I’m really trying to hit the finish line before it’s too late. It’s literally the day of the event and I’m trying to write something up on Stihleto before I go back to the drudgery of preproduction -that I’m very behind on- for my first ever music video. So forgive me if this article feels rushed and short.
That’s what bass player of Stihleto, Sam Hariss, said when we were eating tacos at the Lower East Side on a New York City afternoon. I had a Bukowski book in my hand and he gave me a resentful look because I was preaching how a lot of the big rockstars read literature that’s beyond Please Kill Me. He hated that I didn’t read Please Kill Me yet, and I hated that he didn’t know Bukowski at the time.
“I just hate that Ritchie Blackmore wears a fucking wizard hat! How the fuck are you gonna convince me that Deep Purple is cool after that?!!”.
Sam and I are always fighting over who the superior band is. His favorite band is Motley Crue, who I can’t stand. And my favorite band is Deep Purple. I’m usually very good at swaying my challengers when we debate about rock n roll issues but that wizard hat remark really put the stopper on me
I do have to confess, I had a phase in my life where I was an all out butt rocker. And Motley Crue used to be my favorite band. That’s how Sam and I met. Remember in the 90’s when Motley Crue changed singers? That singer, John Corabi, had a show with his solo band in Long Island with the Tracii Guns version of LA Guns. You’d expect the show would be somewhere with the crowd capacity of Irving Plaza but the venue looked like a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant. Everybody there were old timers with Ed Hardy and Affliction T Shirts trying to be hip. The only group of kids that were young was Sam and his friends. He looked the part too. You’d confuse Sam as a member of Hanoi Rocks if you saw him that day. And get this, he wasn’t even legal age. He didn’t have that thing on his wrist that says he can drink booze. He’s a teenager.
Once the show was over, everybody in the venue left back home except for myself, a bunch of milfy chicks and Sam with his gang. We were all outside. “You waiting for Tracii to come out of his tour bus too?”, that’s the first thing Sam said when we met. And at the time we both bonded over it cause’ at the time I had the impression that we were both butt rockers
Fast forward a few months later. I went to a Uriah Heep show and was blown away and decided that Motley Crue is the worst band in the planet.
I walk around at West Village one day and I bump into Sam carrying a huge laundry bag. We talk and he pitches his band. I invite him over to my apartment which was in the area at the time. He goes online and plays his demos to me. I hear it and it sounds like a 4th rate version of AC/DC mixed with YET ANOTHER Guns N Roses imitation attempt.
In my mind I think to myself: “I have to save him from butt rock”. Then I proceed to play three epic 9 minute Uriah Heep songs in a row. I can see the look on his face that says: “What have I gotten myself into?! I have to leave!”. The only thing that kept him around was that I didn’t give him my opinion on his songs yet. I played those super long Uriah Heep songs as a way to build up to a point I was trying to make. And then I finally communicated the point I was trying to make and told him that his songs suck and that butt rock in general sucks too. He didn’t take it personally. But over time I found out that Sam isn’t really a butt rocker. He only likes a few bands from the 80’s. Mainly Guns N Roses, LA Guns, Faster Pussycat, Hanoi Rocks and Motley Crue. He hates everybody else from the 80’s. And then it was revealed to me through facebook posts that he’s really a punk. Posting bands like Wayne County and shit. So I didn’t really have to save him from butt rock at all. Here's another fun fact. When the Waldos are playing in town, Sam sessions as the bass player. Pretty cool huh?
I think Sam hates Uriah Heep. I realized the hard way that putting a punk through a 9 minute song is not the best way to turn them on to a band. I actually never learn and I still keep preaching Heep to punk dudes that way, haha!
Anyway, after that I move to LA and I start shooting my documentary. I remember one of the subjects I interviewed said something really interesting: “If you wanna turn a bunch of 16 year olds to down and dirty rock n roll, you have to find a band that’s 16 years old that play down and dirty rock n roll. You can’t turn them on with bands who are in their 40’s, 30’s or even late 20’s. You have to find a bunch of teenagers that are their age that look like them”.
I fly over to New York to interview them. I go to their rehearsal space in long island. Sam and the lead guitar player/singer, Waldo Gutierrez, are the ones that dominate the interview. Both the drummer and the other guitar player never said a single word throughout the whole thing. The only thing the other guitar player said was “Yeah Budgie!” when I referenced Budgie. He didn’t even SAY “Yeah Budgie”. He just looked at me and smiled when I referenced them. I think both Waldo and Sam learned that the other guitar player likes Budgie that day cause’ he probably never speaks up about it. I think he doesn’t speak up in general. Oh yeah, in case you’re wondering that other guitar player’s name is Sam Lee.
The drummer was similar too. The only thing he said was “Yeah
Vanilla Fudge!” when I referenced Vanilla Fudge. That drummer is gone now. He’s replaced by a new guy. The new guy’s name escapes me.
Anyway when I found out that they have three other members in Stihleto that like bands that ain't just butt rock and ain't just punk I realized that Stihleto’s musical background was more dynamic than I thought. Oh yeah Waldo is into Funkadelic and he likes Eddie Hazel and Buddy Miles Express and shit.
I asked if they could play their songs for the camera. Then this happened. You HAVE TO click on the link below.
That song is the first song I show all my skeptics when they want me to prove to them if this counter culture would ever succeed. The ALL say the same thing: “Yeah man! We all look like Ronnie Wood! And we’re all hip to great shit! But who has THE SONGS man! Who has THE SONGS! Who has THE SONGS! Nobody has THE SONGS man! Nobody has THE SONGS!”. The first thing I show them is that video of Stilleto’s rehearsal. And each and every one of them are sold after that. Every. Fucking. Time.
I have about 17 “Solid Examples” of great discoveries in a folder in my hard drive of bands that I filmed. I get mixed reactions every time I screen it to people. That Stilleto song is the only song that has a 90% success rate of getting them sold. They all wanna be a part of this counter culture and believe in it after that video.
Holy shit, they’ve come a long way since that last demo I heard when Sam was carrying a laundry bag around West Village.
Sam and Waldo are two very ballsy characters. I’ve never seen them pander to me or be “polite” or “nice” to me ever. Or to anyone else for that matter. They’re always snotty pissed off scum bags. During the interview Waldo literally stood up in the middle of the interview, went to the trash can that’s INSIDE THE REHEARSAL SPACE, whipped his dick out and pissed inside the trash can. IN SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY! In the middle of my fucking interview!
They kept spitting huge balls of saliva on the carpet floors of the rehearsal space every 20 seconds when they talk. Yes, this is still all during the interview. As you can see in the video, Sam lit a cigarette while performing. I’m pretty sure that building had no smoking signs. But like I said, they’re snotty pissed off scum bags.
When Sam and I walk around in the city, he gets a can of budweiser, completely undisguised, and walks around outside with an open container drinking off that can in public in front of everybody. Then when he sees a cop he goes: “Shit! Cop! Cop! Hold on let me hide this until the pigs fuck off”. You'd think he'd hide the beer inside a cola can or some shit. No it’s a fucking budweiser can, in front of all of New York City’s pedestrians.
What I’m trying to say is that Sam and Waldo are the PERFECT ROLE MODELS for teenagers today!
They’re authentically decadent. They don’t pose it. They’re AUTHENTICALLY decadent. Real balls. If I campaign them they would give the balls and danger and decadence of rock n roll real legitimacy again.
Anyway, show up to High Voltage tonight at Philly and see them live. Later.