So you want to make it in the music business as an artist? You want to set the world on fire. Since I have been doing some reading on a New Wave of British Heavy Metal band called Bleak House, I wanted to share their story.
Let’s go back in time.
It’s 1982. Bleak House have two highly-regarded releases out in the market and a loyal fan base. One of those releases was a single called Rainbow Warrior, that had a movable power chord verse riff that went from B to C to D over an E pedal tone. Sound familiar. It should. It is Metallica’s Welcome Home (Sanitarium).
The below quotes are all from an interview that Graham Killin did with the website http://www.hrrecords.de back in November 2012. So what went wrong.
“Looking back now I think we got a bit complacent. We weren’t trying to push enough, the new material wasn’t coming through so easily, and when we were going out playing we were just rehashing what we’d done before. We should have knuckled down and put some new material together, and done more gigs. We should have stuck at it. You look back and you think ‘if we’d stuck at it and done a few more gigs, put some more new music together, who knows what might have happened.”
The modern paradigm is as follows;
1. Stick around and outlast the competition
2. Keep on writing and putting new music together
3. Keep on networking and building relationships – artist to fan. Not artist to record label.
4. Keep on writing and putting new music together
Remember back in 1982, it was very rare to get a two year gap between albums. In 99% of cases, most artists that released an album in 1982, had another album out in 1983 and then another one in 1984. If Bleak House wanted to be a force reckoned with, they had to compete with the competition.
Look at Judas Priest. In 1980 they released British Steel, in 1981 they released Point of Entry and then in 1982 they released the big one, Screaming For Vengeance. Then they went on a two year gap between long players.
Let’s look at Iron Maiden. In 1980 they released Iron Maiden. In 1981 they released Killers. In 1982 they released The Number Of The Beast. In 1983 they released Piece of Mind. In 1984 they released Powerslave. In 1985 they released Live After Death. In 1986 they released Somewhere In Time. Then they started to go on a two year gap between long players. Iron Maiden worked hard for their success. That is why they are on top right now.
Another hard worker I want to mention is Ronnie James Dio. Let’s look at his output.
In 1975, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow was released. In 1976, Rising came out. In 1977, On Stage came out. In 1978, Long Live Rock N Roll came out.
With Black Sabbath, he was involved with the Heaven and Hell release in 1980. In 1981, Mob Rules came out. In 1982 Live At Last came out.
In 1983, Dio released Holy Diver under his own name. In 1984, The Last In Line came out and in 1985 Sacred Heart was released. 1986, the Live EP Intermission and then in 1987 Dream Evil came out with Craig Goldy on guitar.
That is 12 releases in a 12 year period. Remember that all of these releases took place at a time when it was expensive to create and release music. During a period when the artist was king and in control of what they created, before the dark times of when the Record Labels controlled what style of music would be recorded and what songs would be released. As an audience we felt that those records deserved our attention. Today, anyone can record and release material. However, the fan now needs a reason to pay attention.
So for any artist starting off. This is the standard again. You need to be creating and releasing. You need to be giving us a reason to pay attention. Forget about the 2 to 3 year gap between albums. That is the Record Label standard. It was never the artist standard.
Compare the above paradigm to the music released in the last 10 years.
Trivium kicked things off in 2003 with Ember To Inferno. In 2005 they released Ascendancy. In 2006 they released The Crusade. In 2008 they released Shogun. In 2011 they released In Waves. In October 2013 they are going to release Vengeance Falls an album that was finished in March 2013. Five albums in ten years.
Machine Head released Supercharger in 2001. In 2003 they released Hellalive and Through The Ashes of Empires. In 2007 they released The Blackening. In 2011 they released Unto The Locust. In 2012 they released Machine F***ing Head. It looks like a new album will see the light of day 2014. Five proper albums in 12 years and seven all up (including the live albums).
Dream Theater is an interest subject on this. Let’s look at the 2000’s era with Mike Portnoy in the band.
2001 – Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York
2002 – Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
2003 – Train Of Thought
2003 – Official Bootlegs – The Majesty Demos 1985-1986
2003 – Official Bootlegs – Los Angeles, California 5/18/98
2003 – The Making Of Scenes From A Memory
2004 – Images and Words: Live In Tokyo/5 Years In A Livetime DVD (re-release of their 1990’s VHS releases)
2004 – Live At Budokan
2004 – Official Bootlegs – When Dream and Day Unite Demos 1987 – 1989
2004 – Official Bootlegs – Tokyo, Japan 10/28/1995
2004 – Official Bootlegs – Master Of Puppets
2005 – Octavarium
2005 – Official Bootlegs – Images and Words Demos 1989 – 1991
2005 – Official Bootlegs – The Number Of The Beast
2005 – Official Bootlegs – When Dream and Day Reunite CD and DVD
2006 – Score
2006 – Official Bootlegs – Awake Demos 1994
2006 – Official Bootlegs – Old Bridge, New Jersey 12/14/96
2006 – Official Bootlegs – The Dark Side of The Moon CD and DVD
2007 – Systematic Chaos
2007 – Official Bootlegs – New York City 3/4/93
2007 – Official Bootlegs – Falling into Infinity Demos
2007 – Official Bootlegs – Made in Japan – Deep Purple
2007 – Official Bootlegs – Bucharest, Romania 7/4/02 DVD
2008 – Chaos In Motion: 2007-2008
2008 – Greatest Hit (…and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)
2009 – Black Clouds And Silver Linings
2009 – Official Bootlegs – The Making of Falling Into Infinity
2009 – Official Bootlegs – Train of Thought Instrumental Demos 2003
2009 – Official Bootlegs – Uncovered 2003-2005
2009 – Official Bootlegs – Santiago, Chile 12/6/05 DVD
And this is the Dream Theater era without Mike Portnoy
2011 – A Dramatic Turn Of Events
2013 – Dream Theater
2013 – Live at Luna Park
“Gez wanted to earn some money from it and we weren’t doing enough gigs for that and besides, whatever we used to earn we’d plough straight back into the band for merchandise and to cover recording costs and have more singles pressed, stuff like that. But he wanted to actually earn something, make some money out of it; and yes, he did join a country & western outfit, as the urban myth goes, and yes, he has made money out of it; he joined a band that was actually making money. And he ended up marrying the singer!
As for Roy, it was inevitable that he might get an offer from somebody else. At one stage I think he had the opportunity to audition when AC/DC were looking for a drummer. But he didn’t go! He bloody well should have done; I’m sure he would have got in because he was such a great drummer. After Gez and Roy left I don’t think the magic was there any more. Bleak House got put on the shelf, and there it stayed. I think that was around September 1983, and we never played live again after that.”
It’s time to add a fifth point to the modern paradigm.
5. Don’t focus on the money side of the art. If you want a weekly wage, it is time to get a job that pays weekly.
Great art and everlasting music comes from inspiration. It doesn’t come from a thought process that involves money. As soon as a band member or an artist is thinking about the pay day, they are not in it for the right reasons.