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The Metalman

Larkin Grimm

January 18, 2009

Larkin's intense, ecstatic voice with swirling multi-tracked patterns recalls the richness of Illuminations-period Buffy Sainte-Marie and the sparkle of Linda Perhacs. Her instrumentation includes duclimer, pennywhistle, bells, drums and guitar. Larkin was previously a member of the Dirty Projectors where she astounded audiences with her mesmerizing voice. We're honored to have her story.

Ever since I started working with Michael Gira, fans of his seminal noise-rock band Swans have been contacting me.  Some really strange characters have come into my life this way.  A large proportion of them are singers in metal bands who send me their records and ask me out on dates, obviously trying to use me to get to him.  My Date From Hell was the result of one such character who distinguished himself by being a protégé of Jarboe, the Ex-Swans Metal Diva herself, and he enlisted her help in convincing me to go out with him.  Jarboe, who lives not far from my home in Georgia, insisted that I take him out on just one date, saying that we were obviously perfect for each other because we look alike (as you know incest is very fashionable in the south), we both have Native American blood, and we both love Merle Haggard. I reluctantly agreed to this blind date of sorts, but only if the metalhead would come to my home turf for the date.  I am a country girl and I didn't want to be dragged around in loud Atlanta bars doing cocaine and meeting anorexic Goth Models.  I was going to take him on a hike and see how he liked being a fish out of water.  I basically planned to torture this guy into submission and then send him packing.

We planned to meet at my father's music store and then drive up into the mountains for a steep four-mile hike up to a waterfall and some beautiful black cliffs.  Metalman arrived wearing black leather, long black hair, uncomfortable shoes, and lots of heavy jewelry.  He was much more handsome than i expected, but I ignored this fact and did my best to be coldhearted.  His arms were covered with Swans tattoos, and I wanted the user to suffer.

Our hike up the mountain was unfortunately fairly pleasant.  I was sure he was getting blisters but he didn't complain once.  He talked about his country girl fetish and I talked about my love for Noise Music.  I asked him what it was like to have groupies give him blowjobs behind the stage at shows, he pretended that he didn't know.  I brought a video camera along and suggested that we shoot some scenes for a music video when we got to the top.  The landscape was really breathtaking, ancient cedar trees and blooming mountain laurel, twisted roots all along the ground, a beautiful clean river running beside us.  When we got to the top I went for a swim in the pool below the waterfall.  Metalman wanted to stay dry.  Maybe he didn't want his hair to go flat.  He was a little uncomfortable, had some blisters on his feet, and just wanted to sit and relax and watch me swim.  Of course I was naked.  I am an unrepentant tease and I was playing to his hippie mountain girl fetish as best I could, for my own entertainment.  When I got out of the water I climbed to the top of the cliff to lie in the sun and Metalman sat down beside me, complimented me on my natural beauty (armpit hair and so much more) and asked me a lot of questions about my childhood, slowly warming me up.  I am not really coldhearted at all.  Some people call me "Little Bo Peep".  Some people say that I am the most naive hippie they have ever met, and I guess this metalhead was man enough to wake up the woman in me, and before I knew it, we were making out on the cliffs as the sunset bathed everything around us in pink and golden light.  It was a beautiful moment, but the beauty of it screeched to a halt and crashed when suddenly I realized that DARKNESS was coming, and we were four miles up a mountain.  I jumped up and cried, "We have to get down the mountain!"  So we started running down that path as fast as we could, and it was getting darker and darker by the minute, and we got slower and slower as our eyesight failed us, still so far from the parking lot at the end of the path. We stumbled down the path in total darkness for about two miles, then Metalman brought out his cellphone (no service) to use as a flashlight until the battery went dead and we lost the path completely.

This beautiful mountain paradise got creepier and creepier as the darkness set in.  Forest by day is completely different from the forest by night.  After the sun set, everything became alive with spooky noises and the sounds of movements that we could not see.  We were walking between two hills, and as I looked up the hills, in every crack in a rock and under every mossy overhang were staring pairs of glowing eyes.  All of them just watching us, following us. Now I have been immersed in psychedelic culture long enough to be a little bit prone to believing in stories about forest spirits, fairies, and flesh-eating goblins, and there was also the very real idea that there could be panthers, mountain lions, boars, bobcats, bears, and coyotes and venomous snakes out there licking their chops, so I was scared.  Metalman was scared too, and his rock star persona was cracking.  At that moment we both just lost our cool and entered into a primal state of fear.  We stopped walking and used my video camera to record our last words, our dying will and testament, with an explanation of what happened and messages of love to our family and friends, just in case we never made it out. Fumbling through the pitch black darkness together we found a flat spot beside the river and under a large tree, a bit sheltered from the rest of the woods, and on the ground we found some black plastic garbage bags that had been left behind by some irresponsible campers. We decided to use them as blankets.  I was terribly cold because I was wearing a short linen sundress and I had been swimming.  I was still wet.  Metalman had to lie directly on top of me all night long.  I know it sounds like it would be sexy, but I was really too freaked out by the spiders crawling over my bare skin and the beetles and dirt that got into my ears to feel sexy. I was shivering and trapped between black plastic and this heavy, sweating man's tattooed and pierced body, having nightmares about hepatitis and genital warts, syphilis, leprosy, what have you.  Nature girl was being totally punished by nature.  But we were in this together, I had been thoroughly humbled, and we took care of each other as best we could, suffering together all night long.

The next morning we woke up with the sun, still shivering and sore from sleeping on the ground, and we saw the path not far from where we stood, and beyond it, not 200 yards away, was Metalman's black SUV. What schmucks we were!  I had been totally punished for my pride.  He drove me home and we listened to Johnny Cash and held hands all the way, but the next week I left for tour and never saw him again.  I heard that he wrote a song about me, that he is now dating a Goth Model, and that he recently moved to LA to be the singer in a Nu-Metal band.  I hope to see him on MTV sometime, and wish him the best on his strange path.  He was a good sport.