Metal music has its fair share of musicians that are worth talking about. Put it down to the place that metal music holds in society. From Lars Ulrich turning his back on his fans and going into bed with the record labels, to Dave Mustaine’s views on everything American, to Robb Flynn’s blog posts and the hundreds of comments he gets to them.
That is why I love Robb Flynn. He’s real. He’s honest. He’d say shit and people will either go “WTF” or “Yeah, man he’s spot on.” Whether it was saying “that selling CD’s is non-existent” to “feeling depressed in Beneath The Silt post” to “asking fans if they have sex to any Machine Head song or any other metal band for that matter” to his most recent post on “the music business and how much has changed since the Seventies (basically the danger has been taken out and it is all safe”.
Love him or hate him, Robb Flynn has an edge over other musicians and he is using that edge to get people talking about music again. Obviously Robb Flynn is known to people in the niche that Machine Head plays in and when I mention his name to other people that like classic rock bands for example, they look back at me with blank stares.
His latest blog post is all about how music and the artists drove culture. It was about a time when artists had the control to do what they want, how they want and when they want.
What do we have?
We have the people that sell it, complaining that their profits are sinking, while at the same time they feed the coffers of the RIAA to get favourable legislation passed to protect their business models. Then you get all these reports about how much money streaming is bringing in to the labels and artist screaming up and down that they don’t get a decent portion of it.
What about the construction company that had to call it a day, because the builders they contracted work to, went under. By going under, those builders failed to pay the construction company the work they did and by default, they also went under.
But, hey, that’s okay and no protectionist laws are needed because that is the nature of the building game. However the record labels lose money because they failed to innovate and they scream up and down for new laws. The stain that SOPA/PIPA left on the MPAA and the RIAA will never go away. People will remember it.
Music doesn’t need new laws. It needs a new breed of executives. You see, Music is in a transition. A transition from the old to the new. The people currently in charge still don’t get it. The new breed is slowly rising and in time it will filter into the corridors of power. Those kids that pirated their whole music collection, will be in charge of Copyright Law in the not too distant future. Those same kids will be in charge of the music labels. They will have their coding mates in jobs next to them, innovating away.
So what about the old breed?
Metallica previewed a new demo of a song called “The Lords of Summer” and everyone said “What the hell is that?”. You see Metallica just don’t get it. People go to their shows to hear the classics. No one wants new music from them. If they did, the fans would have voted for the new songs at the recent Bogota show.
Look at the set list (I added the year of the album the song was featured on in brackets);
Master of Puppets (1986)
Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (1986)
The Unforgiven (1991)
Lords of Summer (New song / World premiere)
…And Justice for All (1988)
Sad But True (1991)
Fade to Black (1984)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (1984)
Nothing Else Matters (1991)
Enter Sandman (1991)
Creeping Death (1984)
Ride the Lightning (1984)
Seek & Destroy (1983)
See any songs from the last two Metallica albums in the list. Hell, there is only 1 song since 1991. Enough said. They’re an oldies act. The fans had a chance to vote for the set list and they voted for the classics. No one wanted to hear the newer stuff and that includes “The Lords of Summer”.
The only band who are aware of that are Twisted Sister. Apart from the song “30” and the obligatory, Christmas album, they have refused to make new music for decades, because no one wants it. And they know it. Dee Snider has said it, Jay Jay French has said it and Mark Mendoza has said it.
The thing is when bands go in to write new albums, they need to realise that we don’t want the generic song that they think will sell millions. We want the song that the creator needs to write, because if they don’t write it, the apocalypse will come into their world.
This is contrary to Rick Rubin’s methods were he more or less gets bands to rewrite their earlier stuff.
Our lives today are surrounded by great TV shows and technology like Game Of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Grimm, Revolution, Arrow, iPhones, iPads, Tablets, Spotify, YouTube, Facebook, Intenet and so on. Music needs to compete on this playing field. It needs to be just as good and it needs to innovate.
Volbeat is a good example of innovation. Their sound is unique. Look at all the elements in their songs. There is no one else quite like em in 2014. Sort of like the Twisted Sister song, “What You Dont Know (Can Sure Hurt You). They fuse a lot of styles into their songs, however they still stay loyal to the hard rock/metal sound.
Don’t write a song with the Top 10 in mind.
Write a song because your life depends on it. Write a song because if you don’t get those melodies and chords out, you will cease to exist.
That is the true essence of music to me. That raw, primal, spontaneous explosion.
As Robb Flynn once said;
So pray to music build a shrine
Worship in these desperate times
Fill your heart with every note
Cherish it and cast afloat
Cause God is in these clef and tones
Salvation is found alone
Haunted by its melody
Music it will set you free
Let it set you free