My Stories

Parenting 

I like to think I am good at making decisions in life, but to be honest, I am pretty bad and I’m sure a lot of others are as well, especially when it comes down to deciding among multiple options. Maybe I am getting better at it with age, who knows. But one thing I am sure off is I try my best to make the best decision based on the information I have at that point in time. And for some reason it’s easy to make a decision that involves me, but when it involves my children, it’s hard. Actually it’s pretty god damn hard because I am making a decision for someone else’s future.

Ideally it would be great if kids could make their own decisions from multiple options, but according to adults, kids are not capable. Maybe the kids are good at making the correct decision because they don’t over analyse a situation the way adults do.

I am always on my kids’ case about poor judgement or a poor decision. And it upsets me. I feel like the Douglas C. Neirdemayer character in “Animal House” and the Twisted Sister clips. It feels like it’s only a matter of time before my kids rise up and tell me “we’re not gonna take it”.

So what went wrong?

Why did I become the parent that I so didn’t want to be?

Why did I breach my own standards?

How did I fall to the dark side?

It’s funny how the pressures of life outside the family home get vented in the family home. The stress of keeping a job to pay for the mortgage and bills, well the kids cop it. The stress of the workplace, the kids also cop it. I feel like crap even typing this. I purchased them iPads, PS4’s Xbox, Nintendo and what not and then yell at them when they use these tools constantly.

Is their homework done?

Have they read?

Have they done this or that?

Seriously.. Should I expect them to be more responsible?

I had parents that didn’t care about my schooling or even ask me if I did my homework. I think by them not caring, it gave me a certain responsibility to care about myself when it came to school and life in general. But I cannot be like that with my kids. I care too much. I want to know what’s happening. It’s a vicious world we live in and society is a dog eat dog vacuum. Knowledge is power and I want my kids to be armed with it.

So I need to get my act together and change my style. Because the yelling parent is the one I don’t want to be. I asked my kids if I am constantly on their case and they didn’t answer me. I guess they didn’t hear me, because their attention is taking up by the black mirrors on their laps.

Erghhhhh.

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Music, My Stories

Metal T Shirts

My five year old had to draw his family in kindy class. In the drawing he had me drawn with a black T-shirt and black shorts. You see, that’s the way my five year old has seen me for his whole life. It’s my look. 

When they say “Take the Black” in Game of Thrones, a metal/rock head says, “pffft, we’ve already done that”. All though I’ve morphed to plain black tees as I get older, I still break out the metal and rock t-shirts now and then.

And as I was looking at my five year old’s drawing, I came across a Twitter post from Dee Snider about the “sickening trend” of non-metal fans wearing vintage metal T-shirts without embracing the music. And I smiled. Even though the world is going all nuclear, warmer and what not, we need to discuss metal T shirt wearing by non-metal heads.

Why?

Because wearing a metal t-shirt once upon a time showed you to be a member of the tribe. A lot of fights happened against the very people who try to look like us today.

And then “SixxSense” picked up Dee’s comments and then “Spin” and then “Time” and suddenly his post to his Twitter followers is getting bigger and bigger. 

And Dee said he doesn’t like how these people cherry pick what they want from the metal culture. In most cases it’s the T-shirts or the devil horns and very rarely the actual music itself. So what do the Spin and Time posts do, they cherry pick what they want from Dee’s tweets for click bait advertising. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before Blabbermouth, Ultimate Guitar or Loudwire do the same. 

Heavy metal is a lifestyle, we live it, we listen to it and we breathe it. Sure we don’t always wear metal t-shirts, but when we wear them there is a story to be told about the t-shirt, the tour, the album and what not. It’s not a fashion statement.

When I first got together with my wife to be, she had dance music playing in the car. I asked her if she had anything else. The answer was no. I asked her if she would be okay if I introduced some additional music. She said okay. The next day, I had the rock and metal tapes ready for indoctrination. At first it was the more commercial sounding rock and metal. The day after that the dance tapes ended up in a draw in my room. It was many years later that she asked what happened to those tapes. I said I threw em. And that was that. 

\::/

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Releases 

Just put out the damn album. 

When we laid out cash for the 10 to 15 albums we used to buy a year, we had time to digest and live with the music for a long time. So back then we would endure the two month hype run and sales would keep the LP going for a while. But the old hype model doesn’t work anymore. People seem to forget it’s called the music business, not the hype business.

The 8 week lead up to the release is extensive especially when the LP run could be over in a month after it’s released. The first week sales while they might look great on paper are irrelevant. Check the second week streaming numbers. Then the third, then the fourth and so on. Those numbers will show you if the fans care for the music or if only the press (that your marketing team has paid to promote your product) cares.

And people will complain about streaming revenue and how it doesn’t pay enough. Control your rights, have a song that people connect with and you will be paid well and forever.

That’s right. YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music will pay forever. Isn’t that better than the one off transaction between the record store and the fan. That fan could have purchased the album, taken it home, played it once and traded it. Maybe that fan played the album a million times. You as an artist wouldn’t know that behaviour. 

But with streaming you will know how many times fans are streaming your music and from what cities and states they are from.

The truth is today’s hit artists will be paid by streaming services forever and this is a good thing. Data tells us what’s hot and what’s not.

And like it or not, it’s always been about the hits. To me a hit isn’t the song that takes the number 1 slot on a chart.

“Fear Of The Dark” or “Hallowed Be Thy Name” or “Creeping Death” or “Fade To Black” or “Master Of Puppets” didn’t set the charts alight but the fans made those songs hit’s, especially with the sing along guitar harmonies of the Maiden tunes. They are songs that connected and spread like wildfire amongst the fan base.

We don’t live in 1989, where mediocre stuff on the radio gets some traction because of the marketing/hype dollars invested into the promotion. We live in the era of connectivity and virality and hits and streaming that pays forever.

But you need to release a continuous stream of product to win.

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Release Day Friday

What a release day October 20 2017 is turning out be. Apart from the normal 2 hour release radar playlist, these albums also dropped in their entirety.

Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence

This was the first cab of the rank on Spotify and on the few listens I gave it before I moved on to Europe, the 7min “The Revanchist” is my clear favourite, especially the section from 4.38, that reminds of the Maiden “Somewhere” and “Seventh Son” albums. “Betrayer” also has a very Maiden sounding Chorus and a sing along guitar harmony. “Other Worlds” has the same commercial feel from “Until the World Goes Cold”.

The one thing that stood out for me on tracks like “Beyond Oblivion” and “The Sin and The Sentence” is the T-1000 drummer. The amount of drummers Trivium have gone through is going onto Spinal Tap proportions but with Alex Bent pounding the skins, maybe they’ve found their guy.

But in the end, there is a lot of Maiden like passages and feel throughout the songs and I dig. \::/

Europe – Walk the Earth

Europe is always at its creative best when they are left to their own devices to write what they want. That’s what got them signed in the first place and that’s what gave them their first number one album. But like everything that becomes popular, record label honcho’s believe they know better and start to hijack the creative process which culminated in a 12 month song writing process for the “Prisoners in Paradise” album which more or less ended the band.

But they returned in the early 2000’s, on their own terms and in charge of their own career and copyrights.

And 15 years later, they are still continuing on, releasing new music along the way. “Walk The Earth” continues to show their 70’s roots. All the songs sound epic and exotic. If you are looking for another anthem like “Rock the Night”, “Superstitious” or “The Final Countdown”, you will not find it on this album. If you want to hear a band jamming on all cylinders and having fun, then you will enjoy this album.

Sons of Apollo – Psychotic SymphonyThis is pretty good and no matter how proggy it gets, Jeff Scott Soto’s voice brings it back to reality with his Dio/hard rock style phrasing. In the end each song has this epic 70’s vibe.

“Coming Home” was already well known to me as I played it to death. “God of the Sun” is classic prog and a great album opener. “Alive” is one of those slower tempo songs that connects lyrically and when it ends I feel the need to press repeat. And then you have “Labyrinth”.

What can I say?

You need to listen to it and enjoy the combination of Portnoy, Sheehan, Bumblefoot, Sherinian and Soto. It works well and it rocks hard. \::/

Revolution Saints – Light In The Dark

It’s a fucking good album. A real good melodic rock album. The song “Freedom” is just one of those tracks you will press repeat over and over again. 

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Tribute

It’s my bible.

I played the cassette tape to death trying to learn every riff and lick. And when I couldn’t pick it all up, I shelled out $50 on Wolf Marshal’s transcription of the “Tribute” album and I spent a lot of hours woodshedding to it. Even though Ozzy re-cut his vocals for the release there is no denying Randy Rhoads and his love for his instrument. The way he re-imagines his multi-layered guitar riffs from the studio versions and turns it all into one definitive guitar cut is brilliant. For any guitarist, new or old, this is it. It gets no better than this.

I Don’t Know

The “A” pedal point riff in the intro is an example of effective simplicity that Randy flourishes with harmonic pinches, artificial harmonics, legato licks and whammy bar dives.

Crazy Train

The demonic scary F#m intro merges into an A major trippy/happy major key verse before it morphs back into the minor key for the pre-chorus and chorus. How can you not like it?

And then you have that logically laid out, super melodic and shred happy solo section. What more can be said?

Listen and enjoy and play air guitar.

Believer

The bass line is hypnotic and sets the tone for RR to colour and decorate.

Mr Crowley

This is the first song I got stuck into. It has two shred leads and the way Randy combined those guitar lines into one definitive track for the “was he polemically” section is brilliant. 

Then the outro lead is just one of those songs within a song lead breaks.

Flying High Again

The AC/DC style groove allows Randy to flourish the spaces with trills and little licks. Again the solo section is one of those lead breaks that just blows you away.

Revelation (Mother Earth)

The finger picked part at the start is breathtaking, the interlude is subdued and relaxing but that outro is breathless. And the live tempo is much better than the studio tempo. 

Steal Away The Night

I love the intro riff and how the outro of Revelation (Mother Earth) transitions into this song. Unfortunately I can’t say the same thing for drum solos or guitar solos just on their own. I would rather hear those things along with music. John Petrucci on the live Budokan album nails it with his extended guitar solo as part of “Hollow Years” song.

Suicide Solution

The riff and the groove just nails it for me, plus the lyrics from Daisley about Ozzy’s addictions are brilliant. Again, would have loved to hear Randy solo while the band played the main riff of “Suicide” instead of being on his own.

Iron Man

Would you believe that the first time I heard these Sabbath song’s is via Ozzy?

Children Of The Grave

After “Mr Crowley” this was the next song I needed to devour. I loved the way Randy plays the riff in C#m on the 5th string. That’s how I learned this song. It wasn’t until many years later I heard the Sabbath version and Iommi is down tuned to C#. I must say, I love the tempo of this live version. 

And that outro improv lead is brilliant especially when Randy starts to reference Ace ala “Love Gun”.

Paranoid

Again, Randy goes to town on the lead and he fills the spaces of the main riff with trills and licks. Brilliant improv.

Goodbye To Romance

The piece d’resistance in guitar playing. The jazz like chords in the verses, the arpeggio chorus riff and that guitar solo.

No Bone Movies

For a last minute addition to the album, the song rocks hard in a live setting. It’s sleazy and perfect for the era.

The album ends with some outtakes of Randy playing his acoustic instrumental “Dee”.

These day’s guitarists can do unbelievable and very advanced things on the guitar but none of them have the magic and song sense of Randy Rhoads.

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Rock and Metal School

My kids have been watching “School Of Rock” and “The Pick Of Destiny” on and off over the last few months, so here is my \::/ salute to Jack Black for spreading his love of rock and heavy metal to the masses.

The movies capture what rock and roll is all about;

  • going against the grain, 
  • breaking rules set by the institutions/parents and having fun along the way. 

And it’s a far cry from the rest of the world. We have people betraying each other for cash. We have companies treating their employees as costs to be minimised instead of assets. We have people causing chaos in the name of religion. We have musicians complaining about Spotify without realizing that if they have a song that captures people’s attention, Spotify will pay you forever.

The thing that keeps rock and metal alive is our ethos. We are the outsiders. We share our stories and we care, so when society takes up arms against us, we come together. And what keeps us together is the music. The sounds of the distorted guitars, the chaotic drums, the galloping grooves and the soaring melodies which filled up our bedrooms. You couldn’t help but smile. Rock and metal music made life worth living.

Remember when Led Zeppelin was seen as a heavy metal band while Black Sabbath was at the extreme end of metal. Today, bands which are considered extreme metal make Sabbath sound like a kids TV show.

But the world changed, so we changed. It stopped being about “us versus them” and it became about who has more. Suddenly our community standards of togetherness started to be violated and we allowed it to happen and failed to change the standards to adapt to an evolving world. But as Def Leppard sang, “Rock of ages, rock of ages, still rolling, keep a rolling, we got the power, got the glory, just say you need it and if you need it, say yeah.”

So much truth in those words and it looks like people today need rock and metal music more than ever. And we have the sounds from the last 40 plus years to study like the Holy Book at our fingertips. And on those days, when the future is uncertain, metal and rock music is the sound we turn to. Rock and metal can save lives; people just need to let it.

It’s a long way to the top if we want to rock and roll. And we all need to begin somewhere and we need someone to believe in us or we’re not going to make it. Because as much as we want to be social creatures, we don’t believe we belong, afraid of saying something that might make us sound dumb or not saying anything at all.

And the truth is rock and metal ran culture. The artists pulled the strings and the public loved it. 

Let’s make sure it will never be forgotten. 

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Movies

My wife really wanted to watch “Baby Driver” when it came out in the cinemas but after I saw the preview, I was a bit sceptical. There was nothing in the preview to entice me to go and watch it. So I did what any male would do, make excuses of being busy because going to the movies costs me a lot. Even though my kids would have no interest in the movie, they would scream and complain to come. As my eldest would say, it’s for the experience. So from buying two tickets, I would need to buy 5 tickets at $17.99 each. Then the kids want popcorn, drinks and my wife wants popcorn and ice cream and suddenly I am out of pocket by $100 plus. However, if I had the option to pay $9.99 and watch the flick at home instead of the cinema, I would have done it straight away.

Anyway, we finally watched “Baby Driver” a few days ago (at home) and it was totally crap. With the rating it has on IMBD and all the critics raving on about it, I expected a lot more even though the previews failed to deliver anything of interest. I know there is a huge car enthusiast market which will dig these kinds of movies, plus there is the anti-superhero market which will give everything else a try that isn’t a DC or Marvel property. “Baby Driver” capitalises on these two markets. But seriously, if “Baby Driver” is seen as a good movie by fans and critics that vote on IMBD, either the;

  • the movie industry is really in trouble or
  • the people who rate movies also have no idea or
  • I have no idea what’s a decent movie anymore

I know, I like a storyline that can be followed, with little backstories here and there that unfold as the main story moves forward. It’s the reason why TV is getting traction. Imagine the Godfather as a HBO show for 7 seasons, producing 10 hours of content each season comparted to the 9 hours of content over 3 movies. Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino are two directors and writers who make great movies with good scripts, great casting, great direction and a story a person can follow and be invested in.

So where are we at with the movie industry?

I hate going to the cinema, to have to deal with crowds, overpriced tickets and food and then have to sit through people talking, whispering or making a racket as they consume their food. While the “magic of film” worked once upon a time, the business model from the 1930’s is still the same. Here it is a nutshell;

  • Studio (via their own monies or investor monies) finances a movie.
  • Studio releases movie to cinemas
  • Studio expects people to line up, purchase a ticket and watch movie in cinema.

It still generates a lot of money for the blockbusters, but imagine how much it will work if people are allowed to watch the movie on the same day it’s released in cinemas at home via a streaming service or a special pay per view. I can hear the chorus of disapproval of how cinemas will shut down and how instead of selling 5 tickets to a movie, a family would pay only once to watch it from home (and there is a high chance they could invite friends and cousins as well).

People watch old movies and listen to old music, but getting these people to consume the new stuff is incredibly difficult, because the providers no longer understand the star system. For a while, the superhero was the franchise however the last few Northern Summer’s proves otherwise.

Everybody’s got a theatre at home and the only reason to go out and watch a flick in cinemas is to just go out, have maybe dinner before it and a few drinks after it. Instant access, in our own home is the new king in town. Netflix knows it and soon they will have the movie that seizes that market.

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