First-Timer’s Guide To NAMM

It’s that time of year again where tens of thousands of music industry professionals, rock stars and hopeful dreamers converge upon Anaheim, California for NAMM – the National Association of Music Merchants trade show. It’s where musical instrument companies – a lot of musical instrument companies – showcase their newest gear to the world’s retailers, distributors and media; where hopeful designers and luthiers present their ideas to prospective investors; where musicians pitch themselves to potential endorsement partners; where historic jams take place; and where you can’t turn a corner without bumping into a legendary rock star, producer, or builder. Or, if you’re unlucky, Andy Dick. And it’s also pretty damned intimidating for NAMM first-timers. This upcoming NAMM will be my tenth and I’ve learned a few tricks to navigating this overwhelming schmoozefest so if you’re going to NAMM for the first time this year, I hope you find this guide helpful.

How To Get In
For starters, NAMM is pretty hard to get into. It’s industry-only, which typically means you need to be associated with an attending company or be in the media in order to get a badge. Occasionally, stores might have a handful of passes that they give to favoured customers. Once you do have your registration, it’s a good idea to pick up your badge early – that is, before doors open on the morning of the Thursday that NAMM officially begins on. If not, you could be waiting in line for a long time. If you get to Anaheim a few days early you’ll be able to pick up your badge in advance and it’ll make life a lot smoother for you on show day. Also, lot of people refer to the Sunday as ‘Public Day’ which just isn’t true – maybe it was many years ago? – so don’t just rock up on Sunday demanding to be let in.

Where To Stay
If you’re heading to NAMM this January you’ve probably already got accommodation sorted out (right? RIGHT?), but if you haven’t you’d better get on it! NAMM is held at the Anaheim Convention Center, just a stone’s throw from Disneyland, so there are plenty of hotels around for all budgets, and a buttload of AirBNBs. Some advice make sure you check if your hotel is on a NAMM shuttle bus route. It’ll make your life a lot easier. You’ll be doing a lot of walking throughout the day and the last thing you want is to be walking back to your hotel after a long, long day of schmoozing, and some of the hotels are a bit of a schlep.

Oh and Disneyland is relatively quiet at this time of year, at least compared to summer, so if you want to take a break from NAMM by throwing yourself around on a roller coaster or zooming around the galaxy in Star Tours, have at it!

nammpic

What To Eat
Because NAMM is so close to Disneyland you’ll find plenty of wallet-friendly meal options in the neighbourhood, including Denny’s, IHOP, Tony Romo’s, McDonalds and all that stuff. Just the thing to shove some greasy breakfast down your throat while taking advantage of free WiFi before a long day of NAMMing. And Downtown Disney is a retail and dining section of the Disneyland Resort that is open to the public without an entry fee, so you’ll find plenty of dining options there. And the Convention Center itself has various places to eat and drink including various coffee and beer stalls, places to grab a burger or a salad or a slice of pizza, and a whole bunch of food trucks outside. There are also Starbuckses in the Hilton and Sheraton, and at the Hilton you’ll find a food court with Sbarro, Baja Fresh, Submarina and Just Grillin’. If you’d like to get away from the Convention Center there are plenty of great restaurants all throughout the wider area. Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen in Orange is spectacular if you can handle a bit of a wait at busy times.

What To Do
Your very first NAMM can be quite overwhelming. There’s a lot to take in. There’ll be tens of thousands of people roaming the halls, a few hundred dudes playing Vai covers, buxom promotional models handing out flyers or posing for pics, and the persistent distant thrash of cymbals (It’s kind of like in Lord Of The Rings as they get closer to Mordor and they can see the fire in the distance and everything starts to grow dark… the closer you get to the drum section, the more the survival instincts kick in and you might find yourself trying to fend off Orcs reps with a cymbal stand or something).

If you’re planning to go to all four days of NAMM, Thursday is where a lot of business gets done and is pretty busy. Friday is very busy and with more signings, appearances, performances and launches. And Saturday is absolutely crazycakes, a huge crowded cacophony of noise. Saturday is when you’re likely to find yourself muttering, randomly sobbing, and saying things you would never, ever say at any other time in your life, such as “Oh shit, Steve Vai’s just showed up at Ernie Ball – better take the long way around or it’ll take me an hour to get through the crowd.” And Sunday is pretty quiet, especially in the afternoon. It’s tempting to be all like “Dammit, I’m staying to the very end to wring out every last drop of awesomeness from this experience,” but NAMM after about 2PM Sunday is a bit of a downer as companies start to slowly begin packing up.

If you’re at NAMM to work, it’s all about meetings, meetings, meetings. If you’re booking meetings with company reps in advance and you’re not already in California, here’s a tip for travellers which could save your ass: write them down on paper or in a text file: don’t immediately pop them in your smartphone calendar because – as I learned at my first NAMM – my iPhone scheduled all my appointments in Melbourne time and didn’t adjust for the fact that I was in LA! iOS is a lot better at these stuff nowadays but why risk it, right?

If you’re hoping to hit up some of the approximately 8 billion artist signings happening during the show it’s best to check the social media accounts of your favourite players and gear companies for schedules. And there are all sorts of performances going on all the time, some of them listed on the NAMM website and some of them more spontaneous. Make sure you pace yourself and give yourself plenty of time in case meetings run long. Get your hands on a floor plan of the convention center or the official NAMM smartphone app so you can figure out who’s where, and how far your appointments are from each other.

Oh and dude, business cards. Don’t fall into the ‘Oh nobody needs business cards any more’ trap. If you have ’em, bring ’em. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve looked back at my post-NAMM pile of business cards and remembered a piece of gear or a new contact that would otherwise have faded into the fog of memory.

The other great thing to do at NAMM is to play NAMM Bingo.

Oh and wear comfortable shoes. Seriously. I shit the not, every NAMM I lose about 5kg from all the walking. By the third day your feet are likely to feel like a pair of tenderised steaks flopping about on the end of your legs. So think ahead! Maybe pack some kind of foot-soak to rest your feet in after your last evening. One of my favourite things in the world is the moment of serene solitude on a NAMM Sunday night, making a foot soak in a bathtub, maybe lighting some candles and reading a book and just not being blasted by the combined noise of the entire musical instrument industry being under one roof.

After Hours
Many companies have VIP events at NAMM, especially on the Friday and Saturday nights. A lot of these are secret and you’ll need to be on good terms with someone at the company to score an invite. Maybe don’t just go up to someone you’ve never met before and immediately ask if they’re putting on an event, but don’t be too shy to ask after you’ve had a nice chat either.

Even if you can’t get into a secret gig, party or dinner you’ll find plenty of great events around town. And after dark, the lobbies of the Hilton and Sheraton right outside the convention centre are great places to catch gigs and jams, have a beer with a favourite player, network with some new contacts or, once you’ve been to a few NAMMs, catch up with old pals. Some of the best times I’ve had at NAMM have been at these loose, informal get-togethers in the outdoor area just behind the Sheraton bar. Oh and karaoke at the Clarion? Unbeatable.

Hall E
Make sure you go out of your way to check out Hall E downstairs. This is where you’ll find some of the more offbeat builders, tinkerers and designers as well as incredible boutique luthiers and pedal companies. You’ll see some pretty out-there ideas for new gadgets that their designers think will revolutionize guitar, and maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but it’s always enlightening. Every now and then you’ll see something utterly ridiculous that you just know will never, ever catch on, but try not to be a dick about it.

So There You Have It.
If you’re a first-time NAMMer, hopefully this will help you to wrap your head around it before you go in, so you can make the most of your time. Personally I look back on my first NAMM and just think of how overwhelming it all seemed. My fist NAMM was basically a lot of “OMG! WTF! EEEK! WHOA! HUH!” My second was more like “Okay… starting to get into the groove now…” and every one since has been like “Aaah, I’m home.”

If you have any NAMM tips you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment.

Cool Video Alert: Ando San Washington – Vitality

Check out the new video by Incipience guitarist Ando San Washington for the track ‘Vitality’ from his EP of the same name. Ando is an incredible guitarist with an enviable mastery of thump techniques, and this song also features a gorgeously fusion-riffic guest solo from Hedras Ramos. And the video is filmed by the legendary Felix Martin. Ando is an Ormsby Guitars endorser and he’s playing a HypeGTR 8-string Dragonburst in this video.

You can pick up Vitality here.



New Premium Ibanez Jem Brings Back Ebony Fretboard

The Ibanez JEM7VWH has been Steve Vai’s main instrument since it was released at the time of the Sex & Religion album in 1993. Upon release it had a Lo Pro Edge tremolo, an Ebony fingerboard and Vai’s new DiMarzio Evolution humbucking pickups. Since then the VWH has undergone a few changes, including the switch to an Edge Pro tremolo and then to an original Edge, but by far the biggest change that really riled up the Jem community when it happened was the decision to move from an Ebony fingerboard to a Rosewood one in 2004. Sure, this gave the Jem a slightly warmer tone (which helped to cool down those very aggressive Evolutions) but many players preferred the more direct tone and smooth feel of Ebony. 

Now Ibanez is releasing a Premium version of the JEM7VWH, the JEM7VP, which brings back that sweet sweet Ebony fingerboard. There are a couple of other key differences between this and the Japan-made VWH though: it has Jumbo frets and a 5-piece Maple/Walnut Wizard neck instead of the JEM neck shape and narrow/tall 6105 frets, and the Premium’s fingerboard radius is a little more subtly rounded than the VWH.

I can imagine a lot of players being very happy with this model. A) It’s more affordable than the VWH which is a seriously-priced piece of kit; B) Yay Ebony; C) The smaller frets and flatter radius of the WVH just don’t feel as Ibanezzy to players who are used to the RG neck. One point to note: it does not have scallops on frets 21-24.

This is also pretty smart marketing by Ibanez. It gives players something in between the top-of-the-line JEM7VWH and the budget JEM Jr, a guitar that a lot of folks buy to upgrade to more VWH-like specs. 

I used to have a VWH and while it was a phenomenal guitar, eventually I traded it for a Strat because it just never really felt like ‘mine.’ But I’m certainly tempted to get the JEM7VP because there will always be a place in my heart for the white Jem, and I think I would like this model’s neck a little more. What do you think?

Podcast: Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains

So. If you know me, you know I’m a huge Jerry Cantrell nut-swinger. I celebrate the man’s entire catalogue. The new Alice In Chains album Ranier Fog is released at the end of this week and it’s a killer evolution of the Alice In Chains sound: just like everything else AIC, it’s recognisably them yet recognisably different at the same time. I had the chance to talk with Jerry about it, along with as many other nerdy guitar questions as I could cram in to the chat. I hope you dig it. You can check it out on iTunes, at BlogTalkRadio or on pretty much all good podcast catchers (and if it’s not on yours, let me know and I’ll change that). 

Eskimo Joe’s Kav Temperley Announces Solo Debut

Best known as the frontman of the Australian rock n roll luminaires, Eskimo Joe, acclaimed songwriter Kav Temperley is stepping out solo.  The first taste of his upcoming album dropped today in the form of new single, Pollyanna – an ominous reflection on the relativity of happiness – the single will be received instantly with all digital album pre-orders.  Pollyanna precedes Kav Temperley’s highly anticipated debut solo album All Your Devotion, a collection of ruminating, thoughtful, and effecting songs from one of this country’s greatest talents, set for release digitally and on vinyl on September 28.  To celebrate what is the culmination of years of hard work, Kav will be hitting the road in October and November this year, kicking off on October 5 at The Milk Factory in Brisbane, and moving through the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Belgrave, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Fremantle, Margaret River, before wrapping up in Bunbury at Prince of Wales on November 3.
Pollyanna is not quite as happy-go-lucky as its namesake, but despite a moody demeanour, there is a tenacious, almost stubborn sense of positivity that lurks throughout.  With careful, considered instrumentation and an arrangement that allows deep strings, plucky piano and sparkling guitar to each complement the other, Pollyanna is a deeply effecting piece of music, made even more so with Kav’s idiosyncratic, expressive vocal delivery and lyricism.  Kav reflects on the inspiration behind the track, saying, A friend once told me that our happiness is always relative, whether we live in a war zone or paradise – our happiness always swings back to the same place.I had just lost my marriage and the band had decided to take a break, all of these things that defined me were now no longer around.  It was one of the first times in my life I felt like a stranger just rolling along, but I realised that amongst all of this I was a Pollyanna, someone despite the bad news always looks on the bright side.  This was a song I was singing to myself to remember to stay light.”
All Your Devotion is, quite simply, a daring testament of renewal.  Produced alongside Pip Norman (Troye Sivan, Jarryd James, Urthboy) and John Castle (Megan Washington, Vance Joy, Bertie Blackman), the album delicately outlines the arc of newfound romance; the rapture, with Pollyanna and Queen Of My Heart, the hesitation, with This Is The Love and Devotion, and the surrender, with High and When You RunAll Your Devotion explores new sonic territory for Kav, as sparse and uncluttered production, reminiscent of pop and folk conventions, takes precendence over rock n roll ways.  Kav reflects on some of the inspiration behind the album, saying, “We spend our lives building barricades to protect us, both physical and emotional.  But, as well as protect, these barricades can also isolate and suffocate.  All Your Devotion is about tearing those down and starting over, through all the fears and hope…It’s about growing up and moving on. It’s being courageous enough to live and to love again.”

Kav Templerley is set to perform tracks from All Your Devotion live to audiences across the country come October and November this year, as Eskimo Joe also prepare to hit the stage for the Under The Southern Stars festival run.  It’s going to be a busy few months for the skilled musician, but anticipation is high, as Kav says, “(For the All Your Devotion tour,) it’s just going to be me with an acoustic guitar and kick drum strapped to my back.  I want these shows to be raw and real so people feel like they’ve been there right next to me through the writing of this record.”
Pollyanna will be available from today and will be received instantly with all digital album pre-orders. All Your Devotion is set for release digitally and on vinyl on September 28.

ALL YOUR DEVOTION NATIONAL ALBUM TOUR

FRI 5 OCT | THE MILK FACTORY, BRISBANE QLD | 18+
Tickets available from www.kavtemperley.com.au or www.oztix.com.au | 1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

SAT 6 OCT | VILLA NOOSA HOTEL, SUNSHINE COAST QLD | 18+
Tickets available from www.kavtemperley.com.au or www.oztix.com.au | 1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

SUN 7 OCT | PUBLIC BAR @ COOLANGATTA HOTEL, GOLD COAST QLD | 18+
|Free show

THU 11 OCT | GRACE EMILY, ADELAIDE SA | 18+
Tickets available from www.kavtemperley.com.au or www.oztix.com.au | 1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

FRI 12 OCT | SOOKI LOUNGE, BELGRAVE VIC | 18+
Tickets available from www.kavtemperley.com.au or www.oztix.com.au | 1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

SAT 13 OCT | THE TOFF IN TOWN, MELBOURNE VIC | 18+
Tickets available from www.kavtemperley.com.au or www.moshtix.com.au | 1300 GET TIX | All Moshtix Outlets

FRI 19 OCT | LEADBELLY, SYDNEY NSW | 18+
Tickets available from www.kavtemperley.com.au or www.moshtix.com.au | 1300 GET TIX | All Moshtix Outlets

SAT 20 OCT | LIZOTTES, NEWCASTLE NSW | 18+
Tickets available from www.kavtemperley.com.au or www.lizottes.com.au | (02) 4956 2066

SAT 27 OCT | MOJOS, FREMANTLE WA | 18+
Tickets available from www.kavtemperley.com.au or www.oztix.com.au | 1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

FRI 2 NOV | RIVER HOTEL, MARGARET RIVER WA | 18+
Tickets available from www.kavtemperley.com.au or www.oztix.com.au | 1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

SAT 3 NOV | PRINCE OF WALES, BUNBURY WA | 18+
Tickets available from www.kavtemperley.com.au or www.oztix.com.au | 1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

R.I.P Phil Emmanuel

I’m crushed to hear of the passing of Phil Emmanuel, following an asthma attack last night at age 65. A brilliant player and a great guy. If you ever saw him play – solo or with Tommy – you witnessed a player who could go from country to surf to Satriani in the space of a bar, all with a cheeky smile. His album Kakadu Sunrise is an eclectic, beautifully-executed celebration of the guitar and his various musical interests, but it was onstage that Phil really came into his own. He was a brilliant mimic on the guitar, not in an unoriginal, copycat kind of way but in an ‘entertain the people by any means necessary’ way. His playing was more hard-rock than Tommy’s in many ways, but he could play the hell out of a country chicken pickin’ lick or an Irish jig, imitate pedal steel like the real thing, convince you that you were listening to Hank Marvin in 1963, then throw in a Van Halen lick just for kicks.
The sense of humour and fun in his playing was undeniable and he clearly lived to play. Phil and Tommy released a brilliant album called Terra Firma in 1995 which captured their intuitive musical language and fun, but part of Phil’s magic was that he brought that same joy with him whether he was playing with his brother or with a pick-up band at a pub. A few years ago Phil and Tommy toured together to celebrate 50 years of making music together (they started when they were absolutely tiny) and it was exactly as amazing as you’d expect, with the brothers pushing each other to ridiculous levels of performance.
Phil sort of took me under his wing when I was about 15. He would do clinics and gigs locally quite often because his keyboard player, Simon Mills, had a piano store called London Music that also sold Valley Arts guitars and Soldano amps. I’ll never forget the first time I met him. Simon introduced us and we talked guitar for ages. Phil even sneakily bought me a beer that night and he tried to persuade my mum to let me hang out with the lads and have a few more and stuff me in a taxi at the end of the night, haha. (Mum said no). I saw him many more times over the next few years, and when I did Work Experience at London Music he gave me a few guitar pointers, particularly about focusing on melody and keeping it fun.
Thanks for everything, Phil. My deepest condolences to Tommy and family. 

 

Hero Of The Underground: Fender Celebrates 60 Years Of Jazzmaster® Innovation

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (May 9, 2018— Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) today announced the 60th anniversary celebration of Fender’s most creative and expressive model: the Jazzmaster. A hero of the underground, the Jazzmaster has been adopted by generations of artists looking for unique sonic qualities and combinations, unlocking genre defying sound that lives on today within music and culture.
In 1958, Fender introduced the Jazzmaster as the top-of-the-line electric guitar for jazz musicians; later the sound and easily modifiable style attracted counterculture and misfit players, including aficionados of surf guitar – who rarely hesitated to personalize their instruments and make a sound of their own. Over the past 60 years, players across genres have wielded Jazzmaster guitars – from J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) and Elvis Costello to Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of the Stone Age), Chelsea Wolfe, Jim Root (Slipknot), Chris Stapleton, Portugal. The Man and The War on Drugs. A cult classic today, the Jazzmaster still is the core tool for contemporary artists and innovative players continuing pushing the creative boundaries of music.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary occasion, Fender is releasing highly collectible iterations of the beloved Jazzmaster, including three, limited edition models in select colors: the Limited Edition 60th Anniversary ’58 Jazzmaster, Triple Jazzmaster and Classic Jazzmaster.
“The Jazzmaster is the little engine that could,” said Justin Norvell, SVP, Fender Products. “It didn’t follow its original destiny to be a jazz guitar, but found a niche on the creative cutting edge and maintains significant popularity today as we celebrate its 60th anniversary. Whether it’s surf, ‘90s punk rock or alternative music, the Jazzmaster has remained the guitar of choice, pushing music forward into uncharted territory.”

The original ‘58 Jazzmaster boasted a revolutionary offset waist, distinctive-sounding pickups, a flexible rhythm/lead circuit and was the first Fender guitar to sport a rosewood fingerboard. An homage to the original prototype of this ground-breaking guitar, the 60th Anniversary ‘58 Jazzmaster accurately recreates the bold and distinctive look and feel of the original 1958 prototype, giving players a taste of the Jazzmaster in its original form. The Limited Edition 60th Anniversary ’58 Jazzmaster is offered in 2-Color Sunburst. 
The Triple Jazzmaster features a modern, triple-pickup and is an homage to the mod ethos that permeates Jazzmaster player circles. Combining authentic looks and uniquely flexible wiring – the guitar also features brand-new humbucking pickups from pickup guru Tim Shaw for a guitar that’s ready to rip it up on stage and off. The Limited Edition 60th Anniversary Triple Jazzmaster is offered in Daphne Blue.
Classic Jazzmaster updates the classic 1966 model with features that modern, creative players are sure to appreciate. This model is a reproduction of the 1966 Jazzmaster, which at the time, was updated with the following features: bound neck, block inlays, and as a special aesthetic touch, a slick-looking matching painted headstock. These stylish visual cues—as well as the rich, multi-dimensional sound—made this one of the most sought-after Jazzmaster models. The Limited Edition 60th Anniversary Classic Jazzmaster is offered in Daphne Blue, Black, Vintage Blonde, and Fiesta Red. 

The 60th anniversary Jazzmaster models are available at local dealers and on www.Fender.com on the below dates; models include: 

o    Available Now: Limited Edition 60th Anniversary ‘58 Jazzmaster – $2,299.99    

o    Available September 2018: Limited Edition 60th Anniversary Triple Jazzmaster –  $1,999.99 and Limited Edition 60th Anniversary Classic Jazzmaster – $1,199.99. 

To learn more about Fender’s 60th Anniversary Jazzmaster models and for product descriptions of each model, click here. For series product images, click here.  

For technical specs, additional information on new Fender products and to find a retail partner near you, visit www.fender.com. Join the conversation on social media by following @Fender.

  

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ABOUT FENDER MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS CORPORATION: 

Since 1946, Fender has revolutionized music and culture as one of the world’s leading musical instrument manufacturers, marketers and distributors. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC), whose portfolio of brands includes Fender®, Squier®, Gretsch® guitars, Jackson®, EVH® and Charvel®, follows a player-centric approach to crafting the highest quality instruments and musical solutions across genres. FMIC is dedicated to unlocking the power of music through electric and acoustic guitars, amplifiers, pro audio, accessories and digital products that inspire and enable musical expression at every stage, from beginners to history-making legends. 

 

Metal Social Media Isn’t Just Jerks Yelling At Each Other

Social media is a shitshow lately. I don’t need to remind you about certain divisive presidents of certain international superpowers, or particular superstars who always seem to pop up to draw attention to themselves when someone else is getting too much positive press. Whipping out your phone to check your social feeds can be unintentionally stressful, and the metal community is no exception. Staind’s Aaron Lewis shot his mouth off at Limp Bizkit’s Wes Borland recently for referring to Los Angeles rather than his native Jacksonville, Florida as his home (like there aren’t millions of people who want to re-forge their identity outside of their hometown), and it spilled over into Facebook arguments among fans on various Facebook groups. Drum legend Mike Portnoy is always speaking out against metal news sites that seem to phrase their headlines in ways designed specifically to generate arguments in the comments section. And don’t get me started on the shitstorms whipped up in the replies any time Kerrang! or Revolver tweets about Slipknot, Ghost, The Pretty Reckless, Babymetal… It’s enough to make you want to chuck your phone in the creek and go have a lie down under a tree. 

Sometimes you need to step back and realise that your social media feed is for you to curate. If you’re cramming this information in your head all day, it’s okay to make sure you’re only cramming in the stuff that doesn’t send you into a panic attack. I’ve noticed there are a few particularly great social media accounts that post uplifting-but-still-totally-metal content, and I find they help me get through my day as someone who buries their face in their phone way too much and would rather load up on a ‘promote what’s great, not what you hate’ philosophy. If that sounds good to you, here are some recommendations for people to follow on Twitter. Oh and I’m @iheartguitar if you don’t follow me already.

Ben Eller – @BenEllerGuitars
Uncle Ben is one of the sweestest dudes you’ll ever meet. A great guitarist and bassist, he puts a lot of heart and happiness into everything he does, whether it’s sharing spicy guitar memes or his hugely popular This Is Why You Suck At Guitar YouTube series. (Dude can only get away with that series title because he’s so damn nice). 

Kimberly Freeman (One Eyed Doll) – @Kimberly_OED
Kimberly is the frontwoman of the duo One Eyed Doll. Imagine if a supernatural horror movie could play metal guitar, or if What We Do In The Shadows was a band instead of a hilarious mockumentary. Kimberly is incredibly supportive of her fans, and her retweet game is crazy strong. 

Jose Mangin – @JoseMangin
A self-described heavy metal ambassador, Jose is a host on Sirius XM Radio and the dude lives metal. He’s the kind of guy who will put his Uber driver on the guest list for a festival he’s hosting, and he’s a big believer in using metal as a catalyst to bring people together across racial and social divides.

Jared Dines – @JaredDines
Jared is a music/comedy YouTuber with nearly 2 million subscribers, who makes videos about metal cliches and tropes, but is also a talented guitarist who understands that metal can simply be fun. Check out his recent video where he uses a custom Australian-made 18-string Ormsby guitar to create a crushing-but-hilarious djent track. 

Higgo – @Higgo74
You may have heard Higgo on Triple M or GoldFM, or on his Distortion podcast. Dude is metal through-and-through and he always on top of the latest bands and releases as well as the classics. Even if I do razz him for tweeting about reality TV sometimes. Heh. 

Jaide Soto – @Jaide_Alicia
Jaide is an 10-year-old metal journalist from the USA who was raised on a diet of Van Halen and KISS, and whose metalhead dad helped her set up shutupandrockon.com to share her reviews and interviews with the likes of Fozzy’s Rich Ward (another great person to follow at @thedukeofmetal), Faster Pussycat guitarist and rescue-dog advocate Ace Von Johnson (@acevonjohnson) and Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider.

Dean Delray – @DeanDelray
Dean is a comedian and former rocker from California whose podcast Let There Be Talk is a must-listen resource for great conversations with rock royalty. He’s utterly hilarious onstage so if he’s ever in your neck of the woods, do go see him and you’ll have a great night.