My Stories, Stupidity

Searching

It’s a fucking good movie about our behaviors online and the digital footprint we leave. It’s shown entirely from a computer screen and the story is wrapped around the search for a missing person.

Spoilers alert.

In the movie intro, we see the first 14 years play out in 10 minutes with home videos and photos, saved in perfectly titled folders like 1st piano lesson or 1st day in Year 1, search items for certain illnesses, calendars and emails.

But when the daughter of the family goes missing and the father starts looking into her Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat and YouCast accounts, he starts to realize that he didn’t really know his daughter.

He even thought his brother was having an affair with his daughter based on text messages he read that said “please don’t tell my dad, he will kill us.”

But what that text messages didn’t say was how she was buying weed from her uncle. Without context, a lot of bad decisions can be made.

And the father has no idea with whom his daughter is communicating with.

Is that social media person communicating with your child real or an avatar for a sicko hiding behind a fake photo and fake profile?

And when he makes contact with her Facebook friends to see if they know where she is, they all tell him they didn’t really know her, have never hung out with her and wouldn’t have a clue about her whereabouts, but when her disappearance made TV news, guess what, all of these Facebook friends suddenly had posts up that said stuff like “she’s my best friend”, “we did everything together” and other crap like that, so their online social status increases.

Sort of like that Black Mirror episode about people having social media scores which gave them access to better things like applying for higher paid jobs or apartments. When their score reached a certain level, suddenly people with similar scores will contact them so they could all hang out and press like to their posts and increase their scores. Because the higher score like carries more weight than a lower score like.

And the Chinese Government thought this was a good idea and adopted this score system.

It’s a scary world when the great enabler the Internet is meant to be is used against you to determine what you are worth.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1982 – Part 3 – The Winds Of Change Are Blowing Softly

Y&T – Black Tiger
1981’s “Earthshaker” started Y&T’s rebirth. “Black Tiger” released in 1982 would enhance and refine their signature sound.

The album was recorded in England and produced by Max Norman. At that time, he had just finished working with Randy Rhoads on two career defining albums. He obviously knew how to work with excellent Californian guitarists.

It was a perfect combination, merging the hunger and melodicism of Y&T with the producer of the moment. Norman has stated that he wanted to do the “Meanstreak” record however, he believed that Y&T were mad with him, so they got Chris Tsangarides instead.

The sad harmony guitars from “Forever” introduce the album via “From The Moon” and then “Open Fire” kicks it off.

The ultimate song for the stage. It has elements of Deep Purple in the rhythm section. It’s very derivative of “Highway Star” from Purple, and Meniketti does a mean Sammy Hagar impersonation. It’s your typical, waiting for the weekend to let your hair down and have a good time song.

“Don’t Wanna Lose You” is up next and musically it’s very melodic. Polar opposites to the AC/DC vibe of “Open Fire”.

The super melodic and groovy “Forever” is up and the whole melodic rock movement is built upon this song. It’s the best cut of the album by far.

“Winds Of Change” could have been the best cut, but man the lyrics don’t do the song justice. Musically, Y&T did ballads / slow rockers the best. I would even put it out there, that the popular power ballad moniker could have originated with Y&T.

Winds of change
Blowing strongly

I know that “Barroom Boogie” and “Black Tiger” are known as essential Y&T songs. For me, other bands did those kind of songs better. Y&T is a favourite and a big influence to me because of how they did the melodic songs.

It was after the “Black Tiger” tour with AC/DC that Ozzy and Sharon approached Meniketti to join his band.

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast

The band had come a long way from that Melody Maker 1979 ad for a second guitarist that said;

“Iron Maiden (Based In East London) want 2nd Guitarist capable of tight fast harmonies, tasty chordwork and the occasional ripping solo. Must have good gear and be a fast learner. Only dedicated, image conscious people need apply. We’re still semi-pro as yet, so no breadheads please”.

So I looked up what breadhead meant and it is a person who is motivated by, or obsessed with, making money. And in essence, that is the truth. Great everlasting music is never created by people who are obsessed with money. Great everlasting music is created by people who have a need to create and a story to tell. The ad is all class by Steve Harris.

And I was struck by the power of Steve Harris, to make things happen. One person, with a vision, excellent execution and a desire to stay the course can achieve success. He got rid of members when they didn’t execute properly or strayed from his vision. After each band member change, he moved on. To bigger and better things.

“Hallowed Be Thy Name” is my favourite Maiden cut. However the best version of the song is the live version on “Live After Death”. It was the first Maiden album I got (on double cassette), and I played it over and over and over again. The speed is also a bit quicker and it works well for the song. Plus who can forget Bruce yelling “Scream for me Long Beach”.

So when it came to purchasing the full “The Number Of The Beast” album, I was very late to the party.

How come no one believes in a riff anymore?

Once upon a time, songs stood on the shoulders of the guitar riff and “The Number of The Beast” is full of those riffs.

“Children Of The Damned” is a damn good song. Structurally it is brilliant.

He’s walking like a small child
But watch his eyes burn you away

“22 Acacia Avenue” is all class for a song about a brothel. The “Number Of The Beast” and “Run To The Hills” need no introduction.

Selling them whiskey and taking their gold
Enslaving the young and destroying the old

But the album and all of its everlasting glory belongs to “Hallowed Be Thy Name”.

I’m waiting in my cold cell, when the bell begins to chime
Reflecting on my past life and it doesn’t have much time
‘Cause at 5 o’clock, they’ll take me to the gallows pole
The sands of time for me are running low

Death row ain’t a good place to be.

As the guards march me out to the courtyard
Somebody cries from a cell “God be with you”
If there’s a God, (then) why has he let me go?

What a powerful line. It brings back memories of James Hetfield’s man at losing his mother in “The God That Failed”.

Frankie Miller – Standing On The Edge

One of the best bluesy singers that no one even knows. This 1982 album is one of those recordings that I picked up in a discount bin for $5 and played over and over and over again. Then I forgot about it, until the internet made me search him up again and I was still blown away by the album.

“Danger Danger” is the reason why this album became a classic for me.

There is a movie called “Thunder Alley”. I watched that movie a lot. You could say I was a fan.

The story of the movie is about a hard rock band that tries to make it in the music business. In between, people need to choose between a normal job and the rock and roll dream. They need to decide if the drugs and party lifestyle is for them. And in the end, what they think they have achieved is nothing because as they climb the ranks of the gatekeepers, each gatekeeper wants to bring in their own favourite musicians into the band. And it was in “Thunder Alley” that I heard the song “Danger Danger”.

I was hooked.

It’s a Frankie Miller composition. The album would also have co-writes with a certain Andy Fraser, who was in a band called Free once upon a time and a long time friend of Frankie. The album is pretty solid and how Capitol Records managed to fuck up the promotion of the album is beyond me.

There is a review of the album at Martin Leedham’s WordPress site. You can find it here.

Stay tuned for 1982 – Part 4.

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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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Copyright, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Sony and Stupidity Go Hand In Hand

I am pretty sure that everyone knows about “The Interview” by know.

Regardless of how good or bad or average the movie is, “The Interview” is famous and successful.

It was used as blackmail against theaters, if they showed the movie, another September 11 was threatened. So it got pulled.

Everyone weighed in on the debate from bloggers to journalists to politicians. So many ideals came into the conversation like free speech, the right to make a black humour/comedy movie in the current day, politics between democracy and communism, censorship, the freedom of the internet and capitalism.

Eventually Sony got the balls to release the movie. It was made available in select theaters plus on many Video On Demand outlets. For the first time ever in the major studio’s history, you could see a movie in theaters or watch it online legally at the same time.

This alone is a big step forward for the movie industry and I am 100% certain that in 50 years from now, journalists and bloggers will be writing about how Sony led the way for a new business model and saved the movie industry.

Future historians always like to re-write history to suit a certain point of view. Look no further than Russia at the moment. Vladimir Putin has asked and then taken charge himself to have history books re-written with bullshit so that he and his ancestors look favourable and more important than they really where.

This story is about stupidity and Sony is at the forefront.

So “The Interview” is released on multi-platforms at the same time. Online box office came in at $15m and Theater Box Office came it at $3m. The movie was projected to make $18 to $20 million in its opening week so with all the bullshit that has gone on behind the scenes, it still met it’s opening week target. This hybrid model has shown that a film’s success and money earning capacity should not be tied in to a THEATER.

However the studios are greedy.

If I go to a movie with my family, I need to purchase five tickets at $15 a piece. That comes to $75AUS for a movie. However, if that movie is available for me to get on a video on demand service, then I am charged once and my whole family can watch it. That is why the studios resist and still use the old way of releasing a movie, which is cinemas first, then DVD/BluRay sales, VOD licensing, Cable licensing and Free To Air licensing.

And of course the real test of stupidity is that SONY released the movie online only in the U.S.

Yep, they used geo-restrictions (something that has been pissing off a lot of Australians for a longtime) to keep the movie release in the U.S only. So according to Sony, if you lived outside the U.S and wanted to watch the movie legally, “tough luck”. So what do people normally do when confronted by situations like this.

They turn to P2P.

It looks like stupidity is affecting profits more than piracy to me.

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My Stories

Gravity. Tearing Down My Perceptions

So I managed to watch a few movies recently. The most recent one was “Gravity”. Suspenseful sums it up. I didn’t see the 3D version, however after seeing the 2D version, I wish I had. Apart from James Cameron’s “Avatar” all of the other so-called 3D movies were not really 3D movies. After getting burned on a few, I stopped paying the extra dollars to watch a normal movie with pretty crappy ‘3D’. Going back to “Gravity” I reckon the 3D version would have been unbelievable. People would have vomiting at some of the scenes. The story line was nothing spectacular however the CINEMATOGROPHY; top notch.

The movie is up there as a contender for movie of the year for me. And who is the star of the movie?

If you said Sandra Bullock or George Clooney, you are wrong. The real stars are Alfonso Cuarón the director, Emmanuel Lubezki’s the cinematographer and Steven Price for the musical score. Of course, Sandra Bullock’s performance was also top notch and you put all of that together, you get a great picture.

I became a fan of Cuaron’s movies after “Children of Men”. Some of the scenes in the “Children of Men” movie were revolutionary. So my interest in “Gravity” was purely because of the director. Ask anyone to name you the director of the “Top Gun” movie or the producer of “Pump” the 1989 album from Aerosmith?

When I first heard about the film and that it was about two astronauts in space, I thought to myself, “how can that keep me entertained for 2 hours.” However Cuaron did exactly that; by taking such a simple storyline and making it an “edge of my seat” journey throughout the whole movie. This is a hit album without any filler. This is a slow burner. Each person that watches it, becomes a fan.

“Gravity” is definitely special. It is a “cinematic experience”. Much like before when albums and music in general was a “sound experience” and that “sound experience” was even different to the “live experience”. Then came high levels of compression, the loudness wars and ear fatigue. I would love to hear some of the more newer albums, mixed and mastered with a 1970’s mindset.

The movie studios can scream piracy all they want. When a movie is made great, the audience will flock to it. Look at movies like “The Conjuring” and “Now You See It”. They beat out all of the blockbusters they where up against in the summer.

What “Gravity” accomplished is totally opposite to what Marvel and DC Comics are trying to achieve with their universes. You know, movies that rely heavily on the plot / story line that interconnect over a vast timeline. It seems these days that’s been the pivotal factor for me in order to consider if a movie is a hit. “Gravity” tore down that perception. It is simply a visual and audio masterpiece without the need to spend $250 million. It wont have a toy range like all the other top 10 grossing movies of 2013 however it will have a place in the minds of viewers.

Even when the big scenes happen in the movie, the viewer doesn’t get any sound effects with the explosions cause there’s no sound in space. All the viewer hears is the score building up in the background and then things start to happen. My eight year old and seven year old watched it with me and I could see them lying down and slouching. Then the music starts softly. The music starts to get a touch louder and they start to get up. As the music builds with the action sequence they are off the couch and I am thinking, WOW, the kids are full on feeling the suspense as well. Cuaron and “Gravity” have connected with us.

Alfonso Cuaron has cemented his place as one of my favourites.

So the next time you get that rare chance to actually be alone and watch a movie, without the slightest possibility of any interruptions, so you are able to engross yourself in the movie, the movie I want you to put on when that opportunity arises is: Gravity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RD – What about the area set aside for taping?

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

The above got my interest for two reasons;

1. The stage design.
2. Bootlegs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twisted Sister failed after “Stay Hungry” exploded.

Motley Crue fired Vince Neil after “Dr Feelgood”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Is About Experience

I like going to the movies. It is an experience that I enjoyed growing up and it is an experience that I have passed on to my boys.

Today, we are watching “Planes”. So I purchase my tickets. Lucky for the budget, my wife had vouchers which made the tickets $8 each. Otherwise, the tickets at the Event Cinemas are $17 each.

So three tickets = $24.

Then comes the big rip. The boys wanted the “Planes pack” which involved “Planes” themed drink cups, along with a “Planes” theme popcorn box.

However, Event Cinemas, had no more “Planes” popcorn boxes and they couldn’t sell me the Planes Drink Cups with a generic pop corn box because “the generic popcorn box is a touch larger than the Planes themed popcorn box.”

Bullshit I said. Then I was told that it really has to do with stock counts. My boys finally agreed with what they want and off to the movie. Then I had to put up with kids way too young to even be there, that just kept on screaming and crying.

In relation to the movie, it is another great flick from the same “Cars” team.

What can I say, the movie just got me thinking about GRIT. In the movie, Dusty Crophopper is a crop duster who wants to be a racer. Everyone tells him that he is crazy, a dreamer and that he should be just a normal crop duster. In the end, the good old crop duster just persevered.

What I got out of the movie is that you can’t tell people what to do. Everyone has to find out for themselves. Life is about experience. Just like Bon Scott (RIP) said in “Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock N Roll)”, it’s a long ride that we all have to take. We have to find our own way. Every classic album that we have come to love, never came out as a debut album.

“Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue came out in 1989. It is their best album. Mick Mars played a large part in the songwriting process. By 1989, he had been playing in bands for 17 years. Nikki Sixx, the other main songwriter had been playing in bands for 14 years. Life is about experience, and when that experience is translated into a song, it connects with other people who have lived that experience. Bob Rock paid his dues before he rocked the world with “Dr Feelgood” and the Black album from Metallica.

An album like “Appetite For Destruction” from Guns N Roses is an outlier, however if you read the stories about the album, the songs and the ideas of the songs were written years before.

Life is not always up. If you haven’t experienced disappointment, you haven’t taken any risks. Life is about losses, even more than victories. As Ivan Moody sings in “Lift Me Up”;

Lift me up above this
The flames and the ashes
Lift me up and help me to fly away

Lick your wounds, lift yourself back up and get back in the game. Learn from what happened. Don’t let it weigh you down. Quoting from Ivan Moody again; 

Best get out of my way
‘Cause there’s nothing to say
Is that all that you got?
Because I ain’t got all day

I won’t be broken
I won’t be tortured
I won’t be beaten down
I have the answer
I take the pressure
I turn it all around

Moody gets it. People see him as a winner, however he is like us. He makes mistakes, he falls down and he picks himself up again to fight another day.

Finally, in relation to the cinema experience, in this day and age, most people have decent sized TV’s with wi-fi connections and surround sound systems. It is an untapped market. Movie Studio’s should be releasing the movie to us, the same day it hit’s the cinemas. Once the movie is out, it is out. I would have been happy to pay $20 to watch it at home via a 24 hour stream. 

However the movie studios would still like to scream PIRACY instead of servicing it’s customers.

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

The Content Rockundrum or The Content Metalundrum – Finding an audience for your content.

I just finished reading an article called “The Content Conundrum: How to get people to view what you create”, that was published on the website, Smartcompany.com.au

Of course it got me thinking about rock and metal music and artists.

FACT – It’s getting easier to get content out in the world for musicians. iTunes, CDBaby, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Facebook, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Instagram, website, WordPress and many more. Due to this ease, the web is saturated with content.

As the article alludes, “the challenge is no longer how to publish content, it’s how to find an audience for it.”

FACT: There is so much competition, how does an artist stand out and compete for someone’s time. Back in the glory day of the recording industry, the record labels would be competing for the listener’s dollar. Now it is record labels and artists themselves competing for the listener’s time, attention and maybe their dollar.

For example, it’s funny how a lot of bands or artists don’t think about uniqueness and branding when it comes to deciding what band name or artist name they should go forward with. I was listening to a melodic rock band called “Rain” today. I wanted to know more about the band, so I Googled the words “Rain band.” Of course I knew that the term “Rain” would bring back everything to do with actual rain. To my amusement, the term “Rain band” also brought back everything to do with the weather term “rainbands”. Do you get where I am getting with this? Other bands I listened to today are called “Prime Circle”, “The Black Rain”, “Redline” and “Vaudeville.” Google these band names and tell me if you get the bands website or Facebook page as the first search result.

Motley Crew is not unique, Motley Crue however is.

Metallica is unique. Metal Britannica is not.

Megadeth is unique. Mega Death is not.

Aerosmith is unique. Aeroplane is not.

Coheed and Cambria is unique. That’s it.

Judas Priest is unique.

Queensryche is unique.

Pink Floyd is unique.

Twisted Sister is unique.

Volbeat is unique.

Dream Theater is unique, however Dream Theatre is not unique. Get the difference one little letter change has achieved.

Every artist should aim to have their name to come up as search item result number 1 in Google. If I type in “Tool” in Google, I get 6 returns for the band Tool and 4 returns for other forms of tools, like Tax Tools, Definition of Tool and so forth.

If I type in “Rush” in Google, I only get 2 returns for the band Rush and that is because they have a history in Google’s “SEO” algorithm. I guarantee you, that if a new band called Rush came out on the scene today, there web presence would be lost as the name is generic.

What are you doing different compared to what all the other artists are doing? By using the phrase that you are “putting your heart and soul into the music”, just doesn’t cut it these days. What reasons are you giving for the fans to connect with you and for the fans to buy from you?

If you want to be a millionaire by playing Djent music, then you are dreaming. It will not happen. You could have a career in music, however you will not be rolling in the cash. If cash is the reason why you got into the music industry, then get out right now. There is more money to be made in banking and the technology sector.

Which area or space are you trying to occupy with your music?

Remember the movie Highlander, “there can be only one.” Look at technology. Facebook is unrivalled at the moment. Sure there are other little players on the scene, however all the social media fame goes to Facebook. Amazon has the online shopping experience cornered. Google has the search area cornered. Apple did have the innovation market cornered, however they stopped innovating and Samsung is rising up to take the crown. Blackberry is dead as they refused to see that the future lays in apps. One will become dominant and the other will fall.

Music is the same. Sure, we all have our little niche bands that we love, however there is always one band that rises to conquer all.

Metallica have no challengers at the moment for the Thrash, Rock and Metal crown. Of course, I still love Slipknot, Stone Sour, Machine Head, Megadeth, Slayer, Trivium, Killswitch Engage and so on, however none of those bands can rival the juggernaut that is Metallica.

Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch are fighting it off to be the current conqueror of the Modern Metal movement. Of course, other bands exist in this era that fans also like.

Killswitch Engage are the kings of the metalcore movement in the U.S. Of course there are a thousand wannabes however, Killswitch remain unchallenged.

Dream Theater are the undisputed kings of progressive rock and metal.

Coheed and Cambria are kings of their comics and sci-fi world and they get a fair amount of crossover fans.

If any artist looks back at the careers of the bands/artists that influence them they would see that those artists didn’t release the same content as their competitors.

Metallica in 1991 released an album vastly different to what the other thrash bands released in 1991. They are still selling copies of that album, while all the other releases from their competitors have no traction today.

Motley Crue released a sleazy heavy classic rock album with “Dr Feelgood” in 1989, a far cry from the glam rock and pop metal/rock releases that the other competing bands released.

Guns N Roses released a very heavy blues rock album with “Appetite For Destruction” in 1987 and they stood out from the pack. Axl Rose is still doing victory laps on this album.

Dream Theater released “Images And Words” in 1992, which was totally different to the hard rock releases of the day. When compared to the new wave of Seattle sounds coming through, “Images and Words” was a total outlier.

The blog states that “Content should be influenced by a blend of audience needs, brand positioning and values, and corporate and communication objectives – and these are likely to be unique to your business and enable you to find a unique voice.”

The way I view the above comment is as follows;

I call it “The Led Zeppelin Fix.” When you have one of the largest bands in the history of music call it a day in 1980, what are all the hard rock fans of the band going to do. “Zebra” took in a decent cut, however it wasn’t until “Whitesnake” released their self-titled album in 1987 and “Kingdom Com”e released their self-titled in 1988 that fans of Led Zeppelin had their “Led Zeppelin fix”.

When a novice listener hears the albums mentioned above for the first time they will never notice the obvious influences. Kids these days do not know enough about the history of rock and metal music, in order to make the comparisons. They are too busy trying things out.

This is what Dream Theater is trying to do with their new album. They are trying to make it a great reference point for any new fans hearing the band for the first time. Time will tell if they have succeeded.

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

Did Piracy assist the come back of Twisted Sister?

Young people today do not realise the impact that Twisted Sister had on the music business around 1984 and 1985. Sure, other bands had greater sales and bigger tours, however no one did MTV like Twisted Sister. They ushered in a whole new promotions medium for metal and rock bands.

Twisted Sister came into stardom and then disappeared. In order to understand what happened and then why the resurgence, we need to go back to 1984.

“Stay Hungry” is released, followed by three singles. Two of those singles, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” made MTV a giant in the rock and metal world. Prior to that MTV didn’t really have any traction with the rock and metal communities. People tuned in to MTV to watch these clips.

The “Stay Hungry” album goes multi-platinum in the U.S. Dee ends up before the Senate and “Come Out And Play” comes out in 1985. It doesn’t meet the sales target set by the label and the tour is losing money in the U.S.

Europe, on the other hand is a whole different story and they had sold out shows across the continent. How can this be when the actual sales of the album are low in Europe? Europe is renowned for it’s black market and sharing culture.

By 1987 it was game over for Twisted Sister.

How can a band that was riding high by the end of 1984, disappear by 1987, especially when lesser bands continued to have a career during this period;

The Michael Jackson business model from the labels

The music market collapsed in the late Seventies. In order to stay viable, the major labels decided on a strategy to make more money with fewer acts. Michael Jackson became the first artist to whom this new strategy for success was to be applied. By 1982, Michael Jackson released “Thriller” and by 1984, the album was certified 20x Platinum.

He wasn’t alone either. Artists like Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Madonna, also benefited enormously from the new majors’ strategy to create superstars. When Bon Jovi and U2 exploded, they also joined this new superstar strategy. This is the way it worked; Large advances and marketing budgets, expensive music videos and fronting large amounts of money for large tours. Repeat if band/artist is successful or don’t repeat if band/artist is not successful.

Artist & Repertoire was unofficially outsourced to the independent labels and if they found an artist that had success, the artist would be transferred over into the major label network by default.

So a band like Twisted Sister comes on the scene and they don’t fit the new major label strategy. Anyway, the band persists and they end up breaking through. So the label is now thinking, maybe we should throw some money at this band and see what they can deliver. When “Come Out And Play” didn’t outsell “Stay Hungry” the label decided to move on, as it was clear that Twisted Sister didn’t fit the new model.

 

 

The Rise of the Thrash Scene

Twisted Sister to me are a heavy metal band. Yep they had that crossover appeal with “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” however in the end, songs like “Burn In Hell”, “Stay Hungry”, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”, “Come Out And Play”, “Kill or Be Killed”, “Destroyer”, “Run For Your Life”, “Under The Blade” and “The Fire Still Burn”s are heavy metal to a tee.

Twisted Sister appealed to the kids who were alienated and subjected to ridicule for their choice of music. They appealed to the kids who had a stiff middle finger attitude at the establishments. In 1983, an album called “Kill Em All” was released, who took on the same themes that Twisted Sister started. Instead the word ROCK was replaced with METAL. The metal fans of Twisted Sister jumped ship to the new “Metal Militia” started by Metallica. With songs like “Whiplash”, “Seek And Destroy”, “Fight Fire With Fire”, “Hit The Lights”, “Battery”, “Damage Inc.” and “Leper Messiah”, Metallica and other thrash bands ushered in a new era for the youth that Twisted Sister had connected with.

If you have any thrash fans, check out their collection and I guarantee you that they will have a Twisted Sister album in there.

The Bon Jovi and U2 Effect

So what happens when your core metal audience abandons you. For Twisted Sister, they needed to reinvent themselves. By 1986, Bon Jovi and U2, exploded all over the world. The record labels are flush with cash and they want more superstar acts. So what do the record labels do? They persuade their bands to record similar sounding albums. They tell the independent’s to sign hundreds of other similar bands on bad contracts. It is all about the profits.

The Senate Hearings

In 1985, fans of metal music just didn’t understand what the hoopla was about. They had no idea why metal music would even need to be at the hearings. Metal music was always on the fringes. Big deal if they add a parental advisory sticker to the album.

Abandoned By MTV

MTV used Twisted Sister and Dee Snider to promote their channel. Once the channel had traction in the metal and rock community, MTV abandoned the band.

The Past Finally Takes Its Toll with the Ten Year Itch

By the time 1987, rolled around, the band Twisted Sister with Dee Snider fronting it, had been at it for over 10 years. Jay Jay French even more. The band almost called it quits by 1983 when their Secret record deal fell apart. If you look at the 10 year trend of other bands you will see that what happened to Twisted Sister is nothing new.

Aerosmith more or less broke up by 1981, ten years after the main line up was formed. It wasn’t until 1984 that they got back together and by 1987 they became a multi-platinum band again.

Motley Crue replaced Vince Neil in 1992, almost eleven years after the band formed.

Van Halen had a new singer almost 12 years after they formed in 1986. By 1998, they had another singer.

Iron Maiden by 1989 had a few line-up changes in a new guitarist, a new drummer and most importantly a new singer.

Alice Cooper was at a low by 1980 after 12 years of hard work. It wouldn’t be until 1989 that he found major success again with the “Trash” album. His first break in the Eighties came with Twisted Sister in the “Be Cruel To Your Skuel” song in 1985 and a song called “He’s Back” from the Friday The 13th soundtrack.

So what happened to get Twisted Sister back into the public imagination:

The Beavis and Butt-head and Green Day Connection

It all started in 1993 and 1994. It was Beavis And Butt-head and Green Day that re-ignited the public’s imagination with Twisted Sister.

In the Beavis and Butt-head episode, “Stewart’s House (Too Dumb For TV)”, “I Wanna Rock” is featured, as well as “You Might Think” by The Cars, “Kiss” by Art Of Noise and “The Majesty Of Rock” by Spinal Tap. After Beavis almost loses it acting out the teacher’s opening speech, they move on to complain about the lack of explosions and that Twisted Sister are “fat guys in clown makeup.” In the end it got people talking about Twisted Sister again.

Then came 1994. That is when Billie Joe Armstrong the singer/vocalist from Green Day sang the start of the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” during Green Day’s infamous Woodstock ’94 performance. Yes, that is the same performance were Billie Joe Armstrong started a mud fight with the crowd. In the end Woodstock 94, was referred to as Mudstock ’94. Apart from the people at the event, the event was also viewed by millions by pay-per-view television. In the end, the Woodstock 1994 performance from Green Day, gave the band further publicity and recognition and it helped push the “Dookie” album to eventual diamond status.

In the aftermath of Mudstock 94, the millions of people that saw the event via pay per view, as well as the people that attended, asked themselves two things about “We’re Not Gonna Take It”; Which band sang that song and where can I get my hands on it?

With a combination of fans re-purchasing their LP’s and Cassettes on CD, and the Mudstock performance of Green Day renewing interest in the band as well as Beavis and Butt-head, the “Stay Hungry” album was certified 3 x multi-platinum in November 1995 almost ten years since is double platinum certification from 1985. In addition, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” was also certified “Gold” in November 1995.

A Radio Show and A Band called Sevendust

In 1997, Dee Snider began hosting the “House of Hair” radio show. With the catchphrase of “If It Aint Metal, its Crap”, the radio show focused on the 1980s hard rock/heavy metal period.

Also in 1997, a band called Sevendust released their self-titled debut album. It was produced by Mark Mendoza and Jay Jay French. By May 1999, the album was certified gold. Of course, Sevendust also had Jay Jay French as manager. Fans started asking how can that be? How can a person that dressed up like a chick in the Eighties, manage a band as brutal and heavy and COOL as Sevendust? If people are talking about you, that is a good thing. I remember when I purchased the Sevendust album and saw the Twisted Sister connection, I couldn’t stop telling people about it.

Heroes Are Hard To Find in a Strangeland of Napster, A Band Called Lit, Tribute albums and Spitfire Re-Issues.

In 1999, Napster exploded. I remember going on to Napster and seeing all the Desperado material, the Widowmaker material, the Twisted Sister material, as well as live concerts from Twisted Sister (from soundboard recordings and fan bootlegs). Thousands of people were uploading and downloading this content. While this would have hurt the RECORD LABEL, it didn’t hurt Twisted Sister at all in the years to come. I have always said that if you create great music now, expect to be paid well later. From Napster I got my hands on the Desperado era songs.

Also in 1999, the rock band Lit paid homage to the opening of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” video clip. Dee Snider actually plays the role of the angry father (originally portrayed by Mark Metcalf) who verbally abuses his son for his lack of authority and uncleanliness. This was big from a Twisted Sister point of view for two reasons. Interest in the platinum selling band Lit was huge, after their number one rock hit “My Own Worst Enemy” remained at number one for 11 weeks on the Billboard Rock Charts. “Zip Lock” was the follow up single and what a video clip to lead with. Again, this got Twisted Sister and Dee Snider back into people’s imagination.

The movie Strangeland was also released in 1999, with a new song called “Heroes Are Hard To Find.” This was the first new piece of music from Twisted Sister and it was significant, along with the Spitfire re-issues of the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”, “Come Out and Play” and “Love Is For Suckers” album with additional tracks.

A Road Trip and That Bastard Solo Album

In 2000, a small budget movie came out called Road Trip. For a movie that cost about $17 million, Road Trip was a hit and what a perfect song they had for it. As the characters sing along to “I Wanna Rock” as it was playing on the radio of the bus, it was very reminiscent of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Wayne’s World. A perfect touch and what a promotion for the band

Dee Snider also released a solo album called “Never Let the Bastards Wear You Down” in 2000. Now this album was a “Best off” from songs that didn’t make it on any Twisted Sister albums, plus selections from the ill-fated Desperado project that Elektra boss Bob Krasnow destroyed two weeks before its release. It was a great album and the back stories provided with the CD, re-ignited the imagination.

A Culturally Significant Film

In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House a culturally significant film and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. This was significant for Twisted Sister. Since their video clips of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” borrowed from Animal House, their name was out there again with the renewed interest in this movie.

Any person that grew up the Seventies and the Eighties cannot watch the Animal House movie and not think of Twisted Sister, especially when Nedermeyer has screen time.

Congressional Hearings are Finally Understood

Dee Snider is now seen as the hero and playing himself in a 2002 TV-movie called “Warning: Parental Advisory” got him back in our faces again.

 

Piracy and The Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay debuts in 2003 in Sweden. Twisted Sister is one band that is shared a lot by the Europeans. A band with low record sales in Europe headlines Wacken.

Schwarznegger Is Not Gonna Take It

Dee sang, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” which was adopted by the Schwarzenegger campaign. Of course, if you are a fan of the “Stay Hungry” album, you would know that the themes and the album title is from a book that Schwarzenegger wrote back in 1979.

A Film Called The Warriors and the Rise of Cyberlockers and Blogs

By 2005, blogs and cyber lockers are rising, especially in European countries. This is how it worked; A music fan creates a blog and they list all of the albums they have from bands. On each list they have a link that directs the person to a cyber locker site where they can download the album. If people kept on downloading the album, the link stayed up on the cyber locker website. If they didnt, the link would expire. Twisted Sister’s collection, plus live recordings did the rounds on these blogs and the links stayed up.

 

Also in 2005, Paramount Home Video released the “Ultimate Director’s Cut” DVD of The Warriors. As the movie came back into the public awareness so did “Come Out And Play” as people were reminded of Dee Snider clicking bottles together saying “Twisted Sister, come out and play” as a tribute to the movie.

The Wash Up

The fans of Twisted Sister in the Eighties had kids and those kids grew up. There is a study doing the rounds on the internet about how the musical tastes of kids are influenced by the musical tastes of their parents. 

In my opinion, the re-birth of Twisted Sister’s popularity in the 2000’s is due to piracy. In Europe, Twisted Sister’s music is pirated heavily. With this new distribution, Twisted Sister was given headlining slots at European festivals that still continues to this day. Being a killer live band, they always delivered and their legend grew even more.

It’s funny that the thing that the record labels try to stop is the same thing that gave Twisted Sister a new life.

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

Living In The Creativity Years – Otherwise You Will Be Here Today and Gone Tomorrow

So it has been almost 20 months since MegaUpload was shutdown. All of its servers and assets were also seized by the US Department of Justice on evidence provided to it by the MPAA.

So what did this shutdown prove? In the immortal words of Dark Helmet, “Absolutely Nothing”.

What the entertainment industries fail to understand is that we live in a global economy. I am not an expert on economics, however in order to compete in this global economy, people need to know how to operate computers and use certain pieces of software. It is expected. Piracy is the leveller between the “advanced” economies and the “developing” economies. Big deal, what does this have to do with music.

Sale of albums in South and Central American countries are normally low for metal bands, however, those bands play to tens of thousands of people when they tour there. How can that be if they have no sales in those areas? I always come back to the Iron Maiden “Flight 666: The Movie” that was filmed during the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour. They played some places on this tour like Costa Rica and India where sales of Iron Maiden recorded music has been low, however they still got tens of thousands of people to attend the shows.

We live in a global pop culture world. This global pop culture spreads via the web.

Artists these days need to forget about the record deals and the hits. We are living in the era that is all about creativity. Artists need to be creating all the time and releasing all the time, otherwise they are here today and gone tomorrow. Metal bands have weathered the storm so far, as fans of these genre’s still tend to purchase albums, however the writing is on the wall. Go on Spotify and you will see the streaming counts of certain songs. Only the great songs get streamed over and over again. The rest, will be forgotten.

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