Metalheads in the 80s: Robyn Way, Michael Sarantos, Kylie McLaren and Michael Keating
Featuring: Robyn Way, Michael Sarantos, Kylie McLaren and Michael Keating
Running time: 6 minutes
Robyn Way: [0:07] I got into heavy metal round about 1983, 84, I think. That would have been around the time that Iron Maiden toured with the Power Slave Tour. I remember, it was my first big heavy metal concert that I went, wow, this is fantastic. Previous to that I was probably more into punk and other things, but I kind of went into the metal scene round about then.
[0:30] The heavy metal subculture, to me, was all about music. That was why we were involved in it. It was identifying yourself through the music that you listened to. The bands that we enjoyed we would wear, like, shirts to identify ourselves as part of that subculture and as part of that whole metal scene.
Michael Sarrantos: [0:52] We were young. We were free thinkers. We were anti-religion. We were anti-establishment. We were anti-politics. We just wanted to do things on our own terms and we didn’t want to be told what to do. Plus the music was louder than everything else and it spoke to us. But turn about 17 or 18 I started joining bands and playing gigs and if I wasn’t playing a gig I’d be going to watch a friend’s band play or just going to see bands that we liked. And sometimes we would go and see two or three bands a night, depending on who was playing and where it was and stuff.
Robyn: [1:30] Heavy metal, to me, meant music. It was all about music, just music and the friends. Once I’d left school I moved to Sydney and through friends I did get a job in a record store in Sydney. Then through other connections did manage to meet a few favorite bands, either backstage or at certain parties. People like Bon Jovi, or Metallica, or DAD.
[1:58] Being a female in the very male-dominated subculture was actually quite good because you were one of the few females in a male-dominated subculture. And I think also because, you know, we were girls who were actually into the music, you know. There were a lot of girls there who just dressed up and looked great but weren’t really that into it. But we could actually hold our own in a conversation about what band was doing what and all that sort of thing.
[2:22] When I went to gigs, the dress style didn’t change, really, from what I wore day to day for work. Because you dressed for the music, it was all about the band t-shirts. Lots of black. Probably just layers, sort of tights and skirts and then the t-shirts. Lots of bracelets. Once I got into glam, so bracelets up to both elbows. Early 80s were white high tops, so you’d wear all black and then white high tops, which never made any sense, but then sort of yeah, black boots and black band t-shirts.
Michael: [2:58] Just black on black. Black jacket, metal t-shirt of your own choice. Black jeans, black runners. In those days the fans and the bands looked the same. Well, at least the thrash metal bands did, anyway.
Man 2: [3:14] I think everybody sort of looked the same, had the same kind of music, went to the same places. It was almost like a little tribe, I suppose. There was a tribal feel about it, I think. I sort of casually started listening I suppose in the late 70s. And then in the early 80s I think I discovered Iron Maiden and from then on I just sort of, well I’d always loved Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, things like that. So, I just got more and more into the scene, basically without even trying. I just sort of fell into it and a whole world opened up for me, I think.
[3:52] The glam rock scene in Sydney was probably a poor imitation of what it was like in LA. I think that kind of music, which I think had a lot to do with the AC/DC sound, back in the 70s, I think in Australia we kept that jeans and t-shirt, AC/DC image when it came to that kind of music. And even when I first started in the heavy metal scene, there was a bigger glam influence. Even I used to, my girlfriends and girls in particular used to dress me up a bit more as a glam rocker. Big boofy hair. But I always was more into a Black Sabbath look, I suppose.
Robyn: [4:40] The bands that brought it out of the underground were probably the new wave of British heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and those sorts of bands. You know, Ozzy and what he was doing and all those sort of bands that came out of England. But the glam metal bands definitely in the states made it big. Made it really big. Like you’d have number one albums and you’d have top 10 singles and MTV would have heavy metal glam bands on rotation and it became a lot more acceptable.
[5:08] I guess it depends on the sort of genre of the heavy metal, you know, the angrier people got into the death metal stuff, which was kind of later than the 80s anyway. But at the time in the 80s when it was all about the hair and the big glam, it was a lot of show off and oh check me out look at me sort of people involved in the whole thing.
Man 2: [5:27] I think with heavy metal, because the music was the most important part about the subculture, we really accepted anybody who felt the same way about the music as we did. So, it didn’t really matter what ethnic background or socio-economic strata you fit into as long as you liked the music and you were serious about the music, then you could go to a heavy metal concert and find a friend quite easily.