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Tragic loss in the metal world asks how do we respond to metal loving teenagers?

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A mainstay of the nu metal movement of the 00s, Wayne Static of Static X passed away this weekend from a drugs overdose. This is another in a long line of shocking losses from the Heavy Metal world joining the ranks of Adam Goldstein (Crazy Town), Paul Gray (Slipknot), David Brokie (GWAR) and Dave Williams (Drowning Pool).

What stuck me this time were some of the responses to the news from other well known bands, here’s a couple:

“This is so sad. Too many musicians are dying from overdoses. I’m serious, addiction is real and takes fools out. no one is invincible. So glad I live a sober life today. The number of friends that I have lost to addiction is crazy. If you are struggling with addiction, get some help before it’s too late. I know deugs and partying are part of the ‘rock ’n’ roll lifestyle,’ but damn, how many more gotta die?? F*** the lifestyle, I want life!!!! See you on other side, Wayne….” [Jacoby Shaddix, PAPA ROACH].

“Rest in peace Wayne. I’m speechless right now. I’m losing too many of my friends. I’ll see you on the other side, brother.” [Jonathan Davis, KORN].

It’s the heart cry of Jacoby Shaddix that we must hear; “I want life!!!!’

Both have seen this before, both are tired of loosing friends, both are hoping for more ‘on the other side.’ But it’s the heart cry of Shaddix that we must hear, “I want life!!!!’

Overdose and early violent deaths are synonymous with the metal scene right through to its grassroots. A few years ago, one of my best friends from high school died from a heroin substitute. He was an incredible musician, a bass player for several bands and a metal lover through and through. This was, as all the papers said, a tragedy. Surely he didn’t need to die?

My experience is the Christian youthwork world has lots to say to the heavy metal subcultures, but very few effective ways of doing so. There’s lots we can teach about value, hope, lament, mourning, truth and beauty but we can’t see past the satanic, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll stereotypes associated with the genre.

When I was growing up metal music was my whole world! Everything from Metallica through to Static X themselves. I had the clothes, the hair, the posters and I played electric guitar in a metal tribute band. As a Christian through, I was given a wide berth from the youth leaders who treated my love of the genre as something dangerous to grow out of. “But, that’s so satanic!” one of them commented when they found out. It’s like they we’re tracking my course from learning guitar riffs to the demon-fuelled overdose that was obviously impending.

My experience is the Christian youthwork world has lots to say to the heavy metal subcultures, but very few effective ways of doing so.

When I started youthwork my experience in the heavy metal world was invaluable. It allowed me relationships with young people who no one else could get near. A young lad once bought me an Iron Maiden poster that he had signed by drummer, Niko McBrain and I spent two years with him and his brother reading Romans together… as well as attending their gigs. We need to engage on this issue because they too want life!

Very little youthwork that I’ve seen engages directly with young people in the heavy metal world, and even less have projects and relational objectives for young people on these specific journeys.

I will spend a few posts over the coming weeks interviewing people who, just like me, grew up with one foot in the Christian Youth Work World and the other in Heavy Metal Subcultures. I will spend several posts sharing the individual observations and journeys of these youth workers who group up with a passion for heavy metal music. Each will be unique and hopefully each will feed our insights for how to look after young people in the heavy metal world.

Watch this space for the first interview.