Music, My Stories

New Tattoo Tour, Australia, 2000

The tour that wasn’t.

The Crue had no press in Australia at the time. It’s like they didn’t even exist. Acts like Limp Bizkit, Matchbox 20, Blink 182 and Pearl Jam ruled. The only 80s act that could still draw big crowds was Bon Jovi and “Its My Life” was a massive comeback song and it proved to be a stayer on the charts.

So it was a bizarre feeling when I saw this advertisement on September 7, 2000 for Motley Crue shows in two months time.

Small time windows like this; from when tickets go on sale, to when the shows are meant to be on, just don’t happen in Australia. There is at least, as a minimum 6 months to a year notice.

And Australia wasn’t getting a lot of live acts at this point in time, especially hard rock acts who weren’t selling a lot because our AUD dollar was low compared to the USD, so to bring the acts out and pay them their US fee, meant the prices here would be extraordinarily high.

Plus it was a risk for the promoter, because an acts draw was always based on record sales. And hard rock acts just weren’t selling like they used to.

Anyway who was I to argue.

The mighty Crue we’re coming to town.

Yeah it’s not the Crue that I knew growing up as Tommy Lee was missing and his replacement Randy Castillo was undergoing cancer treatment, so Samantha Maloney was behind the kit.

But it was still the Crue.

The bad boys (now mid 30s men) we’re coming to town and playing the same arenas like it was 1989.

But “New Tattoo” didn’t set any charts alight when it came out in Australia. It was no “Dr Feelgood”, so this tour would need to rely more on the hardcore audience to buy tickets for nostalgic purposes rather than any new fans because of the “Generation Swine” and “New Tattoo” albums.

So I purchased tickets for myself, my wife and a few friends, as the gig on November 23 fell on my birthday. I thought man, it they make it and they don’t kill each other before hand, as the airport incident between Tommy and Vince was still fresh in my mind, then it would be a great birthday present.

Then on October 27, almost a month after tickets went on sale, the Crue cancelled their Australian tour which for a band as big as Crue was, it was only going to be their second ever tour of Australia. There first one being the “Dr Feelgood” tour.

The press release said it was because of “personal circumstances beyond the bands control” but Sixx filled in the blanks later when he said it was due to low ticket sales.

No shit.

But I didn’t think they would cancel because of low tickets. Like come on, it was still the Crue. Surely they still had enough fans to sell out. I guess in 2000 they didn’t care enough.

Redemption came in December, 2005 when they came to town and sold out a bigger arena than they had scheduled to play in 2000.

5 years. Things change a lot.

It goes to show what a game changer Napster, file sharing and “The Dirt” book were for Motley Crue.

Having their music easily available around the world because of file sharing, increased their fan base exponentially, which led to ticket sales and “The Dirt” book sealed the deal.

It gave them a golden run of another 12 plus years and if COVID-19 doesn’t kill it, they have their comeback tour planned on the backs of “The Dirt” movie. Funny how “The Dirt” was pivotal in two comebacks.

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

The Record Vault – Black Veil Brides

Let’s talk about Jinxx and Jake Pitts.

Jinxx and Jake Pitts, are the guitarists in Black Veil Brides (from here on, known as BVB). Jinxx plays rhythm guitars and violins and Jake Pitts is the lead guitarist.

Jinxx (real name is Jeremy Ferguson) is also classically trained, but the first album, he ever owned was “And Justice For All” from Metallica. Great mix in my book. His influences are of course, Randy Rhoads, Metalica and the various classical composers that inspired Malmsteen.

Meanwhile Jake Pitts learnt music and harmony theory from his mum, who is also an accomplished classical pianist in her own right. And of course, his influences are people like Randy Rhoads, Paul Gilbert, EVH, Dimebag Darrel, the Schenker brothers, the various Dio guitarists and of course Metallica.

And these two dudes are very big reasons why I am a BVB fan. Plus Bob Rock produced their self-titled fourth album and what an album it is.

But let’s start at the beginning.

Courtesy of The Pirate Bay, I downloaded their first two albums. I liked em and I purchased them from Amazon U.S as it was cheaper to purchase from the U.S and pay for delivery than to buy them here in Australia. It’s insane how physical products are priced in Australia.

Even the Guitar World magazines. A subscription from the U.S would get me 12 issues for $70 Australian. That comes to $5.83 an issue. To buy that same issue from the newsstands, the cost was $15 an issue.

Anyway, back to BVB.

We Stich These Wounds

Released in 2010, it starts off with a scratchy vinyl record playing and a small talking piece called “The Outcasts (Call To Arms)”. And then the riff for the title track, “We Stich These Wounds” kicks off and I was hooked.

The guitar playing in BVB is exactly what I like. And the “outcasts” theme is what BVB would build their songs around. Metal and hard rock bands from the 80’s had these themes as well.

Vocalist Andy Biersack is not as confident on this album as he is on the albums which followed, but heavy metal music was never about perfect pitch. It’s about the rawness, the attitude, the melody and the aggression. Of course when bands got bigger, they actually got better as well.

Then again, for all of the vocal lessons that someone like James Hetflied had for the “Black” album because Bob Rock requested it, I still prefer his chainsaw like vocals from the first four albums.

In “Beautiful Remains” the guitar solo is a shred-a-licious.

“Children Surrender” has a fast paced intro, with an excellent melodic lead and a chorus with harmony guitars and lots of wohhhs. There is screaming in the pre-chorus which I’m not a fan off, but the music is enough to get me going. And before I forget, the drumming is metronomic precision by Christian “CC” Coma.

“Perfect Weapon” and “Knives And Pens” have the best riffs on the album. On the Reddit forum’s it’s been mentioned that “Knives And Pens” is a rip off from an Avenged Sevenfold song. To me, the riff is from the NWOBHM, one of those derivative riffs that just can’t be copyrighted, so if people are looking for a well-known song, “Electric Eye” from Judas Priest comes to mind.

And the Chorus in both songs is worthy of attention.

The creepy title of “The Morticians Daughter” disguises an acoustic song which borders on the Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern Ballad Rock.

And the best solo on the album is on the song, “All Your Hate”. Listen to it and put the guitar back in the box. It reminds me of the solo in “Afterlife” by Synester Gates in A7X.

And all of the classical influences from Jinxx and Jake Pitts comes out in “Heaven’s Calling”. Crank it and enjoy it. It’s a song that deserves more attention. “Never Give In” also breaks out the classical references with a digital delay melodic riff. “Carolyn” is written by Jake Pitts dealing with his mother’s illness. Listen to it as it has so much beautiful guitar moments.

Basically, the debut has enough musical moments to get me interested. On to album number two.

Set The Word On Fire

Released in 2011.

The album kicks off with a monster in “New Religion”, full of double time riffage. It’s all an album without any song writing credits from Jinxx, however the two producers Josh Abraham and Lucien Walker get a few credits here and there, and Marti Frederiksen, who is well known for his song writing contributions to Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and other artists of the hard rock genre.

It moves into “Set The World On Fire” with more excellent riffage and you know that by track 2, Andy Biersack has found his Mr Sparrow swagger. “Fallen Angels” is track 3 and it’s a three punch combo knockout. It also has 28.4 million streams on Spotify.

“Rebel Love Song” keeps the up-tempo vibe of the album going with more riffage and killer leads. Plus Choruses that are memorable. “The Legacy” is a thrash song crossed with a pop song chorus.

“Die For You” is probably my favourite. It’s the Chorus which seals the deal. Its written by Biersack, Pitts, bassist Ashely Purdy and Frederiksen. No surprise there that the co-writing credit Frederiksen has, delivers my favourite song on the album.

After the album was finished and recorded, the guys put Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” on and starting mixing the album with the “Hysteria” vibe. They are ticking all of the boxes in my book so far of paying homage to their roots or to the best-selling hard rock albums.

The Wretched and Divine

The concept album with the “Mad Max” and “Shout At The Devil” look was released in 2012. They even had a movie made that told the story of the “The Wretched And The Divine” uprising against F.E.A.R, the overlords who protect and watch over the citizens in this dystopian Mad Max wasteland.

“I Am Bulletproof” is a perfect opener and “Wretched and Divine” is a metal track, the way I know metal. It’s guitar heavy and I like it. The guitar solo is a guitar hero spotlight full of melody, and brought to life by fast alternative picking, sweep picking, bends and legato lines.

“We Don’t Belong” is the best Bon Jovi chorus that Jon Bon Jovi didn’t write, with its woohs and ohs. “Devils Choir” has another guitar hero spotlight solo while “Resurrect The Sun” moves between being a ballad and a rocker.

“Overture” is a violin instrumental and it showcases the impressive violin skills of guitarist Jinxx. He layers those violins and creates a symphony. “Shadows Die” is up next, with its very sounding Avenged Sevenfold arrangement. “Days Are Numbered” has got this up-tempo “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) inspired riff, which connects and gets me interested.

“Done For You” is just a laid back ballad and man, it reminds me of Coheed and Cambria. And the Chorus has a repeating line of “it’s all done for you” and the ohhh backing vocals. Its haunting and hopeful. The yin and the yang.

“Lost It All” has this piano intro which immediately connects. And Biersack sings with a bass-baritone voice, which is perfect for the melancholy that the first part of the song brings out. Then the band comes in, and man, this is a good song. That’s it. It’s a good song. The way Jinxx and Jake Pitts decorate the verses with their palm muted arpeggios and Jinxx is also wailing away on his violin. And then the violin takes centre stage from about the 3 minute mark, with female gospel like vocals.

Then the big one starts, “In The End” with 84.6 million streams on Spotify and counting. Plus it has a Gold certification from the RIAA, for over 500,000 sales in the U.S.

Black Veil Brides

The self-titled album came out in 2014.

Bob Rock is producing and man, this dude takes it to another level in the sonics and the sound. It’s perfect. If you are a fan of the 80’s music or grew up during the 80’s and want an introduction to Black Veil Brides, then let this album be it. I swear it’s like a different band, that’s how good Bob Rock is in capturing everything.

“Heart Of Fire” is the opening track and it plummets your brain with the sonics, the heaviness and its super catchy chorus. And on this album, there are a lot of outside songwriters. For example, this song is written by Andy Biersack, Jake Pitts and Jinxx, along with Justin Cordle and Mark Holman. Don’t know who these dudes are or their background, but who cares, as the song is doing the talking.

“Faithless” is a thrash metal piece in the intro. Listen to it. Metallica hasn’t written anything this heavy and this good in the 2000’s. The first 40 seconds is a circle mosh pit. This song has a song writing committee of Biersack, Pitts and Christian Coma from the band, along with Tommy English and Nick Long. Again, no idea who these extra song writing dudes are from.

From about 2.50 there is this military style snare beat, which sort of sets up the song for the interlude and solo section. Again, it’s a thrash metal mosh. Did I mention the guitar solo is another entry into the guitar hero spotlight?

“Devil In The Mirror” again brings out the heaviness. This one is written by Biersack, Pitts and Jinxx from the band, along with Tommy English and Josh Moran as the outside writers.

“Goodbye Agony” is my favourite. That clean tone intro riff reminds me of “Tears Of A Dragon” from Bruce Springsteen merged with “Nobody’s Fool” from Cinderella. It’s a good song.

“World Of Sacrifice” has this bridge section from about 2.20 which gets my head nodding and there is no guitar solo spotlight on this one. Because it didn’t need one, the riffage and all the guitar melodies over it was enough.

“Last Rites” is a head banging hard rock song.

“Walk Away” is written by Biersack, Pitts and Jinxx from the band, along with Marti Frederiksen and Mark Holman. It’s a ballad, but it’s not clichéd or boring or all mushie. Just listen to the last two minutes of this song. You will know what I mean.

“Drag Me To The Grave” has another head banging and foot stomping riff along with an arena rock chorus. “The Shattered God” has another bone crunching riff in the intro. And the album closers with “Crown Of Thorns” another rocker.

After this album, Andy Biersack released two solo albums which lived in the pop and acoustic domain, under the name of Andy Black.

Then “Vale” came out from Black Veil Brides in 2018, a prequel to “The Wretched And Divine” album. And a two song single called “The Night” came out towards the end of 2019. But the band became a bit different, with bassist, Ashley Purdy leaving in 2019, replaced by Lonny Eagleton.

I’m interested to hear what’s next.

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Copyright, movies, Music, My Stories

Bands

Bands, the way we have known them will be no more.

It will be the era of the songwriter. It might look like a band on the outside but really it will be the main person or two and the supporting musicians. Sort of like how it was in the 50s and 60s up to a certain point. Until The Beatles changed everything.

For example, like James Hetfield and The Metallica Band or like Jon Bon Jovi and The BJ Band or like David Lee Roth and The Van Halen Band or Rob Halford and The Judas Priest Band.

Maybe they will just use their name like Bryan Adams, Keith Urban, Don Henley, Neil Young or Ozzy Osbourne.

Even Alice Cooper started off as a band and morphed into a solo artist with musicians supporting the artist.

Maybe a return to the Crosby, Stills and Nash kind of names.

These are just examples of using artists that I know. The new artist could use just their name or their name with a backing band or a group name but the reality will be that the group is really just the artist with other musicians supporting the artist.

If you look at bands right now and in the past, most of their songs are written by one main member. Sometimes two or three members, especially when bands had artists who paid their dues and had experiences before joining.

Ignore pop songs for the moment who seem to have 10 writers to start with, and if the songs are a hit, there is a writ and more songwriters are added to the list.

Yeah I know what your saying, U2, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath and Van Halen just to name a few, have albums saying that the songs are written by all the members.

But the truth is, what is in print for us to see on the lyric sheet or album, is not always the truth. Songs are complicated beasts when it comes to a band setting. It didn’t used to be that way but it is that way now. Especially when there is money involved.

For example ASCAP is a music publisher in the US, had total revenues of $1.226 billion dollars in 2018. They paid $1.109 million in royalties back to artists. And they kept $117 million in administration costs. Basically money for nothing and the chicks for free to the publishing company.

That’s just one of many in the US. Then there is BMI who had total revenues of $1.283 billion and paid out $1.196 billion to artists by 30 June 2019. And they kept $87 million for administration costs.

And each country has multiple publishing companies. And each country has record labels. And everyone is making multi millions from music for nothing.

The actual copyright registration and the splits associated with the song plus the band agreement which also has percentage splits determine who is entitled to what. Van Halen even took Michael Anthony off the songwriting credits when they renegotiated a multi million dollar publishing deal in the early 2000’s.

COVID-19 has changed the game.

A normal band makes their money on the road.

Some bands might have streams in the billions and own their own copyrights, but if they are that level, they will have a team of people in their organization like managers, legal, accountants and other employees who do fan club and website.

Right now, no one can tour and they don’t know when they can start touring again because having so many people in a room, theatre, arena or stadium is a problem when it comes to social distancing. And even if concerts are allowed, will people just go back to life as normal or be cautious. Maybe concerts will resume with a cap of 500 people max.

And no one gets into bands or starts writing songs to get paid. They do it because they love it and there is a need within them to create. But with any artist that starts to become popular, money is a byproduct of creating something which resonates.

And then it becomes about the revenue streams and how is the artist going to make money.

Streams will pay and the artist will get more if they own their rights. And the person who wrote the song will get two bites of that revenue. One from the streaming service to the Copyright owners account and another from the Rights Organization which administers their catalogue. This always causes resentment between members because one person has more than others.

Especially when the band agreement in place favors one over the other. And the other member feels like their songs should be considered but they are not up to standard.

Remember when Kirk Hammet told everyone he lost his phone with riffs and that’s why he had no song writing contributions on the “Hardwired” album but James set the record straight when he said that Kirk’s riffs just weren’t there, meaning they weren’t good enough to James and Lars to consider.

We wait to see what live music will look like post COVID-19.

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

You Want A Battle (Here’s A War)

“You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)” from Bullet For My Valentine (BFMV) starts off with a call to arms which is familiar to people who grew up in the 80’s.

“We will not take this anymore, These words will never be ignored, You want a battle? Here’s a war”

And the band blasts in with some head banging riffage.

The message based on the first three lines, is the same message from Twisted Sister’s war cry of “we’re not gonna take it”, to Bullet For My Valentine’s “we will not take this anymore”.

But the subject matter is a bit different if you look at the music videos.

While in the 80’s, the enemy for Dee Sninder and Co. was the disciplinary parent while the BFMV music video, the enemy is the abusive parent and the violence in the family, until the victims get their revenge.

And the Genus lyrical annotations state the song is about bullying. Which is basically what the Twisted Sister song is about as well. Standing up to the oppressors.

Don’t suffer in your silence
Know you are never alone

Vocalist and guitarist, Matt Tuck, said that he suffered a lot of bullying at school because he was the heavy metal kid with long hair that didn’t fit in and how it took him a lot of time to finally stand up for himself.

You see, back in the 80s, there was a lot of metal heads in just the one area/school. The music and the metal movement was like a juggernaut and all of us sick motherfuckers helped propel it.

But as the years went by, the metal head unity got more fragmented.

Suddenly a fan of Death couldn’t like Motley Crue or Bon Jovi. But I did. If you liked Metallica or Slayer, how could you like Poison and Warrant. But I liked all of em.

Suddenly a Pearl Jam fan couldn’t be a Dream Theater fan or a Yngwie Malmsteen fan. But I was.

Suddenly a Smashing Pumpkins fan couldn’t be an AC/DC fan. But I was.

But to the elitist, it was sacrilege and man they and their little stooges sure knew how to let you know. And all I can say to these elitists with fixed mindsets and surrounded by their echo chambers, they missed out on experiencing different things.

From about the 2.50 minute mark there is this bridge like section which I like and then when the outro chorus kicks in with an open string melodic lick under it, its head banging stuff.

Check it out.

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

Dream On

Another artist / songwriter / producer that is represented on Revolution Saints debut album from 2015 is Erik Martensson, who is also the guitarist for the Swedish melodic rock band Eclipse.

“Dream On” is probably not the best title to use since those two words together are associated with a song about looking in the mirror and the lines on your face not getting clearer by a band from Boston called Aerosmith.

Anyway.

“Dream On” is a better derivative version of “Back On My Trail” and it really brings back memories of Night Ranger.

“Dream On” has a committee of songwriters.

Music is written by Erik Martensson (along with Finish-Swedish songwriter Johan Becker and Kristofer Becker. Lyrics are written by Martensson, J. Becker, K. Becker, Alessandro Del Vecchio and Jack Blades.

Man, that intro riff puts me right back into the 80’s. Those dreams of youthful innocence. And it’s got all of the cliches in the lyrics from the 80s and I like it.

For all the young and the innocent
For those who long who you are to catch their falling star
I guess you know who you are

I wonder what kind of dreams the youth have today.

In the 80s it was a rite of passage to get your drivers license and get a car like it’s a badge of honor. Then it morphed to tech devices.

The kids are more than happy to drive their parents car because it’s all about their social media status and the latest tech they have and gaming online. Car markers are challenged trying to get younger buyers who actually care about the environment, something which the car makers don’t care about to actually buy a car.

For all the strong sticking to their guns
For all the ones that wave their flags up high
Comes a time to make it or break it

I was always told that if you don’t make it by a certain age focus on Plan B. It’s the worst advice ever. Because no journey is the same. Every person has a destination in mind, and they need to be flexible with the route.

When times get tough just don’t dare to stop

It’s when a lot of people quit.

Something has steered them away from their goal. It could be a relationship break up or an argument or a rejection for a project they were working on. And it sets something off, like their not good enough. But everyone is good enough, it all depends on how much determination a person has to push through the lulls.

And the lead break from Doug Aldrich is quality. Hear it, experience it and play air guitar to it.

Another song to check out which also has Erik Mårtensson co-writing on this debut is “How to Mend a Broken Heart” (Originally recorded by Eclipse).

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

The Best Of Times

This song has three distinct movements that grab me.

The excellent melancholic intro which comes in again as a sad and tragic symphony around the 6.20 minute mark.

If you like Rush, you will like this song. That riff that comes in at the 2.45 mark, reminds me of “The Spirit Of Radio”. And you can’t escape the Rush’isms in the first verse vocal delivery and phrasing.

That Petrucci solo from the 10 minute mark to the end. It’s emotive, it’s sad, its hopeful, its classical and from the 10.50 minute mark, he shows why he is one of the most formidable guitarist when he decides to step on the pedal, ease off, and step on it again, to ease off again. And after 13 minutes, the song ends.

The lyrics are written by Mike Portnoy for his dad Howard Portnoy as he was dying of cancer. This song has never been played live by Dream Theater. When Portnoy was in the band it was too emotional for him to play it and after he left, it hasn’t been included in a set list without him. There is a demo version as well with Portnoy actually doing the vocals. It appeared as a the B-side to the “Wither” single.

But as a guitarist, I need to mention again, the ending solo from Petrucci. It’s emotional, it’s got shred, and a lot of melody. Basically you don’t want it to end.

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

Locked Out Of Heaven

The debut Revolution Saints album was number 5 on my 2015 list. And they just released their 3rd album this year.

Revolution Saints is a supergroup of musicians who have been around for a long time.

Deen Castronovo (was discovered by Neal Schon and was then given a chance to play in Bad English by Schon) is on drums and vocals. It was a shame that a few months after this album was released, he was in the press for all of the wrong reasons. He even lost his Journey drumming gig because of it.

Doug Aldrich can shred and he helped prolong the careers of artists like Dio and Whitesnake, while Jack Blades has a stellar resume with Night Ranger, Damn Yankees and writing songs for other artists with Tommy Shaw. But the star of the album is an Italian songwriter called Allessandro Del Vecchio. He’s like the Desmond Child or Jim Vallance or Max Martin for Frontiers Records president Serafino Perugiono.

And “Locked Out of Paradise” is written solely by Alessandro Del Vecchio. There is a live version of the song on the “Light In The Dark” deluxe version, which shows the power of the song.

The palm muted intro for the first 20 seconds and then the power chords come crashing in with metronome drum rolls precision from Castronovo supplementing the build into the verses.

From about 38 seconds we are into the verse. Its rocking, its melodic and it builds nicely into the pre-chorus and that tasty arena rock chorus.

“We’ve been locked out of paradise, we lost our battle to survive”

Paradise is this elusive utopian refuge we try to get to. But we can’t quantify it or measure how far we need to go to get there, so we keep chasing it. My view to get there, is drip by drip, little steps at a time and trying to make each day, each week, each year, each decade better than the previous.

“Bring your heart to me, what do you touch?, I’m just a man with a hope”

Because in the end all we do is hope. We feel that our expectations and desires for a particular thing to happen are getting closer to the event. So we keep hoping. Some keep praying. And we keep going.

For the debut album, the songs were already written by other writers, so all Aldrich had to do was learn the riffs, put his unique spin on them and then work out what he needed to do for the solos.

Which are quality.

The lead break for this song is well-structured and well thought out, as Aldrich pulls out various techniques from his arsenal. It starts off melodically, builds nicely and ends with a guitar acapella two bar shred fest before moving back into the song.

By the end, I am pressing repeat just to hear that intro again and that guitar solo.

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