Who We Are

“Metal” Tim Henderson

Metal Tim HendersonI’ve been waving the flag of hard rock and heavy metal around the world for over 30 years, in the fields of publishing, retail, radio and on the ‘net. Schooled in Barrie, Ontario where the power of music germinated within me, the addiction formally began at Hamilton’s McMaster University (I graduated with two Bachelor Of arts degrees: Economics and Political Science) in 1990 where I hosted two weekly radio shows on campus station 93.3 CFMU. After a stint with M.E.A.T. magazine, the “Metal” Tim Bits fanzine was launched in 1993 as a stapled freebie handed out to customers at HMV’s flagship superstore in downtown Toronto. Upon uniting with Martin Popoff in early 1994, it soon became Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles (named after the infamous Agony Column album which has been metallically blessed by the band!) and the first issue appeared in March. A scant few hundred copies were produced of issue #1 and Canada’s longest running metal magazine was born! I would balance the magazine and my duties as a buyer at HMV, (proudly) building the 333 Metal Section into a $1 million-plus grossing sales department, making it one of the biggest metal departments in the world. BW&BK (as it would soon be known) became the chain’s biggest selling magazine being distributed in over 100 stores. Soon the magazine would be available in over 40 countries around the world, with a production run of nearly 50,000. Radio and video was and still is a passion, where I had stints as an intern on MuchMusic’s Power Hour program, as well as gigs at 97.7 HTZ FM in St. Catharines. BraveRadio Weekly was born at Virtually Canadian in the mid ‘90s and soon I would be programming all the hard rock/metal stations for Iceberg Radio (the company’s new moniker) at the famed CFRB building at Yonge & St. Clair in Toronto. And to this date, I’m still involved with the web’s oldest metal station, HardRadio. In 2000 we launched BraveWords.com (now simply BraveWords) and we’ve led the charge in covering the hard rock/metal world with the most up-to-date news, features, reviews and of course our famous playground the BraveBoard. In 2008, BW&BK in print was sadly put to rest, our final magazine being the much sought-after issue #113 with Metallica on the cover. And how times change… by that point we’d transitioned from the magazine funding the website, to the website funding the magazine! But here we stand 20 years later, with our dedicated team of scribes continuing to build the greatest metal website on the planet with our brave words!

Martin Popoff

Martin PopoffMartin Popoff has been described as “the world’s most famous heavy metal journalist.” At approximately 7900 (with over 7000 appearing in his books), he has unofficially written more record reviews than anybody in the history of music writing across all genres. Additionally, Martin has penned 47 books on hard rock, heavy metal, classic rock and record collecting. He was Editor In Chief of print mag Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles/BW&BK (now BraveWords), Canada’s foremost metal publication for 14 years, and has also contributed to Revolver, Guitar World, Goldmine, Record Collector, Lollipop.com and Hardradio.com (continuing on as Senior Writer at BraveWords), with many record label band bios and liner notes to his credit as well. Additionally, Martin worked for two years as researcher on the award-wining documentary Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage and on Metal Evolution, an 11 episode documentary series for VH1 Classic, and is the writer of the original metal genre chart used in Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey and throughout the Metal Evolution episodes. Martin is back at Banger again, working on their new series, Rock Icons. Martin currently resides in Toronto and can be reached through martinp@inforamp.net or Martinpopoff.com.

Carl Begai

Carl BegaiThose who can’t play write about it, and although I’ve been known to shred my way through Dokken’s “Kiss Of Death” or Helloween’s “Future World” on guitar without breaking my fingers or having a heart attack, making music is best left to people with a talent for it. Born and bred in Toronto, this adventure began in 1993 when I joined the M.E.A.T magazine crew, providing show and album reviews before finally getting my first ever interview with Phantom Blue’s guitarist Michelle Meldrum (rest in peace). Having grown up as one of many rivet-heads immersed in Toronto’s vibrant rock and metal scene in the ‘80s, being on the inside was a high that eventually led me to Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. Kidnapped by an alien Medusa in 1995 and dragged kicking and screaming to Germany, I was dubbed BW&BK’s European correspondent at the tail end of 1996, making my presence as an actual writer (!) known in January 1997 with a Sentenced story that, in retrospect, still doesn’t suck. Since then it’s been a wild ride that has provided me with amazing experiences, a wealth of knowledge and a roster of artists, managers, label reps, journalists and photographers I’m proud to call friends. In 2005 I was asked to jump on board the BraveWords.com news team as well, further extending my grubby paws deeper into the metal world. Over the years BraveWords has led to my involvement in writing band biographies for several record labels and independent artists, co-writing a book (which tanked), proofreading and penning song lyrics, doing work as a translator, and being propped up in front of TV cameras for my views on all things metal. I’ve also earned the self-proclaimed title Master Of Typo Disaster for some impressive errors while dreaming up headlines for the BW&BK news feed, the best of the bunch being when I referred to Alice Cooper as a “sock rocker.” Ultimately, for all the European coverage I’m happy to provide, my head and heart remain focused on the Canadian metal scene, hopefully giving back to the place and people that made me what I am. I learned a long time ago that the saying “never a dull moment” was coined for this line of work. I’m not complaining. Cheers, Hosers!

Mark Gromen

Mark GromenIt all began in ‘83, with a short review of Accept, opening for Kiss. Since then I’ve been toting a pen, spiral-bound notepad and/or a camera to concerts around the globe. A five year DJ stint at Case Western Reserve University’s campus station (staying an extra year, after graduation, since I loved it so much) opened a lot of doors, including the weekly concert and album review beat for Cleveland’s Scene Magazine during the mid-to-late ‘80s. Had already written for numerous publications, domestic and foreign, when introduced to “Metal” Tim at the old Concrete Foundations Forum, a multi-day confab on the outskirts of LA. and was actually on the staff of the sponsoring, industry-only tip-sheet, at the time. Ultimately, my penmanship has graced the pages of Alternative Press, Metal Maniacs and during the metal-barren years of the ‘90s, countless regional zines. Have also been published on every continent except Antarctica and Africa, although BW&BK has been a permanent home since ‘95, when my Paradise Lost European tour diary first graced the grey, heavy gauged pages of the Canadian bible. Hard to believe that an American could fostered so many great international relationships over three-plus decades, including being lucky enough to meet/befriend some of the artists, visiting them at home, in the studio, tag along for days on tour and travel to some exotic locales, all because of metal music. As a result of many an industry junket, I returned to photography after more than ten years, in order to augment the printed word (i.e. labels weren’t willing to pop for airfare for a photog and journalist from North America, so rather than miss out on the opportunity, I simply packed my camera bag too!). Maybe you’ve seen my visage on your favourite band’s DVD? My artwork or penned liner notes can be found inside releases by several old Cleveland pals, as well as the likes of Overkill, Cage and Deadly Blessing, amongst others. Was the brains (for better or worse), as well as partial financier for the trio of BW&BK 6-Pack Weekend concerts (2003-2005). Like to say I’ve dabbled in virtually every corner of the metal world, apart from performing onstage: radio, promotions, label, tour managing, roadie, etc. Personal accolades have included numerous thank yous on sleeves and CD booklets, a long-lasting, no-holds-barred friendship w/ Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (Overkill), the heartfelt comments from Tom Englund (Evergrey) in the deluxe edition of The Inner Circle, an inclusion in Mat Sinner’s (Primal Fear, Sinner) autobiography that accompanied Seven Seals and serving as English tutor/proofreader for Andy B. Franck (Brainstorm). Hard to believe, but still get jazzed hearing and seeing new discoveries. Cheers!

Aaron Small

Aaron SmallHard rock and heavy metal are as essential as food and water—or beer and chicken wings—to me. To say I’m passionate about this music is an understatement. During the early ‘90s, each and every Saturday I’d make the trip from the suburbs to downtown Toronto, always headed for the same destination: the HMV superstore at 333 Yonge Street; precisely where I met BraveWords President and CEO Tim Henderson. As the “Metal” Tim Bits fanzine grew into Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, I made my official journalistic debut in issue no. 7 March/April 1995. Being part of what would become a globally respected magazine was life changing! It led to a four year stint co-hosting The Aftermath, a weekly metal radio show at CHRY 105.5, campus radio station for York University, where I earned a B.A. in English. In 2003, US-based publication Metal Maniacs came calling, and I joined their roster for six years; while still bringing deserving bands into the spotlight at BraveWords. As the immediacy of the Internet eclipsed the outdated print format, both BW&BK and Maniacs ceased to exist; but BraveWords.com quickly became the essential online destination for continually updated news and reviews within our beloved genre. To borrow a quote from Al Jourgensen of Ministry, who was talking about Black Sabbath at the time, BraveWords.com is “more addictive than heroin or pussy.”

Greg Pratt

Greg PrattI’ve been writing about metal since around 2000; Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles was one of the first magazines to give me a shot, and I’m happy to say I’m still with them all these years later! It’s been a great experience writing for what was Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles and is now bravewords.com; I’ve got to interview so many bands I love and got to review countless albums I loved... and hated. My love of metal also extends into the pages of other magazines (such as Exclaim! and Revolver); I was also a judge for the metal/hard category for the 2013 Junos, did a metal radio show for 15 years at the University of Victoria campus station, and will be teaching a course on heavy metal at the same university in 2014. I live in Victoria, BC, with my wife and two kids and am always happy to hear from Bravewords readers, so feel free to shoot me a line! Horns up, metal soldiers!

Greg Prato

Greg PratoLong Island, NY native Greg Prato takes his hard rock and heavy metal seriously. Very seriously. Ever since receiving Kiss’ self-titled debut as a kindergarten graduation gift from his mother in 1978 and his father taking him to see Kiss (with Judas Priest opening) in concert a year later, he has been taking his hard rock and heavy metal to heart. Greg began his long and winding journey as a music journalist in the late ‘90s, and has subsequently written for the likes of All Music Guide, Classic Rock magazine, Rolling Stone, Songfacts, and of course, BW&BK. He has also penned liner notes for several music titles over the years, including Primus’ Sailing The Seas Of Cheese deluxe edition and Judas Priest’s The Complete Albums Collection box set. In 2008, Greg decided the time was finally right to make the jump to “book author,” and has since penned both music and sports books. If you really want to know, some of his best known titles include Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music, The Eric Carr Story, A Devil On One Shoulder And An Angel On The Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon And Blind Melon, and The Faith No More & Mr. Bungle Companion, among others. He has also been interviewed about his books on radio shows hosted by Eddie Trunk, Dave Marsh, and Ron & Fez. Greg has also been lucky to interview many of his all-time favourite musicians, including William Shatner, Eddie Vedder, Tony Iommi, Ace Frehley, Rob Halford, Scott Gorham, Marky Ramone, Iggy Pop, Curt Kirkwood, Kim Thayil, Les Claypool, Jello Biafra, Mike Patton, Billy Corgan, Lemmy Kilmister, Geddy Lee, Dave Mustaine, and David Lynch, among countless others.

Nick Balazs

Nick BalazsBorn and raised in the great city of Cleveland, OH, I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. My journey into the hard rock/metal world began when I saw KISS on their Farewell Tour in 2000. That was a life changer for a very impressionable 11 year old. As I became older and developed a taste in writing and creating stories, I enjoyed writing album reviews and I should have known this would be future when in college I delivered an informative speech about thrash metal (I got an A on it too). BGSU has its own student-organized news television show with BG24 News and I was a sports anchor for two years and I would always drop metal references that I’m sure no one else understood, but me. After graduating, it took a little bit of time to find my place, but now I have been with a BraveWords since February 2013 and have had a rocking time spreading the gospel of heavy metal.

Rich CatinoAs a listener of heavy metal music from the age of twelve, after school my days during the ‘80s were spent buying albums on vinyl and listening to them regularly, while reading Metal Edge, Hit Parader, and Circus magazines, adding patches and pins to my denim jacket, and covering my bedroom wall with posters, t –shirts, etc. I even still have my Iron Maiden fanclub pin from the early ‘80s, and all of their singles on vinyl, including the rare Maiden Japan cover with the severed Paul Di’Anno head. Guess it was inevitable with the rising importance of the internet in the early 2000s I would start my own hard rock and heavy metal journalistic website. First under the name That’s So Metal in 2002, changing over to Metal Asylum.net in 2005; aside from talking about all the styles of sounds of metal music, it was my crusade to give more attention to all the great European bands who were coming up in the ‘90s. Oddly enough now as a contributor to BraveWords, I learned much about this music from reading the magazine in the ‘90s, and the vast library of knowledge from “Metal” Tim Henderson, author Martin Popoff, and primarily from friend Mark Gromen. He taught me well. With That’s So Metal, events were held at a local NY/NJ bar where we would play music from overseas, to even holding a record release party for Metal Mike Chlasciak and his band Painmuseum, and Primal Fear for the album "Black Sun". Early on my press coverage included ProgPower USA 3 and seeing Blind Guardian, Angra, Gamma Ray, and Edguy’s first visit to the US,  Blind Guardian’s in store signing at Vintage Vinyl, to consistent support for Stratovarius, Iced Earth, Grave Digger, Rhapsody, Hammerfall, Helloween, etc, etc, and a trip to Wacken in 2003 and Metalway in Spain in 2010. Now, in a strange happenstance, 15 years later I am honored to be part of the BraveWords family.

Hendrix R.I.P.

HendrixOur mascot passed March 9th, 2016 at 11 years-young.

In “Metal” Tim’s words:

We are heartbroken at BraveWords’ as our mascot of nearly 12 years has passed away. Hendrix, the adorable black pug that helped us wave the flag of hard rock and heavy metal, died on March 9th from lymphoma.

Hendrix saw the final days of BW&BK Magazine first hand and witnessed the incredible growth of BraveWords.com. He was named after arguably the greatest guitarist that ever lived. And Hendrix held a vital role in the company. Being “Metal” Tim’s shadow, he was our sounding board and part of the editorial approval process when it came to interviews, news, reviews etc. He had one helluva ear for music; one bark meant yea, two meant nay!

And right now he’s drinking bourbon and doing interviews with all of our fallen heroes whether they be in heaven or hell!

And BraveWords’ last chat with Jimi’s sister Janie Hendrix (Experience Hendrix CEO in charge of the estate), Hendrix the pug was mentioned, so rock ‘n’ roll royalty even knows him! May you walk forever on that Rainbow Bridge!

“Metal” Tim talks about the impact Hendrix had on his life and the BraveWords family:

“You are the only thing he knows.” Those words still echo loudly in my head. It was from my first vet when Hendrix came into my life. And to this day I don’t think I will ever meet somebody that depended on me. And somebody I truly depended on.

I’m writing this heartfelt tribute to the “person” that has spent the most time with me in my life. That never-ending bond of love, devotion and innocence. A sacred relationship that only dog-lovers can relate to. Think about Han Solo and Chewbacca, minus the weapons! And his face, always reminded me of a mix between Yoda (Star Wars) and Cornelius (Planet Of The Apes).

I know it’s cliche, but “man’s best friend” doesn’t say enough about the relationship between animal and human being. Everyone’s breed is their favourite breed. But pugs - of Chinese origin hundreds of years ago - were quite famous with royalty. Their friendly, loving demeanour and that noble walk. Hendrix walked this earth like he owned it. Stubborn as all hell, but he smelled the roses. Something I tried to learn from him during his near 12 years on this fine earth. And the snoring. How such sounds can envelope a room! And the glorious sounds of heavy metal lulled him to sleep! The power of a pug!

Hendrix has been my shadow, the ultimate companion through thick and thin! When I picked him up at a breeder in Brockville (coincidentally close to Ottawa and inches from where my mother would spend summers on the St. Lawrence River as a child!) he barely fit in my two hands. I still can’t figure out why he barked at all emergency sirens when he was born on a farm distant from any such sound. Maybe it was the high pitch? I’d like to think that since he was always at my side, maybe he felt the need to assist when sirens rang in the air. The five hour drive back home to Toronto was filled with hard rock and pee breaks! He had no idea what metal world he would grow up in.

Sadly Hendrix had health issues from early on. He was the “runt” of the litter and had the mange (fur disease) real young, so was used to weekly baths and seemed to love the spa treatment. And because pugs have a pressed in face, their eyes are susceptible to injury and we nearly lost one of them due to a scratched cornea. In fact there was a time when we were medicating both of his eyes. And then his hind legs started to lose power and stability. That was last spring and we thought he was doomed. But his “wheels of steel” kept him going a bit longer. Almost a year later he was still that pug with attitude and conviction. Although he was the ultimate fighter to the end, lymphoma had started to attack his entire body. He was having issues breathing and in his final days wouldn’t eat a morsel.

But his memory remains…

Hendrix will be missed by all of of us here at BraveWords. And his rock n’ roll spirit still echoes loud and proud.

So rest in peace Hendrix. Perhaps not that peaceful, ‘cause the spirit of rock n’ roll should never be laid to rest.



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