[photo credit Jaime Cali, via Dustie Waring]
Brian had an incredible impact not only on us here at Heavy Blog, but on an immense number of bands across the west coast and throughout the country. In honor of his life, we asked members of many different bands that Brian was in touch with to share with us how he helped them musically, and how much an impact he had on their lives.
Mikey Powell of Conducting from the Grave and Emergence:
“…you are a good person Mikey, with a kind soul. I will always be there to
support you in anything you do. Dont ever give up.”
When people pass on from this world to the next, it’s often requested of the friends and family of the ones who left us to either speak or write about them to help carry on their memory, but how can you sum up the quality and legacy of a man in one statement? Short answer is; you can’t.
Brian Shields was a close friend of mine (and no doubt to thousands of other musicians/people out there, too). To say I’m saddened by the loss of this man is a HUGE understatement, and the closest way to express myself of this loss on paper would be to say that when I heard the news of his passing, it felt as if a part of my life was ripped from me in an instant in the most painful way.
I had been talking to Brian a night and a half before about reviewing an album of mine that I had just released. He was was asking me questions about the future of my band (Conducting from the Grave) as well as asking about the label I had just started and the various side projects that I was involved with, which were all things he was very invested in.
This should come as no surprise to anyone though, as he was invested in the futures of so many bands and musicians already, and made it a point to continue to be. He literally made time for everyone, and supported us all in such a way that it made die-hard fans of metal look like they jumped on bandwagons. Brian was always at our shows; he drove two hours in any direction to be there for support no matter what, and he was always there to make sure that we had food, shelter and good company (among many other things). He did this for every band, at every show, and his concern for the futures of everyone involved was so genuine that if metal itself was a religion, he would be a forefront runner to be the Pope or at the very least a saint.
Brian also had his controversies and I’m sure not everyone shares my opinion but to me there is no doubt in my mind on this. Brian was a very kind and generous man to me personally. There was a time where I was feeling very depressed about the state of the metal community and my ability to have a place among all the amazing musicians involved with it, and he was there to let me know that I was worth something, and that I had inspired him with my music. He was very quick to let me know, and remind me, that I was a good person and that I should NEVER stop making music. I don’t think he was ever really aware of how much that helped me. He was one of the biggest reasons why I didn’t stop making music, and now he will remain one of the biggest reasons why I will continue to.
I’m going to miss you Mr. Shields, the whole community will. Your legacy as one of the greatest supporters of metal will certainly continue on in my heart, and I hope that anyone reading this will follow his lead and continue to support the metal community like he did, because God knows we need more men like him in this world. However, with all that being said… I think it would be an injustice to him if I were to leave this on a sad note, so, wherever you are now Brian, may the bitches be banging, may the dabs be plentiful and may metal flow like a river to your ears for all eternity. Godspeed my friend.
Luke Jaeger of Sleep Terror:
Very crushed to hear about the sudden passing of my friend Brian Shields. I just wished him a happy birthday yesterday, I really hope he saw it before he went. I never met the man in person but he has been so supportive of my music in the last decade and helped a lot of people. I’ll never forget back in 2007 when I was nearly homeless moving back to Seattle from L.A. I made a post about my struggle and Brian, a near stranger to me at this time actually paypaled me almost a hundred bucks out of the blue. I mean, who does that? Every time he wanted to buy shirts or music from me I told him it is free for him after he did that and right after I shipped orders to him he’d send me double of what it cost anyway because he loved and wanted to support the art that much. He was a good dude and had a light-hearted attitude and great sense of humor. I hope you are in a better place buddy. Much love.
Dustie Waring of Between the Buried and Me:
We’ll treasure our time we had with you. Thanks for always supporting us and for sharing us with the world. Heart breaking loss for all of us who were lucky enough to know you.
Zach Dresher of Wings Denied:
“None of us knew what to expect the first time we found out that we’d be meeting the man named Brian Shields. We’d been on tour for almost a month, we were exhausted, poor, stressed, and here he was, a 52 year old man who had for almost a year at this point, enticed us with tales of San Francisco’s beauty, and of course, dabs. A man who, despite never meeting us, fought hard for us to get news coverage, and promoted our music relentlessly through the internet, for reasons we honestly couldn’t figure out- we’re not a death metal band, we’re hardly even a metal band, what could he want with us?
But within literally five minutes of standing beside his towering figure, we all started to understand. This was a man who embodied the concept of selflessness like nobody else. A man who, despite his age, and physical ailments, never let anything get in the way of living life the way he wanted to live it, always learning, and always making time for even the smallest of projects. Despite not playing any instruments, Brian was every bit the embodiment of the metal community that I’ve spent most of my life coming to love. A group of people, bound together by a shared love of all things musical, who understand the importance of friendship, and genuine love for those that share their passion. While he certainly had his likes and dislikes, in my short time of knowing Brian, the one thing I never felt was a shred of judgment. And in a world which tends to be so focused on competition, selfishness, and getting the upper hand, Brian was literally a beacon of hope for the underappreciated, the unknown, and those who just needed a little extra push. And for all of us that have been cold, broke, and far away from home, its men like him who really make the experience all worth it.
I last spoke to Brian on Wednesday, the day before his 53rd birthday, to ask his advice on a band-related issue. His last words to me were, “give me a few days to think about it, and I’ll get back to you.” Though his physical being may have passed on, and I know that I’ll have to wait until my own death for him to get back to me, Brian succeeded in doing what all musicians only dream of. Through his writing, his generosity, the friendships he helped create, and the legacy he is leaving behind, Brian Shields brought something special to the world, more timeless than any album could ever be.
But more than anything else, Brian Shields was my friend. And as musicians worldwide mourn your passing, I just can’t help remembering that silly, semi-permanent dabbed out grin on your face, which I was lucky enough to get to see in person, even if just for one night. Rest in peace, Brian Shields, we’ll be mailing a 2XL shirt to you in heaven. ”
JJ “Shiv” Polachek of Ovid’s Withering, 7 Horns 7 Eyes, and Monotheist:
There are so many great things in general about Brian Shields that many people have said already, and its hard to break new ground when just describing all the things he really did for the young metal community overall. In the face of that, I’m gonna get personal, because the best expression of how great he is lies in how he treated actual people.
The most distinct thing I remember about all my interactions with Shields is that, for the life of me, I have no idea which bands he hates. I know tons of bands he loved, supported, and shared very real friendships with, but not a single one that he hated and ranted against. That is a MASSIVELY rare thing in metal as a whole. Brian can be summed up in that element alone. He was, more than anything, a force for positivity in metal. When Ovid’s came through California, he hosted us in the classiest fashion, with a quick wit and a gameplan about how he was gonna make our much needed day off the best it could be. We saw sights we never would have seen otherwise, sights that I will take with me to my grave as life affirming experiences, literally all thanks to him. He turned many of us on to new bands we never had heard (which tbh makes the rest of my bandmates plebs because how had it taken them so long to hear about Hail of Bullets I mean seriously), and had nothing but nice things to say about our own performance, which was indeed an off night and he had no reason to be nice. He just genuinely liked us! He treated us like people, valuable and loved people, when most people treat band dudes like dancing monkeys. They want us to give for free and never complain, but Brian knew we were tired, sick, and cramped on that tour and he went well beyond what was necessary to make us feel like we were on vacation. He showered us with the best weed we’ve ever smoked, showed us the most incredible places around, and took us to the best eats you can get on a dime. We didn’t feel obligated to be nice for the sake of good PR, we genuinely were thankful for treatment we really did not get anywhere else in this business. I know I’m talking in circles, but my point is that it cannot be overstated enough, the metal community as a whole has lost something that cannot be replaced. Brian was one in a million. Even the coolest metal bloggers I know still get clicks from talking shit, and Brian didn’t need that. He loved metal for all the right reasons. He didn’t cling to the old school, and he recognized the toxicity of the elitist mindset. That’s SO important, and so tragically rare, that it breaks my heart everyday to know that a champion of that element is gone. We didn’t all just lose a friend when we lost Brian, metal lost a crucial force for its own validity and good. Rest in Power, Brian. Shit sucks without you, and that itself is one of the greatest legacies you could have left.
Sebastian Brown of Aegaeon:
We first met Shields back in 2012 at the first date of the Summer Slaughter Survivor’s tour in Santa Cruz. Immediately you could tell that he was a genuine super fan of metal and just an all around great person. From that night on we all stayed in touch and he was always an incredible supporter of Aegaeon. You meet a lot of people on the road but very few who are as memorable as Shields. During his infamous dab sessions he always had a new band that he had to let us listen to or a story about an interview he’d recently given. He was definitely full of stories and lived to spread the word of any band that seemed worthy. The man was a walking metal encyclopedia; I bet he knew more about a lot of the bands than the actual members. He was a very hospitable person, I remember getting to stay at the infamous Chez Shields hanging out all night listening to music and watching breaking bad. Shields was definitely about metal being a community and trying to get everyone connected in one way or another. He even introduced my mom to other moms of metal bands to bring the parents together. He was an all around good guy who wanted nothing more than to share his love of all things metal and all things Dabs. The metal community has lost a great fan, a great friend, and someone who genuinely cared about music, from your friends in Aegaeon.
R.I.P. Shields. To say you will be missed is an incredible understatement.
Michael Keene of The Faceless:
Brian was was a kind spirit in a community that sometimes feels as if it is full of cynics. He was endlessly supportive of The Faceless and helped me push through times when I was discouraged. I always looked forward to seeing Brian and talking with him any chance I had. His wit and sharp intellect always piqued my interest. He was welcome on our bus without knocking and he always knew that. I’ve currently been producing The Zenith Passage who were also very close with Brian and we’ve gotten to share some fond memories and talk about our feelings in regards to losing him. His passion for music and metal were amazing. I hope that people can take this as a wake up call that your health is serious. My father recently got diabetes and it’s made me realize that life is short and we have to keep the people we care about close to us. The last conversation I had with Brian was 2 days before his passing and he gave me such positive motivation in regards to moving forward with The Faceless and as a musician. I’m glad that our last words could be so mutually uplifting towards one another. That is the perfect example of Brian’s spirit. He wanted to help others in any way he could. That’s a rare quality and the world is a little dimmer without Brian in it. We all miss you Brian. Back to the source to recharge and reform!
Oliver Rae Aleron of Archspire:
I am not going to write about how great of a friend Brian was to me. Nor how he was a mentor or an inspiration to my musical taste, because unfortunately he was none of those things to me and that would simply be untrue. I find that too often people befriend the recently deceased and glorify the impact the dead have had on their lives as some selfish way of insinuating that their loss may be greater felt then another’s and therefore deserves more attention. So out of the utmost respect for Brian Shields, I will not ride that bandwagon. Instead I will tell you of my experience meeting a man that put more unrelenting effort into helping young bands than anyone else I could mention.
Brian shields was a name that began to pop up more and more on my newsfeed since Archspire’s first introduction into the metal community. It seemed that with every piece of content or news we would release (personally or as a band) Brian was always right there to promote and share our effort with unrivaled enthusiasm and with no other motive then simply because he loved the style of music we play and he wanted to help our art grow. What began to catch my attention was that we were not alone. Brian was single handedly more active in elevating and promoting up and coming artists then all the genre’s labels put together, and I really don’t even think that to be an exaggeration. He had no personal motives, no bias hatred toward any bands or styles. Just a true honest love for extreme music. There are few people in the metal world I could say the same about, myself included.
I was fortunate enough to have met Brian once. He approached Dean and I after our set in California where he proceeded to conduct probably the most intelligent, and cohesive interview out of any reporter I’ve spoken with. Again that’s not an exaggeration. His knowledge of our music as well as the tech death scene in general was second to none. Later that night, as the show was winding down, I followed him to the parking lot where a line up of young metal heads were eagerly awaiting their chance to sit in the passenger seat of his beat up old car and get high with him. He announced jokingly “Make way for sir Oliver Aleron” I got into his passenger seat. His car was filthy. He put on some tunes (Burning The Masses I believe) and told the kid in the back to load me a hit of the brutal stuff. The kid passed me a bong and I smoked my first dab hit. We spoke for a bit until I got that feeling of being so stoned I was about to loss all motor skills. I thanked him for the great interview, the hospitality and the smoke up. I remember thinking about how we need more people like him involved in extreme music. With so many sub genres and so much online bickering between them, a person that has their heart set on purely the artistry of the music is a person everyone involved in Death Metal can learn from.
Brian Shields was that man.
Greg Hampton of The Zenith Passage:
I had the personal pleasure of meeting Mr. Shields at the first Zenith show at the Red House in December of 2013. I had been Facebook friends with him for quite some time, so I was very anxious to meet him because of his reputation. Upon our initial introduction, I could instantly tell how loving of an individual he was. It was like this aura around him that couldn’t be denied. He loved Zenith and was an unconditional supporter of all heavy music. He wanted to unite us instead of divide us. The metal community lost a legend with his passing. I hope he’s with Dimebag, Dio, and Peter Steele having a great time blasting some awesome music with crucial dabs. Rest in Power, Brian Shields. We really miss you down here.
White Arms of Athena:
Missing you B-ri! Brian Shields, aka “SHIIELDS”, aka “Dab Master”, aka “The names Brian, with an I, you can’t trust those Y guys.”, has left this life. It is still a shock. You get to encounter special beings like Brian Shields every now and then in your lifetime, and you truly want them to stick around ’till the end.
Shields was family to us from the moment we met, and reached out to support in ways that still, to this day, make us feel like we’re worth it! He introduced our small band to all of the big artists he would interact with and was a true advocate of WAOA. He called us “metal gods” but now we see who the true hero is, those who elevate everyone around them. One thing is certain by the outpouring of love for him, he was that person at all times. Like the Santa of metal or something, how he had time to speak to, and motivate all of these people is beyond me.
These pictures show us all over California and Nevada. We have memories that will last a lifetime, we are grateful for that! If you learn anything from this man, spread positivity and empathize with one another. Go out of your way to be kind like he did, and support what you are passionate about. It comes back to you, multiplied!
Rest easy Brian Shields!