Burning of Rome used five impaled pig heads as props during their set at the 2009 San Diego Music Awards.
“It’s pretty creepy,” says a fellow performer and one of the night’s award-winners. “I don’t know if pig heads are SDMA-friendly. It’s not something I’d want to have my kids see.… But I guess some of the bands go to great lengths to publicize themselves.”
SDMA executive director Kevin Hellman says this about the animal carcasses that dripped blood while BoR played: “This was a band that was just doing what a lot of bands do: finding a way to get publicity. I’m sure bands have done crazier things. What did people say when Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off of a bat?”
“Pigs are smarter than dogs,” said another musician. “I find it deplorable to do anything to support the meat industry.” But worse than that, he thought that the band looked as if it was trying too hard to get attention. “This was so silly. [Pig heads onstage] has been done before.”
Travis Ryan is the lead singer with the vegetarian death-metal band Cattle Decapitation. Over its seven years as a touring band, Ryan says his band has been hit with “vegan pussies” heckles from the crowd.
“It’s kind of cheesy,” says Ryan, an attendee. “So many bands have done that. It didn’t seem to mesh with what they were doing onstage. After their set, they pulled the heads off of the mike stands and showed them to everybody in the crowd as if to say, ‘Hey, look at me.’ ”
Burning of Rome drummer Lee Williams says the porcine props were just part of their Lord of the Rings stage montage. “Pigs were in keeping with that. Some people were definitely grossed out by it, but I think most people understood it on a theatrical level.” He said his band will not do it again, but if they had the night to do over, they would have hoisted the hogs again. “I think people are more talking about the SDMAs as a bad thing in general. CityBeat puts it on, and they even have bad reviews in their own paper complaining that Slightly Stoopid, who won artist of the year, didn’t even have any new music that came out this year. It seems like a popularity contest rather than something that has anything to do with what’s going on with the music scene in San Diego.”
Was Burning of Rome trying too hard with its creepy carnage? “If anything, I think you can try too little. Ask [Ryan] if he remembered any of the other performances that night.”