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

It’s Always About The Songs

I am reading an article on Brad Paisley.

When he was asked about why he thinks his popularity resonates so strongly with audiences around the world, Paisley answered with the following:

“It’s always songs.”

He further adds that the minute an artist starts to think it’s them and not the songs they are singing that resonates, it is the moment that they start to think they are larger than life.

We are fans of music. We are attracted to the songs. If that same artist keeps churning out great songs, then we stick around. If they don’t, we go looking for something else.

I got into the band Bon Jovi because of the songs, not because of an individual. Desmond Child and Billy Falcon have co written alot of songs for the band, however their solo careers didn’t get any traction while Jon Bon Jovi’s solo career is a one hit wonder and Richie Sambora’s is aimed at a whole different audience.

I got into Coheed and Cambria because of the Amory Wars story and the songs. If I got into Coheed and Cambria because of an individual, then I would be also listening to all of the side projects.  

When it all comes down to it, the song is the only thing that remains. The top 10 list for my kids are the following songs;

1. Eye Of The Tiger from Survivor
2. Lick It Up from Kiss
3. We’re Not Gonna Take It from Twisted Sister.
4. Livin On A Prayer from Bon Jovi
5. Anyway You Want It from Journey
6. Smoke On The Water from Deep Purple
7. The Final Countdown from Europe
8. We Will Rock You from Queen
9. Back In Black from AC/DC
10. Iron Man from Black Sabbath

The kids of today don’t say the band name, they say the song name. In time the above songs will be covered over and over again, further obscuring, the original writer. All The Young Dudes from Mott The Hoople and originally written by David Bowie, has been covered by Bruce Dickinson, Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Angel, Tesla, The Smashing Pumpkins, Judas Priest and Stone Temple Pilots.

My kids love the song Cum On Feel The Noize. They don’t care which version they hear (Slade or Quiet Riot), they only care about hearing the song. I never went back to hear the original Slade version. I was quite content with the Quiet Riot version.

In the same interview, Paisley talks about some truths in relation to technology.

“It’s a constant challenge to try and get people’s attention,” Paisley said. For instance, he can put a huge amount of effort in a music video (such as his recent “Southern Comfort Zone”), “and then you’re upstaged by ‘David at the Dentist.‘”

This is real life example of an artist and their backers, spending time and money to produce something of decent quality, only to be trumped by a video that cost almost nothing to make.

The record labels whine and complain about piracy, however their real problem is that they do not know how to compete in the market place.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Who is Jon Bon Jovi these days?

What happened along the way? What happened to the 1970’s kid that got fired from his job because he cranked Bruce Springsteen up on the radio?

I am a Bon Jovi fan from their inception. I saw the “Runaway” clip doing the rounds on late night TV. The next single “She Don’t Know Me” did some rounds as well and then it was “In and Out of Love”. Of course when “Slippery When Wet “came out and started moving 700,000 units each month, the Jersey boy went from suburbia to high-class royalty. I always saw Bon Jovi as a band, much the same way I saw Van Halen as a band.

So who is Jon Bon Jovi these days? He is the face of a rock n roll band that has sold millions. He is the reason why Richie Sambora is not it the band? He is the reason why fans at the New York State Fair missed out on a Bon Jovi performance, so that he could play at a Government private fundraiser. He is the reason why Bon Jovi fans, who paid money for a Bon Jovi concert got treated to a beach party Kings of Suburbia show.

Of course Jon Bon Jovi does his bit, donating $1 million to the Sandy relief (monies obtained from his fans), donating to his Soul Foundation (which is again financed by the fans via the fan club) or playing a show in Spain where ticket prices are lowered and in some cases free.

This is Jon Bon Jovi playing to the mainstream press, ticking all the boxes that he is a good guy. Things change. Just because Bon Jovi sold a ton of tickets yesterday, that does not mean he can sell a ton today. Once again, it all comes down to money. Didn’t used to be that way, it used to be about music.

 

First and foremost Jon Bon Jovi is a musician and the current Jon Bon Jovi has forgotten that. These days, he just all about the sell so that he can fund all of his other adventures that have nothing to do with music however he over charges his musical fans in order to fund them. I paid $1000 for 4 tickets to Bon Jovi’s Australian shows and I was really hoping that Richie Sambora will be in town for them, for the reason that I was taking my children and they are fans of Sambora. 

Once upon a time Jon Bon Jovi’s story was not all about the hype and the sell. He failed like all of us before he succeeded. After two Bon Jovi albums that the band worked hard to tour and to promote, he was in debt by half a million to the label and still living in his parents’ house. Things had to change.

The whole reason he started using Desmond Child was to write songs for other artists. He was trying to find another income stream as a song writer. So they wrote and wrote. He then got a top notch production team in Bruce Fairbairn and Bob Rock. They released Slippery When Wet and Bon Jovi had finally become a winner. He then tried to do the same thing with the New Jersey album, however it just wasn’t the same.

Bon Jovi obtained an audience because the band had formed a relationship with the songs. The album was just a format to get the music out there that the Record Labels exploited. The problem with Jon Bon Jovi, is that he believed he gained his audience because of the album. He based his success on the number of albums he sold. He measured his success on the numbers. So what did he do afterwards? He tried to re-write “Slippery When Wet” over and over again, losing that specialness. Relationships are formed on specialness.

Jon Bon Jovi is too far gone at the moment, seduced by the B.S of making money right now instead of making creative everlasting art. The fan base of Bon Jovi was built on the poor, the ones that who couldn’t afford much, the ones that believed in the message of “Livin On A Prayer”. The fan base was never built around the rich who would pay anything. What does this do? It separates the band from the real audience. 

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

Cog

When the History of Australian music is written by the mainstream pop writers, a certain band from Bondi, Sydney called Cog will be forgotten. Seeing the band play live on a lot of occasions, I can say without a doubt, they are one of Australia’s best live bands.

The star of the show without doubt was always Lucius Borich on drums. He rolled and he grooved. The energy he produced on stage, he somehow miraculous transferred over to the audience.

I remember the times when we played with Cog at the Oxford Tavern and UniBar in Wollongong. We all had to load in early as the doors to the venue would shut. (Note: The venue was normally open and entry to watch the live show was free, however when Cog came into town, the venue was turned into a concert hall.)

So we just sat around, drinking beer and watching Lucius sound check. There he is, sound checking the drums, then the guitars and then the bass. The thing that blew me away was the riffs he was playing during the guitar sound checks. At that time, the information doing the rounds on Cog was very vague.

So I had no idea that Lucius was such an accomplished instrumentalist and songwriter. That is why as a drummer he really locks in with the guitar and the bass. That is why his drums move with the peaks and valleys of each song.

No Other Way

What an album track! For an Australian band, it is a ballsy move to open an album with a 10 minute song. The rules are made to be broken and that is what Cog kept on doing with all of their releases. While all their contemporaries went to the hook immediately, Cog took their time to build up to it and when they did, it was well worth the wait. Every time I go back to this song, I keep on hearing little things that I missed with each play before.

Once upon a time albums were not made for radio. Of course, each band had a few songs that could be considered radio friendly, however, the soul of the album was always found by digging deep into the cuts. I remember reading a lot of polarising reviews of the “Sharing Space” album released in 2008, however, if you listen to “No Other Way” and not nod your head, then you must be dead.

Bridges are burning but faces are looking away
People are yearning for someone to show them the way
Tables keep turning and time is the price that we’ll pay
Fast cars and freedom as long as you learn to obey

Fear is the virus they use to divide us
Hoping we’ll all just pretend
That there’s no other way

I remember sitting down to learn this song and I started to break it down into movements. The above lyrics form part of the intro which I call “Movement 1 (0:00 to 2:17)”. It’s got that major chord to minor chord transition and it’s got a melodic hook that draws you in. This is Cog saying to the fans, we are still progressive, we are still mathy, however we are a touch different to what you are used too. This track has melody, it has soul and it has groove.

The subject matter is way understated and so relevant. This is Cog, not playing for a radio hit, but somehow if people stumbled onto it, they would be hooked like it was a radio hit.

Ordered by a god above
To murder in the name of love
And they’ll always claim that truth is on their side

Holding keys to a paradise
All their noise is a lullaby
For years they have ruled over you and I

I called the above, “Movement 2 (2:18 to 3.32)”. Anyone seen the documentary, “Zeitgeist”. It is great viewing. Even Robb Flynn spoke about it recently in one of his journal posts.

Lay down your guns people and start again
And stop digging this hole
Into which we’re all sliding

Screaming down a dead end track
We took a wrong turn now we’re heading back to love
Once this ship has departed
Everyone can feel at home

All invited
Humans undivided
Why not set aside the time to understand your mind

Take it slowly
While facts are showing
Until we’re there
Until we all arrive

I call the above Movement 3 (3:33 to 6:05). People need to listen to each other and take the time to understand each other, instead of talking over each other. “Anybody Listening” from Queensryche, also invokes a similar theme of trying to find a freedom for the soul and to pay attention to what people are saying.

Bridges are burning but faces are looking away
People are yearning for someone to show them the way
Tables keep turning and time is the price that we’ll pay
Fast cars and freedom as long as you learn to obey

Take it slowly
While facts are showing
Until we’re there
Until we all arrive

Fear is the virus they use to divide us
Hoping we’ll all just pretend
That there’s no other way
No other way

I call the above Movement 4 (6:06 to 9.55) – Hearing the melodic hook of the intro sung again over a different chord progression is brilliant.

Are You Interested?

The most famous song off “Sharing Space” is “Are You Interested?” The song embedded itself into the listeners mind and it never left. Producing something magical rarely follows formula. The vocal line of Flynn Gower drives the song.

Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And they’re scanning all their databases
Hunting terrorists
Yes their making lists of people interested in this
And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist

In 2008, Cog sang about how personal privacy is extinct. In 2013, the world is in uproar at the Governments spying on their own citizens.

Four Walls

I am sitting at work listening to “Four Walls” telling myself THIS IS A HIT!. You need to dig down deep into the album to check out “Four Walls” as it is track 12. It’s truly genius, a hooky track based on agoraphobia.

I’m stuck in a space
Four walls
In a room again
But I feel safe
Cause I know, where the end begins

What If

It is the 5/4 timing at the start that hooks me. Again, the vocal line drives the song. It sounds primal and angry. It is almost robotic. It is one of the shorter tracks, however it is still infectious. The song has elements of math rock in it, and in a way the message is one of hope.

What if
In the future
People
Just decided
No more leaders
Fighting to control us

This is Cog offering solutions.

What if
Life was
Just an
Illusion
Made up
By you

We don’t trust our own voice or conscience anymore. We procrastinate and we fail to make important decisions in life. We are fearful of losing what we have, so we over analyse everything to death. So we live a life, that we surround with illusions, just to make us feel better about where we are at in life. I remember this phrase, about proving that a chair exists outside of our mind.

Some things don’t seem right
Change is in sight
Some things are so wrong
Blind eyes too long

It’s like the Queensryche song, “Sign of the Times”, where they ask the question, “Can we do better than this?” The answer is we can, however we have been blinded for so long, we fail to see the wrongs.

Bird Of Feather

This song is dark. It is confrontational.You can hear the anguish in Flynn’s voice at the separation from his three year old daughter and his partner. He was away from them for eight months while he was recording the album in the U.S and then once the album was released, he had to seperate from them again to tour.

 

But I’m only trying to make it better,
Is there no other way,
No other way to go,

Bridging the gap with calling,
Don’t fade away,
Tuning my ears to the sound of your tears,
Is there no other way?

Of course she’s wondering why,
Only three years old,
Dad’s gone again,
Don’t know when,
We’ll all be back home together

Sharing Space

All the faces that we’ve learnt to love
And all the tears we cried when we opened up

I been working, dreaming, wanting something more
And I’m thinking; all this shit I’m doing, what’s it for?

I’m waiting for the day to arrive

They have been writing and touring for years and they have come a long way. They set themselves goals and then complete them. Now they are at a point in their life where they are doing some self-evaluation. They are re-assessing, asking the question why they are together, as life moves so fast, they need to take a pause to absorb it all.

All the fighting, the hurting, the bleeding, the crying
What’s it for?
All the people living, breathing, dying
Wanting more…

For some reason it reminds me of the song, “Promised Land” from Queensryche. Queensryche asks the question, what is success and what is happiness in that song. Does success equal happiness? Our whole society is based on consumption. We are all part of this system, so what’s this life for? Basically all of the ideals our society stands for is a load of crap.

Listening to Cog brings back memories of Tool. Progressive, a bit alternative, a bit rocky, a bit metally, very left of centre, quirky and artistic and in the same way that Tool could cross over with a song like Sober from their album Undertow, Cog do the same with What If?

In the end it just looks like the people that dealt with them, didn’t know what to do with them, how to market them, how to sell them to the public on a world-wide scale. Despite a hard core of die hard fans who purchased every album and went to see the show, the core never really increased.

“Sharing Space” did crossover and the band did see an increase in the fan base during that tour. Maybe they just needed that force of nature personality type, who would not take no for an answer to take them to the next level.

In a country that is infatuated with American Culture and reality TV shows like The Voice, X Factor, Got Talent and Idol, Cog was the antihero to all of this crap.

Cog’s music will endure forever.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Uprising – This Revolution Is Calling For War. The spying on people controversy done in a Rock N Roll way.

As fans of music, we always looked to our heroes and the artists we liked for inspiration. So what would Queensryche say on the current state of the world and the spying on U.S citizens by its own government? The song Speak is from the Operation Mindcrime album, released in 1988.

The rich control the government, the media the law

1988 was a time when hard rock ruled the day, and the bands at the forefront had the whole rock n roll cliché surrounding them. You know the one, party hard, sleep with groupies, trash hotels and eventually get together to perform live and record.

Queensryche on the other hand simmered under the surface, focusing on issues that affected everyone, however at that time in 1988, we were all blind to it.

Revolution Calling led the way with the words;

Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in D.C
It’s just a power mad town

Let’s look at some recent events making the news. Copyright czar, Victoria Espinel, is best known for playing a large role in the SECRET negotiations between Hollywood and the recording industries to punish internet users under a six strikes initiative. She has know taken up a job with one of the groups that used to lobby her office.

Let’s reword the Revolution Calling verse;

Got no love for corruption
As everyone sells their soul in D.C
It’s just a knife in the back town

Later on, Geoff Tate summed up American corruption in Spreading the Disease. In 2013, people actually care, however they should have cared back in 1988.

Religion and sex are power plays,
Manipulate the people for the money they pay.
Selling skin, selling God
The numbers look the same on their credit cards
Politicians say no to drugs
While we pay for wars in South America
Fighting fire with empty words
While the banks get fat and the poor stay poor
And the rich get rich and the cops get paid to look away
As the one percent rules America.

Let’s reword the above lyrics in the following way;

Copyright Infringement is a power play
To shakedown the people and to get them to pay
Lobbying hard, bribing all
As the numbers need to look good on their balance sheets
Politicians say no to piracy
While judges allow copyright trolls to extort
Fighting fire with empty words
While the banks get bailed and the poor stay poor
And the rich get rich and the cops get paid to act for them
As the one percent still rules America

Does anyone remember the shutdown of MegaUpload in January 2012? Yep, the FBI was in charge of the shutdown, based on evidence provided to it by the Hollywood Movie Studios and the MPAA. Talk about cops doing the bidding for the wealthy. Isn’t it funny how Victoria Espinel, now has a job with a lobby group that used to lobby her department!

Another recent event is how a cyber-locker like Hotfile was found to be personally liable for facilitating copyright infringement. In a nutshell a judge in the U.S. Courts, found a business entity that provides a cloud service liable for how users choose to use it. Of course, Hotfile was no saint in this matter, however, what Hotfile did show is that Hollywood still doesn’t get it, when it comes to servicing the people or fans of content.

Finally, Grooveshark has achieved licensing agreements with Sony and EMI. So for years, the record labels pursued them in the courts, while also sending Google millions of takedown requests. A court in Denmark even ordered that the ISP’s block access to Grooveshark. WHY? The site was providing a service to customers by allowing the users to stream and upload music that they can play immediately or add to a playlist. However the record labels wants the music to be licensed, which means that Grooveshark needs to pay a fee. So if you are a user and you have uploaded music that you have purchased legally, why should you need to pay a monthly fee for it to license it.

Makes me think of the excellent Metallica song, Eye of The Beholder from the ..And Justice For All album also released in 1988. It looks like something was afoot around this period, as both Metallica and Queensryche touched on the same subject matter. They even toured together.

Independence limited
Freedom of choice is made for you my friend
Freedom of speech is words that they will bend
Freedom with their exception

The “they” in the song can be the Corporations, the lobby groups, the judges, the government. As Warren Buffett said, the class war is already over and the rich have won. The 1 percent own all the important land and they either own or control the corporations. In the process, they have also purchased the Politicians and the Judges. They also own the big media companies, so they control what news we get. THAT IS WHY they fear the INTERNET. They spend millions on lobbying, so that they get what they want, which is more wealth for them and less for everybody else.

Where is the voice of the people, like the song Vox Populi from 30 Seconds To Mars, that was released on their excellent, This Is War album in 2009.

This is a call to arms
Gather soldiers
Time to go to war
This is a battle song
Brothers and sisters
Time to go to war

And the story ends with the lyrics of Uprising from Muse, that was released on Resistance in 2009. In the same way that Queensryche and Metallica touched on similar themes in 1988, Muse and Thirty Seconds To Mars did the same in 2009.

Rise up and take the power back
It’s time that the fat cats had a heart attack
You know that their time is coming to an end
We have to unify and watch our flag ascend

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

Amen.

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

Cog – Are You Interested? (Classic Song Waiting To Be Discovered)

I just finished reading an article from TorrentFreak about databases that store everything we do online. In light of the N.S.A surveillance scandal in the U.S, it is a timely reminder of issues that should matter to everyone.

On the one hand we have the entertainment companies moaning and complaining about piracy and the need for everyone else to do something for them in order to prop up their dated business models.

On the other hand, we have other IT companies taking up government contracts to COLLECT and STORE data on its own citizens. The observations range from web browsing habits, emails, Facebook activity, phone activities and text messages. All of this totalitarian overheads in the name of democracy and protection.

As I was finishing reading this article, a song from the super excellent Australian band COG came on. The song is called Are You Interested? and it more or less tells the listener that personal privacy in today’s society doesn’t exist. It was released on the excellent Sharing Space album from 2008. I loved this album back in 2008 and five years later I still love it. That to me equals a GREAT album.

I still can’t believe it has been 5 years. I remember watching them at Waves in Wollongong, on the Sharing Space tour.

Cog had their own groove going and a massive big sound for a three-piece. Lucius Borich was on drums, Flynn Gower on guitar and his brother Luke Gower on bass. It is a dead set shame that they never got a higher level of international recognition. I am sure they still had some of their best work to come.

On the album Sharing Space, Cog really went to town on the politics, especially around governments that do the bidding for the Corporations.

Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And they’re scanning all their databases
Hunting terrorists
Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist

So we know that the NSA collects and stores information from U.S. internet and telephone companies. All of the data goes to different data centres. As mentioned in Wired Magazine, these data centres will “intercept, decipher, analyse, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.”

Sure sounds like a big list to me. I am just curious as to how many bad people the NSA/Prism scheme actually captured or prevented from doing anything nasty.

Barcodes and fingerprints
Obedience identikit

It’s like the book 1984. Actually one of my favourite movies, Equilibrium, is influenced by the concepts in 1984. Who is to say that the Government will not expand their data collection to medical data.

Yes, they’re making lists are you interested?
Yes, they’re making lists but maybe they’re the terrorists

It looks like the terrorists have won. America and other “democratic” nations have done a great job of destroying themselves in the aftermath of 9/11. Democracy is now a Police State.

The vocal style of Flynn is so unique, it makes the song remain in my head space for a long time after it is finished.

A bit of back story in relation to Cog. The band I was in during the time period between 2000 and 2004, opened up for Cog. This was the period of the Just Visiting Part 1 and Part 2 EP releases. As a live band, they killed it.

They knew which songs to open a set with so that they could pump everyone up. For the Just Visiting EP’s it was Moshiach, for the New Normal it was Doors and for Sharing Space it was No Other Way.

Another thing they did really well was their light show. For an independent band, they put a lot of effort into their live show. It changed for all three albums;
· Just Visiting had the Chinese lanterns
· The New Normal had the lasers and the spotlights
· Sharing Space had the strobes, traffic light and heater like lights

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

1986 vs 2013

BON JOVI

In 1986, Jon Bon Jovi was all about the music. He was in debt to his record label and still living with his parents. The “band” Bon Jovi released their biggest seller, Slippery When Wet.

Now, Jon Bon Jovi is all about the money. The band Bon Jovi released their biggest dud, in What About Now, Richie Sambora has been booted because of money and Jon Bon Jovi cancelled a New York Fair concert for an intimate Government concert that paid more.

 

BLACK SABBATH/OZZY OSBOURNE

In 1986, Black Sabbath released Seventh Star with Glenn Hughes on vocals and Ozzy Osbourne released The Ultimate Sin.

Seventh Star was originally intended to be the first solo album by Iommi, but due to pressures by Warner Bros. Records and the prompting of band manager Don Arden, the record was billed as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.

The Ultimate Sin featured songwriting contributions from Bob Daisley and Phil Soussan, however due to Sharon Osbourne (Arden) trying to keep as much money as possible in Ozzy’s corner, Bob Daisley was not credited on the initial release and Phil Soussan had an accounting disagreement with Sharon. Everyone got shafted by an Arden.

In 2013, Black Sabbath released 13, their first album with Ozzy since 1978, that also featured the talents of Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk. Bill Ward said he would not participate until he was offered a “signable contract.” One B.W is out and another B.W is in. Again, someone was shafted by an Arden.

RECORD LABELS

The major labels wanted their artists to have careers. They spent a lot of money to convince the public that they should pay attention to their new artist or the latest release of an existing artist.

The marketing was from the label down to the streets. The labels had so much power and they set the bar. Either a band was signed to a label or they didn’t matter. Major labels were plentiful and the most powerful person in the music business was the Record Label head. Artists could live off the money from their record deal as people had to buy the expensive record to listen to it. Because it was expensive, we played it over and over and over again and eventually became a fan.

Now the marketing is from the streets and the record labels want the hit singles. They have shareholders to please, a board to please and all the label heads are interested in bonuses and short term profits. There is no long term vision anymore as the Record Labels do not have the same power.

The major labels have been reduced to 3, with Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.

In 1986, record companies were cool. In 2013, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Facebook, Apple, Samsung, Twitter and Amazon are cool. 

 

LIVE

In 1986, all the acts did the arena and stadium tours because demand was high. If a band opened for a major act, they believed they had made it. The public discovered new acts when those acts opened up for our favourite bands. Look at the list below;

Metallica and Ratt opened up for Ozzy Osbourne.

Anthrax opened up for Metallica.

Marillion opened up for Rush.

 

Loverboy opened up for Van Halen.

King Kobra, White Lion and W.A.S.P opened up for Kiss.

 

W.A.S.P also opened up for Iron Maiden.

Cinderella opened up for Bon Jovi in the U.S and Queensryche opened up for Bon Jovi in Europe.

 

Queensryche also opened up for AC/DC.

Cinderella also opened up for David Lee Roth.

Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger opened up for Journey.

Dokken opened up for Accept.

Keel opened up for Dio.

Krokus opened up for Judas Priest.

Now only the classic rock acts of the Seventies and Eighties can sell out the arenas and the few modern superstars. The majority of acts play the club circuit. If bands have a small hard core fan base, they can raise enough money to make an album and own everything about themselves. No one cares who the opening band is.

RANDY JACKSON

In 1986, he played bass with Journey. He appeared on the Raised on Radio album and also toured with them. People judged him on his abilities.

In 2013, he is a judge on American Idol.

CHARTS

Back in 1986, the charts meant everything and albums sold in double digit millions. Slippery When Wet from Bon Jovi went to Number 1 for 1 week in October and then it re-appeared at number 1 for 7 weeks in 1987.

Now the charts are useless and artists are lucky to sell a million units. There are a few, like Adele that go into double digits. Bon Jovi’s What About Now went to Number 1 for 1 week and it didn’t reappear again.

ANTHEMS OF A GENERATION

In 1986, we had Addicted To Love from Robert Palmer, Sledgehammer from Peter Gabriel, Dreams from Van Halen, Livin On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive from Bon Jovi, Peace Sells from Megadeth, Battery from Metallica, Raining Blood from Slayer and The Final Countdown from Europe.

In 2013, nothing lasts.

THE MUSIC BUSINESS 

In 1986, it was all about the music and if a band was all over traditional media, it meant they had traction and that people would be hearing their music.

Now, our favourite bands are playing to the masses who just don’t care and now it is all about marketing. Look at the marketing campaign for the new Dream Theater album. It looks like the label is trying to monetize every little bit of it. If a band is all over traditional media, it doesn’t mean that they have traction and it doesn’t mean that people have heard their music.

In 1986, everything was expensive and the cost of music was different at every store. Due to the high prices of music, everybody had a little bit of it. We had to buy it to hear it, or we used to tape it of someone who purchased it.

Now, music costs the same everywhere, and it’s cheap and everybody has more than they want. Music is available to hear for free, whether on YouTube or streaming music services like Spotify.

In 1986, albums from our favourite artists would normally come out every two years. Due to this lack of new material, music was scarce, so when we purchased albums we played them to death. We became fans by over playing the music we purchased as it was all about the music.

Now, music is released constantly and it is plentiful. Due to these riches of new material, we don’t spend as much time with the albums we purchased. We become fans by looking for the song that grabs our attention on the first listen.

LADY GAGA

In 1986, Lady Gaga was born. In 2013, Lady Gaga is just Born This Way.

METALLICA

In 1986, Metallica released Master of Puppets and lost bass player Cliff Burton in a bus accident while on tour.

In 2013, Metallica will be released Through The Never a live/concert film and will be losing a lot of money when it doesn’t set the world on fire.

MEGADETH

In 1986, Megadeth released Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying, which in their case, everyone was buying.

In 2013, Megadeth released Supercollider and no one was buying.

KISS

In 1986, Gene Simmons from Kiss produced and co-wrote songs for the Black N Blue album, Nasty Nasty, that had a certain Tommy Thayer on guitars.

In 2013, Kiss released Monster, that has Tommy Thayer on guitars, as well as lead vocals on one song and a major co-writer of material.

STRYPER

In 1986, Stryper released To Hell With The Devil.

In 2013, Styper will release No More Hell To Pay. It looks they still have hell on their minds.

SLAYER

In 1986, Slayer reigned in blood.

In 2013, Jeff Hanneman’s reign ended. RIP.

QUEENSRYCHE

In 1986, Queensryche was one band that released the a superior album in Rage For Order.

In 2013, Queensryche are two seperate bands that ended up releasing two inferior albums in Frequency Unknown(Geoff Tate version) and Queensryche (Todd LaTorre version).

The fans are screaming for order.

CINDERELLA 

In 1986, Cinderella released Night Songs and proved to the world that they are nobody’s fool.

In 2013, Tom Keifer the singer from Cinderella released The Way Life Goes, an album 9 years in the making with a song called Fools Paradise.

VINNIE VINCENT

In 1986, Vinnie Vincent invaded the charts, with a point to prove.

In 2013, Vinnie Vincent is …..

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Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Enigma That Is Vito Bratta – Will He Write New Music?

It’s 1991 and Vito Bratta is doing the rounds for the Mane Attraction album. White
Lion needed Mane Attraction to be rock solid, as the previous effort Big Game was classed as a disappointment by fans and critics. In order to understand the pressure that Vito placed on himself, we need to go back to 1989. This is what Vito Bratta said in the June 1989 issue of Kerrang magazine.

“I hate recording. I can’t stand it. I cant stand the pressures of writing and recording a record. If they told me tomorrow that i was going to go out on tour for fives years, i’d say, fine, i love it. Playing every night is what i love.” 

When Vito did the Eddie Trunk show in 2007, he had this to say about the expectations placed on them by the Record Label;

“So the record company’s saying we need another Pride.  I say, Ok, so what exactly does that mean?  The label goes we need the hit singles… I go listen the songs we gave you, on “Pride” weren’t hit singles written purposely to be to be hit singles. They were just songs that became hit singles and they were just songs we wrote.  Now you’ve got somebody telling you now you have to purposely write a hit single.  Now how do you do that?  How do you purposely write a hit single, I mean there are people out there that do that…”

It is clear that Vito hated this extra pressure layer that now existed in White Lion. So for Mane Attraction, Vito and singer Mike Tramp locked themselves in a small apartment and held marathon writing sessions. The idea was to escape all the distractions of managers, record labels and MTV.

In a Guitar World interview from the June 1991, Brad Tolinski asked Vito if Mane Attraction was difficult to make.

“In a way it was.  It was the first time I ever felt real pressure. When we recorded
our first record, Fight To Survive, we were real naive and just happy to have a deal. Our next record, Pride, was also very relaxed. It was written over a period of three years, so we had plenty of time to compose and experiment. Pride went double platinum, which was both good and bad. When we went to record the follow-up. Big Game, everyone told us, “Don’t worry, whatever you write will sell a million.” 

The feeling was too good on Big Game, and I think the album was soft. There wasn’t
any real fire or hunger on that record. We were playing arenas, getting big checks in the mail, getting calls that we were going platinum, and so on. The vibe was too relaxed and it showed. On top of that, we had convinced ourselves that we had to write hit singles in order to maintain our popularity, and in the end. Big Game was too contrived. It didn’t sell as well as Pride, because people knew something was lacking. It was a valuable lesson to learn. 

White Lion and Dream Theater had similar time frames for their breakthrough second albums. When you have time to fine tune the arrangements without any pressure, greatness will ensure.

So the buzz from Pride is dying down and the label wants another album. They tell the band that whatever they write, it will sell millions. It was a false reality. To me Big Game is a good progression from Pride, however I understand the comments that Vito made about the album and how the songs didn’t translate will in the live arena. In the end, all rock bands are live performers. This is what Vito had to say on the Eddie Trunk show;

““Big Game” was a setback for the Label. It didn’t sell as many. We were doing a headlining tour of Europe by ourselves for the Big Game album and they (the Label) said, “wouldn’t it be great if we played at Wembley with Motley Crue and Skid Row?” 

Skid Row went on and they were just killing the place. And Motley Crue had a great show and here we are sandwiched in between.

We realized, that night, on stage at Wembley that these songs from the Big Game album aren’t translating well in the live show because when you’ve got tens of thousands of angry British rockers out in the audience and if you don’t have a certain type of music; it just wasn’t working. So we all looked at each other on stage and said we need to throw in some of our better stuff in here. I was like what better stuff. We need to write more for who we are because these songs are not translating.  

Then we went back to the States and we told the record label, no more tours on this album.  We are going to do the album that we want to do.  And they said well considering how the last album went, they said “go ahead”.  They gave us unlimited funds.  Mane Attraction was a half a million dollar record.  They just said go and do everything that you want.”  

In the same June 1991, Guitar World interview, Vito goes onto say that the real pressure on Mane Attraction didn’t come from trying to write hit singles, but from wanting to find their original source of motivation and creativity.

“By coincidence we write songs that can be singles, because we’re still big fans of bands like Boston and Journey. But we wanted to let that other side through, the more experimental side that his its roots in music by Robin Trower, Frank Marino and Rush.

Right when we were finishing this album, the record company came to us and said, “Can you guys write another single for us?” Mike and I got so crazy that we wrote “The Warsong,” which is about as far away from a single as you can get. “

Vito put everything he had into Mane Attraction. He believed in it. He created the songs that he wanted to create. He made it clear that the band’s creativity wasn’t stifled in any way by the record label. So when it failed to connect with a large audience, I believe he threw his hands up in the air and just gave up. There was nothing more that he could give.

Going back to Vito’s comment about trying to recapture the original source of motivation and creativity.

When bands come out with ground breaking albums, they do so because of motivation. Motley Crue got sober and detached themselves from the LA scene, by moving to Vancouver. They were motivated to make a big statement. The end result was Dr Feelgood.

Metallica had a reputation as a live band and they were motivated to make an album that captured that live energy. The end result was the biggest Soundscan album.

I am not sure that music is the same if you’re popular. With success and money, comes baggage. The baggage adds an extra layer of pressures.

Music was once everything to Vito and somehow music become a pressurized boiler room that he couldn’t stand anymore.

That is why I don’t believe that Vito will write any new music. 

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