Register for your 100% free subscription. Full details.
This is the story of how four boys from Liverpool took their talent for making people’s ears bleed and turned it into culturally relevant mega-stardom. This is the oral history of the world’s most popular thrash metal band, the Meatles: the early years.
Chapter 1: A New Sound in the Underground
John Lambsblood, lead vocals and guitar: I was a schoolboy looking for an outlet for my aggression. I’d run around drinking cheap beer, kicking over rubbish bins and punching brick walls. One day I found an old guitar and heard an evil voice say, “Play, John! Play me until your fingers are like shredded bits of corned beef.” I did, and the pain made me howl like a banshee haunting her favorite moor. The voice cackled in approval. It was a new type of music.
Paul McCarnage, lead vocals and bass: I had a bass guitar I hadn’t found in a bin, but John said it’d do. We played John’s songs ‘til we was spittin’ up blood and droppin’ fingernails. It was horrible. But I knew it could be even worse. We had to get George.
George Hairybeast, lead guitar: Paul asked if I was bored and angry, and I said yes. John asked if I’d consider selling my soul in exchange for some brilliant shredding skills. That’s when I joined the band.
Paul: At first we had some proper git called Rupert bangin’ on the drums. Couldn’t even clap his hands to a beat but it didn’t matter. We just needed someone who was loud, so loud it’d cause permanent hearing damage.
John: We tossed around for a bit in Liverpool, but once the Bobbies had it out for us – disturbing the peace and promoting Satanism and such – I thought it was time we went someplace new, someplace welcoming. Someplace where fairy tales end in dismemberment and a bloody devil is one of Santa’s helpers: Germany.
Chapter 2: Hamburg
Jim McCarnage, Paul’s father: I supported Paul’s interest in music, but this was different. Other lads were strumming guitars and singing about their best girl, but our boys was screaming nonsense like, “Bowls of blood will overflow!” and “Roast your flesh like a pig’s in Heeellll!!” When Paul said they was getting paid to “play” this rot in Hamburg, I thought he was lying.
John: The Germans loved us. They got our rage, didn’t matter if they couldn’t understand a bloody word we were shouting. We were speaking in tongues half the time anyways.
Jim McCarnage: The Germans can be blamed for a lot of things. One of them is encouraging the success of The Meatles.
John: The name came to me in a dream. A demon skeleton straddling a flaming bratwurst appeared and said, “You shall be Meatles, swine!” and I said, “That doesn’t make any sense, mate. What about something that mashes up, say, a cockroach with something musical,” but the demon said “Nay! This is a play on ‘metal’ and a nod to the all-meat diet you’re eating!”
George: Bloody delicious sausages, they were.
Paul: Rupert’s German girlfriend did our hair in the Hamburg style – shaggy and with strips of bacon tied into it.
George: Veal sausage, pork sausage, Bavarian white sausage, Nürnberger sausage…
Rupert: Wie, bitte?
Jim McCarnage: The hair thing was disgusting. When they came back to England Paul smelled like a walking slaughterhouse. I was changing his pillowcase every morning.
Chapter 3: The Rise to Stardom
John: Back in Liverpool our black message of death and hopelessness was really starting to resonate – and this was 18 years before Thatcher! We were booked solid.
Paul: Then come this punk Brian Epocalypse, owned a record shop near the rail station that smelled of farts and old cheese. Him wearing bacon in his hair like we was, says he can get us a record contract.
Brian Epocalypse, long-time Meatles manager: I tried, but the old record exec wankers was all like, “Heavy metal groups are on their way out, Mr. Epocalypse.” I got them an audition with George Merciless, this grubby bloke who used to hang around me shop and say he’d been a producer. He signed us with EMI.
George Merciless, long-time Meatles producer: I hated the music, but I had a nose for what would be big. On them, I could smell it – not just the rancid meat, but the latent potential. They needed a new drummer, so I replaced Rupert with Wretched Stabb.
John: Wretched was real metal. Covered in scars, wore a belt with twelve daggers hanging from it. Was always messing around with a switchblade between takes. Merciless said he had killed a man.
Wretched Stabb, drums: I sent George to hospital once after he was playing too soft. Stuck me dagger in his thigh and gave a twist. He cried like a baby and I said, “What d’ya expect, mate? I’m Wretched bleedin’ Stabb, not Gentle bleedin’ Words-of-Encouragement.”
George Merciless: With Wretched, we managed to lay down decent tracks of the singles “Love Me Do (Satan)”, “P.S. Go Crawl Into a Hole & Die!”, and “Please Disease Me,” which became our first number one. From there, we were off and running. Or off and hobbling from gaping thigh wounds, at least.
Paul: John and me wrote the songs for the first LP in a week, recorded them in a day at Scabbey Road. By the end of the session, we was coughing up blood again and hearing demonic laughter. We knew we had a hit that would also please our master.
Brian Epocalypse: The album went number one in the UK overnight. Then “Twist and Shout (In Agony)” went number one, then “God Hates You (Yeah Yeah Yeah)” sells a million copies. We started touring, and that’s when “Meatle-madness” really caught.
Jim McCarnage: Flocks of screaming goth girls were waiting at every airport, every time they’d step out of a car. Tearing their hair out, carving pentagrams into each other’s arms. They were practicing self-flagellation, they were sacrificing cats! It was pure anarchy.
George: Blood sausage, cheese sausage, Debreziner sausage, raw sausages without casings. Funny enough, we didn’t eat a single hamburger in Hamburg.
Paul: We started bangin’ out our second LP, “With the Meatles.” Stupid title for a metal album, but it did even better than “Please Disease Me” had done.
Brian Epocalypse: “I Want to Hold Your Severed Hand” was another smashing success. That’s when Dead Sullivan came calling, Ed’s metal brother.
John: The whole world was starting to take thrash metal seriously. Prince Charles joined the Church of Satan for a spell. And we were just gettin’ started…
Jim McCarnage: To this day, I’ve never understood their popularity. The music sounds like the devil attempting to shear a herd of rabid sheep while he battles a raging case of giardia. I love my son, but…what’s the appeal of that?
Rupert: I never did understand why they kicked me out of the band. But maybe it was for the best? Sorry, what was the question?
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, a modern, realistic, historical, and super creepy Dracula story!