By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
By A.H. Goldstein
Dan Biechele is facing a possible thirty-year prison sentence. You would have been looking at the same thing.
I've been in prison before, for a year and a half on a drug charge. I was a little kid; it was all involved with drugs. That was a whole lifetime ago. If that was what happened, I would have dealt with it.
You've shied away from saying whether you think Great White has any responsibility for what happened.
I feel badly about what happened. I feel terrible every fuckin' minute of my life. I lost three very close friends and 97 other friends. But there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. There was nothing that Jack Russell or Great White could have done to prevent this from happening.
So who is responsible?
There were so many things that were missed. The place was over capacity, and the amount that it was over was almost equal to the number of people who died. There's a computer model that was done in Rhode Island; they determined that if the place had been at capacity, people would have been able to get out. I'm not saying it's the inspector's fault or the club owners' fault, but you have to wonder about certain things: Why didn't the fire marshal notice the cheap foam? Lots of other bands had played there with pyro; it's just a miracle that this hadn't happened earlier.
You got out with no injuries. Some victims resent you for it.
I lived because somebody pulled me out the back door. I kept trying to go back in. Finally, this guy's like, 'No. If you go in there you're going to die.' Here's how not serious we thought this was at first: A minute after I got out the back door, I went to the bus, grabbed my cell phone and called my fiancé. I said, 'Honey, there's a fire. I think we might lose the equipment.' We all thought that somebody would come with a fire extinguisher, they'd put it out. But there was no fire extinguisher.
When did it become clear to you that it was more than a little fire?
About a minute after I hung up the phone. That place literally went up in like three minutes. It was from a little fire on the wall to a roaring inferno in a matter of minutes.
When you took a look at the Station, wasn't there a moment when you thought,'Damn, this ceiling's pretty low'?
I don't set the pyro up. That wasn't my job. The way I look at it is, if I'm a chef in a restaurant and somebody hires me to come in and cook, am I going to go back there and check the gas lines behind the stove to make sure they're hooked up properly? I'm going to expect that the club owners or whoever's running the business, if they say we're safe to use pyro, then it's going to be safe.
But it wasn't safe. It seems like it would have been obvious.
There were a lot of mistakes made that night, and it's not for me to point the finger at anybody. Nobody wanted 100 people to die. I don't think the fire marshal, when he inspected the club and didn't notice the foam, wanted 100 people to die. But what do you do now? You've gotta say, 'Okay, what can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again?' That's why I'm really adamant about tougher laws and tougher codes and tougher fire codes. And I think people need to be more proactive as individuals. I go to a restaurant, I'm looking for the exit doors. I've got fire extinguishers in my house now. I don't expect the fire department to be here in two minutes if something happens. What if they're not? What if they're here in twenty minutes? Anything can happen at any time.
'People outside of the hard-rock world have a hard time understanding pyro. What is itfor?
It's just a visual effect. It's like 'Ooh, aah.' It's like seeing fireworks. It wasn't a big deal to us. We were never like, 'Omigod, we have to have that pyro.' We're not KISS. If a club owner said we couldn't use it, it was never a big deal to us -- which is why I will say to my dying day that Dan had permission to use it that night. We used a cold spark; it's not hot. You could put your hands in it. But the material on the roof was so flammable; in one report, they said it was equivalent to thirteen gallons of gasoline.
Do you experience any survivor guilt?
I think I did. I was lucky enough to escape with my life, and I thank God for that every day. But it wasn't like I didn't lose anything. I lost 100 friends -- three of them very close friends. Not one person came out of there unscathed. You might have walked out not burned or unharmed, but you didn't come out without some kind of emotional scar. There are always questions: Why did this happen to me? Then I realized it's not about me. What can I do with this lesson here? How come I lived? How come my guitar player died?