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Exotic Magazine - Uncovering The Northwest Since 1993

Where Are They Now? Salem...

by Ray McMillin

The following begins a series of articles in which I catch celebrities of yesteryear, performing at random venues in my hometown Salem. This happens more often than you would believe, not limited to the guest pornstars who frequent Firehouse or Stars. For some reason, lots of famous-to-semi-famous folks end up taking a detour through the center of Oregon’s I-5 strip. And, for some reason, I usually bump into them.

Part 1: Green Jellÿ

A child named "Chaos" sleeps under the green room table, which is being used for the lukewarm pizza being picked at by a handful of punk rockers. Ten feet outside the door, roadies unload giant, cartoonish puppet heads, being held together by a combination of duct tape and the bodily fluids of the previous inhabitants. On stage, a man named Marc sings a song about jerking off horses in Greece—his band is appropriately titled "Marc And The Horsejerks." Hours prior, I had my mixer set up on the table currently being used for a silver mannequin head; I was providing DJ services for an all-ages drag show. This is what Salem, Oregon looks like on a Sunday afternoon at Shotski’s Eats. On this particular Sunday, we are getting ready for seminal ’90s punk rock band Green Jellÿ (pronounced "Jello," as the umlaut removes lawsuits). I’m in the green room, picking at what appears to be actual green Jellÿ (left by a fan, so it was more a question of the substance’s safety, as opposed to content), chopping it up with lead vocalist and ringleader for the band, William Manspeaker.

It’s been long enough, that we can start recognizing which bands from the last decade of the twentieth century were able to retain staying power (and, which weren’t). As I type this, "Don’t Look Back In Anger" is playing inside the Applebee’s I’m using for free WiFi. So much for the afterglow, Oasis. Other acts, however, have fan bases that have proven themselves permanent fixtures in the industry. ’70s bands that still tour are considered classic rock—mostly known for their legitimate talent (Rolling Stones, for instance). With the ’80s, you’ve got the acts with bastardized lineups, that focus on the state fair and casino circuit—riding on the fuels of nostalgia (see my review of the Vince Neil show in this month’s Erotic City). But, for some reason, even the biggest chart-toppers from the ’90s exist scattered in a sea of similarly categorized one-hit wonders, who only come out for where-are-they-now documentaries. The only bands from the ’90s (aside from rappers) that still matter, are gimmicky, theatrical acts. Rob Zombie, Insane Clown Posse, Slipknot, Mushroomhead...even Mindless Self Indulgence; if you wore a mask and pissed off your white parents between 1990 and 1999, your band is going to make the 90s Hall Of Fame at some point.

Straight outta this genre of theatrics-before-talent comes one of the most notorious acts to ever get sued by a food company: Green Jellÿ. I will go ahead and assume that folks are familiar with "Three Little Pigs," the band’s biggest hit, and possibly lesser-known-but-equal gems like "Misadventures Of Shitman," "Bear Song" and "Anarchy In Bedrock." Green Jellÿ’s two biggest accomplishments are having released the first (and, for a while, only) video-only album, Cereal Killer, (a cassette tape was released as a "soundtrack" to the music video VHS) and approximately 247 former band members (two of whom are currently in Tool...the drummer, Danny Carey, who appeared on Cereal Killer as "Danny Long Legs" and Maynard, who voiced the high-pitched falsetto "chinny chin chin" pig). Between the imagery used for their album cover and the band’s name, Green Jellÿ was sued by multiple snack food companies—a feat that most punk rock bands can only aspire to achieve.

I asked Manspeaker if there was a story that he’d like to share with Exotic...possibly one that he wouldn’t want in print elsewhere.

In 1993, Green Jellÿ released a song, "Electric Harley House Of Love," in which they didn’t just "sample" a riff from Metallica’s "Enter Sandman," but they inserted a note-for-note snippet of it into their own song. After reaching out to Metallica to see if they’d like to be in the music video for "Harley House," Will was not only met with a "No, thank you," but they were basically asked (told) to remove the Metallica sample from all future pressings and versions. Lars Ulrich-isms aside (this was years before the Napster fiasco cemented the drummer’s status as "snitch"), it’s kind of a dick move for a band as big as Metallica to shut down a semi-gimmicky punk band’s attempt at tribute. I can guarantee our readers that if Green Jellÿ had obtained legal permission to use the riff (using lawyers and paperwork) Metallica wouldn’t have even responded to Manspeaker’s request to be in the video.

Well, karma’s kind of a bitch and she seems to enjoy stalking Lars Ulrich. A few years after the Harley debacle, Manspeaker met a fashion model, who became his roommate. Seeing as how Manspeaker is a happily married man, I did not bother asking whether or not this was a "roommates with benefits" situation, but regardless, a fashion model is living with a punk rocker—there is fun being had, of some variety. The fashion model informs Will that her ex-fiancé is none other than Metallica’s own Lars Ulrich. It turns out, she still had his engagement ring and decided it would be funny if she gave it to Will, all things considering. Flash forward a few months and Manspeaker is drinking in some Hollywood nightclub, where Lars Ulrich just happens to be hanging out at.

Will approaches Lars and says, "Hey, you’re Lars from Metallica, right? I’m Will Manspeaker from Green Jellÿ."

Lars appears to remember the lawsuit. "Look man, I’m really sorry about all that stuff years ago—it was our lawyers and shit. You know how they are."

Will responds, "Oh, man, don’t worry about it. But, uhh, here...my friend wanted you to have this." With this, Manspeaker hands Lars his old engagement ring. A crusty Hollywood punk rocker, handing the drummer of Metallica a piece of the guy’s broken heart.

Immediately, Lars Ulrich tears up and hands the ring back to Will, closing it into Will’s fist, while holding onto it with both hands. "No. Tell her I love her. Make sure she knows that. I can’t take this back."

"Okay, I guess," Will responds, before venturing off to enjoy the rest of his evening.

Now, this is why I appreciate a band like Green Jellÿ. Metallica probably has thousands of stories that involve celebrities, sex, drugs, deciding on which Great Clips to support, etc. But, that comes with fame. I have a shred of respect for Metallica, ever since they lost that award to Jethro Tull, but come the fuck on...Green Jellÿ wanted to sample your most overplayed song and you told them "no." I’m pretty sure that I heard "Enter Sandman" while walking through Nordstrom’s the other day. That song probably makes in an hour, what Venezuela makes in a year. What are you gaining by literally refusing to be the butt of a joke? Your hair? Not much of that left, so why worry?

Back to Salem...the last of the opening acts, Headless Pez, wrapped up their own set, before stepping off stage and being asked by Manspeaker if "anyone in the building (knew) how to play an instrument." With this, the dudes from Pez got back on stage and performed as Green Jellÿ. Audience members were given puppet heads to wear, invited to come on stage and introduced as the "punk rock puppet army" (I had the honor of playing a pig, which is the next best thing to being a volunteer police officer for a day). Manspeaker opened the show with "Three Little Pigs," which is the equivalent of Skynyrd opening with "Freebird." I thought this was genius, as it was basically a "thanks for your money, fuck off" to anyone who showed up just to hear that song. Then, the performance went on for nearly an hour. I don’t know how, but I got a broken ankle, and in what appeared to be a matter of seconds, the venue was returned to its prior, non-Jellÿ form.