A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Gremlin Day, Generic Metal & Protest The Hero’s “Underbite”

You ever had a gremlin day. I have. You know one of those days when conventional wisdom falls over. One of those days when things that always worked ceased working the same as they always have for no real reason.

It makes you question everything. It makes you feel paranoid and you start to believe that everything you have done up until that point is rubbish.

From my perspective, I work in IT and I have been working on a project since August. We implemented successfully over the weekend, however on Thursday before the weekend implementation I questioned everything and I was about to pull the plug on it.

This is what normally begins to happen when you spend so much time on the one piece of work. This is why Top 40 sounds so bland and processed. Using I.T. speak “the Top 40 has been tested to death.”

The songs go through so many rewrites it’s not funny. That is why you have as many names as “The Last Supper” listed as songwriters of the generic and lifeless Top 40.

However Heavy Metal and Hard Rock music is generally written “in-house”, meaning that most of the material is written within the band. So why are we getting a similar generic output as the Top 40. Why are we getting lifeless and soulless songs that mean nothing and say nothing and to be honest if I heard them live I would probably yawn. The artists that created something great always lived on the edges, merging various influences and styles. However, when one artist sees another artist strike a pot of gold, they follow suit, believing that the same pot of gold would come to them if they replicated what the other artist did.

For example, every band wanted to be like Bon Jovi in 1987 and by 1988 every band wanted to be like Guns N Roses and by 1989 every band wanted to be sober like Motley Crue and by 1991 every band wanted to be Metallica and by 1992 every band started to incorporate grunge influences.

I started thinking about the above, after listening to the song “Underbite” from Protest The Hero and after watching the hilarious puppet clip. The Protest The Hero channel is showing that the clip has had 112,436 views. Not bad for a fan funded band that was told by their record label that are washed up.

Underbite means the projection of the lower teeth beyond the upper teeth. Protest The Hero have taken that term and twisted it up to include the rock n roll show. They are focusing on the generic mediocrity of artists who go out there and fake it. They are focusing on artists and labels that couldn’t care less about the fan experience. They are focusing on artists and labels that care about maintaining the status quo and the profits that came with that.

Jon Bon Jovi is one such artist that comes to mind. Eventually the shows sell out on this tour however for the first time ever, Bon Jovi concert tickets got the reduced treatment on Living Social and other web outlets. If he tours again next year and charges the same high prices, he will be in for a shock.

The Rolling Stones is another.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same marketplace again and again since 2008’s “Saints Of Los Angeles” and with each re-iteration they are getting less and less to the show.

Metallica needs new music to come out. It has been a 5 year victory lap for Death Magnetic and with 2014 approaching, that will make it 6 years.

Black Sabbath is another. Watching Ozzy sing live was a joke and he had the balls to say in interviews that Bill Ward couldn’t perform live because he was old, overweight and he had to use post it notes to remember his drum tracks. Well Ozzy is old, out of key and he never strayed too far from the prompts as he struggled to remember the lyrics.

The song Underbite also focuses on artists who see themselves as gods and their fans as stupid kids who are expected to consume every piece of music they produce regardless if it’s good or not. It has lyrics like “An understanding between you and I that the ground that you stand on is somehow less than mine” and “Now you comprehend our complex relationship—consumer/consumed, You’re just some stupid kid and I’m a megalomaniac.”

The part in the film clip where the fan goes to purchase the merchandise is so spot on. I could relate as it happens to me all the time.

First, the merchandise stand rarely has the size that a person wants. Good luck to all the ones that rush in and get it early and bad luck to the fans who get their later or the fans who just want to purchase merchandise later.

Then the prices are ridiculous. So as the clip shows, you end up forking out a decent amount of cash for a band t-shirt that doesn’t fit or is too large.

I really like the lyrics about “You’re disgracing your effort by conforming to textbook performance of music to fill in the gaps.” This is about going through the same motions and the same dialogue and the same songs day in and day out.

“Let’s not repackage the same old performance, Original content is so much more rewarding.”

While I love Twisted Sister, I don’t agree with the viewpoints put out by them, that there is no need for them to create new music. Dee Snider has mentioned that there is no motivation to write any new songs while Jay Jay French and Mark Mendoza have talked about giving the fans what they want in the live show and how if a new song is played these days from the classic rock bands, the fans see it as a toilet break. While each performance is unique due to Dee Snider’s banter, the songs however don’t stray too far from the first three albums era.

How many times can Iron Maiden revisit their past and repackage past tours as current ones. “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” and “Maiden England” are two that come to mind in the last 4 years. While the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour broke box office records, the “Maiden England” tour not so much.

Their show at the San Manuel Amphitheater, Devore, California on September 13, Iron Maiden got 27,000 fans in a venue that fits 41,000. Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament and Sabaton also appeared on the bill. Of course 27,000 is a massive attendance however the venue is just over 50% full. Iron Maiden needs new content and great content at that.

Listen to the song. There are some hard truths in there and Protest The Hero try to cover them all.

Music, My Stories

Dream Theater Sales and Box Office Predictions

Okay so here we are. It’s almost September 24, 2013 and the new self titled Dream Theater album will be “officially” released on Roadrunner. I put the word officially in inverted commas because in my opinion, once you offer a full stream of an album, that’s it, the product is out, end of story. 

Anyway, lets go back almost two years to September 13, 2011. This is when Dream Theater released “A Dramatic Turn Of Events.” In the end, the album sold in total 95,000 units.

Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Week 1 – ending 21 Sept 2011 – 35,750 units sold
Week 2 – ending 28 Sept 2011 – 8,030 units sold
Week 3 – ending 05 Oct 2011 – 4,430 units sold
Week 4 – ending 12 Oct 2011 – 3,120 units sold
Week 5 – ending 19 Oct 2011 – 2,600 units sold

With Roadrunner putting a lot of money into Dream Theater, they would want the above figures to increase by at least 20%. The market at the moment is showing a shrinkage in sales compared to two years ago, due to licensed streaming. In the end, based on my initial listening of the new album, I believe it will sell less a touch less than “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

Here are some box office scores from 2011 and 2012 as well. These are the figures that Dream Theater would want to have increased by 20% in 2013.

Sept. 24, 2011, Dream Theater, Trivium, Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, Calif.
TOTAL GROSS – $96,295
ATTENDANCE – 1,978 / 2,350
Ticket Prices – $65, $47.50

Sept. 25, 2011, Dream Theater, Trivium – NOKIA Theatre, Los Angeles, Calif.
TOTAL GROSS – $161,910
ATTENDANCE – 3,675 / 4,318
Ticket Prices – $65, $20

Oct. 3, 2011, Dream Theater, Trivium, Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, Mich.
TOTAL GROSS – $41,843
ATTENDANCE – 1,044 / 1,200
Ticket Prices – $45, $39.50

Oct. 7, 2011, Dream Theater, Place Des Arts, Montreal, Quebec
TOTAL GROSS – $158,511
ATTENDANCE – 2,832 / 2,960
Ticket Prices – $76.30, $42.71

Oct. 8, 2011, Dream Theater, Pavillon de la Jeunesse, Quebec City, Quebec 
TOTAL GROSS – $115,298 
ATTENDANCE – 2,070 / 2,495 
Ticket Prices – $67.02, $52.55 

Oct. 22, 2011, Dream Theater, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Fla. 
TOTAL GROSS – $55,153 
ATTENDANCE – 1,238 / 2,028 
Ticket Prices – $64.50, $49.50, $39.50, $19.50 

Oct. 27, 2011, Dream Theater, Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie, Texas
TOTAL GROSS – $69,308
ATTENDANCE – 1,520 / 2,355
Ticket Prices – $49.75, $39.75

June 19, 2012, Dream Theater, Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, Columbus, Ohio
TOTAL GROSS – $27,475
ATTENDANCE – 785 / 3,500
Ticket Prices – $35 

Aug. 24, 2012, Dream Theater, Pepsi On Stage, Porto Alegre, Brazil
TOTAL GROSS – $124,665
ATTENDANCE – 2,214 / 6,952
Ticket Prices – $78.98, $49.36

Aug. 26, 2012, Dream Theater, Credicard Hall, Sao Paulo, Brazil
TOTAL GROSS – $373,840
ATTENDANCE – 6,278 / 6,339 
Ticket Prices – $171.60, $44.13

Aug. 29, 2012, Dream Theater, Chevrolet Hall, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
TOTAL GROSS – $127,029
ATTENDANCE – 2,752 / 5,226
Ticket Prices – $88.20, $58.80

Aug. 30, 2012, Dream Theater, Citibank Hall, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
TOTAL GROSS – $188,790
ATTENDANCE – 3,179 / 7,772
Ticket Prices – $146.39, $73.20

July 1, 2012, Dream Theater, The Crimson ProjeKct, 
Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, Calif.
TOTAL GROSS – $81,644
ATTENDANCE – 1,578 / 2,374
Ticket Prices – $65, $49.50