A (Brief) Oral History of L’Amour

04/29/2014 9:30 AM |

Louder Than Hell, a doorstop-sized oral history of metal music, comes out in softcover today. Authors Jon Weiderhorn and Katherine Turman both live in Brooklyn—Bay Ridge, to be exact—so we thought, what better way to celebrate the book’s paperback launch than to cull all its mentions of L’Amour, the rock club that called itself “The Rock Capital of Brooklyn”? On a desolate part of 63rd Street in Bensonhurst, the legendary venue hosted everyone from Metallica to your friend’s band until it shuttered 10 years ago.

SCOTT IAN (Anthrax): Metallica were the only ones there in the middle of the night at the Music Building [in Queens] in their shitty room drinking beer. [Guitarist Dave] Mustaine would get super-drunk and fuck with other people’s rehearsal rooms. A band would show up the next day and there’d be a mountain of garbage piled up in front of their door because Mustaine would go get all the garbage cans and dump them in front of the practice room door of a band he didn’t like. Of course, everybody knows who did it because Metallica was the only band there overnight. Once, Metallica was opening for the Rods and Vandenberg at L’Amour. Vandenberg is sound checking at 4pm and Dave is ripped. He’s screaming at Adrian Vandenberg, “Get the fuck off the stage. You suck.” And the other dudes in the band are trying to run and hide. Metallica didn’t even have a record out yet.

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SEAN YSEULT (Ex-White Zombie): Around the time of [the 1989 album] Make Them Die Slowly, we started going in a more metal direction. And we started getting asked to play L’Amour by bands like Cro-Mags and Biohazard. These were crossover punk bands that were going kind of metal, and we were really surprised they liked us. I thought they’d want to beat us up, but they gave us the thumbs up and their crowds knew that, so they liked us also. It didn’t seem like a place we would survive, between metal heads and skinheads, but everyone dug it, and it was a lot better than playing for East Village crowds.

JOHN JOSEPH (Cro-Mags): One time me and Harley went to see the Bad Brains at L’Amour and all these metal dudes were there, and one of them punched Harley. Me and Harley fucking fought 80 of these dudes and fucked them up. See, the metal dudes didn’t know how to get down in the pit. They didn’t understand moshing was like an art form. You had people creepy-crawling, coming within six inches of each other but never smashing into each other. The metal motherfuckers didn’t understand that, and they’d just be like, “Oh shit, he bumped into me, let me run up and punch him in the back of the head,” and next thing you know they’d get the shit beat out of them. Then the next week they’d show up with a fucking shaved head.

KENNY HICKEY (Type O Negative): Peter (Steele) cut his hair short because he’d just filled out all these forms to try to be a cop in Nassau County. He thought he was going to give up the rock-and-roll thing and become a policeman. But of course, he started Type O Negative instead. Once places like CBGB, L’Amour, and Ruthie’s got too small for crossover shows, promoters packaged the bands with major thrash acts and booked them in bigger venues. Motörhead and Venom were some of the first groups to take crossover acts on the road; generally, the response was good. Then bands from other subgenres of metal booked gigs with popular crossover acts—but with mixed results. When [Steele’s band] Carnivore played L’Amour they used to throw out… lamb’s heads during their show because [their friend] Sal Abruscato’s father worked in a meat factory. The raw meat was dripping blood and it stunk. So the owners of L’Amour banned it. So Peter goes up to the mic at the next show and goes, [L’Amour owners] Mike and George [Parente] said we can’t throw out meat at this show, so we’re going to throw out fifty White Castle hamburgers.” Peter was Henny Youngman dressed up like Herman Munster. He was a one of a kind.

BILL STEER (Carcass, Napalm Death): If I remember correctly, our first show in New York was in Brooklyn… at L’Amour, 1990 on the Death tour. That was quite an experience. That show stuck out because it was quite a legendary venue and some of us were old tape traders, and the club name came up a lot in some of the live recordings from American bands. We were excited to be there. It was very exotic for us—first time in the States, and Brooklyn [people] in particular, have a very distinctive way of speaking. It was mind blowing for us, as we’d only seen it in films before, obviously. The Warriors, yeah, that kind of thing. UK people are just drenched in American culture, especially film and television. You get to hear all those different accents.

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