Music, My Stories

Music And Life

I couldn’t imagine life before the TV much like my kids today can’t imagine life without the internet and everything being available.

Anyone who was around at the beginning of the MTV revolution, would have purchased a guitar or some other instrument. That’s what I did.

I bugged my Dad to buy me a guitar so he got me a classical guitar with the hope I could learn to play classical songs. He paid $15 for a 30 minute lesson with a man called Niccolini, who instead taught me how to play metal and rock songs because I asked him to.

And Niccolini, man he could play. He had the longest fingernails on his right hand and I was in awe at his classical playing. But I was a metal head.

I used to tell Niccolini which songs I would want to learn, he would then go away and learn those songs and then at the next lesson he would show me. But I also took lessons, to get the techniques right. I’m big on foundations. If the foundations are not right, everything else that comes after is not right either.

And I would fool my Dad by playing metal and hard rock songs in a classical way. Like anything from Randy Rhoads or Yngwie Malmsteen.

And music was my everything, something the generation of today doesn’t get. I talked about artists the same way people talk about tech devices today and their social media status.

And my record collection was a source of pride. I played them through and through. They are part of my DNA.

I used to have the collection under lock and key, in an alarmed room because once upon a time, if someone broke in, they would steal part of the collection. I couldn’t have that happen. Today, they’ll walk straight past it and go for the tech.

Music is part of my life. It will always be.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Ripped Off

Cause it’s a rip-off
We’re stepped on and cheated
We’re flat stone cold lied to
The Dream Is Over from Van Halen

Pretty soon I will be begging for people’s change.  I swear getting medical treatments is like getting robbed. In the last two days, I have given $540 for medical services.

A Throat Specialist cost me $200 for a 8 minute appointment. A Dentist appointment for some fillings costs $160 from my Private Health Fund (which I also pay $160 a fortnight for) and $240 from my pocket. X Rays and Ultrasounds on my shoulders cost another $100 out of pocket expenses, while the place also billed the government via Medicare.

And to top it all off, the Dr goes, “I don’t believe it’s a problem but we will follow up in 12 months time with another ultrasound.” It’s all about treatments. It’s where the money is. If you are cured, then the pharma’s are challenged with their business models.

And all because of a Dr’s fear of being negligent, so they monitor. It’s all about prestige, brand damage and insurance. No one wants a tarnished name. Especially in our social media world where everyone wants to be liked.

If you feel so angry
So ripped off, so stepped on
You’re not the only one
Riot from Three Days Grace

No wonder drug dealers have a nickname that involves Doctor. There is no difference in the money outlay. Pay $540 to a drug dealer and he’ll be called Dr Feelgood and on the watch list of every law enforcement. Our Doctors take from the government and from us, they double dip, it’s thievery at its best and it’s allowed, celebrated in fact.

Our banking system bills dead customers for advice fees they received in the grave and their CEO’s get paid multi million salaries while the companies they oversee cheat, lie, thieve and break the law at every turn. All in the name of making money, reaching a target, a figure that someone put out there as a sign of growth. Lower and Middle class people do time for theft, while banking CEO’s take home millions in pay for theft.

Society is a mess and it’s not going to get any better. It’s all because of the value and status people attach to money. It’s borderline suicidal. Everyone wants more of it, and no one wants to lose it or spend it.

Everyone wanted to be a rock star, but being a rock star once upon a time meant pushing boundaries, going against the grain, sticking it to the boss man and living a free spirited lifestyle. Then came MTV and the bossman started sticking it to the rock star. Then came Silicon Valley and the techies sticked it to everyone.

Wall Street wouldn’t have it and for a brief period, bankers made more dough than the techies, but the GFC told us why the bankers made so much. And how many CEO’s went to jail after the GFC. None. Zero. They went on speaking tours to the colleges and are now in government.

Financial Loss Story

Private Health Insurance Increases

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Results

Someone said to me “Nothing matters except the result”. And it got me thinking. For a result to be earned, what needs to happen before hand?

Remember in math tests, you would get marks for showing your workings even though the result could be wrong. For some reason the math marking system doesn’t translate into the adult world. Maybe it does in some utopian workplace. Who knows, the world is vast and I am just one.

If it’s a football team, what do they need to do to get a result?

A team cannot exist without a sense of co-operation and community. They need to trust in each other to do their individual tasks and each player needs to contribute the relevant part needed to get the result. They need to be confident, have enjoyment in the process and hopefully by performing at their imperfect best each week, the output is quality. On top of that, you have the coaches preparing the team and the families supporting their loved ones.

So in order to achieve something that matters, to achieve a result, we need to do it with people we care about and a lot of things need to line up.

So the saying “nothing matters except the result” is not really correct because in order to achieve a “result”, suddenly all of these other things matter more than the results because if they are not carried out with a certain degree of quality, no result would be achieved.

So imagine a music business executive saying to an artist, nothing matters except the sales or listens.

The connection a fan makes with the music and the artist doesn’t matter. The community built around the artist and their songs doesn’t matter. The community built around a scene doesn’t matter. The quality output that happens daily doesn’t matter. The time spent away from loved ones doesn’t matter. The support of other artists, songwriters and families doesn’t matter. All the hours the artist spent in the dark to get to the light doesn’t matter. Rather than treating the artist as an asset that companies should invest in, artists are seen as costs that should be minimised. The trust in the record label to promote the artist and make decisions in the best interests of the artist is also not important.

Hell, its 99% like that in the corporate world. A $20 pay increase a fortnight for the workers while the workers slave away building someone else’s dream. All because we lack confidence and are fearful of failure. It’s even more so when we have children who rely on us. Only the self-centred focused individual can throw away their family to build their own dream or the family throws them away to let them work on their dream. Some find a balance, but not a lot.

Whatever is the case, I know I am surrounded by people who focus on the result. And it’s a shame. When you explain all the things that need to be done to get the “result” you are labelled as an excuse maker, someone not showing enough leadership. Seriously people have a flawed definition of what leadership is or they have a strict dictionary view of leadership. But leadership is a word that needs to be unpacked and explored.

Then again, if showing leadership is doing the same thing and expecting a different result then I would rather not be part of that group. People have made millions from selling books on 10,000 hours or repetition to be a master. Its common sense that if you practice something for a lot of hours you will get good at it. But it doesn’t mean it will bring in the funds you desire. Being an expert doesn’t correlate to success. But for people who focus on the results, it does.

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My Stories, Stupidity

Money, Money, Money

I have been listening to Machine Head’s “Bloodstone and Diamond” and “Unto The Locusts” albums a fair bit lately along with Serj Tankian’s solo albums “Elect The Dead” and “Harakiri”.

To me, Robb Flynn and Serj Tankian are great writers that take a stance on an issue and put their viewpoints out there. The music business is lacking heroes like these. A lot of musicians just seem to be sitting on the fence. Jon Bon Jovi is singing about moving mountains while Serj Tankian is singing about drum fish and blackbirds committing hara-kiri.

Serj Tankian’s “Elect The Dead” album came out in 2007 before the GFC. It has the same themes on that album that “The Circle” and “Wrecking Ball” from Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen that came after the GFC.

What a great inequality divide we live in. The mega wealthy artists need to hear and read about financial corruption after the fact to write about it. It just goes to show how much they are wrapped up in their own bubble to see how the real battler is really doing. While the wealthy got bailed out by the government and went on speaking tours, the working class lost their houses and their livelihoods.

Even though Serj Tankian is known and recognisable  his lifestyle is nowhere near that of the blockbuster duo from Jersey. But his reach and impact might not be far off.

Artists have the power to spread the truth in world where misinformation rules, however a lot of them choose to not do so. They conform so that they don’t upset the powerful ones just in case they are excluded from the social circle.

“Money isn’t everything” is a common catch-cry but the truth is we live in a money economy.

It’s the number one aspiration. My sons third class play from last year was about what they would like to be when they grow up. Some wanted to be famous at a sport they liked and some just wanted to play video games. But, the majority of the kids, especially the girls, all wanted to be rich. It looks like that’s the new norm now.

The belief is that if you’ve got money, you’ve won and no one can say a bad thing about you. The dirty little secret is that it actually costs money to save/make money. If you don’t have any money, how can you save money. The simple math is $0 in money equals $0 saved.

Now if you earn a wage and have $10 a week lying around, you  might put that into a savings account. By the end of the year you would have saved $520. Over the course of 20 years, you would have saved $10,400, Sounds great. However, I am pretty sure that something will come up that will need you to dip into these savings. Dental care for your children, costs around vehicles maintenance or some other urgent event. You could get sick, take extended leave without pay and then there goes that $10 a week saving plan.

Seriously if you work for a company with a lot of employees with different ethnicities, how many conversations do you overhear or are involved in when people just say the words “we can’t afford to do [something]”. And it confuses the fuck out of me when they say that they have created a budget, crunched the numbers and made a decision that something they want to do is not affordable.

So what’s the point of the budget?

Isn’t a budget put in place so that you can AFFORD to do something that you like?

To me it looks like we are all putting budgets in place to live within our means. That is why the rich get richer and the working class remain poor.

Isn’t that sad that we have come to this situation in life. Crunching numbers over our quality of life and then purchasing a lottery ticket when the jackpot is astronomical, hoping that the rays of luck will shine down on us.

I for one am terrible with managing money and saving money. I am sure I am not the only one in the world, but we all hide it and pretend that we are better off than what we really are.

While we see losing in sport as acceptable, we don’t have that same viewpoint when it comes to money. In the money game we see winning as the only acceptable outcome.

But money alone doesn’t give you a reach that art/music can provide and that is where I will leave you today, with some words from Robb Flynn, heard in the song “Darkness Within”.

Fill your heart with every note, Cherish it and cast afloat, ‘Cause god is in these clef and tone, Salvation is found alone, Haunted by its melody

Music it will set you free
Let it set you free

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

I Wanna Be Sedated

“Nothin’ to do and nowhere to go I wanna be sedated”

My youngest son had a big spew last Wednesday night. Then from Thursday to Monday he was running a temperature as a chronic barking cough was developing. Children’s Panadol was ineffective and on Sunday we reverted to children’s version of Nurofen. Finally by Monday afternoon we had his temperature under control.

By Sunday my middle son had also developed a cough that was nasty and by yesterday afternoon I too had an uncomfortable cough.

Now add to that mix the fact that my wife has been ill in some form or another for the last eight weeks. Furthermore I also have my wife’s parents living with us while they build their house and they have been ill much in the same way my wife has and it was no wonder that my eldest son said that our house is like a hospital ward.

So at the moment I have antibiotics for my youngest son, my middle son and for myself. My wife called and said that she will be going to the Doctors as well.

“They call us kings, then watch us fall down broken”

I can’t deal with illnesses that go on for this long. It stresses me to death. I already take three lots of tablets for hypertension. I feel broken and depressed. I just laid my youngest one to bed after a twenty minute cough attack. I feel exhausted. What kind of superhero king am I?

“Wine is fine, but whiskey’s quicker”

It’s easy to do but what about the morning after. I have to be there for my children. Actually the “Suicide Solution” lyric is from Bob Daisley but no one will remember that in the future as history is always written by the ones who have power. Sort of like how the current Bon Scott biopic was threatened with copyright infringement as AC/DC and the Bon Scott estate didn’t like the fact that they didn’t have control over it. Much in the same way as the Jimi Hendrix biopic. There is a saying that the ones that control the narrative are the ones that control people’s minds. And that is so true and evident in the times of today.

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Influenced, My Stories

Life Messages from The American Wolf Of Hustle Wall Street and others – 2013 Best off in Cinema… Part 1

American Hustle and The Wolf Of Wall Street

These two movies are for all the people who don’t know how the world works. For all those people that still believe that if you work hard, get a good education and put in the 12 hour days, that somehow, success will work itself out and befall on them.

But it doesn’t really happen that way at all. Everybody is hustling. Everybody is putting a scam in motion. The whole recording business is a scam, overrun by liars and cheaters, who get artists into contracts and then proceed to underpay the artists due to some creative accounting.

Both movies show an accurate reflection of life where scammers and hustlers work only for themselves, constantly tweaking and adjusting their methods to stay ahead of the law. Look at “The Pirate Bay” in music. It innovated more in one year than what the whole recording business did in 15 years and the law still cant get to it. Heard the music business scream “Piracy” lately. It’s because fans of music are slowly getting serviced with streaming.

What these movies have shown is that it doesn’t matter what level of education a person has. It doesn’t mean that they will win. Quitters never win and it is the winners that write history. The winners write history because they bend the laws and they twist social morals to suit them. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Oblivion

I love it’s eeriness. Director Joseph Kosinski, who also wrote the story did a great job in bringing back the Seventies sci-fi movie with “Oblivion”. Progress is derivative right.

This movie is for the people who only believe what they are told and even when they come across something that questions that belief, they re-frame it and twist it, so that it conforms with what they believe in, because that is all the know. Whatever Mission Control said was the truth and the whole truth.

We life in an information society right now with everything at our fingertips.

Don’t be a fool. Do your own research and question everything. Don’t just follow. Whereas “The Wolf Of Wall Street” and “American Hustle” reflect the hustling mentality of life, “Oblivion” reflects our servitude to institutions.

We serve the needs of companies and get paid a wage in return. That wage gets broken up and some of it goes to the tax institution. Some of it goes to the banking/mortgage institutions, some of it goes to the utility companies. If you get paid a basic wage, basically all of your wage is consumed before the next one is due.

We serve different religions and different creeds. That is what “Oblivion” is about. Serving “Mission Control”. The powerful and the wealthy tell us how to act and behave by rewriting history and bending laws to suit them. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Now You See Me

This movie was a super surprise. A sleeper hit. I read the reviews about how this smaller budgeted movie blew away the big budget blockbusters during the 2013 US Summer. For a movie that cost $75 million to make and promote, it has returned over $350 million. French director Louis Leterrier did a great job bringing the movie to life. As is the norm these days, the directors are as a big as the movie stars and in some cases bigger. They have their own blogs, own social media accounts and what not.

So what does this movie teach us about life.

In a similar vein to “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street”, scammers and hustlers are everywhere however in this case, revenge is obtained by the person that was wronged.

The insurance company scammed the dead magician’s family. The dead magician’s tricks got exposed by another magician who was a hustler. Fast forward a few decades and the son of the dead magician is now old enough to orchestrate the greatest trick/scam/hustle ever.

The powerful and the rich write bend laws to suit themselves. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

World War Z

Yeah, I know it’s got Brad Pitt and Zombies, however I really liked this movie. It played out like stages in a video game.
We have had a pretty clean run in relation to epidemics compared to previous centuries. This movie got me thinking about “The Happening”.

In “The Happening”, humans had become a threat to the planet and the plants released some form of a neurotoxin (which I will call a virus) that causes anyone exposed to it to commit suicide. In “World War Z” the virus needs a viable host to spread and therefore it is found that people inflicted with various diseases are immune from the zombie swarms as they cannot spread the disease.

In both movies they deal with nature. Nature requires a live host to spread the virus in “World War Z” and Nature fights back against the humans in “The Happening”. Respect our world is the message that I get from WWZ. The more we disrespect it and pollute it, the more we and our future generations will suffer.

The rich pharmaceutical companies care about treatments. There is no money in cures for them. They lobby hard to rewrite the laws and protect their business models. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Escape Plan

I don’t know what people have against Stallone and Schwarzenegger as actors. They have proven themselves in the entertainment business for over 40 years. Swedish director, Mikael Håfström delivers again in Escape Plan. It is a great story line.

As I am watching “Escape Plan”, I am thinking, wow, if someone wants to imprison a person just to get them out-of-the-way, they can, just because they have power or money.

Bradley Manning is in jail. He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t hurt anyone. All he did was embarrass his government.

Ed Snowden is on the run, seeking asylum. He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t hurt anyone. All he did was embarrass his government.

On both occassions, Manning and Snowden also informed the world at large to the crimes of their government. Torturing inmates is something that is associated to dictatorships, not to democratic countries. Spying on your citizens is common in dictatorships, not in democratic countries.

In both cases, if Manning and Snowden are reporters, they would have been seen as heroes.

Then you have the cases, where power and money gets you off on charges. Last year was littered with the kids of rich parents, driving cars intoxicated, killing others while driving or just speeding, Guess what they didn’t do any time and they also kept their driving permits.

The wealthy bend the laws to suit them. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Another thing that Escape Plan brought to mind is the conflict of interests that people have and the revolving door of politicians to private firms or to lobby groups.

The politicians write and pass laws to benefit the wealthy and then when their term in office is finished, they get a well-paying job for the same companies that they made rich while in office. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

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

What does Protest The Hero’s – Volition album teach us about life?

After the success of their debut album “Kezia” back in 2005, Protest The Hero was expected to go into a more commercially viable and poppy influence. So what did the band do? They released “Fortress” in 2008, which was less poppy and more technical. As lead sing Rody Walker put it, “a natural progression into further obscurity.” Basically they wrote what they wanted to write and in the process created something so far removed from a commercial album than expected.

Let’s start with the song “Underbite” as the hilarious puppet clip is doing the rounds on YouTube right now. If you have seen the clip, you will note how the song focuses on artists that fake it. It is focusing on artists that don’t care about the fan experience. They are focusing on artists who see themselves as gods and their fans as stupid kids, who are expected to consume every piece of music they produce regardless if it’s good or not. It is focusing on the merchandise rip off.

In other words don’t rip off your fans. Work with them. Connect with them. Also from an artistic point of view, you need to write what you want to write NOT what you think people will like. Watch the clip and be humoured by their scathing satire of the rockstar mentality.

My favourite song on the album is “Mist.” The song is basically talking about Newfoundland and Rody Walker’s love for it and how once it is all over in music for him it is the place that he wants to settle down in. The lyrics about the “India” showing up back stage before the gig are hilarious and when they hit the stage after pulling a few beeries, it was the like the best show ever. Life throws up all these different paths. Try as many paths as you can, because in the end we are all as deep as the grave, marching to the heartbeat of the land.

“Skies” is what progressive music should be. It is a perfect amalgamation of so many different progressive styles. It’s about uncertainty and the only thing we know is that the “descent is all there truly ever is.”

Then you have the message in “Drumhead Trial.” The drumhead trial is noted for its lack of impartiality. Basically, you are judged by someone who likely hates you. A recent military trial from the US comes to mind.

“Tilting Against Windmills” is basically about the Catholic Church and how it deals with sexuality.

“Without Prejudice” deals with the fixation that people have on wealth. To extend the message to music bands existed once upon a time to create music and for people to hear that music. Then came the corporations and turned music into a monopolistic business. Then bands became fixated with wealth. Fast forward to the now and it’s back to what it was. Bands need to get people to listen again. Hence the reason why Spotify is a big player.

“Yellow Teeth” deals with people judging other people and basically bullying them, either verbally or on line or on blogs.

“Animal Bones” focuses on how Protest The Hero are proud of their past albums like “Kezia” and “Fortress” and while they are proud of those albums, they don’t want to be defined by them forever.

“A Life Embossed” covers new legislation against pitbulls.

Finally the album title. “Volition,” means “the power to make your own choices.” The band made the choice to not lock themselves in for another three album record deal. The band made a choice to use Indiegogo as a fundraiser campaign to record their album. They reached their target instantly. Eight thousand fans made the choice and dedicated their money to make sure another album happened without even hearing a single note of new music.

Then drummer, Moe Carlson, made the choice to leave the band and pursue a different career. Then the band made the choice to get Chris Adler of Lamb of God to track the drums for Volition.

Then the album cover has a message of how the media seems to glorify horrible situations. The media has the power to make choices and it seems they make the choice that involves making profits. The song “Plato’s Tripartite” covers this topic as it looks like it deals with how rape victims are turned into the villains and the monsters that commit the rape aren’t held responsible for their actions.

As an artist you have the power to make your own choices. Make them and live by them. Protest The Hero have. They are a special band. Support them.

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