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

Leaving The Past Behind

I got an email a few weeks ago from the singer of the previous band I had. Let’s just say his name is “Two Face”.

It was sent to the drummer who is called “In The Band Because I Couldn’t Find Anyone Better”, the bassist “Con Artist” and myself “The Idiot”. The title of the email was GOOD TIMES, and Mr “Two Face” lead singer wanted to remind us all of something great we had at one point in time in the past.

Chasing the lies you live by
Won’t be something new to you
– Sick Of It by Evans Blue

And that was the first issue I had with the email. There was nothing great in that band, once the “Con Artist” bassist joined. He joined the band once the album was recorded. Eight of the ten songs that made the album were all written by me and registered by me with a Performing Rights Association going way back.

And guess what “Con Artist” did?

Yep, he put in a counter registration for the songs on the album for a 25% share saying that he wrote the words and lyrics. The “In The Band Because I Couldn’t Find Anyone Better” drummer also did the same. That was when I spoke to “Two Face” and asked him to tell the truth regarding the song writing and he told me one thing and did another thing behind my back. So think about that for a second.

You might win one battle
But know this, I’ll win the fucking war!
– The Way Of The Fist by Five Finger Death Punch

Four of the songs were written and registered by me with the performing rights association in 2005. The band started in mid 2008, with myself, “Two Face” on vocals, “In The Band Because I Couldn’t Find Anyone Better” on drums and “Original Bassist” joined on bass afterwards.

2005 vs 2008.

“Con Artist” joined in 2010.

2005 vs 2010.

Get your money for nothin’
– Money For Nothin by Dire Straits

You can see why I am bitter. The dishonesty by “Con Artist” and “In The Band Because I Couldn’t Find Anyone Better” just amazed me. Up until then I have never been around people with deceit levels cranked up to a 100%.  I am sure that others have gone through life dealing with some miserable person trying to hold em down. I had three.

Down they come, the swarm of locusts. Skies above converge to choke us
Feast of souls consume the harvest. Young and old, suffer unto the locust
– Locusts by Machine Head

It took a few years, however I finally opened my eyes and realized how much better life is without them. I realized that some people are who they are.

I’ve been the king, I’ve been the clown
Still broken wings can’t hold me down
I’m free again
– Goodbye To Romance by Ozzy Osbourne (with lyrics written by Bob Daisley)

The email further stated that “Two Face” remembers all of us fondly and that he hopes that we get to meet at some point. “Two Face” goes on further to state that we should all forget the bad times and remember those special jam sessions we had.

And that is where I took further issues because to me there are no special jam sessions from when “Con Artist” joined the band on bass. The special jam sessions happened when “Original Bassist” was in the band.

You can’t take my honor, you can’t take my soul
You can’t take the fact you’ll never have control
– Bulletproof by Five Finger Death Punch

The truth is that period of my life was a bitter and angry period. Instead of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and joining established bands, I instead stayed within my comfort zone and surrounded myself with below average players which in turn led to a decline in intensity on my guitar playing.

Another area which led to a lot of arguments was my iron grip on song writing. For every twenty songs that I would write, I would get a partially completed song from “Two Face”, some riffs from “Original Bassist” or an email with words meant to be lyrics from “In The Band Because I Couldn’t Find Anyone Better”.

Notice how no songs were even worked on with “Con Artist”. But hey, this guy feels entitled to put in a claim for 25%.

You’re the monkey on my back and it’s time for you to go.
– Hammered by Motley Crue

So by default, most of the time together was spent on the songs that I wrote. I would always go back and work on the ideas provided by the other band members, but man, they took up so much time and in the end, turned out uninspired.

This then lead to arguments over writer’s royalties (that come to me as the songwriter) and the mechanical royalties (that go to the band as performers on the sound recording). The other guys in the band thought that I was ripping them off and it just deteriorated even more. The sad part is that by then, I had already invested a lot of dollars into the band, with the promise that “Con Artist” and “Two Face” would pay me back.

The only pay back I got was deceit and lies.

Mistakes I would never ever repeat again.

And when my response to “Two Face” wasn’t to his liking, he replied back that I should leave the past behind and stop focusing on it. However he was the one that sent the email in the first place, focusing on the past. Go figure.

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

Some Songs Starting With ‘Y’

YOUNGBLOOD Audrey Horne

There is something unique when members from death/extreme metal bands end up crafting retro sounding rock albums.

Sweden’s “The Night Flight Orchestra” featuring members of Soilwork and Arch Enemy are one such band. Actually TNFO’s new album due out in June was a pure blind pre-order for me. I know some artists lament the internet and wish for the good old days of record label gatekeepers and monopolies. However if those days still existed, bands like The Night Flight Orchestra and Audrey Horne would never have been released in Australia. To me there is no doubt that the internet is there to spread music on a global scale and it is a shame that the record labels have been dragged kicking and screaming into this global world.

Going back to the story, the original band that came from extreme metal bands is Norway’s “Audrey Horne”. The band was formed in 2002. “Youngblood” is their fourth album released in 2013. That intro groove especially when the drums come in remind me of early Black Sabbath. Hell, even the vocal tone reminds me of Ozzy.

They say he’s been around forever
I’m pretty sure he taught the devil to steal
And somewhere down the line… they cut a deal

The solo section reminds me of the Thin Lizzy harmonies merged with Scorpions Euro Metal influence and that retro sounding lead in the outro is brilliant. And no one even knows it. The YouTube clip is approaching close to 14,000 views.

YEAR TO THE DAY Van Halen

The biggest change to Eddie Van Halen’s unique style of crafting rock songs was Sammy Hagar. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Van Hager period of pop metal/rock songs. It was a total departure from the more chaotic rock abandonment style of the Roth era. Of course I know that there are songs from the Roth era that follow a pop formula like “Jump” and both eras bring back a lot of great memories.

Then the split with Hagar happened. Roth was back in, talking/singing over “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” and “Me Wise Magic” from the 1996 “Best Off – Volume 1” compilation. You can hear musically where EVH was progressing. It was more a throwback to the beautiful chaos of the pre-Hagar era, however with a touch of progressiveness.

Then the split with Roth happened again and Gary Cherone was chosen to write lyrics over the bed of chaotic musical progressions created by EVH.

The period of the “Van Halen III” album is bitterly debated amongst people and always compared to the previous versions of the band. To me it was just another era for the band and good enough to stand on its own feet. However it is not as glorious as the other eras and the 36,880 views this song has on YouTube is proof of that.

I woke up to yet another day
Grown to expect, expect more of the same

Conformity. It’s the new suicide these days. The song peaks at the right time and then it quiets down when it needs to. The 12/8 blues groove just adds to the pull and release tension of the music. Underpinning it all is EVH. He owns this song. From fingerpicked verses, to fleet fingered solos to holding down a blues groove, the song has it all.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE Revolution Saints

The supergroup project featuring Deen Castronovo on vocals/drums, Jack Blades on bass and Doug Aldrich on guitars playing songs written by Alessandro Del Vecchio. This is a good song for a ballad. There are two versions on the album, I actually enjoy the version that features Arnel Pineda on vocals.

It’s a ballad for the ones that haven’t heard it. Check it out.

YOU’VE GOT TO STAND FOR SOMETHING John Cougar Mellencamp

From the mega selling “Scarecrow” album released in 1985.

You’ve got to stand for something
Or you’re gonna fall for anything

Although I don’t agree with John Cougar Mellencamp’s views on blaming search engines for piracy/copyright infringement, I at least admire him for taking a stand on a situation, much like the lyrics above exemplify.

In the end copyright infringement/piracy is an availability problem not a search engine problem. See how all of the large-scale piracy is now related to locked up TV content. Streaming and Spotify’s free tier is a piracy killer.

The “Scarecrow” album had a lot of other “MTV” songs, however “You’ve Got The Stand For Something” was my favourite.

I saw Miss America
In a girly magazine
I bet you saw that too

Love it. It’s a brilliant lyric as it is so tongue in cheek and funny that it doesn’t come across as cheesy at all. Everyone would get it. The whole song is littered with moments in time.

YELLOW TEETH Protest The Hero

“Yellow Teeth” is from the fan funded “Volition” album and man the songs lyrics are littered with truths about people’s judgement of others.

A man is nothing more than what others claim he is,

Judgement by others…

I can’t be the only one losing sleep
over things I should or shouldn’t have done.

The lies spread by others.

YYZ Rush

If you want to hear the major influence on Dream Theater’s sound on the first two albums “When Dream And Day Unite” and “ Images And Words” then look no further than ‘YYZ’ from Rush. For an instrumental it is packed with what I call today Dream Theaterism’s.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Booms And Busts

I don’t mind dabbling in the share market. And like everything in life, the share market is one of boom and busts. If you look at the share market booms and busts you can casually make a comparison to the recording industry booms and busts.

There are billions/trillions of dollars in the share economy while the recording industry is a billion dollar industry and when you add the rest of the industry that forms the music industry you see that music is worth a lot of money.

In share market investing, the usual story is that if someone has a great idea and makes some dough from it, then others will eventually find out about the idea and they will start to put money in, to get money out. So use this analogy for the music business.

When one-act becomes a success, the recording labels would go about and sign hundreds/thousands of acts that sound the same. The labels would also get their current roster of acts to produce music that is similar sounding to the “HOT” act. Three periods in metal music stick out.

From 1980 to 1983 it was the Judas Priest era for clone like acts. From 1983 to 1986 it was the Motley Crue era for clone like acts. From 1986 to 1989 it was the Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and Guns N Roses era for clone like acts.

What about streaming. From only a few streaming players in 2008  we know have a crowded market place. The early success of Spotify and Pandora leads to a monster called envy. This monster than leads others to want to get in on whatever else is in vogue. The latest to join the line of streaming services is the star-studded Tidal. Remember the last star-studded product launch in Neil Young’s PONO. Tidal is no different and the same fate awaits it because both services are about protecting the incomes of the better off artists and they have nothing to do about what the music fan wants.

If Tidal and Pono want people to pay for music again then their business model of putting music behind a pay wall is not the answer. As soon as you do that, P2P will increase again. Newspapers tried to put their content behind pay walls and guess what happened. People just went to websites who offered the content for free.

How do you think the Huffington Post became a large game player?

But as sure as night follows day, all booms come to an end, with a thud. The recording industry is not immune to it. In the share market investors turn to safe companies which pay a secured dividend. In music we turn to the acts that we know off. So those few companies/acts benefit a lot from our patronage.

Then, interest in the share market is renewed through mergers and acquisitions. Remember all of the mergers and acquisitions that have happened to the plethora of record labels over the past 20 odd years. The majors are down to just three.

Throughout it all, musicians still create and get on with their lives. You have the mega rich artist trying to stifle a genuine music business saviour in Spotify while in the meantime said artist is making way more money than any artist has in the history of music. You have wannabes complaining about digital payments. You have a public that 90% of the time cares about the stars and the artists who break through.

And then you have the middle of the road artists who are stuck in a world where the whole history of music is available to the fan and the music fan doesn’t have enough time to gravitate to them.

Sort of like Shadows Fall, Chimaira or God Forbid. All three bands came into my head space when an early 2000 issue of Guitar World was delivered to my mailbox that spoke about a New American Movement in Heavy Metal. So of course I had to check them out.

And all three bands are good. Each band has a definitive song. Being caught up in a cultural movement helped them out a little bit more than other bands however with all cultural movements only a select few end up rising to the top while the rest either fade away, dissolve or continue as middle of the road acts.

So you have bands like Lamb Of God and Slipknot moving into the Institution league. Killswitch Engage and All That Remains are two bands that come to mind immediately that are middle of the road acts.

Then you have Shadows Fall, Chimaira and God Forbid who decided to call it a day and move on. As guitarist Jon Donais (who is in Anthrax at this point in time) said in a recent Loudwire interview;

“Brian (Shadow’s Fall vocalist) was the first one to say, ‘I can’t go on tour anymore because it doesn’t make sense for me. I got kids and a wife’”. He needed to do something more stable because Shadows was always a crap shoot. We never knew what we’d come back [from a tour] with. We never became a headlining band. We were always a support act. I got so lucky. Shadows Fall was coming to an end and this opportunity with Anthrax came up. There just weren’t that many opportunities out there for Shadows Fall. It kind of fizzled out. People stopped caring, so we were all like, ‘Alright, what’s the point?’ We got along great and we loved writing music, but financially it was impossible to go on the road and come back with enough money, especially for the guys who have families. Two of the guys have kids. When you’re single you can go, “Alright, it’s just me on the line,” but when you’ve got a family, you gotta provide for them which means coming back with enough money so they can survive. The fun and games stop once you become a real adult.”

The fate that befell Shadows Fall, God Forbid or Chimaira is no different to the fate of many bands throughout the history of music. It is a cycle that keeps on repeating regardless the propaganda of the recording industry and the RIAA. It is a cycle of boom and busts.

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

Time Machine

Since I did my left knee I have been in bit of a slump. At first I thought it was some minor bruising and tissue swelling. I was getting better and within 2 weeks of the injury I was walking properly. There was still some tenderness however it didn’t concern me. During that period I also had an MRI.

Then I got the results.

Basically I have a complete tear of the ACL and a partial tear of the MCL.

Now I was very surprised at the mess in my left knee that the MRI showed. I was feeling better and even contemplating playing sport again.

The Doctor was very surprised to see me walking unassisted and pain-free. According to the Doc, I should have been in a bit of a bother.

The weird thing is that after the Doctor told me the results guess what started to happen.

I started to limp.

Isn’t it amazing how the mind processes information. Prior to knowing how unstable my left knee really is, I was walking fine and contemplating returning to the soccer field on the weekend.

After I was told the MRI results on Wednesday my mind became fearful that if I tried to walk properly I was doing more damage to my left knee and I started to limp.

So here I am bumming my way through the days. I always turn to music in days like these. At the moment I am trying to find some new band that I haven’t heard off that just blows me away.

I listened to “Issa” (Finnish female rock goddess) new album “Crossfire”. It’s actually her third album and it did nothing for me.

I listened to “We Are Harlots” self titled debut. For those that don’t know they are the hard rock super group formed by ex Asking Alexandria vocalist Danny Worsnop and ex Sebastian Bach guitarist Jeff George. I enjoyed three songs in “Someday”, “Never Turn Back” and “Love For The Night”. The sad thing is that those songs are not the ones out there promoting the album.

Then I listened to an album from a Swedish band called “Dirty Passion”. It did nothing for me. So I moved on.

I took in new albums from “The Poodles”, “Kid Rock” “Scorpions” and “Gun” in a marathon four-hour session.

Does anyone have four hours to spend to listen to music these days? It’s not like the days of old when you kick back with the record and the album sleeve and just take it all in.

The Poodles “Devil In The Details” album was a surprise and an enjoyable listen, however nothing memorable stood out.

Kid Rock had one great song in the title track “First Kiss” and that was it.

The concept behind Scorpions “Return To Forever” is brilliant. Going back to outtakes from their most successful commercial period (1980 to 1990) and re-freshening those outtakes into songs is a great way to pay homage to the past.

Musically it is a good album.

The origins behind the songs that I have read in interviews and on Wikipedia is brilliant story telling. That is what we love as fans of entertainment, the story, the narrative. The “Return To Forever” album is an enjoyable listen however it doesn’t have that X-Factor song that makes me want to go back. The closest they got to it is the song “We Built This House”.

For Gun, I think I had certain expectations for their “Frantic” album and at this point in time it didn’t live up to those expectations, which is okay as their first three albums “Taking On The World”, “Gallus” and “Swagger” are classics to me.

So I went back listening to some W.A.S.P from their Eighties days. I took in the self titled debut, “The Last Command”, “Inside The Electric Circus” and “The Headless Children”. I’m a huge fan of Blackie Lawless and that eighties period was also a very creative one for him.

Then I wrote some tunes in my studio. “Revolution In Black” is a cross between the AC/DC blues groove and the era of “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” from Twisted Sister. Lyrically the song deals with growing up listening to metal music and wearing my black metal t shirts. In the end that is what we are, a REVOLUTION IN BLACK.

For “The World We Live In” my wife has been listening to a lot of the pop songs out on the charts and I noticed that they all follow the basic Em, C, G, D chord progression. Of course some songs are in  different keys, however the progression is the same. For example, if the key was in B minor, then the progression would be Bm, G, D, A. If the song was in A minor, the progression would be Am, F, C, G.

Look at the list below and it just goes to show that music is all about the influence and re-using what came before;

One Republic – If I Lose Myself – 41,323,341 views on YouTube.
One Republic – Apologise – 100,377,441 views on YouTube.
Maroon 5 – Daylight – 17,539,902 views on YouTube.
The Script – Hall of Fame – 174,512,128 views on YouTube.
Imagine Dragons – It’s Time – 121,828,132 views on YouTube.
Bastille – Pompeii – 205,301,496 views on YouTube.
Passanger – Let Her Go – 588,321,169 views on YouTube.
Avicii – Wake Me Up – 597,531,921 views on YouTube for the official video. 221,445,894 views for the lyric video.
Keith Urban – You’ll Think Of Me – 1,581,515 views of the official video. 9,834,735 views of a fan made lyric video.
John Legend – All Of Me – 450,748,280 views on YouTube.
Bon Jovi – It’s My Life – 202,924,429 views on YouTube.
The Cranberries – Zombie – 219,952,452 views on YouTube.
Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm – 6,586,181 views on YouTube.

Looking at the above list, think of the dollars those songs have generated for artists and labels alike just by using the same chord progression. Hell, look at the YouTube view count for each song. Any artist would kill to have stats like that.

In a nutshell that is what “The World We Live In” is all about, a common chord progression with an uncommon vocal melody.

Then I went and listened to the new Halestorm album, “Into The Wild Life” (I have it ordered via Amazon and I came across a pirated copy, so I couldn’t wait to sink my ears into it). Lzzy Hale is a powerful leader and what a great voice. Emotional and yet aggressive. The band rocks hard when they need too and they can tone it back or pop it up when they need to.

Then I cranked the “Crooked Doors” album from Royal Thunder and I was BLOWN away. I listened to the opening track “Time Machine” over and over again. The albums tone, feel and emotion just resonated with me and the mood I was in.

The whole melodic guitar section from about 4.35 with the vocals layered over it is brilliant.

I know nothing about them.

It never used to be this way. We would get the scorched earth marketing push, the press interviews and the magazine articles written by the PR company.

Like Halestorm, Royal Thunder is fronted by a powerful female voice however both bands operate in two vastly different places when it comes to the commercial tree. Mlny Parsonz is a force to be reckoned with. When she sings, you can hear the years of vocal damage in her voice. And that is the uniqueness which makes her vocal style special.

Add to that the brilliant guitar playing from her husband Josh Weaver and you have a formidable songwriting team.

And suddenly I wish I was in the time machine, going back to that moment in time and not making some of the mistakes I made.

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