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The Development Of Zoltan Bathory – Grit and Determination

Raw talent has to mature. So what we have is the artists that stick with music and mature themselves. All the other wannabes got out when they realised that there sole purpose of being involved in music was driven by money and fame. So when those artists that do stick around break through, guess what happens. The majors come knocking with big money.

It is interesting to hear or read about an artist’s development and the things they did to get to where they are today.

If you look at the Wikipedia page for Zoltan Bathory, the earliest musical output you get is from 2004, where he played bass in the band “U.P.O”. However his story begins a long time, in communist Hungary.

So he grows up in a country where the average person is making pennies. In dollars speak it was like a hundred dollars a month. It doesn’t leave a lot of money lying around for guitars, amplifiers and record purchases. He wants to be a heavy metal guitarist, however that music is censored. He wants to be a heavy metal guitarist but he doesn’t speak English. He is basically trying to succeed in a genre that doesn’t technically have a voice in communist Hungary.

You can see already the grit and determination exhibited by Zoltan just to even get to America. Compared that with people who are cruising on sub-standard effort and constantly told that everything they do is great. You can see that an edge exists in Zoltan’s corner.

Determination has been part of Zoltan’s mindset since childhood. I remember reading an interview that his parents enrolled him in judo classes in an attempt to temper his schoolyard aggression and how that discipline has served him well as he got older.

So he puts together a band that would become Five Finger Death Punch. The band is his first thought in the morning and his last thought at night. He lived and breathed the band. Even the style of music that Five Finger Death Punch produce wasn’t very popular at the time. It was Hard Rock, merged with Thrash Metal, merged with Death Metal and classic Euro Heavy Metal.

I have heard bands like Accept, W.A.S.P., Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Death, Possessed and Annihilator mentioned as early influences.

It was all underground. They had no label but they had people connecting with them on MySpace in the thousands. The record labels started to take notice as this underground band where getting more views and plays than their major label artists.

The first album was recorded on their own. They produced it and paid for it. The version that we all got to hear was the Five Finger Death Punch version. The label at the time just picked it up and released it.

If you look at Five Finger Death Punch in 2013, every single member came from bands that had some level of recognition before. Jason Hook goes back to the late Eighties and early Nineties, with ties to hard rock bands, plus various session work and backing bands for pop stars.

Ivan Moody goes back to the mid Nineties before achieving some recognition with Motograter and his side project Ghost Machine.

Drummer Jeremy Spencer has a similar story to Jason Hook. Hard Rock bands are attached to their stories.

Bassist Chris Kael was doing the Las Vegas circuit with various bands and had made enough contacts to vouch for him when the Five Finger Death Punch bass auditions happened.

They took a risk on their music. They gambled. They didn’t know it would resonate and connect with people the way it did. If the music is good, there’s a ton of money to be made. Not all of that money would be on recorded music.

Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they DID THE WORK…
Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they kick ass…
Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they rock each place they visit…

That’s the way rock and roll works.

Life is tough and no one is owed nothing.

People want bands to make a living because we all want to be involved in some way. It makes us feel good on helping artists by going to a show, buying some merchandise or by purchasing their recorded product.

Remember that all of the music that Five Finger Death Punch has released is available on line for free to either stream, view or illegally download. Yet, they still sell. Funny that.

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The Stealing Argument Again & How Copyright Infringement Leads To Renewed Interest

Bon Jovi’s “Livin On A Prayer” has had a revival of sorts thanks to a viral clip doing the rounds from a Boston Celtics fan dancing to “Livin On A Prayer” during a stoppage in play. This happened in 2009 and the actual YouTube clip from back then has been blocked in Australia on copyright grounds by Universal Music. That clip was sitting at 3.6 million views before Universal killed it. Isn’t it typical of the labels to kill something that could make them money in the long run?

However a fresh upload of the dance routine to the Utrend.tv website on Oct. 17 has gone viral with over 11 million worldwide views.

In turn this viral interest in the dance routine has led to a renewed interest in Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer.” But wait, copyright infringement is bad for the artist. Isn’t that the catch cry of the record labels, their lobby group and other misguided artists/organisations.

For example, there is the “Save the Music America” organisation (backed by Nashville Songwriters Association International and led by Mark Dreyer) that just doesn’t get it. They compare illegal downloading of a song with walking into a coffee shop and stealing a cup of coffee.

Remember the MPAA commercials from the early two thousands that equated copying movies the same as stealing a car. Seriously, are people still thinking like this in 2013.

For the hundredth time stealing means that Person A has taken a song that Mark Dreyer has written and Dreyer does not have that song anymore. It’s gone, stolen forever.

Copyright infringement means that Person A has taken a copy of a song that Mark Dreyer has written.

Stealing and copyright infringement are two very different things. Now if Dreyer is not getting paid for the success of his songs, then that is something that he needs to work out with the artist, publishing or label that is getting paid. Music piracy is a result of the record labels inability to innovate. Case closed. Of course, due to the one-sided contracts that artists and songwriters signed, they are the ones that are doing it tough.

Has Universal Music CEO Lucian Grange taken a pay cut recently? Of course not, as there is still a lot of money doing the rounds in music.

The whole clip of the dance routine infringes on the copyright that Universal Music holds on “Livin On The Prayer”. However is that such a bad thing.

According to Nielsen data, “Livin’ On a Prayer” has accumulated 5.1 million streams in the U.S. last week. That is an increase of 390%. But wait, streaming is bad for the artist.

The song also had up to 4,000 paid digital downloads.

But wait, piracy still exists. The song is available on all the pirate sites for free, however people still decided to pay for a legitimate version of the song. People still went and streamed a legitimate version of the song. People went on YouTube and watched the clip of the song on the various channels that host it. People still went and downloaded the song illegally. Basically, people will do what they want to do.

Even Tim Millar the guitarist from Protest the Hero is a recorded music pirate. This is what he had to say in a recent interview on the topic;
“I can’t say don’t download music. I think people should get to hear music before they buy it. Even if they just download it and come out to a show, that’s going to help the band more than it hurts them… What we were worried about was the Indiegogo campaign. We didn’t want the record to leak and then the [Indiegogo supporters] have to wait two weeks to get their copy. So as soon as the record leaked, we sent everyone a digital download code that night.”

Millar gets it. Doc Coyle gets it. Piracy is not that bad. There is an opinion piece called “GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: THE TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN’”,

“…people that seem to hate this change are, obviously, the people who sell records, such musicians, record label people, managers, etc. Also, notice that the people most bothered are ones to tend to make the most money from music. No one ever cares about giving their demo away for free when they are unknown, but when you start make a living from music solely and record sales suddenly have an impact on your lifestyle and well-being, that stance changes. This is not a knock on those individuals — just the way it is.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Wait, isn’t Doc a musician? Shouldn’t he be pissed off that people download God Forbid records for free?”

I am not pissed off by illegal downloaders, even though I probably should be. If illegal downloading didn’t begin crushing the music industry in the early 2000’s, I would probably have made a much more lucrative living from making music. It’s affected all of us: Me, huge artists, basement bands, and even every other facets of the industry that used to see the rewards of more funding via the sales of actual physical albums, from photographers that did press shots, to the guy that directs your music video, to all of the writers for rock and metal magazines. The contraction of this industry has been devastating to the economy of music.

The only problem is, you can’t stop these changes from happening. Getting mad about it, or even worse, making someone feel bad for doing it, doesn’t really make a profound impact. Do I want people to buy my albums? Hell yeah! But I can’t stop those who download it, and the thing is, those people still may support the band in other ways, such as coming to a show or buying a t-shirt. The truth is, I buy some albums, but I also I do download some from torrents sites. The real question is, how does that affect me morally? Is it stealing in the traditional sense of the word?”

The internet changed the way people saw the world. Throughout history, industries and trades become obsolete or they evolve. I guarantee you that any musician that has tried to make it has pirated music. From taping music on cassettes to downloading mp3’s for their mp3 player. Show me one musician that says that they never pirated or infringed and I will show you a liar.

Basically the record labels, the RIAA, the book publishers and the movie studios seemed to think that people wanted the physical products to own and keep, however what the people wanted was the content. Streaming is on the scene, however it is 14 years too late. It should have been there from day one, before Napster. Now it needs to play catch up.

Going back to Protest The Hero and the interview with Tim Millar.

“I think if you (fans) can find avenues where you’re paying for music directly and you know where the money is going, you should do that. I know Bandcamp takes 10 percent, so you know that 90 percent of that money is going to the band. I’ve never bought anything on iTunes because I know artists aren’t making most of that money… But if it’s a matter of you spending $10 on the album or not hearing it at all, I’d rather you get to hear it, then come to the show and buy a T-shirt.”

The last line is the cold hard truth. As an artist, you want fans to hear your music and then to come to a show and buy some merchandise.

If that means a fan buys the album, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T Shirt. Great.
If that means a fan streams the album, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T Shirt. Great.
If that means a fan downloads the album for free, then buys a concert ticket and then buys a T shirt. Great as well.
If that means a fan hears the album for free and doesn’t buy a concert ticket or a T shirt, then that has to be great as well. Maybe they will commit on the next one. There are just so many variables out there, however the main variable that artists should be focusing on is getting the music heard.

In relation to the songwriters (the ones who write songs for other artists), then they should organise/negotiate a better payment deal for their contribution to the song and move on. Music was never designed to be a pension fund. But hey, people hate change and songwriters are still clueless.

Living On A Prayer renewed interest article; http://m.billboard.com/entry/view/id/73336

Misguided Artist article; http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/11/18/save-the-music-america-fights-digital-theft/3625845/

Protest The Hero interview: http://music.cbc.ca/blogs/2013/11/Protest-the-Hero-on-new-drummers-and-piracy

Doc Coyle Opinion Piece; http://www.metalsucks.net/2011/10/05/god-forbids-doc-coyle-the-times-they-are-a-changin/

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The State Of Heavy Metal

There it is again. Heavy metal. It doesn’t matter how many times the labels tried to kill it, mainstream it or commercialize it, Heavy Metal has remained consistent from when it began. Whenever pop music becomes pretentious, heavy metal rises up as an alternative answer.

What does the term “heavy metal” mean?

Black Sabbath started something in 1969 in the UK. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin started something on the hard rock front. In the U.S you had Kiss, Styx, Ted Nugent, Journey. In Australia, you had a pub rock band called AC/DC. Progressive Rock became a force to be reckoned with on the backs of Pink Floyd, ELP, Genesis and Yes.

By the mid Seventies, disco, punk and new wave became the darlings of the scene and heavy metal and all forms of rock went underground again, waiting for the day to rise again.

Then came the New Wave of British Heavy Metal between 1979 and 1983. At the same time, hard rock, glam metal and speed metal roared out of the Los Angeles and San Francisco scene. Think Motley Crue, Ratt, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.

When heavy metal and hard rock drops off the mainstream scene, it is never gone for long. Heavy Metal is the answer to all things corrupt. It is the soundtrack.

Typically most metal fans come from working-class homes or changed family dynamics. According to a recent study, all us metal heads must have low self-esteem, because that is why we listen to metal music.

The mainstream always ignored metal music, seeing it as too dumb. Of course, when a band breaks through, the mainstream are the first group of media outlets to jump on the wagon. Remember Metallica. Ignored by the mainstream completely. The only mainstream press they got was the sad and tragic death of Cliff Burton. Then the Black album comes out and it is undeniable. It’s a juggernaut and everyone wanted to be a part of it.

So here is the list of the current state of heavy metal.

CLASSIC EVERYTHING

Rush – enough said. Move on.

AC/DC – enough said times two.

CLASSIC METAL

Iron Maiden – they need another great album like “Brave New World” soon or they will be playing to smaller and smaller audiences with each tour.

Metallica – they need to start making better decisions and they need to release new music. Look at their decision-making process. A project with Lou Reed (RIP) that just didn’t connect with the fan bases of each party involved and an $18 million dud of a movie. In relation to new music, they can only go back to the same market place year after year before the fans get burned on it.

Megadeth – Dave Mustaine said on “The Metal Show” that his top five Megadeth albums are “Countdown To Extinction”, “Rust In Peace”, “Peace Sells”, “So Far So Good So What” and “Killing Is My Business”. He needs to have a current album in that Top 5.

Slayer – are finished in relation to new music without Jeff Hanneman. He was the main songwriter in Slayer, full stop. To hear Kerry King saying that if the Jeff Hanneman music in the archives is not good, it will be not used is a load of B.S. Who made Kerry King the gatekeeper?

Judas Priest – is not Judas Priest anymore. It’s all about the dollars.

Black Sabbath – is all about the last paycheck. Anyone remember the recent album? Name me the whole track list without Googling it. I bet if i asked you to name me the whole track list on “Paranoid” or “Heaven And Hell” I would get an answer.

Pantera – lets hope that no one is stupid enough to reform Pantera with a “guitarist” paying tribute to Dimebag. Stick to your guns Vinnie. Pantera died completely when Dimebag died.

CLASSIC ROCK

Led Zeppelin is still big business in the market place. That is what the mighty Zep has become. A Corporate entity.

Pink Floyd are on hiatus however Roger Waters is still doing the rounds. He is the real deal anyway.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same market places year after year since 2008. The fans are getting burnt on this grab for cash as no new music has been forthcoming expect for the song “Sex”. The movie and the farewell tour are constantly dropped to the public.

Deep Purple should call it a day. They are out of ideas and inspiration.

Styx, Journey, Toto and Night Ranger are shadows of their former selves, doing enough to make a living in the current music business, but out of touch of what the music business fans want from their artists today. Which is a direct line, a connection.

THRASH/GROOVE METAL

Machine Head is the leader in this group. In Robb Flynn, they have a work horse of epic proportions who has the grit to see things through.

Trivium are real contenders. Say what you will about them, one thing is clear; they are not afraid to try new shit out and take risks.

METAL (all styles)

Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch lead this group. They are ticking all the boxes. They have the sales on the board and both are part of the public conversation.

Bullet For My Valentine – have a great album in them. Can they write it?

Stone Sour – should have released one album instead of two.

Sevendust – I love them and the new album was a welcomed return to form.

Disturbed – The Device album had the same impact as the last Disturbed album. Do they still have a place in the Metal world?

Heartist – could be the next big thing or they could crash and burn with their next album as now they have a record label A&R department in their house.

ROCK (all styles)

Shinedown are the new ROCK GODS. Volbeat are not that far behind with Black Veil Brides and Skillet as decent contenders.

Eve To Adam – released a great rock album but no one has heard it.

Buckcherry – veterans of the scene and play to a niche.

Thirty Seconds To Mars – took too long to release a good album. If you are going to take 4 years between releases, you need to release a great album.

Airbourne – fill the AC/DC void when AC/DC is on hiatus.

Alter Bridge – are an experienced team that deliver consistently.

One Less Reason – great music, great songs however if people buy a physical product from them, they need to deliver.

10 Years – a great fan funded release in 2012. Now they need to make some hard decisions. Do they go the fan funded route again or do they seek to get a deal or something entirely different.

DO IT YOURSELF ROCK

Digital Summer – they run their band as a company that puts money back into the band and they still hold down jobs that gives them money for living.

Burnside – released a great album that no one has heard.

Vaudeville – another band that released a great album.

SUPER GROUP

The Night Flight Orchestra – If you haven’t heard “Internal Affairs” from 2012 you need to. TNFO is made up of melodic death metal bands playing classic rock and metal.

PROGRESSIVE METAL/ROCK

Tool – it’s going to be an event when the new Tool album comes out. Is it too late? Time will tell.

Coheed and Cambria – can’t do nothing wrong currently. Excellent double releases, plus great fan perks.

Dream Theater – are doing their best to maintain the success they achieved 10 years ago. Need a great album otherwise it’s bye bye.

TesseracT, Protest The Hero and Periphery are the new leaders of Progressive Music.

Today I Caught The Plague, Sound of Contact, Op Shop, Scale The Summit and Lizzard are rookies to take notice off.

METALCORE (MELODIC DEATH METAL)

Killswitch Engage are firing on all guns.

In Flames need to bring out new music.

All That Remains needs to head back to the studio.

The rest of the bands in this movement need a re-think.

SYMPHONIC METAL/ROCK

Within Temptation – enough said

DEATH METAL

Lamb of God – they are angry and they are pissed off. A bullshit murder trial and banned in a South East Asian country by ignorant pricks.

SHOCK

One final mention; “Du, Du Hast, Du Hast mish a fraud.” Rammstein has a dicka, so let’s get together, what is the problem?

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Greed Will Kill The Streaming Star

I mentioned in an earlier post how the greed from the major record labels could end up killing streaming services. Since then, Swedish musicians are threatening to sue major labels Universal Music and Warner Music over streaming royalties. This is following a similar pattern from the lawsuits against the labels over iTunes sales and how those sales got paid back to the artists as royalties. Artists like Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Don Henley and Eminem led the way.

Even Billy Bragg stated the same via his Facebook account;
“These artists have identified that the problem lies with the major record labels rather than the streaming service and are taking action to get royalty rates that better reflect the costs involved in digital production and distribution. UK artists would be smart to follow suit.”

The major labels operate with a digital (streaming and mp3 sales) business model that is rooted in the past. The majors still pay a less than 10% royalty rate to artists for digital income. The 10% average rate is based on the age when the record companies produced a physical product like vinyl or CD, stored it in a warehouse and then transported that product to a brick and mortar store. Of course at that time all of these steps in the process where accounted for.

However in the digital age, there is no need to even produce a physical product like vinyl or CD however the labels are still short-changing their artists. If the streaming rates paid to the labels were so bad, trust me, the majors and the RIAA would be the first ones screaming theft. By being silent on the matter means that the majors are making real good money from streaming.

Spotify pays 70% of its revenues to music rights holders. By the end of 2013, they expect that those payments will exceed $500m. How much of that money gets passed on to musicians depends on the terms of their contracts with labels. Maybe the RIAA should be lobbying hard to get a bill passed where streaming is seen as a license and seventy percent goes to the artist. But we will never see that, as the RIAA is there to protect the record labels, not the artists. However they claim in their rhetoric that they are working on behalf of the artist.

From a metal perspective, Century Media Records pulled their music from Spotify in August 2011, citing that physical sales have dropped drastically in all countries where Spotify is active. Then in July 2012, they opted back in. By February 2013, they released a Spotify app. What a turnabout by the label? Metal Blade pulled music of Spotify in September due to no real agreement in place.

If you are on a major label roster you should have followed the Def Leppard route. Due to disagreements they were having on the digital payment terms with their label, they then refused to let their label put their catalogue on digital services.
However, then in order to cash in on the Rock Of Ages movie and the sudden interest in “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Rock of Ages”, they released digital “forgeries” of these classics and they released them on their own terms. Do you hear Def Leppard complaining about streaming and iTunes rates for those two songs? This year, they even released their “Hysteria” forgery.

Once upon a time, the artists had the power. Then in the Eighties, the labels stole it back. With the rise in revenue due to the CD, it made the labels mega rich powerhouses. Well it’s time for the artists to take back the power. Basically the labels without any artists are worth nothing. However, a lot of the artists just don’t see the big picture.

Those times of when recording was really profitable are over. Long gone. Recording revenues are shrinking. Streaming is trying to bring back some of it. If more and more people are paying for it the overall pool of money grows. These services need time to grow. However, as I mentioned previously, how much of that money gets passed on to musicians depends on the terms of their contracts with the labels?

Maybe Spotify and Deezer should become a label and start signing artists themselves as it is obvious that the major labels don’t care about their artists.

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Music, Stupidity, Uncategorized

Black Sabbath Debuting New Songs Live

If i was the Black Sabbath management team or marketing team, i would tell them one thing.  Just pick your best new song and play it.  The fans are not there for the new stuff.  They don’t even care about it.  They are there for the classics and if the new stuff is not on par with the classics, don’t play it.

Check out Loner, which is another new song from the greatest thing Ozzy has ever done department, the album 13.  It’s awful.  I know Ozzy is totally out of key and singing the song so bad, it makes the ears hurt.  Even if he did sing it in key, it still can’t help the song, because it is crap.  Watch the clip, every time Ozzy grabs the microphone to move around the stage, he takes one step, stops, realises something and moves back to the microphone stand.  WHY you ask?  That is where his teleprompter is.

So why play a new song if you don’t know the lyrics.  He was doing the same for the Sydney show I saw him.  The normal Sabbath songs that Ozzy performs on his solo tours, came easy to him and he was a different performer.  The other classic Sabbath songs, he had to read,  but not as much as the new ones.  You watch every live clip of the new songs, and Ozzy does the same movements.  His not singing, his reading, making it sound like he is attempting to sing.  It is karaoke in front of thousands, who paid up to $160 to watch them perform.

The irony of all this is that Ozzy went public with his version of Bill Ward’s ousting recently.  The thing is, it is clear that even Ozzy cant go on for a two and a half hour show.  Ozzy mentioned that Bill had post it notes on his drum kit, so that he can remember what to hit on certain songs.  So, how is that different from a teleprompter.

If these four songs are indicative of the album to come, it’s going to be a disappointment.

God Is Dead, is way too long for what it is.

End Of The Beginning is a dead set joke where they rip off their own Black Sabbath song.

Methademic has the best title i have seen in ages, but it is a shit song.

Loner = Methademic.

People have commented on the brilliant guitar riffs from Iommi.  I admit, those four songs have some cool riffs.  As a guitarist, I can appreciate that.  Cool riffs can’t make the song great, and to have a great song, you need more than just cool riffs.

To be honest, the song titles sound way better than what the songs sound at the moment.

I don’t know why Black Sabbath isn’t releasing the songs to be downloaded via iTunes or to be streamed.  It’s just a stupid business model that they are operating on.  The live versions out there, are pretty poorly recorded and Ozzy sounds completely out of tune, so get on the front foot and change peoples perception of the songs.  Release the auto tune, melodyne processed songs.

It looks Sharon cant compete with the Internet age, the best distribution system ever.

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Music, Uncategorized

Guitar World – January – 1986

Guitar World – 1986 – January

I was unpacking boxes and I came across all of my Guitar World magazines, Guitar for the Practicing Musician which morphed into just Guitar, Guitar School, Guitar One, Guitar Player, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Australian Guitar and Guitar Player.

This was the first Guitar World magazine I purchased.  I remember purchasing it from the newsagency, bringing it home and slowly taking it out of the plastic.  I remember turning the pages over as delicate as a heart surgeon.   This was all I had back in 86, apart from a tape of Twisted Sister’s Stay Hunger, Van Halen’s 1984, Bruce Springsteen’s – Born In The USA and Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil.  I also had some seven inch singles from my brothers that had Kiss – I Was Made for Loving You and Hard Times as its B Side.

It had Yngwie Malmsteen on the cover.   I don’t know why I purchased this edition as at that time I didn’t even know who Yngwie was or how he sounded.  However I was starting to get into guitars and the magazine was called Guitar World.

There was a small piece in a section called The Whammy Bar, which stated that Billy Sheehan will be joining David Lee Roth on his new solo project and that DLR is also trying to get Yngwie Malmsteen in there.  Here is the connection for me as I knew who DLR was from Van Halen.  This alone made me interested in seeking out the music from Malmsteen.

Who would have thought how interconnected Malmsteen and Steve Vai where at that time.  Talk about six degrees of separation.  So Malmsteen came to America and played in a hard rock band called Alcatrazz.  When he left that band to do Rising Force, Alcatrazz hired Steve Vai as his replacement.  DLR is looking at putting a new band together post Van Halen and Malmsteen is sought out, however it is Vai that gets the job.

Then I read the Malmsteen interview.

“I’d rather have people dislike my style than change it,” he says. “If someone says, ‘Hey, Yngwie, you play too damn much’ –- I don’t care. The way I play is the way I like to play. If people like it – great.  If they don’t, it’s still fine with me.”

I think 27 years on; it’s safe to say that Yngwie didn’t conform to any record label standard.   I have listened to every album he has produced and while quite a few became a yawn fest and a waste of time I will never get back, he never gave in and he never sacrificed his ideals to please the  corporate empires.  For any guitarist or musician coming out, this should be your motto especially when you have musicians from ‘successful ‘ groups departing and issuing comments like this (from Adam Gontier – ex Three Days Grace vocalist);

“The music BUSINESS.  Remember this people…, in my/our case; it’s always been about the “business”.  The money.  What about the love for creating real music from the heart?  Where did that fit in? Pretty much nowhere.  No room for music from the heart, when it’s just about music for the radio.”  

You can safely say that Malmsteen has always been about the music.

It’s okay to have haters.  You cannot please everyone.  However as soon as you lose what made you special in the first place, you are the same as everyone else.

“I’ve always sacrificed things in order to become the best musician I could be. “

Malmsteen dropped out of school at 15, got a job working in a guitar shop which further developed his skills (being able to play is one thing, however knowing your equipment and knowing how it all hangs together is another).  How many kids these days drop out of school at 15?  Why would they?  Isn’t it better to get an education and even go to Uni/College so that there is something to fall back on?

“If guitar players just listen to other guitar players it’s almost impossible to avoid sounding like them,” says Malmsteen, who acknowledges only Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore as guitar influences.”

Isn’t that so true.  Look at all the metal guitarists around today, they can do all the guitar tricks from so many different styles, all packaged into one.  Malmsteen sweeps, Van Halen taps, Al DiMeola alternate picking, Steve Morse string skipping, John Petrucci legato, Randy Rhoads modal theories, and so on.  The ones that truly stand out are the ones that do it a touch differently.  Disturbed is a prime example that comes to mind of this where guitar and drums where one.  The guitar acted like a percussion instrument.  Great music can be born out of the syncopation of drums and guitar.

“It’s also important to me that what I play fast will also sound good if the same notes are played at a slower speed. I play classical runs, arpeggios and broken chords that if played at a slower speed would sound very nice as well. “

Has anyone ever done it?  I have.  I remember taking Trilogy Suite and playing it at 100bpm instead of the 200 bpm it is supposed to be.

“Anyone who’s witnessed Malmsteen on stage knows he is an intensely exciting performer. Most guitarists with mind-boggling technique are actually quite boring in concert, but Malmsteen manages to impress as well as entertain. He is always in constant motion, whether playing his Strat with his teeth or effortlessly twirling it around his body.”

This is a general rule for every musician.   The definition of musician also takes in the definition of performer.  You need to deliver the goods live and make it exciting.  You need to make the kids want to be you, you need to inspire the almost there musicians to be you and you need to leave the mouths wide open of seasoned musicians.   Otherwise the million plus other musicians will come along and push you aside.

“Much hard work, of course, has gone into honing his style.  “I’ve been playing constantly since the age of eight,” says the twenty-two-year-old guitarist.”

Yes that’s right, Malmsteen was 22 in 1986.  He came to the U.S in 1983 as a 19 year old.   This is what kids need to realise.  It takes time.  Nothing happens overnight.  You need to be in it for the long haul.  In the case of Malmsteen, he came to the US and joined Steeler and then Alcatrazz.  Both bands where stepping stones.

Would Led Zeppelin have been so great if they formed in 1964 or 1966?  Would Jimmy Page write the songs he did if he didn’t do time with the Yardbirds and the British studio scenes.

Would Metallica be where they are if they kept their original bassist and never hired Cliff Burton?   Would they have written Master of Puppets if Dave Mustaine was still in the band?

Basically it was a long road to success once upon a time and that hasn’t changed in the current internet era.  Even someone like PSY had put in time before he went viral.  His first album was released in 2001.  It wasn’t until 2011 that the world knew who he was and that was achieved without the traditional mainstream press and radio.

Even though the news carriers publicise the one in a million stories of people found and made into overnight sensations, there are still a billion of other artists still paying their dues.

“I’ve always been aware of recording techniques,” he says, “and I’ve always felt I could do a better job than an outside producer because they obviously don’t know the songs as well as I do.  I mean, I don’t think a painter would do the background and let someone else finish the rest of the painting.”

The musician definition just keeps on growing.  You create, you perform, you know your gear and tweak it to suit, you practice your art, you record your own music, you produce it and release it.  With the internet and advancements of technology, every musician should be doing the above.

 “Malmsteen’s desire to do it all obviously puts a lot of weight on his shoulders. Will he keep a clean head and progress? Or will he get caught up in the rabid attention he’s been getting and stagnate? The answers to these questions will prove if Malmsteen becomes the legendary guitarist he is so capable of becoming.”

The magazine came out in January 1986.  Malmsteen was promoting Marching Out which came out October 1985.  In September of 86 he released Trilogy.  Three albums in three years as a solo artist.  In total if you include Steeler and Alcatrazz releases that is six releases in four years.

Remember Malmsteen’s motto, it’s all about the music.  Keep on pumping the music boys and girls, that is how it was done back in the day so that artists could get traction and that is how it should be done in this day and age.  Six album releases in four years.  A total of 50 songs over a 48 month (as one Alcatrazz album was a live release).

A song a month should be the aim of every artist as a minimum.

Did Malmsteen become the legendary guitarist?  My view is YES.  He released Odyssey in 1988 with Joe Lyn Turner which became Malmsteen’s most successful album of his career and the one where you could have questioned if he was becoming another record label slave.  Remember his motto, its all about the music and the very commercial sounding Joe Lynn Turner was fired.

Did he maintain his legendary status?  My view is YES.  When shredding and neo-classical became out of fashion in the record label controlled U.S Malmsteen still forged a successful career in Europe and Japan during the 1990’s.  He never gave in to suit a flavour of the year style.  He remained true to himself and that to me is the sign of a legend.

Yes there are stories of his ego, his erratic behaviour, his fury (remember the plane incident) and his controlling manner however he never gave away himself, he never sold out to cash in.  As soon as he became commercially successful, he fired the singer and started a new again.

I remember reading in Metal Edge or another music rag sometime during the mid 90’s that Malmsteen and Ronnie James Dio ended up getting together to write some songs or where going to get together to form a supergroup.  I don’t know how true that is and what happened to the music they created.

Other guitarists mentioned in the magazine where Spacey T. from the band Sound Barrier, Kazumi Watanabe, George Thorogood, John Martyn, Lonnie Mack, Steve Stevens, Dave Meniketti and Al Di Meola.  But that is for another day.

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