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

Fame Game

“You let them know you are large and in charge. It’s the way you stand, the way you carry yourself. Being a front man is less about your voice than your ability to connect with a crowd. A front man is a salesman. Steve Jobs was a front man. Wozniak was the great songwriter, but he couldn’t sell the thing he created. He needed the cock rocker Jobs to say, “Pay attention to this!” I wasn’t always confident, but confidence is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It starts as false bravado—you’re acting like you’re cool and confident even when you’re not—but if you’re convincing enough, people start to believe it. Then you start to believe it and then it’s the reality.”
Dee Snider on his philosophy on how to connect with an audience

You see, fame ain’t what it used to be. In the past, very few people made it and when they did, we all knew their name, regardless of their style of music. Now, no one even knows who the “stars” are. The odds of breaking through your inner circle are tiny, but people keep trying.

So where does that leave the artists who are trying to sustain a career in an ever-changing marketplace because fame is a game. It’s not always about the music, but more about communication and participation.

Sully Erna is a salesman. He goes on a radio show and Nikki Sixx becomes the topic of his conversation. He generates a ton of interest, a lot of discussion and he played the fame game. But that was weeks ago. The feud is old news again. Forgotten for the time being. The audience moved on to another topic, to another artist.

Remember when music records and singles used to be number one for ages. Well, that doesn’t happen anymore in music and it definitely doesn’t happen when it comes to information. News is an on demand item. The only question is where are we going to get it from. The usual suspects are far from impartial. Look at the Top 20 lists at Loudwire and Noisecreep and Ultimate Classic Rock and you will see that the lists are made up of the bands that had big PR campaigns with the website; not because the albums are worthy of being in the top 20.

Music is not the leader anymore. Information is. And with a million ways to occupy ourselves, artists need to find a different way to make us pay attention. So with everything available, we are drawn to very few.

Like James Hetfield.

The “SoWhat” fan club magazine interviews offer up personal viewpoints and feelings that people can connect with. He doesn’t do side projects because it needs to add to what he is about and not detract from Metallica. However he is now okay with his band mates side projects. He told us that Metallica lost millions doing the Orion Music + More festivals and he offers his insights as to why that might be the case. He gives us his feelings on “Lulu”. Then there is the movie “Through The Never” that cost the band millions. Again more insights or “excuses” as some metal websites called them.

So even though Metallica hasn’t released new music in seven years, Hetfield is constantly out there playing the fame game.

Whether you agree with the viewpoints or not, it’s actually good to listen to artists having a say instead of not saying anything. Even artists like Scott Ian, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley who fail to understand or realise that the record company model is based on stealing everything from the artist, are good at playing the fame game, especially when they have nothing new to offer musically.

Because it is virtually impossible to get mindshare in todays cluttered and chaotic world. We had MTV, Hit Parader, Circus, Rip and Metal Edge magazines and they reached everybody. Today, we get the popular squeezing out the less popular and what we have are people complaining there is no money in music.

And who cares what sales record is broken. Adele is all over the news about her sales figures. Star Wars the same. Michael Jackson and Thriller just passed 30 million.

Does anyone know who many records Black Sabbaths “Paranoid” sold, or Motley Crue’s “Shout At The Devil” or Dream Theater’s “Images and Words” or Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” or Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” or Journey’s “Escape”.

Hell, even the bands won’t know how many albums they would have sold, as the accounting of it all was dodgy and secretive. But the music has maintained. Dream Theater is still doing victory laps from the success of “Images and Words”. I just forked out $170 for “The Astonishing” pre order of the deluxe edition.

In the end, everything is a game, with winners and losers.

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Alternate Reality, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

Chapter 4

I finally got around to watching the “Through The Never” movie last night and there was a question nagging at me throughout the whole experience;

“How can James Hetfield think that this is good?”

Lars just wants to be front and centre on everything so any outlet that can put him there, he will agree with. Kirk and Rob will just follow what Lars and James do? But James Hetfield to me is the quality behind the band. He can have a different drummer, guitarist and bassist backing him up and it will still be Metallica.

And if he thinks that the movie was good and that Lulu was good and that the new live song “Lords Of Summer” is good, then I am hoping that all bad things come in threes. Because if they don’t then it is not looking good.

Anyway, I am still having fun with my so-called story based around Metallica songs and themes so here is Chapter 4.

–1978–The Armerous

Blackened Hetfield makes his way to the meeting place. Along the forest track, bodies are suspended along the trees. As he gets closer to his destination, winding his way up a steep mountain pass, the trail is littered by a series of pikes with severed heads on top. These are the people who just got in the way of the grand design.

There is a generic road sign on one of the pikes that states “No Trespassing”. A thick fog is beginning to descend. Everything is feeling and looking creepy like something imminent is about to happen.

Hetfield enters a partially destroyed Buddhist temple. The outside decay of the building masks a perfect and sterile environment inside.

In the wide room there is a table with a chair. The person sitting on the chair is not facing the door way. Instead the person is looking into something else. Flanked on each table are two Red Guards, clothed like Samurai but Samurai they are not. Next to the Red Guards are two more guards; however these ones wear black colours instead of red.

The colours are a rite of passage. All of the black colour guards/warriors have a first name of Blackened. The ones in red have a first name of Crimson.

Hetfield sits down on the leather chair that he normally sits on.“Lord Slither we have a new enemy”.

“So it is true”, responds a man that we assume is Lord Slither. It is a strange relationship as Hetfield has never seen Lord Slithers face, however he swears a loyalty to him that is broken only in death.

“Yes, the books of knowledge have a new keeper”, continues Hetfield. “It seems that The Phantom Lord managed the transfer before we got to him”.

“How did we not foresee this failure Blackened Hetfield?”

“I am unable to answer that my Lord. My failure is mine to own. The consequences are mine to suffer.”

“Not this time Blackened Hetfield. Your suffering will not be from me”. This was ominous and sinister from Lord Slither. Hetfield has been failing his master a lot recently.

“Are the new agents ready?” questions Lord Slither.

“No Lord Slither, the indoctrination process is taken longer than expected.” This is another failure from Hetfield.

“How is the child of “The Judas Kiss” tracking along?

Hetfield doesn’t let his hesitation show as the child of “The Judas Kiss” is also his child. “He is far exceeding our expectations in all disciplines.”

“And what about the one known as “Cyanide”. It has been seventeen years since he came into our possession.”

“He is almost ready. By far one of our best”.

“Unleash him. Send out to the “Creeping Death”.

“As you wish, Lord Slither”.

“It’s time to begin the whipping dance of the dead and colour their world blackened.”

–1976–The City Of Devils Dance

Two years post E.B’s tour of duty, the Vietnam War was lost.

Meanwhile back at home E.B had used the financial resources of his father, Cyprian Breadfan to establish the Unknown Five and the Metal Militia. One as a secret society and the other one as a public face.

It was then that E.B encountered the one known as “Prince Charming”.

His real name is Terence Blinks. The definition of the word corrupt in the dictionary doesn’t define Prince Charming in any way. He is in a class of corruption all on his own. He is equally known for his catch phrase of “the shortest straw has been pulled for you.”

Devils Dance is defined by the power struggle between the two wealthiest families. On one side you have the Breadfan’s who stand for fairness and justice and on the other you have the Blinks who stand for power and wealth.

“Fairness and Justice is a fool’s errand”, said Prince Charming in one of the many hostile arguments he had with E.B’s father.

The city citizens are either on the payroll of the Blinks or on the run from the Blinks. But then the Metal Militia was born and they became an equalizer to the situation.

The constant shop fronts shaken down by corrupt officials and forced to pay private levies suddenly had new protectors in the Metal Militia.

And Prince Charming didn’t like it.

–Current Day–The City of Devils Dance

The Metal Militia has a roll of honour on one of their walls, sort of like a Hall Of Fame. The list is broken into Immortals and Lifers.
Listed as IMMORTALS are E.B and St Anger. Listed as LIFERS are Frantic Frank, Stone D.F Clover, Nole A.F Clover, Dyers Eve and Lowman Lyric. The NOMAD list shows The Outlaw Torn and Wim Roam.

Then there is another list for the current membership status of the organisation.

Currently, Motorbreath is the President. His lady, ItsElektra is the Secretary. The Vice President is Overkill and the Sargent in Arms is Damage Inc. The Treasurer is Whiplash. Together they form the executive arm of the Metal Militia.

Orion is a sworn in member of the Metal Militia along with Two-by-four, Loverman and Astronomy.

Right now Orion is waiting outside the chapel, the meeting room of the Militia. Stone D.F has been inside for a long time with the Militia Executive. IMMORTALS and LIFERS are held in high regard. They have done so much and sacrificed so much that they don’t need to hold a rank anymore. Instead they are elevated to a status normally reserved for Gods. So if any living IMMORTAL or LIFER requests a meeting with the Executive, the Executive must adhere and be present.

And Stone D.F is the only one of the hall of fame list that is still alive.

Eventually after what seemed like days which was in essence about four hours, Stone D.F emerges from the chapel.

“What was all that about?” asks Orion

“Nothing that important”, answers Stone D.F.

“Not important. It was the longest meeting I have witnessed.”

“When you have a club that does what we do, meetings do seem to go on a touch too long. I suppose that is democracy at work,” counters Stone D.F.

“So it had nothing to do with the phone call I got”, continues Orion.

“That was mentioned as was our journey to the City of Beholder.”

“So what was said about it?” questions Orion.

“It was just a heads up to them that we will be out-of-town. So are you ready to depart” responds Stone D.F. There is no way that Stone D.F is going to let Orion take this trip alone, especially due to the mysterious circumstances of the phone call.

–Current Day–The City of the Beholder–

The City Of Beholder is a Bible belt mining town and it is only fitting that the reason why the town is known is also the reason why it is slowly tearing itself apart. An underground fire has been burning from one of the mine shafts for over a decade and it is slowly swallowing parts of the town.

A lot of people have abandoned the town. In its heyday it had over 200,000 people. Now it is lucky to have 40,000. Houses are levelled and areas are fenced off.

The High School is partially submerged into the ground. Orion glances at it and so does Stone D.F. Weeds, grass, trees and other forms of fauna are growing over it, around it and in between it. Looking at it reminds Orion of a dystopian future that he has seen in comic books and movies.

Orion notices a sign on the water tower.

“What is that sign?” asks Orion.

“It’s the symbol for corruption and capitalism,” answers Stone D.F. “It’s another business from Prince Charming”.

“Does Charming own all of this?”

“As soon as he can get rid of the Metal Militia” answers Stone DF.

“What do we have to do with it?”

“The Militia is the complete opposite of what Prince Charming is. Before the Militia, the people that Charming and his cronies intimidated had no one to fight back for them.”

A partially destroyed Buddhist temple in the distance grabs Orion’s attention. But with the speed they are travelling it vanishes as quickly as it came into view.

–3rd January 1966–

“Do you feel the disturbance?” asks an elder looking person that looks like a Buddhist monk.

“Yes” replies another, that could be a monk in training.

“Something’s changed.”

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Thrash Metal

I am a great believer that certain musical styles rise to prominence on the backs of social change or a social movement. There is a quote from Deena Weinstein who is a Professor at DePaul University in the Metal Evolution Thrash Episode that goes something like this;

“When Thrash started in the early eighties Thatcher and Reagan were in charge and we had a highly conservative very restrictive kind of society and if you’re a teenager especially a teenage male, yuck, you don’t want to live in a place where they are in charge. This made males feel like they had to fight against the system just to stay in place and that kind of aggression leads to a sense of wanting to be louder and faster.”

By 1988, Thrash Metal in Australia was becoming huge. There was a substantial underground movement of thrash bands or bands that dabbled in rock, thrash and traditional heavy metal and there was an audience for it. Suburban garages became jam rooms for a million wannabe thrash bands.

And then came Metallica to our shorelines for the “Justice” tour.

All of those suburban teens who had seen their parents deal with the Black Monday Wall Street crash purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens from immigrant families that had seen their parents get dicked around and racially abused purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens that had seen their parents get shafted from various long-term state governments that dealt in corruption purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens that had seen their parents get fired from companies that dealt in corruption and bribery of politicians purchased tickets

 

All of those suburban teens who didn’t fit in to the new divide between the haves and the have-nots purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens who had finished high school or dropped out and couldn’t hold down any jobs or get work, scrapped up enough cash to purchase tickets.

We even made the news. In our excitement to get into the venue, we broke down gates and fences. When the police came we resisted. So many misfits, that just wanted to fit in.

We all stood together with people wearing Venom, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, first two albums Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Slayer tops. This was our moment and the “…And Justice For All” album with its lyrical themes of corruption and truth being sold to the highest bidder was the same shit that we faced or our parents had faced. We all related to the “injustice” themes throughout the album.

I have always debated with people who was the biggest band in the genre. I always saw it from an influential musical point of view and others saw it from a sales point of view. Metallica and Megadeth to me are the two bands that had their feet in so many genres. With each album they kept on crossing over into new markets. That is why to me, the Black album wasn’t outside of the norm for what the Metallica sound is.

In the doco, Sam Dunn (the interviewer) felt betrayed when Metallica came out with the “Black” album. He wasn’t alone in that view-point. A lot of my peers also felt betrayed at the album however I couldn’t understand their viewpoint.

Metallica always had more accessible shorter songs on every single album leading up to the “Black” album.

What about, “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Escape” and “Trapped Under Ice” from the “Ride The Lightning” album.

What about, “Leper Messiah” (how good is that bass riff (RIP: CLIFF BURTON) over the E5 power chords from 0.33 to 0.55) and “The Thing That Should Not Be” from the “Master Of Puppets” album while the “…And Justice For All” album had the big one, “Harvester Of Sorrow.”

All of those songs are more or less at the same tempo that the “Black” album songs are at.

I for one am glad that Metallica had the balls to make the “Black” album instead of “And Justice For All Part Two”, which if you look closely at it, the Justice album was more or less, “Ride The Lightning Part III”.

Megadeth on the other hand, in between their drug addictions and overdoses created some definitive songs. All of the thrash fans that felt betrayed at the Black album liked “Peace Sells”. That is why their view points just didn’t make sense.

Yes people, the mighty Dave Mustaine was way ahead of his time. He gave Metallica that technicality and their sound in the early years and by 1986, he gave the Thrash movement a crossover hit song in “Peace Sells”. It was all over MTV.

And that is the reason why this sub-genre has survived and grown. The two biggest bands of the movement just kept on crossing over and those two biggest bands had two super influential songwriters in Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time they were in the same band.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Then and Now – Are We Living In A New Era Of The Eighties

THEN

Dee Snider and Twisted Sister told us to not take any crap from authority and institutions in “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. They also told us to stand up for ourselves if we want to rock in “I Wanna Rock”. Ronnie James Dio also told all of the “Rock’N’Roll Children” to “Stand Up and Shout”

NOW

Five Finger Death Punch are telling everyone that life never favoured weakness and that only the strong will survive. So welcome to “The Pride” if you got the scars to prove it.

Shinedown said that we don’t have to take the bullying for just being who we are and we can change it, by taking a stand together. Volbeat told us to feel the power of a warrior in “A Warrior’s Call” and to fight, fight, fight.

We also learned that the world’s a gun and that we have been aiming all of our lives, as warriors of youth, we are taking over, with a shot the new world order. WE ARE BULLETPROOF.

THEN

Quiet Riot reminded everyone to “Cum And Feel The Noise” again, while AC/DC saluted all of those who wanted to rock’n’roll and Judas Priest became the “Defenders Of The Faith”, ramming heavy metal down people’s throats. Europe told us to “Rock The Night” while the Scorpions rocked us like a hurricane and Night Ranger told the world that people can still rock in America.

NOW

Papa Roach are “Still Swingin” while Motley Crue is “Goin Out Swingin”. Like P.O.D we all feel “Alive” with “The Sound Of Madness” on board the “Rock N Roll Train” with those “Saints Of Los Angeles” on our way to “Hell Or Hallelujah”.

THEN

Dave Mustaine said “What do you mean I don’t support your system, why do you think I’m broke” while James Hetfield told us that the “halls of justice are painted green”.

NOW

The new “Youth Of The Nation” are “Indestructible” as the “Uprising” against “Re-Education” begins. The “Weak And The Powerless” “Minority” are “Here To Stay” as we have a “Second Chance” “Lifeline” to go from being “Kings Of Errors” to “Heroes”.  So “Boom” to the “World So Cold” as a new “Schism” is made between corrupt democratic governments and its people. Guess the pieces fit after all.

THEN

Rush put the “Limelight” on “The Spirit Of Radio” and Van Halen told us to “Jump” which David Lee Roth actually did not that long after.

NOW

Now, Sixx AM is driving down Sunset Boulevard, with Sex Pistols on the radio and he must be high because Jesus just walked by.

THEN

Bon Jovi summed it up and hit pay dirt by telling us that we are all “Livin’ On A Prayer” and that if we believed in each other we would make it. Sort of like how Journey told us to “Don’t Stop Believin” and how Bruce Springsteen said that tramps like us are “Born To Run”.

NOW

We have no “City Limits”. We have no “Barricades”. “We Are The Highway” and we ride it all day long like “Renegades” ready to “Seize The Day” from the “Bad Company”. In the end, this is “Who We Are”.

THEN

Motley Crue and Stryper proved unlikely allies. Motley Crue shouted at the devil, while Stryper said to hell with the devil. Is it safe to say that Motley Crue had released a Christian Rock record.

NOW

We are more segregated than ever. How can we reach for the sky with “Broken Wings”? How can we see the sun when we are dealing with the “Darkness Within”? Guess we are all just “Moths” to the flame, never really learning from our past mistakes and constantly getting burned.

THEN

Billy Joel told the world that “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and that it was always burning since the world started turning. Judas Priest forewarned us about our own governments spying on us with the “Electric Eye” and Metallica told us that justice was gone, sold to the highest bidder. Queensryche was calling for a revolution and Megadeth was “Setting The World On Fire”. Then the “Winds Of Change” came and “The Final Countdown” began.

NOW

Look no further than the “New Awakening” from Killswitch Engage.

Run the race that will lead to nowhere fast
Trapped in the haze of this mindless false reality
Wandering a path laid out by fools
That they call “progression” where chaos rules

There is more to life than this
We are more than just this flesh
We are alive and our time has come
For a new awakening

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Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

June, 1993

It’s June 1993 and I am flicking through the new issue of Hot Metal Magazine, which at the time was Australia’s premier metal and rock magazine. For $3.50 it was an excellent alternative to the overpriced American and British magazines.

On the cover there was the John Bush fronted Anthrax. Three members are wearing white t-shirts with blue Jeans, and two members are wearing black t-shirts with blue jeans. It was a sign of the changing times as publicists and record labels pushed their artists to have a more grungy look.

“The Sound Of White Noise” got 5 skulls in the magazine review, which equates to ‘KILLER’. A few months after it’s release the album was certified GOLD. This is probably the album that Scott Ian was referring too when he made his comments that in the past they would sell a shitload of albums.

It was a hungry album. John Bush’s transition from a struggling band to a major label act was the catalyst. It was an album chock full of metal “hits”. “Only” comes to mind straight away. Even James Hetfield called it the perfect song. “Black Lodge” didn’t sit out-of-place with the current crop of chart toppers in Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. Credit producer Dave Jerden who produced both “Dirt” from Alice In Chains and “The Sound Of White Noise”. It was the last good Anthrax album and it is not even up on Spotify. Actually none of the John Bush-era of Anthrax is on Spotify which is a shame.

And the critics that said “Worship Music” is a great album cannot understand why it didn’t resonate with the audience. Look at the top ten songs on Spotify for Anthrax. Not one song from “Worhsip Music” is on the list. Same goes for YouTube.

Then you have the bloodbath from the Eighties scene.

Jani Lane (RIP) and Warrant had split and both acts had their contracts reduced to demo deals. So even though you had three albums that had moved 500,000 plus units each, they still ended up on the scrap-heap. Kik Tracee also split with vocalist Stephen Shareaux (bet he wished he tried harder for that Motley Crue vocalist spot) and both of them had been reduced to a demo deal. Looks like all the promo to sell the act just didn’t connect with the audience because in the end the songs where rubbish.

Meanwhile Rowan Robertson from “The Lock Up The Wolves” Dio era inked a deal with Atlantic Records for his new band that had Oni Logan from Lynch Mob on vocals. We all know that this didn’t end up going anywhere.

While, Roberston’s former employer, Dio (RIP) was working with WWIII guitarist Tracy G after his “Dehumanizer” venture with Black Sabbath went sour. These sessions would go on to create the “Strange Highways” album while Jake E.Lee was working with WWIII singer (and i use that term loosely) Mandy Lion.

Reports coming through at that time spoke about the new Bruce Dickinson solo album being an “updated, toughened up Santana vibe with a heavy leaning towards Peter Gabriel type atmospherics and experimentation.”  That album would become “Balls To Picasso” and apart from the song “Tears Of The Dragon” which sounds like an Iron Maiden song the rest of the album was a listen best avoided.

On the drug front we had David Lee Roth getting busted in New York after purchasing a $10 bag of weed. Seriously, for someone like his stature surely he could have done it more discreetly or gotten that $10 bag delivered to the studio. However, Roth is Roth and he decided that he should go out into the town and look for a dealer. On the other drug front, there was news that started coming out about Tim Kelly (RIP) from Slaughter who was alleged to have been involved in a major drug smuggling ring that was busted after a five-year investigation by the F.B.I.

Then we had the Motley Crue vs Vince Neil shenanigans.

The Vince Neil “Exposed” album got a good review in the magazine. I suppose it was inevitable that the solo album from Vince Neil would sound a lot like Motley Crue, even though NIkki Sixx insisted that Vince Neil had nothing to do with the creation of the songs in Motley Crue or the Motley sound. I think Nikki Sixx missed the memo that the actual voice plays a big part in the sound. Credit music business vet Phil Soussan for delivering a stellar performance in the songwriting department that helped kick-start Vince’s solo career.

Then on the other side you had “The Scream” with new singer Billy Scott battling to get their album done in time so that they can tour with Motley Crue as part of the singer transfer deal. For the uninitiated John Corabi from “The Scream” replaced Vince Neil in Motley Crue. However, the Crue’s album was REJECTED by Elektra Records. It wouldn’t be until the following year that the self-titled Motley Crue album saw the light of day. And within 6 months it disappeared from the public conversation and the tour got reduced from arena’s to theaters to getting cancelled.

Finally Pride and Glory was still on hold while Zakk Wylde worked with Ozzy Osbourne on the follow-up to “No More Tears”. Producers John Purdell and Duane Baron took over from Michael Wagener (who produced the first few songs and was then retained to mix the album until Micheal Beinhorn got involved). James Lomenzo was being used as a bass replacement for the recording sessions. The album that would become Ozzmosis would take another two more years before it saw the light of day and the style of the songs would be re-imagined into the modern sound of the day.

In the end the majority of artists mentioned above are still part of the music business in some way. And for the ones that aren’t, only death could separate them from the music world.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Technique x (Emotion + Feel) = Angel Of Mercy from Black Label Society

I just finished doing some hard late nights and early mornings watching the FIFA World Cup tournament for the last four weeks.

As a football youth coach, it was great to see a positive attacking mindset employed by the teams. And football coaching is getting better all the time as the modern-day managers and their coaches try to find a balance between technique and understanding the game. I have seen coaches spend a lot of time on technique that the players train in isolation for such long periods that they get lost when it comes to a game.

The problem is that too much focus on technique takes away time spent on the deeper aspects of the game. Players might be great at performing drills. But without understanding how the game is played, they can’t use their technique effectively. Sure, they can take on a player and beat them with incredible technique however soccer is a team game. While Brazil has Neymar and Argentina has Messi and Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, Germany has a team. And it was that team that won the FIFA World Cup.

Musicians are no different. There are millions of guitarists out there that have unbelievable technique. But how many of them are great songwriters. Because we all know someone with an amazing voice or great guitar talent. And maybe they should have made or could have made it. But they didn’t make it. Because the best and the brightest don’t make it the top on technical abilities alone. Music is a game and it needs to be played like one.

I just finished watching a YouTube view of Kelly Valleau playing an acoustic cover of “Fade To Black” from Metallica. The technique exhibited at pulling off the arrangement involved him combining the rhythms with the vocal lines and the lead breaks. It’s first class. All up the video has had 463,658 views on Youtube. Has anyone else heard of this phenomenal guitar player.

And the thing is, “Fade To Black” was written and arranged by James Hetfield who is the anti-hero of a technical player however his style of fast palm-muted down-picking ushered in a new style of rhythm playing. Look at any Metallica story out there and you will see that James more or less learned/mastered his craft in a band environment instead of spending countless days performing drills on his own. That’s not to say that if you woodshed you will not get far.

A favourite of mine is Zakk Wylde and he woodshedded from the age of fourteen, amassing an amazing technique. And no one can say that Zakk hasn’t created or being involved in creating some memorable songs. Just listen to “Angel Of Mercy” from the “Catacombs” album and you will see what I mean. It demonstrates unbelievable technique in the solo section while the verses and the chorus show the emotive side.

Hell, listen to his whole career and you will see what I mean. Same goes for a lot of other guitarists.

Great music must contain emotion. That is why “Angel Of Mercy” connected with me. It hits me emotionally and it makes me feel something. All the great songs do? And because I care for the song, I can’t stop sharing it and talking about it with people who want to listen. And when music is done right, it sells itself.

I am a great believer that technical abilities are a good tool to have in your arsenal as a musician, however it should be just one tool of many tools that are employed in the creation of your latest masterpiece. Don’t lose focus that a song has many moving parts and the vocal melodies along with the actual lyrics go a long way to making that connection with the audience as much as the riff.

Like the new Judas Priest album “Redeemer Of Souls”. A lot of the songs have some great musical moments and some cool riffs however the vocal melodies just missed the mark on the majority of the songs. “Halls Of Valhalla”, “Sword of Damocies”, “Secrets Of The Dead”, “Battle Cry” and “Beginning Of The End” are the exception, especially “Battle Cry”. And most of these songs are part of the deluxe edition.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Who Is the Real Star? The Band Name or the Personnel In The Band

There is an article doing the rounds at the Hollywood Reporter about how “The Walking Dead” is TV’s number 1 show and that the stars of the show are still largely unknown.

So it got me thinking. I was very interested to check out the show based on my love of the Horror genre. Once I checked it out, I was hooked. I didn’t start watching the show because they had certain actors in it. The only actor I was aware of was Daryl’s brother and that was from the movie Cliffhanger with Stallone and that was after watching a few episodes. So I got into the show because i was a fan of the horror genre.

However I got into “Sons Of Anarchy” because hard-core friends eventually got me to invest some time in it.

The point I am trying to make is that we get into certain TV shows, movies or artists based on a thousand different reasons. One thing is clear; we don’t get into these cultural icons because of the people in them.

For example, when Metallica started on the scene, no one was walking around saying that they got into Metallica because James Hetfield was such a cool cat or Lars Ulrich was the man. We got into Metallica for multiple reasons. For example, we were fans of the metal genre, the songs connected with us; we wanted to be part of the conversation and so on. From the outset, we become fans because of the music we hear.

That is what culture is all about. Sharing stories about the things we love.

Of course some outliers do exist and some artists have a cultural influence that transcends their music. They become institutions themselves. For example, Slash is now a cultural institution. Ozzy Osbourne is a cultural institution albeit with a lot of help from his “friends”. Nikki Sixx is a cultural institution. Robb Flynn is a cultural institution. Dee Snider is a cultural icon. These artists can all survive on their own. They are brand names themselves.

It’s taken Slash almost 14 years from when he left Gunners to re-establish and re-brand himself as a force to be reckoned with. That happened in 2010 with the release of his solo album and with a little help from his friends.

Randy Rhoads and Bob Daisley helped Ozzy Osbourne break the shackles of Black Sabbath. Jake E. Lee and Phil Soussan enhanced what Randy Rhoads and Bod Daisley created. Zakk Wylde turned it all into a blockbuster with “No More Tears” being the pinnacle.

Nikki Sixx re-invented himself and Motley Crue by first gaining control of Motley Crue’s back catalogue from Elektra Records. A task that no other artist had accomplished before. Then he pushed for the writing of “The Dirt”. Since then, he has become a solo artist with Sixx AM, a song writer for other artists, a social media junkie, a photographer, a literary writer and a radio personality.

Robb Flynn showed the world that he can survive. He really went out of his comfort zone recently and performed acoustically. He survived the “Through The Ashes of Empires” era and lived to tell the tale. Talk about Grit and Roll. It was music all the way, with no safety net. No plan B. His Journals are pure gold. Even if you don’t like Machine Head’s music, you can still appreciate the Journal Ramblings. For any artist starting off, there is information in there that is real. There is information there that is not sugar-coated by a mainstream writer.

Dee Snider, what else can be said. Read his bio.

These artists have all connected with us on different levels. They have become so large in people’s lives that they have become cultural institutions themselves. We then stick with these institutions through the good times and the bad times.

So what about all the other artists. Well for the remainder of the artists it is still about the music. They need to have the music pumping out and they need to make connections.

Dee Snider once said that there are no more rock stars in this day and age. I took that to mean, that in the internet age, there are no real recognizable faces to put to certain bands. While I agree with that comment in parts, I also disagree with it.

For example, Coheed and Cambria has Claudio Sanchez. Watch them live and you get to see the hair. Instantly recognizable.

Five Finger Death Punch has Zoltan Bathory with the dreadlocks and the UFC/mixed martial arts look. They have Ivan Moody and the Mohawk.

Shinedown has Brent Smith, who performs like an adrenaline injected Steve Tyler.

Black Veil Brides have, well they have the whole band.

Avenged Sevenfold have Eighties rock star stage names with instantly recognisable faces.

However if any of the band members in the above mentioned bands, decide to go on their own, it will be a tough slog for them as the bands they are in have all become cultural institutions. Then you have a band like Protest The Hero who look like normal guys going to University.

So going back to “The Walking Dead”. The show is the rock star. That is the cultural institution.

So for any wannabe rock stars, think about all of the above for a second. No one is going to wake up tomorrow morning and think to themselves, “damn, I want to hear some music from Zoltan Bathory, or “Insert New Artist name here””.

We wake up in the morning and think to ourselves, “damn, we want to hear some Five Finger Death Punch. We wake up and go “damn its “The Walking Dead” tonight.”

That is what a lot of misguided artists fail to grasp when they leave a certain cultural institution citing musical differences. They (meaning the person) were never the stars. The band name is the star and it always will be.

That is why Guns N Roses is still rolling along, playing to large audiences.

That is why Tommy Lee returned to Motley Crue.

That is why James Hetfield returned to Metallica after rehab. That is why Lars Ulrich never contemplated anything else except Metallica during this period.

That is why Dave Mustaine resurrected Megadeth after he disbanded the band.

That is why Dimebag didn’t want Pantera to end. He knew that Pantera was the star.

That is why David Lee Roth worked with Van Halen again. That is why Sammy Hagar wants to work with Van Halen again.

That is why Alex Skolnick returned to Testament.

That is why there is a fight over who owns the right to the Queensryche name.

That is why Benjamin Burnley went all legal for the right to use the Breaking Benjamin name.

That is why Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned to Iron Maiden.

That is why Rob Halford returned to Judas Priest.

That is why Black Sabbath reformed with three of the original members and released ’13’.

That is why bands like Ratt, Quiet Riot, Dokken, Poison and Skid Row are still continuing.

That is why Joey Belladonna returned to Anthrax and why Scott Ian is still continuing the band.

That is why Slayer is continuing without Jeff Hanneman.

To finish off with the immortal words of Ronnie James Dio “And on and on and on and on it goes….”

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