Music

The Road 

Who would have thought that James Durbin would front the version of Quiet Riot that exists today. 

In case anyone is confused as to who Durbin is, he’s the guy who brought Judas Priest to American Idol. 

There’s a YouTube clip of him doing “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin”. He didn’t win Idol, but he came Top 5. His first album dropped in 2011 and its a hard rock album. “Higher Than Heaven” is my favorite track. It’s melodic and heavy enough to rock. It’s also a co-write with James Michael and Marti Frederiksen. If you don’t know these musicians, I suggest a Google search. 

Then album number 2 dropped in 2014 and it was not what I expected, more in line with the Imagine Dragons style of rock. So I just moved on. And then “The Road” came up on the New Release Playlist as I was driving. I had my headphones on and my phone in the slot on the side so I had no idea who the artist is. 

The song is a slow rocker and as soon as i heard the voice, it was familiar. Isn’t that the great thing about music, when you hear something familiar but you can’t put a name to it. 

I’d like to tell you that I knew it was Durbin on vocals just from hearing him, but I had to google it to find out. Hell I had to Google who was in this version of Quiet Riot. 

It’s a cacophony of noise out there. 

It’s good to see that Quiet Riot is still releasing new music, even when the two founders in Rhoads and DuBrow have both left this Earth for astral planes far and wide and main songwriter from the 80s Carlos Cavazo is now bending strings for Ratt which looks like to be on hiatus anyway. 

So who is in this version of QR?

Frankie Banali has been the drummer for the band since DuBrow reformed it in the 80s after the death of Rhoads. Bassist Chuck Wright replaced Rudy Sarzo and has been in and out of QR since the 80s. Guitarist Alex Grosso has been in a lot of hard rock bands and ended up in QR in 2006. 

So now to the album “Road Rage” that features Durbin on vocals. Go and listen to “The Road” first, then “Renegades” and “Freak Flag”. They are songs that should remain around for a lot longer. 

Who knows if that would be the case in our tech driven lives. I bet a lot of QR fans or even fans of the 80s would not know QR has new music. And for music fans born in the late 90s and onwards, you shouldn’t think of this album as an 80s band releasing new music. You should see it just as new music.

The Road

Feels like we just got back
I’ll kiss my family and I’ll be out the door again
We’re running around in the dark
We are together apart

Unless your family is travelling with you, then the road is just you, the guys in the band, some members of the road crew and lonely miles between cities and fans. 

A lot of artists don’t come back from the road. Randy Rhoads didn’t come back home. Steve Ray Vaughan didn’t come back. Kurt Cobain came back but didn’t want to go back out. Chris Cornell didn’t come back. Chester Bennington didn’t come back. AJ Pero didn’t come back. David Z didn’t come back and the other guys from Adrenaline Mob got pretty banged up. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary for a musician. 

Renegades

The intro riff is the vocal melody of the Chorus.

Line up all the degenerates
Just to prove their innocence

It doesn’t happen much today, but back in the times when I had my long hair and what not, I would not get served in a retail store. I’ve got cash to burn and no one to serve me. If a person was dressed in anything else except a black metal T shirt and jeans, they will get service before me. Judging people on appearance is real. We all still do it, even when we don’t want to. We might have good intentions over it, but we still judge and we always will.

We stand silent
It’s not our problem
Your reliance
Will fall down in disarray
And in silence
We’re raising renegades

Our ancestors went to two World Wars against an enemy who wanted to remake and reshape the world in their own image. That’s how the winners tell it and the losers have no voice. 

And democracy is far from perfect. It’s corrupted by the wealthy that influence legislation in their favour, so they get even wealthier while the working class gets torn apart and devastated. And this is where the next battle is taking place. The war between the haves and have nots is real. It won’t get to the same beheadings of the French Revolution, but change is afoot, because in silence people are raising renegades for the future to come.

Freak Flag

It’s the AC/DC vibe that gets the foot tapping.

Put your hands up and get your freak flag flying

In the 80’s, the metal/rock heads had all kinds of names attached to them. Satanic, anti-social, drug takers, freaks and what not. And when the freaks got together in stadiums and arenas, the establishments trembled because of the devotion people showed their favourite artist.

How can an artist be more powerful than the law enforcement officers and the elected leaders?

The record label honchos who really held the power to make or kill a career suddenly had their power diminish because MTV made artists into global superstars instantly. 

How could these freaks tell the business executives where to go? 

It was real, it happened and then the freaks became business executives themselves. It always happens. The people who control the money can buy out anyone or anything.

In this case, they amped up the greatest Ponzi scheme ever created and started paying millions of dollars to the rights holders. Copyright, Intellectual property, call it whatever you want, basically takes money from one source to give to the rights holder who then gives moneys to the creator as an advance fee on future earnings. And then the people in charge of Copyright (the government and the corporations) find new ways to bring in new sources and the cycle repeats over and over and over and over again.

In the end the road taken by James Durbin to be a musician is a unique one. Each road is unique and personal for all of us. It’s not always right and sometimes you might get stuck on the roundabout. But we keep going forward. It’s human nature. 

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

Time Machine

Since I did my left knee I have been in bit of a slump. At first I thought it was some minor bruising and tissue swelling. I was getting better and within 2 weeks of the injury I was walking properly. There was still some tenderness however it didn’t concern me. During that period I also had an MRI.

Then I got the results.

Basically I have a complete tear of the ACL and a partial tear of the MCL.

Now I was very surprised at the mess in my left knee that the MRI showed. I was feeling better and even contemplating playing sport again.

The Doctor was very surprised to see me walking unassisted and pain-free. According to the Doc, I should have been in a bit of a bother.

The weird thing is that after the Doctor told me the results guess what started to happen.

I started to limp.

Isn’t it amazing how the mind processes information. Prior to knowing how unstable my left knee really is, I was walking fine and contemplating returning to the soccer field on the weekend.

After I was told the MRI results on Wednesday my mind became fearful that if I tried to walk properly I was doing more damage to my left knee and I started to limp.

So here I am bumming my way through the days. I always turn to music in days like these. At the moment I am trying to find some new band that I haven’t heard off that just blows me away.

I listened to “Issa” (Finnish female rock goddess) new album “Crossfire”. It’s actually her third album and it did nothing for me.

I listened to “We Are Harlots” self titled debut. For those that don’t know they are the hard rock super group formed by ex Asking Alexandria vocalist Danny Worsnop and ex Sebastian Bach guitarist Jeff George. I enjoyed three songs in “Someday”, “Never Turn Back” and “Love For The Night”. The sad thing is that those songs are not the ones out there promoting the album.

Then I listened to an album from a Swedish band called “Dirty Passion”. It did nothing for me. So I moved on.

I took in new albums from “The Poodles”, “Kid Rock” “Scorpions” and “Gun” in a marathon four-hour session.

Does anyone have four hours to spend to listen to music these days? It’s not like the days of old when you kick back with the record and the album sleeve and just take it all in.

The Poodles “Devil In The Details” album was a surprise and an enjoyable listen, however nothing memorable stood out.

Kid Rock had one great song in the title track “First Kiss” and that was it.

The concept behind Scorpions “Return To Forever” is brilliant. Going back to outtakes from their most successful commercial period (1980 to 1990) and re-freshening those outtakes into songs is a great way to pay homage to the past.

Musically it is a good album.

The origins behind the songs that I have read in interviews and on Wikipedia is brilliant story telling. That is what we love as fans of entertainment, the story, the narrative. The “Return To Forever” album is an enjoyable listen however it doesn’t have that X-Factor song that makes me want to go back. The closest they got to it is the song “We Built This House”.

For Gun, I think I had certain expectations for their “Frantic” album and at this point in time it didn’t live up to those expectations, which is okay as their first three albums “Taking On The World”, “Gallus” and “Swagger” are classics to me.

So I went back listening to some W.A.S.P from their Eighties days. I took in the self titled debut, “The Last Command”, “Inside The Electric Circus” and “The Headless Children”. I’m a huge fan of Blackie Lawless and that eighties period was also a very creative one for him.

Then I wrote some tunes in my studio. “Revolution In Black” is a cross between the AC/DC blues groove and the era of “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” from Twisted Sister. Lyrically the song deals with growing up listening to metal music and wearing my black metal t shirts. In the end that is what we are, a REVOLUTION IN BLACK.

For “The World We Live In” my wife has been listening to a lot of the pop songs out on the charts and I noticed that they all follow the basic Em, C, G, D chord progression. Of course some songs are in  different keys, however the progression is the same. For example, if the key was in B minor, then the progression would be Bm, G, D, A. If the song was in A minor, the progression would be Am, F, C, G.

Look at the list below and it just goes to show that music is all about the influence and re-using what came before;

One Republic – If I Lose Myself – 41,323,341 views on YouTube.
One Republic – Apologise – 100,377,441 views on YouTube.
Maroon 5 – Daylight – 17,539,902 views on YouTube.
The Script – Hall of Fame – 174,512,128 views on YouTube.
Imagine Dragons – It’s Time – 121,828,132 views on YouTube.
Bastille – Pompeii – 205,301,496 views on YouTube.
Passanger – Let Her Go – 588,321,169 views on YouTube.
Avicii – Wake Me Up – 597,531,921 views on YouTube for the official video. 221,445,894 views for the lyric video.
Keith Urban – You’ll Think Of Me – 1,581,515 views of the official video. 9,834,735 views of a fan made lyric video.
John Legend – All Of Me – 450,748,280 views on YouTube.
Bon Jovi – It’s My Life – 202,924,429 views on YouTube.
The Cranberries – Zombie – 219,952,452 views on YouTube.
Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm – 6,586,181 views on YouTube.

Looking at the above list, think of the dollars those songs have generated for artists and labels alike just by using the same chord progression. Hell, look at the YouTube view count for each song. Any artist would kill to have stats like that.

In a nutshell that is what “The World We Live In” is all about, a common chord progression with an uncommon vocal melody.

Then I went and listened to the new Halestorm album, “Into The Wild Life” (I have it ordered via Amazon and I came across a pirated copy, so I couldn’t wait to sink my ears into it). Lzzy Hale is a powerful leader and what a great voice. Emotional and yet aggressive. The band rocks hard when they need too and they can tone it back or pop it up when they need to.

Then I cranked the “Crooked Doors” album from Royal Thunder and I was BLOWN away. I listened to the opening track “Time Machine” over and over again. The albums tone, feel and emotion just resonated with me and the mood I was in.

The whole melodic guitar section from about 4.35 with the vocals layered over it is brilliant.

I know nothing about them.

It never used to be this way. We would get the scorched earth marketing push, the press interviews and the magazine articles written by the PR company.

Like Halestorm, Royal Thunder is fronted by a powerful female voice however both bands operate in two vastly different places when it comes to the commercial tree. Mlny Parsonz is a force to be reckoned with. When she sings, you can hear the years of vocal damage in her voice. And that is the uniqueness which makes her vocal style special.

Add to that the brilliant guitar playing from her husband Josh Weaver and you have a formidable songwriting team.

And suddenly I wish I was in the time machine, going back to that moment in time and not making some of the mistakes I made.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Question Everything – Inspiration From Killswitch Engage and Jesse Leach

After overdosing on the new Protest the Hero album “Volition” for some reason the last song “Skies” got me thinking about Killswitch Engage. So out come the headphones and on goes the new album “Disarm the Descent.” I haven’t listened to it since about July. Our favourites don’t last long in the times of today. With so much new music coming out, we move on very quickly. As Jesse Leach pointed out recently in an interview with Lithium Magazine, the title is a creative way of saying redemption or rising again.

“You’re in a state of your life where you’re approaching rock bottom and you find a way to pick yourself up again before you hit the floor.”

I came to Killswitch Engage late. I didn’t listen to their first three albums. The only song I heard was “My Last Serenade” back in 2004 and that was via a bass player friend. However at that time, nothing really connected with me and that was it. There was no urge to commit to the band for me.

Fast forward a few years and the “Guitar World” issue arrived in the mailbox. I don’t recall which month; however it was a magazine from 2007. At that time the magazine still came with a DVD of bonus content. One of the bonuses was a lesson from the Killswitch guitarists on how to play “My Curse” and after watching it, I was hooked.

So I asked my bass player friend to burn me all of their albums, which he did. At the time, I had no idea that vocalists changed, which after hearing “Alive or Just Breathing” in 2007, I realised that the tones of the vocalists didn’t match up. So what do we do when we need information? We Google. We click on Wikipedia. In addition, “My Last Serenade” suddenly mattered. The song sucker punched me and I was hooked. The timing was right in 2007, for Killswitch Engage to enter my life on a full time basis.

By the time, their 2009 self-titled album came out; I was purchasing it without even listening to a single note. As a bonus their back catalogue was on special at the time, so I picked them up as well and added the official releases to my collection. That is why I always say that no metrics can ever measure the reach or pull of a band at the time of a release.

Of course, sales data can show what is in demand at a certain point in time; however the reach and the popularity of a certain band or a certain album cannot be properly measured until years later. Remember that history is written by the winners. In music, the winners are the artists or bands that outlast the competition.

Going back to the different singers, since Jesse’s split with the band, he kept busy with other projects, like the stoner-rock outfit “Seemless” and the metalcore/hard-core influenced “The Empire Shall Fall”. During this period, he also appeared with Killswitch Engage, performing the track “My Last Serenade” alongside Howard Jones at the Roadrunner United concert in 2005.

Then in 2011, I was blown away by “Times of Grace”. Everything about that album connected with me on so many different levels. I saw “Times Of Grace” open up for “Machine Head” at the Uni Roundhouse in Sydney in February 2012. Adam Dutkiewicz had his leg in some form of a support cast and he still went ballistic on stage, commenting frequently that “Aussie girls are hot.”

In relation to “Times Of Grace”, I could hear the regret in some of the songs. When Jesse jumped ship from Killswitch he was fighting a pretty serious depression. He had just gotten married and he couldn’t deal with being on the road all the time and away from his new family.

Songs like, “Fall From Grace (my best song on the album)”, “The Forgotten One”, “Hymn Of A Broken Man”, “In The Arms Of Mercy” and “Where The Spirit Leads Me” capture the more personal side of Jesse Leach. I remember reading in an interview in the “Revolver” April/May issue with Jesse mentioning that at the time of leaving Killswitch he was “broken and unconfident”.

So when Killswitch Engage announced that Jesse Leach is the vocalist again, I was more than pleased. His redemption was complete. When Jesse left Killswitch Engage the album he worked on “Alive Or Just Breathing” was just another album in a burgeoning metalcore scene that helped to kick start the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement.

Today, “Alive or Just Breathing” is seen as a classic. I always state that music is all about creating great music now so that it is recognised later for its greatness. As an artist grows their body of work takes on a new life of its own. It takes a while for something to be assimilated. Artists or bands have to hang in there long enough until they get their turn, getting better while they wait and releasing quality music.

“In Due Time” was the lead-off single.

“All that we suffer through leads to determination
The trials we all go through gives us the strength to carry on 

Something within us burns, desire feeds the will to live
A reason to believe I will see redemption”

As the chorus lyrics go, in due time, the shadows will gave way to the light. You just need to be patient and resilient. The words could even reference Jesse’s redemption to Killswitch and the knowledge that he had to go through all these trials so that he could come back a better person.

“A Tribute To The Fallen” has that hook that resonates. In my view this song should have led the album.

“With a new dawn we rise in renewed strength
Knowing we’ve just begun to fight this war within”

Think about all the crap that is going on in our democratic nations. Governments are spying on their own people. The Corporations and their lobby groups drive legislation. Government granted monopolies like the copyright industry are doing their best to kill innovation and when that fails, insert the corporations and their lobby groups. Transparency is promised however it doesn’t exist. Every communication is suddenly classified. Enables of pirated goods get more jail time than actual criminal offenders.

“New Awakening” has the legend behind it about how Jesse blew his voice while he was recording it in the studio. After the Doctor told him about the strain on the vocal chords, Jesse saw it as a badge of honour.

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

It’s the Killswitch revolution. Killswitch wants you. Where do i sign? I’m all in.

“You Don’t Bleed For Me” connects with me because it more or less sums up our politicians and how even though they are voted in by the people, they do not work for the people. Of course there are the rare ones who do their best to speak for the people but in the end money wins the game.

“Fly your flag of righteousness
When underneath it is deviousness, it is greed and lies
Don’t pretend to know me you martyr of disgrace
With your plastic smile
I don’t believe a word you say
You don’t speak for me
You don’t bleed, you don’t bleed
You don’t bleed for me”

The closer “Time Will Not Remain”.

“None of us should be thought of as anything less than a potential to change the world”

What a lyric and what a statement. That is the reason why Jesse Leach’s return means so much to Killswitch Engage and to metal fans in general. He never stopped being who he was. He was not corrupted by the modern era. He questions social norms and ideals. He questions the crap our politicians and news outlets throw at us. He questions everything. The great vocalists always have something to say.

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

Kirk Hammett = Misguided Fool. We Are Actually Living In The Golden Age of Music Access

The comments from Kirk Hammet have been getting a lot of press/ink lately. They have been re-posted on thousands of other metal news sites by simply copying and pasting what he said.

For those that haven’t read it, this is what Kirk said;

“There haven’t been a lot of really, really great bands that have shown that kind of promise. I think it’s a concern. Because of things like iTunes and streaming and social networking, it’s destroyed music. It’s destroyed the motivation to go out there and really make the best record possible. It’s a shame.”

Okay so lets unpack what he really said.

“There haven’t been a lot of really, really great bands that have shown that kind of promise. I think it’s a concern.”

You see, when you detach yourself from the streets and live in your ivory tower, you don’t see what is happening at ground zero.

Five Finger Death Punch is going GOLD in a tough sales market. They have great numbers in relation to YouTube views and Spotify streams. Their albums have been selling up to the point of when their new one is released. Think about that for a second. Five Finger Death Punch has consistently moved units of their albums every week since 2007. Now compare that to Dream Theater whose new album is already dead and buried after four weeks.

Shinedown are doing super numbers in relation to sales, YouTube views and Spotify streams. They have certifications left, right and centre.

Avenged Sevenfold released a progress is derivative album that is also doing great numbers. In addition, they do super numbers on the live circuit

Black Veil Brides has achieved so much with their first three albums as well as other bands like Bullet For My Valentine, Alter Bridge, Killswitch Engage, Volbeat and so on.

Will we have the superstars of the Eighties and Nineties again? Of course not, it is a different time today, however you can’t tell me that the bands mentioned above don’t have a certain superstar status at the moment.

Will they headline the major festivals? Probably not, because no one really likes festivals any more. The festivals are on their way out. They just don’t know it yet.

“Because of things like iTunes and streaming and social networking, it’s destroyed music. It’s destroyed the motivation to go out there and really make the best record possible. It’s a shame.”

With all the information we get on our favourite artists these days, it makes us realise that our heroes are complete idiots. Kirk just doesn’t understand change. It’s constant.

Kirk’s comments are no different to the comments from other dinosaurs like Jon Bon Jovi, Scott Ian, Duff McKagan, Yngwie Malmsteen, Thom Yorke and David Byrne. Railing against the Internet, Spotify and iTunes and complaining about payments and the lack of motivation to record new music. 

Let’s get one thing clear. Music today can be made for next to nothing. That is why we have so many releases in the market place. Competition for listener’s attention is sky-high. Everybody who records something believes we should pay attention.

Kirk Hammett wants to go back to the Eighties, to a time when bands had to have a record deal to record their music. Kirk Hammett wants fans of his music to buy the whole Metallica album just to find out it was garbage (like ReLoad, St Anger) or for a few songs (like Load).  

If that is the motivation that Kirk Hammett and Metallica needs to record, then they can just give up right now.

It never used to be that way. Metal and rock artists never complained. They always ADAPTED. 

Do you hear Imagine Dragons, Daft Punk, Mumford and Sons, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Eminem, Halestorm, Killswitch Engaged, Alter Bridge, Slash or Avenged Sevenfold going on a rant about not wanting to make new music or that it is just too tough out there and no one can make it?

Could it be that most people are just not interested in new Metallica music? As Lars said in a Hot Metal interview from June 1992, that I posted earlier. The numbers they are getting for the Black album, will not be eclipsed or bettered.

Could it be that the Napster stigma is still around? The image of Lars Ulrich holding 500 pages of user names that traded in Metallica music is still fresh in people’s minds. 

The comments in relation to streaming are just wrong. Streaming is competing with PIRACY. How is that not good? With Spotify around it just doesn’t make sense to steal. It pays the artist when their music gets played and it pays the artist forever. A sale of an album is just a one stop transaction that inflates the NOW and when you start talking about the NOW, you are thinking like a Record Label.

If Kirk Hammett and Metallica or any artist out there wants to make money from recorded music, they need to find a way to get people to purchase a Spotify Premium account.

Spotify has a mission to have over 20 million premium customers. This will allow artist to take years out to record their masterpieces. Instead of working with the technology, they talk in riddles against it. 

We are living in the golden age of music access. The history of recorded music is at our fingertips and that is a good thing. Finally, there is plan in place to monetize it. If you want to monetize, you need to keep creating.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Dream Theater – Three Webisodes In and Still No New Musical Snippets

Okay let me get this out in the open. I am a massive Dream Theater fan and as a guitarist a huge John Petrucci fan. However, after watching three webisodes of the new album process, were are the snippets of new music. Each webisode has music from DT’s past. While that is cool as an introduction, I am sure they can throw in a 5 second instrumental passage or a vocal line from a song.

It’s all talk at the moment and with the new album scheduled to drop in about six weeks, I think it’s time they do some walk. Let’s hear a song. Let’s hear 5 second passages of other songs on the next webisode.

Let’s get a track by track breakdown of each song, talk about the lyrics and the story behind the song, the compositions, show some snippets of the songs being recorded. Let us super fans dig deeper into the back stories. Do some of the riffs come from the past and which ones were written during the tour. We want to know. The people are commenting the same. We want to hear some clips, even if its Mangini drumming to intricate music that we cannot hear.

We get the marketing B.S. It is the best album you have created, Mangini is unleashed, it will make a definitive DT statement, it will showcase the level that the Mangini version of DT is at, its got a 20 minute epic and so forth.

You are preaching to the converted. We are fans. Hard core ones at that. We would not expect anything less than quality from DT.

Sack your marketing team. The fans are your marketing team. Give us what we need and we will spread the word for you. We will get you to number 1 if that is what DT desires. The expensive marketeers that DT has behind the scenes believe in smoke and mirrors.

With each webisode release, DT is missing out on opportunities to connect on a grand scale. Look at the YouTube stats. The first webisode had close to 200,000 views, the second webisode has approx. 91,000 views and the third webisode approx. 84,000 views. If anything, as the release date approaches, the views of each webisode should increase.

Now imagine if the webisodes had clips of musical pieces (hell it could be musical pieces from a song that got cut out for some reason), imagine all the reposts and re-tweets these YouTube webisodes would have had. In the end, DT is trying to get the message out that they have a new album coming. The core fan base know that. Now it is time to give the tools to the core fans, give us the snippets and we will spread it even further.

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