||TALES FROM THE PIP
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LA
30th June 2011
PIPPA LANG rummages around her dusty old brain for incidents of debauched behaviour from her rock 'n' roll past. This episode: the cataclysmic consequences of an afternoon in LA with the Legend of Metal. If not for EDDIE VEDDER and DAVE MUSTAINE, she may never have made it back (did she, in fact?).
Memories are hard to come by these days. No sooner does that sense of déjà vu whisper a suggestion of past adventures in my ear than it flies away and out the window, before I can catch it, bottle it and stick it on a shelf to bring out at parties.
So I usually leave it up to my friends – those other people who were there at the time – to regale with tales of my exploits. Thank God, at least somebody will remember, when Alzheimers finally hits and an entire flock of memories have completely disappeared over the horizon!
Article continues below...
Unfortunately, the stories I do remember involve people who are far too well-known to upset or piss off. And frankly, even if they weren't, I wouldn't wish to ruin lives. I only ever behaved like a 'hack' (does-what-it-says-on-the-tin) once, and that was enough to change my entire attitude to journalism, temporarily self-destruct my career, and start a punk band. The person in question hasn't spoken to me for fifteen years. Oops...
So, all I can do is distort the truth, and change the names of the guilty/innocent...
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LA
Whilst working for Metal Hammer, I flew to many marvellous and colourful destinations, where I was wooed by record company press officers eager to please with huge budgets and tired smiles. One of my 'trips' was to LA in the early 90s, where I was sent to interview Megadeth. What follows is an expurgated version of the twelve-hour period following my arrival in (what I call) City Of Teeth:
We landed in LA on the Sunday morning, me and photographer Andy Phillips. The Megadeth interview wasn't until the following morning, so we had time to kill. I also had to interview a member of a well-known LA band (who we'll call 'Trash' and 'Good/Evil' here) in the Cat & Fiddle, LA's excuse for an 'English pub', but that was hours away.
"I know!" I cried, "let's go and see Gollum!" I could hear the hysteria in my voice already.
Andy visibly paled. You never just 'go and see Gollum' (pseudonym, of course). You end up trashed, paranoid beyond belief and, before you know it, you've forgotten everything you were ever supposed to do and sometimes, even, everything you ever did.
I'd known the legendary Gollum for many years, on and off. Last time I'd seen him he'd locked me in his spare bedroom, where I was doomed to spend the entire night pinned to a massive gothic bed staring at the huge python in the glass case in the corner, all because I'd turned down Gollum's 'hospitality'. The drummer of a well-known punk band, meanwhile, lay comatose on the kitchen floor, a victim of his own self-indulgence, but that's by the by.
Found amongst the luggage at the LA Marriott
Back in LA, after vainly trying to persuade me this really wasn't a good idea, Andy reluctantly slung camera over shoulder and trudged along behind me out of the Sunset Marriott Hotel and into the waiting taxi. Gollum was awaiting our arrival at his studio.
I can't go into details of our afternoon with Gollum without letting the cat out of the bag...
Let's just say, I'm not good with booze, or anything. The expression 'blind drunk' is so so true in my case: blind, deaf and relentlessly destructive. I also have a habit of accepting anything proffered on a spoon, platter or key.
So, it was nobody's fault but my own that much much later that night, Trash from Good/Evil ran screaming from my hotel room. The words 'psycho journalist!' are still ringing in my ears. Poor bastard.
Vague memories of impossibly tall glasses with strange-coloured liquids swishing around in my head, mixing dangerously with whatever I may have taken during our visit to Gollum's studio... whizzing up and down Sunset Boulevard in Trash's Mustang, like a scene from 'Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas'... And, finally, yes – the hotel scene, where I think I may've used my nails a bit too much.
The following morning with the Hangover from Hell, I staggered down to the lobby to meet Megadeth's press officer, dreading the interview and desperately wondering if there was any way out of it, but considering their record company was paying for the entire trip, a pathetic, futile hope. I cast my eyes around, feverishly looking for an escape route. And that's when I saw the pile of luggage move...
At first, I thought I was hallucinating. And then the luggage rose up in the middle of the lobby... and spoke to me 'Pippa Lang...' Was this some vision sent by God to save me from my wretched reverie, to remind me of who I am?
"Would you like to come to our Philadelphia gig at the end of the week?" said the apparition.
Eddie Vedder! For yes it was he, slumped in amongst Pearl Jam's luggage, who'd spotted me in all my misery and jumped to his feet to say hello, and make me feel better! Aww... (bless)...
How likely is that?! I thought. Shaken out my self-inflicted inner turmoil, I realized I could do the Megadeth interview! Hurrah!
And I did, and Dave Mustaine was an absolute sweetheart. I only had to mention Gollum's name and he took my hand, looking at me with the utmost sympathy as if I'd suffered a great loss (well, I had). The interview was a breeze.
Me and Trash are now Facebook friends (as long as he doesn't read this, lol!) Gollum doesn't speak to me anymore (see intro). Eddie Vedder tried to phone me for a phone interview once, but I was in the pub...
More Tales From The Pip soon - if I can remember some, hmmm...