COURTESY DAVE HILL
Dave HIll and Phil Costello as their corpse-painted personas in The Black Metal Dialogues.
“I keep saying it’s the Vagina Monologues
of black metal,” says comedian Dave Hill, who has never actually seen the Vagina Monologues
. “I just choose to believe it’s similar.”
Hill’s legendary, pre-viral internet email exchange
with a very real, very earnest Norwegian black metal musician in 2004 begins with Hill’s cold call as “Lance, aka the king of black metal":
“hey mysticum guys,
i got your e-mail off the internet. i was surprised someone in a black metal band would use e-mail but whatever i guess we can't expect you guys to live in caves all the time (if you were serious about black metal you would though).”
Hill’s email — from MrLouRawls@aol.com — continues with a passive aggressive jab at Mysticum not being extreme enough. Mathias took the bait. His reply begins “Hi!”
That “Hi!” gave Hill an opening to heighten “Lance” and his defense of living the truest, darkest black metal life, while revealing how pathetic he really is, as the “king of black metal and about 50 other things” from his throne in Gary, Indiana and as the artist behind the “majesty” of the “band” Witch Taint. “Anytime someone takes something really, really seriously, I just think that’s hilarious,” Hill tells Gambit
. “Black metal is the jackpot. These ridiculous people taking themselves way too seriously.”
The exchange continued from November 2004 to April 2005, with Mathias patiently responding to Lance’s demands and listening to his sad asides about life in his mother’s basement.
“The conversation ends up being completely ridiculous, but he comes off as being a nice patient guy putting up with this idiot in my character Lance,” Hill says. “The joke of it and the humor of it isn’t like, ‘Oh, look at this stupid guy.’ The humor is the subject matter and that he indulges me for so long and is actually really patient with me. At the end he’s like, ‘Hey, I was just like you. There’s more to life than just Satan and black metal.’”
COURTESY DAVE HILL
Twelve years later, Hill brings the email chain to life in his Witch Taint: The Black Metal Dialogues Live
, appearing at One Eyed Jacks Friday, April 7. (It’s nothing like the Vagina Monologues.)
Phil Costello plays the role of Mathias, and Hill is Lance — both are dressed in corpse paint, gauntlets and full black metal regalia. “We try to make it as black and as ‘kvlt’ as you can imagine,” Hill says, “which means we get a fog machine.”
The show begins with a video introduction to let the audience know “what you’re about to see is a conversation with two full-grown men,” Hill says, followed by montages of satanic imagery, black metal music videos, and a live reading of the emails, slightly edited down for an hourlong show. “The course of the email is hyping up this band that doesn’t exist, and eventually I have to break down and record a song, so I record the song, and we play a music video with that song in it. It’s horrible,” he says.
In 2014, Hill co-created the Karate Kid-inspired webseries Metal Grasshopper
with Supagroup's Chris Lee and starring Hill as an aspiring metal musician guided by a Mr. Miyagi-like Phil Anselmo, playing a barely fictional version of himself.
With each 10 minute episode, "Phil tries to teach Dave his inner darkness," Lee said
. "Dave shows up on his lawn shredding. That's how the show starts."
"People ask me, 'why don’t you have an actual metal band?'" Hill says. "There’s so many heavy bands who are so awesome already. They’ve got it covered."
Meanwhile, Lance and Mathias haven’t kept in touch. Hill still hasn’t told him about the emails, let alone the performance. “If we go to Broadway or something, I’ll track him down.”
Witch Taint: The Black Metal Dialogues Live is 9 p.m. Friday, April 7 at One Eyed Jacks. Tickets $10.