HAPPY BIRTHDAY "BURN MY EYES”!
You read that right, 24 years ago today Machine Head's debut album was released on an unsuspecting world and launched their career in an unprecedented matter! While success would be slow in America, both overseas in Europe and Australia MH became an almost instant powerhouse in metal.
Combining elements of thrash metal, hard-core, and hip hop along with a notable Industrial influence, the songs on “Burn My Eyes” resonated loudly with metal fans. Most controversially was the rap influence lyrically and visually in the “Davidian" video with Robb wearing his long hair in corn-rows and the boys walking around the city of Oakland with pit bulls, re-creating their favorite rap videos. Many metal fans did not approve, but most agreed it was a breath of fresh air.
And while the boys definitely played up their street/tough guy image (to occasionally comical levels), the gritty lyrics featured on “Burn My Eyes” were reflection of a genuine tension the band was living through at the time, including gang fights, and several members dealing drugs to earn a living.
Fun facts about Burn My Eyes:
- The first song written for the album was “Death Church" inspired heavily by the album “Street Cleaner" by Godflesh
- Started in Oct 1991, Machine Head was originally a side project while Robb was still in Vio-Lence. But by Feb 1992 became his full-time project.
- At one point Robb was asked to be a fill-in guitarist for industrial pioneers Ministry. Asked to provide some material, Robb asked future-drummer Chris Kontos to showcase 3 tunes he had written, “Blood For Blood", “Block” (then-called "Fuck It All”), and "Death Church” on a boombox. However, with Chris's hands full in both Sap, and Attitude Adjustment at the time, Robb asked Las Vegas resident Tony Costanza to join on drums.
- The first 3 shows played by Machine Head were a house party on Woolsey St. in Oakland on August 15th 1992, Las Vegas at The Huntridge Theater on Aug 29th, and the Los Angeles Metalfest at Gazarri’s in Hollywood on October 4th, 1992, all featuring Tony Costanza on drums. They would mark bassist and guitarist Adam and Logan’s debut live performances.
- Chris Kontos joined in Oct. 1992 and his debut show with Machine Head was at Mayday Malone’s in Pleasant Hill, CA on November 21st, 1992 supporting Defiance.
- The demo that would get Machine Head signed was recorded by John “Indo” at a friends home studio with amps in the bathroom, and all distorted vocals being recorded over the house intercom.
- Then-Metal Maniacs journalist, (and current blabbermouth impresario) Borivoj Krgin, was pivotal in getting the band signed to Roadrunner records, convincing a not-so-sure Monte Conner that he should sign them.
- BME was recorded at the-recently-closed Fantasy Studios in Berkeley in Nov 1993 at the same time as Rancid's - "Let’s Go”, Green Day’s - “Dookie" and Tesla’s - “Bust A Nut". The boys often hung out with Rancid and would periodically break into Tesla's recording studio and steal from the massive stash of candy Tesla had.
- It was mixed by Colin Richardson, once at Fantasy, and then re-mixed at Scream Studios in Burbank California. In fact Machine Head, Rancid, and Green Day would all remix their albums at different locations.
- The first tour for the album was opening for label-mates Obituary who co-headlined with Napalm Death. MH and Napalm Death shared a bus together.
- Burn My Eyes was original called “Davidian” and artwork was created featuring their logo on a TV screen. Thankfully saner minds prevailed.
- The “Davidian" video was recorded throughout parts of Oakland, and San Francisco, culminating with a show at the Rock On Broadway featuring a then-unknown Deftones as main support.
- The live photos of singer Chino Moreno for Deftones debut album “Adrenaline" are from the Davidian video shoot show.
- BME charted at number #25 in the UK after the “Davidian" video received a substantial reaction on Headbanger Ball.
- With Headbangers Ball cancelled in America, and no outlets to play the video, BME sold 1,100 copies its first week in the US.
- Machine Head supported Slayer in Europe, and opened the Slayer / Biohazard dates in the US January '95. They returned to headline the same European venues just 6 months later.
- Machine Head and Stuck Mojo would headline in America in October-Dec 1995. While it had several highlights including Chicago at The Thirsty Whale and New Mexico, most of the tour would average 100 people at most venues, and was dubbed "the disastour”... in the south, they played to 35 people regularly.
- A year and a half after release BME had sold a staggering 400,000 records worldwide, and a respectable 80,000 albums in the US. It would become the biggest debut album on Roadrunner.
Do you have any recollections of this album?
Did you catch MH on tour then?
How does "Burn My Eyes" stand the test of time for you?
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