For Gunnar Nelson, leaving a rock concert unimpressed arguably was one of the best things that ever happened to him.
Nelson, an international multi-platinum singer, songwriter, solo musician and founding member of rock band Nelson, had gone to another band’s show expecting a rundown of its greatest hits. But, he said, that didn’t happen.
“It was a boring show,” he said. “I was a casual fan of this band and it was basically an hour-and-45-minutes of songs I didn’t know. “
That disappointment, however, inspired an idea.
“I thought it would be really cool if you could go to a show and all you actually saw was the hit songs by the original people - - all songs you knew the words to,” he said.
So Nelson made reached out to bandmate and brother, Matthew Nelson, as well as other friends he made in the music industry. Among them was Mark Slaughter of the band Slaughter, Kip Winger of Winger, Derek St. Holmes of Ted Nugent, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, Eric Martin of Mr. Big and a host of others. Everyone was in, and Scrap Metal was born.
The concept is simple. Nelson and a rotating lineup of top 1980s- early1990s rockers for almost a decade have been touring the country performing the songs their individual bands made hits and people have grown to love. The Nelson brothers, along with Martin, St. Holmes, Slaughter and Pearcy, will comprise the 7 p.m. Saturday show lineup at the Platte County Fairgrounds, 822. 15th St.
“This is different from any other show in the sense that it truly is all killer, no filler,” Nelson said. “You come to the show and you will know every single word to every song that you hear. These are original singers from the original bands from when MTV ruled the world, everyone knew it, and everyone watched it. It was music 24/7.”
This weekend’s lineup features a massive collection of metal talent. Nelson and his brother’s band are known for several hit songs, including the 1990 No. 1 Billboard record “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection.” The band’s other big songs include “More Than Ever” and “After The Rain.”
Slaughter fronts the band of the same name, which has popular records in "Up All Night,” "Spend My Life,” "Mad About You" and "Fly to the Angels.” Pearcy is best known as the founder, singer and songwriter of the heavy metal outfit Ratt, among others. Big songs to his credit include “Lay It Down” and “Round And Round.” St. Holmes’ big records are “Hey Baby” and “Cat Scratch Fever,” while Martin has had much success with numerous bands, including Mr. Big, and as a solo act. His more well-known songs are “To Be With You” and “Wild World.”
“The funny thing is this never started out with the intention of being a super group,” Nelson said. “People underestimate we’re legitimately a bunch of friends who enjoy each other’s music and playing music together.”
And, in a way, Nelson said it’s refreshing when the group jams together. Members don’t focus on crafting new tunes together, but rather learning to perfect playing each other’s songs. For Nelson, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.
“Honestly, you kind of get lost in the business and stop having fun if you’re not really careful. Music becomes a business,” he said. “Scrap Metal is a reminder that it’s called playing music for a reason. It’s like being back in the garage playing with your high school friends. We’re not just throwing this together. Our versions of the songs sound like the actual records, they really do. It sometimes even surprises the singer whose song it is as far as how good it sounds."
Tickets for the show are $20 in advance (www.pcftickets.com or at the Ag Park general office) or $25 on the day of the concert.
Tayler Bock, a Columbus native who booked Scrap Metal for the fair, said the decision to bring the band to town was based on interest. Last year’s rock concert at the fair proved highly successful, he added.
“We’ve found that hair metal really worked well in the market and ticket sales proved that,” he said, noting ticket sales last year for the rock show were the best showing for the fair since 2004 and generated fans from throughout Nebraska.
Then, there’s just the talent aspect of the band, he stressed.
“It’s kind of a win-win for us because you’re still getting the original voices of all those bands,” Bock said. “Having all that talent on one stage is crazy to think about. You basically have a super group on stage at the same time playing each other’s music. It’s kind of a special, one night only thing because it’s not like they perform together all of the time.”
Nelson assured Platte County residents wouldn’t be left disappointed like he was at that concert roughly 10 years ago.
“You’ll have as much fun as you can with your clothes on,” he said. “We take the music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously. We’ve got something special cooking for Saturday. I am really looking forward to it.”
Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.