Diary of a Madman #4: What Indian Metal can learn from Ric Flair
“Don’t try and be Ric Flair, try and be yourself. Wooo!” says mad scientist Dr.Hex in our metal special column
In 2014, the internet broke, and Toila [senior Indian metalhead, less popularly known as Aditya Rao] posted on my wall that Sting, one of the last holdouts from the now deceased wrestling promotion WCW, had joined the World Wrestling Entertainment brand”¦facing off against professional wrestling legend and Lemmy’s best friend- Triple H. Or HHH [I said ”˜Triple’ so that non wrestling fans don’t go huh huh huh, or heu heu heu]. After a span of almost half a decade, I started watching again; and realized that the only reason that I’m a metal musician, and thereby writing this column; is because I stopped watching wrestling on TV all those years ago. Because the action was telecast weeks after it happened in the US. And when I logged in to the internet and wrestling forums then, I’d be way behind on the storyline. But now, it’s live. And it’s like a drug that hooks you in and sinks you ever deeper into an abyss [subliminal TNA mention] of depravity.
But anyway, I digress. This article isn’t about me, but one of Sting’s arch rivals. It’s about the limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun wooooooooooo! The Nature Boy Ric Flair. Who kissed all the girls woooooo and made them cry woooooooo. If you don’t know who he is; he is considered by many to be the greatest champion, in this make believe world of larger than life figures that pretend to fight and entertain millions every week. If you know who he is, you’ll know he’s the greatest man who ever lived.
Recently, I came across an article about how hip-hop/rap music considers Flair to be an icon. In Flair’s own words he was bling, before bling was a thing. He spoke about his expensive jacket, his expensive watch, his expensive shoes and his expensive everything else, on a weekly basis and got the largely working class audience of professional wrestling to hate him, and cheer for his more blue collar opponents. I think the Indian metal scene too can learn a lot from Ric Flair [also, I can’t think of a better topic this week]. So here goes.
First off, let’s make no mistake about it. Flair was amazing in the ring. He was a master of his craft and in his days as NWA champion, Ric and his arch rival Ricky Steamboat pushed the envelope in terms of originality and pace. Think Metallica or Slayer, vis-Ã -vis their contemporaries, who just brought in a new aggression and dynamism to the metal we love. But simultaneously Flair also perfected his own set of moves. Think of the chop, and you immediately think of Flair. Think of how he fell face-first into the mat every time he was hit, or how he would strut and preen like a peacock every time he got his opponent down. If there’s nothing differentiating your band from the tens of other bands in the scene, you will not stand out. At the same time, there can be no compromise on craft. Try and learn to play your instrument the best you can. That’s what she said. Woooooo.
Secondly, the look. Ric Flair dressed in a different robe, every time he wrestled. And each of them cost a fortune [I do a scaled down tribute to this in Primitiv, in which I wear a different tshirt every single time I go on stage]. He looked different. He looked grand. He looked like he was shoving his wealth in your face. And in that, I think that Flair has more in common with the Indian metal population than its more working class heroes. We often hear that Indian metal isn’t angry and aggressive, because the creators of the music are from rich and privileged families. That’s fine. Embrace it. In a scene where our main concern isn’t where our next meal is coming from, but what it is; I honestly think that bands shouldn’t go out of their way to pretend that they’re underprivileged. Oh sure, there are exceptions to the rule”¦but Flair created compelling fiction, by making the whole world hate him for his wealth. One of the issues with Indian metal is that everyone wants to be loved. Dave Mustaine made a career out of being a prick.
And thirdly, and most importantly, commitment is key. Flair started wrestling in the mid-Seventies, and over 40 years later, he still continues to appear on WWE television. In fact, in the Seventies, he was in a plane crash and saidÂ that he’ll never wrestle again. He became a 16 [or 21 time champion, based on whom you believe] across the next few decades despite the odds. Sometimes he would wrestle more than 365 days a year, to entertain the crowd that had come out to see him. A lot of musicians I’ve met have let their wives, kids, jobs and whatnot get in the way of their music. There can be no compromise. Align your life around your music. Let everything else take a backseat, if you want to be as great as Ric Flair, or Hulk Hogan, or Stone Cold Steve Austin, or Metallica, or Iron Maiden.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. To end this piece, I just want to say to all Indian bands”¦don’t try and be Ric Flair, try and be yourself. Wooo!