Music

Double Threats

There is an article doing the rounds at Noisecreep about rockers who branch out into some other venture (like another successful band) or something that is beyond the musical medium.

So of course the lists focuses on the “SuperStar”. First here is the list from Noisecreep.

10. Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park / Fort Minor

9. Chris Jericho from Fozzy and Professional Wrestling

8. Henry Rollins from Black Flag / Rollins Band (I am adding acting to this)

7. Marilyn Manson

6. Maynard James Keenan from Tool / A Perfect Circle / Puscifer

5. Jared Leto from Thirty Seconds to Mars and acting

4. Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters / Them Crooked Vultures / Nirvana / Scream

3. Corey Taylor from Slipknot / Stone Sour / Author

2. Rob Zombie from Rob Zombie / White Zombie / Directing

1. Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue / Sixx: A.M. + Radio DJ, Book Author and Photographer

What about the artists that are not superstars?

The artists below are doing an unbelievable job or have done an unbelievable job to remain a double threat in the music business.

1. Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambra / Prized Fighter Inferno + Comic / Book Author

2. Adam Dutkiewicz from Killswitch Engage / Times of Grace + Producing

3. Digital Summer (the whole band) – They hold down normal day jobs and they are also a successful modern rock band.

4. Randy Blythe from Lamb of God + successful photographer

5. Robb Flynn from Machine Head + successful blogger

6. John Sykes from Whitesnake / Blue Murder / Solo Artist / Thin Lizzy tribute

7. Joe Satriani – Solo Artist / Chickenfoot / guitar teacher

8. Slash from Guns N Roses / Slash’s Snakepit / Velvet Revolver / Solo Artist + Motion Pictures

9. Doug Aldrich at one stage was playing guitar for Whitesnake and Dio at the same time. Also involved with Burning Rain.

10. David Draiman from Disturbed / Device + Producer

11. Protest The Hero (the band) – successful fan funded band and campaigners.

12. Kevin Churko – Successful Producer / Songwriter and Studio Owner

Original Noisecreep Article: http://noisecreep.com/best-double-threat-rockers/

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Deja-Vu. 2011 vs. 2013 with Dream Theater and Trivium – Random Thoughts on their new songs

It’s like déjà vu again. In 2011, I was listening to new songs from Trivium and Dream Theater. Trivium had just unleashed In Waves as its promotional single for the In Waves album and Dream Theater had unleashed On The Backs of Angels as its promotional single for the A Dramatic Turn of Events album.

I remember listening to both songs back then and taking into account both of the band’s position in the musical landscape. Dream Theater to me, had the most to prove, as this music would be their first without founder Mike Portnoy.

In my opinion In Waves is a stronger song than On The Backs of Angels. The song wins all the time. I was listening to Images and Words yesterday and the reason why that album is awesome 21 years after its release is the songs. Learning To Live, Metropolis and Take The Time are progressive as hell, but man, I can physically hum the whole songs to anyone including the progressive interludes.

Images and Words is Dream Theater. That album represented what Dream Theater are all about and it set in motion everything that was to come. This new album is self-titled, therefore it should represent what Dream Theater is all about.

Anyway I digress, going back to my 2011 experiences. In relation to the albums, both of them had a six week U.S sale run (physical sales) and then disappeared. Will history repeat itself? I think so.

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

Trivium – In Waves
Week 1 – ending 17 Aug 2011 – 20,640 units sold
Week 2 – ending 24 Aug 2011 – 6,700 units sold
Week 4 – ending 07 Sept 2011 – 2,890 units sold
Week 5 – ending 14 Sept 2011 – 2,890 units sold

Artists are so scared if an album under performs these days. WHY? The album sales figures quoted above is not the metric to judge success on. Dream Theater have hardly sold any music in South America, however they play to their biggest crowds there. I wonder how that came to be?

As Nicko McBrain said in Flight 666 The Movie, Iron Maiden hasn’t sold an album in Costa Rica, however they are playing a stadium show that is sold out with 30,000 people attending. Put it down to piracy, file sharing, Bit Torrent or copyright infringement. The bottom line is this, if what you create is great, expect it to be shared.

Before the Internet, before YouTube, before streaming services like Spotify, fans had to own the music to hear it. That is no longer the case. The history of recorded music is at our fingertips. Fans are participating in this new arena, while artists and labels are still banging their heads against the wall judging success by album sales.

Even Mike Portnoy asked fans to buy The Winery Dogs as a show of support to the label and to show to them that this project is viable. Why does he care about sales? Look at all his posts, show after show. He is blown away at the reaction they are getting. Isn’t that the validation he should be seeking?

So here we are in 2013. We have Trivium’s new song Brave This Storm and Dream Theater’s The Enemy Within.

So what is the verdict.

I can’t say that The Enemy Within is anything special. Some bits remind me of Scenes from a Memory, but really, I could see this song fitting on A Dramatic Turn of Events. It is not a great leap forward in musical terms. Let’s hope that the other songs make the “definite statement.”

Hopefully what we heard was their “Commercial” piece for the album, in the same way that Forsaken was seen as the “Commercial” piece in Systematic Chaos. If this new album turns out to just be ADToE part 2, then yeah I’ll be pretty disappointed, and everyone will know what a pivotal role Portnoy played in the band and how directionless they are without him.

On the other hand, I was very cautious as to how the Trivium and David Draiman collaboration would work. From hearing Brave This Storm, I would say they are on a definite winner. The song is heavy, it is a progression from what they started with In Waves, it is all math in the verses and it is very melodic. Let’s hope that the other Trivium songs are not Brave This Storm 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on.

For some reason this got me thinking about a song from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers called Rebels which is the lead off track on his 1985, Southern Accents album.

With one foot in the grave
One foot on the pedal
I was born a rebel

Are musicians/artists rebels in 2013? It seems that they all want to be winners. Seen any posts from a musician recently about what they think, what they feel, what they are going to do and it doesn’t relate to selling music. Our heroes are even beholden to the Corporations.

Randy Blythe is one artist that shows his humanity. He uses his photographs and puts stories around them, which always relate to a personal part of his life. We are all human. We win and we lose. Blythe focuses on his work, not the sales pitch.

There is new news every day, so if Dream Theater and Trivium want their story to survive, they need to keep it alive by making news every day

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

Where are the new Classic Rock heroes?

The main classic rock bands were all about individuality. The Eagles, Boston, Styx, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Rush, Bad Company, Foreigner, Aerosmith and Cheap Trick all had a unique sound. 

The Eighties gave us Metallica, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, U2, Duran Duran, AC/DC, Journey, Whitesnake, Van Halen (and yes i know that some of these bands formed in the seventies), Aerosmith again and Foreigner.

Look at the list, Metallica played fast speed metal that was labelled thrash, Motley Crue played a hybrid version of pop, punk, rock and metal. Van Halen wrote the book on the nuclear band, Guns N Roses rewrote the seventies classic rock period with a dash of punk and Def Leppard merged Queen, with Bowie with Mott The Hoople with their NWOBM leanings into a pop rock format. Each band spawned thousands of imitators.

Today, all the young bands want to be a member of the same club. Metalcore is one club that is completing suicide on itself. Each year, thousands of bands come out that sound the same as the original bands that came before it.

Modern Rock is another genre that is suffering from over saturation. Where is the uniqueness. The reason why Imagine Dragons are at the top of the food chain is that they had that uniqueness that separated them from the pack.

What is the difference between Pop Evil, Young Guns, You Me At Six, The New Black, The Maine, Tango Down, Smile Empty Soul, Red Line Chemistry, Redlight King, Pillar, Plan Three, Projected, Nonpoint, Three Doors Down, My Darkest Days, Rev Theory, Three Days Grace, Eye Empire, Egypt Central, Emphatic and so on? Absolutely nothing is the answer.

All the young uns want is to be a member of the club however individuality is the key to creating everlasting art. Don’t shun your individuality. Dream Theater stayed true to themselves at a time when grunge, industrial and nu metal ruled the mainstream. Tool came through on their terms and in the words of Frank Sinatra, they did it their way.

Today’s world has everybody Tweeting and Facebooking just to be liked. Where is the edge of the Classic Rock era?

Dave Mustaine and Ted Nugent have an opinion and everyone has a knee-jerk reaction to it.

Rolling Stone is coping a lot of flak for their cover of the Boston Bomber. What did the outburst of David Draiman or Nikki Sixx or any other celebrity that wanted to join the anti-Rolling Stone club do to change the matter? Nothing.

If anything they brought more attention to the Rolling Stone article. It’s the Streisand Effect all over again. However at least they are going out there and stating an opinion. Did anyone come out and say that the Rolling Stone cover was cool?

Magazines like artists live in the culture of being paid right now. Do the people that work for Rolling Stone magazine care if the magazine is still around in 12 months’ time? Of course not. They will dust themselves off and get another job.

Everybody’s got their own agenda. When I read a tweet or a post from a celebrity, I evaluate where they are coming from as opposed to accepting it as truth. Has anyone seen a news story that says piracy doesn’t hurt sales?

A lot of research has come out from various Universities that support this argument. Instead we get the RIAA/MPAA piracy stats banded about on major television, with no information as to where those numbers come from. Why? The major televisions are owned by the giant copyright monopoly organisations.

Another important distinction from today’s artists and the Classic Rock era artists is that no one can say no to the money. Rush could have recorded a mainstream radio friendly album in 1976 just to please the record label. Instead they recorded 2112, an album that set up a very lucrative future for Rush and an album that made the record label very nervous when they heard it. As guitarist Alex Lifeson has stated in numerous interviews, 2112 set up a career for Rush.

Egypt Central wanted to be a member of the Modern Rock club and have disbanded. Three Days Grace were a member of the Modern Rock club and lost their vocalist with the parting words that the recording industry just want hits and push artists to write songs in that vein. My Darkest Days and Rev Theory are all modern rockers and they have lost their lead guitarists, which are normally significant songwriters.

Remember, individuality is the key. How good is Machine Head, since they broke away from following the trends that the label used to push on them. Since 2003, they have gone from strength to strength. 

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You Don’t Know Me, But You Will…. From Controversy, Popularity Is Born

I watched Fast 6 the other day, and the final additional scene had me all pumped up. For those that haven’t seen it, I will not spoil it, however it sets up Fast and Furious 7 very nicely. The final words said in the movie, are the words of the villain, “you don’t know me, but you will……..”

Isn’t that what every musician wants. To be known.

So how does it came to be, that the villains end up known to the world and the ones that do real good are forgotten. Does the world at large know the names of the police officers that captured the Boston Bombers? Does the world know the names of the victims that died in the bombing? The answer is NO, however everyone knows about the Bomber brothers, their family links to Chechnya and so forth. Even Rolling Stone has glorified the bombers with their recent front page issue. By doing this, Rolling Stone has sent social media into meltdown.

David Draiman and Nikki Sixx are two rockers leading the outcry against Rolling Stone. It looks like the Rolling Stone magazine is taking the “you don’t know me (or maybe forgot about me), but you will “mantra to heart. Once upon a time Rolling Stone mattered. Today, Rolling Stone is a dead magazine. They needed to do something shocking like Rammstein did with the Pussy video to bring their name back into the mainstream. You can’t get more shocking than putting a terrorist bomber on the front cover, regardless of what kind of story you are trying to sell. The wounds are too fresh.

Another person looking for publicity is Thom Yorke from Radiohead. He has gone onto a Twitter rampage against Spotify and what they pay artists. For those people that didn’t know about Spotify, they sure know about it right now. Every mainstream news story has picked up the story and run with it. Every blog is talking about it, including this one right now.

Thom Yorke on the other hand, should write great quality music as a solo artist and take control of his own catalogue of music. That way he will know exactly what Spotify pays him, instead of waiting for the statements that the labels give him. It’s funny to look back and read stories about how Thom Yorke and Radiohead was praised for releasing an album under a “pay what you want” model. From this recent outburst, it is clear that Thom wasn’t expecting fans to pay nothing for it, however they did. That is why they never tried that model again.

The big grey area that hangs over Spotify is the lack of transparency over the payments made to the labels, because in order for Spotify to operate in the US, the labels wanted a 50% share in the company.

One thing is clear from all of the above, from controversy, popularity is born.

Ozzy Osbourne’s solo career at the beginning was all about controversy. The dove and bat biting incidents, the tragic death of Randy Rhoads, the drinking and partying which lead to the Alamo incident, the court cases about backward messaging on the song Suicide Solution and the drugs.

Motley Crue built a career from controversy with their sexual innuendos, the pentagram on Shout At The Devil, their partying and drug taking lifestyles which lead to the tragic death of Razzle at the hands of an intoxicated Vince Neil and the death and rebirth of Nikki Sixx.

Even Dream Theater experienced controversy when in a Guitar World interview circa 1994, certain musicians from the grunge / alternative scene blasted John Petrucci for playing with no feeling. Since Petrucci responded gracefully that he likes the music that those bands do, all it did was divert people’s attention to Dream Theater.

Did anyone in the mainstream world know that Black Metal existed? Of course the fans of the style did, however it was just a niche. Then churches started to burn and people started to die. So the Black Metal movement is all over the news.

From the Napster controversy, the people got to know that you can find and download mp3’s of music that you liked, from people that had similar tastes. 13 years later, people are still downloading. From the Napster controversy, the people got to know who the RIAA is and how corrupt they really are. Throughout the years, the RIAA popularity as a corrupt organisation has grown tenfold. From the Napster controversy, everyone got to know Lars Ulrich and Metallica. For better or for worse, Metallica had fully become embedded with mainstream media and pop culture. Press Organisations that never reported on Metallica, suddenly where reporting on Metallica.

Metallica in 2013 is now the biggest metal band there is. Did the Napster controversy hurt Metallica? My answer is No it didn’t. It made them bigger, it spread their name out across all the corners of the world and most importantly it made their music available to everyone.

As an artist, that is your mission statement. Your music needs to be available to everyone. It is not about money right now.

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The Signature Voice Manifesto

SIGNATURE VOICE

Zoltan Bathory said  “Every vocalist has a signature” when he was asked what it was like to work with Rob Halford on Lift Me Up.  For some reason that statement just stuck in my head and it got me thinking. I came to the conclusion that the so-called “SIGNATURE” is the difference between bands that stand out above the noise of the internet and the bands that don’t. The signature statement isn’t just relevant to vocalists either. All the band members need to have a signature sound.

Why did Korn rise above all the other bands from their scene in 1993 to get a record deal? They had the signature vocalist in Jonathan Davis. Love him or hate him, one thing is undeniable, he is original. Munky and Head delivered a signature guitar sound, based on down tuned seven string grooves and effects. The bass and the drums delivered their own signature groove’s fusing, hip hop, R&B, funk and metal.

Why did Pantera rise to a metal god status? Dimebag and Vinnie are in their element. They are locked in so tight, it became the Pantera signature groove.  Suddenly all the other bands out there started to have the drums and the guitar lock in like Pantera. The other element is Phil Anselmo. As a Dimebag fan, I still blame Anselmo for Dimebag’s death. If Pantera remained together, Dimebag wouldn’t be playing a venue with crap security. However, one thing is also undeniable in this. When Phil changed his vocal style from Rob Halford metal god, to a combination of Rob Halford metal god meets hard-core god,  another signature sound was born. Suddenly, a host of bands sprang forth.

Why did Machine Head have a rebirth in 2003 and since then they have continued to go from strength to strength? Machine Head came out at a time (1994) when Groove Metal had already done its victory lap (as the labels had already over saturated the market with crap bands). Burn My Eyes, stood out because it still contained that Eighties thrash metal vibe, merged with groove metal, so they went on a two year victory lap for it.

By the time, The More Things Change came out in 1997, the musical scene changed again as it was starting to move to a more Industrial metal sound. The More Things Change is a continuation of what they did with Burn My Eyes, however the climate was different, so the album suffered in promotion from the label, who was chasing the big dollars by signing industrial bands.

By the time The Burning Red came out in 1999, the scene changed again as it was moving to Nu Metal. Then Supercharger comes out in 2001 and it comes out at the time when Nu Metal is finishing its victory lap and Metalcore is on the rise. The Trade Towers fall, their clips get pulled from music shows, because they have falling buildings and their label drops them.

They are on their own, left to their own vices and their own influences. So what do they do? They start writing, free from the pressures and influence of the label machine. In doing so, they created the Machine Head signature sound (that merges their thrash roots, with their hard rock roots, with their power metal influences, with their groove metal influences, with their nu-metal influences ) and Robb Flynn creates his signature vocal style that a thousand other bands try to imitate. He is older, he is angrier and he is more melodic. If you want to have Robb Flynn’s vocal style, you need to have lived his lifestyle. You can’t have the same impact, if you come from Orange County and had parents rolling in the green.

Why did Disturbed rise above all the other bands that came out in 1999? The music is nothing original, and you can say it is a clone of the nu metal movement. What set Disturbed apart is the unique signature vocal sound of David Draiman. He is that unique and special, no one is even bothering to clone him or copy him. There is a band from Sweden called, Days Of Jupiter that comes very close to filling the void that Disturbed has left behind when they went on their self-imposed hiatus.

Why did Metallica become the premier thrash band, and not Slayer, Anthrax or Exodus or Megadeth? In my opinion I believe that Slayer and Megadeth are up there as well, however if you look all over the internet, it is Metallica that has the pull and the numbers. Two reasons – James Hetfield and the Compositions. James delivered that signature bark and it wasn’t just a bark like all the other bands and the NWOBM bands, it had a melodic sense to it. Second, it was the compositions. As much as people like the fast 4 minute songs, it is the longer compositions that set Metallica streets ahead of the others. Then when all the other thrash bands started to go into the longer form, Metallica changed the rules again with the Black album.

So if you want to be an artist, you need to have a signature sound and to get that signature sound, you need to mine your life experiences and influences.

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Alternate Reality, Music

Trivium

Since they are working with David Draiman, lets get to the songs that will be appearing on the More Blacker Than Black album (that was going to be called Shark Sandwich)

Down With The Shogun
Entrance Of the Sickness
Voices Come In Waves
Stupified Martyr
A Gunshot to The Head of the Game
Perditions Prayer
Liberate As The World Burns
Remember The Calamity
Believe (As Chaos Reigns)
Ten Thousand Fists Anthem
Stricken In The Floods
Indestructible Hell
Into The Mouth of The Asylum
Tread Down From The Sky
Forsake All These Yesterdays

Ooo ooo aah aahh.

The lead single “Hellhole” was too good to be on the album and it will be released as a stand alone album of one song.
🙂

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