Julian Angel on his love for Hair Metal
After listening to and reviewing Julian Angel´s Beautiful Beast´s
albums (Yes there will come a review on “Californian Suntan”
soon). I proclaimed Julian Angel “King of Hair Metal”.
Then I started wondering how it was that he was so true to a
sub genre of Metal that has been such a target in media for being
out of date?
I went straight to the source and asked Julian if he would like to
share his thoughts with us. And he really liked the idea. So here
is his story, unedited
The blurred picture of high heels walking on wet pavement while a multi
layered choir delivers a catchy hook line backed by screaming guitars
and thunderous drums that literally go crash, boom, bang. A scenario
that could be found daily, back in the day, on small portable TV screens
and that represented the culture of Hair Metal.
Put down by some – or should I say many? – critics as ‘image bigger
than substance’ Hair Metal never had an easy standing both during its
heyday as well as now some – oh my God – thirty years later. But
listening closer I realize that Hair Metal used to be the one type of
popular music with the highest musical quality. One might argue about
the ultra high screams, the nonstop guitar shredding or the general
overproduction (who isn’t overproduced these days, huh?), but you
cannot deny it was good.
I haven’t heard a piece of music after 1990 that can hold up to
Whitesnake’s “Still Of The Night”. Rarely has any guitarist during the
last 25 years ever played riffs the way George Lynch of Dokken or
Ratt’s Warren De Martini would. Even most ‘traditional’ Heavy Metal has
been haunted by uninspired power-chord strumming today, experiencing
a decline in riff work after its glory days.
I truly consider myself a lucky one because I decided to become a
guitarist yet a few weeks before Nirvana released their genre-destroyer. Still at a time when the word ‘musician’ meant ‘rock star’,
a time when talent mattered – and looks too – and no, having the chops
and the looks had not been mutually exclusive. Bought some Metal
Hammer special edition while waiting for the bus that featured guitarists.
Yngwie Malmsteen, Vai, Lynch, Bettencourt, a special about Randy
Rhoads. It set the pace.
So I had a guitar, taught myself how to play it, had Jon Bon Jovi’s solo
record, vinyl disc. Collected all of his band work too. Found out he had
discovered Cinderella, got their’s too. Took guitar lessons later at a
local music store that smelled like electro smog and cigarette smoke,
recording studio atmosphere. My teacher introduced me to the likes of
Dokken, Extreme, Steve Vai and his Frank Zappa background.
But it wasn’t until Spring 1994 – when Hair Metal had been as out-of-fashion as could be – that my classmate and best friend skipped school,
went to the local record store – remember those – and came back with a
CD that was Poison’s “Open Up And Say …Ahh!”. I had heard of them,
but hadn’t known their music. But I didn’t have to. I looked at the inner
sleeve photos and knew right away: that’s what I wanna be !!!
Had my friend listen once and then lend me the disc that would become
my soundtrack for the Summer of ’94 while the rest of the world would
enjoy their Grunge, Brit Pop and European Techno music. I kept carrying
the flag. Wrote a bunch of Hair Metal songs and recorded them in a pro
studio the following year, all by myself, in full 80s regalia.
Carrying the Hair Metal flag meant having people shake their heads at the
sight of my cowboy and fellow musicians would shrug their shoulders at
the mention of Nikki Sixx. When Alanis Morissette would dress in cord
slacks and combat boots and girls around me would copy her style I
kept hoping for the one leftover rock chick that looked like Lita Ford or
Janet Gardener of Vixen. It took me a while to get laid for the first time.
I had principles! Strong ones. Good ones.
Well, for a while I even tried to adapt, forced myself into listening to some
Offspring or Green Day – to no avail. Picked the Southgang CD instead.
Kept doing what I loved, recorded more Hair Metal on a 16-track recorder
in my bedroom. Got put down by the rock and metal magazines in the
late 90s, scored zero out of twelve points, been called a stupid poser,
totally ridiculous. I kept going, for a good course.
The internet and 80s lifestyle don’t really go hand in hand. But it proved
there were still legions of likeminded fanatics out there. Hair Metal fans
who had been told the genre died right after Firehouse and Tuff and who
had been looking for that silver lining – more music, new bands that
never got mentioned by the media, re-releases of finished records that
had landed in the dumpsters of most major label A&Rs.
Is Hair Metal back? Well, not as big as it used to be, but it’s there. You
love the genre? You can keep enjoying it even if those old records have
a few skips and your CD booklets are falling apart. Some new bands are
out there who still know how to rock like 1989. People have become more
sensitive in separating long-haired men from their female counterparts –
well, every now and then some dudes honk when I kiss my girl on the
sidewalk - jeans are tight again and with the help of some duct tape
they fall well over my cowboy boots. The holes are mandatory. What
more could I ask for? I love Hair Metal – and I’ll keep playing it.
Julian Angel is the singer and guitarist of the ‘new’ Hair Metal band
Beautiful Beast. To find more about him and his music, please go to
Last Updated (Friday, 20 February 2015 20:40)