Ed Gamble: Why I Love Heavy Metal
You might recognise Ed Gamble from Mock The Week and his standup shows, but you might also know him as the not-very-metal-looking guy losing his mind at the last Clutch show you went to. After discovering the world of heavy music through an issue of Kerrang! magazine in 1998/9, initially drawn in by an image of Marilyn Manson on the cover, it was a review of System Of A Down at the London Astoria that kickstarted this teenager’s love of nu-metal.
“I thought it looked like the weirdest thing I’ve seen in my life,” Ed tells Kerrang! today, “so I thought I’m going to have to check them out, and then I bought their debut album because of that.”
And before long, Ed was embedded in alternative culture, wearing the nail varnish, baggy hoodies and jeans, despite being “quite posh” by his own admission.
Were System Of A Down the first metal band you gravitated to?
“Yeah, and I think it’s a pretty solid choice. Out of all of those bands, they’re the ones who’ve lasted the longest in terms of credibility and quality. My first gig was Korn at Wembley arena on the Issues tour. It was amazing to see a band live, but I was in the queue for that and someone set their pubes on fire. The gentleman pulled down his trousers and pants then set his pubes on fire and I thought, ‘You know what? This is the genre for me.’
“I can’t not mention Slipknot. I had the fortune of having a brief conversation with Corey Taylor a few years ago because he did QI, and my friend Aisling Bea was on that episode and she got up a picture of her and Corey, and I messaged her basically saying ‘Fuck you, Aisling. I can’t believe you’re living my dreams.’ The next thing you know, I got a message on Twitter from Corey saying ‘Aisling told me you’re a big fan of Slipknot so I thought I’d message and say hi.’ I had to try and play it cool… but I’ve read the messages back since it’s just a fanboy going mad.
“After the debut album release, Slipknot did a signing at Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street and I queued for five and a half hours to meet them. I was in the front of the queue, they came out to sit at the signing table and I found myself at the end of an aisle with Corey Taylor right ahead of me. I was a bigger boy then, and I just ran straight at him, threw myself on him, and I heard him under his mask go ‘Oh god!’ (laughs).”
What was your transition away from nu-metal into other heavier realms?
“After nu-metal there was a time in the wilderness… I went from nu-metal to a weird two years where I was really into power metal. You think nu-metal isn’t cool, power metal is the only genre that’s less cool than nu-metal. I still stand by it; I saw some brilliant bands. I saw Dragonforce’s first ever headline London show at the Underworld. I saw Dream Evil, Falconer, who I maintain are still brilliant and should be massive, Blind Guardian… people like that. I went to uni and was listening to metal but not as much, but after I graduated I started doing more investigating into what was out there and discovered that the roots go so far below the ground. It’s just a constantly evolving thing and so many avenues you can go down, I love anything where you get into it and there’s so much more than you realise.”
Ed’s obsession with finding the roots and discovering darkened alleyways to explore has led him to the weirder, doomier end of heavy metal’s spectrum. “I like anyone pushing the envelope a bit, a lot of the bands that I’m into at the moment have songs that are over 12-minutes long,” he laughs.
While Clutch are still his favourite band, his highlights of last year include High On Fire, Sleep and Garganjua, or “anything big and heavy and chunky,” as he puts it. “I’m super into a lot of the stuff Holy Roar are putting out at the moment as well, so Conjurer was my favourite album of last year.”
In fact, according by rumblings on Twitter, there’s even the possibility of Ed working on a release with Holy Roar Records – a combination of standup and Ed’s musical picks.
“Within the stand-up world, no-one would give a shit, but that would literally just be for me (laughs). Me, silently living my dream.”
Are there any other comedians into the heavier side of music?
“Rob Delaney from Catastrophe; I went to see High On Fire with Rob. He loves Matt Pike. He really likes Torche and people like that, so he’s into a similar sort of thing to me. James Acaster loves weird music because he’s a weird boy; he definitely likes the odder end of metal. There’s not many, but I try and get them on board.”
You went on Elis James and John Robins’ Radio X Podcast to play Black Breath.
“I’ve done their show two/three times and the first time I did the Keep It Session Sessions, where you have to bring the band, I did Clutch and that got really good feedback from listeners. Then I went on with Elis and he said ‘I just want you to play something horrible,’ so I picked Black Breath and even that wasn’t horrible enough for him! I just think for Radio X you’ve got to have some groove in there, haven’t you?”
You don’t talk about metal too much in your stand-up shows. Why?
“It’s about finding the angle on it. I’ve done bits about it before, but mainly centred around the fact the no-one thinks I like heavy metal because I don’t look like I heavy metal. I need to be constantly aware of the fact that the majority of the audience don’t know what the fuck metal is really, and I do want to perform comedy to a wide audience. I’d want to make very specific jokes about bands that might not necessarily fly – maybe if I do Download this year I can do all of my really niche metal stuff.”
So, Ed, why do you love heavy metal?
“To me heavy metal is the stench of stale lager, being soaked with sweat and hugging a man you’ve never met before who has a faded tattoo of a sexy vampire lady, while you’re both singing along to a song about an imaginary sword. That and good music.”
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