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

The Whole Damn Thing Has Turned To Dust

Tremonti windowed the release of “Dust” and kept it from Spotify for 4 weeks. This windowing process denies Spotify Premium fans a chance to listen to it. It’s discriminatory . It didn’t make me go out and buy the CD to hear it. I was actually tempted to search for it on the pirate sites to download it, however it just proved too much effort. And to purchase an mp3 just doesn’t come into the equation for me. And then YouTube, the service that pays less had it up.

Anyway, it feels like yesterday that I was listening to “Cauterize”. It was my number 7 for 2015 releases. So here we are almost a year later with “Dust”.

“In the words of the immortal YODA, a solid listen, this album is. An outstanding song, there is not. Intention of Tremonti, was not the hit single.”

It’s how I started my review of “Cauterize” and it still rings true for “Dust”.

Mark Tremonti has shown the world that he was the brains and driving force behind Creed. He kept his career trajectory going with Alter Bridge. In the downtime, he also started his own solo band.

After Creed finished up, he went away and mastered the art of shred. Along with his brother they formed Fret12. It’s a record label, book publisher (you should check out the “The Sound And The Story” specials and the diverse guitarists involved) and an overall one stop shop for all things Tremonti and other projects. His PRS guitars are state of the art and brilliant to play. Trust me on that one as I have one. The PRS through the 5150 is the perfect sound for me.

And via Alter Bridge, Tremonti is filling the void left behind by Led Zeppelin. Myles Kennedy is one of the best vocalists of the modern era ala Robert Plant and Mark Tremonti is a prolific writer and innovator ala Jimmy Page. And the real good musicians always rebuild their careers after their initial success. Jimmy Page did it after “The Yardbirds” and Mark Tremonti continues to do it after “Creed”.

Evan as “Dust” hits the streets, Alter Bridge are recording their next album. The work ethic is high.

“My Last Mistake”
It’s a thrash-a-thon. Like “Cauterize” before it, it’s a speed metal song. The chorus is excellent.

Just like tragedy
Folks line up to see
We forget and the problem’s gone
It just ain’t right to move on

It’s a sick symptom of society where we fail to hold to account, the people responsible for the tragedy. The GFC perps went on college speaking tours and high-five jobs at the financial firms they organised laws to benefit. They escaped unscathed, while the middle class and lower class got their homes foreclosed. Every time there is a shooting there is outrage, however nothing is done after on gun reform.

For all of the laws passed to spy on citizens in the name of terror, not one terrorist act have they stopped. And after each terrorist attack, our privacy and liberties erode a little bit more. The people need to hold to account the people responsible. But we cannot devote the time because the people responsible have us hooked line and sinker. We can’t take time of work because the income means more to us than the cause.

“Once Dead”
It’s another thrash-a-thon speed metal song, with a blast beat groove and a wicked arena rock chorus. It’s a great mix. Garrett Whitlock cements himself as a powerhouse drummer on this one.

We sink like a stone
Once dead once belonged

Sinking like a stone means to fail completely and once dead to me; means, your time is up. So in other words, the lyrics can be paraphrased as;
We have failed in life
And now our time is up

“Tore My Heart Out”
It’s a derivative version of “Dust” but unique enough to be a stand alone. Tremonti thought of changing the title because he didn’t want another song title with “heart” in it. “Another Heart” is on “Cauterize”. And that outro riff is like a crazy train going off the rails.

Show your will and do your part
Or be blind right from the start

“Catching Fire”
There is an interview with Tremonti (I think at whatculture.com) where he states the riff that starts the bridge, he’s had since high school. I dig little insights like that. You just don’t know when the time will come for an idea to blossom into a song.

The whole world’s catching fire again

“Betray Me”
How could you betray me
Remember hope, remember faith, remember trust

Venomous lyrics and sweep picking makes an appearance. Remember Malmsteen. Actually, how many fans of Creed/Alter Bridge, would know of Malmsteen?

“Dust”
But the piece de-resistance like “Providence” from the previous album is “Dust”. In the original track listing, “Dust” was the closer, however it got moved up to track number 4.

It grooves from the opening notes and it’s a song to define a career. The syncopated call and response of the riff and vocals, immediately hook you in.

You can hear the years of practice, the honing of his chops and how he called Shred teachers from the 80’s in Troy Stetina and Michael Angelo Batio to brush up his technique. Even after he sold 30 million plus records with Creed, he still worked at improving.

Tremonti stated that “’Dust’ is about how it feels to watch a close friend lose confidence in you.” And that’s what great songwriting is. Evidence of humanity.

And the Pre-Chorus, is a riff, building up to a Chorus that rocks hard with emotion and groove.

The whole damn thing has turned to dust
The ashes you left to bury us

There are other tracks on the album like;

“Rising Storm”
The song was meant to be called “Lay To Waste” however when Tremonti recorded the song in Garageband, it was called “Rising Storm” and the song title just stuck around.

“Unable To See”
It’s a derivative version of “Waters Rising” from Alter Bridge. The intro is from “The Sound and the Story DVD” and another musical idea that was written 20 plus years ago. Tremonti also stated over at whatculture.com;

“Unable to See” has some of the oldest parts on the entire record. The chorus of that song comes from a pre-chorus of a song I’d written for the One Day Remains record, the first Alter Bridge record, so that’s many years old, so there’s definitely some history scattered throughout.

Still we love to see a smile
But we are wronged by the ones that would never

If you take the relationship perspective to the lyric, it would be that we are surrounded by people who see the glass half empty and if you take a world view perspective, it would be about the terrorists who are trying to turn all of our cities into a desolate wasteland like their home city.

“The Cage”
Is that some chicken-picking going on masquerading as tapping? And the lyrics are very strong, almost venomous.

Take your words, they’re worth nothing, let your evil show

It’s another way to say, that the beliefs of people who try to affect our freedoms and liberties mean nothing to us and whenever their evil shows, they just push us together, something even the best intentioned governments couldn’t do.

“Never Wrong”
It could have been on an Alter Bridge album.

Tremonti is a guitar hero, as good as any of the Eighties shredders. He had multi-platinum success with Creed, an act that was devoid of guitar solos and lumped in with the Nu-Metal, Alternative Rock scene. It brought out the haters, jealous that a person who could shred, didn’t shred. In the end, people live and breathe on the songs they write, not on the guitar solos they write and Tremonti has built a consistent legacy. The pinnacle of his career in my eyes would be when his second act, Alter Bridge played the Wembley Arena. And dont be surprised if Tremonti the band get there as well.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Dust

Just finished listening to the song “Dust.”

Mark Tremonti is a guitar god. He’s earned his keep.

His time with Creed established him. Alter Bridge proved the Creed was no fluke. And his own Tremonti project is cementing his reputation, deservedly so.

And there’s hardly any press like the old days. The mainstream is more concerned with Scott Stapp’s paranoid outbursts and Myles Kennedy work with Slash than Tremonti.

But people are hearing his music. And isn’t that the goal. To get people to hear your music.

Which brings me to “Dust.”

It grooves from the opening notes. The syncopated call and response of the riff and vocals, immediately hook you in.

A relic from the MTV days is the “hits”. They get all the attention. And some of those tracks are great on occasions but Tremonti makes music just a bit outside the standard format. 90% of the time, his Tremonti songs border on speed metal or groove metal. But the ones that get AirPlay and rotated around the news sites are the songs that sound closest to his Creed and Alter Bridge output. The rest of the songs, people are unaware of.

You can hear the years of practice, the honing of his chops and how he called instructional shred teachers from the 80’s to brush up his technique. Yep, that’s right. after he sold 30 million plus records with Creed, he felt the need to improve. So he called in Troy Stetina, Rusty Cooley and Michael Angelo Batio to teach him.

Tremonti is not whining about revenue from sales like Scott Ian and Frank Bello from Anthrax. It’s all about the music first, as opposed to revenue. But there was very little revenue from recorded music. The real revenue always came from the road. In the past, the sale of a LP/CD was just one transaction. Today, in streaming land, each listen adds up and makes money for the artist.

And he’s not keeping his music or new music off Spotify like other misguided artists. It’s silly and stupid, especially when you can stream for free on YouTube and download illegally from other European websites.

But there are a lot of legacy musos who are ignorant.

Today’s music business is all about availability, making it easy for the fans. Putting money first is short-term thinking, and there’s plenty of cash for those who connect with their audience.

Tremonti stated that “’Dust’ is about how it feels to watch a close friend lose confidence in you.”

And that’s what great songwriting is. Evidence of humanity. A connection is made instantly.

And the Pre-Chorus, is just a riff, building up to a Chorus that rocks hard.

Listen to “Dust” and get ready for the album.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Hard Working Musicians and Some Not So Hard Working Musicians

When I sit down to write a song, I write a song. That means, I have a vocal melody, chords and a certain feel behind it. In the bands I used to be in, I would then play the song for them. Now, my vocals are limited, so when I play the original song there are some notes I cannot hit. However the singer in the band can hit those notes.

Now according to Sebastian Bach, because he can sing better than Matt Fallon, he should get a song writing credit.

Come on man, this sense of entitlement that everyone has is getting downright stupid.

I love the Sebastian Bach era of Skid Row and I love Sebastian’s solo stuff. I saw Skid Row play at Eastern Creek in Sydney back in 1993. I purchased their debut album because I saw that Michael Wagener was listed as the producer. I remember dropping the needle and being blown away.

I remember also picking up a bootleg of the Matt Fallon era of Skid Row and being amazed at how good the songs sounded in demo form. Of course, Sebastian Bach is the better singer and he is the difference between a good band and a great band. Plus he is Skid Row. As good as Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan are at writing the songs, people will always associate their band with Sebastian Bach.

But, in the case of getting a song writing credit just because he sang the vocal melody better, Sebastian has it wrong.

The Skid Row guys know the truth. History has always shown people trying to rewrite the past to suit a current point of view. But seriously, based on Sebastian’s definition, then guitarist Scotti Hill should also be credited as a songwriter for the Skid Row debut. Why not, hey?

Hill’s lead playing is all over the album and in “18 and Life”, the lead work is very definitive. But it doesn’t work that way. It never did, however in the new world we live in with plagiarism lawsuits everywhere, anything is possible.

Another person that keeps on getting it wrong is Yngwie Malmsteen. When is he going to realise that as good as a guitarist he is, without a great lead singer, his band and his songs are just average. Joe Lynn Turner and Jeff Scott Soto are the right vocalists for Yngwie however those bridges have burnt.

The problem with Yngwie and other artists like Kiss, is that they haven’t created anything worthwhile recently that would make us pay attention. So no one is interested in obtaining their new music. In Kiss’s case, they can still make good money on the road. In Yngwie’s case, he is playing clubs and bars.

You see, in music you work your ass off to get a break and to build an audience. Then you need to work even harder to keep that audience and to replenish it. The big dirty secret that eludes artists is that fans drop off, lose interest or just move on to other bands or different styles especially if the music coming out fails to connect.

If you want to listen to Malmsteen at his best, the first four albums are essential listening. Anything after that is for the hard-core fans.

These days it seems that the popular artists forget why they became famous. It’s because of the music, stupid. It amazes me when I read interviews with artists who don’t feel it is necessary to make new music. The latest is Paul Stanley. The reason why he is a somebody, is because he wrote music. And a lot of it.

Look at guys like Mark Tremonti or even Joel Hoekstra. Both guys are super hard workers.

Tremonti has two albums coming out within a 12 month period from his band Tremonti, plus another Alter Bridge album. Chuck into that mix the Fret 12 guitar instructional DVD’s that he has been doing for the last 10 years and you can see how hard he is working at releasing content on a consistent basis.

Hoekstra just released “The Purple Album” with Whitesnake, has a project called VHF that will be releasing an album soon and another project called Joel Hoekstra 13 that will also be releasing an album soon. In addition to that, he released music with Night Ranger just last year and toured with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. All of that hard work is paying off for him at the moment.

So what do we know?

It’s hard work being a musician. It always has been and it always will be. Tremonti and Hoekstra are perfect examples of hard work.

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Submersed Compendium

The potential of Submersed achieving greater success was there. You see once upon a time bands struggled for years building up a local following and then a statewide following and then a tri-state following and so forth. However MTV changed all that. MTV made acts into global superstars in an instant. Some of those acts deserved it and a lot of others didn’t. So by the time Submersed came to fruition, they came to exist in a world post MTV.

A “Song Ideas” CD found its way into the hands of Mark Tremonti who was so impressed with what he heard he ended up championing them to Wind Up Records.

The debut album eventually came out in 2004 three years after the band actually formed. The title changed from “All Things Becoming of the End” to “In Due Time” and the track list also changed.

Mark Tremonti produced the first version of the album and Creed drummer Scott Phillips also performed. Then Tremonti went out with Creed on the “Weathered” tour, so Don Gilmore was brought in to produce the newer album cuts and future Tremonti drummer, Garret Whitlock was them behind the drum stool at this stage.

You Run
It’s the best song from the debut album and it was the song that hooked me in. It’s also one of their earliest. It was on the original track listing of the album when it was called “All Things Becoming Of The End” so it has stood the test of time.

“You Run” is written by a songwriting committee of vocalist Donald Carpenter, guitarists, TJ Davis and Eric Friedman, bassist Kelan Luker, producer Don Gilmore and original guitarist Aaron Young.

Since the album was done in two stages, this song is actually produced by Don Gilmore and drums are played by future Tremonti drummer Garrett Whitlock.

Many debts I cannot repay
Too many clouds in my sky today
I trust in you

And then there are other songs from the debut that have some killer sections in them.

Hollow
That Euro metal section from about 2.40 to 3.00 is sublime. Brilliant.

In Due Time
That whole outro with the lead guitar line and the vocals singing, “Let me go, never wanna be this, never wanna be this” is brilliant.

Dripping
The vocal melody in the verses. What a hook?

Divide The Hate
That middle-eastern Phrygian Dominant sounding intro is just too good to be wasted in a song that has an uninspired Chorus.

Unconcerned
That U2 inspired section from the 3 minute mark is brilliant. When the shred comes in at 3.30 it’s totally unexpected and a WOW moment in the song.

The first album moved over 100,000 copies.

Then the two year process started to write the follow-up.

Producer Rick Beato was on board and guitarist Eric Friedman was out. The album eventually came out in September 18 2007.  Donald Carpenter said the following in an interview on the Rock On Request website.

I think definitely we would have loved to have had more of a luxury just to write more rock, rock, rock songs and make it work. I think on this record we stuck more to just trying to write great songs, whatever songs could give us a career and give us success. We always felt like we could go heavier as our career went on, once we could establish ourselves. That was the main thing. We felt like we had a nice record where we could establish ourselves the first go around, but things just didn’t really line up the right way. We definitely keep it in mind and it’s something that we hope to maybe go a little bit closer towards, making a whole record that’s more like our live show.

Immortal Verses became the final album from Submersed. The constraint and the pressures to be commercially successful proved too much of a burden to bear.

An Artists Prayer
A great ballad written by Donald Carpenter.

Maybe in the answers,
Of those same questions
Were right in front of us all along
Written in riddles,
Timeless prayers,
Hidden in lines of timeless songs

Sometimes what you are looking for is right in front of us. We just need to find a way to see it.

Sarah and Johnny
Another good rocker written by T.J. Davis, Kelan Luker, Garrett Whitlock and Eric Friedman.

He sat all night,
Trying not to cry
His future heart seen
Should he stay,
With his family
Their hearts too strong to let him go,
Makin’ it to hard to leave
A better world
To chase a dream

The life of a rocker once the family comes into the picture is all about making hard choices. Do you chase a dream or stay in the world that is really hard to leave?

At First Sight
The big arena power ballad and if this was released twenty years before, it would have been a smash and on every wedding playlist. It’s written by Donald Carpenter and Eric Friedman.

Rewind
All of the best songs on album are buried towards the end and if you got through the generic sounding first 5 songs, you will be enthralled. This song is written by Donald Carpenter, producer Rick Beato and Marc Tompkins .

Once I listened to the album a few more times, more songs started to stand out.

Better Think Again
It’s written by Donald Carpenter, Rick Beato and Marc Tompkins. It was also the first single from the album.

It’s heavy and to me it deals with Carpenter’s feelings in navigating the music industry. We are all dreamers. The previous band I was in, the members all believed that if we got signed, things would take off right away and that we would be rich and famous.

But nothing is easy in music and nothing happens overnight. A music career takes time and a lot of years to gain fans. Being a musician equates to a lot of unfruitful work as the time spent doing things doesn’t equal a wage.

Then you get signed and that advance ends up being a loan with a slim chance to pay off. In the process, the label ends up owning you. And that is the catch-cry of the song, “You better think again”.

Price Of Fame
It’s written by Donald Carpenter. To be honest, anytime I see the words “The Price” in a song, I think of Dee Snider, Twisted Sister and the song “The Price”.

When I think of how cheap,
The price of fame has become
Is it all worth it
To try and be number one

It says it all. Like the same price that Dee Snider had to pay by being away from his family, Donald Carpenter is paying the same price.

Over Now
Another composition from Donald Carpenter and Rick Beato

It’s over now
Fading

When you think of how it ended this song might have been packaged as a relationship song, however it could have been about the industry.

Then abruptly there was a post on Submersed’s MySpace page (remember MySpace) that stated the band parted ways with certain members and they would be dropped from Wind Up Records. On Wikipedia you can see the blog entry written by Donald Carpenter:

I know that all of you are wondering, what happened to Submersed? Well, the answers is… A lot.. This business and struggle to make it took its toll on the members… Two weeks before “Price of Fame” was slated for release, Tj, Kelan and Justin decided to move on with their lives and left SubmerseD. Garrett and I believing in “Price of Fame” made the choice to press on and see what could happen. Well, nothing happened… the single never had a chance… mind bottling… The fact is, is that a majority of our fanbase is unaccounted for due to Burning, making it impossible for the labels to understand just how many people really support us out there… When it comes down to it now, SubmerseD no longer has a place on Windup’s roster and will be dropped shortly… I was trying to wait until things were a little more official before an announcement but you guys and gals are smart and I felt you deserved an explanation now rather than later.

The band had an audience however the record label didn’t know how to quantify it. The band didn’t know how to quantify it, believing that once they got signed, world stardom would be at their door.

That same problem still exists today. The majority of bands/artists still believe that a record label would bring about untold riches.

The record labels are still pushing out that old model focused on “CREATING A SALE”.

The world today demands that acts and the labels that support the acts “CREATE A CUSTOMER/FAN”. The model is not top down anymore, its reversed. It’s from the bottom up. We are looking for experiences that enhance our lives and not for block buster campaigns.

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