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

The Record Vault – Extra Sebastian Bach

Here is another addition from the box of the CD’s I found, to a previously reported Record Vault collection for Sebastian Bach.

“Give Em Hell” is the album.

It’s Bach’s fifth solo release, but only the third release to contain original studio recordings. It’s also at this point in time his last official release. Bach toured on this album, then went on an “18 And Live” tour and then went on a 30th Anniversary tour of Skid Row’s debut album.

As usual with a Sebastian Bach release, there is a crew of musicians, assembled to write and record the album, produced by Bob Marlette.

Steve Stevens co-wrote the songs, “Push Away”, “Had Enough” and “Gun To A Knife Fight” and also played on em. John 5 co-wrote the song “Temptation” and also plays on it. Duff McKagan plays bass on the whole album. Devin Bronson who is a songwriter and a guitarist co-wrote a lot of the songs and also plays the rest of the guitar tracks. Bobby Jarzombek is on drums, and if you are a Fates Warning fan, you would know of his work.

And there is a cover of “Rock N Roll Is A Vicious Game” from April Wine.

So let’s unpack it.

“Hell Inside My Head” is a rock and roll tour de-force. The riffs are excellent. Especially the intro melodic lead, which goes into a ZZ Top Texan groove.

“Destiny has put me to the test”

Who knows if there is a destiny or a pre-determined path?

What I do know is the choices I make or have made have definitely put me to the test on occasions many years later. Somehow I find a way through the chaos and madness.

“Harmony” has a melodic chorus, which is a good relief from the aggressiveness of “Hell Inside My Head”.

“All My Friends Are Dead” is one of my favourites on this album. The song is written by Bach, Bronson, Marlette and a person called Issac Carpenter. The intro riff is super heavy. Scorpions employed a similar riff for “The Cross” on the “Humanity” album.

The Chorus is catchy and the guitar playing throughout the song, is excellent, which is all done by Devon Bronson who is basically showcasing his abilities here.

“Temptation” has John 5 making an appearance on guitar. The songwriters are listed as Bach, John 5, Marlette and a person called Johnny Chromatic. I don’t know which songwriter wrote the intro riff, but it’s a monster. And the verses have a nice guitar riff, with a powerful melody from Bach.

“Push Away” is another favourite cut. This one is written by Bach and Steve Stevens.

The guitar playing is excellent. Stevens brings it.

And the way the song smoulders in the verses just to explode in the Chorus, works. But it’s the guitar playing that connects with me and from 3.08 to 4.28 it’s one of the best moments on the album, especially that guitar solo between 3.56 to 4.28.

In “Dominator”, Bronson takes the stage again with his guitar playing. It’s down tuned, like “Stockholm Syndrome” from Muse and heavy for a song that deals with bondage. And that last minute, the heaviness, brings back memories of Skid Row’s “Subhuman Race”.

“Had Enough” has a song writing committee of Bach, Bronson, Stevens, Marlette and a person called KS Anthony.

It’s sort of like a power ballad, but hang around for the 2.30 mark rolls around, the bridge riff and then the solo. And to top it off, there is an outro solo. For that alone, the song is high up on a list of mine, plus Bach delivers a vocal performance to rival his 80’s/early 90’s self.

“Gun To A Knife Fight” is written by Bach, Stevens, Marlette and KS Anthony. The verses roll while Bach delivers a vocal performance that will remind you of songs like “Psycho Love” and “The Threat”. And that melodic rock chorus needs more attention. And the lead break again is worthy of guitar hero status. On the three songs that Stevens appears, they have some of his best work on em.

“Taking Back Tomorrow” is needs more attention. But no one cares. The song structure and the riffs are excellent. This one is written by Bach, Bronson, Marlette and Issac Carpenter.

“Disengaged” is heavy, fast and aggressive. It rocks, it speeds, its melodic and Bach delivers a vocal line.

Bach always liked the heaviness in music and this album delivers on that hands down. And if you’re a fan of Steve Stevens and his style of guitar playing, the three tracks he makes an appearance on are essential listening.

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

18 And Life

Once Sebastian Bach joined, a bidding war happened between Geffen Records and Atlantic. Geffen wanted a Bon Jovi act and Atlantic wanted a Guns N’ Roses act. And these two labels were in an East vs West Coast war. Geffen even brought in a producer who said that “18 and Life” and “Makin’ A Mess” should be kept and songs like “Youth Gone Wild” and “I Remember You” should be scrapped. Doc McGhee wanted them to go with Geffen. Everything pointed towards to Geffen except for the guys in the band especially Rachel Bolan.

Atlantic A&R guru Jason Flom had been following the band for a while and increased the Atlantic offer at the last minute.

Both labels saw “18 And Life” as a quality song. A serious subject matter, so far removed from the romantic vibes of “I Remember You” and the rebellious “stand your ground” anthem “Youth Gone Wild”.

The video dominated MTV in the US but not so much in Australia. The fans made this a cult favourite.  

The C#m arpeggios in the intro, moving to an A and B chord got me interested. If you’ve watched Skid Row live (the Bach led version that is), they extend this intro, with a pretty kicking lead break from Scotti Hill. Actually, Jorn did a cover of Don Henley’s “New York Minute” and the intro sounds like the live version of “18 And Life” that I remember.

And Skid Row is becoming forgotten.

When I googled “18 and Life lyrics” it came up with the lyrics for the song and the artist was listed as “Asking Alexandria”. So whatever issue, Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo have with Sebastian Bach, its leading their band into irrelevance and into the history pages of the internet. Because come on, one of their biggest songs doesn’t come up listed to them, but to a band who covered it.

Ricky was a young boy, he had a heart of stone
Lived nine to five and worked his fingers to the bone

It summed up most of the kids growing up in the 80’s and 90’s (when I started working). I remember getting my first wages and I felt like I was on top of the world. But at that time I was still living with my parents and social reality hadn’t hit me yet.  And I didn’t have a heart of stone. I cared for my family and friends. But I knew people who were just like Ricky.

Fought like a switchblade so no one could take him down

You all know how a blade just explodes out/pops out when a button is pushed. Well imagine a human just losing control like that. Joe Pesci in “Goodfellas” sums up this kind of action. I knew a few people like that, always getting into fights from out of nowhere. 

And he fought the world alone 

No one is alone. For every feeling a person has like this, remember there are people out there that feel like you and there are people out there that care for you. Talk to em.

Tequila in his heartbeat

His veins burned gasoline

It kept his motor runnin’

But he never kept it clean

You can interchange tequila with any other alcoholic beverage. Drinking whiskey makes me jump out of moving cars. I’m Superman.

He married trouble

Had a courtship with a gun

I don’t think I have met a person who doesn’t love adventure. But adventure which leads to mischief and trouble, could be cool while you are young, but as you grow up, it could be dangerous and deadly. And in Australia, we don’t have a law that gives us the right to bear arms to protect our property, so our courtship with a gun isn’t as strong as it is, in other countries.

He fired his six-shot to the wind

That child blew a child away

Accidents happen, but a life lost is a life lost. 

The lead break and that outro arpeggio riff (with the lead break as well) are my favourite pieces to play on the guitar, along with the intro guitar arpeggio riff.

Enjoy it.

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

The Record Vault – Sebastian Bach

Once Skid Row went on hiatus, I never really heard from the band or Sebastian Bach. It’s like they dropped off the face of the Earth.

Then the Pirate Bay gave me the Skid Row albums without Bach on vocals, and it also gave me, the solo Bach albums, “Bring Em Bach Alive” and “Back 2 Basics”.

One day my wife brought home a box set of a TV show called “Gilmore Girls”. And I suppose Bach’s biggest gig between 1997 and 2004 was being the guitarist in the fictional “Gilmore Girls” band and doing Broadway musicals.

But by the mid 2000’s Guns N Roses was touring and Sebastian Bach was the opening act. And all of these separate events suddenly brought Sebastian Bach back into my life.

 Time does go by fast.

Released in 2007, “Angel Down” is 12 years old. And it’s got a lot of songs about a relationship breakdown, so it’s no surprise that in 2010, his long term marriage was over.

“You Don’t Understand” is a brilliant track, starting off with harmony guitars like Judas Priest, before morphing into a rocker like “Forever” from Skid Row. The lyrics, “I’ll take a bullet for you in the night, Is what we’re fighting for wrong or right?, I lie awake in my tomb, so confused, Who wins the battle when we all lose?” speak truth.

No one wins an argument, when one person wants to be seen as being correct.

And since Sebastian Bach was opening for Guns N Roses, Axl Rose does guest vocals on three tracks, “Back In The Saddle”, “(Love Is) A Bitchslap” and “Stuck Inside”.

Let’s start with the modern rock remake of an Aerosmith classic “Back In The Saddle”. One thing is clear, when Axl Rose does hard rock, he is one of the best hard rock singers. You can feel the attitude in his tone, slap you silly.

“(Love Is) A Bitchslap” is the best Guns N Roses song released in the 2000’s that Guns N Roses didn’t write, with one of the coolest opening verses, “Rollin’ down the avenue, I got my fist in the air, Checking out of the rat race and I really don’t care.”

It captures the metal spirit and lifestyle. We like to look at the show but we don’t really care what is going on. We have our own shit that we need to deal with.

And “Stuck Inside” is one of the best Skid Row songs in the 2000’s, which Skid Row didn’t write.

Check out the lyrics. You can hear the pain in those words. “I feel you taking on, everything that I said that I want and then you said it’s over.”

Relationships are cruel. The other half, will ask you to be truthful and then suddenly, those words get used against you.

But the piece d resistance is “American Metalhead” written by guitarist Mike Chlasciak. It is a metal track for the ages, with its catchcry of togetherness and hive mind control like, “One soul, one mind, one heart, one life.”

Call it up, crank it, lay back and close your eyes.

Imagine the time, walking the streets, dressed in denim jeans and black t shirt with your favourite band’s artwork.

“Negative Light” is a speed metal track, with Bach throwing his voice into the wall during the verses. From a guitar point of view, this song is a blast to play, very Metallica like.

And that opening verse sets the tone for the aggression, “Nothing’ lasts forever, Nobody rides for free, For twenty years I took a stand, You’re not takin’ no chance on me.”

“Live And Die” sounds massive with its “Mississippi Queen” style riff.

“Like stars sky high, we live and die, free your body, your soul, your mind”

We all will die, its truth. So what matters is how we spend our days under heaven’s skies. Do we give in to hate, and allow stress and depression to rule our minds, or do we give in to love, and allow hope and love to rule our thoughts?

“By Your Side” is a ballad, but Bach knows how to deliver on ballads, with “Quicksand Jesus”, “Wasted Time”, “Breakin Down” and “In A Darkened Room” still up there as some of favourite ballads.

“Our Love Is A Lie” sounds wicked, angry and its pure hard rock while “Take You Down With Me” could have come from the “Black” album.

“Stabbing Daggers” combines all of the modern rock influences like Nu Metal, Alt Rock and Groove Metal into a concise metal song with a shred-a-licious solo. “You Bring Me Down” is a cross between Pantera and Stone Temple Pilots. Yes, I know, it’s pretty contrasting styles, but goddamn, it works.

“Falling Into You” is a co-write with Desmond Child and as you would expect, it follows the Desmond Child formula. But I didn’t expect the intro harmony lead, which reminded of “Tears Of A Dragon” from Bruce Dickinson’s solo album.

And Sebastian Bach has tried to re-unite Skid Row with the classic line up to capitalise on the anniversaries of their first two albums, but Rachel Bolan is not having it. So whatever went down between them, was pretty heavy.

But in typical middle finger Bach fashion, he’s gone out on tour as a solo artist to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the debut Skid Row album, playing it in its entirety and he’s selling out the clubs and theatres.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Score Card Inc

Three years ago in November, 2013, I posted a score sheet on certain artists/trends and how they are dealing with the music business.

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

Robb Flynn
He still understands that it is not all about making records. From Nov 2013 to now, Robb Flynn via Machine Head, kept on releasing his Journals both video and written. In April, 2014, “Killers and Kings” came out for Record Store Day and the band went on tour. He started a clothing range called “Killers and Kings” that didn’t really take off. In November, 2014, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” came out and the band embarked on a lengthy “An Evening With” world tour. In June 1, 2016, “Is There Anybody Out There?” came out as a stand-alone single.

His connection with his audience runs deep. People either dig him or detest him or some people will not just forget him in an orange jumpsuit during the Nu-Metal phase of the band’s career.

Protest The Hero
Back in 2013, “Protest The Hero” showed how the record labels are so out of touch with its customers. PTH was dropped because the label told them they have no audience. However, a fan funding campaign showed a pretty impressive hard-core audience that was willing to cough up some serious dollars for the band. Even the band was blown away at the response.

And they did it again between Nov 2015 and April 2016 with “Pacific Myth” an innovative one song per month release over six months via Bandcamp. Fans had the option of two packages, and I selected the one that also had the six video releases. In between, the guys would upload drum videos, cooking videos, song transcriptions and what not.

Nikki Sixx
In 2013, he talked about a farewell tour. Well that tour finally happened and concluded in 2015. The Crue fan base didn’t really need one more world tour however, they wanted to finish up in their own way and the world tour is what we got, with a new song called “All Bad Things”. The movie is still in the works, they have their own pleasure toys, a rumour of The Dirt 2, plus lawsuits from photographers and opening bands to contend with. Seriously, squirting piss at a bunch of guys who paid $1 million to be on the tour would always end up in the courts.

With Sixx A.M. he has released an albums worth of music and the next album is coming in a few weeks. They are on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, he does his Sixx Sense Radio Show and he doesn’t like to wash his hands after going to the toilet.

Coheed and Cambria
By November, 2013, COCA had been touring non-stop on the back of “The Afterman” two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus Sci-Fi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Since then, Claude Sanchez became a dad. He wrote more comics with his wife called “Translucid” in 2014 and in 2015 managed to release another slab of songs called “The Color Before The Sun” and go on a another world tour.

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Well, we are almost one week away from that new music hitting the streets and in the meantime, we have been treated to three tracks.
It’s a welcome relief to hear Metallica doing what they do best and I believe they have enough new music in their archives for another album to drop within two years this time, instead of eight.

And after hearing the album – yes it is available on the pirate sites, I can honestly say that it’s not worth the 8 year wait at all and maybe 4 song EP’s is the best way to go.

Dream Theater
I wrote in November 2013, that they need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Dream Theater has a knack for popping up with some goodies, like “Images and Words”, “Scenes From A Memory”, “Systematic Chaos” and “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

So in January 2016, they dropped the 130 minute “Astonishing” concept album, about a dystopian future society. Concept albums lead to different revenue spin offs like a stage play, comic book stories, video games, animations, TV series, a movie and so forth. But then again, Slayer are doing a graphic comic book series and have never done a concept album.

Stone Sour
I wrote in 2013, that something went south with their career trajectory. Of course, a beast called Slipknot would devour the creative forces of the band. Their take on modern metal is good, but with Slipknot getting more melodic, is there a reason for Stone Sour to exist.

Five Finger Death Punch
They have an audience who purchases and streams their product. Along the way, each album has received certifications for so many units moved. An onstage meltdown, a record label lawsuit and then a change of label has not slowed the band down in any way. If they can remain together, they will remain a powerhouse.

Trivium
Back in November, 2013, their new album “Vengeance Falls” was called a Disturbed covers album. The truth is, if people are talking about you, it is a good thing. And that album gave Trivium a concert classic in “Strife”. Since then, they released “Silence In The Snow” in 2015. They are always looking to reinvent themselves constantly while staying true to heavy metal. Plus Matt Heafy has a pretty cool Top 10 list of albums that changed his life.

1. Metallica – The Black Album (1991)
“A kid lent me The Black Album at school and it changed my life. I had never heard anything like it before, and I started playing guitar all the time.”

2. In Flames – Whoracle (1997)
“That was at the time of Napster, and I was into the classic great metal bands. I was on Napster and I found In Flames. I had never heard melodic death metal before, and it changed my ear on what kind of music I wanted to play.”

3. Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
“What I’ve always loved about Queen is that they’ve never released the same thing twice. Everything is drastically different while still sounding like Queen. Every song on A Night At The Opera sounds different to the next one and they all stand up as fantastic.”

4. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
“With Iron Maiden it’s hard, because I love so many of their records. They’re all so important. Seventh Son, though, is the one that really got me into Iron Maiden. It’s one of their more epic records; there’s vivid storytelling going on. Getting into Iron Maiden helped me trace the roots of the music that I love. I could see where so many metal, death metal and black metal bands had taken things from.”

5. Ihsahn – Eremita (2012)
“Emperor changed my life, and Ihsahn changed my life again with this album. He spun the idea of black metal on its head by incorporating jazz chords, interesting production and clean singing. That record taught me to never be afraid of making whatever I want to make. We’ve always done that, but this album drove that home for me.”

6. Boston – Boston (1976)
“The vocal production is insane. Everything about this record epitomises the best things of rock ‘n’ roll.”

7. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
“The Beatles blow my mind in the same way that Queen do in that every song and record is so different to the last. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters as well. It’s not like nowadays where you might have one songwriter in a band.”

8. Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (1997)
“This is where Emperor really changed the dynamic of where black metal was going. Black metal was the rebellion to rock and metal, and was supposed to be different. “When there’s a movement like that, a lot of bands come out playing semi-similar music. That record opened up with clean guitar and there’s this classical singing; it has chaotic moments and beautiful moments all in one. Emperor makes such interesting black metal with these big dramatic moments.”

9. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
“Listening to Depeche Mode, you can hear that Rammstein is a combination of Depeche Mode and Metallica. Violator is one of the darkest, scariest records I’ve ever heard. It has this different kind of sadness that you feel in the music.”

10. The London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart’s Requiem (1791)
“The gothic artwork of that record is incredible, and this version for me is just the best. Listening to this, you can hear that out of all contemporary music, metal is the closest living relative to classical. It is the most epic moments of music that have always drawn me in, and I feel that with Mozart’s Requiem that is where you’re getting into the blueprint for everything that was to come.”

Shinedown
They have an audience who want to listen to them and so far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them. Their new album “Threat To Survival” has taken its influences from Adele, Imagine Dragons and other pop artists and they still made it rock hard. Daughtry and James Durbin should take note. Along the way, their fans purchased and streamed all the way to certification after certification.

Avenged Sevenfold
Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a bigger risk for Avenged Sevenfold then their new album and it paid off for them.

Fast forward to 2016, and their new album drops early. It is a creative tour de force but to me it’s already in the rear view. All of the good bits in each song are undone by the creativity of trying to push the boundaries.

Piracy
In 2013, I wrote that piracy is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be and with revenues in 2016, approaching the pre-Napster era, it’s further proof that piracy does not affect their bottom lines, especially when there are services out there that can compete with piracy.

Evergrey
The pure definition of perseverance with 20 plus years in the music business and still going strong.

By November 2013, the “new” version of the band that delivered “Glorious Collision” had splintered again and lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund was not sure on the next step. A reconnection with drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage (who departed before “Glorious Collision”) spawned the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” in 2014 and a few months ago, “The Storm Within” builds on the atmospherics created by “Hymns”.

Megadeth
In 2013, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider” was outsold by Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album. In 2015, Mustaine got his metal chops back and in 2016, “Dystopia” came out. Another Mustaine Resurrection was at hand.

Tremonti/Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti knows it’s about putting new music out there and consistently. In 2013, we had “Fortress” from Alter Bridge. In 2015, we had “Cauterize” from Tremonti and 2016 has given us, “Dust” from Tremonti and “The Last Hero” from Alter Bridge. In three years, Tremonti has been part of 4 albums while Metallica ……

The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project ever from Soilwork and Arch Enemy band members. The first album “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and the second “Skyline Whispers” in 2015. Essential listening to any hard rock fans of the 80’s.

Sales
In 2013, I wrote that sales are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in the market. In 2016, listens are more important than sales.

Bullet For My Valentine
By November 2013, people had lost their “Temper Temper” with them, but in 2015, the band found their “Venom” again, which leads us to new music hitting the net in November 2016.

Revolution Saints
In 2013, this band existed in the head of the Frontiers President. In 2015, they released an excellent melodic AOR rock album. So much potential, so many good songs, great musicians and it all went to hell because Castronovo couldn’t keep his 5555t together. Let’s hope that Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich forgive him and they try for another album. This time with the three of them writing.

TesseracT
One of the hardest working progressive bands out there, building their fanbase, city by city. In 2011, they released “One”. In 2013, they released the excellent “Altered State” and in 2015 we got “Polaris”.

Days Of Jupiter
An unsung Swedish melodic groove rock band, that’s a cross between Evergrey and Disturbed. In 2012 they released “Secrets Brought to Life” and in 2015, “Only Ashes Remain” came out.

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

Muse
They play stadiums but they don’t have the same sales figures as the 70’s and 80’s legends. A perfect example of the modern world, in which massive single songs sell concert tickets.

Live
In 2013, I wrote;
Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Concert ticket prices are still high, especially for the superstar acts. The price gauge happened as an offset to dwindling revenues from recorded sales, however with recorded music revenue now as high as the pre-Napster era, there is no reason for the high concert ticket prices.

Slash
As an artist, he didn’t need to go back to Gunners. He had enough momentum to keep going as a solo artist and with Myles Kennedy, a better front man than Axl Rose. Slash kept on releasing new music consistently, while Duff and Axl complained of piracy and artistically were dead in the water. Money triumphs over creativity and in this case, it’s really sad.

Album
Back in 2013, I wrote how everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy as album sales shrink. Back then 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. So what is the point of the album, when people ignore the songs that are not “hits”. When I go to Spotify and I come across an artist I haven’t heard before, I go to their Spotify page and hear the tracks in their top 10 list. Those tracks in most cases are pulled from many different albums.

And if any of those tracks connect with me, I might dig deeper into the album.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Created by their love of metal and rock music and when that same genre put up roadblocks to a career in music, they changed tact and went all flamenco acoustic on the world. Talk about paying their dues and taking risks. They moved from Mexico and took a chance in Europe. Over an 8 year Dublin residence, they honed their style and songs, so when their “official” debut album hit in 2006, what seemed like an overnight sensation was 15 years in the making.

There is nothing more difficult in the world then trying to make it as a musician. You need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And your brand or movement might just make some small gains. Then it hits a few speed bumps, like Rodrigo and Gabriela’s metal band losing their recording contract in 1997 and suddenly you are back at the start. But they kept on showing up, on the coast of Mexico and playing their acoustic guitars in the bars. Because showing up day after day, is the hardest part of making a difference. If you look at the history of the artists we like and admire, you will see many years in pursuit of their dreams.

It is a work of a lifetime to create an impact and build something of substance. In 2013, they were riding the highs of their 2012 “Area 52” collaboration, which involved re-working their best songs with a full flamenco band. Then in 2014, “9 Dead Alive” dropped and new music is needed ASAP.

Sebastian Bach/Skid Row
They shouldn’t get back together, because no one cares about Skid Row in the way they used too. They might have a large audience in Japan, like Dokken, but the rest of the “Youth Gone Wild” have moved on. Sebastian Bach is actually bigger than Skid Row and releases way better music than Skid Row have done without him. But, what was he thinking when he approved the photo for his memoir’s cover.

The Kindred
From Canada and the healthy progressive scene. They started off as “Today I Caught The Plague” from the ashes of another band called “A Legend Falls”. In 2011 they released the excellent “Lore” and went on tour with one of my favourite bands in Protest The Hero and their “Scurrilous Tour”. Then in 2013, a name change happened to “The Kindred” and the excellent “Life In Lucidity” came out at the start of 2014.

However, PTH needed a drummer for their “Volition” tour and it was no surprise that they tapped Mike Ieradi (who also co-founded the group) to fill the spot. Then in 2015, vocalist David Journeaux departed, with Johnny McArthur as their new vocalist and Kenny Saunders as their new drummer. So now I wait to see what comes next.

Streaming
Back in 2013, I wrote that everyone talks about the money which isn’t filtering down to the artist and how streaming is too entrenched to be replaced. Since then the record labels have grown their revenues on the back of streaming. Artists who negotiate deals with the streaming services like Metallica and Motley Crue have never complained about streaming. Suddenly, luddites Anthrax are not complaining and Scott Ian even mentioned how he believes streaming is the best thing to have happened to the recording industry.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

The Gaslight Anthem
They do the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen better than Bruce Springsteen these days. It was like a supergroup of independent musicians that came together in New Jersey in 2006. Their 2010 album, “American Slang” spawned an unexpected hit with the title track and “45” from their 2012 album “Handwritten” became their biggest hit. Since then, “Get Hurt” came out in 2014 and by July 2015, the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Since the hiatus, singer Brian Fallon released a solo album called “Painkillers” in March 2016, and on April, 2016, a vinyl EP called “Georgia” was released for Record Store Day 2016 with a limited pressing run of 2,000 copies on 10″ vinyl. Let’s hope that “The Gaslight Anthem” get together for more music over the next three-year period.

Volbeat
Seen as overnight sensations however they are over 25 years in the business. It all started with “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” in 2008 and being added to the Metallica “Death Magnetic U.S. Tour”. Then in 2010, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” came out and while that was still selling, they released “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” in 2013 and they hit every major music market over and over again. Since then, they released “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie” and are continuing on their merry ways. For all the newbies, check out their streaming numbers. They are huge compared to other major label metal/rock acts.

Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace
In 2013, Killswitch Engage released “Disarm the Descent”, their comeback album with Jesse Leach on vocals. And how good is “In Due Time” with brutal verses and an arena rock chorus. Then in February 2015, a new track called “Loyalty” appeared on “Catch The Throne: The Mixtape Volume 2” to promote “Game of Thrones”. They then toured and kept on working on “Incarnate” which finally came out on March 11, 2016. Since then, they toured and are planning on releasing a beer. Meanwhile, “Times of Grace” have five songs completed for a new album to come out, with their last one coming out in 2011.

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

Hard Working Musicians and Some Not So Hard Working Musicians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what do we know?

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

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

How Do You Know If An Album Is Successful?

You are an artist performing solo or within a band.

You decide to record an album.

You spend time and effort writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering your latest opus.

You do some promo and release it.

Then what do you do.

It doesn’t sell what you expected. Once upon a time, the definition of a successful act was based on how many records they sold.

Sebastian Bach still can’t get his head around why he has 800,000 Facebook Followers and only 6000 people in the U.S purchased his new album “Give Em Hell” in the opening week. For the record, it is a great album. I have heard the album, but I didn’t purchase it. I went to Spotify and streamed it.

So if it doesn’t sell as expected, it doesn’t that mean the album didn’t do well. What it means is that fans of music have consumed it in many different ways. I actually liked it enough to go onto Amazon and add it to my shopping cart. I haven’t purchased it yet. I will wait until the price drops below $10 before I do. And then it will go on the shelve in its wrapper.

In this day and age sales can never be used a metric for success. However, if there are songs there that are undeniable and an audience starts to resonate with those songs, then expect to sell.

Five Finger Death Punch came out in the piracy era. In the same era that has greedy corporations telling politicians that piracy is decimating the music industry.

Well, this piracy era hasn’t stopped Five Finger Death Punch from moving over 500,000 units in the U.S alone for each album. Yep that’s right, Five Finger Death Punch have been selling records since their debut album came out in 2007. Even the recent “Wrong Side of Heaven” Volumes 1 and 2 are moving close to the 500,000 mark for each of them. Combined these two albums have moved over 700,000 units.

So I am really over bands or artists who lament that no one buys their music. People do buy music. People do stream music. People do download music without paying for it.

And all of those people who access an artists music both legally and illegal will also invest in concert tickets and merchandise. They will even invest in REAL limited/deluxe edition perks. Not the kind of perks that just come with a DVD or a T Shirt.

Artists should take a leaf out of RatPak Records. They have various packages available with each release and at a price that isn’t extortion.

In my opinion, an album can be defined as a success if people are coming to the shows and singing the songs of the album.

WASP released “The Crimson Idol” in the early nineties. Commercially it didn’t do anything however if you talk to any WASP fan and I bet you they can sing the songs from that album. In 2014, it is seen as Blackie Lawless’s finest achievement.

Machine Head released “The Blackening” in 2007. It didn’t sell in the millions, however it allowed Machine Head to go on a three-year victory lap on the back of it, touring the world over and over and over again. It was hailed by Metal Hammer as the album of the decade. It is also seen as Machine Head’s definitive masterpiece.

One of my favourite independent bands “Digital Summer” have been managing their own career and their own releases with great success. Recently they just had a run of dates with Volbeat and Trivium. Prior to that, they have done tours with Shinedown, Three Days Grace, Three Doors Down and many other acts. They have done shows on their own. And they manage themselves. They finance their own recordings. They ask their fans to help out via fan funding campaigns. So big deal if their albums haven’t sold in the millions. They are over 10 years deep and still rocking.

So how do you know if an album is successful in 2014?

If people are listening to it, coming out to the shows and singing the songs.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Chevelle, Sebastian Bach, James Durbin, Black Label Society and The Used. And Artists Wonder Why Fans Cherry Pick.

Listened to some new music today that I have been wanting to check out for a few weeks now. The beauty of Spotify.

Chevelle – La Gargola

Chevelle blew my mind when they came out with their Tool infused pop stylings.

It was perfect back in 2002 and 2004. Now it is getting old. In saying that, “One Ocean”, “Choking Game”, “Under The Knife” and “Twinge” are stand out songs, however only the hardcore fans would go that deep into the album. The rest would check out the single, and maybe the first five tracks and move on.

Sebastian Bach – Give Em Hell

Skid Row was powerful with Bach on vocals. There was an X Factor there. Sabo and Bolan couldn’t get signed with all of the previous vocalists and then Sebastian comes on the scene and suddenly the band is hot and dangerous.

One hell of a talented vocalist and with this solo album, Bach is in top form. It is a solid album from start to finish with each song written by a who’s who list of musicians and producers.

And Devin Bronson on guitar, playing hard rock/metal music is triple A. If there is a fault, 12 songs are too much. 9 songs really stand out.

James Durbin – Celebrate

The memories of Durbin doing “You Got Another Thing Coming” from Judas Priest on American Idol still live on. It was that cover song that got me interested to check out his original music when the time came. So the debut comes out and the opening track “Higher Than Heaven” blows me away at its heaviness and popiness.

And now here we are in 2014. It is a good album. It is worth a listen. My wife will love it. In the end if you want to hear James Durbin pretend to be like Kate Perry or One Direction that “forever, ever, ever line” in “Live Right Now” is just too much or the “Jump! Jump! Jump!” in the song “Parachute”.

Noteworthy tracks are “Louder Than A Loaded Gun”, “Real Love” and “Children Of The Sun”.

It’s time to go back to those thirty rock songs that didn’t make it on the album and get them released, because a rock career is forever, whereas a pop career is fleeting.

Black Label Society – Catacombs of the Black Vatican

Love Zakk Wylde. I still remember having a poster on my wall around the “No Rest For The Wicked” period. Zakk was just a skinny little blonde kid. Now he is like a Viking marauder, ready to take over this town.

I like Black Label Society for the same reason I like AC/DC. You know what you are gonna get and it is a good thing. It’s groovy hard rock and metal, with Zakk’s Ozzy meets Layne Staley style vocal phrasing and great guitar playing.

Zakk has nurtured and fostered his audience with this sound. He has put a bikie culture and mentality around his audience and each time he plays a town, he calls on the local BLS Chapter to come out in force. And he gives them what they want. Beer soaked groove rock and metal.

“My Dying Day” is a full strength brewski. “Angel Of Mercy” for a ballad is also a full strength brewski. “Damn The Flood” has a Goddam wah-drenched solo section. So another brewski for that. “Empty Promises” is a double full strength brewski.

The Used – Imaginary Enemy

My first exposure to The Used was in the first Transformers movie and that car chase scene between Bumblebee and the Decepticon Police Car. I loved that riff, so I tracked down the soundtrack and found out that the song was called “Pretty Handsome Awkward” from a band called The Used. I really enjoyed the “Artwork” album.

And I have no idea what The Used is trying to achieve with this album. I’m hearing it and I am thinking about the latest Daughtry album that alienated the hard core fans in its quest for the One Direction and Train pop dollars.

In music, your only as good as the last song you released or the last album you put out or the last show you played.

Start getting a few D grades in both and expect your career to disappear.

At least their club and theater shows are selling out.

The takeaway.

A lot of time was invested to hear the sixty plus songs across the five albums and I only clicked the save button on my Spotify account 20 times. And then artists wonder why the fans cherry pick. And nine of them came from Sebastian Bach’s effort.

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