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Column: What are the odds?

Meeting Daron Malakian from System of a Down

It’s a wild life for us music journalists, constantly rubbing elbows with the stars. Nearly every week, we’re barraged with requests to meet the pinnacles of musical excellence. Imagine such treats as interviewing the occasional fill in keyboardist of a local rising band, or chatting on the phone with somebody you’ve been assured is next year’s big thing; we’re just too lucky. Occasionally however, outside of busy journalistic hours, your glowing aura of musical obsession helps you stumble upon an amazing chance meeting and it’s at these times you remind yourself why you bloody love music.

Staggering home from a prior engagement (never you mind what) early into the hours of a Saturday morning, it’s safe to say you’re ready to call the night to an end and just flop straight into bed; the very last thing you want to have to deal with is a drunken old man collapsed in the street. Despite the yearning to collapse myself, I decided to cash in my good deed of the month and phone the poor old sod an ambulance. Perching myself on a wall, waiting out the inevitably much-delayed arrival of paramedics, I watched scores of people walk by without a second glance, obviously too busy being dickheads to help out their fellow man. Eventually, one man was decent enough to step up and ask if all was well, in a Canadian accent no less (although, admittedly, mistaken for an American one.) After the faux pas of falling back into Fresher’s Week syndrome and asking what he studied, I received an answer that broke me out of my tired stupor. “Nah, I’m not a student, I’ve just played the Academy. I’m looking for a bar.” I’d have been mad to not offer to find him one.

Establishing that he was a fellow rocker, or to be precise, Tim Millar, guitarist from Protest The Hero, the obvious choice was always going to be The Salisbury, yet at 3:30AM it was looking unlikely that or anything else would be open at all. Not knowing much about the band, for the first ten minutes I slipped into interview mode; asking all the banal questions about influences, the tour and future plans. Whilst some of the things said here were interesting, most notably that the band and their three tour-mates were three days into a full fortnight of non-stop gigs – “We’re young, we don’t need to rest every other night” – topics soon moved beyond music and as we realised that the bars were all closed, there seemed only one logical option left open. Hit a casino.

This is where the memory starts becoming a gambling induced blur. Vague snippets of the night are still available to me, but clear as day I remember Tim recounting how he once quadrupled his $400 advance on tour pay by putting it on black twice. “You don’t get anywhere without balls”, he says, perhaps in hindsight hinting as much towards his band with such a unique sound as he was to his finances. Both making a decent profit, we ended the night on the tour bus, with members of four metalcore bands singing the cheesiest of Mr. Big songs (how’s that for juxtaposition?) and trying to outdo each other with card tricks. Leaving to a fully risen sun, I couldn’t help but think something Tim said. What’re the odds that the two people who stopped to help a guy out in the whole of Manchester would be a musician and a music journalist?

Tom Geddes

Tags: Column, music journalism, Protest the Hero, Tom Geddes

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