SPIN GODDESS: Female Rock-Jockeys Writing the History of Metal as it Happens Metal Angel. “WCR247”
By Michael Aronovitz
I met Metal Angel (Wikked Liss) almost two years ago now, and I consider myself lucky, not necessarily because she owns and operates a kick-ass Internet rock radio station called WCR247 (and she does). It is not that she took me under her wing to assist her in podcasting an interview show called “The Wikked Goblet of Horror” either, though it’s no secret that it was awesome to have personal conversations with metal-gods from bands like Our Last Enemy, Mindshift, Saint Diablo, Despite, A Breach of Silence, Heaven the Axe, Forever Still, Chains Over Razors, and Firehouse’s one and only Bill Leverty, among others. Yes. All that is good as gold, all true, but when you get right down to the heart of this thing, I am lucky because Liss is a prodigy…a real-life angel who makes you a better you. Trust me. It is not only rare and uncanny. It is super-human.
The best way to illustrate this to you is to tell you the strange story of the way that Liss and I originally connected. My third novel Phantom Effect, (Night Shade Books) came out February 2nd, 2016, to some nice fanfare in the form of a sold out reading at The University of the Arts in downtown Philadelphia, and a favorable review in Publishers Weekly. Still, I have never been a promotional guru, and I was left wondering what more I could do to get my latest horror book more visibility. I finally decided that I needed something better to Tweet about than pretentious advertisements with the pic and the buy-link, so I started writing rock reviews about metal bands. And why not? I have always loved hard rock and metal. I was in a professional glam band in the 80’s playing the same local clubs as Cinderella and Bon Jovi, so I well-remembered the game. And metal and horror had always been blood-brothers, right? What if I celebrated new metal by writing in-depth reviews, especially for groups that had horror themes? What if I made a friend or two here and there? Couldn’t hurt, right? Metal listeners might like horror books, no?
My first rock review was a detailed analysis of the mighty Ravenscroft and their song “Cauldron of Deceit.” I got it posted on the Hellnotes Horror Review Blog, soon following up with commentary on The Bloody Jug Band and Forever Still. When I contacted Cody Perez of Amerakin Overdose, however, I had to change sites, because the song “C.U.N.T.” was too controversial for the Hellnotes brass. It wasn’t too long before I convinced horror writers Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross to give me space on their blog for the column I had now decided to call “Goblet of Shock,” and soon after, I was fortunate enough to make friends with the President of Eclipse Records – Chris Poland – while writing reviews for a few of his stellar deathcore projects.
I was on a roll. While I was still committed to writing horror, the rock critiques had become rather important. To me. To the bands. I felt connected to music like when I was young, and it seemed my contributions were starting to pick up real steam. I tried not to get too cocky about it, but I have to admit that when I saw a post from Liss of WCR247, I somehow gained the courage to tweet her and brazenly suggest that she interview me, like I was a star or something. I didn’t even expect a response, but Liss immediately friended me on Facebook and looked up my latest review on Eclipse Recording artists, Our Last Enemy. It seems she had an interest in me since I was reviewing a lot of the same bands she was playing and reviewing, and it was a damned good thing that I’d gained her attention.
I had uploaded the wrong video for the article. It wasn’t the one from Eclipse.
Liss saved my ass. She took the time to give me a crash course on the ins and outs of the business. We talked on Facebook for hours (once she gets going she can’t turn it off) and I sent her a free copy of Phantom Effect.
She read my book in a day and a half, literally staying up all fucking night to do it. The next day…hear me…the very next day, she invented an entire radio show based off my review column, calling it “The Wikked Goblet of Horror.” She designed avatars representing the two of us as co-DJ’s, and made a promotional video advertising the show that would merge horror and metal in a celebration of my initial idea of the marriage of the two. She set up a phone interview for a week later with Tito Quinones of Saint Diablo, and taught my numb ass how to video chat so we could prepare for the podcast. In a day!
I kid you not, I have never in my entire life known anyone so committed to friendship, trust, and metal as Liss. Based on one long Facebook messaging session, a quick reading of my novel, and a frighteningly insightful interpretation of my aesthetic vision, she constructed this new project and had it up and running.
And I had no idea about how to be a radio host.
She taught me on the fly, video chatting with me literally all afternoon for days on end, making it seem casual, taking about music, playing music, head-banging together to music, recording everything we said to each other. The show built itself. When you put together my reviews and critical insights, and her intensive and in-depth knowledge of the field, we seemed unstoppable.
And our interviews with bands were personal, man, different than any I’d heard before. I give Liss all the credit for this, because when it came to breaking down music for symbolic threads alluding to the greatest artists in history, she was right there with me. She even came up with “The Human Condition” as being the holistic theme for the show, and when we got rock stars calling in, I’ll tell you, we weren’t asking the same old boring-assed questions, like, “Tell me your influences” or “What’s in store with the new album,” or generalized shit, like “What’s your message, man?” Oh no. We got intensely deep and ultimately specific. We did our homework. We studied the songs and the videos, note for note, frame for frame, and while Liss would come up with connections to humanity and the current scene, I would go musically technical or I’d opt for the literary timeline, making comparisons.
When I talked to Tito, I asked him about the way Saint Diablo had guitars and bass work in mixed meter time, going in and out of a razor-sharp 4/4 for effect on their recent album, Devil Horns and Halos, and Liss reminisced with him about his early recordings and how he found Eclipse Records. When we had Blair Layt, the bass player of A Breach of Silence on the horn, I pointed out that the riff behind the vocal in their hit “The Longest Road” was a risk to play up the neck like they did instead of going for the type of lower alternative notes usually executed in that kind of circumstance. He went into detail about their writing process, and I mentioned that the aforementioned song seemed an allusion to the poet Robert Frost’s Stopping By Woods with a startlingly different ending, burning down the dark forest instead of surrendering to the shadows like death, and he said I’d “hit the nail on the head.” Liss of course got him to open up about some crazy road stories he didn’t normally share, and a ton of other personal business no other interviewer would have thought of in a million and a half years. When we talked to Oliver Fogwell about Our Last Enemy’s gargantuan theme-record Pariah, I suggested they work in a live double-drum solo next time they tour, since Jeff Ritchie (keys) was their drummer before Zot Cillia took over that position. He laughed and invited me to a practice session next time I was in Australia! When I pointed out his similarities to Shakespeare, taking lines from his album and demonstrating the way they enhanced quotes from Macbeth, I made a friend for life. Liss then engaged him on a different level, discussing his single “Devour the Sun,” Tarot cards, scare-videos, and the history of mysticism.
Do you see what I mean? Liss isn’t a DJ. She’s a master-musician who orchestrates the rhythm of relationships, an artist who brings out your beauty, someone who doesn’t mind putting in twenty hours a day to make those around her look magical.
Not to depend all too much on metaphorical stuff, however, let’s go audio-techno for a hot minute. Click onto WCR247. Proof is in the pudding, chief. The station rocks. Her song choices are stellar, the sound quality is sublime, and the variety in programming unfolds like some exotic menu bursting with flavors and accents that spice up your life-journey.
And to hear her talk is a treat. Again, she is non-stop, unleashing said flavors and accents, and while the station reflects this in a more ordered sense that enhances the mechanism, Liss-live is something you have to experience to fully understand. She’s a trip. A scene. There’s no other way to describe her. I remember those video chat sessions vividly, and it wasn’t just that she sang along with the songs we were considering for the show, doing air-guitar. She interpreted them, danced to them, sang them, folded towels to them. She acted out the song “Monsters Ball” by the Butcher Babies in a manner so animated and insanely ironic, that I would swear to you it topped the video, that which has become one of my favorites in itself.
Oh. And did I tell you Liss was funny? Like a comedian? She was constantly doing incredible impressions, of politicians, fashion gurus, movie stars, at times Joan Rivers, but even those bits didn’t define Liss’s humor, not completely.
Being a professional DJ and a musician herself (she plays bass) Liss had this sense of timing that was rather uncanny. And anything was a prop for a joke…the dog, a cigarette, the bathroom in the background, the sun shining a different way through the blinds. Liss has this long straight county hair that’s probably down to her ass at this point, and she was constantly toying with it, shaking it around, making it fit the music. She constantly teased me about being a professor and bragging about it with the musicians we interviewed, and one time we were going back in forth about a question we were going to ask Bill Leverty. Suddenly her face changed, so abruptly it seemed the knee-jerk reaction of someone with a personality disorder. She looked off, propped up her hair in a bun, imitated my nasal tone perfectly, and excused herself to “go grade fucking papers.”
My dad got sick and I had to abandon the show, hey, life got in the way and there was no way I could commit to her schedule. We drifted, did our own thing. I re-connected with her to do this article, and it was like we’d never stopped talking. Or at least…it was as if she had never halted this ongoing conversation between friends. I have included her message back to me word for word, or at least the beginning of it, so you can feel the burst, see I’m not kidding.
Me – “Hey Liss, how have you been? I write for Metal Heads Forever now and I’d like to do an article on you.”
Liss – OZZY FUCKIN ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOCKED OH MY
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD My dream to see Sully, Zakk and Ozzy on ONE stage AND Rob Zombie…But, wow…the interviews on the channel will be HD and I can’t WAIT to see them, myself! I am honored to call you friend. Life is a funny thing, we all do what we do and just … well, live it. Sometimes, we lose touch with people, but true friendships are always there. I’ve been rather busy. LOL Your column sounds perfect for you and what you excel in – making words magic in music! Sweet Lord, I’d be horrified! ahahahha I’m not that interesting? I’m not saying no – what do you need?
Me – Just your say-so, Liss. I want to talk about you and your station and the way we worked together.
Liss – I think that would be cool as hell and I TRULY appreciate such high regard. Likewise, you know? (rubbing neck … holy shit, I head banged WAY too much)…naaaaaaaaa, THAT WAS AWEEEEEEEEESOME!!! hahaha I’m still on this weirdo music high right now. FUCKIN Slayer!!! YEAH!”
See what I mean?
Flavors. Exotic. Spice of life personified. That’s Liss, the Metal Angel. She’s studying presently to become a nurse….wowser…lucky hospital, lucky patients. As for me, it isn’t rocket science. Working with Liss was an absolute honor, and her friendship was always the greatest reward.
Michael Aronovitz is a college professor, rock reviewer, and published author of horror fiction. His latest release is the scariest book of the decade titled Alice Walks, available on Amazon in E-Book form through Cemetery Dance Publications. http://tinyurl.com/y9fkxjhv
Michael Aronovitz/MHF Magazine