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

Things My Father Said

“It was all about rebellion”, my Dad once said to me. “Moving away from what’s expected”.

The things my father said
Would make me a better man,
Hard work and the love of friends
A woman that understands.

My dad was born in 1944 while Europe was still in War. It’s funny how people still continued to find ways to live with love and hope while madmen proceeded to kill millions and spread fear.

And once the war was done, the children of the war/post war became the twenty year olds in the 1960s, looking for a different kind of freedom and trying to find their place in life. They didn’t have the fear to live their lives to what others might think they should.

My Dad crossed oceans on a ship to come to Australia, even after his Dad threatened to kill the whole family if he left. He didn’t have to leave, he was comfortable but “then again no one ever accomplished anything from their comfort zone”.

When he arrived in Australia, he was close to death from sea sickness and when they made land in Melbourne, he was pale and waif like.

We lived in the best neighbourhood, surrounded by beaches and steel factories. We didn’t knock down or rebuild, we maintained what we had. The corrugated iron roof was rusted and leaking, so Dad changed that with terracotta tiles. Inside, the walls looked a bit tattered so dad went to work replacing those walls as well. Little did we know that the fibro on the walls contained asbestos. We broke it, stamped on it, played with it and what not. Not ideal knowing what we know now, however that’s how it was.

But when it came to food and entertainment, there was no limit. My dad was a muso and made decent money from it. For a few years in the 80’s he was making more money playing than working overtime in the steel factories. He would come home, I would count his cash and then he’d give me a $20 note for my efforts of counting. I went straight to Rings Music World or I kept it safe until the weekend markets, so I could buy vinyl.

And my dad is funny. He always looked for humour in life, plus he liked to get on the drink. But when it was time to get serious, he was. Fearfully serious. I feared him because as a kid growing up, I hardly saw him. He was too busy working and bringing money home to keep the roof over our heads. It wasn’t until I got older that I built a relationship with him.

When I got my license, Dad said I could drive his van, as long as I woke up early to take him to work and that I was home between 3pm to 3.30pm, to take his call and he would tell me if he was either finishing at 4pm and to pick him up, or he was working overtime and that he would call again at another time he selected for pick up. I know it sounds complicated but it worked.

For me, waking up at 6am to take him to work was no different to waking up at 7am. The “being at home” in the afternoon to wait for the phone call was hard (especially during summer) and this was in the era of pre-mobiles, so you HAD to be home to take the phone call.

One time I wasn’t home, so Mum took the call and Dad said to pick him up at 4pm. But she couldn’t pass on the message to me, because this was the pre-mobiles era and she didn’t know where I was. So Dad waited and when I was a no show he walked home. I got home at 5.30pm and Dad was there. My heart sank. He looked angry, disappointed and afraid.

“Are you okay, I was worried”, he said.

I replied back I was fine and started to stutter a response. He said there was no need to talk, he’s just happy that I’m safe.

He didn’t care for my reasons and to be honest I don’t really remember why I wasn’t home. It wasn’t for any earth shattering life altering experience.

And the stroke in February, 2006 should have killed him and if it didn’t kill home it should have paralyzed him according to the Doctors. But it just took his speech. He still rises each morning, drives, wipes his own arse and smiles when he sees his family.

And for some reason today “Things My Father Said” from Black Stone Cherry and “Father, Mother, Son” from The Scream played. And it got me thinking about Dad.

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

Score Card Inc V2.0

Bon Jovi/Richie Sambora
“Aftermath of the Lowdown” is way better than any Bon Jovi music released from 2007 onwards. It’s deep and personal and there was no way that Jon Bon Jovi would have put his vocals to those songs, so they ended up being Richie Sambora songs. But it did nothing commercially and Sambora is from the cloth of sales and charts. So he went back to the comfort zone of Bon Jovi, but he wasn’t feeling it, so he went solo again,which has morphed into a duo called RSO.

Meanwhile, Bon Jovi continued on as business as usual, making huge profits at the box office. However, all was not well with the label and “Burning Bridges” was meant to be the goodbye letter, but money talks. And Jovi is back in league with the label they hated and a new album called “This House Is Not For Sale” is out. Suddenly the press is going gaga over its number 1 charting and since the legacy labels still control the news cycle. But the album is a flop. It’s second week was a disaster and nothing has been mentioned about its third or fourth week. But, the ones that control news cycle are doing their best to rewrite history, seizing on a few words that Jovi said “down playing Richie’s role in the song writing”. Suddenly, Richie wasn’t involved as much.

The truth is they are better together than apart.

But then again, all of the good bands had a high creative span of about 10 years before they split or went on hiatus. The Beatles, The Eagles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kiss and Aerosmith all had close to 10 years of mega creativity in the 70’s.

Metallica, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith (again), Slayer, Megadeth, Skid Row, Van Halen and many others had a good run from 1980 to 1992.

But the MTV era gave bands a longer shelf life and what we have in the modern age is sub-standard music.

But past success is no guarantee of future success. Our lives and society in general is more fluid, especially when it comes to new music. And Jovi is selling c grade re-writes of past hit songs, and using his brand to do it. There are just not enough new things there to convince people to listen and there’s not enough new things there to convince people who weren’t paying attention before to pay attention now. And Jovi along with Universal are hoping that people pay attention to the marketing and not to what’s inside the album. And the media is out of touch with consumers and the people in general. In all democratic countries, the media is consistently getting it wrong. Hell, they couldn’t even get Brexit and Trump correct because they fail to understand that success or failure is in the hands of the people and not the celebrities. And why haven’t all of the celebrities left UK or the US when Brexit and Trump happened.

What Jovi needed was a hit single. Instead we got 17 songs (that is if you got the deluxe edition) requiring too much of our time. Only diehard super fans will have the time, however, even those fans will have competing priorities these days. U2 is in the same boat and let’s not talk about the mess that was Aerosmith’s last album.

Because bands shouldn’t forget, that their newest release is competing with the history of recorded music and their old hits. I can easily switch from Metallica to Led Zeppelin to Dream Theater to Motley Crue to Ratt to Kiss to Machine Head to Dokken, etc.

Europe
Europe broke through to the mainstream about the same time Bon Jovi did in 1986 and that is where the similarity ends. While Jovi had commercially successful albums in “New Jersey” and “Keep The Faith”, Europe had modest success with “Out of This World” and “Prisoners of Paradise”. Europe then went on hiatus and lost their record deal with Epic in the process, while Jovi went on to more albums and eventually a comeback hit with “It’s My Life”.

But when Europe got their act together in 2003 and got control over their music catalogue, a funny thing happened. They started to make more money then what they did at the peak of their commercial success.

And Europe in 2016, is a better creative entity than Bon Jovi is.

Since 2003, the band has released five albums. The very modern and down tuned “Start from the Dark” album came out in 2004. Then in 2006, the very modern and melodic “Secret Society” album came out. The very modern but retro sounding “Last Look At Eden” album came out in 2009, followed by their jam record in “Bag Of Bones” in 2012. Then in 2015, their classic rock album “War Of Kings” came out.

And suddenly, Europe is getting traction again in the U.S and Australia, but this time it’s on their own terms and their own control. By doing what they do best. Be musicians first and create. They didn’t try and be tech entrepreneur, football club owners, gadget makers and so forth.

Digital Summer
One of the best DIY bands out there. In 2013, they were riding the wave of their fan funded “Breaking Point” album, released in 2012. 2013 also gave us “After Hours: Unplugged & Rewired”, which was followed by a stand-alone single called “50 Shades” in 2015. In between keeping a band going, the guys still hold down full time jobs.

Meanwhile, a new hashtag #DSAquarius has been doing the rounds on their Facebook page while new family additions in the DS world has led to a halt of the songwriting process for the follow up album. That’s how DIY Indie bands roll.

Don Dokken/George Lynch/Jeff Pilson/Mick Brown
In 2013 there was talk of a Dokken reunion but it never happened. Then finally in 2016 it happened and they all got paid well.

Since 2013, George Lynch has been the most creative of the four even though Don Dokken keeps on telling everyone that these projects didn’t do well commercially. Surely an artist should create because of a need to create, not because of a need to make millions.
• 2013 – Lynch Mob – Unplugged: Live from Sugarhill Studios
• 2014 – Lynch Mob – Sun Red Sun
• 2014 – KXM (featuring Doug Pinnick from King’s X and Ray Luzier from Korn)
• 2015 – Lynch Mob – Rebel
• 2015 – George Lynch – Shadow Train
• 2015 – Sweet & Lynch – Only to Rise
And Lynch has new releases coming out for Project N Fidelikah, Lynch Mob and KXM in 2016 and 2017 and it looks like Sweet and Lynch will have another album coming out as well.

Dokken on the other hand, released Broken Bones in 2012 and a rumoured project with Michael Schenker is still being talked about. Meanwhile, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown have become touring go to guys for Foreigner and Ted Nugent.

Black Veil Brides
So in January 2013, the Black Veil Brides told us “The Story Of The Wild Ones”, their concept rock opera about standing up against the army of F.E.A.R., which was also adapted into a film called “Legion of the Black”. The lead single, “In the End” became a streaming behemoth for the band with 32,301,515 streams and still counting.

Then in October 2014, they released their self-titled album, otherwise known as “Black Veil Brides IV” with Bob Rock as the producer. It gave birth to a favourite of mine in “Goodbye Agony” and on Spotify it has racked up 7,105,442 streams. Sonically it’s one of their best recordings. Since then Andy Biersack issued a solo release and we wait for new music from BVB. Like a lot of other bands in music, having new music out on a yearly basis is the new thing, like how it was in the seventies and eighties.

Zakk Wylde/Black Label Society
In 2013, Zakk dropped “Unblackened” a live acoustic album, which was forgettable, but no one can forget “Angel Of Mercy” (currently it has over 1.5 million streams) and that unbelievable lead section from Zakk.

“Angel Of Mercy” appeared on the “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” album released in 2014. Then in 2016, we got another acoustic album in “Book Of Shadows II”, but what we want is another groove metal Black Label Society album.

Dynazty
Matt Heafy from Trivium tweeted once that he has found his new favourite band. And I don’t disagree with him at all. Sweden has a healthy hard rock and metal scene and Dynazty is another to add to that list. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, the band was formed in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2008 that they found a lead singer. Fast forward 8 years later and I am hearing the band for the first time in 2016.

And they sum up what it means to be involved in the music business. You exist today completely off the radar screen. And eventually, people will notice. But it takes time.

It makes me want to scream “Fire, Flames, Fury”.

Black Stone Cherry
It’s the era of the bands with Black in their band name. Black Sabbath, Black Veil Brides, Black Label Society and Black Stone Cherry just to name a few. Vocalist Chris Robertson on the earlier recordings sounded better than Chris Cornell ever did. In 2013, the band was recording “Magic Mountain” and it came out in 2014. While 2016 gave us the “Kentucky” album (the band’s 5th album) and the ten year anniversary of their debut album.

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

It’s Time That Artists Leave The Old Way Behind and Be Leader’s Once Again

I still don’t agree with the old business model of putting together twelve tracks just to sell them for ten dollars as a package. I would like to see established bands like Machine Head, Dream Theater, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown and Trivium lead the way with a new paradigm. Leave the old way behind.

I know that Five Finger Death Punch are about to release a double album and Trivium have a new one coming along as does Dream Theater and Machine Head is not that far away either. All of these new releases are based on the old way. The album still has a place if done right and what that means is that all the tracks have to be of high quality. No one has time for filler these days.

Five Finger Death Punch started the writing process for their new album/s on the Trespass Festival Tour at the start of 2012. They brought out a mobile recording studio with them, to hash out riffs and put bits and pieces together, so when they got into the studio in September 2012, they already had the songs.  This is where they should have been releasing some songs. At the end they had 25 songs written that they are releasing on two CD’s.

Five Finger Death Punch are signed to a label, so of course they will need to release an album, as that is what the labels demand. So keeping that in mind, FFDP should have picked the best 10 songs for a CD release and from September 2012 to July 2013 they should have been releasing a song a month from the other 15 songs they had left. It is a different take on the old way. It is keeping the labels happy as they are still stuck in the past and it is keeping the fans happy as they are living in the future and just want content.

One thing that artists need to be clear on; streaming has won the war. YouTube is the original and unofficial streaming king. That is where the kids go to watch and listen. If artists pull their albums from legal services like Spotify, those same albums will still be available on YouTube to be streamed unlicensed. The fans have spoken. The fans killed off the CD, by embracing new technology. It is time the artists take note.

One more thing that artists need to understand: Spotify gives them 70% of the revenues. The exact same amount as iTunes. The difference is that Spotify pays you over time instead of right now and that is the problem that a lot of artists with the pressure of the label and the manager do not understand. The reason why they don’t understand it, is because the label and the manager all want to be paid RIGHT now.

Go on to Black Sabbath’s Spotify account and check to see which songs are the most streamed from them. It is all the songs written 40 years ago and nothing from the new album. Streaming services do pay.  If the artists have a problem with not getting “paid” by streaming services, they should be checking with the company they sold their rights to. Black Sabbath might scream piracy, however who is collecting the monies from Spotify streams for their back catalogue. The answer: the company that holds the rights is collecting.

I remember a time when musicians used to lead. Now technologists lead, while the artists entourage of money leaches are screaming they are not making any money, while the association who represents the Record Labels (and who claims incorrectly that they represent the artists as well) the RIAA plays Whac-A-Mole with technology. They killed Napster only to get Kazaa and Limewire. They killed Kazaa and Limewire, only to get BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay. They kill one cyber locker like Megaupload and another ten more appear. They send DMCA takedowns to Google and then another 100 new links spring up. Seriously does Google need to be doing all this work, just for providing a service like a search engine.

What artists and the labels do not realise is that Spotify and YouTube has made a dent in people’s downloading habits. Progress doesn’t happen overnight or right now. It takes years and sometimes decades. Invest now for rewards later, however the record labels do not believe in this, the managers do not believe in this and they convince the artists that they sign to not believe in this. So what do they believe in; short term profits.

The answer to success is right there in front of the artist. If an artist wants to make plenty of money in music, they need to be a superstar as no one has time for anything less. Just like there is one Facebook, one Google and one Amazon, the same filtering will happen in music and their respective niches.

Five Finger Death Punch is knocking on that Superstar door for the metal genre. They have competition from Stone Sour, Bullet For My Valentine and Disturbed, however if fan engagement is an indication then Five Finger Death Punch are the new superstars.

Shinedown is already the new superstar for the hard rock genre. Bands like Hinder, Adelitas Way, Alter Bridge, Seether, Halestorm, Three Days Grace, Black Stone Cherry, Saving Abel, Pop Evil, Rev Theory, Breaking Benjamin are the challengers.

Dream Theater is already the superstar for the progressive genre. They are unrivalled and really unchallenged at the moment.

Periphery are the Djent superstars.

TesserAct are the new Pink Floyd superstars.

Machine Head are the new superstars of the thrash genre.

Metallica have surpassed superstar status and have moved into the Legends space.

If you want to survive in the future, you need to live in it. Metallica now understands this, however AC/DC still doesn’t understand it. For some insane reason, AC/DC is holding their music back from Spotify (which is licensed and pays) while it is on Grooveshark and YouTube (which are unlicensed and do not pay).

Spotify might not even win the streaming war. Maybe Google will come up with something better, maybe iTunes Radio will win, or some other new player will come on the scene and blow everyone away. One thing is clear, there will be only one streaming champion. Diehard fans will still pay up front for songs they have never heard, however with so much music coming out at the moment and our time so limited, this is not the business model that artists should base their future on.

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