By - Susan Dusse
Portland’s metal community is one of the best, tightest, brotherhoods (and sisterhoods) there is. We in Portland hear this consistently from touring bands that experience Portland. We know it instinctively, but to see it unfold in such a vivid way is awe inspiring. Through the thousands of shares on social media by Portland’s metal community, KATU and KOIN news stations were alerted to this situation and ran a brief news story…and as luck would have it, a member of Metallica was watching.
Blistered Earth, A Metallica Tribute Band, from Spokane, Washington, played Portland’s newest music venue, Rock Hard PDX, on Saturday, April 22, 2017. According to those in attendance, and confirmed by Blistered Earth’s drummer Shawn Murphy, the show was fantastic. After the night came to an end, the band settled into the Chestnut Tree Inn on their way back home. With a successful show, and rest on their mind, the band retreated to their rooms. Upon waking, they made the discovery that no band wants to experience: Their trailer and all of their gear was stolen.
I had the chance to talk with Blistered Earth Drummer, Shawn Murphy, and here is what he had to say: “I want to make sure and clarify that there is no confusion out there with people thinking this is club related. There seemed to be a little confusion out there at the start with people thinking it was stolen from Rock Hard PDX. It absolutely was not. Those guys are really cool and it’s a cool place.”
I asked Shawn about how they discovered the theft and how the hotel has responded. “We got up in the morning and it was gone! They took the hitch right off the truck. The hotel was nice about it. Their maintenance/surveillance guy was really cool. He went through all of the surveillance video with us.”
While the gear has not been recovered, the trailer has. “The trailer was actually recovered not long after we found out the stuff was gone. Someone called the cops and reported the trailer had been dumped about 25 miles east of town. Obviously, it was empty. They (the thieves) took it to Rooster Rock State Park. Apparently, they came off the ramp going East, went around, went down there, drilled the lock out, did their deal, went back up to the on-ramp going back to Portland, and right there at the on-ramp, they dumped the trailer.”
Per the band’s Facebook page, some of the equipment was insured. “To clarify on the insurance part, only some of us are insured. We don’t really know how it is going to shake out. It is not going to be fully covered, and some not at all. There is not a lot of sentimental value in a lot of the gear. Some can be replaced straight across. However, the Gibson Explorer that our singer plays and my drum set were probably the biggest thing that got stolen. My drum set is really hard to find. It’s a really old kit and its very specific to that era of the band. It’s funny because I wanted that kit since I was like 12 years old; I’m 42 now. I’ve only had it for like five years. You can never find it in a full set, you always have to buy it in pieces because it’s rare. It’s been discontinued since 1991 or 1992.”
So, here is where the story takes a turn for the better. Metallica, the real Metallica, is replacing Blistered Earth’s gear. I asked Shawn how the metal community, through social media, assisted in this happening. “Really no one was saying too much about it until Tuesday evening when I posted something on my Facebook page. I was just thinking that if I had a picture of my drums up there, it would get it into people’s minds, especially drummers who would recognize the rarity, and may help in finding them. Then from there, it just really just started to snowball. I was like ‘Oh wow! People are really getting the word out on this. This is cool!’ I think we have probably had 1,500 shares on that post. I didn’t think it would get to this point though. It’s funny, because I’ve had people message me or comment on my post saying, ‘Portland should have treated you better,’ and I’m like, ‘It’s quite the opposite actually. As far as I’m concerned, I think this actually shows how awesome the people of Portland are. It’s only two assholes that stole our stuff.’”
I asked Shawn how the band learned about Metallica’s very generous offer. “From what I understand, it was actually from KATU news. That was how it got communicated to those guys (Metallica). I got a call from a lady from Metallica HQ who said she was trying to contact me to verify who I was. Then from there they got me in touch with Metallica’s manager who asked me to send him a gear list. And so, I did, and it just kind of went from there.”
Regarding how Shawn feels about Metallica’s generosity. “It’s pretty awesome that they would do that. I guess it was actually James that saw the story on the website for KATU. I don’t how familiar you are with Metallica, or how closely you have followed their career, but it is fairly well documented that they had all of their gear stolen way back in the day, back when they didn’t have money to replace their gear. So, they have a first hand knowledge of how shitty this feels. But, again, I never thought it would come to this!”
“We are all pretty overwhelmed by how helpful everyone is. Everybody was cool to us while we were in Portland. You usually do find out how cool people are when things go wrong, not right. I’ve never actually heard of anything like this happening before. So, it is pretty cool. Like I said on my Facebook post, this wouldn’t have happened at all if the people didn’t step up and get this out there like they did; particularly the people of Portland. I’m generally someone who doesn’t like (social media). Usually I’m like, ‘Is there anything good about social media?’ And then something like this happens, and I guess there is something good every once in a while. I’d like to make a point to say thanks to everyone for getting behind us so much that it got this much attention and got to this point. It just wouldn’t have happened without that. We definitely will be back."
So, a very bad situation has been met with the shiny saviors that are Metallica. Not only is it incredibly cool, but it gives us another reason (as if we needed one) to love James, Lars, Kirk, and Robert.
If you have any information about the missing equipment, please contact Blistered Earth on their Facebook page or the Portland Police.
Photos of the stolen gear are shown below.