Videography by Mike Collins
Editing by Chris Parsons
The Slaughter by the Water Festival is now in its 3rd year and was held aboard the infamous USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier docked at the Alameda Naval Air Station on August 25th. 15 metal bands on 2 stages – the main stage set up inside the belly of the 33,000 ton beast – it just doesn’t get any more metal than this!
SBTW-III was another phenomenal success. Considering the magnitude of the venue and event itself, who would believe that the promoters who started this now, annual event were 23 year old musicians, Nick Gomez (Zombie Holocaust, aka ZH) and friend, Brian Montague. What started out as a whim, would prove to be a turning point in the lives of these young entrepreneurs. Nick had this to say about how the initial idea came together…
Nick: Brian and I came up with the idea to put on a festival while sitting at a club. We were talking about the Bay Area’s rich history in music and that there should be an event to showcase the Bay’s influence on music and how many talented bands there are around here. So, for the first Slaughter by the Water we lined up all of our friends in local thrash bands and had Toxic Holocaust headline the show in April 2010 at the Oakland Metro. A lot of people showed up and it went really well and it gave us the “bug”. None of us had a business background, but we enjoyed doing the business that made it happen. Then a friend of ours, Rob Bolger, made us realize the impact that this one concert had, Slaughter by the Water was now established, branded and should continue.”
And that it has! In the subsequent years the goal has been to raise the bar higher and higher, exceeding their previous achievements, but to do this they would need more manpower – and womanpower as things turned out. Nick and Brian joined forces with Kristina Wolf, (founder – Bay Area Rocks), Jason Boule, (host – Bay Area Rocks) and Ron Crockett (graphic artist/web designer – Bay Area Rocks). With this expanded team, now a whopping 5 strong, they set out on their mission to seek out bigger venues, new bands and greater challenges…to boldly go where no metal head has gone before!! (cue the Star Trek theme now) SBTW-ll was held in June 2011,at The Craneway Pavilion on the Richmond Marina; a huge facility whose interior was recently renovated sparing no expense – it is an amazing venue. The festival featured AUTOPSY, CATTLE DECAPITATION, and many others. Also in attendance was Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” winner Grill ‘Em All, with chefs Ryan Harkins and Mathew Chernus. It too, was a success, but one that left the team wondering, “How do we top The Craneway?”
Their answer…The USS Hornet! Nicknamed, The Grey Ghost, the USS Hornet is a Rosie the Riveter ship with thirty percent of her construction crew being women and all 893 feet 33,000 tons of her is the pride of the US Navy. During her illustrious career she was awarded a Presidential Citation and 7 Battle Starsfor service in WWll and holds the record for the most planes shot down in a day, 72 and in a month, 255. She has provided support for 3 missions in Vietnam, 11 WestPac cruises and was selected by the Navy as the Prime Recovery Ship for the Apollo 11 & 12 Lunar Missions. Retired from service in 1970, she was donated by the Navy to be a museum ship in 1995, she houses the Apollo Space Capsule, several WWll aircraft and a number of other historical exhibits. Ironically, the USS Hornet was also the location for Exodus’s video, War Is My Shepherd . With a cargo and resume of this historical stature, persuading the military to allow 1000+ metal fans to run wild through her hallowed halls would undoubtedly be an exercise in abject futility…or so one would think.
Nick: At first they [USS Hornet staff] were very apprehensive about having a metal show on board the ship, but after several meetings we gained their trust enough to book the show. The night of the event, I’m sure the staff was expecting chaos, but that didn’t happen. In fact, they were so happy with the way things went, they invited us to come back anytime!
SBTW-lll was hosted by Testament front man, Chuck Billy, and sponsored by Monster Energy Drink, Native American Health Center, Bay Area Rocks, Expression College, Lock & Shock, Scion, Ustream, Dunlop, and Anchor Bay Tattoos. Home to the behemoth, Pier 3, was open to the public from noon to 9pm to peruse the sponsor booths and to watch the live performances on the Pier Stage from In Peril, Desecrator, Necrosin, Hemotoxin, Mudface, Scars of Envy and headlining was our fearless promoter Nick Gomez’s band, Zombie Holocaust (aka ZH). The energy to run the stage was produced solely by “pedal pushing”. Another sponsor for the event, Rock the Bike, an organization promoting green energy through sweat equity, set up a slew of bicycles at the sight whose pedals provided enough electricity to power the stage equipment. Now that is impressive! Not so much that they could produce the power to fire up Marshall stacks, but that they got a bunch of metal heads to exercise without a pit!
The Hornet’s enormous bay doors and mighty gang planks opened at 5pm welcoming the hoard of ticket holding metal heads into her cavernous hull of steel for the festival’s main event. Metal veterans, Exodus, headlined The Main Stage’s maniacal line-up supported by PHILM, Autopsy, Absu, Impaled, Abysmal Dawn, Witchaven, Fog of War and Severed Fifth.
PHILM is the side project of Slayer’s monstrous drummer, Dave Lombardo, bassist of War, Pancho Tomaselli and guitarist of Civil Defiance, Gerry Nestler. Their music isn’t “thrash”, so I am sure there were a few devout thrashers expecting something of Slayer nature – and to them I say, open your mind, great music comes in many styles. The fact that they are all top shelf players from different genres is exactly what makes them great. Their music is melodic yet raw and edgy with a driving hardcore groove. Considering the combination of players, it was exactly what I was hoping to see. PHILM’s debut album, Harmonic, was released earlier this year on Mike Patton’s (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle) Ipecac Records. If you are looking for excellent musicianship, tons of dynamics and refuses to lock into a specific genre, here you go. BAM’s Chris Parsons talked with his hero, Dave Lombardo and Pancho Tomaselli…
Exodus was in their usual, excellent form. As a band, Exodus was on sabbatical this summer for a short time while guitarist, Gary Holt, filled in the empty space of Slayer’s, Jeff Hanneman, who is recovering from a near fatal spider bite. Faithful fans held their horns up high while others expressed their support to see the band back intact, wildly in the pit. Deathamphetamine, Iconoclasm, Bonded by Blood and Children of a Worthless God were some highlights of their tremendous set. BAM talked with bassist, Jack Gibson onboard the ship…
In this video clip, BAM talks with an up and coming Bay Area band, Mudface, who has rapidly been making a name for themselves locally and is on the verge of breaking into the global market. Then, Jono Bacon of Severed Fifth talks about their set and the innovative way they funded their latest cd, Liberate.
In conclusion, a few parting words…
Nick: I want to thank my team for their tremendous effort and friendship. You guys are the best team I could ask for and I can’t wait to do it again!!
Sometimes there is an upside to throwing oneself completely under the bus and caution to the wind – an opportunity to find out who you are and how much you are capable of when put to the test. Major kudos and best of luck to the SBTW team in their fearless pursuit of the entrepreneurial spirit done in a humanitarian way. Horns across the Bay are waving high in your honor!