Hello, Cleveland!

B-Sides examines Venom's Spinal Tap moments, puts on kid gloves for Rasputina and reminisces with Shilo

Dec 7, 2005 at 4:00 am
Originally a corset-clad trio with a costumed cult following, Rasputina has expanded its horizons. It now employs a male drummer (Jonathon Tebeest, a bold move for a group whose past rosters include only female cellists), while its latest studio release, Frustration Plantation, addresses early-1800s Louisiana instead of Victorian-era London. But for founding member Melora Creager, the biggest change took place four years ago, when she gave birth to daughter Hollis. Creager's offspring has already appeared on two Rasputina tracks — just one of the perks that come with having rock's coolest mom.

B-Sides: Children's corsets probably aren't healthy, but does Hollis wear any Rasputina-style clothing?

Melora Creager: She was Corpse Bride for Halloween, so we raided the Rasputina wardrobe.

As a mother, do you feel differently about being on the road during the holidays?

We've never toured in December before, but for a couple years we spent Christmas in the studio. I'd never do that again, but we'll always work on Halloween.

Do you sing Hollis any lullabies?

We always read before bed. We're on the third book in the Lemony Snicket series. As far as what she listens to, right now it's a lot of early Genesis.

It's understandable that your home state, Kansas, is proud of you, but do you think they're taking the tribute too far by rolling their stance on evolution back to the 1800s?

I feel it's my single-handed responsibility to set them straight.

You live in New York now. Have you considered moving since having Hollis?

The city has been good to her so far, but I'm definitely looking to get out. I think kids who grow up in big cities are more sheltered. If I were a single, freewheeling lady, I would stay forever.

Does Hollis play any instruments?

She has a lot of drums she's received as gifts, and xylophones and ukuleles that we share.

Usually, parents aren't thrilled when their kids get drums as gifts, but it's fine with you?

Well, they're gifts from our drummer.
— Andrew Miller

Rasputina at Pop's, 1403 Mississippi Avenue, Sauget, Illinois. Show starts at 8 p.m. Monday, December 12. Tickets are $12; call 618-274-6720 for more information.

When No One Else Would Come

Tons of so-called fans on the Friends of Neil Diamond Web site (www.neildiamondhomepage.com/faq.htm) have been talking mad smack about what has come to be known to loyal Diamondbacks as "The Shilo Debacle of '68." I'm here to set the record straight. You see, I'm Shilo. Yes, that Shilo — the imaginary childhood friend Neil named the song "Shilo" after. When Neil was a young boy growing up in Brooklyn, his Yiddish heritage forbade him from joining either of the two Protestant street gangs in his neighborhood, the Cobras or the Cougars. So young Neil was forced to turn to the only friend he could find (i.e., me), there in his mind.

We had such special times. When Neil would call my name, I came. And we'd play. I made him smile and feel like he could fly, and when it came time for him to chase his dream of becoming the most amazingly popular craftsman of song the world has ever known, I understood. He left me with an air kiss and promised he'd write a song about our special times one day.

When he did, it almost derailed his career. The executives at Bang Records thought our song to be a wimpy follow-up to "Cherry Cherry" and "Solitary Man," songs which rightfully cast Neil as a dark sexual panther with a musky scent. This hurt, but Neil was there to console me. He took me in his arms and stroked my silky imaginary hair, whispering tenderly: "Don't worry little Shilo, Papa's gonna make the big bad men go bye-bye." And when Neil up and defected to Uni Records (a part of MCA), it was OK.

Admittedly, Neil and I have drifted apart since the Shilo Debacle of '68. Some of that had to do with my jealousy over his shacking up with tramps like Rosie, Holly, Soolaimon and that whore from Kentucky. But the other night, Neil phoned me up from the Aqua Jet aboard his touring bus. And I came. — Shilo

Neil Diamond at the Savvis Center, South 14th Street and Clark Avenue. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, December 11. Tickets are $42.50 to $75; call 314-241-1888 for more information.
And if you close your eyes real tight, you might see Shilo there, too.

The '80s-born British trio Venom coined the term "black metal" and set the standard for every speed-shredding, pentagram-emblazoned act to come. The recently released box set MMV, packed with preposterous material, suggests that Venom also established the template for Spinal Tap. Here are the hilarious highlights.

Bill, have you seen my pentagram codpiece? Venom started the use of mythical names, with its members selecting the aliases Cronos, Abaddon and Mantas. "It would have been daft to be singing about demons and then say, 'Hello, Jeff,'" Cronos says in the liner notes. The band booted original singer Clive Archer after he selected the less-than-sinister stage name Christ.

Potluck afterward: Venom refused to play at any venue that couldn't accommodate an elaborate pyrotechnic show. As a result, it played its first big-time gig four years into its career, at London's legendary Hammersmith Odeon. The satanic group did play an earlier explosion-free show at the only space that would host it; a ticket pictured in the liner notes reads: Methodist Church Presents Venom.

Answer: Venom: In a 1983 radio interview included on MMV, Cronos answers a question about metal's damaging influence by asking, "What's more corruptive than Boy George?" It seems the original black-metal band wasn't big on men wearing makeup. The group also spends a full minute detailing how it has progressed on every album "except for the first one, which wasn't a progression at all because it was the first."

Fangs, anyway: Venom blazed trails in the field of "evil" publicity photos, but one shoot with a king cobra went awry. The serpent escaped, slithering across the studio and scattering band members before it became tangled in camera cables.

These go to eleven: Cronos' stage banter has a shelf life that rivals "Hello, Cleveland!" The Beastie Boys sampled his "You're wild, man, wild!" on Check Your Head, and the Web site for New Jersey's WFMU (www.wfmu.org) offers as a download an all-banter, no-music recording of the 1985 Venom gig (alongside Black Flag in New Jersey), at which that outburst — along with "You're fuckin' pretty loud, New Jersey!" — originated. — Andrew Miller