Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Queensryche and The Voice Of Queensryche

Queensryche is a band that really influenced me. The vocal melodies, the song construction and the various ways the twin guitars connected, inter-played and complemented each other.

So it was sad to see that all of the news items on the split, the dirty laundry, the sub-par musical releases, the court battles and the private agreements have had more views and reads then the combined Queensryche recorded output since “Hear In The Now Frontier”.

Geoff Tate is now “The Voice Of Queensryche”. Let’s put it this way. That title is not going to bring in any extra fans for Geoff Tate. The only way new fans will invest in him is if the music “The Voice of Queensryche” releases is undeniable.

But Tate is not interested in winning new fans with great music. All he wanted was “Operation Mindcrime” so that any future exploitation of the album into a movie will be all of his to keep.

In relation to “The Voice” moniker, this is all about maintaining an income. It’s all about marketing a tour so that at least a 1000 people attend a show at $50 a ticket.

It’s got nothing to do with pleasing fans and it has nothing to do with gaining new fans.

What about the Todd LaTorre fronted version of Queensryche? That version will more or less recreate similar sound recordings of Queensryche’s past.

And how does Chris DeGarmo’s Queensryche legacy fit in with this “amicable” settlement?

David Lee Roth was fired from Van Halen and billed himself as David Lee Roth. Vince Neil left or was fired (depending on what version you believe) from Motley Crue and billed himself as Vince Neil.

Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden and billed himself as Bruce Dickinson. Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath and billed himself as Ozzy Osbourne. Even Ronnie James Dio billed his solo career under his own name without any references to Rainbow and Black Sabbath.

Because the fans know about their heroes musical roots and backgrounds. Because the fans just want their favourites to keep on creating. The fans don’t need a court order. The need great music.

Granted the court order is also in place for financial reasons and trademarks. And that is what music should not be about.

But that is what happens when music is held hostage to money. That is what happens when music comes second to maintaining the status quo.

The best “amicable” settlement/revenge that Geoff Tate could have given his ex-band mates was an undeniable album or song under his own name.

Nothing drives an enemy more insane than seeing that someone they hate winning.

Instead Geoff Tate delivered a crap album, with a crap mix and started ranting on stage about smartphones. As John Wayne once said, “life is hard and it’s harder if you’re stupid”.

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The Battle For Queensryche and other ramblings. And the winner is……

The key for all artists is to see if the product has traction. Is there a demand for it?

If it doesn’t get any traction and there is no demand for it, why are you spending dollars recording a slab of songs. Why do artists believe that just because they release an album people will invest in it. Red Dragon Cartel take note.

If artists want us fans to part with our money they need to get our attention with their product.

There are two Queensryche bands doing the rounds at the moment. The Geoff Tate version is on Cleopatra Records and the Todd LaTorre version is on Century Media Records.

Looking at YouTube it is clear to see who the winner is in this battle. The Todd LaTorre version has the following view counts;
Fallout (Official Video) – 147,958 views
Where Dreams Go To Die – 161,907 views
Redemption – 329,248 views

The Geoff Tate version has an official video up for the song “Cold” and it has 180,276 views.

It is obvious to see which artist is doing more to get the attention of fans. It looks like Geoff Tate still believes that if he releases an album, people will invest in it.

What about Spotify metrics? Who is the winner there?

The only new song in the Top 10 of streamed songs, is “Where Dreams Go To Die” from the Todd LaTorre version.

In relation to sales, the Todd LaTorre fronted Queensryche outsold Geoff Tate’s version. They more or less doubled it, however it pales significantly to the glory days of the Mindcrime, Empire and Promised Land era. Think 25,000 copies compared to 500,000 plus copies.

Of course, the argument of piracy will rear its head again, however tell that to Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Shinedown and Avenged Sevenfold, who are all doing great numbers in physical sales. Tell that to Imagine Dragons who have spent over 12 months on the Billboard 200 charts and moved over 1.5 million copies of their Night Visions album in the U.S.

The “Radioactive” singe from Imagine Dragons and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” were certified 6x multi-Platinum. That’s right people, those songs were downloaded six million times in the U.S. I am sure if either of the Queensryche bands released a song that connected and crossed over, they would have similar sales figures.

So is there a demand for two versions of Queensryche? The answer is NO. The demand is there for only Queensryche band to function and the fans have selected the Todd LaTorre version. Judgement will be against Geoff Tate.

Stryper recently released the excellent “No More Hell To Pay” album. The official video of “No More Hell To Pay” has 271,894 views on YouTube and the Dave Mustaine selected “Sympathy” video has 108,875 views on YouTube. A few months earlier they released “Second Coming”, a re-recording of their classic Eighties material along with a couple of new songs. It’s back to the Seventies model with two releases in a year. The first release was to test the waters and the second one was to capitalise.

Speaking of Dave Mustaine. Megadeth and Mr Dave have been blasted by fans for the Super Collider album. However looking at YouTube, the Super Collider single has 1,054,581 views. The Kingmaker video has 930,343 views.

Of course they are the two strongest songs on the album and it is fitting that those two songs get the attention. So is the new album a dud. As a slab of songs together, it is a dud, however in an individual song basis, Kingmaker and Super Collider can stand up with the rest of the Megadeth catalogue.

The demand is for great quality songs. Expect the diehards to purchase the album.

Also I am going on a limb here, however I will expect that the music business will undergo another revolution, one that will start replicating the tech model. There is one Google, one Amazon, one Facebook and so forth. Sure each of them have imitators that do have a market share, however only monoliths succeed.

In other words, if an artists mashes up different genres and creates something new, they will win. Once they start winning, other imitators will try to get a slice of your pie. Once that happens, said artist will continue to innovate and release great music.

That is why outliers are starting to win at the Top 40 game. Gotye, Lorde, Adele, Mumford and Sons, Imagine Dragons.

That is why outliers are winning in Heavy Metal.

Five Finger Death Punch where an outlier when they started. Once they started winning, other imitators tried to get a piece of their pie. What do FFDP do? They go away and release two albums 3 months apart.

Volbeat is another outlier. It wasn’t until 2012 that the band broke through in the U.S and now imitators are queuing up.

There is now a huge demand for Volbeat and the funny thing is, they have been at it since 1999. Grit and Roll all the way to the top.

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Complacency Kills – Music Is A Battlefield

I am listening to the Avenged Sevenfold discography again today. Yep that is five days in row. What can I say, the new album, “Hail To The King” connected with me. I admit that the connection comes from the similarities of the songs on the new album to the bands that I grew up on.

As I have said many times, progress is derivative. One of the rules on success, is that you need to know how to be a member of the club. This is what Avenged Sevenfold is reaching for here on “Hail To The King.” They want to be a member of the classic rock club.  With 200,000 in U.S sales in two weeks they are well on their way. Spotify streams for the song “Hail To The King” are at 1,884,995 and YouTube plays are at 3,904,022 for the same song. Other songs on the album on Spotify have the following numbers;

Shepherd Of Fire – 495,889 streams
Doing Time – 372,238 streams
This Means War – 394,868 streams
Requiem – 333,633 streams
Crimson Day – 310,412 streams
Heretic – 277,498 streams
Coming Home – 288,336 streams
Planets – no data as yet
Acid Raid – no data as yet 

If you’re not spending money, then you are not investing in your future. That is why a DIY independent band like Digital Summer is still ticking over. All the money they make from music is invested back into the band. To supplement themselves, they hold down normal day jobs.

Don’t focus on the money aspect. Desperation can been seen a mile away and it is a turn off. Just try to be friends. Remember that the system is rigged against you. The deck is stacked against you. There are so many people that want to be in the music business, they are willing to work for free. There is no safety net. There is no fat cat with a cigar as mentioned by Yngwie Malmsteen saying that they will fund the record, they will fund the video, they will fund the tour and that they will promote you. This is what Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within doesn’t get. Piracy is not his enemy. His enemy is the millions of other wannabes that are trying to make it and are doing everything for free. Look at Netflix, their policy is to sign up shows that are pirated heavily.

The only way to make money in the music business is to be in the game a very long time. That way, you will be in a position to renegotiate and make better deals. That is why Metallica are huge and getting bigger. Spotify wanted them on their service and they came knocking with a deal that Metallica couldn’t refuse. That is why Motley Crue are still around and making more money than ever. That is why the battle over Queensryche’s name is huge. Even though the band is more or less over and the new music that is created is below Queensryche quality, the name of the band, and the legacy that comes with it carries a lot of weight in dollars. It is a full blown corporate dispute. That is why Geoff Tate has asked for the trial date to be delayed until January 2014. He is hoping that something can be sorted privately, otherwise if it goes to court and he loses, he loses a lot.

Make sure your music is good enough. If you believe that your music is good enough and you are still stuck in the same situation, then the problem is you. You have to figure out what it is about you that is not working and change it. It could be your look, your personality, your interactions with people or your lack of building proper relationships. I like the band Mutiny Within, however I hate the viewpoints that their singer Chris Clancy puts forward. He has been totally misled by others and focused totally on the money side of things.

Take Hold of the Flame from Queensryche sums it up with the lyric, “We see the line of those who find the world has passed them by / Too late to save a dream that’s gone cold.” Don’t be the one with a chip on your shoulder because of missed opportunities. John Sykes is one such talent that didn’t really get the respect and recognition he deserved outside of the core metal/rock community.

Remember that marketing isn’t the 4P’s model of Product, Price, Place and Promotion anymore. Trying to extend the 4Ps model to a world of social media doesn’t cut it anymore. This is what Roadrunner is doing right now with Dream Theater. Here is the product, here is the price, we are placing it here for sale and we are cross promoting the streams of the new songs with the USA Today website and the Grammy Awards website.

Marketing is a one to many relationship. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are three tools that fit this ideal of marketing. You see, record labels used to charge bands for marketing back in the Eighties and the bands didn’t complain about the marketing budget. In 2013, bands are now marketed on Spotify, YouTube and Pandora and they are complaining at the royalty rates and advertising rates these services pay. It doesn’t make sense to me. Dream Theater has not officially released the two new songs on Spotify. Avenged Sevenfold released the “Hail To The King” single on Spotify and it had 700,000 streams before the album even came out.

Sales is a one to one relationship. This is what iTunes, Amazon, Google Store, CDBaby and Brick and Mortar stores facilitate. Guess what, “Hail To The King” is out and it has moved 200,000 physical units in two weeks as well.

Notice a difference between the services that are used for marketing and services that are used for sales. Musicians fail to notice the difference, always linking marketing services to sales services and complaining about the lack of compensation from a marketing service, however when the Record Labels robbed them blind with $100,000 marketing bills, they didn’t complain.

You need to have skills, you need to know the rules, you need to know the game. You need to keep adjusting your game. On a battlefield, “Complacency Kills”. To stay on top of the music heap, you need to be on the leading edge. You need to remain motivated to succeed. Remember there is no safety net in music. You need to exceed the status quo in every way. You need to excel everyday 24/7. You need that outside perspective. If you surround yourself with enablers who have a vested interest in you making them as much money as possible, you will not get that perspective.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Uprising – This Revolution Is Calling For War. The spying on people controversy done in a Rock N Roll way.

As fans of music, we always looked to our heroes and the artists we liked for inspiration. So what would Queensryche say on the current state of the world and the spying on U.S citizens by its own government? The song Speak is from the Operation Mindcrime album, released in 1988.

The rich control the government, the media the law

1988 was a time when hard rock ruled the day, and the bands at the forefront had the whole rock n roll cliché surrounding them. You know the one, party hard, sleep with groupies, trash hotels and eventually get together to perform live and record.

Queensryche on the other hand simmered under the surface, focusing on issues that affected everyone, however at that time in 1988, we were all blind to it.

Revolution Calling led the way with the words;

Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in D.C
It’s just a power mad town

Let’s look at some recent events making the news. Copyright czar, Victoria Espinel, is best known for playing a large role in the SECRET negotiations between Hollywood and the recording industries to punish internet users under a six strikes initiative. She has know taken up a job with one of the groups that used to lobby her office.

Let’s reword the Revolution Calling verse;

Got no love for corruption
As everyone sells their soul in D.C
It’s just a knife in the back town

Later on, Geoff Tate summed up American corruption in Spreading the Disease. In 2013, people actually care, however they should have cared back in 1988.

Religion and sex are power plays,
Manipulate the people for the money they pay.
Selling skin, selling God
The numbers look the same on their credit cards
Politicians say no to drugs
While we pay for wars in South America
Fighting fire with empty words
While the banks get fat and the poor stay poor
And the rich get rich and the cops get paid to look away
As the one percent rules America.

Let’s reword the above lyrics in the following way;

Copyright Infringement is a power play
To shakedown the people and to get them to pay
Lobbying hard, bribing all
As the numbers need to look good on their balance sheets
Politicians say no to piracy
While judges allow copyright trolls to extort
Fighting fire with empty words
While the banks get bailed and the poor stay poor
And the rich get rich and the cops get paid to act for them
As the one percent still rules America

Does anyone remember the shutdown of MegaUpload in January 2012? Yep, the FBI was in charge of the shutdown, based on evidence provided to it by the Hollywood Movie Studios and the MPAA. Talk about cops doing the bidding for the wealthy. Isn’t it funny how Victoria Espinel, now has a job with a lobby group that used to lobby her department!

Another recent event is how a cyber-locker like Hotfile was found to be personally liable for facilitating copyright infringement. In a nutshell a judge in the U.S. Courts, found a business entity that provides a cloud service liable for how users choose to use it. Of course, Hotfile was no saint in this matter, however, what Hotfile did show is that Hollywood still doesn’t get it, when it comes to servicing the people or fans of content.

Finally, Grooveshark has achieved licensing agreements with Sony and EMI. So for years, the record labels pursued them in the courts, while also sending Google millions of takedown requests. A court in Denmark even ordered that the ISP’s block access to Grooveshark. WHY? The site was providing a service to customers by allowing the users to stream and upload music that they can play immediately or add to a playlist. However the record labels wants the music to be licensed, which means that Grooveshark needs to pay a fee. So if you are a user and you have uploaded music that you have purchased legally, why should you need to pay a monthly fee for it to license it.

Makes me think of the excellent Metallica song, Eye of The Beholder from the ..And Justice For All album also released in 1988. It looks like something was afoot around this period, as both Metallica and Queensryche touched on the same subject matter. They even toured together.

Independence limited
Freedom of choice is made for you my friend
Freedom of speech is words that they will bend
Freedom with their exception

The “they” in the song can be the Corporations, the lobby groups, the judges, the government. As Warren Buffett said, the class war is already over and the rich have won. The 1 percent own all the important land and they either own or control the corporations. In the process, they have also purchased the Politicians and the Judges. They also own the big media companies, so they control what news we get. THAT IS WHY they fear the INTERNET. They spend millions on lobbying, so that they get what they want, which is more wealth for them and less for everybody else.

Where is the voice of the people, like the song Vox Populi from 30 Seconds To Mars, that was released on their excellent, This Is War album in 2009.

This is a call to arms
Gather soldiers
Time to go to war
This is a battle song
Brothers and sisters
Time to go to war

And the story ends with the lyrics of Uprising from Muse, that was released on Resistance in 2009. In the same way that Queensryche and Metallica touched on similar themes in 1988, Muse and Thirty Seconds To Mars did the same in 2009.

Rise up and take the power back
It’s time that the fat cats had a heart attack
You know that their time is coming to an end
We have to unify and watch our flag ascend

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

Amen.

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1986 vs 2013

BON JOVI

In 1986, Jon Bon Jovi was all about the music. He was in debt to his record label and still living with his parents. The “band” Bon Jovi released their biggest seller, Slippery When Wet.

Now, Jon Bon Jovi is all about the money. The band Bon Jovi released their biggest dud, in What About Now, Richie Sambora has been booted because of money and Jon Bon Jovi cancelled a New York Fair concert for an intimate Government concert that paid more.

 

BLACK SABBATH/OZZY OSBOURNE

In 1986, Black Sabbath released Seventh Star with Glenn Hughes on vocals and Ozzy Osbourne released The Ultimate Sin.

Seventh Star was originally intended to be the first solo album by Iommi, but due to pressures by Warner Bros. Records and the prompting of band manager Don Arden, the record was billed as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.

The Ultimate Sin featured songwriting contributions from Bob Daisley and Phil Soussan, however due to Sharon Osbourne (Arden) trying to keep as much money as possible in Ozzy’s corner, Bob Daisley was not credited on the initial release and Phil Soussan had an accounting disagreement with Sharon. Everyone got shafted by an Arden.

In 2013, Black Sabbath released 13, their first album with Ozzy since 1978, that also featured the talents of Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk. Bill Ward said he would not participate until he was offered a “signable contract.” One B.W is out and another B.W is in. Again, someone was shafted by an Arden.

RECORD LABELS

The major labels wanted their artists to have careers. They spent a lot of money to convince the public that they should pay attention to their new artist or the latest release of an existing artist.

The marketing was from the label down to the streets. The labels had so much power and they set the bar. Either a band was signed to a label or they didn’t matter. Major labels were plentiful and the most powerful person in the music business was the Record Label head. Artists could live off the money from their record deal as people had to buy the expensive record to listen to it. Because it was expensive, we played it over and over and over again and eventually became a fan.

Now the marketing is from the streets and the record labels want the hit singles. They have shareholders to please, a board to please and all the label heads are interested in bonuses and short term profits. There is no long term vision anymore as the Record Labels do not have the same power.

The major labels have been reduced to 3, with Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.

In 1986, record companies were cool. In 2013, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Facebook, Apple, Samsung, Twitter and Amazon are cool. 

 

LIVE

In 1986, all the acts did the arena and stadium tours because demand was high. If a band opened for a major act, they believed they had made it. The public discovered new acts when those acts opened up for our favourite bands. Look at the list below;

Metallica and Ratt opened up for Ozzy Osbourne.

Anthrax opened up for Metallica.

Marillion opened up for Rush.

 

Loverboy opened up for Van Halen.

King Kobra, White Lion and W.A.S.P opened up for Kiss.

 

W.A.S.P also opened up for Iron Maiden.

Cinderella opened up for Bon Jovi in the U.S and Queensryche opened up for Bon Jovi in Europe.

 

Queensryche also opened up for AC/DC.

Cinderella also opened up for David Lee Roth.

Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger opened up for Journey.

Dokken opened up for Accept.

Keel opened up for Dio.

Krokus opened up for Judas Priest.

Now only the classic rock acts of the Seventies and Eighties can sell out the arenas and the few modern superstars. The majority of acts play the club circuit. If bands have a small hard core fan base, they can raise enough money to make an album and own everything about themselves. No one cares who the opening band is.

RANDY JACKSON

In 1986, he played bass with Journey. He appeared on the Raised on Radio album and also toured with them. People judged him on his abilities.

In 2013, he is a judge on American Idol.

CHARTS

Back in 1986, the charts meant everything and albums sold in double digit millions. Slippery When Wet from Bon Jovi went to Number 1 for 1 week in October and then it re-appeared at number 1 for 7 weeks in 1987.

Now the charts are useless and artists are lucky to sell a million units. There are a few, like Adele that go into double digits. Bon Jovi’s What About Now went to Number 1 for 1 week and it didn’t reappear again.

ANTHEMS OF A GENERATION

In 1986, we had Addicted To Love from Robert Palmer, Sledgehammer from Peter Gabriel, Dreams from Van Halen, Livin On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive from Bon Jovi, Peace Sells from Megadeth, Battery from Metallica, Raining Blood from Slayer and The Final Countdown from Europe.

In 2013, nothing lasts.

THE MUSIC BUSINESS 

In 1986, it was all about the music and if a band was all over traditional media, it meant they had traction and that people would be hearing their music.

Now, our favourite bands are playing to the masses who just don’t care and now it is all about marketing. Look at the marketing campaign for the new Dream Theater album. It looks like the label is trying to monetize every little bit of it. If a band is all over traditional media, it doesn’t mean that they have traction and it doesn’t mean that people have heard their music.

In 1986, everything was expensive and the cost of music was different at every store. Due to the high prices of music, everybody had a little bit of it. We had to buy it to hear it, or we used to tape it of someone who purchased it.

Now, music costs the same everywhere, and it’s cheap and everybody has more than they want. Music is available to hear for free, whether on YouTube or streaming music services like Spotify.

In 1986, albums from our favourite artists would normally come out every two years. Due to this lack of new material, music was scarce, so when we purchased albums we played them to death. We became fans by over playing the music we purchased as it was all about the music.

Now, music is released constantly and it is plentiful. Due to these riches of new material, we don’t spend as much time with the albums we purchased. We become fans by looking for the song that grabs our attention on the first listen.

LADY GAGA

In 1986, Lady Gaga was born. In 2013, Lady Gaga is just Born This Way.

METALLICA

In 1986, Metallica released Master of Puppets and lost bass player Cliff Burton in a bus accident while on tour.

In 2013, Metallica will be released Through The Never a live/concert film and will be losing a lot of money when it doesn’t set the world on fire.

MEGADETH

In 1986, Megadeth released Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying, which in their case, everyone was buying.

In 2013, Megadeth released Supercollider and no one was buying.

KISS

In 1986, Gene Simmons from Kiss produced and co-wrote songs for the Black N Blue album, Nasty Nasty, that had a certain Tommy Thayer on guitars.

In 2013, Kiss released Monster, that has Tommy Thayer on guitars, as well as lead vocals on one song and a major co-writer of material.

STRYPER

In 1986, Stryper released To Hell With The Devil.

In 2013, Styper will release No More Hell To Pay. It looks they still have hell on their minds.

SLAYER

In 1986, Slayer reigned in blood.

In 2013, Jeff Hanneman’s reign ended. RIP.

QUEENSRYCHE

In 1986, Queensryche was one band that released the a superior album in Rage For Order.

In 2013, Queensryche are two seperate bands that ended up releasing two inferior albums in Frequency Unknown(Geoff Tate version) and Queensryche (Todd LaTorre version).

The fans are screaming for order.

CINDERELLA 

In 1986, Cinderella released Night Songs and proved to the world that they are nobody’s fool.

In 2013, Tom Keifer the singer from Cinderella released The Way Life Goes, an album 9 years in the making with a song called Fools Paradise.

VINNIE VINCENT

In 1986, Vinnie Vincent invaded the charts, with a point to prove.

In 2013, Vinnie Vincent is …..

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

Semi Obscure Queensryche Songs

Queensryche appealed to me for a few reasons.
1. Insightful lyrics
2. Great messages and themes in the songs
3. Brilliant arrangements
4. Each album that they released with Chris DeGarmo followed my own musical taste changes.

Revolution Calling
With all the other great material on Operation Mindcrime, it was easy for Revolution Calling to slip under the radar. It is a dead set classic and it is the first real song that you hear when you press play on the Operation Mindcrime album. It’s lyrical take on money, power and corruption is brilliant. It is written by Michael Wilton and Geoff Tate.

In relation to the Operation Mindcrime concept, Revolution Calling is a flashback for the main character Nikki who realises how he has been indoctrinated by Dr X through his speeches.

Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in D.C.
It’s just a power mad town
But the time is ripe for changes
There’s a growing feeling
That taking a chance on a new kind of vision is due

Operation Mindcrime came out in 1988. Fast forward to when the financial meltdown happened in 2008. Did anything really change in the corridors of power?

I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I’ve seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?

The media was once a beacon of honesty, keeping politicians honest. Now the media is just another corporation, that needs to make profits for investors and shareholders. When making money is the name of the game, the stories change. Apart from reporting on real tragic events, like a natural disaster or a shooting or a bombing, the media’s news items are all sourced from newspapers and social media.

I guess Warhol wasn’t wrong
Fame fifteen minutes long
Everyone’s using everybody, making the sale

Geoff Tate really went to town on this song. The way the lyrics flow to tell the story of American life is just brilliant. It’s like he looked into a crystal ball and saw into the future. Has anything changed from 1988? People are still using each other and still trying to make the sale in the name of wealth.

But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives
Gotta make a million doesn’t matter who dies

Another take on this, is “Now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives, gotta keep my millions it doesn’t matter who dies”. When the GFC hit, did the One Percenters take the hit. Nope they sure didn’t, they even got bailed out by the Government. It was the poor and the middle class that took the hit. They are the ones that lost their jobs, their homes and their savings.

I still need to kick myself to remember that this was released in 1988. This was a time when hard rock was ruled by glam bands intent on living the Guns N Roses and Motley Crue lifestyle. For Queensryche to even go down a concept album path with Operation Mindcrime is a risk that paid off. Geoff Tate summed up his feelings on the state of American capitalism and corruption in Spreading the Disease;

Religion and sex are power plays,
Manipulate the people for the money they pay.
Selling skin, selling God
The numbers look the same on their credit cards
Politicians say no to drugs
While we pay for wars in South America
Fighting fire with empty words
While the banks get fat and the poor stay poor
And the rich get rich and the cops get paid to look away
As the one percent rules America

Again fast forward to 2008 and the whole Occupy Wall Street movement was against the one percent of people that rule America.

Resistance
It is written by Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton. In a Guitar World interview, Chris DeGarmo had the following to say about the song;

“Resistance (the song) didn’t even exist before we went into the studio. Michael had a real, cool, aggressive piece of music. He played this thing for me and I helped arrange it so that it seemed like we had something of a cohesive musical arrangement. We tracked it and had a melody together. It took only a second for [drummer] Scott “One Take” Rockenfield to blaze off his track. In the end, we came out with a really powerful song which wouldn’t have made it on the record had we not risked it. And we’d never written a song from scratch in the studio before. We thought it was the complete reverse of the way we work, because we communicate very thoroughly on song ideas before we actually record them.”

In my view Chris DeGarmo should also be getting a writing credit for this song. Arranging musical pieces into a song, is an active contribution to the final product, regardless if he came up with the music or not. I am sure that Lars Ulrich doesn’t come up with any music, however his name is on every Metallica song. That is because, he is an active contributor to the arrangement.

So what is the song about?

Queensryche always touched on themes far removed from the typical hard rock themes. For Resistance, Geoff Tate is singing about the environment and the world in general. The common theme of this is our world, we all share it, we need to stop abusing it, we need to stop neglecting it and we need to co-operate in trying to save it.

Protests in New York
Listen to the call of the wild
Brother, sisters carrying signs
Breathe deep before it’s too late
The sky is falling, burning your eyes

I believe that the actual lyric relates to the Anti-Nuclear Protests that happened in New York City in 1979 and 1982. The lyric of “Breathe deep, before it’s too late, the sky is falling, burning your eyes” supports this viewpoint.

Hearing Resistance today, these first five lines bring back memories of the Occupy Wall Street Protests post GFC. Isn’t it funny how nuclear weapons don’t bother us anymore, however the zeroes in our bank accounts do.

Thank the Lord, daddy’s working 8-5
Paying the doctor, baby’s got cancer

This what so many of us do. We do what it takes so that we can take care of our families. Like the lyric in Revolution Calling, “the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives.

Look around at what we’ve been given
Maybe we’ve taken too long

Anyone seen the movie Soylent Green. Eventually our resources will end. What comes next?

Promised Land
It is written by the whole band. That’s right, Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate, Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield.

Everyone has to consider what the promised land is for them. Society is quick to define success as having houses, cars and money. Is that everyone’s definition of success? It’s not mine. Our own promised land is there for each of us to discover.

Standing neck deep in life
My ring of brass lay rusting on the floor, is this all?
‘Cause it’s not what I expected

What a way to define the accumulation of money. It’s laying all over the floor and it’s rusting away. Success is all about how much money you have accumulated. It’s a very shallow definition for what success is. Making it isn’t about having houses and cars and money.

People and artists that get caught up focusing on that aspect, will end up obsessed with it. Me personally I would rather appreciate being alive each day. I may not have a lot of money however I am content with my life and who I am inside.

Somewhere along the way
Friends I once held close fled in the fast lane
I didn’t notice, I just had to make it

This is the part that refers to making it. I see this as, in the quest to “make it”, the past relationships they had, disappeared. The sad thing is, they didn’t even notice it, which leads me back to my previous point, that if you are caught up focusing on accumulating houses, cars and money, you become obsessed with it and end up missing out on life in general.

Where did it all go wrong?
I feel like I’m dying.
Here’s to love, to hate, to promises and Promised Land lies.

Does success equal happiness? This is what Geoff Tate had to say about it in an interview with Raw Magazine in November 1994.

“Everything about our society is based upon consumerism and selling. Having that as the main reason to exist seems so shallow.”

Geoff Tate further expanded on the song with the remastered CD linear notes in 2003.

“Reaching the Promised Land is a metaphor for obtaining the American Dream of prosperity, materialism and the happiness one derives from the ownership of things. The manufactured image constantly sold to us that materialism will make us happy is, I suppose, the only real thing in our society of stimulation and consumption.”

My father used the term Broken Promised Land a lot. After the GFC crisis, I thought of this song from Queensryche, and wrote a song called Broken Promised Land.

Bridge

It is a song written by Chris DeGarmo. This is what Chris DeGarmo had to say on the subject in an AOL interview;

“He passed away while we were recording “Promised Land” but prior to that he had seen what had happened with the band up through “Empire.” I loved my father. I just didn’t know him and I think he got to a point in his life where he started realizing the things that were really important to him. Recognizing some mistakes and some regrets, but also experiencing a bit of denial, almost like nothing happened and that’s what spawned the ideas in “Bridge.” How relationships need to be built particularly the parent/child relationship. All the best relationships have a real foundation to them of love, trust and respect. Without those building blocks they really don’t reach the area of the very, very special relationship.”

Chris DeGarmo, Dave Mustaine, Robb Flynn, Nikki Sixx and Corey Taylor. All of them wounded and abandoned by a father. All of them turning to music and seen as heroes to a generation.

Time has made you finally realize
your loneliness and your guilt inside.
You’re reaching for something you never had,
turning around now you’re looking back,
and you know… I’m not there.

You say, “Son, let’s forget the past.
I want another chance, gonna make it last.”
You’re begging me for a brand new start,
trying to mend a bridge that’s been blown apart,
but you know… you never built it dad.

You can feel the anger, the disappointment. It’s like Cats in The Cradle, however this is rawer. On the silver screen it eventually ends on a happy note, well, real life is not the movies. This saga didn’t end on a “lets ride into the sunset moment.” Hearing this song, back in 1994, I felt sorry for Chris DeGarmo. Hearing this song today, there is a different feeling. There is anger at the father for walking away, as I am a father to three boys, and I cannot imagine doing that.

Secondly, as a father, you sort of expect that if you reach out to your own children, that they would welcome you back with open arms, regardless of what transpired before. You sort of believe that by saying SORRY, everything will be forgiven and life will go on as normal.

Imagine the shock that Chris DeGarmo’s dad would have felt when his son said, sorry, I’m not interested in reconciling. It is a total different song to Things My Father Said by Black Stone Cherry.

Someone Else (with full band version)
It is written by Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate. I don’t know who pulled the plug on this version, however it is a big mistake. This is Operation Mindcrime/Empire era right here. The connection to the old Queensrcyhe while still forging ahead with a new Nineties version of Queensryche.

This is what Chris DeGarmo had to say on the song in a Kerrang interview from September 1994.

“That’s Geoff looking at a part of him which he’s re-evaluated. He’s got to grips with a certain part of his life that’s now focused in a new direction. I think he’s recognised that when he was younger his career, himself, and what he was going to do was of sole importance, and that he didn’t spend as much time thinking about his family and the relationships around him. I think he’s had another look at that and has realised it was another person and that he can’t relate to that way of thinking anymore.”

Here I stand at the crossroad’s edge
Afraid to reach out for eternity
One step when I look down
I see someone else, not me

The whole song has the lyric “someone else, not me” and right at the end it says that someone else is me.

All my life they said I was going down
But I’m still standing stronger proud
And today I know, there’s so much more I can be
I think I finally understand

One More Time
It is written by Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate.

Behind my eyes I keep my truth from you
No one enters this secret place,
The barrier only I embrace

Life will get too complicated if we shared our problems and fears with others. Dave Mustaine even sang about A Secret Place on Cryptic Writings. Even Tesla sang about sharing secrets on the song In A Hole Again from their 2008 album, Forever More.

When I am driving home from work and I have the music cranked, that is my secret place. How good are the stereo systems in cars these days. Actually how good is the insulation in cars. You can’t even hear the outside traffic when you are in the car.

Work hard in life boy,
There’s paradise in the end
Year after year we struggle to gain
The happiness our parents never claimed
They told us all we had to do
Was do what we’re told, buy what was sold,
“Invest in gold, and never get old”

Remember this is 1994. So what did we do? We kept on investing and we kept on falling more and more into debt until it all exploded in 2008. If we had ONE MORE TIME AROUND, would we do the same mistakes?

Reach
It is written by Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton. It is the only writing credit for Michael Wilton and it is probably the best song on Hear In The Now Frontier. Chris DeGarmo said that the song is about finding one’s self.

Geoff Tate said in a recent 2013 interview with DigBoston.com that Hear In The Now Frontier was a record that was very difficult to work on. From the Chris DeGarmo era, this is the only one he listed as difficult. The other albums he listed The Tribe and Operation Mindcrime II are post DeGarmo.

I know where I’m going,
and I’ve got all my cards showing

Intentionally showing your move, letting others into your world. Is this Tate saying to DeGarmo, I am not into Queensryche at this point in time. I need another break.

Armed with time on my side
and a field of vision miles wide
I’ll keep searching for some meaning
whatever makes me feel alive

Aren’t we all searching for something to make us feel alive. Just because Queensryche had made it, it doesn’t mean that behind closed doors it was all high fives and smiles. In the end a band is made up of people, who have lives. I know that if my private life is all messed up, my work life is off. You need to feel good in both mediums to excel, otherwise it is miserable. That is why so many heroes turn to different vices, just to numb the mental pain they are in.

Today I felt something so strong
It took my breath away
Now I long to live like this every day
I’ll find it some way

You know that moment in time when you see something and it destroys everything that you have known until then. It shatters the walls around you, awakening some suppressed primal emotion.

Right Side Of My Mind
After Chris DeGarmo left, the next album had the motto that all songs are written and composed by Queensryche. So in this case it’s Geoff Tate, Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, Kelly Gray and Scott Rockenfield. It is a great Queensryche song, on a very poor album called Q2K released in 1999.

If you take time and look for clues
Scrape the shit off your shoes,
You’ll feel the real today

I’d love to take you to see what I see there, on the right side of my mind

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Music

Why Chris DeGarmo walked away from it all?

Chris DeGarmo didn’t just leave Queensryche, he left the whole music business back in 1997. Just like another favourite of mine, Vito Bratta, they spent their whole lives making it only to walk away from it all.

Recently, Geoff Tate stated the following on jammagazineonline.com;

“It never was a brotherhood. It was a bunch of kids that got together and achieved success at an early age. We got used to that success and continued doing the things we did to get that success. We found comfort in our way of working. It’s just that simple. We were never close. We never hung out doing stuff and sharing life. It was always just, “Hey, we have another record to make. Anyone have any ideas? Let’s try to make a record. Here we go.”

Between the years of 1981 and 1992, Queensryche had been on a cycle of album and tour. After the Empire tour ended, Chris DeGarmo just unplugged himself from the music industry. He stated the same in a Guitar World interview from January 1995. When you detach yourself like this, it puts a lot of other events into perspectives.

Geoff Tate commented in a Kerrang magazine interview on the break after the Empire tour;

“It wasn’t planned, it just kind of happened. After the ‘Empire’ tour we all went our separate ways for a while. Before we knew it eight months had gone by. ‘Empire’ bought us a lot of time, really. Before that album it had been just a hectic schedule of recording and touring. ‘Empire’s success allowed us to have a nice break, something we hadn’t known until then. It was strange taking time off. I think it was at that point it dawned on us that we’d achieved all the goals we’d set. It was actually kind of difficult to know which move to make next.”

The achievement of their goals is an important point to make. When you feel like you have done all you set out to do, the hunger and the desire starts to die down. It becomes harder to focus again. It becomes harder to detach yourself from your family. So coming into the Promised Land album writing process, it was more or less done from their homes. It took about 8 months to get the material together, and then it was off to a secluded log cabin for another six months to piece together and record the album.

In the same Kerrang interview, Michael Wilton didn’t share the same enthusiasm for the finished product, however he did admit that the album is special in its own way.

“The way we set it all up was real innovative and allowed us to be more inspired, but a lot of the songs I came up with didn’t get finished because the album kind of went in a different direction. It was actually a bit more left-field to the way I think.”

This is another important point to make. Guitarists play a musical instrument, so it is normal that a guitarist will write music. So when a guitarist writes music and it is rejected for whatever reason, it is not a good feeling. I have been in situations just like this. I was coming up with metal riffs, and the band was moving into a Nu Metal phase, that just didn’t suit what I was writing. I had two options, leave the band and start a new one, or just put up with it. In this case, Wilton put up with it and in the end only had two song writing credits for the Promised Land album. He even had less of an input into the Hear Of The Now Frontier album. He only had one song writing credit on the Frontier album. I am pretty sure, he would have been the first person to let Chris DeGarmo now that it was his fault when the album didn’t set the sales charts on fire.

Furthermore, when the band was asked the question, if success has changed them, DeGarmo answered in the following way;

“I’ve probably become a hermit! I don’t really socialise that much. I don’t think I ever really did anyway. I somehow thought that it might change me as a person. I don’t think of myself as an unhappy person, but you think that money might limit the struggle. The thing is, I was so passionate about what we were doing that I never noticed we were struggling anyway! If anything. I think I’m more appreciative of the personal time I get to spend with my wife and daughter.”

So the Promised Land album comes out and the real fans flock to it. The tour is a success and the band members go their separate ways again. Then the bands label EMI America goes bankrupt. The rest of the band members don’t appear to be interested or concerned by this, and it was left to Chris DeGarmo to negotiate a new deal, not just for himself but for the others as well. During this time, the band had the songs written for the album, however they had to wait for Peter Collins schedule to free up, so they can record it. Again, more time away from each other as they wait for a producer.

Hear In The Now Frontier comes out and it doesn’t do well in a commercial sense. By 1997, recorded sales is the definition of success. DeGarmo is blamed for the commercial failure by the other band members, as he was the main songwriter/leader on the album.

Let’s look at how the song writing dynamic changed from Operation Mindcrime to Hear In The Now Frontier.

Operation Mindcrime had 15 songs on it. DeGarmo wrote/co-wrote 9 songs. Tate wrote/co-wrote 12 song. Wilton wrote/co-wrote 7 songs. Rockenfield wrote/co-wrote 1 song and Jackson didn’t write anything.

Empire had 11 songs on it. DeGarmo wrote/co-wrote 9 songs. Tate wrote/co-wrote 8 songs. Wilton wrote/co-wrote 5 songs. Rockenfield and Jackson both wrote/co-wrote 1 song.

Promised Land had 11 songs on it. DeGarmo wrote/co-wrote 9. Tate wrote/co-wrote 7. Wilton wrote/co-wrote 2. Rockenfield wrote/co-wrote 3 and Jackson wrote/co-wrote 1.

Hear In The Now Frontier had 14 songs on it. DeGarmo wrote/co-wrote 13 songs. Tate wrote/co-wrote 7. Wilton wrote/co-wrote 1 song. Rockenfield wrote/co-wrote 2 songs and Jackson didn’t write anything.

The main thing to take out of the above stats is the increasing song writing role of Chris DeGarmo and the diminishing role of Michael Wilton. Tate was always consistent, however his piece d resistance was Mindcrime, whereas Empire was DeGarmo’s piece d resistance.

So when you feel like you have put your heart and soul into managing the affairs of a band and then still get blamed when events don’t pan out well, you ask yourself, what is the point in doing this. Just as so many of us walk away from a job that started off great, Chris DeGarmo did the same with Queensryche.

If the Hear In The Now Frontier album outsold Empire, it would be a different Queensryche world.

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