A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Standing For Something

The world is burning. We have gas poisoning and acid attacks in the UK, Russian meddling in politics and mother nature taking back her lands via fires, volcanoes, hurricanes/twisters and earthquakes. We have a problem with pollution in the air and plastics in our waters. We have people carrying out mass shootings or people driving vehicles into crowds of people. We still have wars over religion and poverty/famine in Africa is still happening and as much as big business wants to deny it, climate change is real.

The past is littered with bands and music in general taking a stand against a problem, a situation, injustice and war. But what about now. What is upsetting musicians enough that they feel compelled to write about it?

King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” is a powerful anti-Vietnam War statement while “Khe Sanh,” by Cold Chisel portrayed the damage that the Vietnam War did to a soldier after he came back. Meanwhile, Black Sabbath focused on the fallout of nuclear war with “War Pigs”.  Metallica also touched on this topic with “Blackened” while Megadeth protested nuclear warfare with “Rust In Peace”.

Bob Dylan sang about about the injustice of imprisoning an innocent man in his song “Hurricane” while Midnight Oil sang about the corruption of corporations in poisoning its workers with asbestos in the song “Blue Sky Mine”. Rush challenged religion in “Freewill” and how people use god as an excuse for their own lack of accountability.

Today, artists who speak out or write about social issues suffer blowback from “fans”. And as soon as they get blowback, the accountant speaks to the manager who then speaks to the artist. And the artist then remains silent.

Robb Flynn spoke out about racism and Trump America and he suffered death threats and hate mail. Meanwhile Metallica kept quiet on the issue, choosing financial perseverance. Even Mustaine, who normally has an opinion has kept his mouth shut. Maybe the lyrics for the upcoming Megadeth album, might reference the current social situation in a cryptic way.

Nikki Sixx is all over Twitter in his anti-Trump tweets. He’s getting told off and told to stick to music, but he doesn’t care. He’s got skin in the game and he’s shouting at the devil. Meanwhile, a lot of other artists from the 80’s are keeping their opinions to themselves. Jon Bon Jovi said something negative about Trump and he got some backlash from Jovi fans that voted for Trump. So he stopped talking about politics.

Kiss’s Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley don’t care if the world is going to hell, as they continue their stand against piracy and streaming payments. At least they have an issue they are taking a stand on and they are sticking with it.

Dee Snider has always taking a stand on issues in the past and even today, he’s still taking a stand. He’s anti bullies and anti crap talkers and anti-oppressors. Even though he’s not writing the lyrics for his recent solo albums, he’s the voice who is delivering the middle finger salute message to the rest of the world.

Maynard Keenan from Tool and A Perfect Circle fame has always shared his views in songs. Sometimes he’s been very cryptic about it, but on the recent APC album “Eat The Elephant”, he’s not holding back at the Government and as usual, religion.

If you want to hear truth and people taking a stand, go watch a comedy show. Comedians are always commenting on government officials, products, companies/business people and commercials. And by taking a stand, they are selling their show and routine in the process. Comedians tour in clubs and theatres to great success. Meanwhile the majority of musicians are buying up space in the suburb of conformity, too scared to be true to themselves because of the blowback. Remember, you can’t be liked by everyone.

Take a stand.

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

Candlebox – Sometimes

It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to Candlebox. The 90’s didn’t feel that far away, but man the debut album dropped in 1993, which makes it 25 years old.

The truth is, Candlebox was so good on that debut album, that I gave other 90’s bands a shot.

The “Purple Rain” sounding “Far Behind” is the star of the debut album. Then you had “Don’t You” and “Change” that rock as hard as any 80’s band and I used to cover “You” in bands I played in. I love the B minor key for songs and to be honest, a lot of punters thought it was an original of mine.

And “Cover Me”, is hidden all the way at the back end of the album at number 10. Brilliant track and a great solo section.

I didn’t get the “Lucy” album until a few years after its release. And something was missing. You know the whole saying, you have a lifetime to write your first album and you just write music that suits your tastes when you start out. Then your music breaks through into the mainstream and suddenly you feel like you need to write hits. I’m not sure if this was on their minds, but something definitely was. Because it was different. Maybe I just moved on. Who knows.

Anyway, “Happy Pills” came out and like “Lucy” I didn’t lay out money on it for a few years after it was released. Actually, by the time I got it, the band was already broken up.

They also tried to get out of their recording contract with their record label Maverick.

As you all know, bands sign crap deals when they are unknown, with the promise by the label to renegotiate if they break through. The band breaks through and label does not renegotiate, which means, the band is still in a crap contract with crap royalties while the label makes millions and the band still hasn’t recouped.

Anyway, I remember listening to the album, while I was working on lyrics for some songs and I’m nodding my head, not really paying attention, like it was background music and then “Sometimes” came on.

I stopped and listened.

When the song finished I pressed repeat and listened again, and then I just put it on auto-repeat. I don’t know how many times I listened to the song that day, but it was a lot. I just laid down on the couch and listened to the same song over and over again. I guess we do that sometimes.

Sometimes

The acoustic strumming and the little acoustic lead was enough to get me interested.

I wipe the night from my eyes
Block out the sunny day and I hide
Everything’s falling down around us
I’m just missing the rain

Man, hearing these lines when I heard them, they connected. I didn’t want to face the day. I was a few years into a marriage, and it was up and down, in debt and trying to have kids. I wasn’t talking to my brothers or my parents. The friends I had before the marriage, ended up not being friends with me afterwards. And I felt alone.

We change directions, we watch the tides
And we borrow too much
We form restrictions and we form lines
And we separate you from me

As you get older you realise how much truth is in the above lyrics, because we change our views, our friends and our relationships. Even our musical tastes change. We also change jobs and we do borrow too much, like money, emotions, peoples time and goodwill.

Sometimes,
Sometimes we carry more weight than we own
Oh but sometimes
Sometimes goes on

We’ve all been there, taking up the slack of others because we need to. We carry the fears of partners and our children and put out a defiant and emotionless front. And sometimes, we just go on, doing what we need to do, to keep the lights on, and life ticking along.

The lead break.

You can hear the emotion drip from the strings, enhancing the melodies from the Chorus.

And just like that, Candlebox was back in my headspace.

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

For The Love Of Metal

It’s basically metal music the way I know it, which is very different to how metal music is known these days with hard-core growls and scream vocals added to the mix. Hell, I even remember when AC/DC was found in metal sections of record shops, whereas now if you do find a record shop, AC/DC is in the rock section. Even Bon Jovi was classed as “metal” once upon a time. It was a broad classification, that’s for sure.

When it comes to Dee Snider and Twisted Sister, I blame my cousin Mega. Mega had two bands he worshiped. Twisted Sister first and then Megadeth. The messages and viewpoints of both Dee Snider and Dave Mustaine connected. So it’s no surprise that both bands and lead singers/main songwriters are also influences to me. Dee’s message of the outcasts standing together against oppression and censorship and authority resonated big time with me.

The area I grew up in had a lot of migration from Europe. Young families with young kids moved in to established neighbourhoods, invading the peace and quiet the current residents had. And the current residents didn’t like it. Nor did they like the different languages the new migrants spoke. But somehow, we got along in suburbia. But in the schools’ it was a different story. In the nightlife, it was even more different. There was a constant division between races and there was no “cool” teacher like there is nowadays.

Actually, all of the teachers I had were oppressive and they hated rock music.

If they saw a kid listening to music on their Walkman, they took the Walkman off them. It used to be just for the day, then it morphed for the week, then for the month, then for the school term, then for the whole year.

If a kid wore a hat from a rock band, they took it off them. If a kid wore a button or anything else that wasn’t school uniform, they took it off them. They just made up their own rules and the school’s Principal did nothing. Even when the kids parents came to the school and complained, these dudes wouldn’t give in. They enjoyed being in authority.

So you can see how “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”, “Come Out And Play” and “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” resonate.

Anyway, when Twisted disbanded in 87, Dee wasn’t in the news a lot, except for a few little paragraphs here and there in a magazine about his upcoming Desperado project. Then that project got killed by record label bosses, then Widowmaker got up and running, however Grunge came and suddenly it felt like the biggest voice in my life was missing during the “golden commercial years” of metal and rock music.

But Dee is a lifer. He battled tooth and nail to make it, so there was no way he was going to lay dormant. And like it was written in some holy book, Dee came back, more diverse than ever. He became a movie maker, a radio show host, a solo artist, an author and when TS reformed, he led them up front all the way to the last show.

And his solo music probably doesn’t have the same public acceptance as the Twisted music, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important or influential. As I’ve said before, a million sales of an album doesn’t mean you have 1 million fans. You just have a million people who purchased the album.

The question any artist should be asking is, how many people actually listened to the album from start to finish?

In a sale, this will never be known.

How many people listened to the album, more than a hundred times is never known in a sale.

The difference between now and 1984 is not piracy or streaming or YouTube. It’s obscurity.

With hundreds of releases coming out each day, compared to the 50 odd each month in 1984, each artist is fighting against the same tide. Fans can spread the word and make the new release rise above the waters.

Furthermore, back in 1984, people didn’t have the history of music at their fingertips. So the albums we purchased, we played em, because we spent money on em and we didn’t have any more funds for a few weeks, so we played it a little bit more. But today, any new release is competing against the history of music. And that’s huge competition for a person’s time.

In saying all that, “For The Love Of Metal” deserves to be in the public conversation and credit Jamey Jasta in challenging Dee to make this record, as well as produce it with Nick Bellmore and write music/lyrics for it.

Lies Are A Business

As soon as the up tempo and energetic double kick drums kick off the song, I was hooked. It reminds me of “Overkill” from Motorhead, crossed with “Painkiller” by Judas Priest. But god damn, I can’t shake the powerful feeling of “Emaheevul” from the Widowmaker album “Blood and Bullets”. It’s the same power.

And that solo section is brilliant. It starts off as a single lead and then it becomes a harmony lead, before it breaks out into a triplet pull off lick.

Then the breakdown section at the end.

They won’t say it, lies are a business too.

Fake news is huge. People cannot tell the difference anymore. Hence the reason to read far and wide. Find stories that support your viewpoints and find stories that don’t. Somewhere in between, is the truth you are looking for. Make your own decisions, instead of other people making them for you.

Tomorrow’s No Concern

The first pre-release single for the album.

I gave you yesterday, tomorrows no concern
I gave you yesterday, you can keep it, because today is mine.

Be proud of your past people, but remember that today is still a day to be lived and for glory to be attained.

And that galloping verse riff, is brilliant.

I Am The Hurricane
Roll Over You
Running Mazes

All of these are the middle finger salute, “I will win, you cannot stop me, you cannot oppress me or defeat me” type of songs.

I am a force of nature
Destroy your great design
I am a warning
You will never heed in time….

From “I Am The Hurricane”

Change happens from places and people you least expect it from. It relation to technology, if Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Reed Hastings, Daniel Ek, Steve Jobs and others listened and allowed people to suppress them or stop them, the world wouldn’t have Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Spotify and iPhones.

You got no heart and were not the same
You got so far but you never came
No heart, there’s no one you can blame
You tried to slow me down but ill roll over you….

From “Roll Over You”

It’s a brutal middle finger to people who try to control you. Some of those people come across as friends, but are really locusts, sucking the essence of what is you, before moving on to another person to destroy.

Not today I still got fighting left….

From “Running Mazes”

It’s simple and brilliant. While you breathe, while you stand, keep pushing forward.

American Made

This could be called <<insert country name>> made. Because regardless of the divisions within, when it comes to sticking together in the face of adversity, we seem to unite.

That opening foot stomping riff with the drums is a call to arms.

No talk just action now
Push forward don’t care how
Fight til the end that’s how I’m made
American Made

Everyone can relate.

I’m Ready

Jamey Jasta penned this for Dee’s mum, who got hit by a car, suffered brain damage, and after 2 months of fighting for life, she passed away.

Death leaves a sorrow no one can heal
Love leaves a memory no one can steal

It’s a great lyric, with so much truth.

And that lead break just kills it. It starts off with a harmony lead that for some reason reminds me of Y&T and then it starts to burn as it goes into a thrash like lead break.

Mask

That intro riff hooks me in right away.

The face you see is not our own
It hides our tears and shades our eyes
The heart you touched has since grown cold
We wear the mask that grins and lies

We live in a world of suppression. We suppress our true feelings, our emotions because of a fear of rejection or embarrassment. And for a lot of us, this is okay. And for some, it’s much deeper and it leads to depression.

Become The Storm

It’s just knockout punch combinations all the way. Dee took a stance against bullies on Twitter and it continues in his music. And the song is not using words to stop bullies, it’s saying you need to show force and a lot of it. Basically, become the storm and destroy all the others that get in your way.

We are not here to suffer
What we get through makes us tougher

Life is tough, but navigating society and suburbia and relationships is even tougher. As much as  you want everyone to like you, it’s impossible. There will always be haters. And these haters will try their best to get you down, so they feel powerful. Remember, experiences makes the person.

And those lead breaks by Charlie Bellmore deserve attention from the guitar community.

The Hardest Way

Howard Jones does some vocals on the Chorus.

Some people do things easy and some people do it hard. I know in my life, I’ve gotten this far, the hard way. I’ve made more dumb decisions than smart decisions, but somehow I find ways to correct them and move on. And the smart decisions have been perfect so far.

With courage taking the first step

It’s what’s lacking today. People have grown up in comfortable environments, where servitude to a system of work, pay taxes, pay loans is taught from when the kids start school. All of this conditioning, takes away our courage to try new things out, because it could lead to disappointment, a drop in income and a change in comfort levels.

Dead Hearts (Love Thy Enemy)

Another anti-bully song, but with the bullied person’s final note showing empathy towards the bully, while the bully showed no empathy to their victim. Alissa Gluz-White from Arch Enemy does guest vocals on this one.

We all hear what they say
Heavy has the weight
Like words filled with hate
We all hear what they say
As hard as it could be
Love thy enemy

Another great lead break in this song.

For The Love Of Metal

The title came first and then the song was built.

If you want to know how many metal song titles can fit into a song, check out, “For The Love Of Metal”.

I once was under the blade
I once was the last in line
I was a victim of changes
You can stop rock and roll

And we do it for metal, the community and the togetherness.

If you like remember how metal music was in the 80’s, the you will like this album. If you like the way modern metal sounds today, you will like this album.

As Dee screams at the end, We are All Fucking metal.

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