Originally published on djearlybird.blogspot.com, April 5, 2007. The Old Bridge Metal Militia now has its own Facebook page. Club Hummers closed years ago.
Over the past day or so, I’ve been corresponding with an Australian writer who is researching the roots of Metallica. He contacted me because he saw my xex article and wanted to know more about the Union Jack, a locally famous metal club that booked Metallica, Anthrax, etc. I had to admit I didn’t know anything about it other than its name. I’d never been there. I self-identified as a “punk,” though what I really was was a sheltered suburban nerd, and metallers were my mortal enemies. (This was before metal crossover occurred, of course. Eventually the punks began to check out Motorhead and Metallica, and the metal bands began to harness hardcore’s speed and aggression.)
A local clique formed, the Old Bridge Metal Militia. They were even immortalized in song. The Megaforce compilation Born to Metalize has a track called “One Night in Old Bridge,” while Blessed Death had a song called “Knights of Old Bridge.” Apparently, the township where I lived from age 3 to 5, and where I later went to Hebrew school and had my bar mitzvah, was known worldwide as a heavy metal epicenter. Meanwhile, Sayreville held it down as the birthplace of Bon Jovi and Skid Row. My hometown of Monroe had one of the local hard rock clubs, Emmett’s Inn. Apparently it let minors in, to judge by the amount of t-shirts and show chatter I heard around school.
As a teenager, though, I hated this local scene, absolutely hated it all. I listened to college radio, made occasional trips to New York, and dreamed of college. Nowadays, though, I think it’s kind of cool that my little working-class area of New Jersey was to ’80s underground heavy metal what Ruston, Louisiana was to ’90s indie-rock. I can appreciate the local metallers’ dedication to supporting underground and unsigned musicians and taking a serious part in their scene; that’s a spirit not totally removed from the hardcore and indie-rock records I’d been begun to discover.