Chances are, you know Lou Brutus' voice: He's been a rock radio icon for decades. And he has the stories to prove it. On April 14th via Rare Bird Books, he'll tell all with the release of his hilarious memoir, Sonic Warrior: My Life as a Rock N Roll Reprobate (Tales of Sex, Drugs and Vomiting at Inopportune Moments), which includes a foreword by Slipknot and Stone Sour singer Corey Taylor. You can pick up a signed or unsigned copy now.
It's is a collection of strange but true stories — each chapter recounts a separate insane tale — that careens across his 40-plus years of covering concerts, interviewing music's biggest stars and influencing generations of radio listeners.
Here, he's teamed up with Revolver to share an exclusive except involving the aforementioned Taylor called, "The Time I Escaped the Wisconsin State Police and Their Fake Phallus Felony Enforcement." Enjoy.
In 2005, Randy Hawke, program director for WJJO-FM in Madison, Wisconsin, told me that Slipknot was going to end their Subliminal Verses World Tour in town at the Alliant Energy Center. Randy and his station were among the first around the country to air my syndicated radio show, hardDrive, and I always looked forward to boozing and general stupidity with Randy and his staff. We arranged for me to fly in, surprise the band, and emcee the show.
First of all, a bit of background. I have a long history with the members of Slipknot going back to before their major label debut was released in 1999 on Roadrunner Records. I had received an advance of the release from Mark "Psycho" Abramson from the label of the still-as-yet-unmixed album and fell in love with it. Without waiting for the rest of the world, I began playing the song "Wait and Bleed" before its release and raved about the band from coast to coast on my program. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Corey [Taylor] listened to the show every Sunday night on his hometown rock station in Des Moines, Iowa, KAZR-FM Lazer 103.3. In those days, he worked the night shift at a local porno palace. Corey later told me in our first interview together that he would tune in each week believing he would one day be a guest on the show. My feeling of pride at a future rock star being inspired by my program is, of course, naturally offset by the shame that said show provided the beat for beating off in the video booths of the shop. (More on my adventures with Corey and the other lads in "The Knot" elsewhere in this tome, hopefully without any references to public masturbatory habits. However, I make no promises.)
Corey and I are both big fans of the writer Hunter S. Thompson. In fits of stupidity, he and I often banter back and forth in Thompsonian voices with quotes from his books, like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. We screech about bats, leeches, and sexual intercourse with polar bears. We boast top-notch impressions of Thompson's voice and body mannerisms. Those around us think we're on serious medication, but that's their problem.
So, anyway, I thought it would be a splendid idea to show up dressed as Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson had taken his own life a couple of months before, and my costume was a goofy attempt to honor his memory. As I boarded my flight, I wore the full regalia of the late, hard-partying writer: hightop Chuck Taylors with athletic socks; brown cargo shorts; and a maroon, white, and blue Hawaiian shirt. The outfit was topped off by three key pieces: teardrop-shaped sunglasses, a red Dunhill cigarette in a holder, and a green plastic "Las Vegas" visor. Oh, one other thing, a flyswatter. Can't forget the flyswatter! It allows you to slap imaginary bats and smack people on various body parts.
A little background on venue for the show, the Alliant Energy Center, formerly the Dane County Coliseum. It opened in 1967 and had a capacity of 10,231. Other notable shows there included Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Doors, Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon, KISS, and Cheap Trick.
As the cab dropped me off at the arena, the loading area was packed with tour buses and semi-trucks. Most of the buses were for Slipknot and their crew, but there were also vehicles for the other groups on the tour: Lamb of God and Shadows Fall. I always look forward to seeing Randy Blythe, lead singer of Lamb of God. He is also an author and accomplished photographer. He specializes in black-and-white photography using high-end Leica cameras. He often likes to photograph other photographers, calling it "Shooting the Shooters."
I wondered if Slipknot would keep to the time-honored tradition of the headlining band pranking the opening groups on the last night of a tour. The pranks could be anything from throwing rolls of toilet paper onstage to unplugging instruments to fucking with the lighting or sound systems. Tonight would set a new record for lurid creativity for tour-closing hijinks.
"Brutus!" I heard my name called out by crew members several times as I sauntered backstage. Among them was their front-of-house sound man Dave "Shirt" Nicholls. "Shirt" was beloved by bands and fans alike for his incredible ears and ability to make even big, old, shitty arenas sound great for concerts. He was the preferred live sound mixer for both Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold until his death from cancer in May of 2017.
Slipknot guitarist Mick Thomson was the first band member I heard coming. Mick's usual footwear is leather studded jackboots, so his feet sound like marching storm troopers. He's well over six feet tall, which gives him an extra menacing look.
I was in the catering room attempting to pick up a slice of cheddar cheese with my flyswatter when I heard a voice yell from behind me, "SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!" It was Corey Taylor crying out in his Hunter S. Thompson voice to greet me. He let out a laugh as he surveyed my outfit. He was smoking from a Thompson-style cigarette holder, though that's where the gonzo similarities ended.
We went back to the dressing room, where we met up with Corey's wife at that time, Scarlett. Corey walked behind a curtain, and I assumed he was getting ready for his set. I offered to leave, but he insisted I stick around. While the three of us chatted, odd sounds emanated from behind the curtain. It sounded like the tearing of tape from a roll. It seemed to go on and on.
Finally, Corey said, "Okay, Hunter. I'm ready."
I turned around to face my friend, expecting him to be wearing a Slipknot jumpsuit. But he wasn't wearing a jumpsuit. He was wearing nothing on his body but a giant penis.
Made out of black duct tape and a plastic bag.
That hung down to near his knees.
My eyeballs rolled out of their sockets and bounced on the floor.
Egad! This was no normal phallus made of polyethylene, fabric mesh, and pressure sensitive adhesive. It was an elephant-sized Johnson bigger than the tusks of the famed Pyrrhus Pachyderms of the Old World.
A schlong so huge it needed its own zip code.
A weenie longer than the guitar solo from "Do You Feel Like We Do" on Frampton Comes Alive.
It was one big mutha-fuckin' dick.
As I picked my jaw up off the cement and used it to corral my eyeballs back into place, I took a gander at Corey from head to toe. His shoulder-length hair was pulled into two pigtails. His current Slipknot mask covered his face like a second skin of singed flesh. He wore nothing else but an evil grin.
Well, nothing besides the Louisville Slugger–sized simulated schwanz waving back and forth between his knees.
I don't know how it was all held together. Maybe he wrapped his cock in a sock first. It's a mystery best left unsolved. Corey leered at me and said, "Let's go."
I thought, "Go? Go where?"
He put on a gold robe as he walked to the dressing room door, then pressed down on the duct-tape dong to keep it under the folds of the robe and picked up a drumhead that contained some kind of messaging from the floor. Scarlett gave me a small push from behind to get my feet moving. Corey was a man on a mission. He walked quickly and deliberately through the backstage hallways, ignoring the stares, points, and giggles from the crew and fans backstage. I quickly realized we weren't heading to catering, the production office, or the buses.
We were on our way to the stage.
You should know that everywhere backstage at big venues are neon arrows of tape on the floor pointing you toward important places like catering, the stage, or the dressing room. If you don't know where to go, look at the floor! The Rev from Avenged Sevenfold once joked to me, "If those arrows pointed to a cliff, I'd walk right off!" We seemed to be following the tape that pointed to the stage.
As we traipsed along, it hit me. This would be one of the greatest tour-ending pranks of all time! I chuckled as I pictured the faces of the Shadows Fall guys when they realized they were sharing the stage with a sticky gray tallywhacker of ginormous proportion.
The stage was crammed with the equipment of the three bands playing that night. Shadows Fall were soldiering through their set, oblivious to the penile indignity that was mere seconds away.
Scarlett and I stopped on the edge of stage.
Corey kept going.
Shadows Fall (SHADS for short) is a great band. Originally from Springfield, Massachusetts, Phil Labonte of All That Remains was vocalist before Brian Fair joined up in 1999. They are two-time Grammy nominees for Metal Performance for the songs "What Drives the Weak" in 2006 and "Redemption" in 2008. The band has toured the world and seen most everything touring musicians can see. But they had never witnessed anything like this.
Corey Taylor walked to the center of the stage in the middle of a song and parted his robe, holding his arms straight out. He held the pose for just a moment, much like Buffalo Bill preening for the video cam in Silence of the Lambs. Unlike Bill, he did not tuck his manhood away.
The giant duct-tape penis waved out in the open for all to see.
Wisconsinites love bratwurst, but they had never seen a sausage as large and fierce as the one waving across the arena stage though this one admittedly used non-meat filler.
The roar of the audience drowned out the intense volume of Shadows Fall as Corey dropped his robe and pranced about the stage in between the band members, his pigtails bouncing up and down to the beat of the music while his wondrous wang waved at a slightly slower speed.
Corey now raised the drumhead over his head triumphantly. It read "I ♥ SHADOWS FALL."
The eyeballs of the SHADS lads rolled out of their sockets and bounced on the floor. However, as they're total pros, nobody missed a note.
It was then that I heard Scarlett's voice behind me: "You're on, Hunter."
She shoved me hard and onto the stage toward Corey.
Time seemed to slow down as I stumbled across the stage trying to regain my balance. The sound of the music and the roar of the crowd melted away while the lights seemed to get brighter and I felt their heat on my face.
For a moment, I thought I felt the squish of a Shadows Fall eyeball underneath the sole of my sneaker.
It was then that my Hunter S. Thompson outfit–inspired reflexes kicked in. I began chasing Corey around the stage, waving at his Dong of Doom with my flyswatter.
I don't know how long this went on. More than likely just a few seconds, though it seemed like a few minutes. Twenty thousand eyes fixed upon the musicians, flyswatter, and ducttape trouser trout moving in an insane rock 'n' roll ballet. I dropped to one knee, intending to deliver a coup de grâce and claim victory over the imitation baloney pony before escaping to the dressing room. Unfortunately, I miscalculated Corey's next move. He doubled back as I raised my wrist above my head and I narrowly missed being slapped across the face by his sticky ersatz schnitzel.
There are a lot of humiliating things that can happen if you choose a life in rock 'n' roll radio. You could screw up on the air. You could be publicly fired. However, you won't know true humiliation until you've almost been smacked upside the kisser by another man's fake flesh flute in front of ten thousand screaming metal heads.
The first thought that came to mind in this pre-smartphone time in history was how lucky I was that no one would ever see this moment of my life.
I was wrong.
As I looked into the pit before the stage, I came eye to eye with the lens of a professional grade camera.
"Click-click-click" went the shutter.
"Shit-shit-shit" went the voice in my head.
The photographer turned out to be the great Chad Lee. Yes, the images still exist. No, you don't want to see them.
While I did escape the chafe from of the chubby on my cheek, I'd wrenched my knee on the floor, and the pain reminded me to retreat to the far side of the stage. Corey went back to the side we had come from.
My exit wasn't as uneventful. I ran (with a slight limp) into two displeased Wisconsin state troopers. I've had to explain a lot of crazy shit in my career, but I had no intention of giving a demented dick dissertation to a couple of pissed off John Laws. So I took the manly way out.
I fucking ran for it.
My heels moved so quickly they kicked up sparks. I pictured some deputy district attorney drooling at the thought of bringing headline-grabbing charges like "Unlawful Possession of a Phony Pork Sword" or "Illegal Discharge of a Fallacious Love Gun" against me and Corey. I had no desire to find out what the penalties (penal-ties?) would be.
I made my way toward the luxury box reserved for WJJO, doing my best to avoid anyone in uniform. I changed into a Slipknot concert T-shirt and darted between concertgoers in the hallway, ditching my glasses, cigarette holder, and green visor in the large pockets of my cargo shorts.
Yes, as I mentioned earlier, I had cargo shorts on. It was part of my Hunter costume. Please don't make fashion fun of me about it, as the rest of this chapter should be embarrassing enough as it is.
Bursting through the door of the radio station's suite, I saw Randy Hawke and WJJO promotions director Bonnie Oleson, among others. Before they could quiz me about the onstage stupidity, I cried out at the top of my lungs, "I'm not here!"
Then I locked myself in the bathroom where I noticed my now slightly bloody knee beginning to swell up.
Naturally, I missed the rest of the set from Shadows Fall as well as most of music from Lamb of God. It was especially tough not seeing Lamb of God. I really wanted to catch the set, but not so much that I was willing to risk being pimped out for a pack of smokes in lockup that night.
In the meantime, the angry denizens of the luxury box banged on the door of the bathroom as they suffered the pain from their beer-swollen bladders. I felt bad for them, but not bad enough to risk possible arrest. Only the need to return to the stage — to do my short emcee duties shortly before Slipknot — brought me out of the john.
How intent the coppers were on finding the culprits is unknown. I vectored around anyone with a badge as I returned to the stage, hoping I was safe without the Hunter S. Thompson getup. I gave the quickest stage announcement in history.
" I ' M L O U B R U T U S F R O M T H E W O R L D F A M O U S H A R D D R I V E O N N I N. T Y F O U R O N E W J J O A N D S L I P K N O T W I L L B E U P I N J U S T A M O M E N T!"
I was going to exit the building soon after my second visit to the limelight, but then Slipknot hit the stage. Their set began with the searing "The Blister Exists." It was during the second song, "(Sic)," that Shadows Fall attempted a bit of payback in the prank department.
While hiding on the side of the stage, the SHADS members placed a large, yellow, radio-controlled dump truck on the floor and sent it onto the stage. It was a nice try at a bit of fun, but it did not take into account the fact that there were nine fucking lunatics flailing about onstage.
After the dump truck got a few feet out, percussionist M. Shawn Crahan ("Clown") hit it with his aluminum baseball bat. Chris Fehn ("Long Nose"), the other percussionist, joined in with a large metal pipe. In mere seconds, the dump truck was beaten to pieces.
One of the larger truck parts skidded to where I was standing, and I picked it up as a souvenir. I later had Shawn and Chris autograph it. I don't remember if it's buried someplace in the crates of memorabilia I've collected through the years or if I gave it to WJJO for a charity auction.
Which brings me to an important tip: SAVE EVERYTHING! Passes, ticket stubs, wristbands, and anything else related to a rock show are collectible. Throw nothing away! If it's not readily identifiable, add a small piece of masking tape with a note of what it's from. Anything from the stage is extra collectible. Well, except thrown water bottles. I don't know anyone who collects rock star backwash. However, as I once scooped up fake wig hair trimmed from the head of Tobias Forge of Ghost, I'm the last one who will point fingers at anyone collecting anything.
Sadly, my night was about over as I saw the Wisconsin state troopers eyeing me inquisitively. I darted offstage, out the back door, and into a cab.
While the physical scars of the duct-tape weenie eventually healed, I will carry the emotional scars forever.