Long time Dallas Fort Worth metroplex residents and heavy metal musicians John Perez and Rick Perry have been friends for 35 plus years. Each in their own right have carved their own heavy metal path. Perez with doom metal band Solitude Aeturnus, Rotting Corpse and more recently the Liquid Sound Company. Perry with Gammacide, industrial metal outfit Puncture and more recently Iron Jaw.
Besides their friendship, both share an avid admiration of the NWOBHM and other underground metal bands.
Perez and Perry fully know the terminology behind NWOBHM and what it represents. Unfortunately, some do not. The birth of those letters goes back to March 1979 and what’s referred to as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
Heavy Metal household recognizable band names that flew under the NWOBHM flag would include Iron Maiden, Saxon, Raven, Venom, Girlschool, Diamond Head and yes, even Def Leppard. Lesser known bands would include Holocaust, Witchfynde, Demon, Samson, Tygers of Pan Tang and others that sported denim and leather or both.
Building the NWOBHM Homeage
Time has always evaded Perez and Perry over the last ten years, until the Spring of 2020. They have wanted to put together a band that paid homage to the NWOBHM.
The push to initiate the reality came in the form of reaching out to a fellow metal brother. When time allowed, the two would sit down alternating days for the NWOBHM sessions.
As each session passed, the mere thought of just lending a hand took a more serious turn. More personnel were recruited and by the fall, HEADBANGER was born. It was an ideal band name for a tribute project of NWOBHM bands. A name for such a band could not have been better.
Joining the ranks of HEADBANGER would be vocalist Greg Spicoli Reneau who’s known around the DFW metroplex as an on air personality, hosting Reckless Rock Radio, bassist Pat Bohn and drummer, Lance Williams.
It was the announcement of Williams’s name that interest in the band took on a new form.
Williams is known in the metal circles of DFW and beyond as a driving force of Texas metal back in the early days circa 1979.
Williams was a founding member of Boss Tweed, a band who helped open doors for metal bands such as Pantera and Rigor Mortis. The band was known for such out of this world antics that a Hollywood script writer wouldn’t even be able to create such tales.
Williams also had one of the first Metal Fanzines titled Heavy Metal Times and was the first person to interview Venom in the United States. Ideally, he was the perfect fit for HEADBANGER.
The band would rehearse one a week, normally on Sunday nights where they perfected their craft.
Their NWOFBHM dedication and work ethic would be unleashed to the DFW metal community. The band debuted Saturday night, February 6 at the Haltom City Theater, a small town theater tucked into the DFW metroplex and one of the venues hosting live shows.
The Night had Arrived
There was a buzz in the air about HEADBANGER. People were curious as to what band would bring to the table. HEADBANGER would only present music from 1978 to 1982.
Much to the perplexed crowd, air raid sirens wailed through the theater rafters. HEADBANGER launched into their set opener, Holocaust’s “Heavy Metal Mania” from the 1979 debut The Nightcomers.
The band quickly established themselves with the opener followed by Witchfynde’s 1980 debut title track Give em’ Hell.
By this point , the crowd realized there was something special happening on stage.
With brief band introductions, Perez instructed the crowd to pull out their heavy metal prayer cards they received upon entrance and sing along to the next song. The two sided card consisted of the HEADBANGER logo on one side and the lyrics to Manowar’s “Metal Daze” on the other. The song comes from the band’s 1982 debut Battle Hymns, the third song in HEADBANGER’s set.
HEADBANGER returned to the NWOBHM with Demon’s “Night of the Demon”, the title track from the band’s 1981 debut album. The crowd was devouring every note of these true NWOBHM tunes being played live. Songs that some may not have heard in over three decades.
After a quick break vocally, Reneau spoke a few words before introducing the band’s next song.
HEADBANGER would reach back to the 1978 Judas Priest release Stained Class. To the surprise of the crowd, they pulled out “Savage”, not “Beyond the Realms of Death” or “Exciter”.
Throughout the crowd there were looks of astonishment. The thought of how much better could the set list get was definitely on thor minds. Things would only get better.
Walking away for a vocal break, Williams began the driving double beat of Motorhead’s “Overkill” while taking over vocal duties, a special moment for the elusive Williams, It’s been 22 years since he’s been on stage.
After a brief absence, Reneau returned and explained their next song was from the best unknown American band, RIOT’s “The Outlaw” from the 1981 Fire Down Under album. It’s a release that many consider to be one of the finest metal albums to this day.
Moving eastward in Europe, HEADBANGER pulled “Can’t get Enough” from the Scorpions’ 1979 Lovedrive album. HEADBANGER wrapped up the night in true NWOBHM form with Saxon’s “Princess of the Night” from the band’s 1981 Denim and Leather album.
Performing this song live for Reneau was special as Saxon is his favorite band. Also when he posted on social media he would perform the song, Nigel Glocker, Saxon’s drummer wished him well. Needless to say, he admitted to being a tad nervous.
In the end, the nine song HEADBANGER set flew by on metallic eagle wings. It was a fantastic compilation set of old school metal. The first two lines of “Heavy Metal Mania”, the opening song said it best.
Where is the power, where is the glory?
Heavy Metal is my story.
HEADBANGER’s story Saturday night was that of vintage old school metal and the NWOBHM.