A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

A Small Amount of Too Much with Dream Theater, Bon Jovi and Metallica

“A small amount of too much spoils the whole thing.”

Ever had a feeling when you are at a gig, hearing the songs you like, enjoying the moment and then you just don’t want to hear anymore, you are looking at your watch, thinking that you should leave to go home. That is the quirky relationship between the rock n roll show and its fans. Depending on the band, sometimes 90 minutes is enough and 2 hours is too much.

I watched Dream Theater in Australia on the Systematic Chaos tour and they played for three hours (with an intermission of about 10 minutes in between). For some reason that was just perfect, however when I saw them again on the Black Clouds and Silver Linings Tour, they played just over 2 hours and it was too much. Put that down to the two things, hitting the same market too quickly and the flow of the set list.

The 2009 show took place almost 12 months since the 2008 show. Remember the quote, a small amount of too much spoils the whole thing. I remember them doing Solitary Shell with extended solos. It is not the strongest song in the Dream Theater catalogue, so what happens when you take a song that isn’t your best and make it longer? You get a yawn fest, a toilet break or a beer/smoke break.

Jon Bon Jovi has a big X on his name for treating Bon Jovi fans to a Kings of Suburbia beach party. A 2 hour show, where 1 hour was spent playing cover songs. Nice one. It’s obvious that Jon Bon Jovi didn’t get the memo. The fans want Richie Sambora back and they want him back now. Otherwise, change the name of the concert experience to Jon Bon Jovi and the Kings of Suburbia. Another point to note, a lot of the Bon Jovi memorabilia has the image of Jon Bon Jovi only. Sure, the band is called Bon Jovi, however as far as I am aware it still is a band. So where are the other members of the band on the memorabilia.

Richie Sambora was the person that Jon Bon Jovi could count on, regardless of what Jon says in the media. Richie was the one who was always there when Jon decided he wanted to be a rock star again. Richie always took a step back when Jon wanted to be a sitcom star or a movie star. Richie was the one that delivered a signature riff or a signature song, because the fact is Jon Bon Jovi cant.

FACT: it was Richie Sambora that wrote the majority of the music on Livin On A Prayer, and he was the one that went into bat for the song, when Jon wanted it off the album.

Go on YouTube and give Richie’s new song a listen. It’s called Come Back As Me. Who do you think Richie is referencing, when he sings, “What do you want me to say, I gave you everything I could give, but everything just wasn’t enough, so I just let live and live”. This is the kind of music an artist creates when they are not thinking about how many copies the song will sell. It is honest and heartfelt. Immediately, it makes a connection.

The song is a hundred times better than the songs that came out on What About Now. Since Richie only has five song writing credits on this album, you might as well call What About Now a Jon Bon Jovi solo album. Billy Falcon and John Shanks wrote the majority of the songs with Jon Bon Jovi.

Remember a small amount of too much spoils the whole thing.

Do we need a live album from Metallica of songs? They can call it a soundtrack or whatever they like. It’s still a live album. Remember that they released four DVD packages of Live Concerts during the Death Magnetic tour, as well as the Six Feet Down Under EP’s plus all the stuff they release on Live Metallica.

Do we need a Man Of Steel sequel that is going to include Batman? What a stupid decision. The thought of having Superman and Batman in the same movie is ridiculous to me. What the hell can Batman offer over Superman? Superman is the super man whereas Batman is just a bloke with gadgets.

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A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Undeniable Greatness with Metallica and Dream Theater

You are a teenager and starting a band. What do you have that could bring you untold fame and riches?

Life is your art right. It forms the basis of the songs that you write. The personal experiences from your life form the themes. So the saying goes, you need to have lived to create everlasting art. So if your definition of success depends upon becoming a household name in the quickest time possible, you’re going to waste a lot of time being frustrated.

The winners that win, do so because they outlast the competition. Metallica isn’t on top at the moment because they were better than everybody else. The same goes for Motley Crue. Both bands outlasted their competition.

What happened to Raven, the band that Metallica opened up for before Kill Em All was released? Even though bands like Slayer, Exodus and Anthrax are still around, they have never done the numbers that Metallica has done.

Anthrax had too many changes and they didn’t have that singer in Belladonna and Bush that could relate to the audience. Exodus didn’t really rate, while Slayer and Megadeth forged out a sustainable career on the back of the Metallica steam train.

Metallica
The best work for me is Ride The Lightning. For others it is Master of Puppets. For others it is the Black album. For this case study, let’s use the sales statistic, so that would mean the Black album is their best work.

The Black album was written in 1990 and released in 1991. James Hetfield, the main song writing force in the band was 27 years old in 1990. Lars Ulrich was also 27. Bob Rock, the producer was 36. The point here is that the people involved in the creation of this masterpiece have lived and experienced.

James, Lars and Kirk Hammet lived through a bus crash, which claimed the life of their band mate and main musical muse Cliff Burton.

Bob Rock by 1991 had worked on numerous big sellers, so he knew what it took to get the best out of the band. Watch the Classic Albums documentary and see how Bob Rock pushed Kirk Hammet to record that classic guitar solo in The Unforgiven.

Some say that Metallica sold out with the Black album, however it is as brutal as all the other Metallica albums that came before it. For all the haters, I dare them to point to any other album as heavy as the Black album that was riding high on the charts.

Forget about the single cuts like Enter Sandman, Sad But True, Wherever I May Roam and Nothing Else Matters. You need to dig deeper to hear the quality. Through The Never is a classic cut from the Master of Puppets era, as well as My Friend of Misery (that has similarities to the Orion breakdown). The best songs by far on the Black album is Holier Than Thou and The God That Failed. While one is classic speed metal in the Judas Priest vein, The God That Failed is the mainstreams introduction to groove metal, a term that Pantera would make famous with A Vulgar Display of Power.

The Black album desensitised everyone and set a standard of heaviness for bands like Korn, White Zombie, Disturbed, Alice In Chains, Rage Against The Machine, Tool, Nine Inch Nails and Ministry to step in and desensitise us some more. It opened the door to bands like Pantera to enter the mainstream.

Dream Theater
The breakthrough album for Dream Theater is Images and Words. Petrucci, Myung and Moore wrote it between the ages of 22 and 24 during the dark days of the vocalist search. The album came out when they were 25 years old. Another Day was written about John Petrucci’s father, who was diagnosed with cancer. Take The Time was written as their struggle at finding a new vocalist and always having to start from scratch when they failed. The music was more mature and better orchestrated. Personality sells. When Dream Theater released Images and Words, they didn’t bland their material to make it more relatable.

Then just when you thought that Dream Theater would go all mainstream, they shook things up again with Metropolis II. In the same way that 2112 from Rush laid the groundwork for what was to come for Rush, Metropolis II did the same thing for Dream Theater. It returned their core Images and Words audience and introduced the band to a large seventies era progressive rock fan base.

The next breakthrough album for Dream Theater was the heavy Train Of Thought. If there was any casual metal fan that was sitting on the sideline, this album made them commit. Of course Dream Theater always had metal styles in their music, however Train of Thought was all metal.

The recent promotion on the new Dream Theater album has the usual spin about Grammy nominated band and so on. Yep getting nominated is cool, however it doesn’t ensure long term success. Dream Theater built themselves away from the mainstream. They figured out what worked for them and what didn’t away from the mainstream, until they became so good it was undeniable. That is what will sell the band over and over again. That undeniable greatness.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Where are the new Classic Rock heroes?

The main classic rock bands were all about individuality. The Eagles, Boston, Styx, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Rush, Bad Company, Foreigner, Aerosmith and Cheap Trick all had a unique sound. 

The Eighties gave us Metallica, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, U2, Duran Duran, AC/DC, Journey, Whitesnake, Van Halen (and yes i know that some of these bands formed in the seventies), Aerosmith again and Foreigner.

Look at the list, Metallica played fast speed metal that was labelled thrash, Motley Crue played a hybrid version of pop, punk, rock and metal. Van Halen wrote the book on the nuclear band, Guns N Roses rewrote the seventies classic rock period with a dash of punk and Def Leppard merged Queen, with Bowie with Mott The Hoople with their NWOBM leanings into a pop rock format. Each band spawned thousands of imitators.

Today, all the young bands want to be a member of the same club. Metalcore is one club that is completing suicide on itself. Each year, thousands of bands come out that sound the same as the original bands that came before it.

Modern Rock is another genre that is suffering from over saturation. Where is the uniqueness. The reason why Imagine Dragons are at the top of the food chain is that they had that uniqueness that separated them from the pack.

What is the difference between Pop Evil, Young Guns, You Me At Six, The New Black, The Maine, Tango Down, Smile Empty Soul, Red Line Chemistry, Redlight King, Pillar, Plan Three, Projected, Nonpoint, Three Doors Down, My Darkest Days, Rev Theory, Three Days Grace, Eye Empire, Egypt Central, Emphatic and so on? Absolutely nothing is the answer.

All the young uns want is to be a member of the club however individuality is the key to creating everlasting art. Don’t shun your individuality. Dream Theater stayed true to themselves at a time when grunge, industrial and nu metal ruled the mainstream. Tool came through on their terms and in the words of Frank Sinatra, they did it their way.

Today’s world has everybody Tweeting and Facebooking just to be liked. Where is the edge of the Classic Rock era?

Dave Mustaine and Ted Nugent have an opinion and everyone has a knee-jerk reaction to it.

Rolling Stone is coping a lot of flak for their cover of the Boston Bomber. What did the outburst of David Draiman or Nikki Sixx or any other celebrity that wanted to join the anti-Rolling Stone club do to change the matter? Nothing.

If anything they brought more attention to the Rolling Stone article. It’s the Streisand Effect all over again. However at least they are going out there and stating an opinion. Did anyone come out and say that the Rolling Stone cover was cool?

Magazines like artists live in the culture of being paid right now. Do the people that work for Rolling Stone magazine care if the magazine is still around in 12 months’ time? Of course not. They will dust themselves off and get another job.

Everybody’s got their own agenda. When I read a tweet or a post from a celebrity, I evaluate where they are coming from as opposed to accepting it as truth. Has anyone seen a news story that says piracy doesn’t hurt sales?

A lot of research has come out from various Universities that support this argument. Instead we get the RIAA/MPAA piracy stats banded about on major television, with no information as to where those numbers come from. Why? The major televisions are owned by the giant copyright monopoly organisations.

Another important distinction from today’s artists and the Classic Rock era artists is that no one can say no to the money. Rush could have recorded a mainstream radio friendly album in 1976 just to please the record label. Instead they recorded 2112, an album that set up a very lucrative future for Rush and an album that made the record label very nervous when they heard it. As guitarist Alex Lifeson has stated in numerous interviews, 2112 set up a career for Rush.

Egypt Central wanted to be a member of the Modern Rock club and have disbanded. Three Days Grace were a member of the Modern Rock club and lost their vocalist with the parting words that the recording industry just want hits and push artists to write songs in that vein. My Darkest Days and Rev Theory are all modern rockers and they have lost their lead guitarists, which are normally significant songwriters.

Remember, individuality is the key. How good is Machine Head, since they broke away from following the trends that the label used to push on them. Since 2003, they have gone from strength to strength. 

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories

Revisionist History when it comes to Metallica

Kill Em All, Metallica’s first album is celebrating 30 years this month. It was released in July 25, 1983. At the time of its release it didn’t really set the world on fire, however if you look at the reviews and praises the album is getting now, it is like the album came out and created a movement called thrash metal right off the bat.

Let’s put into context the lifespan of Kill Em All. It came out on July 25, 1983. By February 1984, seven months since Kill Em All was released, Metallica was in the studio, writing and recording the Ride The Lightning album. The victory lap of Kill Em All was seven months. That’s it. If the band wanted to have a career, they needed to get back into the studio and record a new album.

Of course when the 1991 Black album exploded, new fans started to dig deep and purchase the bands older material. It is for this reason that the bands older catalogue from Kill Em All to Justice started to get RIAA certifications.

Kill Em All finally reached U.S sales of 3 million units in 1999. That pales in comparison to the Ride The Lightning and Master of Puppets albums which have moved over 6 million units in the U.S alone by 2012. The ..And Justice for All album has moved over 8 million copies in the U.S and the Metallica black album is pushing close to 17 million units sold in the U.S alone by the close of 2012.

As a Metallica fan, the Kill Em All album is not a bad album. It is a product of its time and its era. However in 1983, heavy metal and hard rock music was becoming a force to be reckoned with. So by 1983 standards, Kill Em All was up against some hard competition.

Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Def Leppard had break through albums with Shout At The Devil, You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll and Pyromania.

Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and Dio had new bands and you can call their 1983 releases as comeback albums. Bark At The Moon showcases Jake E.Lee, Lick It Up showcased Vinnie Vincent and Holy Diver showcases Vivian Campbell. In relation to Dio he was continuing his upward trajectory that started with Rainbow, then continued with Black Sabbath and now with his solo band.

ZZ Top hit the mainstream with Eliminator.

Iron Maiden followed up the breakthrough success of their 1982 album, The Number of The Beast with Piece of Mind.

Quiet Riot had a number one album on the back of the Randy Rhoads back story and connection with the band, a cover of Slade’s – Cum on Feel The Noize and a catchy original called Bang Your Head, which was perfect for the time.

Judas Priest was also riding high on the charts and selling well from a 1982 release called Screaming For Vengeance.

Going back to Metallica, the RNR history is written by the winners. Since Metallica is now inducted into the Hall of Fame, everyone that can put fingers to letters on a keyboard is rewriting their back story. Bands like Quiet Riot will be written out. Artists like Vinnie Vincent and Jake E.Lee will be forgotten by the clueless revisionists. The impact of other bands will be diminished because Metallica won.

Is anyone talking about Judas Priest and their impact to the American metal scene? Quiet Riot’s Metal Health was the first American heavy metal debut album to ever reach No. 1 in the United States on the Billboard album charts.

History is written by the winners.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

So What! Is Through The Never About? – Metallica

I am watching the preview to the new Metallica movie, Through The Never. So what is the movie about. It’s a half concert, half feature film.

Nimrod Antal is the writer and the director. If you have seen the movies Vacancy and Predators, you would know his style. Antal and Metallica got together to formulate a plot and structure around a set list of songs that involves classics like “Battery,” “The Memory Remains,” “Nothing Else Matters,” “Master of Puppets” and “Enter Sandman”. Basically, the 14 songs used for the live performance have been arranged in a away, that forms a concept story. Instead of releasing the concept story in an album format, it will be released in a movie format.

Going back to the footage, Trip (actor Dane Dehaan from Chronicle fame) is sent out on an urgent mission for the band. He needs to find a Metallica truck that is out of gas and needs to return a valuable item back to the band. He gets into a car crash (Nothing Else Matters or Frantic), when the van he is driving gets hit by an out of control driver. To me it looks like the car crash opens the doorway to an alternate reality which is a violent apocalyptic world, hence the title of the movie “Through The Never”.

The footage shows Trip, climbing out of his van, dazed, bruised and caught in between a clash between cops and rioters (Battery). It shows him being pursued by a masked man on horseback (The Four Horseman) who delivers deathblows to rioters and cops.

Lars Ulrich, in previous press interviews of the movie said that the Metallica movie is a Metallica show that involves Metallica and a separate story arc (that doesn’t involve Metallica) and that story unfolds in a parallel universe. At some point in the movie the two stories intertwine.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Dream Theater – Three Webisodes In and Still No New Musical Snippets

Okay let me get this out in the open. I am a massive Dream Theater fan and as a guitarist a huge John Petrucci fan. However, after watching three webisodes of the new album process, were are the snippets of new music. Each webisode has music from DT’s past. While that is cool as an introduction, I am sure they can throw in a 5 second instrumental passage or a vocal line from a song.

It’s all talk at the moment and with the new album scheduled to drop in about six weeks, I think it’s time they do some walk. Let’s hear a song. Let’s hear 5 second passages of other songs on the next webisode.

Let’s get a track by track breakdown of each song, talk about the lyrics and the story behind the song, the compositions, show some snippets of the songs being recorded. Let us super fans dig deeper into the back stories. Do some of the riffs come from the past and which ones were written during the tour. We want to know. The people are commenting the same. We want to hear some clips, even if its Mangini drumming to intricate music that we cannot hear.

We get the marketing B.S. It is the best album you have created, Mangini is unleashed, it will make a definitive DT statement, it will showcase the level that the Mangini version of DT is at, its got a 20 minute epic and so forth.

You are preaching to the converted. We are fans. Hard core ones at that. We would not expect anything less than quality from DT.

Sack your marketing team. The fans are your marketing team. Give us what we need and we will spread the word for you. We will get you to number 1 if that is what DT desires. The expensive marketeers that DT has behind the scenes believe in smoke and mirrors.

With each webisode release, DT is missing out on opportunities to connect on a grand scale. Look at the YouTube stats. The first webisode had close to 200,000 views, the second webisode has approx. 91,000 views and the third webisode approx. 84,000 views. If anything, as the release date approaches, the views of each webisode should increase.

Now imagine if the webisodes had clips of musical pieces (hell it could be musical pieces from a song that got cut out for some reason), imagine all the reposts and re-tweets these YouTube webisodes would have had. In the end, DT is trying to get the message out that they have a new album coming. The core fan base know that. Now it is time to give the tools to the core fans, give us the snippets and we will spread it even further.

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Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

What is going on in Australia?

I’m trying to figure it out. Corporations and Unions run this country. The Courts have been compromised by money. The mainstream media is all about half-truths and likes. No one reports with any substance or an opinion anymore. The Labor Party has knifed themselves into oblivion, deciding in house what the people of the country desire, by throwing out people elected Prime Ministers on two occasions.

Game Of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world, with Australia leading the way. Why? Unless you pay $300 to $500 to Foxtel/Austar to have a PAY TV subscription, you can’t really watch it.

Everyone is talking about the opportunities that the Internet has given people. An artist puts up their music on Spotify and YouTube. They talk about it, post about it and tweet about it. They think the people are paying attention. They are delusional. The Web is all about sell. They are competing with billions of sellers for the attention of millions of payers. The math don’t add up. As for those people who think they have a career making money from Google Ad’s, they are also delusional.

Everyone starts off with a dream to do something that matters, however, as they grow up, we all fall into the trap of being too busy trying to be rich. There is a change coming. As much as we have celebrated the fall of the old gatekeepers like the Record Labels, the Publishers and the Movie Studio’s, new gatekeepers are starting to rise. Facebook, Google, Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, Spotify, Reddit, YouTube, Twitter. All of them are gaining power. Will they be tempted enough to turn to the dark side the way Anakin Skywalker did.

A term that is always banded about, is that the youth are inheriting the earth. They are so computer literate, that they are going to build a new world that will level the old world.

What kind of new world will emerge? One that is embedded with social media, where a person’s status is assessed on the number of friends they have and where they check in from.

One thing is certain, the Global Financial Crisis showed how skewed our ideals have become, and a new discontent has risen from it.

As the lyrics from Do Me A Favor, (Stone Sour) say, I am the anti-everything man, a scab on the lips of the lord.

It is the information age. So much information is out there, we don’t know who to believe and who to trust. Everyone is pushing their own agenda, hence the reason why we are lashing out. We are sick of all the corruption that goes on behind closed doors.

Another lyric from Do Me A Favor is the ignoring your history is killing your past line. It looks like no one is learning from the past. Have we learned anything from the GFC. Hell no, that is old news. We are back chasing the pot of gold.

In the House of Gold and Bones story arc, the character of Alan, is this snake like person, that creates a sense of negativity and distrust to the main character. Transpose Alan with any corporation or money hungry backstabbing friend and you can see why this country needs a reset.

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