Music, My Stories

David Lee Roth

The headline reads, “My Whole Career Is Based Upon Disturbances And Uproar”.

Below is an interview conducted by Steffan Chirazi that appeared in the February 1991 issue of Hot Metal, which was an Australian monthly magazine on all things metal. All the text in italics is the interview. The text that isn’t in italics is my addition.

“I take everything I do very seriously – it’s other people’s perceptions of me I don’t take seriously!”

In 2016 and with social media so prevalent in our lives, other people’s perception of us is important. We all want to be liked. But the rock stars of the past, like David Lee Roth, he didn’t care in the opinion of others. But then again, fans of music didn’t really have a voice to express their opinion. Regardless, the presence of social media and cameras in phones has changed the way rock stars behave. Suddenly perception of others is important.

David Lee Roth is nobody’s fool. The man is in total control, a fact that is reflected in Roth’s most interesting and diverse album yet, “A Little Ain’t Enough”. It roars with a title track that needs to be blasted loud, a stomper that shows just where those old Van Halen roots actually lie, yet crawls with a bluesy feel so low and steaming that you’d almost think the man has no manners. It’s also diverse; Roth’s the focus now and he simply assembles musicians when and how he needs them. This time that happened to be in a cheap motel in Vancouver.

David Lee Roth is a character. According to the New Oxford American English Dictionary, character means “strength and originality in a person’s nature”.

And David Lee Roth is unique.

The “A Little Ain’t Enough” album is good. This is David Lee Roth telling the world who he is in 1991. He is checking his bases to see if his brand of over the top, feel good, tongue in cheek vibe is relevant. It’s typical of other rock albums from the era. Two to three singles and filler for the rest. It went Gold right off the bat and then it stalled. Because of MTV.

MTV was a powerful entity. If a song got rotation on the video channel, sales went into platinum figures. If MTV refused to play it, the album would sell based on the previous albums goodwill and then it would disappear.

To prove my point on how powerful MTV was for an artist back then, just check out David Lee Roth’s Spotify stats in 2016. You have “Just A Gigolo”, “Just Like Paradise”, “Yankee Rose” and “California Girls” in the top 4 of his most streamed songs. MTV staples, every single one of them. So almost 30 years later, the influence and power of music television is still large in our lives.

“The hotel choice was a way of getting as close to the blues as possible – to see what effect it had, to try and live it and breath it. What happened was that we walked into basement of a 4-star hotel and one of our eminent rock bands was up there finishing a record, and they were all wafting around the gym in their matching terry-cloth robes and mixed drinks, complaining of tendonitis – you know, “Where’s my masseuse?”. Well, jeez, maybe you should switch glass to the other hand, OK? It was a case of no, this is not how our album should sound.”

You could just imagine that David Lee Roth would be a difficult subject to interview because he speaks in riddles and double speak.

I get the part where they holed themselves up in a hotel to see what output their living circumstances create. The whole part of the “eminent rock band” is all over the shop. It just doesn’t make sense. As I was reading it, I thought he would mention what songs came out of these living circumstances. However, he went on a rant about a pampered rock band.

Why not bring Bob Rock to some sh!ttty dump in Manhattan for an even fuller effect?

“We’ll I think Bob wouldn’t fit in there (he laughs before briefly explaining the compromise factor, Rock liking Vancouver better than anywhere to work)… And this move to the lower band hotel is not as out of the ordinary for me as it might sound. We don’t broadcast all over the world where we stay when we’re on the road for obvious reasons, but 7 out of 10 times you’re gonna do a lot better to stay in the a 55-end of a city. At that kind of hotel you’re not gonna have any problems with the noise and unusual characters turning up at odd times of the night. My whole career is based upon disturbances and uproar, they don’t start at 10 after 9 and stop at exactly 11 on cue. The environment helped us to get back to what I know and love best – blues based rock n roll”

This is Bob Rock before Metallica and after Motley Crue.

For the producer, his career trajectory was on the up.

For the artist, it was the beginning of a downward spiral.

DLR had no idea of what would transpire in the years ahead and the backlash that would come to hard rock bands and over the top performers like him. Real artists are made when things just don’t go to plan and roadblocks suddenly present themselves. A lot of artists today are tackling adversity by complaining about the internet and how it led to massive copyright infringements. Character is built by adversity. It teaches you there’s more than one way to achieve what you want. But the main goal has always been to get into the game and stay there.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll is based on irreverence, it’s designed to break the rules and come up with something new. Rock ‘n’ Roll is about disregard for convention, it’s about taking the best elements of those things and confusing the issues entirely with a while vision of the future, of confusing business with pleasure to the maximum”

Irreverence means a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously. Like the techies since Napster.

Heavy metal, hard rock, heavy rock, glam rock, call it whatever you want, was doing exactly that. However, once it became a commercially viable product, rock and roll ceased to be about irreverence and it became all about conformity.

Which you’ve managed to do pretty well over the years, as opposed to some boring, miserable fat old bastards…

“Walking it like you talk it is simple, but it aint easy! There’s a risk involved if you’re truly gonna do what’s in your head, heart or pants, wherever the motivation’s coming from – and I’m not saying in that order either. But there will be a risk – what if the fans don’t like it, what if the manager doesn’t think this is right – and so on. Walking that line and taking that risk is frightening to a lot of artists.”

You see DLR assumed he would be a star forever. However, the shelf life of rock and roll heroes was always short. It was only during the 80’s and courtesy of MTV that artists started to have a very long shelf life. ALAE is a ballsy album to do, however if you look at any album that DLR has been involved in, there always was an element of the unexpected. But he did take risks and he did try different things out and that makes him special in my eyes.

There again, when you travel through the Amazon, climb huge mountains and go hammerhead shark watching in the South Pacific, risks in music must seem easy.

“Absolutely, I like to practice the challenge, the management of a challenge, the great unpredictable finish, constantly re-assessing from moment to moment. If I’ve become jaded at all, it’s because I’m an adrenalin junkie and that’s my drug. You get better and better under pressure, you get more creative under stress. I love working with other people under pressure; no matter how well you know the music or the guys in the rhythm section, when tape’s rollin’ that’s pressure.”

“That challenge in a studio is different to the challenge in the Amazon or on a mountainside, but it’s the same drive. It’s like a muscle, and you’re either working it or jerkin it. You develop inside yourself. Your creativity’s the same thing, your ability on stage is the same thing. I never perceived it as ‘put on your costume and perform’.”

Has he ever felt vulnerable?

“When I did “Just A Gigolo” and “California Girls” coming off the heels of the grand Van Halen fiesta – I said “fiesta” not “fiasco” because it was a grand celebration – the crowning glory rock ‘n’ roll as the press depicted it at the time. To go from there into a left hand turn – to wind up at big band brass, Beach Boy, New York City in the same fiscal year – would be considered suicidal by most people behind the desk.”

So let’s put into context where David Lee Roth was at in 1991. We need to go back to 1985, when he left Van Halen after its biggest album to release an EP of cover songs. MTV loved the clips and he became a star by using his own name instead of the Van Halen name.

Then came “Eat Em and Smile” in 1986 and no one expected that album to stick but it did. Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan are all over the album and they more or less cemented themselves as band leaders in their own right. “Skyscraper” came and it capitalised on the MTV shift to melodic pop rock in the style of Bon Jovi. This time, keyboardist Brett Tuggle is all over the album. After the “Skyscraper” world tour, Steve Vai left to do his solo album and then he got an offer he couldn’t refuse from the Whitesnake camp. Billy Sheehan already left after “Eat Em And Smile” and went on to form Mr Big. David kept Gregg Bissonette on drums, Matt Bissonette on bass, Brett Tuggle remained on keys and added guitarists Jason Becker and Steve Hunter to write and record this album.

As a guitarist, I couldn’t wait to hear what Becker would do with David Lee Roth. However, when he came into the band, most of the songs were written. However, two songs from Becker made it to the final album cut, the “Hot For Teacher” on steroids song “It’s Showtime!” and the blues on shred steroids “Drop in the Bucket”. Of course fate would intervene and while Becker played on the album and co-write a few songs, he never toured behind it because of his ALS diagnosis.

When did Dave Lee Roth realise that snorting his sinuses to shit wouldn’t help his character or longevity? When did he learn about the bigger picture?

“I would say… last Sunday morning! Hahaha. He laughs heartily.

“Life is balance. I talk about all of these things that I do and I certainly do them all. But I’m not expert at any of it, and the rock ‘n’ roll term is adventurer while the medical term is fun hog! I qualify for the high-accelerated class.”

“I love the back room at the Rainbow. What you have to remember is, you won’t have anything to talk about at the Rainbow Bar and Grill if that’s all you do, go there. I have friends who do nothing but adventure travelling all the time, from Australia to Korea to Singapore… and that gets awful thin too. So there has to be that balance there, a bit of both.”

Now is as good a time as any to scotch/confirm Rothian rumours over the last year about Van Halen. Will there be a re-union? Would Roth do it?

“Perhaps down the line. I don’t think you can hold a grudge and be truly happy, and I’m absolutely delighted with who I am right now. I’m sitting in the catbird seat and I’m surrounded by brilliant people in every category and department. The future’s so bright it needs shades, and I’ve got the world tour firing up. Any divorce is gonna have sharp edges. I haven’t talked to the guys in the band for 5 or 6 years, but down the line anything’s possible.”

But the future wasn’t as bright as DLR thought. The world tour didn’t set any box office records on fire, like the “Skyscraper” tour. As much as DLR doesn’t want to admit it, but Steve Vai was a big drawcard for him, and on the first album, so was Billy Sheehan. Then he had the Van Halen reunion discussions, new songs for the various Greatest Hit packages, the MTV appearance fiasco and what not.

When talking about his own music these days, specifically “A Little Ain’t Enough”, Dave’s as colourful as ever.

“My roots have always been blues-rock, something that chugs along – y’get on a train that’s going 60 miles an hour and let’s do it over the ultimate riff. Remember the first time you heard side two of Led Zeppelin II? OK, that’s the set-up, we’ll land and take-off from there. As for those harmonies, I went to schools that were all black in high school, black and Hispanic. The only thing I heard at the high school dances was old Motown. Henceforth, all those harmonies. When the choruses came up, they light up all the whoo-hoos. These were trademarks of Van Halen music, and they’re things I contributed.”

“My driving wheel is the killer riff with natural harmonies, not 18 stacked up wide. Minimal overdubbing and going with solos off the floor and off the floor vocals as often as we can, sound spilling over the edges. There is a time to hone it but usually not. I want it intact, as it is.”

These days, Roth employs various musicians and writers, choosing to no longer had “a band” as such and just got it alone with various players. What brought Dave to this decision?

“As music director here I have a definite vision of what it’s meant to sound like or be like at any given time. That’s going to take different musicians, different styles of music. The difference in style between “Just A Gigolo” and “A Little Aint Enough” is a long throw, and if you’re writing songs with the same people who you go on tour with over and over again, it starts to become the same sounding. You can only be a virgin once, when you group up with a band and you learn about life and music at about the same time, well then out of that will come all the inspiration you need.”

David Lee Roth leads a rich life; what’s left for the man to experience?

“I dunno. I haven’t felt absolute committed love yet and I wonder what the might feel like. But I’ve been married to the audience for so goddamn long and what a fickle bitch she is, too!”

The fact is that David Lee Roth hasn’t felt the normal domestic everyday-life situations that most people take for granted.

“Sometimes I think I’m getting close, but then I kinda just realize I’m far away. One of the reasons I broke up my girlfriend was because I said, “Honey, kissing you is my second favourite thing in the world” and she asked me what the first was and I said, “Cashing a cheque!”.

That “cashing a cheque” ideal became the problem for hard rock. It stopped being about writing songs and started to be about writing songs that MTV would play and hopefully would cross over and sell. Record labels started to employ scorched earth marketing tactics.

He laughs a hearty one, doused with truth.

“The guy who said ‘Money can’t buy happiness’ didn’t know where to go shopping!”

Which somehow brings us around to the typical end of interview questions”

Wot will da stage show be like Dave?

“Y’know, I told the band when we first came together for our first rehearsal not so long ago, ‘If you can’t do it under one light bulb in a pair of borrowed jeans with a rented guitar, y’can’t do it at all!’”

David Lee Roth and co. will be appearing at a venue near you under their Philips 100 watt later this year…

“Oh well, maybe somewhere between 1 and 1100!”

The lightning ball of fizzle-crackle life they call David Lee Roth is back to remind you that he never actually left…

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Music

Richie Sambora

So Richie Sambora is coming to Australia as part of the Soundwave festival and of course, his backing band now has an Australian flavour in guitarist Orianthi. I saw Richie Sambora at Shellies (now known as The Shellharbour Club) back in June 1998. June 19 to be exact.

My future wife purchased the tickets as a surprise. It was a small venue and it wasn’t sold out. To see a living legend in such an intimate gig was breath taking to say the least and man can he put on a show. When he played the Bon Jovi songs, he didn’t play them note for note as on the albums. He jammed them. He was like the Sheriff, leading the band around into extended instrumental lead breaks.

At the time, I think you could say that the attendance was disappointing compared to the lofty attendances that Bon Jovi (the band) could draw. In addition, Jon Bon Jovi toured earlier and played two shows at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. However that did not stop Sambora and his band of merry gentlemen, putting on an awesome 2 hour show for the devoted.

I will be very interested to check out Richie on a sidewave show, as I have no desire nor interest in going to an outdoor festival. It’s funny how at the same time that all of the Soundwave announcements were happening I was also reading an interview that Richie Sambora did back in November 1991, for the “Hot Metal” magazine.

The interviewer is Stefan Chirazi and it was part of Sambora’s press campaign for his first solo album “Stranger In This Town”.

I’d always taken one look at a photo of Richie Sambora and imagined a guy who thought he was God. Don’t ask me why, maybe it was the hat, but something made me think that Richie wasn’t without the knowledge that he was a super guitarist, a super stud and a super, errum, star. The photo’s always showed a lonesome pout, a little-boy-not-really-that lost sort of thing and I fully expected any meeting I had with Richie Sambora to legitimise my preconceptions.

I was wrong. Richie Sambora is, as we used to say in Britain, an obvious good lad. He’s also, obviously, a rocker through and through. When he tells me, gesturing up and down his body, that “I’d look like this whether I was on Bon Jovi or not” I instantly believe him. I don’t think Richie Sambora could bullshit you if his life depended on it, and once he’s started talking, he’s there, moving through the conversation with you.

1991 was three years after “New Jersey” came out and five years after “Slippery When Wet.” The band Bon Jovi was on hiatus. Jon Bon Jovi had another hit with “Blaze Of Glory.” This was a crucial time for the artist known as Richie Sambora.

Richie Sambora is a good guy, for real. It’s so nice to know that the camera lied. We’re sitting together to discuss Richie. It must be fun for him:

After years of being the Bon Jovi guitar player’ Richie now has his own album out titled “Stranger In This Town” and is striking a major blow for himself.

Deservedly. Just about the only linkage with his BJ side are those desert gypsy notes and moods that are created throughout the album. Richie the spiritualist?

“Y’see, I don’t wanna go back to being a rock star,” he starts warmly.

“I don’t consider myself a rock or pop star, I consider myself a musician and I would like people to consider me an artist. I don’t know if they do yet, but my dream is to have people respect me as a total artist…”

Sambora’s solo albums were never written to try and sell a gazillion records. They were written to please him. The first album really had this blues rock vibe happening. The second album has got this Springsteen Americana vibe happening and the third album has bits and pieces from the whole history of music.

Sambora allows his life and his work to merge on many occasions throughout the album.

“I wrote this album out of basically my life experience. I’m not saying each thing is exactly what happened, but it’s a general kind of outlook on the way my life’s been going.”

We talk about the song “Rest In Peace”, which seems like the natural extension of “Dead or Alive”.

“When I wrote that song I was primarily reading a lot of philosophy and a lot of poetry because I wanted to become…”

I interrupt to ask who he was reading.

“Well, a lot of Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Browning and Maria Rilke, who’s German. I’m not much for reading big books and biographies because I just don’t have the time. For 20 minutes I can sit down and read some poetry or philosophy, and I am a personal philosopher of sorts -I think everybody is if they really look at it. I have my own philosophies on my life and my views. This song was what I’d try and say to my old girlfriends when I’d go on the road. I’d tell them our love will rest in peace, kind of a way to say I love you. “RIP” is really a feeling, a dream I had which leads to the “Church Of Desire” and I think I’ve lived there many times with different relationships.”

“I think a lot of people have, because you get into a position where your romance reaches a stalemate. You have an argument, you’re here and she’s there and no-one’s givin’ in!”

The press have always hounded you more about your personal life and celebrity status than your music, but really the album contains all the answers to your feelings doesn’t it?

“You can get to know Richie Sambora from this album. Basically I’ve always tried to keep, even through the whole Cher trip, my life private. I didn’t do any interviews for a year and a half while I was living with her and I told her I didn’t really appreciate her doing her laundry in public with Rob Camiletti. I didn’t really appreciate the way that relationship went down, and I was friends with her through the whole thing. To me people know me as the guitar player from Bon Jovi but they don’t know me, the real artist, and hopefully this album can change that.”

“At the time Blaze Of Glory hit and things started to go good, Jon said he didn’t really know if he wanted to go on with the band again … not saying he didn’t wanna do it ever again but he wasn’t sure. That kind of left me in a difficult position because I didn’t have a record contract and I didn’t have a contract with Bon Jovi. For years I dedicated myself to that band and for three and a half years record companies were comin’ to me with all this money to do my own record and I would say, ‘No, I’m with a band.’ There was no time, so why load myself up with more responsibility than I can handle?”

Even back in 1991, everything Bon Jovi related was done on Jon Bon Jovi’s timetable. Sambora’s departure from the “Because We Can” tour goes back to the overdose of Jon Bon Jovi’s daughter in December 2012. When that happened Jon was in a different country. God forbid that if something really bad happened he would have been too late. This was Richie’s wake up call.

“Then, at the end of our last tour, we had some disagreements about different things. I owned the record
company which is now Jamco and used to be The Underground – Jon and I and Doc McGhee owned it all together. And I didn’t wanna be part of that anymore because I was so tired and beat up from being out there so long. I wanted to make a solo record and be in Bon Jovi, so I felt like those two things would be quite enough to fill my life. And, on top of that, to have a personal life that was gonna be enough. I didn’t need to be a record company executive and take another artist’s life in my hands, because before I got into this band I’d been on the raw side of some record deals and hated it. And I wasn’t gonna tell an artist that I could make their record happen when I was trying to figure out whose f_kin’ underwear I had on.

Who am i?

“There are times you really don’t know what day it is, let alone what time it is. It’s not bullshit it’s true. So my disagreements with Jon came in that light, i said, ‘Man, look, the money ain’t worth the f_kin’ time I need to get my head together. I’m drinking too much, f_king around to much.’ I was just outta control, I was becoming the very
thing that you’re meant to be in that position anyway…”

A rock pig?

“Exactly, and I didn’t dig it.”

There you go. Even back in 1989/1990 the argument between Richie and Jon was over money. How much money does a person want or need?

One of my favorite guitarists Jake E Lee was selling off his gear to pay the rent during the nineties, while Jon Bon Jovi was getting sued by Skid Row for publishing rip offs and buying zillion dollar penthouses.

When did you realise you needed to bail out?

“There wasn’t any one point – what really made me think I could go out on my own was when I did “The Wind Cries Mary” thing. I was in South America in month 16 of the Bon Jovi tour and was starting to feel very creatively stifled, as well as depressed. There were many days between shows because we were doing the huge stadiums, so you’d have five days off at a time to sit in your hotel room. Paramount rang and said they were in a jam for the Andrew Dice Clay movie and could I help out by jamming on “Wind Cries Mary”, to which I immediately said yes.

Touring is a lonely gig. It is in isolation that our heroes turn to vices.

“I knew it’d creatively get the whole thing going, anything to get me going. I asked for every Hendrix video and CD to be sent, and I lived him for five days. Band Of Gypsies was one of the first records I ever bought in my life, that and Deep Purple’s Machine Head.

“Every morning before I went to school I’d be playing those albums, so that five days in South America it was like getting re-acquainted with Jimi. I wanted to exploit his wild side a little bit, and I wanted to get into his head. It was like studying for a test, because I was scared…”

Of what?

“The fact that it was a hard task to follow – I hadn’t sung lead vocals for 10 years. Also I was stuck in the narrow parameter of the Bon Jovi music, at that point I wasn’t sure if I could break out of it. I didn’t f_king know, and it was important for me to go and try that. But once I started playing the records and the videos it just came out. I didn’t plan it. It just happened and I knew I’d be able to do it.

“I was very insecure, y’know, with the mental fatigue and the frustration I was having within the frame of the touring schedule. Cher was very instrumental because when I came off the road she took care of me. I went to live with her and she was very cool. I always sing around the house, strum a guitar but I was so mentally f___ked up that I didn’t know if I could do a solo album.”

Is it painful for you to know how many people paint the picture of you as an aloof rock star?

“Yeah, well, I try when people meet me on the street not to let em know by just being me, I try really hard not to pay attention to the fame and unit numbers. I can’t even think about that – Bon Jovi’s sold 30 million records and I can’t even evaluate that or relate it to real terms. All I know is that I work as hard as I can, and at this stage of my career I’m still working this hard. The ethic I always upheld in my heart is still with me and that’s what keeps me together. I’m lucky enough to have good friends, my old buddies.”

He gestures to himself, pointing at his clothes.

“This is me, y’know, old jeans, T-shirt… This is me on the ground and relating to people.”

Richie Sambora’s finally getting to know himself better. He’s also a good guy. Talking with him was more fun than I ever thought it could be…

That is why Richie still matters today. He works hard. Back at the start of the nineties, his cycle from 1983 was album/tour. The tours originally lasted 10 months and then when Slippery broke the tours turned to 2 year tours. He worked his arse off.

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Music, My Stories

The Game Of Rock Stars Claimed Vito Bratta

“I didn’t like them, and they didn’t like me!” said White Lion’s guitarist Vito Bratta as he tried to explain why bassist James Lomenzo and drummer Greg D’Angelo abruptly left the band at the end of their European tour.

“We didn’t fight – it was like me and Mike were a separate band from the two of them.”

Within four days they had recruited bass player Tommy T-Bone’ Caradonna – a veteran of Lita Ford and Alice Cooper’s backing bands – and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso, formerly with Y&T.

“The way it is now,” Vito said excitedly, “there’s so much attitude it’s scary to me.” 

The above was printed in the Hot Metal September 1991 issue.

When White Lion departed with bassist James Lomenzo and drummer Greg D’Angleo in 1991, a lot of people saw it as the end for the band.

A change was coming in the musical climate.

The record labels didn’t have no moral obligation to keep their hard rock rosters in tact. The only obligation they have is to the shareholders and their bottom line.

So with every major label signing bands from Seattle, the poor old hard rock bands that made the labels billions over the last 10 years suddenly disappeared. White Lion was one of them. The label never dropped them, however in my mind they would have dropped them eventually if the band stayed together.

White Lion finished up because Vito Bratta became conflicted. Disillusioned.

The recording business in 1989 was not interested in originality or allowing artists free reign in the song writing process, even though it would have made the record label more money in the long-term. The recording business only cared about short-term income and total control. So you have two entities trying to do business with each other and of course, their goals are not aligned.

Vito was never afraid to make observations about the bands exploding on the scene. He made various comments in Guitar magazines and rock magazines, about the sad state of guitar playing and how the song ceased to matter.

Vito wanted longevity and he didn’t like how White Lion was seen as part of the same movement of bands that he was commenting about. He was an artist competing in a game of rock stars. He was an artist competing in a game of profits. With each game, there is a winner and a loser.

By 1991, every artist needed a hit to get recognition. The album format was already dead due to MTV playing the “HIT” video. If a band had a hit single then people were interested in buying the album to see what that band is all about. This is Vito’s disillusionment. When he made an appearance on the Eddie Trunk show, he said words to the effect like “how do you write a hit single” when he was talking about Big Game, the following up to Pride.

Vito should have trusted himself and pushed the songs that connect with him. We are drawn to emotion. We all want to be touched. Trust your heart. White Lion was never a band that played the singles game, however the industry forced them into it and their main musical songwriter started to second guess himself.

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

Metallica: Hot Metal – June 1992, the “Through The Never” Stage Idea Goes Back To This Period and Staying Power

I have been re-reading a lot of the magazines I have accumulated during the Eighties and the Nineties. I just finished reading a story about Metallica from the Australian magazine “Hot Metal”. It is the June 1992 issue.

The article is written by Robyn Doreian, who was the editor once however when this story hit the press, she had moved on to Metal Hammer. The story was a combination of two days she spent with the band, plus separate interviews with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.

The first part that got me interested was the following answers from James Hetfield;

RD – First up, I ask him about the new stage design, which not only challenges conventional rock shows but also has consider-able advantages for the fans.

JH – “We sat down and talked about what we wanted to do. For instance, Lars has his travelling drum kit that was all his thing. I have to make that clear,” he scoffs, “because I find it a little silly. As much as he wants to be in the spotlight, he also gets to travel. He’s basically a front man on drums. We should have thought of it earlier in our careers, I guess.”

“The snake-pit was a combination of ideas from band members and management. Initially that hole in the middle of the stage was meant to be a special effects area, with things like little crosses rising up, or a blow-up ‘Justice’ lady or something.” sniggers Hetfield.

“We said no’ Why not put some kids in there, some fans. That would be cool. We usually put between 40 and 90 kids in there, depending on each city’s fire regulations and stuff.”

RD – What about the area set aside for taping?

JH – “Fans have to buy a special ticket for the tape section. It’s like five bucks more, and there are like 20 or 30 kids who can get in there and video, audio or whatever they want to do. It’s a cool thing to do, to flood the market with bootlegs. And it makes it a little more personal.”

The above got my interest for two reasons;

1. The stage design.
2. Bootlegs.

First, the stage design. The grand stage design that is seen in the movie “Through the Never” was conceived back in 1991 for the tour in support of the Black album. Of course, an idea is just an idea until it is executed and with the exponential rise of technologies, that idea finally came to fruition in 2012.

The point of this is that no one should ever give up on an idea. If it doesn’t work at a particular given point in time, keep it filed away as it could work at a later time.

Second, the bootlegs. The Black tour did something great for the hard core fans that no other band had really done up until then.

Metallica in 1992, wanted to flood the market with bootlegs. Metallica in 2013 has the following disclaimer on their Live Metallica website “Terms of Use”;

Any violation of copyright laws may result in severe civil and criminal penalties. Violators will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible.

Compare the above to the comments from Hetfield. What a difference between Metallica and the Metallicorporation? This is why Metallica messed up big time with Napster by handing over names of fans at the Senate Hearings.

Next up in the interview was Lars Ulrich. Knowing what we know now, words from the past is always interesting.

RD – Seizing the opportunity I ask him whether, seeing as Metallica have now been so firmly embraced by the mainstream, it’s possible that they are becoming what they once rebelled against.

LU – “I don’t disagree with that, but we were always more into doing our own thing, never about being shocking for its own sake or pissing people off. You should always be yourself.”

Lars admits that he and Metallica are becoming the entity that they rebelled against. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not. Can a band remain the same after they accumulate millions? No chance.

RD – Do you ever think that in years to come there is a danger of Metallica being viewed as a dinosaur band, some sort of corporate rock giant similar to what happened to bands like Zeppelin in the 70s?

LU – “I think there are a lot of people in the States right now who, simply because we have gained confidence in what we’re doing, are saying that we are doing the same arena rock clichés that these other bands were doing. My attitude is basically that if people come and see us and think its arena rock crap then that’s fine. It doesn’t affect me; because I know what we’re doing is distinctly different from what everyone else is doing.”

RD – With Grammy awards, cumulative record sales in the millions and adulation the whole world over, what is there left for the band to achieve?

LU – “Staying power. In terms of numbers, it’s not going to get much bigger but its important not to burn out. A lot of bands don’t have the confidence for a long term career, so they try and milk everything while they can. We plan to be around for quite a while, so when this tour is over we’re going to have a long period of inactivity.”

The above is interesting to me for the following two reasons;

1. Be Yourself / Stay true to yourself
2. Staying Power

I was a fan of Metallica coming before the Black album came out. It was “Ride the Lightning” that did it for me. I cannot recall how many arguments I got into over what is the better album between “Master Of Puppets” and “Ride The Lightning”.

Then the Black album comes out and I really liked it. I thought it was perfect. The songs hammered the ear drums from start to finish and the groove was undeniable. Metallica wrote and recorded an album that they wanted to write. It was never designed to have a hit single whereas “Load” and “Reload” to me, feels like Metallica had that single idea in the backs of their mind.

The comments about staying power ring true. As Lars said, in terms of numbers, it wouldn’t get any bigger than the Black album. However reaching the top is not the end of the journey. That is when a new journey begins.

Twisted Sister failed after “Stay Hungry” exploded.

Motley Crue fired Vince Neil after “Dr Feelgood”.

Guns N Roses became Adler-less after “Appetite for Destruction” and after “Use Your Illusion,” Guns N Roses became an Axl Rose solo project.

Motorhead had Fast Eddie Clarke play on one more album (“Iron Fist”) after “Ace of Spades.”

Skid Row got one more album out in “Subhuman Race” after the massive “Slave To The Grind” and disappeared.

Van Halen released “1984” and then fired David Lee Roth. They are one of the rare bands that changed lead singers and went on to bigger success, with the Van Hager era.

Poison got “Flesh and Blood” out after the mega successful “Open and Say Ahh” and it was curtains, even though “Native Tongue” with Richie Kotzen was a great album.

White Lion never recovered from the mega success of “Pride”.

Warrant released the excellent and heavy “Dog Eat Dog”, however it was no “Cherry Pie” and they got dropped after Jani Lane left.

Also when a band reaches the top, it opens up the opportunity for some time off. Metallica had been on an album and tour cycle since “Kill Em All” was released in 1983. After 11 constant years, by 1994, they had some time off, before they regrouped for the “Load” albums.

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Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories

Cold Case – Connecting The Dots With Motley Crue And It’s Vocalist Problem.

“MOTLEY STILL SINGERLESS” is the headline from a news break item that did the rounds in an issue of Hot Metal from June 1992.

For everyone that had a vested interest in hard rock music knows, Motley Crue and Vince Neil parted ways in February 1992. The actual argument took place on February 11, 1992, with Motley Crue issuing the official statement on Neil’s departure on February 14, 1992.

Now from all evidence, it looks like the band started working with John Corabi immediately, from as earliest as February 17, 1992, however it wasn’t until September 27, 1992, that John Corabi officially signed a contract to be Motley Crue’s new lead vocalist. The below is from the June 1992, Hot Metal magazine and it is an update from Walt Woodward III (RIP);

In a conversation with Walt Woodward III, drummer with much touted and Hot Metal-approved The Scream, we just had to ask what exactly was going on with the band’s singer John Corabi? It seemed to those on the outside that just as The Scream was about to explode Down Under, John Corabi was gonna bail for Da Crue.

Well, as of April 15th no confirmation had been made. Says the very friendly Walt, “We’ve just finished recording a song with John. It’s for [MTV comedian] Paulie Shaw’s new movie Encino Man. Sure, Motley Crue are really interested in John. He’s been writing with them, and whether the songs end up on our album or the Crue’s is yet to be seen.”

Walt went on to explain that he was a big fan of dedication. Y’see, since becoming The Scream, John Corabi, Walt, Bruce Bouillet and John Alderette”…had really grown together, become good friends. I would hope that dedication would win through.”

If John was to bail from The Scream though, things would definitely go on. Says Walt, “We’ve all talked about it and if John did leave I can honestly say that there’s a couple of cool cats out there who’ve rung us up and will definitely blow some people away.”

The above is interesting for two reasons. As far as the guys in “The Scream” where concerned, the songs that John Corabi was working on, could have ended up on a Motley Crue album or a new Scream album. That would mean that even though John Corabi was working with Motley Crue, he was still technically or legally in The Scream.

This also goes against Nikki Sixx’s viewpoint on the matter that John Corabi was the only guy on the scene. The comments from Walt Woodward, gives some street cred to Sebastian Bach’s claim that he did in fact audition, as it was almost seven months from when Vince Neil left to when Motley Crue officially announced John Corabi as the replacement. The other vocalists that also auditioned are Stevie Rachelle from the band Tuff, Marq Torien from the band Bullet Boys and Stephen Shareaux from the band Kik Tracee.

Now if Sebastian Bach did audition in 1992, it would have had to have been between February 1992 and September 1992. Due to the fact that John Corabi had to wait until September to be officially recognised as the lead singer, it points to one thing; some reservations existed within the Motley Crue circle of managers, record label reps and road crew if John Corabi was the right man.

During the period December, 1991 and June 22, 1992, Skid Row was touring the U.S. Plenty of free days in between to tee up an audition.

From July 8, 1992 to August 11, 1992, Skid Row did a South American tour and wrapped up the month of August with an appearance at Castle Donnington in the U.K. Again, plenty of time to fit in an audition after the tour ended.

Skid Row didn’t hit the road again until October 1992 for a small Japanese tour and then they wrapped up the “Slave To The Grind” cycle, by supporting Guns N Roses on their “Use Your Illusion” Australian tour from January 30, 1993 to February 6, 1993. Of course by the time this cycle completed, Sebastian Bach had committed to Skid Row.

It is not uncommon for different theories to emerge when band members are replaced. Even Dream Theater got caught up in it, when the stories came out that Marco Minnemann got the Dream Theater drummer spot when Mike Portnoy left. That is why on the videos of the drummer audition that came out, you don’t see footage of Dream Theater telling Minnemann that he didn’t get the gig, however there was footage of when they told all the other drummers that auditioned they didn’t get the gig.

By connecting the dots, Marco Minnemann got the gig and then turned it down when he was told he needed to relocate to the other side of America.

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

Metal Music and Piracy

Dave Mustaine from Megadeth was asked the question “What do you think about the state of the music industry right now with all of the changes that have been made?” when he appeared on That Metal Show (S12:Ep5)

“This generation has grown up to believe that music should be free. We focus on the live shows now. People are very song-focused now.”

While I disagree with David’s assessment that this generation has grown up to believe that music should be free, I do agree with his other comment that people are song focused and that the bands focus should always be on the live show.

This generation is a product of their times. The medium of the times is the Internet. This generation has grown up with the internet. This generation has grown up on quality. Dave Mustaine in the same interview was asked to rate his top 5 Megadeth albums. Guess which albums made his top 5.

1. Countdown To Extinction
2. Rust In Peace
3. Peace Sells
4. Killing Is My Business
5. So Far, So Good, So What

This is Dave Mustaine saying that his best work is in the first five Megadeth albums.

Scott Rockenfield (from Queensryche) was also asked the same question.

“Records are different these days, they are good calling cards for us to continue our legacy. Bands can’t earn a lot of money in record sales anymore. We started out as a live band. A lot of new bands don’t have that.”

No one wants to wait two years for a 14 song record with three or four good songs. We want more songs on a regular basis and we want quality.
The internet allows the bands to do this as the distribution costs are zero.

Record song, upload and share.

If the song is great, the fans will market it for free. That is the way the game is played today. Instead you still have artists thinking that they should record many songs, hype up their release, spend money on a scorched earth marketing policy and then release the product so that people can buy it. It’s all wrong.

As an artist you want your creations to live forever. For that to happen, people need to share the songs, talk about them, do derivative versions and make a connection.

This brings me to artists who just have it all wrong, when it comes to their views on the current state of the music business.

Scott Ian said that people should lose their connection because they share his recorded music. I listened to Worship Music on YouTube. I didn’t download it and I didn’t pay a cent for it. You can say that I unofficially streamed it, since YouTube is the first streaming platform that the entertainment business tried to shut down unsuccessfully.

As far as I’m concerned I went onto a legal site and listened to the music. So based on Ian’s interpretation of the law, the internet connection of the people that went on to YouTube to listen to the album has to be suspended (as we stole it) along with the Anthrax fan who put it up.

The Recording Business is just an arm of the Music Business, that is trying in vain to hold on to its old business models. No one wakes up in the morning, thinking they need to buy a CD. We wake up in the morning, thinking we need to hear this song.

Doc Coyle from God Forbid summed it up in a post on the Metal Sucks website;

“We seem to think people want CDs or books or DVDs as individual items to own and keep, but the truth is, what we really want is the content contained on these capsules of information. The CD, DVD and book are just messengers for the experience contained therein.”

I am going through an issue of Hot Metal from May 1993. As soon as I open the magazine, there is a two page advertisement for the release of AnthraxSound of White Noise. One page has the album cover art and the second page has the heading, RESERVE YOUR COPY OF ANTHRAX’S NEW ALBUM “SOUND OF WHITE NOISE” AT THE FOLLOWING IDN STORES.

Back then we needed to buy CD’s so that we could hear the music. If they said we needed to buy a stereo that plays unlimited music, we would have.

Speaking of buying:
Black Sabbath had week three sales of 25,300 and week four sales of 16,942. (U.S. sales)

It is doing the same decline as other rock/metal artists like Skillet.

Metal bands need to take a leaf from the Imagine Dragons playbook. This band has entered the Top 10 again with sales of 33,223 for its Night Visions album.

Think about that. Imagine Dragons has been selling for 44 weeks. It has sold more in its 44th week than a Black Sabbath album in its 4th week. The last couple of weeks has seen a resurgence for the band. Why? The band is touring.

People are talking about the shows and they are buying the music. Some people might see it as strange that people went to a rock show without owning a physical copy of the music.

These are the times we live in. These are the times that artists need to live in.

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