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

The Pirate Vault #5

The Pirate Vault box keeps on producing some great memories.

Richie Kotzen – Fever Dream and Cacophony – Metal Symphony

I was in a shred mindset between 1989 and 1992 and I was buying CD’s and albums from Shrapnel artists. And I got these albums dubbed a few years after they came out and i picked em up on CD and LP not soon after.

I heard about Cacophony from interviews I read about Jason Becker and Marty Friedman, who of course at the time had gigs with David Lee Roth and Megadeth. And the music world only got to see a brief appearance of an unbelievable musician in Jason Becker, who still writes music via his eye movements and a system his dad has set up for him due to Lou Gehrig’s disease otherwise known as ALS.  

And of course, Richie Kotzen had the Poison guitar slot, in which he co-write a brilliant blues, rock and soul album called “Native Tongue” (which could have been his solo album) and the busy man he was, he also took Ricki Rockett’s fiancé mid tour. “Layla” from Eric Clapton comes to mind right now.

Dinosaur Jr – Without A Sound and Hand It Over

I was in a hard rock band with a drummer who was into grungy sounding bands, so while I exposed him to Dream Theater, he told me to sink my teeth into Dinosaur Jr.

I was hooked from the opening arpeggios and single note lines in “Feel The Pain” from the “Without A Sound” album released in 1994. And the heaviness of opening track “I Don’t Think” from the “Hand It Over” album released in 1997.

Fuel – Sunburn and Santana – 3

Fuel had significant chart success in Australia with “Shimmer”, however I didn’t commit financially until the second album came out. Another band member did commit, so it was a no brainer to copy this album from them, while another band member really enjoyed the jam aspects of Santana – 3, so in order to understand what they meant at band practice, I had to dub this album.

And it’s funny how in the early 2000’s, I was experiencing a new release and a release more than 30 years old. The beauty of music is that everyone forms a connection at different times.

And the songs “Taboo” and “Toussaint L’Overture” have some of the best and emotive guitar solo work Carlos has recorded on tape. They still make the hairs on the back of my neck rise.

AC/DC – Bon Scott compilation

My mate, Mick is a mad ACCA fan. When he lived in NY for about 12 years, he saw them on every tour, every night. When they come to Australia, he sees the Sydney shows.

One day in a suburban street in Australia, at a time far away sometime in the 80s, I asked him if he was keen to make our own Best Off compilation of Bon Scott material while we polished off a box of beer.

So off to work we went, debating which song should make it and which song shouldn’t. And a few hours later the holy grail of Bon Scott material that we classified as essential was ready to be blasted in the car stereo.

And I still hold that view to this day.

We were meant to meet and eventually do a Brian Johnson compilation, but life got in the way and we never did.

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

If You Want To Succeed In 2014

I was listening to Fuel’s new album “Puppet Strings” today.

Fuel was one of those rock bands I latched onto in the late nineties, early two thousands.

Why call it Fuel without Carl Bell?

Why did Carl Bell call it Fuel without Brett Scallions for the “Angels and Demons” album cycle?

Keeping a band together is a job in itself. No one tells you how hard it is. Read about the making of “The Wall” from Pink Floyd. Watch, “The History Of The Eagles” documentary. Read, “The Dirt” or “Face The Music” or “Lifting Shadows” or “Enter Night” and you will see countless examples of bands trying to hold it together.

Listening to the Fuel album got me thinking about the current state of the music business.

We live in an age where only blockbuster albums make serious money.

The income gap divide between the bands that release blockbuster albums and the ones that don’t is growing wider and wider.

The days of paying your dues and breaking through are over.

Now it is all about being great 24/7.

The internet noise has made it almost impossible for messages to rise above it and new releases come out one week and if they are not great, they are forgotten the next.

It’s a cold hard truth. In 2014, you have to be great.

Five Finger Death Punch. Great.

Volbeat. Great.

Avenged Sevenfold. Great.

Skillet. Great.

Gemini Syndrome. Great.

Halestorm. Great.

In This Moment. Great.

All of the bands mentioned above have had albums out for at least 10 months and more, and they are still part of the social conversation.

If you are one of those people who uses sales as a metric of success then all of the above bands are still moving units. However sales are not the only measures of success these days.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, understand how streaming royalties work.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, stop bitching about streaming royalties and re-negotiate with the record label.

Ever heard the story of Loreena McKennitt, who is a Canadian Folk/Celtic/World music artist.

She couldn’t get a record deal. She spent a long time networking and building a connection with her audience. Eventually she created a substantial fan base that started to purchase her music and she was getting 70% of it. When Warner Bros. came knocking, she showed the label what she was making and the “crap contract” that the label came with got torn up and she negotiated a new deal with the label that benefited her as well as the label.

In the end a harp playing harpist had enough bargaining chips on her side that she was able to negotiate a real deal. And then you have people like Scott Ian and other metal heads complaining about piracy and the state of the industry.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, know that it is a relationships business with the fans first and foremost.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, know that the press doesn’t matter. It might make you feel great and it might please your vanity, however it is the fans that break acts.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, you only get ONE SHOT to make a first impression.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, you need to know how to write, play and sing.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, take a note from the Dave Matthews band. They are huge because they have fostered an audience that is more or less a cultural movement.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, you need to keep creating hits. The biggest songs of a band’s career are the ones that didn’t rise up the charts. The fans made them hits in their cultural universe. Seen a recent set list of Metallica or Megadeth. None of the songs ended up as Chart Hits, but they are still hits.

If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, know that streaming revenue is just going to keep on rising. If you are on a label and an old contract start re-negotiating right now. Otherwise you will be left behind.

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