Song Writing

Riki Rachtman's 10 Best Metal Videos Of The '90s

by Greg Prato

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As the host of MTV's Headbangers Ball from 1990-1995, Riki Rachtman helped introduce quite a lot of headbangers to some of the greatest heavy metal videos of all time. Getting a tryout for the position at the behest of friend Axl Rose, Rachtman eventually did secure the gig, and wound up interviewing such bands as Nirvana, Marilyn Manson, and AC/DC, and doing such memorable "on location" bits as skydiving with Megadeth, going to a waterpark with Alice in Chains, and bowling with Soundgarden.

Nowadays, Rachtman hosts Riki Rachtman's Cathouse Hollywood podcast - part of its title coming from a former LA rock club he co-owned with Faster Pussycat's Taime Downe. "It started just telling the history of some of that club, the Cathouse, and what happened at that club," explains Riki about the podcast. "Because we didn't allow cameras. A lot of people have heard stories - Guns N' Roses shot their 'It's So Easy' video, and people say that was the best performance in the band's history. This is the place where Axl Rose chased David Bowie down the street and said he was going to kill him. This is the place where the Black Crowes paid to play, and Alice in Chains played with Pearl Jam. So many crazy things happened. We're telling some of the stories of that era, and even if you're not into the music, it's a journey through the '80s and '90s from the people that were there."

To celebrate the launching of the podcast, Riki was willing to count down his Top 10 metal videos of the '90s, and discuss each.
10. "House of Pain" - Faster Pussycat
Director: Michael Bay

If you think I just picked Faster Pussycat because Taime was my friend, my roommate, my partner in the Cathouse, it wasn't just that. That video, the subject was very personal to Taime - it was about a father not being there, at a time when a lot of people were writing, "Let's party, let's get girls, let's do all this."

He came out with a video that was a really strong video and a really strong subject matter. It was their biggest hit, and I definitely felt that was just a great video. I think the lyrics are great in it, as well.
Songfacts entry
9. "Roots Bloody Roots" - Sepultura
Director: Thomas Mignone

Sepultura was such a big, important band during the Headbangers Ball era. Heavy metal was always international, but not as much back then.

This video is great - they had a Brazilian indigenous tribe. They had a lot visuals that are native to Brazilian culture, and it really showed that here's this Brazilian metal band paying homage to their home country.
Songfacts entry


Taime Downe, Riki, Axl Rose

8. "Born With A Tail" - The Supersuckers
Director: Rocky Schenck

Even though I don't think we ever played that video on Headbangers Ball, it was definitely a rock video and was the first time I had ever seen the Supersuckers. The video was such a cool, fun, tongue-in-cheek, low-budget rock video from such a great band. It's pretty much just them playing rock n' roll with a couple of visuals of the devil, and the lyrics are all tongue-in-cheek. That just made me a huge Supersuckers fan.
7. "Dragula" - Rob Zombie
Director: Rob Zombie

This was right when Rob Zombie went solo, and he made the video himself. You've got Dragula - the car from The Munsters - and it is filmed in very '70s/monster movie-type filters. It's just a good, goofy, fun, rock song.

I thought Rob Zombie just did a really good job on showing the type of person he is. It was his start that I knew of, of producing. He's always been a great artist - not only musically, but painting, and capturing that whole feel of that '70s monsters/exploitation. And I think he really did that well in that video for "Dragula."
Songfacts entry
6. "You Can't Bring Me Down" - Suicidal Tendencies
Director: Simeon Soffer

This is the first time that Suicidal Tendencies really had a budget to make a video - it was when they were crossing over from that punk rock band in Venice to being a really big metal band. It showed Mike Muir's a little psycho, a little bit scary, a little bit tough.

Robert Trujillo was on bass at the time. It's just a great song, and it was just when Suicidal Tendencies was starting to make it past that level of the punk rock band to being a big-drawing metal band.
According to Riki, a few videos almost made the list, but fell just short. "Making this list was not easy, because there is also Alice in Chains that wasn't put in. And I wanted to put in a Biohazard video, and I wanted to put in Slipknot's 'Wait And Bleed,' which was 1999. And maybe Danzig videos. And although I can't say I'm the biggest Marilyn Manson fan, 'The Beautiful People' was an incredible video."
5. "Liar" - Rollins Band
Director: Anton Corbijn

That video, it's pretty much nothing but Henry. He talks and puts on glasses and wears a cop outfit. But there's just so much attitude in that song, especially during the spoken parts. I just think that's such a great video, and it really shows his attitude and his interpretation of the song. That is just a great video, great song.
Songfacts entry
4. "Sweating Bullets" - Megadeth
Director: Wayne Isham

If ever there was a song that shows Dave Mustaine's attitude, it's that song and that video, because it's just Dave arguing with Dave! Dave versus Dave versus Dave in the video. In a cell, in a small room, Dave talking to himself.

I've always loved that video, and there's so much "Dave Mustaine attitude" in the video and in the song.
Songfacts entry
3. "Walk" - Pantera
Director: Paul Anderson

It was hard for me to pick a Pantera video, but for kids who never saw Pantera live - so many new fans never got to see Pantera live - it just shows what a dynamic band that was. It's everybody in the band, not just Dime or Phil. The whole band is just so strong and heavy, and such a killer live band. And in the "Walk" video, you really see that.
Songfacts entry
You may be wondering why Riki did not select arguably the most popular metal video of the '90s (or all-time, for that matter!), Metallica's "Enter Sandman." Riki explained its absence.

"Because I don't like it! Metallica is one of the biggest metal bands in the world. Metallica is phenomenal. I love Metallica. This last Metallica album [2016's Hardwired...to Self-Destruct], I'm a huge fan of. And, of course, I'm a fan of the first three or four records of Metallica. But even though 'Enter Sandman' made such an impact - and that's really what took them from ...And Justice for All to being the biggest metal band there is - I actually thought 'One' was a better video, even though it's just clips from [the 1971 film] Johnny Got His Gun."
2. "Seasons In The Abyss" - Slayer
Director: Gérard Di Puglia

There was not a band that was requested more on Headbangers Ball than Slayer. Slayer, to me, was the epitome of the Headbangers Ball band. You walk into any metal show and kids are going to yell, "SLAYER!"

They shot that one in Egypt, and that was right at the beginning of Desert Storm, so it wasn't necessarily the safest time to be overseas. "Seasons In The Abyss" visually is just a great video, and it's just such a great song.
1. "November Rain" - Guns N' Roses
Director: Andy Morahan

Even though this isn't what you would call a "metal song" or a "heavy song," you have to put "November Rain" by Guns N' Roses as the #1 video. And it's not just because I'm in it for a second!

They spent $1.5 million on that video - that was the most anybody had ever paid on a promo video. They had to build a church for Slash to play in the desert, and they had these helicopters to shoot it. And Axl with the emotional scene and the crying. I'm not sure what the whole thing is about, but I just think that it is such a huge video.

I was there for a lot of the shooting of the video, and there were so many locations and churches and desert and the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. It was just a big video.
Songfacts entry

July 9, 2019
Further reading:
Phil Anselmo interview
Max Cavalera interview
Mike Muir interview
Survival Of The Fittest: Heavy Metal In The '90s
Interview with director Paul Rachman
10 Greatest Alt-Rock Videos Of The '90s
Fact Or Fiction: Early Days Of MTV

For more Riki, visit facebook.com/rikirachtman and twitter.com/RikiRachtman

For more info about the Cathouse, visit cathousehollywood.com

More Song Writing

Comments: 2

  • Jesus from Los Angelesa few facts riki got wrong regarding november rain ... the pantages was where some of the scenes from the *you could be mine* video were done ... november rain was shot at the orpheum theater downtown los angeles ... the wedding scenes were st. brendan's catholic church in los angeles/koreatown ... the scene from the reception was a high school (the name escapes me) in sierra madre, ca ... rainbow bar and grill in west hollywood ...
  • Christian Fuhrer from Los AngelesIt’s such a small world! My wife Christy was in that video, too!
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