(originally printed in Modern Fix Magazine issue #3)

by michael bushman

Lynn Strait – Ozzfest 98 – Wisconsin

In 1997 I went to my first OzzFest in Las Vegas.

I got a coupon for a double OzzFest CD for only a couple bucks, so I wisely invested. Mostly comprised of OzzFest bands, the second disk started with a track called, “I Jus Lie” from a band called Snot. After about two weeks of finding ourselves sticking in that disk, just for that song, I walked down to my local record store (Cow Records) in Ocean Beach California and found myself of copy of, “Get Some”. This quickly turned into the most listened to album as the year turned into 1998. Taking the first opportunity we could to see this “Snot” band, we made it to the Whiskey in Los Angeles in February of 1998. A then just signed to Warner Bros band called “Static” (before having to add the -X) put on a most impressive set. I clearly remember my crew and I looking at each other after each song with a, “Damn, that was pretty cool” look – but after EVERY song. No surprise that they are where they are now.

But nothing could compare to the set that Snot would soon destroy this place with. They opened (as they always did) with their namesake song, “Snot” and it was all over from there. When people ask, “What’s the most out of control rock and roll show you’ve ever seen?”, it is this show that gets retold over and over again. It was one of those rare nights that was so intense, we KNEW we’d remember this one forever. A constant stream of people went on the stage, and flew off, spun around, threw their beer and screamed until voices blew out. The band was so hungry. They just created this circle of energy with the crowd that would feed off itself back and forth. The night exploded in destruction as their finale of, “My Balls” was beyond description. After the signature vocal intro of, “My Balls…Your Chin” – a sea of fans rushed the stage to join their brother souls in a sea of music and bodies. I have NEVER seen so many people jumping onto and off of a stage in my life. A lot of the Snot members did their best to keep their cords and pedals in place (unsuccessfully) but the song played on. At one point, there were so many people on the stage, people would launch off the drum riser, surf the crowd on the stage, and then spill off unto the crowd on the floor to get carried away in the swirl. It will never be forgotten. It was holy.

I grabbed every opportunity to see this band for the remainder of 1998. Caught them with SoulFly at the Palace a couple of months later. I traded my Christmas flight home to go to WI in July so I could catch the OzzFest (and see Snot) at their stop outside Eau Claire, WI (went to college there so had the whole oldschool crew for that – great times).

Got this memorable shot of Lynn with a disposable camera (see above). And a show in Riverside that fall made them the only band I’ve ever had both the desire and opportunity to see that religiously.

Then Dec. 11th 1998, I went to see a great band called Drown in San Diego. Because band tshirts make up about 95% of my wardrobe, I yanked out my Snot shirt and went to the show. As Drown took the stage, singer Lauren was kind of tense and started wrapping the mic chord around his hand and arm really tight. He said that it had been a really hard day because someone dear to them had died in a car accident that day. “This set goes out to Lynn Strait from Snot”. Dumb confusion set in my head for most of the Drown set (although they absolutely raged that night). Upon talking to Lauren, he explained what he knew of the days events. He said, “I saw you with that Snot T-shirt. I thought you knew and that’s why you were wearing the shirt.” I was just wearing it because I loved this band genuinely.

One year later, to the day, my Father was killed in a car accident.

I fucking hate Dec. 11th.

So you may wonder why I deemed it necessary to share how this band effected my life. Who am I and what do you care? Instead of dismissing with something as trivial as, “You can do that when you own your own magazine” or defending any emotional wreckage, I’ll let you read what Snot the band and Lynn Strait the individual meant to some of the biggest names in heavy today. If you were there when they were, you understand. If you weren’t, that’s ok to, his music lives on with Snot and now with a true testimonial to his spirit, the “Strait Up” tribute album. You can still share in it as a true vision. And that’s what Lynn was all about from the start.

Snot

I’m talking to Mickey Doling who was guitarist and founding member of Snot, and is now the guitarist for Soulfly.

It’s been almost two years since the band was tragically broken up by the death of singer Lynn Strait, do you still feel the impact of the band in your personal life and the fans reaction to Snot?
Mikey: Absolutely. Everyday I play with Soulfly (we are on tour right now) there’s kids in the crowd holding big flags up that says “Snot” on it, “Lynn Strait forever”. I sign Snot records everyday outside my bus.

What’s your most vivid memory of being in Snot?
I’d have to say the two years of touring in a van. That was hard stuff.

How did the idea behind “Strait Up” get launched?
When Lynn died, we did the funeral, and it just didn’t seem good enough for me. It was like, “That’s it. He’s dead. Ok, move on.” And I was torn up about it. I was touring with Soulfly in Australia for like a month, playing for 50,000 people a day. It should have been the best time of my life. But I was on stage in front of thousands of people, upset about Lynn and just dying inside. So I was like, “Fuck this, lets do something for him.” So I was thinking maybe I would collaborate with some people on a record. And then it came to me to make our own little record for Lynn. Tumor and I and Shannon Larkin, recorded all the music and called some friends up to see if they’d like sing on the record. I didn’t expect it to go as well as it did, but here we are and we have a record.

The people that came out to support this is truly a testimonial of the band and the individual. How do you envision Snot would be today if fate had allowed the band to progress?
That’s pretty hard to say. I see a lot of bands out there like Papa Roach and all these other bands that are in the same style as us, blowing up fucking huge. So you never know. I think we would have done well.

What do you want people to remember most about Snot in general?
Our live performances.

What do you want people to remember most about Lynn specifically?
That’s a hard one. The kind person that he was. The charisma that he had. He’s like James Dean.

So now you play with SoulFly.
Yeah, well I was at home after Lynn died, after like 3 weeks, still in total shock. Gloria and Max called me up and asked me if I’d like to fill in for their “Big Day Out” tour, which had Korn and Marilyn Manson, and I was all over that of course. So I jumped in and did that tour. Then I can back but they needed someone to fill in for Europe, so I went to Europe. And then we came back and did the Rammstein tour in the US. And at the end of the tour they asked me if I’d like to join the band permanently. We just released a record called, “Primitive”.

Out of all the Snot members, it seems like you were the one to take the reigns in this project.
I’ve know Lynn since ’87. Lynn and I both started the band Snot. It was just me and him, we were Snot at the very beginning. And then we got the other guys. John Tumor, the bassplayer for Snot, he was definitely my partner on the Strait Up record. He was as much in control as I was. It was really me and him and we did it together.

In the “Angels Son” video, what was the motivation behind the photo shoot there?
Whenever we weren’t out on tour, that’s where Lynn would hang out, on the beach with his dog. He’d just smoke bowls out there and play stick with his dog and that was his favorite thing to do in the world. That’s where we hope he is in heaven… running along the beach with Dobbs. (Dobbs was Lynn’s dog that appears on the cover of the Snot album. Dobbs was with Lynn in the accident and tragically shared the same fate).

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
The “Strait Up” record is a tribute to Lynn Strait, my best friend and I think one of the greatest singers of rock and roll, ever. I want people to remember that. And maybe they can identify with the record if they’ve lost somebody.

Big thanks to Mikey Doling for his time to do this interview. Also a big hug goes to Maggie Wang, Terry Wang and Sean Henning at MSO for all their help to make this happen. Mora Duvall at Immortal Records is a Saint and we couldn’t have made this happen without her help. Jenn Richardson, much thanks as well. All these people cared enough to really go out of there way to help with this feature. To you all… Thanks.

 

With Serj Tankian of System of a Down.

What was your relationship with Lynn?
Serj Tankian: He was a good friend of mine. We met on tour. He was a really amazing personality.

How did his death affect you?
Serj: It made me appreciate the temporary aspect of it all, life and music and everything. Try to let go more and more. I remember him. I see him in my dreams.

What drew people and musicians to him?
His starlit eyes, literally. He had amazing charisma, he had amazing energy and his pull was felt when you met him. When you met him and he said hi to you he would look into your soul, he wouldn’t just look at your physical existence.

Why did you get involved?
Because I really wanted to and the guys asked me to. I’ve always loved Snot music and Lynn. It was my pleasure to be a part of this.

What was the lyric writing process like for you?
I just sat down and thought of him and his character and his charisma and what he means to me and the words came. It was what it was.

What do you hope to bring to the project?
I’m just really glad I’m a part of it. I’m glad his memory is being brought into light with this. Everything is from the heart on this album – all these singers sound good on their own albums, but they just sound amazing on this one. It’s about love through the music, rather than the music or the album itself.

What do you hope people will remember about Lynn?
One of his legacies is that he didn’t take any shit. He used to stand up against huge security guards at his own shows for kids that wanted to stage dive. He was a very just person – very true, very from the heart.

 

With Jonathan Davis of Korn

What was your relationship with Lynn?
Jonathan Davis: My relationship with Lynn began in Santa Barbara when Korn would play there. He would come to our shows at the Whiskey and Roxy. We used to hang out a lot back in the early days. Once the band took off we lost touch.

How did his death affect you?
Jonathan: When I heard he died I was heartbroken. He was a great guy. He hung out with us in Malibu where we recorded our first album. It was sad.

What drew people and musicians to him?
He was a great guy, such a nice guy. He hung out was crazy, people liked being around him. We both loved music and bands and he was fun to be around. When people met him they were drawn to him because he was a great guy.

Why did you get involved?
I got involved in this album because I wanted to pay my respect to him. His dying was a tragedy. I got to sing with my best friend Nathan Cox who was also really good friends with Lynn.

What do you hope people to remember about Lynn?
I just hope they remember what a great and crazy guy he was.

 

With Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray

What was your relationship with Lynn?
Mark McGrath: I had an amazing relationship with Lynn. He was one of my best friends. He’s the same as I am where you don’t let too many people in your circle. The sense of humor that Lynn had and the band had in general was something that I could really relate to. Lynn had a hard exterior with the tattoos and the whole heavy thing but he was a teddy bear inside. And I really related to that a lot. He made me laugh a lot. He was one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met in my life. He would always take care of me in certain situations – he was one of my best friends. I’d never lost a really good friend in my life and he was the first guy I lost. I didn’t know what a hole that would leave when you lose someone like that. He was a guy who walked into a room – it’s a cliché but he was – all the guys wanted to be him and the girls wanted to fuck him. That’s the best way I can explain Lynn Strait.

Why did you get involved with the project?
Mark: I would have felt really slighted if they didn’t ask me to do it. Sugar Ray doesn’t really necessarily belong on this record but Nic and Sean, the people who put this record together, know that this record could not have been done without me at least trying to do something. I feel really honored in that sense for them letting me be on it. It’s almost like “Where’s Waldo” on this project, like what’s wrong with this thing – Sugar Ray is on here, you know? But we were just such good friends, you know?

But your track doesn’t sound anything like Sugar Ray sounds now…
No, it really doesn’t. And it shouldn’t.

What do you hope Lynn’s legacy to be?
To those that knew him, I think everybody knows that Lynn was the biggest rock star anybody in this room knows. The only star shining bigger than everyone on this record is Lynn and I think that’s why you see such a huge representation of people doing this. This next Snot record if they had made this record – this is Snot music. It just never got finished. It would have been huge – it would have been the Godsmack of 2000 or whatever. It would have gone double platinum. That’s the easy part. When you see the turnout of people here, you can see Lynn’s legacy. Personally, what his legacy to me is that he was one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met. For the rest of the world, those that know him know that Lynn was an incredible star and an incredible talent. He was this close to commercial success that people usually gauge that by. Anybody that knows him knows that he was a rock star – just look at a picture of him. But his legacy to people is a friend – hardcore, radical star. You see insecure on his stomach and that’s the last thing he was.

 

 

With Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber

What was your relationship with Lynn?
Dez Fafara: When Snot came into town, our band as well as every other band in LA said, “Oh shit. Here comes Lynn. Here comes Snot.” I became friends with him later on.

How did his death affect you?
Dez: I really didn’t think it happened until about three days into it and then I asked someone, really, did it happen. I was on the road. It’s just sad -life taken away too early.

What was it about Lynn that drew people, especially musicians to him?
You have to understand, Lynn was insanely crazy. He was uniquely himself. No one could duplicate what he did on the mic. I’m not just saying this because he’s gone now, you know? Nobody could copy what he did. What made him unique to musicians is the way he rhymed, the way he put things out was totally different than any vocalist I’ve ever seen.

Why did you get involved? What do you hope to bring to the project?
Because I loved him and I respected him and I thought that if somebody was going to do it, I wanted to be a part of him. It’s my own tribute to him – something totally different. Something I would never do with my band or any other side project. Something totally unique, lyrics specifically directed towards him.

How did it feel writing those lyrics for him?
That was hard, you know. I didn’t really write, they just pushed play and it just kind of came out. Emotionally, I wanted to give him something that he would know, that he would read that I wrote if he was alive and go, “Okay, I understand that.” It just came, really, it just came, as a tribute to him. Nothing’s ever come like that and nothing ever will again. I believe he was in all of us, all the singers. I believe it right now – he’s probably been fucking with all of us all day. That’s why everyone is running late because he’s probably like, “Aah, hang out longer you fuckers.”

Was it cool today seeing all these people who contributed?
Yeah, I haven’t seen anything but my bus and the stage in five years. It’s so cool to see all these people together. After about an hour, everyone started fucking with each other and cracking jokes. Mark McGrath and Jason from RKL – I’ve never heard anybody funnier in my whole life, I could barely keep a straight face. And Mark, one of Lynn’s best friends, was in the most jovial mood which made me feel really good. I already don’t give a fuck about death. I talk about him like he’s in the present. But I have to because really he is.

What do you hope his legacy to be?
It should be a huge legacy. Lynn Strait passed away and what he should leave should be the legacy of something so unique that every motherfucker in the next year is going to be trying to copy it. Every demo tape from all these underground heavy bands that all of us are seeing and trying to foster are going to learn what he was. With all of us paying tribute to him, these people are going to go out and buy the Snot album and find out what a real motherfucker does on a vocal mic. That’s cool. That’s amazing. That’s like a tombstone that just walks around the United States by itself. He’s right here right now as we speak. There was this picture here today of Lynn as a kid dressed up in a corduroy suit and one of the guys here today said, “You just know he had a slingshot under that jacket.” And we all busted up.

 

With Lajon of Sevendust

What was your relationship with Lynn?
Lajon: Lynn Strait was actually a very close friend, like a brother. We met on our first tour with Sevendust. I feel like we wouldn’t be the band that we are if it wasn’t for Lynn and the guys in Snot. They gave us a sense of realness. They were real people, hard working. They turned out to be some of our best friends.

How did his death affect you?
Lajon: I don’t think I have had anyone that close to me, a friend our age pass. It definitely made us think about life in a different way, that we can never take anything for granted. I still deal with it because I can’t believe that such a beautiful person is gone. I think everything happens for a reason. I look at life differently now. I think that writing this song helps me deal with it more.

What drew people and musicians to him?
I can only speak for myself, but it was his coolness. We hung out, smoked weed, and talked not just about music, but life, everything. Talked about what was going on in the world. We had a good time. He was a real person.

What do you hope to bring to the project?
It was really hard to do this project because personally I don’t do well with death. It was hard to write a song about Lynn’s death. I think his death was unexpected, so it was hard to sit down and write. The song came to me while we were in the studio. I heard the music and I sang the lyrics from my heart. I felt his energy in there, being in the room with us.

What do you hope people to remember about Lynn?
I don’t know. I want people to understand that I respected Lynn and that my band and me have the utmost love and respect for him and his family. This song for us is not closure but a way to keep his legacy live on. It was an incredible experience to be a part of it. I think it is a beautiful thing that we have all done. We want people to remember Lynn and Snot and understand what kind of person he was. I hope that people that didn’t know Snot pick up a Snot record and learn about them. I think this record is therapy for all of us.

With Lynn’s mom

What did this record mean to you?
Marie Anne Strait: When they first came to me with this, I really didn’t think it could happen – it’s almost an impossible thing to achieve. To get all these people to give their time to something like this. And they’re really busy on the road or recording all the time. But the fact that they did pull it together is incredible. I just can’t believe that they did it, really. It’s such an emotional thing – it’s not for money, it’s not for any of those things. It all comes from the heart, and I think a lot of it is part of the grieving process for all of these boys. Here they are, impervious to everything because they’re well-known rock stars and I think they see something happen to one like them and it’s really a shock and it brings everything into perspective. It’s a grieving process and they needed to close it.

 

Pay the man, the legend, the musician Lynn Strait your own tribute by taking a minute… smoking a bowl… and cranking some Snot.