My Stories

Final Thoughts On My European Adventures

Nothing like “Home Sweet Home” when you’ve been away but as I went through Duty Free in Sydney and stocked up on whiskeys before I picked my luggage up, Van Halen’s “Take Your Whiskey Home” came to mind. I guess I prefer to stumble and fall after all.

So as soon as I got inside my house, I started summarizing our Euro Adventure.

So here are my thoughts on my European Adventures.

Berlin

We just touched the surface of what Berlin had to offer. It’s definitely a city I would like to return to (Barcelona is also in this bucket as we only touched the surface of what Barcelona has to offer in 2016) and explore a bit more, especially the villages outside Berlin like Spandau and it’s Old Town.

I was comfortable with the drink prices but believed that the food in restaurants was a bit expensive especially when you have a family of five eating and drinking, but it was easy to communicate as the places always had an English speaking worker.

The public transport was the best in Europe I’ve seen so far (I’ve heard Switzerland is the top one but I’ve never been there, so I can’t comment on it and when we did Barcelona two years ago, we didn’t use the public transport, so I can’t comment on that either) and the way the train stations are situated, everything is within 2 to 5 minutes walking distance. Plus you can buy those one day cards or five day cards that allows you unlimited travel.

I just hope they fix their airports up and finish off their various capital works projects as it makes the city look like a construction site. Then again Sydney has the same problem with construction sites causing mayhem.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen was a rip off. It didn’t matter where we stopped, everything felt like it was super inflated and it left a bitter taste. The only bitter taste allowed is alcohol.

But the city is good to see even in the wind and rain. Most of the shops had English speaking staff and like all European cities it had construction sites set up around some of their old buildings. Plus their public transport system is excellent and we had no worries navigating.

I wanted to go to the Carlsberg Factory for a tour but time ran away from us.

Tallinn

It was windy, cold and rainy on day one and just windy and cold on day two. Then again it was towards the end of September.

We did Old Town and some of the shopping sites around it, like the train station mall/market like shops and an actual three story shopping centre that I believe was underneath a Hotel.

I felt the prices were okay for food and drink but any clothing price was extremely high which I found strange.

A local store worker told me the beaches are great when it’s summer and to come back to experience it, but I’m biased towards Australia and the beaches we have. Our beaches are fantastic, clean, well patrolled and for those who don’t know how to handle waves, currents and rips, very dangerous.

St Petersburg

It was very show offy like, here is a statue of a previous leader who crushed this country in this war and this statue was made to commemorate the victory and here is a statue of that same leader on his horse, stepping on the Danish snake after this war. And this dogma goes on and on. Here is a palace, here is a weekend Palace, here is a Palace with a Garden, here is the Post Office (which looks like a Palace) and so forth.

Everything is grand, everything has gold and every attraction has fantastic ceiling paintings/murals about some religious event/interpretation. Even the underground train stations.

Communication was difficult as the store workers didn’t have a great grasp of English and doing this city via a tour is totally worth it. There is a “Like A Local” tour via SPB that a few friends did that was highly recommended and it included drinking a lot of vodka and eating Russian style food.

Skopje, Bitola, Ohrid and Struga

The price of food and alcohol and cigarettes is dirt cheap. When it comes to food basically everything is made from scratch. There are no additives and preservatives added. The produce is grown organically with no spraying. The mountainous climate must help in some way. Check out this Vogue article that sums up the food side perfectly.

One Euro gets you 62 Denari or in my case, one Aussie dollar gets you 38 Denari so when you compare that beer is more or less between 30 to 80 Denari and a Macchiato is 30 Denari it’s pretty cheap.

Eating out for five people cost me on average 2500 Denari which comes to about $65 Australian. We had salads, entrees, mains, a lot of beers, soft drinks and sparkling water. For what we had, in Australian I would have paid close to $300 dollars. And because you had so much food you more or less ate one big meal and that was it.

And Ohrid had this ice cream place close to Lake Ohrid that was excellent. We visited that place regularly.

But the hotel prices are the same like Australia, ranging from 70 Euros a night which equates to about $120 Australian. And to hire a car, it cost me 25 Euro a day.

It’s pretty easy to drive here. Just need to watch for tractors on the road who don’t even try and give way or people walking on the road and refusing to move to the side. Otherwise all okay.

But it’s polluted. Everyone just burns shit like the crops they harvested or their rubbish.

Funny thing we arrived in Macedonia and left with the Government getting enough votes to change the constitution for it to be Northern Macedonia.

Visiting this place got me interested to check out the other countries that used to make up Yugoslavia like Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Helsinki and Stockholm we didn’t end up doing due to bad weather, which meant our Cruise ship couldn’t dock, but I made a vow to fly there direct and spend time.

So maybe I already have the embryo of my next trip in mind already. We’ll see what transpires for 2020.

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Influenced, Music, My Stories

Learning Music In Reverse

We hear a song. We like it and we seek out more songs from the same artist. And the cycle repeats with different artists.

It’s how we get into music.

It happened to me in the 80s.

When i heard Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Van Halen, Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Kiss and Judas Priest, i didn’t think for a second that these bands would have had influences.

I saw it happen in the 90s when people got into music because of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. These bands came first for a whole new generation. There was nothing else except these bands.

I never got the debates over Kingdom Come in the 80’s until well into the 90’s when I started seeking out bands from the 70s and started really paying attention to Led Zeppelin.

I remember when Avenged Sevenfold released the “Hail To The King” album and every song was a derivative version of a classic album that came out in the 90s. I heard the influences but kids born in the 2000s were none the wiser. As they get older, they would learn the history of music in reverse.

If you want to listen to Shinedown, do you need to listen to Soundgarden, Nirvana, Guns N Roses, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Bad Religion and Springsteen first, until you work your way to Shinedown.

Of course not.

You hear Shinedown and you get into them. You enjoy them. When I first heard them, my ears told me it’s Audioslave. A colleague at work who at the time had never heard Audioslave, so it was just Shinedown.

Dream Theater came first for me. And many years later, Rush, Marillion, Yes and Pink Floyd would come into my life. All because of Dream Theater. Even the band Muse would come into my life because of Dream Theater.

From Tool, I came to appreciate King Crimson, The Cure and Adrian Belew. Artists I wouldn’t normally listen to.

I remember when I first heard Aerosmith and Whitesnake. It was in 1987 and I had no idea these bands had a long history dating back to the Seventies.

And that’s the beauty of music. We listen, we get moved by the listening and we start to explore.

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

Douche Posts

There are posts on this site from a few years back that I call douche posts.

You see in 2013, a few friends and I were talking about Blabbermouth’s link bait headlines and how in most cases Blabbermouth always picked some content of an interview that could be deemed controversial as their headline.

Anyway I said to my friends I would do a few douche posts like that as an experiment and see what kind of reaction we get.

It’s been over 4 years old and I can confirm those douche posts are the least viewed posts on the site.

You see, these posts are part of an experiment to test a few internet theories.

Theory 1;

With so much information available to us, nothing lasts on the internet. In other words, the post of today is forgotten tomorrow like the album you spent 8 months recording is released this week and forgotten the next week.

Theory 2:

Clickbait always wins. This was based on how Blabbermouth and Loudwire promote their posts.

My posts were designed to be a “not too obvious” click bait post. Maybe a douche post to some people, but in order to prove or disprove experiments, you need real life actors.

Results

In this case click bait doesn’t win.

The experiment is still in the early stages but this experiment has shown to me that clickbait news stories are not really worth it. You might outrage some people, and get some views but it’s not the way forward in the long term or if you want to build something that lasts.

Clickbait brings the wrong audience to the site. For sites to grow, they need users who are engaged with it, creating their own social culture group. And that’s my aim.

The bigger websites like Blabbermouth care about the clicks to the story. That’s how they make ad revenue. All the best to them.

And while these posts are the least viewed they sure have some interesting comments.

Of course, comments need to be taken with a grain of salt here. Insulting ones are ignored, however some comments asking me to check out other things that support the commenters viewpoint are engaging and worthwhile.

What these posts have told me is that people shouldn’t take things too seriously. I sure don’t. We are all imperfect and I don’t mind poking some fun my way. That’s what makes us human after all.

And one more thing, good or bad, everything lasts on the internet. Sometimes it takes time for people to find it. You know that song you released today, it could be forgotten for years, maybe decades. But as long as it’s out there, someone will find it.

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

I’m Ready

It’s a track that Oli Herbert (RIP) co-wrote for Dee Snider’s solo album “For The Love Of Metal”. The other writers are Charlie Bellmore, Nicholas Bellmore and Jamey Jasta.

It starts off fast with double kick drumming and kick ass riffing.

Faced with mortality, questioning my sanity
Images that bring me my to knees
The weight of the world on top
Have I given all I’ve got
Just when I thought I’d seen it all

Billboard is reporting that Oli Herbert was found in a pond close to his home. No one knows what actually happened but police are not suspecting any foul play.

When I was young I didn’t think about getting old. Like all of the other youths I felt invincible and I never thought about anything in the future. But time marches forward and suddenly I’m in my forties. And I‘m thinking, have I given all I’ve got so far. Am I happy where I am or just content?

That’s why I like to travel. It’s invigorating and I like being out of my comfort zone and experiencing something new. If I don’t take chances, I will never know what I will encounter.

My cousin died from a heart problem that prevented him playing football just after he turned forty a few years back in Germany. He spent his adult life trying to create a better world for his kids.

A school friend hung himself after a relationship breakdown prevented him getting access to his son. My work friends best mate put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger because he was ostracized from his daughter after a relationship break up.

Mortality and insanity cause big problems when they go to war against each other.

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

So true.

And everything becomes a memory in the end even our lives.

Maybe we’re just here for the pain
Then I’m ready

The stock market crashes and the next day it rebounds. Some feel pain while some gain. A hurricane or a shooting happens so regularly, people just shrug their shoulders. Again someone dies and a mother cries. It’s like Nikki Sixx said “we are all just doing time on the wild side.” We are just ready for the good and bad that life brings.

Praise those who live their truth
Step forward where they break through
Forge a path with something real to prove

We all got opinions but nobody is listening. So the best advice is to find our own unique path.

Because in this day and age we need to stand for something, otherwise we are waisting our voice. Then again journalists are standing up to corrupt governments and getting killed in the process.

The female reporters in Malta and Bulgaria and the Saudi reported hacked to death are three that come to mind. Never mind the Russian reporters critical of Putin who have died. But they will be praised for living for the truth.

And the solo section is perfect, from the harmony beginning to the shredding that came after.

I guess I’m ready for what needs to come next.

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

Oli Herbert – All That Remains

I remember the first time I heard the band. It was in 2008 and the “Overcome” album just dropped. I believe it was their fourth album.

At the time I had no idea how divisive this album was to their existing fan base. I read comments to reviews and YouTube videos that blasted this album.

One fan mentioned how the album is the mass marketed pop washed version of “The Fall of Ideals” (their much loved previous album). And as I type this, I still haven’t listened to the three albums before “Overcome”.

For me, “Overcome” made All That Remains (ATR) accessible and I’ve been a fan since. And ATR had the balls to go with what they believed was right at the point in time.

Because in music when you have public acceptance of your music/certain songs, you start to write similar songs so that the public acceptance remains. Some bands totally change styles while others do it within their style. ATR did it within their style.

Anyway the first track “Before The Damned” started blasting out of my headphones. It’s also by far the most heaviest track.

From 0 to 22 seconds, the snare and palm muted guitar pattern hooks you in straight away. It’s performed by syncopated military precision. Yeah it might sound generic but so did every pedal point riff on albums in the Eighties. And if you go back to the Seventies, a lot of albums had the same blues pedal point boogie going on.

From 22 to 33 seconds, the whole band is now grooving on the intro pattern, however this time the bass drum sounds out the intro riff and the other instruments play something a bit different, like open string melodic leads and what not.

From 34 to 55 seconds the verse rolls around. The riff again is generic but within the context of the song it works and the way the drums and guitars are synchronized is excellent.

But it‘s the Chorus from 56 seconds to 1.07 that seals the deal. I was hooked by how effortlessly ATR changed from the death metal verses to the hard rock arena chorus.

We will still set in motion
Changing of the time
We have not forgotten
We control our lives

Now every review I read blasted Labonte’s clean vocals and how they lacked depth, balls or there was too much auto tune.

Basically they all said that Labonte should not do clean vocals ever in the same way Bruce Dickinson should never attempt screamo/death metal vocals.

Even James Hetfield copped criticism for his vocals on the self titled Metallica album and the Load LP’s. But every artist needs to grow and try new things. These subjective debates is the reason why I love music. You can talk the whole day and night over differing viewpoints.

When I hear a song, I listen to it from a guitar point of view.

Does the song make me want to put down what I am doing and learn it?

And this song does.

Musically it’s excellent.

At 2.04 we get this head banging metal breakdown and the solo begins at 2.09 over that same head banging breakdown riff. The solo is chromatic and diminished, in the same way Randy Rhoads shreds on “Diary Of A Madman”. This concludes at 2.19. It sounds dissonant and atonal.

After two minutes and fifty seconds the song is done. So I listened again and again and again because it’s a lesson on no filler songwriting. It’s also a great lesson in the “Progress Is Derivative” model because the song takes a lot of their influences and puts it all together in an original way.

And the main man behind the guitar is Oli Herbert. A great guitar player, founding member of All That Remains and songwriter who passed away at 44.

Rest In Peace.

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Music, My Stories

Why Music Gives Us Pleasure?

There is a story over at Aeon that talks about studies as to why music gives us pleasure. And after all, science still doesn’t know why. Sure, they have some points but there is nothing objective to reference. Everything in music is subjective.

On Spotify.me, it has the statement “You Are What You Stream”.  My recent listening has Motley Crue as my top artist, “Sometimes” from Candlebox as my top track and 90% of my tracks are high tempo with an average beats per minute of 125 for the songs.

So Spotify.me makes a subjective claim that I am high energy, because it couldn’t find any chill music in my listening history, and Spotify would like to know what it’s like living life at 10.

You see, listening to high energy tracks is my chill music. There is nothing better than laying back, closing your eyes and hearing some of the classic Maiden albums wash over the ear drums, or hearing various playlists I’ve put together like best guitar solos or best live songs or various era’s and whatever else comes to mind.

But an AI algorithm cannot give you that, because it needs objective examples to come up with some form of analysis. So even though these companies buy tech companies to make their Discover playlists and everyday playlists better, they fail to grasp how the brain connects the songs together. I could go from “Hey You” from Pink Floyd to “Hollow Years” from Dream Theater to “Try Me” from UFO all because of the guitar solos.

Or I could go from “Landing In London” by Three Doors Down, to “Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Jovi to “Home Sweet Home” by Motley because of the lyrical theme of being on the road and away from the family.

I would go across genres. There could be a song from a death metal band that I like because musically it blows me away, but it doesn’t mean I like death and black metal. But the algorithms believe I do and hammer my Discover playlist with these kind of bands.

Sometimes it’s a mood I am in. When I want to chill, I don’t put on Enya or whatever these algorithms reference as “Chill”. I put on hard rock and metal music.

In a week’s worth of listening, I would have so many bands and styles in there. And no AI algorithm can come up with those human emotions. Maybe in 20 years’ time or then again maybe never.

If you want to read a long article about why it’s hard to know why music gives us pleasure. Here it is.

I’m just gonna chill with my Dio playlist that covers his Rainbow, Sabbath and solo output. It’s a shame that Spotify Australia doesn’t have the Heaven and Hell release.

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

Coheed And Cambria

“Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures” is the new album. The title can turn people away who are not fans and to be honest these long album titles did sound peculiar and they triggered an interest for me back in 2007, however I still needed another recommendation to dive in.

It started with a recommendation that came from a Guitar World interview about the “No World For Tomorrow” album, which also came out in 2007 but I still did nothing with it.

Then a few months later I was given a burnt copy of “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” by an old band member. I was at work and I couldn’t wait until I got home as I had some after work activities to do so I would have been home late. Anyway I placed the CD into the CD player of the PC, grabbed the shitty e-training headphones from work and pressed play.

The rest is history as I became a fan for life.

So here I am 11 years later and another new Coheed release has hit the streets. Being a fan, I have no problem spending the $172.95AUD for the Deluxe Box Set. I’ve done this same routine for the last four releases.

It’s another concept album.

My first concept experience was “Operation Mindcrime” from Queensryche, then “The Crimson Idol” from WASP and then “Streets: A Rock Opera” from Savatage. But Coheed take it to another level, with more or less each album except one being part of a concept story called “The Amory Wars”.

Here is a quick summary. There are more detailed ones out there.

A scientist called Sirius Amory discovers an energy source called “The Keywork” is actually souls who haven’t transcended. This happens on “The Afterman” album.

Many years later, a person called Wilhelm Ryan starts using the energy of the Keywork to murder and rule. Coheed and Cambria are robots created to destroy him. Along with a person called Inferno, who also is a robot, they attack Ryan’s fortress and manage to destroy it. But Ryan survives. However Coheed and Cambria think he’s dead. Thinking it’s over, their memory is wiped. This happens on “The Year Of The Black Rainbow”.

In “The Second Stage Turbine Blade” Coheed and Cambria get killed and their last surviving son, Claudio, is left to take up the charge. I’m still not sure how humanoid robots have children. But the recent Bladerunner movie also had this story arc.

Claudio finds out that he’s like the chosen one in “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth”.

In “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. I: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness” there is a character called “The Writer” that starts to fuck up the story because he’s going through a relationship break up. It reminds me of the Matrix characters “The Keymaker” merged with “The Architect”.

In “No World For Tomorrow”, Claudio destroys the Keywork and releases the trapped souls. And the new album takes place after this event.

Now of you want to read reviews of the album I suggest you check out these reviews from Metal Injection and Rock Sins.

I more or less agree with everything they say. In my view, if the album music doesn’t convert new fans the narrative will. It’s a win-win for Coheed and Cambria.

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