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

Saints (Winners) and Sinners (Losers)

WINNER
Machine Head are doing the opposite of what all the other bands are doing. Playing smaller venues, selling them out and doing “An Evening With..” extravaganza. The prices of tickets are affordable and not extravagant. This is one band that realizes their niche place in the metal music business and they play to their core audience, the Headcases.

In Robb Flynn, they have one of the best frontmen in thrash/metal circles that is not afraid to take a stance on an issue. He speaks to his core audience via his journals. He controls his own narrative and not the press, which is the downfall of a lot of other artists.

Flynn, along with Monte Conner from Nuclear Blast have realized that music is all about the souvenirs. The “Killers and Kings” single release for Record Store Day with the four different tarot covers proved once again that if people believe in the artists, they will spend their money. Machine Head weren’t selling music, they were selling collectibles. I purchased all four and I still haven’t opened them.

WINNER
Megadeth. As a guitarist I didn’t really dig Broderick’s uninspired lead breaks so I am pretty happy that he has left. Just because a person is super technical it doesn’t mean they are good songwriters. Seriously put those lead breaks up against the jazzy shred work of Chris Poland, the neo – classical shred metal of Marty Friedman, the tasteful phrasing of Al Pitrelli and the pentatonic chaos of Dave Mustaine and you will see where Broderick stacks up. Drummers are plentiful so I am sure that Megadeth will have no issues here finding one that will suit.

LOSERS
Chris Broderick and Shaun Drover.

The history of guitarists and drummers that have departed Megadeth is vast. The real good ones have had stellar careers pre and post Megadeth. Marty Friedman had a fan base before he joined and then he became a Japanese musical icon post Megadeth. Al Pitrelli also had an established fan base prior to joining and he was already in demand as a session guy and touring guitarist for various projects. Chris Poland did “Damn The Machine” which was an unbelievable album/band that wasn’t embraced by the waves of change that happened to metal in 1993 and Poland’s instrumental album “Return To Metalopolis” was also a favourite back in the day.

WINNER
Streaming. Fans of music didn’t care at all that The Pirate Bay got raided or that Kickass Torrents got taken down. Those raids/takedowns are all pure PR stunts by the associations and a waste of money/legal resources because copyright for the last 15 years has been hijacked and used purely for criminal pursuits and nothing to do with aiding the artist.

LOSERS
Artists and entities that compare the streaming dollars earned today to those pre 1999 sales dollars without understanding that streaming is all about scale. The more people using the platform, the higher the payments will be in the future. But no one can look that far, when everyone thinks about “right now”. The ones complaining about streaming royalties just don’t have enough fans interested in listening to their music consistently.

WINNER
Slash. He has shown that he is more Guns N Roses than Axl Rose is. His output has been solid via his many projects, like Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, Slash (the guest vocalist album) and now Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. He is doing what every other musician should be doing, which is releasing product and touring.

LOSER
Duff McKagan. His views on piracy/copyright infringement are restricting him from doing what he needs to do, which is, to create music.

WINNER
Dee Snider. His views on Doug Aldrich are spot on.

LOSER
Doug Aldrich. He’s a good guitar player but nowhere in the league of the Eighties guitarist he was competing against when he was with “Lion”. For the years he has been involved in music, there is not one definitive song/riff that can be attributed to Doug Aldrich.

WINNER
Data. The era of feeling it or rorting the charts is over. It’s all about the fans and what they listen too.

LOSER
Sales. Just because Spotify is killing off piracy, it doesn’t mean that people will start to buy physical CD’s, vinyls or pay to download MP3’s again. Seriously there is a lot of rubbish reporting out there stating something like “sales are worse now since Spotify has entered the market”. Well, hello genius, Spotify and streaming for that matter are also competing with sales.

WINNER
George Lynch. He realizes it’s all about the music and without making new music, he has no career. That’s why people come back. Lynch Mob, his solo career, KXM, Sweet and Lynch and now the announcement of a new project called “The Infidels” which is another pseudo-supergroup.

LOSER
Don Dokken. Without the involvement of Lynch and Pilson in the songwriting department, the band Dokken is a shadow of its former self.

WINNER
Indegoot Entertainment. They have a roster of bands that make up a very large portion of the U.S Hard Rock market, that have proven to be consistent sellers in a recorded music sales market that is contracting instead of expanding. Shinedown, In This Moment, Halestorm, Chevelle, Adelitas Way, Black Stone Cherry, Theory of A Deadman and Story of The Year.

Rock is far from dead when you have rock artists like these. And with a good roster of talent comes power on the live circuit. That is why Indegoot is a winner.

LOSER
Any metal or rock band that is spending months upon months creating their new album and being out of the public consciousness. The modern way is to be in our head space every day. If an artist today takes a break then they are on their way to being forgotten. And you don’t want to be in the news if it is not about your music. No one can forget what their core business is.

Slipknot took almost seven years to release their new album, only to have “The Devil In I” rack up 9.6 million streams. What about the other songs?

Yngwie Malmsteen has delivered a lot of dud albums in the last ten years and he still takes his time before issuing the next one.

WHY?

You would think after one crap album, he would get going with delivering a better song quickly to make amends. Malmsteen can be doing much more to keep in touch with his fan base which doesn’t revolve around issuing ten to twelve songs every two years under his own name.

Take a leaf out of George Lynch’s or Michael Sweets or Marc Tremonit’s or Russell Allen’s playbook.

WINNER
Kevin Churko. Everyone wants to work with him. He is the modern-day version of Tom Werman or Keith Olsen. Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Hellyeah, Papa Roach are all bands that have used the might Churko as producer and on some occasions as songwriter. If you want to use sales as a statistic of reach, then bands produced by Kevin Churko are some of the best sellers in the genre.

LOSER
EVH.

My EVH Peavey 5150 Combo that I purchased back in 1995 is still my favourite amp to record with. So it is a shame that the greatest and most innovative guitarist cannot get it together to deliver new music worthy of his stature. Reading Sammy Hagar’s bio recently cemented my views on EVH who has become a person that is so out of touch with reality and a victim of his own vices. His future without any doubt is with Sammy Hagar as the front man.
WINNER
Allen Kovac’s move from management to the label business has paid off. Eleven Seven Music is another label doing their bit in bringing hard rock back to the masses. Artists involve Hellyeah, Mötley Crüe, Papa Roach, Pop Evil, Sixx:A.M, Nothing More, Art Of Dying, Apocalyptica, Escape The Fate and Drowning Pool.

LOSER
AC/DC without Malcolm Young have lost their foundation. Don’t get me wrong, I love AC/DC and always will. They will make a killing on the live circuit however no one cares for their new music. On top of all that their views about withholding their music from certain digital outlets (while it is available for free on pirate sites) shows how out of touch they are. They are leaving money on the table.

WINNER
Marc Tremonti. He showed the world that he was the brains and driving force behind Creed. He kept his career going with Alter Bridge. He started his own solo band. He went away and mastered the art of shred. His PRS guitars are state of the art and brilliant to play. Trust me on that one as I have one. The PRS through the 5150 is the perfect sound for me.

LOSER
Metallica. They are trying to replicate the corporate deals of U2 and the product saturation of Kiss. This in turn leaves the hard-core fan base squeamish. Meanwhile it has been seven years since they released “Death Magnetic” and music is the very reason why Metallica is in the powerful position they are in right now. However it seems they have forgotten that part of their career. “Lords Of Summer” will most probably be turned into a totally different song however if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t bode well for Metallica as they sit down to write the next album.

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

The Classic Game Changer Albums

Is there any artist or band out there that can totally wow us like the first time that bands like Dream Theater, Motley Crue, Metallica, Guns N Roses, Pink Floyd, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Van Halen, Twisted Sister, KISS, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Blizzard Of Ozz, Rainbow and so many others did.

Don’t get me wrong, I hear bands that are good all the time and most of those bands sound like the bands that I have mentioned however they still do not make me feel like when I first heard those classic bands mentioned above.

I know that people will argue the point, however they really need to put themselves back into that head space of that era.

Just think about it.

Put yourself back in 1983 and Metallica is on stage. You are watching this band play a hundred miles a hour and they are in your face. Then think back 10 years from that point and pick anything that resembles what Metallica does on that night in any shape or form.

The same for Van Halen. Imagine it is 1978 and you are there watching Eddie Van Halen on stage and he is ripping up the fretboard with hammer ons, legato runs and finger tapping. He isn’t doing it as part of an extended jam or a guitar solo moment, he is doing it as part of the songs riffs and leads. Then think back 10 years and find another guitarist that resembled what Eddie Van Halen is doing on that night.

Of course, people will argue that Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix were all doing the rounds in 1968. That’s a decent argument. Then I say go back another ten years from then to 1958 and then you will see what a massive change was happening during that twenty year period.

Hell, the sales of guitars jumped astronomically from the fifties to the eighties. That should be proof enough of the change that was happening during that time as music started to cross boundaries and become worldwide.

There is no doubt that music has played a vital role in our society. We listen to it, we play it, we create it and we use it for almost everything.

Regardless of where people’s loyalties lay when it comes to their favourite artist, the truth is this; there are only a handful of truly great hard rock albums from start to finish that will stand the test of time. Of course there there are albums with a handful or just one truly great rock songs that will stand the test of time.

Since Metallica is in the news a lot with their request by fans tour happening, the new song “The Lords Of Summer” doing the rounds, plus all the petitions in place to kick them off a festival, lets kick off with them.

There is no doubt that the “Black” album is their TRULY Classic moment. One album that encapsulated and re-defined and re-classified a genre. A game changer in every sense.

What about the albums that came before the Black album?

“…And Justice For All” had two defining songs in “One” and “Harvester Of Sorrow”. Other songs that on any given day could be up there or are up there are “Blackened” and “And Justice For All”. The album wasn’t a game changer in any way as it just built on the three albums that came before it.

“Master Of Puppets” is a pivotal album in Metallica’s career for two reasons. It was the first Metallica album that was a true Metallica album, written by the band and it was the last album to feature Cliff Burton before his tragic death.

The one two knock out punch of “Battery” and “Master Of Puppets” is undeniable. However the next two songs, although good are mere imitations of songs 3 and 4 from the “Ride The Lightning” album. “Disposable Heroes” picks it up, while “Leper Messiah” is a foreshadowing of the “Black” album style. “Orion” is a great instrumental to fans of instrumental music like me and “Damage, Inc.” is jarring and in your face, which people either dig or detest.

The first four Metallica albums could easily be packaged into one GAME CHANGER album.

1. Battery
2. Master Of Puppets
3. For Whom The Bells Toll
4. One
5. Disposable Heroes
6. Harvester Of Sorrow
7. Creeping Death
8. The Call Of Ktulu
9. Seek And Destroy

Same deal for Motley Crue. Their first four albums could easily be packaged into one GAME CHANGER album.

1. Live Wire
2. Shout At The Devil
3. Looks That Kill
4. Red Hot
5. Home Sweet Home
6. Wild Side
7. Girls, Girls, Girls
8. Too Young To Fall In Love
9. Too Fast For Love
10.On With The Show

Here are a few more game changer albums from the Eighties;

Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet

It gave Jon Bon Jovi a career that he is still doing victory laps on almost 30 years later.

Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction

It gave Axl Rose a career that he is still doing victory laps on it. It also gave Slash and Duff a springboard to go solo.

Def Leppard – Hysteria

“Pyromania” got the ball rolling and “Hysteria” after laying dormant for a year went viral.

Motley Crue – Dr Feelgood

Sobriety leads to a lot of clarity and groove and a number 1 album.

Van Halen – 1984

The definitive statement of Californian Rock, launching David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen into every household of the planet

AC/DC – Back In Black

It launched the band world wide and solidified the growing reputation of a young producer called Mutt Lange.

Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry

It gave the band two cultural video clips and when they reformed in 2001, it was the launching pad for the next wave of SMF’s.

Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz

It re-established Ozzy by giving his solo career a real boost and it gave the world the talents of Randy Rhoads and the lyrical writing talents of Bob Daisley.

Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance

It paved the way for metal to burn up the charts again in the U.S that no one saw coming.

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

Harem Scarem – The First Three Albums

From Canada. Not the early Eighties Australian band with the same name. And that is all the similarities that there is between the two.

No one even heard of the Canadian version in Australia. The first time I heard them was when I went to a blog that doesn’t exist anymore and that blog had zip files available to be downloaded via the Cyberlocker sites like Megaupload or Rapidshare or Hotfile.

The first three albums have a powerhouse set list. I was a fan of Honeymoon Suite and Loverboy, so Harem Scarem was right up my alley, however I didn’t hear their music until this year.

1991 – Harem Scarem

It is a strong debut with a terrible album cover. Actually all of their albums in the nineties had bad album covers.

Coming out in 1991, it was not out-of-place. Guitarist Pete Lesperance showed what a talent he is, hence the reason why he is still creating music in 2014. Hearing this album in 2014, I was attempting to shift my mindset back to 1991 and how I would have viewed it at that time. Basically it was just another standard melodic rock release in a genre that started to sound the same.

You see, when the classic rock bands sang about love they were breaking down taboo’s. It was a complex subject once upon a time. So when bands started singing about love and sex in the late eighties and early nineties, the barriers were all torn down. The subject wasn’t taboo anymore. The audience had moved on. Sure, some love songs could resonate with an audience, however you couldn’t build a metal and rock career based on love songs.

Artists needed to rock. And when Harem Scarem rocked, they rocked with the best of them.

Hard To Love

Written by songwriter Christopher Ward, vocalist Harry Hess and guitarist Pete Lesperance. Ward was already a hit maker, with the song “Black Velvet” from 1989 that he co-write with another Canadian songwriter in Dave Mason and sung by another Canadian, Alannah Myles.

When it comes to Canadian hard rock, it is about two to three degrees of seperation between artists, songwriters and producers. Just to give you an example.

Co-Producer Kevin Doyle was the engineer and mixer on the Alannah Myles album released in 1989. Christopher Ward was one of the main co-writers on the Alannah Myles album and he was also a co-writer on “Hard To Love”. Ward’s long time friend and songwriting partner on occasions, Stephen Stohn was executive producer on the TV show “Degrassi: The Next Generation” which also featured a lot of songs from Harem Scarem.

And for the song, it’s a classic melodic rock song. That Journey meets Bon Jovi vibe and the guitar playing from Pete Lesperance is liquid like.

As soon as the lead guitar kicks in, I am reminded of Boston. Chord wise, it’s got a basic Em to C to D progression in the verses and a G to D to C progression in the Chorus. When it comes to any song ever created these are the progression that artists/songwriters revert too.

White Lion’s “Hungry”, Bon Jovi’s “Livin On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name (albeit in a different key), Van Halen
“Aint Talkin’ Bout Love”, every Iron Maiden song, Led Zeppelin’s outro in “Strairway To Heaven” and a lot of others.

The difference is always the vocal melodies. That is what makes each song unique enough to stand on its own two legs.

With A Little Love

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

When Harem Scarem do melodic rock ala Def Leppard, they do it well. “With A Little Love” set the standard for these type of songs however the songs that followed afterwards on subsequent album didn’t match up. For example, “Stranger Than Love” from the follow-up, didn’t cut it.

Like all melodic rock songs in the major key, “With A Little Love” is no different. The movement from G to Em brings back memories of “The Deeper The Love” from Whitesnake.

All Over Again

A major key rocker written by Harry Hess. Reminds me of Journey “Anyway You Want It”. The chord progression of D to A to G is a very common progression. A lot of my favourites have this kind of progression.

From a hard rock perspective, you can’t go past Randy Rhoads “Crazy Train”. It is in the key of A, so the chord progression is A to E to D in the verses.

From a ballad point of view, you can’t go past “Knocking On Heavens Door” moves with this progression in the key of G, so the chord progression is G to D to C.

From a musical theory point of view it is a I to V to IV progression.

How Long

Written by Harry Hess, Pete Lesperance and another Candadian songwriter called Dean McTaggart who also worked with an Australian singer called Tina Arena with great success.

From 3.03 it goes into overdrive. The riff under the solo is not just power chords. It is a riff, structured around a groove first and then a guitar solo tailor-made to fit the riff.

Something To Say

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

The first minute and 25 seconds is a classical/flamenco intro that shows the talents on display. After it’s got this “Mr Bojangles” vibe merged with The Beatles “Yesterday” in the same major key as the mentioned songs.

1993 – Mood Swings

Released at a time when Grunge was taking over the world, it was the definitive album from Harem Scarem. It is by far the fan favourite.

Saviours Never Cry

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

What a song to open the album. By far my favourite. That palm muted hammer-on intro has so much groove its undeniable. And the song just goes into overdrive. The heaviness of the track and the balls to the wall attitude makes this song a contender.

If your lips never move
You’re bound to lose the war

What a lyric. Stay silent and prepare to suffer the consequences versus speaking up and preparing to make changes.

No Justice

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

“No Justice In The World” is the catch cry and ain’t that the truth.

The piece de resistance as a guitar player is that Spanish/Arabic feel in the solo section. It is not clichéd and it fits the song perfectly.

Change Comes Around

Another song written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

It’s like “Ballroom Blitz” merged with Van Halen esque rock. Even the lyrics are spoken in a David Lee Roth baritone style. Unintentional connections are what music is all about. How our minds and ears perceive a song and connect with it.

Empty Promises

One more song written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

Again the groove and the rock attitude resonates. It connects from the opening notes. “Screw the System” is the catch cry here and twenty years later we are still trying to screw the system however on occasion the system is screwing us.

Had Enough

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance and those Eddie Van Halen overtones just keep connecting with me.

1995 – Voice Of Reason

Two years passed and we get a heavier/experimental version of Harem Scarem.

Voice Of Reason

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance. The heaviness, the progressive elements and the harder edge immediately connects with me. And the groove just keeps the head nodding and the foot tapping. That solo/bridge section has this Beatles “She’s So Heavy” vibe. Love it.

Warming A Frozen Rose

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

It’s got this Circus Big Top feel to it and the possibilities that offers in the world of rock and metal are huge. And what about that swing jazz like solo section.

Candle

It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.

Euro Metal. Love the heaviness and that wicked slow groove tempo.

Reminds me of the styles of Axel Rudi Pell and Yngwie Malmsteen.

If you need an introduction into the world of Harem Scarem, then the first three albums are essential listening.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

What Happened to The Guitar Riff?

The mighty Guitar is still in the forefront of all the main hard rock and metal music. Regardless of what music style came and regardless what technological new medium came to kill it off, (like the Eighties midi craze), the mighty guitar has fought its way back time and time again.

Like a true champion it rises up from the canvas. That sound through glass tubes and cones made from paper. What can beat it?

To quote Dark Helmet, “Absolutely Nothing”.

Try as the trend setters might to eliminate distortion, the power chord and it’s many different versions remain unique. The human feel of a guitar is the essential element that makes a song unique and intimate enough to form a connection with a listener. You don’t see people growing up wanting to be clarinet and flute players.

It is an integral part of culture, both past and present. Think of Jimi Hendrix burning one or Pete Townsend smashing one or Randy Rhoads playing that immortal polka dot guitar or Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar.

Think of all of the album covers that featured a guitar;

Dire Straits – “Brothers In Arms”
Stryper – “To Hell With The Devil”
Def Leppard – “On Through The Night”
AC/DC – Take your pick of the many classic album covers that involve Angus and his trusty Gibson SG.
The Cult – “Sonic Temple”
Van Halen – “Women And Children First”
Bruce Springsteen – “Born To Run”
Jeff Beck – “Guitar Shop”
MSG – “Built To Destroy”
Boston – The self titled debut and “Dont Look Back” covers are iconic.

At the moment, the number 1 hits around the world are “The Monster” by Eminem/Rihanna, “Timber” by Pitbull/Keisha and Happy by Pharrell Williams. Not a lot of guitar in those songs and if there is guitar, it is in the background, relegated to a support act.

It is not the main instrument in popular culture anymore.

The guitar is disappearing from popular culture.

So what happened.

So what happened to that riff that connects. The one that we can play air guitar to.

Commercial sensibilities are trumping artistic sensibilities.

Rock and Metal bands are churning out songs. Good songs. Great choruses. But no definitive riff. We hum the melodies, we tap the groove, but we don’t do the der, der, derr on the riff. For those who don’t know what the “der, der der” is, it is “Smoke On The Water” from Deep Purple.

Avenged Sevenfold came close with the “Hail To The King” album. Pissed off a lot of people in the process. They called them copycats. But they had the balls to create a classic rock album. And Classic Rock albums are created from influences.

Machine Head nailed it with “Be Still and Know” and “Unto The Locust”. But because of their niche, popular culture would never even know about it. Too ignorant to care.

Maybe it is the downtuning. Maybe it is the speed. Maybe it is the focus on the melody to be catchy.

One thing is certain, there are no riff driven songs, with a great hook doing 100,000,000 streams on Spotify. All of those numbers belong to Imagine Dragons, Avici, Daft Punk and a whole host of EDM artist and pop artists that have songs written by Max Martin.

And one last thing, for all the doubters that Spotify is hurting artists.

Check out this story.

Yep an independent artist that uses Tunecore as its digital distributor has earned from September 2010 to November 2013, $334,636 for over 57 million plays. It’s easy money earned by people listening to his music on a consistent basis. It’s that simple. It’s that pure. We create music so people can listen to it. First and foremost. And Spotify along with YouTube are here, telling the creators which songs are being listened too.

Isn’t that a great thing.

But hey, Spotify doesn’t pay artists said the old guard. Bullshit I say.

Spotify pays. It pays well. It is the record labels that don’t filter it down to the artists. It is the same old argument like before of Record labels not paying artists.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Divided We Stand. But It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way.

Metallica resorted to a professional coach to get it together again. So did Aerosmith.

Motley Crue imploded at the peak of their powers with the firing of Vince Neil and then sued each other in the courts. Then when Vince Neil was back in, John Corabi was out and soon it was Tommy Lee that was out.

Bon Jovi and Megadeth resorted to group therapy. For Bon Jovi it was a way to keep the band together after “New Jersey” and for Megadeth it was a way to keep a stable line-up together.

Van Halen ousted David Lee Roth and there was a few years of bad mouthing each other. Then when Sammy Hagar was ousted, the feud turned ugly with both sides airing their dirty laundry.

Guns N Roses appetite for destruction more or less has the band as an Axl Rose solo project. According to Axl, “Slash is a cancer”. There was a lawsuit as well from Axl to Slash to stop the “It’s Five O Clock Somewhere” album as Axl claimed those songs were written for Guns N Roses by Slash.

Scott Weiland had a nasty split with his first act, Stone Temple Pilots (on more than one occasion) as well as with the Velvet Revolver project that featured Slash.

Sebastian Bach and Skid Row are still at loggerheads. Matt Kramer left Saigon Kick because he felt ripped off.

Machine Head and Adam Duce are in the courts because Adam Duce felt ripped off. Dave Lombardo is spitting venom at Slayer and their management team because he feels ripped off.

Paul Stanley went to town on Ace and Peter, calling them anti-semitic. Gene Simmons said that Ace and Peter didn’t deserve to wear the make up.

Dream Theater and Mike Portnoy ended their relationship abruptly.

And Rock and Roll was supposed to be fun. Yeah right, I hear people say.

The ugly truth is that the biggest obstacle standing between musicians and a career in music is the simple fact that we cannot get along.

Every band I have been in imploded because I was writing the music and the lyrics from the beginning. So when the other members realised that I am getting extra royalties and publishing moneys, then money becomes a factor and suddenly everybody wants to write a song or make suggestions to change a finished song just so they could a songwriting credit.

And I said NO a lot of times.

And that starts to put a strain on the relationship and the band dynamics. Eventually we became assholes to each other and one of the main commandments that I swear by is to “Don’t Be An Asshole”.

It’s easier said than done. Especially in metal and rock circles. You know, we are all alpha males in this business.

So how can we achieve a healthier band dynamic.

We need to handle criticism better. At one point in my life, the way I offered criticism wasn’t at all constructive and criticism towards me was seen as a personal attack.

Don’t be assholes to each other as everyone is replaceable.

True love of music is the best reward. Money is a byproduct.

Realise that if the guitarist does come in with a completed song, or an albums worth of songs, it’s okay. Same goes for the other musicians in the band. And if your song doesn’t make the cut, that is also okay.

If the band is a democracy, then happy creating, however let me tell you one truth. Bands that claim that their songwriting is a democracy are lying. There is always one that will be the boss.

Look at Van Halen. Songwriting credits originally showed Edward Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth. However it is a well-known fact that Eddie Van Halen wrote all the music and David Lee Roth wrote the lyrics, with little input from Van Halen’s rhythm section.

Slow and steady wins the race. Remember a music career is a lifers game.

You will get screwed by someone in the music business. Don’t let it get you down. Roll with it and learn from it.

In order to be seen or be heard, we need to stand united.

Don’t see every other artist or band as competition. The history of rock n roll shows that it was friendships and recommendations from other artists that broke artists to an audience. This is needed even more so in 2014.

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

Then And Now: Changes In Music

THEN
Music was all about achieving LIBERATION.

NOW
Music is all about the tyranny of MONEY.

THEN
Money served a purpose and it was a by-product of music

NOW
Money is the primary marker of status and success.

THEN
Music greats led the way in breaking down barriers and enhancing culture

NOW
We inhabit the world that The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Jim Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Free, Bad Company, Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith, Doobie Brothers, Electric Light Orchestra, Kiss, Metallica, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and AC/DC created.

THEN
We lied about what we earned.

NOW
We still lie about what we earn as the ability to make money is seen as a primary marker of acceptance. The shame of failing financially is so great that a number of people every year commit suicide because of it.

THEN
Bands/Artists needed to be busy to make it or stay relevant.

NOW
Bands/Artists still need to be busy to make it or stay relevant. Look at George Lynch and the amount of releases since 2008. Look at Mark Tremonti or Myles Kennedy and their involvement in various projects. Avenged Sevenfold are out on the road promoting the “Hail To The King” album, working on the “Deathbat” game and an anniversary re-issue for “Waking The Fallen”.

THEN
The challenge was getting your music heard

NOW
The challenge is still about getting heard.

THEN
No one toured South and Central America.

NOW
Touring dollars are in South and Central America. If you are an established band and are not touring South/Central America, then you are leaving money on the table. M Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold summed it up nicely in a recent Loudwire interview.

THEN
Platinum selling bands/artists were told that they owed the label millions. Check out Van Halen’s story during the Van Halen II era. “We went platinum. We toured for a year, we came back, and Warner Bros. told us that we owed them $2 million,” said drummer Alex Van Halen. “And on top of that, we owed them another record,” added guitarist Eddie Van Halen. “It was the end of the year. We had three weeks to deliver another record…then boom, we went straight out on tour again. The first record took about a week, seven days to do. The second record took about three weeks.”

NOW
Platinum selling bands/artists are still told that they owe the label millions.

THEN
Bands/Artists covered songs as a career choice and made them unique. They made those cover songs their own. Van Halen did it with “You Really Got Me” and again with “You’re No Good”, which Linda Ronstadt also covered.

NOW
Bands/Artists do cover songs as a tribute to their influence.

THEN
Bands/Artists borrowed heavily from other artists and styles without the fear of being sued. It was a cultural thing. Led Zeppelin comes to mind immediately. Jake Holmes played “Dazed and Confused” at a show in 1967 when he was opening up for The Yardbirds who had Jimmy Page on guitar. “Stairway To Heaven” had its whole intro lifted from a song called “Taurus” by Spirit. Again Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit once upon a time. In both cases, the artists didn’t sue.

NOW
Borrow anything, expect a lawsuit. Kudos to Avenged Sevenfold for having the balls to do so. They borrowed heavily and in turn they created an album that works brilliant live. And that is what it is all about. In addition it is one of the best metal sellers for 2013 and it is still selling in 2014.

THEN
The Record Labels didn’t know what would succeed or what would fail. Look at Metallica. “Kill Em All” was independently financed. Look at Motely Crue. “Too Fast For Love” was independently financed. Look at Twisted Sister. “Under The Blade” came out on a small independent label. “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” came out on Atlantic UK. The US arm didn’t want to touch the band. It was after the imported version of “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” started selling like hot cakes that Atlantic US became interested.

NOW
The Record Labels still don’t know what would succeed or what would fail. Five Finger Death Punch is a big seller in the world of metal and hard rock. Their first album was financed by themselves and issued on a small subsidiary label. Volbeat was a supergroup of Death/Extreme metal bands signed to a small sub label of a larger independent label.

THEN
Music was a risk business.

NOW
Music is still a risk business.

THEN
Labels invested in a lot of projects because they didn’t know what would connect.

NOW
Labels invest in fewer projects and blame piracy because they still don’t know what will connect.

THEN
Metal and rock labels signed the act first and then they figured out how to market them and sell them.

NOW
Labels sign an act based on how they decide to market them.

THEN
Recording was expensive.

NOW
Recording is cheap.

THEN
Distribution was expensive and controlled by gatekeepers.

NOW
Distribution is cheap.

THEN
Marketing was all about radio and record shops.

NOW
It is about Spotify, YouTube, social media and virality.

THEN
Labels had executive boards/owners that were music fans.

NOW
Labels have executive boards that are actual business executives with the exception of a few.

THEN
Universality is the key to success.

NOW
We have endless niches.

THEN
The release of music was controlled.

NOW
We have plenty. We are overloaded.

THEN
The song would sell the act.

NOW
The marketing hype sells the act with the exception of a few.

THEN
Rock music was liberating the masses.

NOW
It is known as Classic rock to the masses.

THEN
Acts wanted to lead. They challenged the paradigm.

NOW
No one wants to lead.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Great “Bark At The Moon” Song Writing Controversy

Coming into the “Bark At The Moon” sessions, the Blizzard of Ozz band was in disarray. Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake got fired before “Diary of A Madman” was released and in the process they had their credits removed from the album. The other driving force, Randy Rhoads died tragically when the plane he was on crashed into a mansion and burst into flames on March 19th, 1982.

Ozzy Osbourne as usual was at his drunken best and after delivering the “Speak/Talk Of The Devil” album, he was free from his Jet Records contract, ready to sign a major label deal with CBS.

Jake E Lee joined Ozzy’s band during the “Speak of the Devil” tour. The band at the time consisted of Tommy Aldridge on drums, Don Costa on bass and Lindsay Bridgewater on keyboards. Once that tour ended, the song writing process began for the next album.

This is what Jake E. Lee had to say on the song writing process in a recent interview with the Ultimate Classic Rock website;

Well, most of that was really me and Bob Daisley. Because Ozzy would show up and kind of play around with songs. I remember that I had the riff for ‘Bark at the Moon’ and I played that, and he said, “Oh, I love it — we’ll call that one ‘Bark at the Moon,’” because he already had the album title in mind. So he said, “That’s the one that’s going to be ‘Bark at the Moon.’” He’d come in with things like that and then he’d drink, and he’d either pass out or leave, which left just me and Bob. We’d stay in the studio and flesh out the songs. It was fun working with Bob. He wrote all of the lyrics, [and he’s] a great lyricist. So yeah, me and Bob, we had a good working relationship. It was fun doing that record.

Bob Daisley told his story to the Bravewords website in the following way;

“You see Ozzy and Sharon were trying to get me to agree to get rid of Lee (Kerslake) and get Tommy Aldridge in the band. I kept on saying no, it’s not broken, so let’s not fix it. Lee (Kerslake) was working fine. So they got rid of both of us. But a few months later, Sharon phoned me and asked me to meet her in London for a chat. She said that Randy wanted me to come back and that they wanted to do a third album. So I was supposed to do an album with Randy, Ozzy and Tommy Aldridge. It was all planned that I was supposed to do the third album, which I did but not until 1983 but was supposed to be in 1982. Obviously Randy was not a part of it and it ended up being Jake E Lee. Everything was postponed when Randy left us.”

That postponement meant that Dan Costa was playing bass on the 1982, Winter/Spring European tour. Eventually, Ozzy got fed up with him, punched him in the face, breaking his nose and firing him all in one swoop. The call went out to Bob Daisley again to do the US Festival gig and then the third album.

The US Festival attendance figure varies however it is safe to say that the attendance was somewhere between 350,000 to 450,000 people. The US Festival was the Metal’s world “Woodstock”.

From May 29, 1983 up until 1992, metal and rock ruled. Coming into the US Festival, Bob Daisley had a week to get himself re-acquainted with the songs. In typical rock star fashion, Daisley flew in to L.A, went straight to rehearsal from the airport with some series jet lag. After another rehearsal the next day, he walked out on stage to play to a sea of people on the third day. The bands that performed on the Heavy Metal day included;

Quiet Riot
Mötley Crüe
Triumph
Ozzy Osbourne
Judas Priest
Scorpions
Van Halen

The US Festival (sponsored and orchestrated by Apple’s Steve Wozniack) was a pivotal moment for all of the metal bands involved.

Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” was released on March 11, 1983 however it didn’t really do anything. The album then started to take off after the US Festival in May 1983 and after the release of “Cum On Feel The Noize” as a single in August 1983, it exploded.

Motley Crue already had some momentum going with “Too Fast For Love”. The U.S Festival helped cement their status as Sunset Strip favourites and when “Shout At The Devil” hit the streets in September 1983, the momentum became a tidal wave to platinum glory. Motley Crue played the perfect set, including a few of the new songs that would appear on “Shout At The Devil”, so as a concert goer, if you heard those songs and liked them, you more or less would go out and purchase the album that has them them.

Triumph, Scorpions and Judas Priest already had some serious momentum going.

1981’s “Allied Forces” for Triumph was a success and the follow-up “Never Surrender” released in January 1983 was no slouch either and it was certified Gold on September 30, 1983 by the RIAA. Isn’t it funny what a festival in May of that same year did to boosting sales.

Judas Priest had their 1982 “Screaming For Vengeance” album doing the rounds and in April 1983 it was certified Platinum in the U.S.

Scorpions had their 1982 album “Blackout” out in the market and their visibility at the US Festival in May 1983, assisted in “Blackout” reaching Platinum status in March 1984. Also in March 1984, “Love At First Sting” hit the streets with the worldwide smash “Rock You Like A Hurricane” further cementing the band’s status as superstars. This success didn’t come instantly either, as the Scorpions had been working since the start of the Seventies.

Van Halen at the time were kings of LA however their last album “Diver Down” didn’t do them any favours. The visibility from the May 1983 festival along with Eddie Van Halen featuring in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” song would help their “1984” album released in January 1984 reach the lofty Diamond certification.

Ozzy Osbourne on the other hand was a very different place in his career. He had the momentum with the Blizzard Of Ozz band and then started losing that momentum when Sharon and Ozzy fired Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake. With the death of Randy Rhoads, all of that momentum was totally lost. So the US Festival was an important moment for Ozzy Osbourne’s career.

For Daisley, coming back into the fold after he played the U.S Festival meant that he came with conditions this time around. Two of the conditions he stipulated was to be paid for writing the songs and to be paid to play on the album. Other conditions that he stipulated was to get bonuses when the sales reached a half a million and then a million and so on. However, as usual, he got screwed again and no bonuses came. Of course when the album was released in November 1983, by January of 1984 it was certified Gold in the US.

So after the US Festival in May 1983, Bob Daisley, along with Jake E. Lee, Tommy Aldridge and Ozzy Osbourne went to New York and started writing. Writing continued in London and recording started at Ridge Farms with Max Norman Engineering and producing again. The rest of the album was finished at The Power Station back in New York in 1983. The reason for the change was that Ridge Farm Studio was losing money at that point. In typical Osbourne fashion, the favourite Tommy Aldridge struggled in the studio, with Sharon Osbourne constantly on his case as to why the drum parts were taking so long. So after Aldridge recorded the album and just before the tour, he got fired.

That is when Carmine Appice entered the fold. Appice appeared in the “Bark At The Moon” video and had a contract to do the tour. Eventually he got fired from the tour as well due to him sneaking off and doing drum clinics, which infuriated Sharon Osbourne, especially when he would come back late for sound checks.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the matter in an interview on the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“Sometimes he (Appice) would throw extra things into the songs that shouldn’t be there just to show his pupils that he gave free tickets to after doing the clinics. He got a little carried away with himself but it was wrong for Ozzy and Sharon to get rid of him because he had a contract to do that tour. They should have ironed out the problems but what do they do? They get rid of him and bring Tommy Aldridge back and I think it was a mistake. Carmine sued them and he won.”

How many law suits would the Osbourne’s face that all could have been avoided if they were fair to the musicians that really made Ozzy Osbourne’s solo career. Let’s get one thing out-of-the-way. The mix is horrible. Thank Tony Bongiovi for that.

“Bark At the Moon” was a title that Ozzy came up with. Ozzy mentions it and both Jake and Bob agree with it. Jake E. Lee came up with the riffs and Bob Daisley wrote the lyrics about a beast that comes out in a full moon.

I love the lyrics in “You’re No Different.” Bob Daisley has stated that it was Ozzy’s title and that Ozzy wanted the song to be about people judging and criticizing him.

Look at yourself instead of looking at me
With accusation in your eyes
Do you want me crucified
For my profanity

Concealing your crimes behind a grandeur of lies
Tell me where do I begin
If you think you’re without sin
Be the first to cast the stone

Living my life in a way that I choose
You say I should apologize
Is that envy in your eyes
Reflecting jealousy

Tell me the truth and I’ll admit to my guilt
If you’ll try to understand
But is that blood that’s on your hand
From your democracy

The lyrics to the song “Now You See It (Now You Don’t)” were composed by Daisley and were aimed at Osbourne’s wife and manager Sharon Osbourne. However Ozzy and the rest assumed the song was about sex. Even Bob Daisley stated once that the song is about hiding a sausage.

For the song “Rock N Roll Rebel” this is what Bob Daisley had to say about it on his website;

Ozzy’s title and another one about him being accused of being a devil worshiper. Some of the lyrics were his too but about 90% were mine.

“Centre of Eternity” or “Forever” was Bob Daisley’s title and lyrics. As Bob stated, it is a “tongue-in-cheek philosophical look at ‘time’ and our existence in eternity.”

“So Tired” to me was a great song. Jake E Lee hated the orchestra in the song. Bob Daisley has stated that it was his title and lyrics. On his website, this is what he had to say about the song;

Something quite unusual for me to write – a love song. The idea came from a Kinks’ song I heard on the radio one night driving back home from Ridge Farm. Their song was called ‘Tired of Waiting’ but that’s where the similarities end.

“Slow Down” is a Bob Daisley title and all lyrics are by Daisley. This is what Bob Daisley had to say about the song;

Inspired by The Beatles’ song of the same name but again, that’s where the similarities end, the lyrics are very different. I remember Jake E. Lee particularly liked this one.

“Waiting for Darkness” to me is a favourite. It is Ozzy’s title however Bob Daisley wrote all the lyrics.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say about the song;

I wrote it about the hypocrisy within organized religion, the brainwashing, mind control, paedophilia and manipulation through guilt, and that if that’s what equates to the ‘light’ then I’ll wait for the ‘darkness’. When Ozzy was asked what the song was about during his interview with ‘International Musician’ magazine, mentioned earlier, his answer was, “A witch.” It seems he didn’t understand the lyrics I’d written and he’d sung, although he took credit for writing it.

“Spiders” was a Bob Daisley title and lyrics.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say about the song;

When we were recording ‘Bark’ at Ridge Farm, there were hundreds of little spiders everywhere. They were harmless but the glut of them inspired the song idea. I turned it around at the end with ‘the spider’s in your head’…

“One Up the B-side” is Bob Daisley’s ode to anal sex and the title and lyrics are all his.

In relation to the music, Jake E. Lee has said that he would come up with riffs and the ones that got the nod of approval ended up into songs.

On the Ultimate Classic Rock website, Jake E . Lee is asked the question if he went into the making of the “Bark At The Moon” record knowing that he would not be getting any writing credits. He answered that question with a simply “No”.

This is what he had to say on the matter;

“I was promised that I would get [credit]. Because I was young and I was in the middle of Scotland recording, I didn’t have a manager or a lawyer — it was just me. From the beginning, every musician, it’s always hammered into them, “Keep your publishing” and “Keep your writing.” So those were the only conditions that I had was “OK, I’m getting song writing credit, right?” I was always assured that “Yes, I’m getting publishing — of course you are!” When I didn’t on the first record, it was upsetting. But I figured OK, what am I going to do? I got freaked — what am I going to quit? We’re about to tour on a record that I finally got to make. There’s no problem for Ozzy to find another guitar player — am I just going to be that guy that played on that record, didn’t even get credit on the record and then refused to tour because I had a problem with Ozzy? No. I had to go out and tour. It would have been stupid not to. So I was only able to put my foot down at the end of the tour. “Let’s make another record” and I was like, “OK, but this time, you know what? I want the contract first before we start recording. I don’t want to be a dick, but I don’t want to get freaked again either.”

A lot of people think that Ozzy wrote a lot of the lyrics. Ozzy has led people to believe that. In interviews Ozzy has always stated, “when I wrote that”. It is all lies.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the matter, in an interview on the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“The Osbournes won’t recognize or admit it’s true. They dislike the fact that, through my lyrics, I had a big hand in creating the magic and image that is Ozzy Osbourne. They’ve always tried to hide that. I remember at the time of Bark At The Moon, Jake E. Lee’s song publishing and mine had some complications. So we opted for a buyout and that’s why it says – ‘All songs written by Ozzy Osbourne.’ This of course, is not true. Ozzy did an interview with International Musician magazine, back in ’83 or ’84, they asked him how he wrote those songs and he said ‘with one finger on a piano.’ What a joke. The whole thing was ridiculous. Most people take it for granted that if someone is singing lyrics, that they wrote them.”

Now Bob Daisley got a buy out for “Bark At The Moon”, however it looks like Jake E.Lee got really screwed over for this release. There are no royalty checks for the songwriting and no publishing monies either. Let’s hope the Osbourne’s can sleep well each night, considering that a couple of million from the hundreds of millions that Ozzy is worth could right their wrongs.

Standard