justin foley op-ed

Andee Connors and Allan Horrocks run Aquarius Records in San Francisco. Their bi-weekly mailing list is simply one of the greatest things on the Internet – an opinionated, enthusiastic and overwhelming review of the latest releases and reissues that includes sound samples. From major pop releases to the absolutely most obscure/limited/cassette-only cave dweller metal, if it’s good the list will be championing it (and probably calling it out for sucking if it does suck). Any metal fan – any music fan – must sign up for it (and, duh, buy from them if they like it).


What’s the greatest Taco Riff of all time?

Allan Horrocks (AH) – Did you say taco riff? I thought you were saying Thaco. Like “to hit armor class zero.” You know, Dungeons And Dragons…

Andee Connors (AC) – I really hope you’re not taping any of this yet. But hey, I did play in a powerviolence band called Taco Bell.

Taco Bell? What was powerful or violent about that?

AC – Just the music. Hang on, Allan is talking to someone about work. So, I’ve got two taco riffs that I thought of that maybe aren’t very cool. Well, they are cool to me, but you know… not cool. It’s funny, because I think that most of my taco riffs would have to be 80’s metal. If someone was like “AQ, what are the obscure things they’re going to talk about?”… Well, for me, I just think about 80’s metal.

So the first one would be “See you in Hell” by Grim Reaper. It’s super catchy and heavy. It’s one of the first things I learned how to play on guitar, just because it was easy, which is also maybe the hallmark of a taco riff??… If you’ve never heard “See you in Hell,” there’s a really awesome video of it on YouTube.

AH – Oh yeah, that video.

AC – So yeah, “See you in Hell” is a Taco Riff. But maybe ALL Grim Reaper songs are taco riffs too. Wait, what’s their song from the second record? You know, it was like their second hit.

AH – They didn’t have a second hit. “See You in Hell” was their only hit.

AC – No, you know what I’m talking about…

AH – (After a brief pause.) You mean “Fear No Evil.”

AC – Yes! “Fear No Evil”. (Ed – Check the top rated comment on that video if you’re looking for tattoo text.) That riff. Definitely a taco riff. And the other one I was thinking of was Ratt … “Wanted Man.” NO! “Lack of Communication.” Where even the vocals are syncopated, right along with the riff, kinda goofy, but also kinda bad ass, Ratt has a ton of those classic 80’s metal riffs. Like I said, maybe not cool, but cool to me.

Allan? What do you think?

AH – I don’t know. There’s a million awesome riffs. But you’d have to think: “Is this a TACO Riff?” I have to make a huge list.

AC – I want you to listen to what’s going on here, and realize what I have to go through every day.

AH – (exasperated) I guess there’s gotta be like a Melvins song.

AC – What’s that song about the cat?

AH – You mean “Charmicarmicat?”… see, this would be different if you actually came into the store and wanted to buy something.

Would you be more comfortable with a role play? Okay. (Changing voice) “My car’s double parked outside. I’ve got to quickly get a taco riff record for this date I’m going on tonight. Can you just tell me what’s best?”

AH – (Silence for a second) This is making me neurotic. See, like you mention Zeni Geva. There’s a band that just gets on a riff and doesn’t let go.

AC – Well what about Gore?

AH – Zeni Geva is better than Gore.

AC – Gore is WAY better than Zeni Geva….

Allan, I think I’m coming back over to your side.

AC – This is the whole reason why I think we’re being put on the spot. If you were able to come up with lists that you had forever to obsess over, you’d end up having something that’s more “cool” than true.

AH – I don’t know…

AC – Hey! You’re going to look on the internet.

AH – I’m not going to look on the internet.

AC – I can see you through the window at the computer.

AH – No. I’m not on the internet. I’m checking on a “Filemaker Database.” Totally different. (After a second) For instance, St. Vitus, I have to love them. But does it qualify? Are they Taco Riffs? Like, give me a good example of a heavy riff that isn’t a Taco Riff.

Hmm. Well… we know about Big Black right? They’ve got a bunch of riffs, but none of them are really Taco Riffs.

AC – “Jordan, Minnesota.”

Exactly. Fine example. Great riff, but NOT a Taco Riff.

AH – Nah… it sounds like everything is a cool riff, and if it’s heavy then it’s a Taco Riff.

AC – Just pick one.

AH – I’m getting the third degree. No comment. I’ll tell you what: how about a taqueria? I could recommend my favorite taqueria.

AC – Not the yuppie place!

AH – It’s actually kind of a DJ hang out. It’s not a yuppie place…

AC – It’s a hipster yuppie place…

AH – You just said it’s yuppies. Now it’s hipsters, too?


AH – It’s called Papalote. Although I guess if we’re talking taquerias, and maybe you were gonna go to just one, or get a burrito for the first time, I would probably say Farolito.

AC – Yeah, El Faralito. Pretty much the classic old school mission taqueria. HUGE burritos, open till 2 or 3 in the morning…

AH – Although, maybe… maybe La Taqueria.

AC – Coroneta is the better I think.

AH – Better for what?

AC – Everything.

AH – Wait. Back to Taco Riffs. So, like, you could say that a lot of this heavy music flows from Black Sabbath, right? And Black Sabbath is my favorite band and “The Wizard” is my favorite song of theirs, partly for sentimental reasons. But, is “The Wizard” a taco riff? See… I’d need to go home and listen to it.

AC – What? It’s your favorite song! And you have to go listen to it?

AH – I’d have to listen to it to see if it’s a Taco Riff or not. So, yeah, this thing’ll probably go up in a week or so? I’ll get back to you after thinking about it.

(AH hangs up as AC and JF talk for a few more minutes.)

AH – (Comes back on abruptly.) Are you still there? Ruins – “Grubandgo.” On the Burning Stone album.

AC – sigh


Justin Foley plays guitar and sings for the Austerity Program.  Their record Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn is out now.  Visit them online at  All messages about urban bike riding, vegetarian BBQ and monetary policy will be answered first.

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