There are eccentrics, and there are eccentrics. Dennis Rodman tries to be an eccentric, and probably to most people in America he is quite the freak, but he's got poseur written all over him in tribal tattoos: he's basically just another tall guy in a pink boa.
Then you have Phil Spector, a ferret-like Emily Dickinson who, aside from being the quintessential petulant hermit, has been known to don an Afro wig and run up and down the aisles of a black church in ecstasy. He is a true eccentric: paranoid, anal, bad hair... you know the drill. Perhaps his love of piling overdub upon overdub wasn't a work of genius; he just wanted to create a big enough sound barrier between himself and the rest of the world.
The Bay Area has its share of eccentrics, especially in Berkeley. But none is so intriguing as Hayward's own Metal Mike -- or, as I like to call him, Green Day's Number One Fan. Metal Mike (aka Mike Saunders) was the singer for the Angry Samoans (or, as he would say, is the singer, since they keep regrouping). The '80s punk band had a Dictators goofball punk thang goin' on, with songs like "My Old Man's a Fatso" and "They Saved Hitler's Cock." Mike is 49, but could seriously pass for 30. He speaks in a monotone, is highly intelligent, and always wears cutoff shorts, a T-shirt, and Converse. These days he works nine-to-five during the week, taking in sporting events on the weekends. You've probably seen him. He's the guy in the Arkansas Razerbacks sewww-eeee pig hat, a hard red plastic number with a snout that comes out like the bill of a baseball cap. It's 3-D. And it doesn't matter which team is playing -- the Giants, the Warriors -- over the dense crowd of spectators awash in yellow beer and garlic fries can be heard the familiar call of the wild boar: sewwwwweeeee! Sewwwwwweeee! He also has a penchant for carrying around cans of tuna in his pockets, but I digress.One of the greatest things about Mike is that he is completely and totally free of music snobbery. He is of course a big metal fan, and he thinks that Warrant was one of the few '80s bands to "achieve genius level." If you ask him what his favorite band was last year, he'll readily tell you it was the A*Teens, the Swedish reworking of ABBA for the 'tween set. He's been known to entertain parties with the 12" remix of Stacey Q's "Two of Hearts," Aqua's "Barbie Girl," and some Patsy Kensit. I recently saw him wearing a reworked Spice Girls T-shirt, with Angry Samoans screenprinted across the top. He wasn't being ironic.
And so it happened one day a few years back that Mike decided to put a gigantic Kerplunk-era Green Day decal on the door of his bitchin' white Nissan Sentra -- to offset his Razerback sticker, of course. "They are the greatest band of the last thirty years," he says. He owns every 7, import, B-side, and alternative take the Berkeley boys have ever put out. "They are the greatest band since 1967; the best band since the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Beach Boys."
Mike has the enviable spot of not only being their Number One Fan, but actually playing with them in the early days. "At Gilman we played with horrible freakin' bands: Sam I Am, and worse -- NOFX, and someone said, 'Oh God, no more!' So I go to my friend, 'What's the cool band to play with?' He goes, 'Duh! Green Day!' So I bought the 7; they recorded it when they were seventeen, released when they were eighteen. I was like, 'Oh! These guys are great!' My first image was that I walked in, and I saw Green Day's gear, and Tre had a big Calvin and Hobbes mural on his bass drum. I was like, 'Yah!' "
To say that Mike has an almost autistic knowledge of the band is to put it lightly; he knows who owns the "second best collection of early Green Day photos," what records they listened to when they were twelve, and what videos they show their kids now (Beatles cartoons, a gift from Mike himself). But perhaps the greatest gift the band has bestowed on Metal Mike is that through his fandom he has met Green Day's Number Two Biggest Fan, Leeanne. "When I first got Dookie," she says, "I listened to it back-to-back for ten hours straight."
She spotted his Green-Day-Mobile in the BART parking lot. "I just saw the stickers, and I had to know who owned the car!" From there they swapped notes on the car windshield for a few weeks, and a romance was born of Dookie, so to speak.
It's something unpredictable, as they say.
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