Back in 2003 Strapping Young Lad toured Europe supporting Fear Factory, and being the diehard SYL fan it was a no-brainer I’d take in at least one show and do some press while I was there. The fact that frontman Devin Townsend and I had been crossing paths and doing interviews since 1995 – including a memorable evening at a pseudo-posh Hawaiian restaurant in 1998 ordering up overpriced food and drink that the label paid for – made it a necessary visit, if only to say hello.
A late afternoon interview was scheduled but Devin chose to get some very necessary sleep before the gig, leaving guitarist Jed Simon, drummer Gene Hoglan and bassist Byron Stroud to play hurry-up-and-wait with me. We traded the latest tour, album and industry info until word finally came down that Dev would be available after the band’s set instead. Thus, after double-checking all the necessary guest list arrangements, I made my exit so as not to wear out my welcome.
On the way out through the back door of the venue I encountered a fellow journalist – an assumption (foolishly) made based on the camera bag over his shoulder – and his well endowed eye candy. An inexperienced fellow judging by the way he was waiting around for someone to magically appear and say “Come on in, Dood!” as opposed to simply going in and looking for the tour manager. Not my problem, I decided, but as I walked past – offering a courteous nod to him and his woman’s attributes – he flagged me down.
“Excuse me? Do you know if Al is around?”
I told him I had no idea who Al was, realizing he probably figured I was part of the crew and therefore knew everyone on the tour.
“You know, Al, the singer of Fear Factory.”
For the uninitiated, the singer of Fear Factory is a gentleman by the name of Burton C. Bell. The band has since imploded due to personal and political strife, but at the time Bell was the singer and Fear Factory was anything but an unknown entity. They’ve been around since the early ’90s, so even if someone is doing an interview as a job rather than out of fan-fueled interest, it’s easy enough to find bio material for reference. And what journalist worth the price of his or her socks doesn’t have at least one point of reference?
It took every last bit of willpower not to laugh in the guy’s face. After all, my thinking was and is that no journalist could possibly be stupid enough to interview the frontman of a veteran band and not even know the guy’s name. With that in mind, I figured he was just some guy playing pretend to try and dupe the band out of a guest listing by faking his way through an interview, likely because the goth-flavoured sex bomb on his arm was on his arm. So it went that I did what any good-hearted Canuck would do in such a situation…
I shared his stupidity with the people who would be most amused by it.
The SYL crew got a good laugh out of the mess, as did tour manager Paul Collis, who took matters into his own hands as only an experienced road rat can. Rather than confronting Anti-Journo Boy with his glaring error, Collis suggested the interview could be done between the Strapping and Fear Factory sets. All he needed was a name to put on the guest list for the show, +1 of course. The kid agreed and his woman was aglow. Mission accomplished.
As fate would have it, when I turned up about 15 minutes before SYL’s set, Little Laird Wannabe and She Of The Tits Almighty were standing in the foyer of the venue looking rather upset. Recognizing me from earlier, they asked if I could possibly talk to the tour manager on their behalf, as their names had somehow not made it to the final version of the guest list. I assured them I would do what I could.
Like crack open a beer once inside and pay tribute to a well played hand of karma.