Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

We Are The Ones

“Forget anything from the past. Most of my heavy metal fans are gonna hate it; I’ve abandoned my past to move forward.”
Dee Snider

The key to this project working is Dee Snider’s voice. He doesn’t sound like a whiny teen. He doesn’t sound like he’s auto-tuned to robotic levels. He doesn’t sound like he hasn’t lived and experienced life’s ups and downs. He sounds like a rock star. He sounds like a man who battled rejection after rejection for over 10 years to get mainstream fame. He sounds like a man who had it all and then lost it all and then got it back it again. His voice has an attitude and a grit that is hard to explain in words.

We Are The Ones
When everything else counts us out, we are the ones

On my Spotify Release Radar playlist, Dee Snider’s “We Are The Ones” came up as the first song. I was aware he had new music coming out via my Google Alerts, but to be honest I was caught by surprise. It felt like yesterday, when Dee offered up “To Hell And Back” as a free download from his website and everyone ignored it because it wasn’t convenient for them to download it like that on their phones. And back then, the new album was promised for a February 2016 release. Fast forward to October and it is finally here although very different to what was intended.

“We Are The Ones” is an amalgamation of rock, punk and pop. Dee Snider nails the vocal and I wanted to hear more. So I went to listen to the album on Spotify. It’s also the opening track and a great introduction to the album. To be honest it’s not a far departure from what Dee Snider is known for. Dee also mentioned in a Billboard article, that the first song producer Damon Ranger brought to him was “We Are The Ones” and it set the tone of the album.

We are the ones who are taught to hate
We are the hearts that were born to break
We live our lives from all of your lies
We wear our scars like a badge of pride

It’s a new anthem for me.

Our kids these days are taught at school to not bully, to not be racist and to not discriminate. Well something has gone terribly wrong, because what we have in 2016 is the exact opposite of what our kids are being taught. We have the highest incidences of bullying being reported. Racism is back in the media like it was the 60’s and all those laws about discrimination have given useless organisations power they don’t what to do with.

So what we have is a generation told they are the best and when the best doesn’t come knocking, we start to have disappointment. Like the words of Master Yoda, disappointment leads to hate and hate leads to suffering and suffering leads to the dark side.

We are the first, we are the free, we are the suffering

The vocal delivery and how Dee sings sufffffffering nails it for me.

Have you ever been afraid?
We live in fear everyday

As much as social media connects us, we feel more lonely than ever. And it’s our greatest fear. Being lonely, with no one to talk too and share stories with.

Over Again
This reminds me of the Widowmaker song “The Lonely Ones” merged with The Foo Fighters. It’s got that major key rock vibe which I dig.

So easy to fall back in your bed

Damn right. It takes courage to get out of your comfort zone.

Close To You
Dee’s vocal delivery borders on demented Jon Bon Jovi levels. I swear I couldn’t tell the difference. Have a listen to how the song builds over a simple guitar riff before it starts to rock. In the end, it’s hard to explain this song. It sounds like Stabbing Westward from the late nineties.

I’m watching every move, your standing next to me

Is it a love song, a stalk song, a song about unrequited love?

Rule The World
It’s 30 Seconds To Mars but with Dee Snider singing. Because of it, the song has an attitude that rocks.

With hands held high, we can rule the world

It’s a call to arms to the rock heads and the metal heads to all join together and rule the world again.

We’re Not Gonna Take It
I’m not gonna take this version at all.

Crazy For Nothing
This song is a cross between Foo Fighters and what Sixx AM are trying to do.

What’s the use of trying if your only gonna shut me down?

We overthink a lot and it stops us from trying.

This is a great song, a cross between Imagine Dragons and Thirty Seconds To Mars and it has a lyric that has so much truth in it.

It’s the worse when you lose when you know how hard you tried

I remember I once went to a football trial to get into a rep team. I played out of my skin, every pass found a player, I overlapped, I underlapped, I pressed and won the ball back. And I wasn’t picked. And I was gutted for the first time. I had failed before many times, but in those times I knew I didn’t do my best. But on that day, I tried my hardest, I stood up to be counted and I didn’t get noticed.

But I never stopped trying and I kept building my experiences.

Head Like A Hole
I never really got into NIN.

Is this song a departure? It sounds like those songs the kids mime to on Musicly.

There aint nobody better than you
Got to fight and make your dreams come true
Don’t let em hold you down try an push you around
Because you got something to prove

I don’t know who wrote all of the songs on the album as Spotify doesn’t mention any credits. Regardless if Damon Ranger wrote it, it’s classic Dee Snider. It’s been his message all along and a perfect example

Raise your voice and let the whole world know

Dee Snider raised his voice against censorship in 1985. Now in 2016, he is raising his voice for better payment rates for musicians.

So What
It’s the emotion that gets me. It kicks off with an acoustic guitar and a classic Dee Snider vocal delivery.

“Middle fingers in the air, singing we don’t f….. care, when we say “So What”.

A fitting farewell message.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

\::/ \::/ \::/

By the start of the 80’s, the recording business was putting its dollars into new wave and releasing “hits” made by a committee of songwriters. On the odd occasions, a band would come from left field and have a “hit”. It’s hard for people to believe this in 2016, but all of the great Seventies bands had more or less finished up.

Aerosmith was a shadow of itself, Bad Company was on its last legs, Led Zeppelin was no more, The Eagles fractured, Alice Cooper gave in to his nightmares, Kiss was fading and the graveyard list just goes on and on.

And then the revolution slowly started. 1980 gave us “Heaven And Hell” from Black Sabbath, “Iron Maiden” by Iron Maiden, “British Steel” by Judas Priest, “Blizzard Of Ozz” by Ozzy and “Back In Black” by AC/DC. 1981 gave us “Killers” by Iron Maiden, “Point Of Entry” by Judas Priest, “Diary Of A Madman” by Ozzy, “Too Fast For Love” by Motley Crue and “Mob Rules” by Black Sabbath. 1982 gave us “The Number Of The Beast” by Iron Maiden and “Screaming For Vengeance” by Judas Priest.

And then heavy metal came to the masses and wiped all styles off the map. Bands with roots who didn’t care about convention and the establishments. Bands who refined their sounds away from the mainstream without interference from know it all A&R reps. Bands who delivered songs with an honesty and angst that was undeniable.

And overnight the youth switched allegiances. We found new leaders in artists and music. MTV brought those leaders into our TV rooms. We finally had artists speaking some truth. Opportunities were slim and the odds were really stacked against us. We all wanted something to believe in and heavy metal/hard rock became our religion.

And when thrash metal came smashing through the boundaries and lunacy had found me. The words of anger and unrest got turned up even more.

Remember the truth?

That’s why certain artists became so big. Not because they were the best musicians or their records had the best sound. They spoke a truth that resonated.

And we all knew the truth. Our lives being controlled by the establishments, but we didn’t dare say it. So we persisted to live in a fake land. Fake, because, we all swore in reality, but on TV it was beeped out. We saw violence daily, but on the news, the pictures are blurred and classed as distressing. We knew the game was rigged, but we still played in it anyway. Why do you think cable TV become popular. It was a step towards common sense.

So “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” resonated. Same deal with “You Got Another Thing Coming” and “Livin After Midnight” from Judas Priest. “Cum On Feel The Noize” exploded. “Fight For Your Rights” from Beastie Boys was written as a parody to heavy metal music, but it became a hit because of its message. “Shout At The Devil” and “Smokin In The Boys Room” by Motley Crue connected. “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne told us life is not easy. “Seek And Destroy” by Metallica made us want to break stuff or each other.

We needed heroes. We needed leaders. Heavy metal artists spoke for the underclass and the repressed. We felt like we could take over the world and for a brief commercial period, we did just that. Actually, recent research has shown how heavy metal listeners have risen to positions of power in corporations and governments.

But as it the beast got bigger, we started picking sides. Black metal over thrash metal. Death metal over heavy metal. Heavy rock over hard rock. Metallica over Bon Jovi.

And then Grunge came to save us from our distress. Suddenly our leaders had no record deals. Judas Priest fractured by the start of the 90’s. So did Motley Crue. Bon Jovi took a break. Guns N Roses was on its last legs. Black Sabbath tried to roll again with Dio. Ozzy toured under “No More Tours”. And from those ashes, Metallica was there to capitalise. At exactly the right time, they released a sonic behemoth with the “Black” album and it was the lyrics of James Hetfield that people connected with. His anger at his Mum’s beliefs in “The God That Failed”, his anger at his childhood in “The Unforgiven” and heartbreak in “Nothing Else Matters”. Added to that a scorched earth marketing blitz and in 2016, we have the highest selling Soundscan album.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Storm Within

“When we were making this album a lot of these relationship issues were going on around me; people losing a partner or a loved one and grieving. The Storm Within is about a search for identity, trying to make yourself full when you feel half empty, and I placed that storyline in an interstellar world.”
Tom Englund – Evergrey 

Before I left Australia, I pre-ordered the CD via Amazon. And of course, the album came out while I was in a country where I couldn’t obtain it legally. So I went to the pirate sites and downloaded it.

What else could I do?

I couldn’t wait.

Does that justify downloading the album illegally?

Of course not, but if I could have purchased it legally at the time I would have, even if that meant having two copies of the album.

And people need to understand, all we care about is where can I find the music, in a fast, convenient and cheap way. I am listening to the album on Spotify non-stop in Australia and the CD is still in its wrapping, a collector’s item.

Evergrey is one of those bands that connects musically and lyrically with me. Vocalist/Guitarist and founder, Tom Englund has a unique voice and his vocal phrasing is different to the normal progressive melodic metal singers who are either David Coverdale, Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford. And for 20 years, Englund has kept Evergrey going, building on the loyal following, one fan at a time.

Dissonant piano chords start this song off. When the syncopated guitars, bass and drums kick under a math rock vibe, I’m ready to break stuff. Then the vocal melody kicks in and those same dissonant piano chords are back.

Distance is taking me to new places.

It was the second song written for the album and the vibe of the song caught the attention of the band. Along with the song “Disconnect”, the tone and feel of the album was set in stone. According to vocalist and guitarist Tom Englund, the desolation inspiration came from a French electronic band called “M83”.

It’s not over
We’ll soon be closer than before
Can’t let this distance
Keep our destined souls apart

Relationships are difficult to maintain. Our needs change as we get older. Our tastes change. Pressures of family and work lead to further changes and suddenly those promises of being together forever seem so far away.

And that math rock desolate dissonant vibe is hooking me in even more. Of course it had to be a Swedish band that commercialised math metal.

So many times when I was misunderstood
I just wish we had spoken so much sooner

Life is funny in hindsight and sometimes painful to replay. We all would love to live with no “what if’s” however it never happens that way.

“Passing Through”
It was one of the last songs written for the album.

According to the Spotify commentary, the inspiration came from guitarist Henrik Danhage. It was he who came up with a guitar melody that was then converted into the main keyboard melody during the intro.

The label heads wanted this to be the first single from the album. To me it’s a straightforward rock song with some power metal vibes incorporated and a pretty cool listen.

Ten years from now I’ll watch from far away
Ten years from now I might have found my way
Ten years from now I’ll see through different eyes
Better, wiser and not as blind

There is a reason why artists normally produce their best works after they have experienced life, the highs and the lows. One thing that’s certain is ten years from now we are wiser and not as blind. It doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes, far from it. It just means we don’t have that same innocence of our youth.

I always looked for acceptance
I understood what it’s like to be different

Growing up I was looking for acceptance from my peers about how cool I was. To show how cool I was, I wrote a letter on behalf of my father that demanded his son be demoted to the lower classes, so I could be with my friends. Looking back, it was the dumbest decision I ever did, however I was so cool to do it, because I didn’t want to be called a nerd. While the majority of people grinded away in high school to get into a good college/university, I did the opposite. And those same friends I wanted acceptance from are nowhere to be seen in my life right now.

Then I finished school and entered the workforce and I’m looking for acceptance from my bosses or workmates. And then I got married and I’m meeting new people and looking for acceptance from those people.

For Evergrey, they are still looking for acceptance. Even though they are 20 years into their career, they are still a fringe artist when it comes to the mainstream, making a living from the loyal cult like following of their fans.

The main riff is written by drummer Jonas Eklund and how good is it. At first Jonas drums it exactly the same as the riff and then he goes into overdrive with a build that leads into the verses.

The lyrics ask the question if you had a chance to do certain things the same way, would you.

I was once like you
Used to be like you
Embrace the same horizons
And shared the setting suns

Tom Englund always grabs me and pulls me down the rabbit hole with his lyrics. It’s like those words came from me. I remember

The chorus was taken from an old Tom Englund song and the key change from the verse to the chorus almost killed the song off. With toil came great reward.

This is not for me
I can’t persist or breathe that which poisons me

The moment when you have to move on and break away from a relationship, a job or some other event that was bringing you down. It’s not an easy decision to make and some people never make it, until it’s too late. The unknown terrifies us and it takes courage to break away from toxic situations.

“The Impossible”
It’s mellow and calm and it originated from a Rikard Zander piano riff.

I’ve been watching from the outside
Dying to be on the inside
It’s colder and it’s freezing
While you’re asking the impossible
Because it’s impossible
To be this alone

And there you have it, the difference between eras. Growing up, with so little information, we believed everything was possible to achieve. Now with all the information at our fingertips, I can see the disillusionment. We worry about a terror attack, we worry about the lack of job security, we worry about our children not being able to afford to purchase a house, we worry about repaying our credit cards and in general we think more negative thoughts then positive ones. But, we still have hope that things will be better, but we are more cautious.

“My Allied Ocean”
The heaviest song on the album and written by the band on tour while in Bratislava, Slovenia. It shows the “in your face” vibe that Evergrey are capable off as a unit.

And there’s nowhere to turn
At the end of the road, I can’t hold on

The end of the road has many meanings. Literally it means the place where the road stops, however it also means death. And people don’t talk about it in a meaningful way. It’s our greatest taboo in 2016, in the same way sex was.

“In Orbit”
Nightwish’s Floor Jansen contributes guest vocals. Keyboardist Rikard Zander was the fuse that kicked this song into motion and it’s one of their most streamed songs on Spotify from the new album. It’s got that symphonic Within Temptation groove and it rocks.

I run, but not getting closer

There is always something in our lives that is elusive. A goal or a dream that is hard to attain, but we still strive for it.

Evergrey songs are not on the radio. Their name was driven by the fans. Adoption was driven by word of mouth. This song is very radio friendly but in 2016 what is the point of trying to get a song on radio, when you have the internet.

“The Lonely Monarch”
According to the Spotify commentary, the song was originally called “Moonchild” because the main riff sounded like “Moonchild” from Iron Maiden. The construction of the song came from the various jam sessions the guys did in the rehearsal room.

It’s written across the sky, it’s clear for all to see
That it’s not you, it’s only me who keeps us from falling down

We see ourselves in the songs and world we live in. It’s why we keep listening. Owning my f ups, it’s a hard thing to do and it takes time. Sometimes years. And in that time, a lot of things could happen, especially if people start to abandon you.

“The Paradox Of The Flame”
Englund’s wife Carina contributes guest vocals.

So here we are
I understand our intentions are different

Life teaches me that situations are always evolving and relationships (friends, love, work) are one of those cradle to the grave life lessons. And as the years go on our goals and intentions change. That favourite movie from 20 years ago is not so funny to one person anymore. That favourite band from the past is causing division right now.

Then you have kids and your lives depart even more. Sometimes the departure is so great there is nothing that can save the relationship.

How cool is the effect where Floor Jansen does symphonic vocals and it’s blended the keyboards.

If this is all I have now
Then I need to disconnect now
I never meant to be indifferent
Never wanted you to feel irrelevant
You were never insignificant

How good is Floor’s symphonic vocal, especially the vocal that cuts in at the 3 minute mark. Isn’t that the power of music?

It then leads into a guitar solo, then an Iron Maiden like section that morphs into a “Learning To Live” like section from Dream Theater and into another guitar solo. At this stage I’m ready to crack my work desk in half from the emotions the music evokes.

“The Storm Within”
The atmospheric epic title track.

It’s more about the feel than the hook. Evergrey is shutting the door on the album, having said what they needed to say. As soon as the song blasts through the headphones I am hooked by the vibe. It’s about mood, the song is reflective.

According to the Spotify commentary, bass player, Johan Niemann was very influential in the writing of the song and it’s really beautiful music captured within a time limit. According to the Spotify commentary, Jonah had to catch the train back home and they had two hours before he left.

How many people dreamt that a life in a band with a record label, would involve catching a train to and from the rehearsal space?

It’s a tough business.

The lyrics are about celebrating the life you have with someone.

It is dark I can hear the crows
And the autumn leaves falls and falls
Trees asleep still stretch for the sky
They belong to me, they stretch for us you see

The scene is set.

If all were just dreams we’d be safe
But we’re all just pale prints of passed days

Life is fleeting and our life footprints do not last forever.

And I know I’d heal better, if I’d surrender to feel

It’s the whole, “we can’t do it alone” vibe. I feel like Emperor Palpatine telling Luke to surrender to his feelings and give in to his hate.

And we wrote life as it passed
As nothing else could matter at all

Having the courage to live without a safety net.

How cool is the keyboard melody? It’s in the background and then from 4.30 minutes to the end it’s closing the song. And it’s a perfect closer, because it makes me want to press play again to hear the whole album again.

In a world where nobody cares about a bands new stuff, Evergrey are far removed from that view. People go to their shows to hear the new album, as well as the old stuff. And let this be a lesson to all wannabe musicians, you can have a career in the music business and still live in obscurity or in some cases poverty.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Metallica – A Lot Has Changed Since 2008.

Seduced by fame
A moth into the flame

I have been listening to “Moth Into Flame” on Spotify daily. I must say it’s one of the their best songs written since we entered the 2000’s. The structure of the song, the brilliant intro, the lyrics, the barking verses and the melodic chorus all stand out.

All for publicity
Destruction going viral

It could be about anyone in the entertainment business. Hell, it could be about Metallica’s Napster lawsuit.

For “Hardwired… To Self Destruct”, I like the lyrical message and the story behind the title more than the song in itself.

“Fifteen years ago, when you put out a record, there was a particular way that you did everything. Now it’s just whatever works for you. We’re in the process of putting a new record out this fall, and we’re just doing whatever we feel is right. There’s no particular way that it should be.”
Lars Ulrich – METALLICA

The last time Metallica released an album was in 2008. First week sales of “Death Magnetic” in the U.S market topped half a million units. But back then, streaming didn’t exist in the U.S market. It also didn’t exist in the major European and Asian markets. Now streaming makes up a large portion of the record label revenue however the price points are still debated. The customer has the option to purchase an album digitally, purchase the album on vinyl or CD, subscribe to a paid streaming service, subscribe to Spotify’s free tier or illegally download the album for free. Depending on the country you are in, the price points range from $0 USD to $10 USD.

As the Forbes article states, there is no alternative price in between even though research has shown that a $4.99 USD monthly subscription fee would convert the 60 million free tier streaming users into paid users.

What is better for the recording industry, 30 million users paying $9.99 USD a month or 90 million users paying $4.99 USD a month?

Do the math.

30 million paying users at $9.99 = $299,700,000

90 million paying users at $4.99 = $449,100,000

Metallica are masters of their own destiny, masters of their own recordings. For them, they do not have the high risk unknown that other labels have. They do not spend close to 20% of their revenue on artist development. They can negotiate their own streaming rate with Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon and Google. But they still do it the old way, taking time out to write and record 10 plus songs for a release. They will still judge this album on amount sold, instead of the amount streamed.

The article at Forbes, states what the record labels of the future would look like in six bullet points and one of the points is an artist-run record label.

Metallica own their masters. With the help of their management team, they have set up their own label. This gives the band negotiating power and it allows them to monetise their masters for the best price possible. Spotify has Metallica on it and it was on Metallica’s terms. You don’t hear Metallica complaining about the lack of money given to them by streaming services. Actually Kirk “I need a wah wah pedal for leads” Hammett might complain.

“Back in the day when Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning approached the music industry with a little baby they had called Napster, and the music industry refused to entertain any kind of deal with them on any level. Instead they open-sourced it to the world, and that changed the face of music. And so the industry’s reluctance to go with technology back in the day is something that we’re all, unfortunately, suffering from to this very day. Thankfully, the industry has seen the error of their ways, and they are embracing digital and technology on an unprecedented level, and we’re going through an adjustment period. It’ll take time.”
Dan Draiman – DISTURBED 

Instead of working with Napster, the recording industry got Lars Ulrich on board and went to war against the consumers of music. But in 2016, the recording industry is at another crossroad. It needs to decide on a price point for streaming that converts the 60 million plus free users into paid users. But the record labels want an increase in the current $9.99 price point. As far as the labels are concerned, it needs to be more.

Music, My Stories

That’s What The Success Made Me

Do you reckon Jon Bon Jovi’s debut as a wedding singer recently would ever be forgotten?

Maybe in a pre-Internet world, but not in the current copy society we live in. Hell, the viral wedding singer clip could be the biggest news item from the Bon Jovi brand in 2016, if no new album was expected to drop this year.

On the one hand, I feel sorry for him. He wasn’t there to sing. He was there to celebrate a wedding and the amateur wedding band singer crossed a line. If you tried to script the awkwardness, you couldn’t.

But on the other hand, these types of privacy invasions come with the territory of being famous. And we all want some fame and recognition. The motive of the amateur wedding band singer is to be famous and well-known. Who better to use as your muse than Jon Bon Jovi.

For Bon Jovi (the band), the last album “What About Now” came out in March 8, 2013 and the biggest news item around that album was the departure of Richie Sambora. Gone are the days of “You Give Love A Bad Name” exploding out of car radios in the 80’s and in, are the days of the story, the controversy, especially when the recording business is saturated with new music and we, the listeners cannot decide what to give our listening time too.

It’s the story that gets traction. Why do you think Game of Thrones is the biggest thing on Earth?

The mainstream press hailed “What About Now” and it’s Number 1 debut. Of course they would as they got paid a lot by the record label promotions team. But six weeks later, the album didn’t exist on the charts anymore. The speed at which listeners move on to other things is astonishing. But, the super fans lap everything up, but a lot of listeners would check something out for nostalgic reasons.

Hell, when “Burning Bridges” came out, the biggest story around the release was the goodbye message to the record label. Then there was the other story about how Richie Sambora is being written out of Bon Jovi’s songwriting history.

So what should we expect from Bon Jovi in 2016, without Richie Sambora?

I hope it’s not another One Direction themed album like “What About Now”. The album did have some moments like “That’s What The Water Made Me”, but overall, the songs should have been given to younger artists to record and release. It’s out of touch for the “older” Jovi fan base to sink their teeth into and it just wasn’t good enough to convert younger fans to the band. However, the earlier 80’s and 90’s material is still doing a good job at converting new fans.

In the promotion interviews for the new album, JBJ has stated that he has nothing left to prove, but he has a lot to say. From the new tracks released so far, “Born Again Tomorrow” is the best by far but heavily clichéd in self-help/philosophical quotes. “Labour Of Love” is garbage, “This House Is Not For Sale” has potential and “Knockout” is a good song that should have been given to a younger artist to record.  

 If you were born again tomorrow,
Would you live your life like yesterday?
If you were born again tomorrow,
I wouldn’t live my life any other way!

If a person who has no attachments, no children and on the edges of depression was asked the question the chorus asks, you would get a different answer to Bon Jovi’s answer. For me, a father of three, I wouldn’t change a thing. The butterfly effect would come into play and I wouldn’t have the children I have.

You learn from your mistakes
Bones grow stronger where they break

We do learn from our mistakes and trust me when I say it; the bones don’t grow stronger where they break. There is a painful scar in the corners of the mind that always replays when you feel like crap and as you get older the breaks start to hurt as early arthritis sets in.

Every day I wake up with my back against the wall
Anytime you get up someone wants to see you fall
If you’re afraid to lose it all, you’re never gonna win

In “Knockout”, JBJ gets personal but keeps it generalised. Dylan once sang, “He is who not busy living is busy dying” and some of the best advice I got was when you feel like your life is comfortable and your cruising at 80km/per hour, it’s time to do something outside your comfort zone and hit the gas.

Did you really live your life
Or did it pass you by?

In my Eastern Europe travels, a lot of citizens felt like they didn’t really live their lives to the fullest and that opportunities passed them by. When you see the lines on their faces, the backs hunched from overwork, fingers deformed or missing from work accidents, you understand that it wasn’t easy for them. But it is not easy in the U.S or Australia. We all work long hours and most of us have two jobs, rushing from place A to place B for our families and when we get some free time we try to go on holiday. Provided the stress doesn’t lead to arguments and arguments don’t lead to a breakdown in communication.

But for Jovi, it looks like his career lays in politics. From Christie to the Clintons, to playing private gigs for politicians and corporations, he’s all over it. He’s been a politician since 2004. And with his popularity, you would expect him to be voted in seamlessly. But man, he has said some dumb things in the past that I don’t agree with, like Steve Jobs killing the music business. Then again, so do all politicians. It’s all water under the bridge for them.

My Stories


I reckon if Yugoslavia stayed in-tact, it would be a European powerhouse today. It was well on its way before the civil war in the 90’s. Instead of one country, Europe now has Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia as separate countries. And none of them can ever come close to the power that Yugoslavia had as a country. As part of my European holiday, Macedonia was a place I visited and stayed in for 4 weeks. Afterwards, I did Barcelona and Mallorca in Spain, Marseille in France and the Cinque Terre Coast, the Amalfi Coast and Rome in Italy.

But this post is about Macedonia.

The kingdom is ransacked, the jewels all taken back
“Clampdown” from The Clash

After the First and Second Balkan Wars booted the Ottoman Empire out of the Balkans, Tsarist Russia demanded that Macedonia be broken up into three parts as it didn’t want a Macedonian identity so close to its borders. Eventually, one part was given to Greece, one to Bulgaria and one to Serbia. Bulgaria was not happy with the spoils of war and went to war against its allies for a larger piece of Macedonia. But by then, all of the riches got taken to Istanbul.

And since then, the Macedonia that exists as a country today is known as The Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia by some or Macedonia by others.

The country has a population of about 2 million. It’s hard to know the exact number because the last census was held in 2002 and back then some issues came about. The Albanian Macedonian’s either refused to participate, or complained that the line of questioning was too personal and their answers could be used for the wrong reasons in the future. And history in the Balkans has shown that old grudges and past wrongs always come back to haunt. Plus, the census took place after an Albanian Macedonian uprising was defeated.

The current government is the VMRO party. The party leader was the leader of Macedonia, however due to some tapes and questionable dealings, he is now just the “party leader” and another member of his party leads the country. Seriously, this doesn’t make sense to me at all. Surely the party leader is also the leader of the country. But this is the Balkans.

Brussels sends millions of Euro into the country. Roads are getting built and agriculture is prospering, however there is an uneasy feeling that a lot of Ministers and their underlings are pocketing a lot in the process. Euro inspectors are always questioning the lack of “work” compared to the monies/grants “given”. And the opposition party, SDS, is not really that much better. To add further complexity, people’s careers are tied to the ruling party. When the SDS party was in power, SDS supporters held all of the well-paying jobs. As soon as VMRO came in power, the SDS workers got sacked and replaced with VMRO supporters. This is a general Eastern European problem.

But putting Government politics aside, the country is unbelievable. The history and the places to see are very well worth it.

You have Struga and Ohrid, two cities on the shore of Lake Ohrid. In Ohrid, you will see excavations of a city from Ancient Rome and the Byzantine times. On the way to Sveti Naum, you will see a reconstructed city on water. Leaving Ohrid to Bitola, you will pass the rotten egg smell of the Kosel Volcano. Driving to the monastery of Sveti Jovan Bigorski, you take the winding mountain roads past Debar and are wowed by some unbelievable scenery.

In Bitola, you will see how strong the Ottoman influence was over the country and excavations in Bukovo unearthed the Ancient Rome settlement of Heraclea.

In Radozda and Kalista, you have the cave churches, created as a way to keep their Orthodox faith in hiding from the ruling powers of the era. Religion is big in Macedonia. There are so many churches for such a small land area, it’s not even funny. The city of Ohrid alone has a tourist book on sale that shows you the 365 churches around Ohrid for each day of the year. And that’s just one city. It goes to show how much power, religion has over the masses. And Macedonia has Orthodox Christians and Muslims, in other words a Balkan volcano ready to explode. But for the people of the area, let’s hope it remains dormant.

For expenses, one Australian dollar buys you 40 to 42 denari. One Euro buys you 60 to 62 denari. One American dollar buys you 55 to 57 denari. When you take into account that a 500ml bottle of alcohol costs 50 denari, a packet of cigarettes costs 68 denari and a kilo of tomatoes costs 40 denari, you can see how cheap it is to be there.

You cannot walk into a record shop and buy a CD of an artist. There are none. The ones that exists are all copies, downloaded by someone and put to CD. So downloading music illegally is huge. There is no Spotify or Apple Music or Amazon. Google Play exists, however it has no traction there and no one is going to pay for it, when the majority of Balkan artists are not even on it and for the English speaking artists, they are just a few clicks away on the pirate sites.

For an artist to sell CD’s, they have them at their concerts. When I got to Macedonia, the Ohrid Calling Festival was in progress. Al Di Meola was on the bill and the closer was Prodigy. From the stories I heard, 15,000 plus tickets were sold however that figure cannot be verified. But, there is money in live music and let’s hope the artists are fairly compensated by the promoters.

For Government meddling, a copyright dispute was brewing while we holidayed.

You see, in Macedonia, they had only one music copyright collection agency called ZAMP.

First, the Culture Ministry reduced the rate at which broadcasters had to pay ZAMP. Then the Culture Ministry granted a licence to a newly formed entity called SOKOM MAP. ZAMP believe it’s a ploy by the Government to get their hands on money meant for the artist so they banned the music of its 6,000 members from being broadcast in protest. Regardless of what ZAMP believes, I agree with what the Techdirt article states;

“ZAMP took a dispute over how much money it got to collect as the only collection group in the country and managed to reduce that amount of money to absolutely zero by banning that music from broadcasts entirely. Seems like a recipe for new legislation that will further neuter ZAMP, as one imagines the artists it represents will be screaming bloody murder any moment now.”

Nothing like Balkan politics in music. ZAMP had a monopoly and the Government decided to create another entity of its own and get some of that royalty money pie. And how is this helping the artists of Macedonia. It’s all about lining the pockets of people who contribute nothing to culture and music in general.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Some Unsung Modern Rock (otherwise known as Hard Rock) Heroes

Hard rock and heavy bands are plentiful and with so many bands around it’s tough for an act to be rise above the noise. Especially since the internet revolution leveled the playing field. Suddenly every person with a guitar can record and release music. And then we had thousands upon thousands of artists releasing music. And if an artist can’t get their songs heard, is it the fault of the world, the music business or their music’s fault!

Lately I have been going nuts on the Swedish Heavy Rock scene but the U.S has also given me a few favourites over the last 8 years or so.

Better Days – Another Lost Year
Their new album “Alien Architect” hit Spotify a few weeks ago, which I need to sink my teeth into. But I’m going back to 2012 on this one.

“Better Days” is the title track of the debut released on Megaforce Records and it’s not on Spotify. Go figure.

“I will move on to better days”

It don’t matter how bad a situation gets, we always have that resilience that if we get through it, we can get through anything.

Another Lost Year hails from North Carolina. Lead vocalist Clinton Cunanan formed the band around 2010, as a solo project. Eventually it turned into a full band project. Lyrically, you will hear a massive Aaron Lewis (Staind lead vocalist) presence.

Get Thru This – Art Of Dying
The song is from “Vices and Virtues” released in 2011. Even though it’s from a different band, it continues the theme of “moving on to better days”.

The song is undeniable.

If I can get through this
I can get through anything

That’s the catchcry in this song. It’s simple and effective.

Art of Dying hail from Canada and are fronted by Jonny Hetherington. His story is one of resilience and perseverance. As the lyrics state, if he can through a situation, he can get through anything.

Tomorrow’s my reason for today to let go

If there is no tomorrow, there is no future. The band is 12 years old. You don’t get to double-digits by giving up, because as Brent Smith from Shinedown stated recently, there is more negativity than positivity in the music business.

“There’s always twists and turns, and you’ve gotta learn how to be as positive as you can be, because the industry can be really, really negative”.

The biggest struggle in any band is to keep all band members on the same page. Each member has a different definition of success. You have doors slammed in your face. It leads to arguments. It takes a lot of money and time to record an album. It leads to more arguments, especially if the contributions are not equal. Then the songwriting and publishing leads to more arguments.

Art Of Dying have their niche.

How big is it?

Only time will tell.

True Faith – Anew Revolution
It’s a cover from New Order and I believe it was on their “Brotherhood” album released in 1986. This version sounds wicked and it appears on the album “Rise” released in 2008.

I used to think that the day would never come
I’d see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near

The ode to heroin use.

Anew Revolution hail from Austin, Texas and formed by ex-members of Unloco (vocalist Joey Duenas) and Slaves On Dope (bassist Frank Salvaggio and drummer Rob Urbani). All three guys are record label veterans.

Unloco was formed by Joey Duenas in 2000 and the band was signed to Madonna’s Maverick Records label. In 2001, the Johnny K produced “Healing” dropped and didn’t sell. According to record label math, no sales = no fans. In 2003, the Andrew Murdock produced “Becoming I” came out and even though the band was on a lot of high-profile tours, the album failed to meet record label expectations.

Meanwhile, Slaves on Dope was formed in 1993 and it wasn’t until 1999 that they got a record deal on the Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne label Divine Recordings. In 2000, “Inches from the Mainline” came out however Divine Recordings lost their distribution deal and suddenly the band had no label. Eventually the guys got another deal with Bieler Bros. Records and the second album “Metafour” came out in 2003. A year later, the vocalist departed and the rest is history.

So in 2005, Anew Revolution released a five-track self-released EP. In 2007, they signed a deal with Koch Records. “Rise” comes out in 2008. In 2010, “iMerica“ is released via E1 Music. In 2012 and without a label again, they started a Kickstarter campaign to finance a new studio album. They asked for $3K and got over $5K. Tracks written for the album were sent to the Kickstarter backers, however up until now, no new album has surfaced.

Angels – Another Lost Year
This is a fantastic ballad. One of those, should have, would have, could have been a hit. But it wasn’t. Megaforce had no idea what to do with the album.

The road is long and hard


But there’s nothing on your face
Just the pain of memories
When all of the walls you built fall down
Feels like there’s no one around
I will be there until the angels take your place

When it all goes to shit, we are looking for that lifeline.

On the 2nd verse there is a female singer from New Zealand called Lish that does a fantastic job and gives the song a major boost.

Head Against The Wall – Anew Revolution
It’s from the album “iAmerica” album released in 2010.

I keep banging my head against this wall

Life feels like that sometimes. A good situation leads to a bad situation and suddenly you feel like you are back at the start.

No matter what I do
No matter what I say
It’s like I’m fighting for nothing

Life is all about highs and lows, motorways and dead ends. That fight for nothing, always leads to something.

I burn my tongue to hold every word I am thinking

We fall into popular hive mind thinking. Society has conditioned us. Our Universities are factories, giving us degrees to find employment, when once upon a time, higher education was to expand your horizons and innovate. So we hold our tongue, afraid to speak our mind, because our views are not what the majority of our friends hold and not what our degree factories have taught us. We don’t want to be alienated. We all want to be loved.

Beautiful – Anew Revolution
This one is from the “Rise” album, released in 2008. The intro starts to rock when the heavy guitars kick in. One guitarist plays power chords while the other plays octaves.

They told me I need to take heartbreak
But who needs more heartache
I’m gonna feel like shit no matter what

Truth. When a relationship breaks down, a heart ache is a unquantified feeling quoted from books and lyrics but feeling like shit is real. You know the feeling, when you don’t want to face people, you don’t want to get out of bed and those friends you had have chosen sides.

War On The Inside – Another Lost Year
It was released as a single and it’s the only song from the “Better Days” album to be on Spotify. Vocalist Clinton Cunanan recounted the following in a 2012 interview with 

“My mom had died two and a half years ago and she had been dead about a year when I wrote “War On The Inside.” I just remember being in a really dark place. I had this idea to write and I kind of felt that either way I went was life altering. You know, once I made that choice there was no turning back. And that was kind of my way of, kind of my therapy for it I guess.”

And one of the lyrics that has remained with me, is;

There is no one around this time

For some reason, every time you need to make a life altering decision, you are always on your own. There is no shining light, no helping hand, no spiritual guide.

All these voices calling my name
Keep reminding me of all of this pain
I’m stuck here out on this ledge
Can you save me tonight from the war on the inside

The angst of the modern world. While I grew up shouting I wanna rock at the devil, the modern world grew up with themes that the thrash bands of the 80’s wrote about. And even though thrash and death metal music had themes of depression and suicide, it wasn’t until the Seattle change and the monster Black album that these themes became mainstream.


Let Go – Anew Revolution
And if I let go,
will you let go of me?
Cause I can’t keep holding on.
I’ve given everything
and if I let go
Know that you can’t hold on
You can’t hold on to me

He’s not sure to let go of the relationship in case the other side wants to hold on, because a part of him wants to hold on as well.

Saddest Song – Anew Revolution
And all you are, are to me.
The saddest song that I’ll ever sing.
And all you are, are to me.
The saddest song.
The saddest thing.

When it all breaks down, the memories and the music you shared takes on a different tone. Suddenly that song you loved together is not happy anymore.

I Will Be There – Art Of Dying
I will be there
to watch you grow, to let you know somebody cares
I will be there
to love you when nothing works and no one cares

As a father, words I live and swear by towards my children. There is no greater gift in life than your own blood.