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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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Divided We Stand. But It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way.

Metallica resorted to a professional coach to get it together again. So did Aerosmith.

Motley Crue imploded at the peak of their powers with the firing of Vince Neil and then sued each other in the courts. Then when Vince Neil was back in, John Corabi was out and soon it was Tommy Lee that was out.

Bon Jovi and Megadeth resorted to group therapy. For Bon Jovi it was a way to keep the band together after “New Jersey” and for Megadeth it was a way to keep a stable line-up together.

Van Halen ousted David Lee Roth and there was a few years of bad mouthing each other. Then when Sammy Hagar was ousted, the feud turned ugly with both sides airing their dirty laundry.

Guns N Roses appetite for destruction more or less has the band as an Axl Rose solo project. According to Axl, “Slash is a cancer”. There was a lawsuit as well from Axl to Slash to stop the “It’s Five O Clock Somewhere” album as Axl claimed those songs were written for Guns N Roses by Slash.

Scott Weiland had a nasty split with his first act, Stone Temple Pilots (on more than one occasion) as well as with the Velvet Revolver project that featured Slash.

Sebastian Bach and Skid Row are still at loggerheads. Matt Kramer left Saigon Kick because he felt ripped off.

Machine Head and Adam Duce are in the courts because Adam Duce felt ripped off. Dave Lombardo is spitting venom at Slayer and their management team because he feels ripped off.

Paul Stanley went to town on Ace and Peter, calling them anti-semitic. Gene Simmons said that Ace and Peter didn’t deserve to wear the make up.

Dream Theater and Mike Portnoy ended their relationship abruptly.

And Rock and Roll was supposed to be fun. Yeah right, I hear people say.

The ugly truth is that the biggest obstacle standing between musicians and a career in music is the simple fact that we cannot get along.

Every band I have been in imploded because I was writing the music and the lyrics from the beginning. So when the other members realised that I am getting extra royalties and publishing moneys, then money becomes a factor and suddenly everybody wants to write a song or make suggestions to change a finished song just so they could a songwriting credit.

And I said NO a lot of times.

And that starts to put a strain on the relationship and the band dynamics. Eventually we became assholes to each other and one of the main commandments that I swear by is to “Don’t Be An Asshole”.

It’s easier said than done. Especially in metal and rock circles. You know, we are all alpha males in this business.

So how can we achieve a healthier band dynamic.

We need to handle criticism better. At one point in my life, the way I offered criticism wasn’t at all constructive and criticism towards me was seen as a personal attack.

Don’t be assholes to each other as everyone is replaceable.

True love of music is the best reward. Money is a byproduct.

Realise that if the guitarist does come in with a completed song, or an albums worth of songs, it’s okay. Same goes for the other musicians in the band. And if your song doesn’t make the cut, that is also okay.

If the band is a democracy, then happy creating, however let me tell you one truth. Bands that claim that their songwriting is a democracy are lying. There is always one that will be the boss.

Look at Van Halen. Songwriting credits originally showed Edward Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth. However it is a well-known fact that Eddie Van Halen wrote all the music and David Lee Roth wrote the lyrics, with little input from Van Halen’s rhythm section.

Slow and steady wins the race. Remember a music career is a lifers game.

You will get screwed by someone in the music business. Don’t let it get you down. Roll with it and learn from it.

In order to be seen or be heard, we need to stand united.

Don’t see every other artist or band as competition. The history of rock n roll shows that it was friendships and recommendations from other artists that broke artists to an audience. This is needed even more so in 2014.

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Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories

Cold Case – Connecting The Dots With Motley Crue And It’s Vocalist Problem.

“MOTLEY STILL SINGERLESS” is the headline from a news break item that did the rounds in an issue of Hot Metal from June 1992.

For everyone that had a vested interest in hard rock music knows, Motley Crue and Vince Neil parted ways in February 1992. The actual argument took place on February 11, 1992, with Motley Crue issuing the official statement on Neil’s departure on February 14, 1992.

Now from all evidence, it looks like the band started working with John Corabi immediately, from as earliest as February 17, 1992, however it wasn’t until September 27, 1992, that John Corabi officially signed a contract to be Motley Crue’s new lead vocalist. The below is from the June 1992, Hot Metal magazine and it is an update from Walt Woodward III (RIP);

In a conversation with Walt Woodward III, drummer with much touted and Hot Metal-approved The Scream, we just had to ask what exactly was going on with the band’s singer John Corabi? It seemed to those on the outside that just as The Scream was about to explode Down Under, John Corabi was gonna bail for Da Crue.

Well, as of April 15th no confirmation had been made. Says the very friendly Walt, “We’ve just finished recording a song with John. It’s for [MTV comedian] Paulie Shaw’s new movie Encino Man. Sure, Motley Crue are really interested in John. He’s been writing with them, and whether the songs end up on our album or the Crue’s is yet to be seen.”

Walt went on to explain that he was a big fan of dedication. Y’see, since becoming The Scream, John Corabi, Walt, Bruce Bouillet and John Alderette”…had really grown together, become good friends. I would hope that dedication would win through.”

If John was to bail from The Scream though, things would definitely go on. Says Walt, “We’ve all talked about it and if John did leave I can honestly say that there’s a couple of cool cats out there who’ve rung us up and will definitely blow some people away.”

The above is interesting for two reasons. As far as the guys in “The Scream” where concerned, the songs that John Corabi was working on, could have ended up on a Motley Crue album or a new Scream album. That would mean that even though John Corabi was working with Motley Crue, he was still technically or legally in The Scream.

This also goes against Nikki Sixx’s viewpoint on the matter that John Corabi was the only guy on the scene. The comments from Walt Woodward, gives some street cred to Sebastian Bach’s claim that he did in fact audition, as it was almost seven months from when Vince Neil left to when Motley Crue officially announced John Corabi as the replacement. The other vocalists that also auditioned are Stevie Rachelle from the band Tuff, Marq Torien from the band Bullet Boys and Stephen Shareaux from the band Kik Tracee.

Now if Sebastian Bach did audition in 1992, it would have had to have been between February 1992 and September 1992. Due to the fact that John Corabi had to wait until September to be officially recognised as the lead singer, it points to one thing; some reservations existed within the Motley Crue circle of managers, record label reps and road crew if John Corabi was the right man.

During the period December, 1991 and June 22, 1992, Skid Row was touring the U.S. Plenty of free days in between to tee up an audition.

From July 8, 1992 to August 11, 1992, Skid Row did a South American tour and wrapped up the month of August with an appearance at Castle Donnington in the U.K. Again, plenty of time to fit in an audition after the tour ended.

Skid Row didn’t hit the road again until October 1992 for a small Japanese tour and then they wrapped up the “Slave To The Grind” cycle, by supporting Guns N Roses on their “Use Your Illusion” Australian tour from January 30, 1993 to February 6, 1993. Of course by the time this cycle completed, Sebastian Bach had committed to Skid Row.

It is not uncommon for different theories to emerge when band members are replaced. Even Dream Theater got caught up in it, when the stories came out that Marco Minnemann got the Dream Theater drummer spot when Mike Portnoy left. That is why on the videos of the drummer audition that came out, you don’t see footage of Dream Theater telling Minnemann that he didn’t get the gig, however there was footage of when they told all the other drummers that auditioned they didn’t get the gig.

By connecting the dots, Marco Minnemann got the gig and then turned it down when he was told he needed to relocate to the other side of America.

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Alternate Reality, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Is Nikki Sixx A Revisionist?

When I was studying a subject called Science and Technology at Uni, one of the topics dealt with a term called “Whig history.” For the uninitiated, this term in pop culture means, looking back at the past, with the mindset and views that you have now, and rewriting the history to suit your view points at this point in time. Of course the meaning of Whig history is more detailed, however unpacking the full history behind it, in this blog, is for another day.

Anyway here is an example of a Whig history (especially made up by me for this blog post);
“Motley Crue changed the way bands would record music videos with the release of Smokin In the Boys Room in 1985. Their fearless leader, Nikki Sixx turned the clichéd video clip into a mini movie format. The rest of the music world needed to follow suit or they would be left behind. Video clips by Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Michael Jackson would all follow the new mini movie format made popular by Nikki Sixx.”

The above is factually incorrect. In addition, the time line of events are incorrect. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came first, in December 1983. Then in April 1984, Twisted Sister unleashed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and not soon after “I Wanna Rock.” Also in the same year came “Hot For Teacher” from Van Halen. “Smokin In The Boys Room” didn’t come until 1985.

The above example is to illustrate a revisionist view on history, that takes the view point of a “super hero” and how that super hero changed the course of the music industry.

First, let me say that I am a fan of Motley Crue. Growing up in the Eighties, Motley Crue and the attitude they exhibited was something that I could relate too. I have read “The Heroin Diaries”, “This Is Gonna Hurt” and “The Dirt”. I have also read “Tommyland” and “Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen.”

Since Motley Crue was the top band in the Eighties for me, I devoured as much information as I could on the band. This included taping interviews from all the various music shows, buying the expensive U.S magazines and trading with other hard rock fans in my local area. For example, I would give them a Poison poster and they would give me stuff on Motley Crue that I didn’t have.

So after reading the books above, especially the solo books, I was confused with some of the information that was put out there. Vince Neil’s is the worst one and his book was a very painful one to read. For the casual fan they wouldn’t notice these changes to the mythology of Motley Crue, however for the hard core, some things just didn’t sit right.

Doing the rounds at the moment are comments by Sebastian Bach. To recap, Bach claims that he was asked to join Motley Crue, before they fired Vince Neil. Nikki Sixx said that was not true. Bach took offence to that, you know that whole “don’t call me a liar” argument. In his rebuttal, Bach makes a reference to Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries” book as being inaccurate and he also mentions that a jam session took placed between Nikki, Tommy, Mick and Sebastian. Nikki Sixx has yet to respond to this. This isn’t the first time that Nikki Sixx’s version of events has been questioned.

John Corabi, the vocalist that ended up replacing Vince Neil has also disputed certain sections of “The Dirt.” In addition, Phil Lewis from L.A Guns has called “The Heroin Diaries” a fraud. The most famous of all rebuttals is Tom Werman’s which calls Nikki Sixx a “revisionist.” Even Dee Snider, in his opening forewarning of “Shut Up And Give Me The Mic” alludes to a book written by a junkie as not being factually correct.

So how much of the truth did Nikki Sixx tweak and re-envision for the sake of a story line?

At least the soundtrack to “The Heroin Diaries” was mind blowing.

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