Swords And Tequila (Book Review)
Released: 2015, PowerChord Press
It was about time someone wrote a book about Riot and it is not really surprising that it was Martin Popoff who must hold some sort of record for writing books about bands that no one else has. While long overdue it is great timing as the band now enter the 5th phase of their 40 year long career.
SWORDS AND TEQUILA is the standard type of presentation from PowerChord Press, a nice paperback, well-designed, black and white, text heavy with a few scattered photos largely from Martin scrapbook, old ads and so on. The book is a decent 211 pages and focuses mostly on the first two eras of the band the Guy Speranza era and the Rhett Forrester era (1975 to about 1985) but with a decent, albeit less detailed section covering 1985 to the current day. For the record the book subtitle is ‘Riot’s classic first decade’ and Popoff elaborates on his excellent reasoning for such a focus and distinction. For the record, the current incarnation, Riot V, is thusly named because they have now had five singers except in their stronghold of Japan where they still reign supreme simply as ‘Riot’. However, you will pay top dollar for a copy of UNLEASH THE FIRE with the band logo as Riot instead of Riot V!
Anchored with some sweet interviews, Popoff covers the albums and tours and industry machinations of the band that was too early to the party but never truly got the recognition they deserved for being pioneers and innovators, except maybe from a couple hundred thousand Japanese businessmen who are now 50 years old. The interviews with early managers are key to painting the picture that gave Riot early success that eluded so many other bands. Big money, hard work and a pair of crazy New Yorkers willing to take a chance on this whole new ‘Metal’ thing tell a story of a band that on any other day might have been relegated to the endless list of bar bands that never made it. Pretty much every ex-members gets a say and most people enjoyed their time in the band with a few minor grumbles about money (as always) from the early days.
Considering that three of the main figures in Riot are now deceased, including the founder and only stable member the timing and value of this excellent book could not be better. Riot has joined the ranks of bands like Stratovarius, Judas Priest and Sepultura that have become an institution unto them selves with no original members remaining and SWORDS AND TEQUILA pays a fine tribute to those original fallen Metal warriors.