There have been a couple of decent docs and features made about Satan's favourite music, but they usually fall the way of lowbrow condescension (see Heavy Metal Parking Lot). So when anthropologist/ metal-enthusiast-in-extremis Sam Dunn decided to tackle the subject in Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, you can bet that skids the world over threw up their devil horns with glee.
What was the first metal album you ever owned? A Destruction album - it was the fastest, most extreme thing I'd ever heard. A step up from Van Halen.
How did A Headbanger's Journey come about? I was planning a book on metal's history. Co-producer Scot (McFadyen) asked if there was ever a doc about metal, and we realized there were only parodies like Spinal Tap.
What were the high points while on the festival circuit? At the Prince George Festival, this old guy said he was 80 years old and was so impressed that he was gonna go out and buy some albums.
So why didn't Ozzy make the cut for the movie? We got denied by Sharon Osbourne! There was a misunderstanding in 2004 when we had contacted some bands on the Ozzfest tour because we thought we could get them all together at once. Sharon got upset because we hadn't approached her first, and she sent us an e-mail along the lines of, "How dare you do this... blah blah blah."
What do your fellow anthropologists and academic colleagues think of the movie? I don't know yet. It's only been shown at festivals. Obviously it's pop academia, so it may be controversial.
Did some of the guys you interviewed just take the whole metal lifestyle a bit too far? Metal has always prided itself on pushing the next level of extremity and evilness, where guys like Gaahl (singer of Gorgoroth) actively endorse church burnings and act like they're the next Alice Cooper. Gaahl does believe in a type of Satanism, but he's such a good performer that it may just be an act.
Anything particular about metal that's getting you excited these days? It's becoming a much more global phenomenon. We're making a second movie on the globalization of metal, with bands like Melechesh from Israel who mix Eastern influences into their music. As for bands, I'd say Mastodon, Akercocke and Children of Bodom.
If you could start a metal band, what would you call it? I did. We're called Burn to Black.