didn’t fall off the console. I had about a 2-foot section to balance on. Feeling like I was on some distant auditory planet, and floating along…I ripped off the solo to Only A Stranger. 

The tracks came out pretty good! When it was released, the song got some solid airplay and the video aired on V-66, a local over the air station that was the Boston version of MTV back in the day. (You can hear the song by clicking the link here or watching the video we shot for it a few months later here.) 

That’s just another fractured fairy tale. A page out of the journal of “Why are we doing this”? 

Steve gave me the nickname “The Doctor” shortly there after.

GET ME THE IRON! 

GET ME THE IRON! 

Wanted to share a story that takes us back to the start of Axminster that you might like. Today, Axminster is giving a big “shout-out” to Normandy Sound in Warren, Rhode Island. It’s now called TRIAD, and you can still find the legendary Phil Greene there. 

Axminster got “baptized” at Normandy Sound when father Phil Greene and Producer Hirsh Gardner took us under their wing to record the song TEENAGE LIVIN' back in the summer of 1983. 

I remember asking Phil how long it would take to record our 2-song demo. Phil said “once we set-up, it only takes 3 minutes to play the song”. 

Little did we know… 

We booked 3 “lock-out sessions”, to cut our demo which basically is the grave yard shift from about 11PM until whenever the next session came in the following day. It was the most cost-effective way for us to record, since it was a “flat” charge instead of paying by the hour. 

We were GREEN to say the least, and both Phil and Hirsh never looked at the clock anyway and guided us through the process. Whatever it took…We ended up with a dynamite demo that sounded like a record and when we finished, it propelled us, getting great airplay and it was the jump start a bunch of 20-year old kids in a young band needed. 

BUT….as we were finishing up the mixing, we needed something cool in the section between the first chorus and the 2nd verse. Phil suggested a backwards cymbal. So… the tape op flipped over the 2-inch tape and drummer Mike Lamm smashed a cymbal…we couldn’t wait to hear the effect. Phil asked the tape op to flip the 2-inch tape over again, and mount it correctly. He asked the tape op if it was all set…TWICE. 

After getting the OK, Phil hit play on the remote control. And CRUNCH..the tape wasn’t mounted right, and the 2-inch tape that was moving at 30ips looked like the inside of my grandfather’s accordion. We gasped. 

All the work. Taped ruined! 

Phil…without missing a beat, and without yelling…asked the tape op to go upstairs to the apartment that was above the studio and bring him a clean towel and an iron. 

The tape op…who was DYING inside because he was new too, returned with the iron and towel. Phil, heated up the iron, put the section of crunched tape inside the folded the towel and on the piano bench, if my memory is correct… proceeded to IRON the 2-foot section of tape that was crunched. He then mounted the tape back onto the 2-inch machine, hit play…checked all the tracks in that section and it played back perfectly. 

I know THAT technique ain’t in the recording handbook! Session saved. 

Axminster and Hirsh Gardner had the pleasure of recording at Normandy many times after that, and Phil is a mentor, good friend and a hell of a producer and engineer.