I'll start at the beginning.
During my fledgeling years, my brother was into 80's hair bands. I vividly recall him going to see Cinderella. Being 6 to his 16, I thought everything that he did was cool, and managed to latch on to heavy metal once he left home and a few remnants of the era remained. A Poison bandana, a copy of Appetite for Destruction on a cassette. I clung to these things, but being a kid with overly protective parents, wasn't really able to explore their meaning. Years passed, and having been allowed the gifts of Disney soundtracks, I developed a taste for good storytelling through song. Also, cheese. In high school, I was hard-core into anime. I grew up with comic books and cartoons, and anime was another world to me. Cartoons people take seriously? Yes please! With the magic of the internet, I downloaded soundtracks to my favorite movies and shows. One of my favorites at the time? X/1999. The song at the end of this movie? "Forever Love" by X Japan.
The floodgates were opened. I wanted everything to do with this "X Japan" band, so I proceeded to download everything that I could get my hands on. This being the age of Napster, I was unaware that what I was doing was considered theft. I had every intention of actually buying these albums, but unfortunately, importing actual CDs from Japan wasn't very cost effective for a 15 year old. So I did what I could with what I had, and when I managed to see a real X Japan CD at anime conventions, I bought them. For the low price of $50 per CD. How a grown man can look a 15 year old kid in the face and talk her into buying one CD for $50, I have no idea, but I was a big fan, and there it is.
Now, X Japan remains the #1 band in my mind when I think of just who started my descent into metal madness. However, keep in mind, they were more rock than metal. The thing is, whenever they did get metal, I loved them! It turns out that they were heavily influenced by Loudness, a Japanese metal band that got a bit of US fame in the 80's. Their bass player, Taiji (who recently passed away) even played for Loudness! I opened for Loudness about two years ago, and I could see where they got their ideas. My teenage self loved it when X Japan got a little harder and gritter, when Toshi would scream and give that heavy metal wail, my heart fluttered. That being said, I never thought to explore other metal bands because I just had no idea where to start. I honestly didn't even know bands like the ones I was yearning for even existed! I had no friends who were into metal, no family, nobody to talk to. I was in a strange vacuum. I'm not one of those lucky kids who grew up with lots of metal. I happened upon it by accident.
Well, I went to college. During college, I kept up with X Japan. It was pretty much all I listened to, because I really didn't know any better. I had a boyfriend who listened to Meatloaf, and all his friends were big into some mystical place called "Jaxx" where they would all go and listen to metal. I tried some of the metal they were hawking, and didn't find it to my liking. Turns out they were all into gothcore, screamcore, stuff with "core" in the title that just sounded like noise to me. So no metal for me, until one fateful day...
I was in college, when my boyfriend at the time, this cute guy with big blue eyes named Will, introduced me to a band. Apparently, his friend Tommy turned him on to them. Their name? Dragonforce. So I listened, and my heart burst open. This was it. This is what I've been waiting for! And Will, sweet and thoughtful, knew it. He and I downloaded all of the free songs Dragonforce had available on their website. We fell in love (with power metal), and yearned for more. So, now that I had something to start with, we went to FYE and looked around. Gloriously cheesy band names caught my attention right away... Helloween. Goblin Cock. Tankard. And then? I spotted it.
HAMMERFALL: Legacy of Kings. The name caught me right away. Why? Will (soon to be Willy) and I played World of Warcraft. The town where my character was born? Hammerfall. Coincidence? Perhaps... but so many other coincidences lay within Hammerfall's song titles! Hammer of Justice, Heeding the Call, so many songs with so many things that, as both a nerd and a fledgeling metal fan, I could relate to! We bought the album. We listened, and we bonded. Here it was, at last. Something I could truly love. We must have listened to this album a hundred times before I got back home and started downloading everything I could get my hands on. Hammerfall sent me into a vortex of music I never knew existed; Blind Guardian, Helloween, Rhapsody of Fire! Bands that set my heart aflame and showed me a world beyond the mundane American pop music that we so loathed. A few weeks later, Willy scored tickets to a Dragonforce concert. My first real heavy metal show. I was so excited, we went in together, but how we came out was different. For me, anyway.
Seeing them up there, on that big beautiful stage, playing music that we adored and singing in a way I could understand... I knew. I knew my destiny. To become one of those men (with boobs) who could command such power and fury through the strength of voice and will. To sing songs about dragons and knights and kings and fire! Yes, that would be me, I promised myself.
Several days later, I went on Craigslist.
And that, my friends, is how it all started. How I went from a sheltered kid in PG County to the metal-loving maniac you know, and how, in the end, it really was all Willy's fault.