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

1983 – VII – Choirboy Lemmy Is Making Contact With Slayer and Queensryche

The Vinyl Story

By 1994, the compact disc industry (CD) had taken over. The most cherished vinyl collections of people became a distant memory. Add to that list cassettes. But something unexpected also happened in 1994. The third album from Pearl Jam called “Vitalogy” was released on vinyl for the first two weeks. And it sold and it showed the recording industry that there is life in vinyl. Fast forward to 2017 and vinyl releases are now becoming the norm.

But in 1983, vinyl and cassettes ruled. But the story of vinyl is more nuanced. In the same way 1998 was the peak of the CD, 1978, was the peak of Vinyl, according to the RIAA. Sales of vinyl decreased each year after 1978 until 1993.

By 1983, the mighty cassette overtook vinyl sales and it stayed this way until 1991..

And speaking of vinyl, check out the back cover of the first Metal Massacre album. Look at the Ratt, Steeler and Metallica line up. Hard rock bands, metal bands and more abrasive metal bands are all together. United.

The Punk and Speed Metal Crossover Story

It all started with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. As Punk music became a commercial force in the late Seventies, metal bands had to adjust their sounds and tempo’s in order to compete with it. So even though most metal bands hated punk bands, there is no denying an unconscious influence on the metal genre. As the article at Vice states;

“Consciously or not, a lot of the anger, aggression and speed of punk started seeping into the music, and Iron Maiden even showed their mascot, Eddie, with punked-out, spiked red hair on the cover of the band’s debut album. NWOBHM bands also adopted the DIY ethic of the punk scene, putting out their own albums and singles instead of waiting for the mainstream to catch up to their sound and give them a record deal.”

In the State’s the crossover of punk and metal happened around 1983.

As the Vice article states, each band had a member who liked punk and brought it in.

“In Slayer, it was the late Jeff Hanneman, and in Anthrax it was Scott Ian (and it also has to be said that even though Cliff Burton was a bell-bottomed hippie, he had more of a punk attitude than anything). As Hanneman recalled in a 2004 documentary, “I was really into punk when we were getting together… I forced it on the other guys…I loved the speed and energy, but I didn’t want to go with just playing chord patterns all the time, because that’s basically what punk is. I wanted to make it fast with good, heavy riffs.”

So what a fitting way to being Part 7 of my 1983 series with Slayer’s “Show No Mercy”. If you want to get re-acquainted with the other parts, here they are.

For Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here. For Part 3, click here. For Part 4, click here. For Part 5, click here. For Part 6, click here.

Slayer – Show No Mercy
Slayer’s debut hits the shelves in 1983, but I didn’t actually hear it until the late 90’s. This whole thrash movement has one unsung hero in Brian Slagel and his Metal Blade label. It all started from the “Metal Massacre” compilation and it kept on growing. A whole genre owes its success to Slagel.

It was Slagel who saw Slayer opening a show for Bitch (a band that was on the original “Metal Massacre” album. Impressed, Slagel asked the band to submit a song for “Metal Massacre III”. Soon after, Slayer had a recording contract and a few months later, “Show No Mercy” hits the streets.

“We did it every night from 11PM to seven in the morning. It was the only time this guy could get away with charging us next to nothing. We paid him for his time and for the tape. ‘Here’s a $400 check.’ We spent $1,500 for it in total. Kerry borrowed money from his dad to pay for half, and I paid half.”
Tom Araya – Loudwire

Evil Has No Boundaries
When certain scenes happen, the majority of the bands have the same influences or similar influences, so they start to do the same thing as other bands and there is a lot of copying going on. You can hear the NWOBHM (Judas Priest and Iron Maiden) in Slayer, with a special nod to Venom and Danish metallers Mercyful Fate.

Can someone tell me the difference between “Whiplash” from Metallica and “Evil Has No Boundaries”?

Who cares anyway, both songs are relentless and anarchic. The next re-iteration of the “heavy metal thunder” was faster heavy metal thunder.

Lyrics in the song are written by Jeff Hanneman (RIP) and Kerry King, while King is responsible for the music.

Midnight has come and the leathers strapped on
Evil is at our command
We clash with God’s angel and conquer new souls
Consuming all that we can

I’ve always classed the “WE” in the song as a movement/musical culture. In this case, it’s the aggressive speed metal movement taking on the status quo.

Die by the Sword
It’s written by Jeff Hanneman (RIP) way before they were signed and it’s brilliant. The song has so many movements and so many different guitar styles/elements in it. It’s basically the style that Metallica would push even further between “Ride The Lightning” and “Justice For All”.

Mindless tyranny, forgotten victims

Governments create systems and Corporations create ways to make money from these systems. The Corporations then employ us to work. The banks then offer us ways to borrow from them and once we are in debt we are no better than slaves, the forgotten victims.

Metalstorm/Face the Slayer
The first 19 seconds is the embryo of the “Creeping Death” intro. James Hetfield or Kirk Hammett would have been influenced by it. Musically, it is a Kerry King composition and lyrically, it’s written by King and Hanneman

Your life is just another game

For the Corporations the game is to make money. How many lives they destroy in the process, is insignificant.

Queensrÿche

There is something unique about hearing the early recordings of bands. It could be the youthful enthusiasm or the fact that they wrote songs without thought of reward. When Queensryche started back in the early Eighties, they were called the Mob. Once they got management and a label interested, a simple search found another band with  that name.

“At the time, Chris DeGarmo, had the song “Queen of the Reich,” which was [inspired by] a nightmare that he’d had. We combined “queen” and “reich” and gave the result a new spelling. There weren’t many bands in the Q section of record stores back then, so that helped us stand out.”
Michael Wilton

Between 1981 and 1983, The Mob worked hard to save up enough cash to record a four-song EP. But they still couldn’t find a singer. They called up Tate who was still in the band Myth, and asked him to lay down the vocal tracks for the EP, and Tate agreed.

At the time of the recording, The Mob had three finished songs in “Queen of the Reich,” “Nightrider,” and “Blinded.” The music for another song was complete, but it had no lyrics. Tate liked the music and decided to write lyrics for it. The song would become “The Lady Wore Black.”

The completed EP generated a buzz in the Seattle scene, however major labels rejected it and Geoff Tate went back to Myth.

“We had four songs that we recorded at a local studio called Triad Studios. It was an eye-opener for us to be in such a big room and use analog tape and a big mixing board. We had a lot of fun, and it was a learning experience. Then we pressed about 20,000 EPs. Soon after, we got this amazing review in Kerrang! magazine, and that’s when everything took off. We all had day jobs—I was a resistor twister at this electronics place—and all of a sudden I hear “Queen of the Reich” on the local radio station. People thought it was some European band. They didn’t realize it was us!”
Michael Wilton 

It was the Kerrang review along with the sales of the EP that sealed Tate’s fate and he decided to leave Myth and join Queensryche full-time.

Queen of the Reich
While the demo was released in 1983, the songs are originally recorded in 1981. It’s a progressive metal composition that was way ahead of its time. The world also got to hear Geoff Tate, and they got to know one of the best songwriters in Chris DeGarmo via this song. I think it’s safe to say that Queensryche started off a New Wave Of American Metal Mastery.

“A lot of people don’t know about that song. A lot of people don’t care about that song. It’s an early song that was written and it shows. It’s funny the reaction you get, because it’s a lot of blank stares. In fact, it’s the same stare you get when you play a new song that nobody’s heard before. People just aren’t that familiar with it. Given there are a few hard-core fans that might know that song, or like that song, and know what it is, but the majority of the people there don’t. So it’s not really a song that I enjoy singing, strictly because, lyrically, it’s pretty adolescent. It was the first song written thirty-some-odd years ago and obviously I cannot relate to it anymore. I think, for performance, it’s always best for the performer to really believe in the material they’re singing or playing. If you don’t believe in it, it’s really difficult to get behind a song, do it well and do it at a level that comes across with any kind of believability. For me, I honestly can’t relate to the whole dungeons-and-dragons lyrical content of that song; it’s really cartoonish and juvenile to me”.
Geoff Tate 

While musically, the song is brilliant, it’s easy to understand why artists as they get older seem to steer away from certain songs because of the lyrics.

The Lady Wore Black

We sat for some time together in silence
Never speaking in words
Of all her thoughts she spoke with her eyes
And I listened remembering all I heard

All songs rooted in mysticism have their roots in real life situations and I am sure “The Lady Wore Black” would be no different. Hell, the verse above could be about a relationship going sour.

UFO – Making Contact
UFO is one of those bands who worked and toured quite hard and got stiffed on the money by managers and record labels. Even to this day, the re-releases of their classic albums just means a bigger pay-day to the record label instead of the songwriters.

To understand “Making Contact” you would need to go back to 1980 and Neil Carter is looking for a new gig, while still in “Wild Horses”. Phil Collen introduces Carter to UFO, who had just gotten rid of Paul Raymond. An audition was set up and Carter joined in the middle of recording “The Wild, The Willing and The Innocent”. Carter’s input came via backing vocals and the sax solo.

Then came the expensive “Mechanix” album, written and recorded at Queens’ studio in Montreux, Switzerland. After another commercial disappointment, Pete Way just stopped turning up and Paul Chapman with Neil Carter took over the bass duties for “Making Contact”.

“If there had been an offer I would have gone long before UFO made a move, to be honest. I have to credit them for giving me my first rock break, but the band were very limited on song writing ability and were always regarded as a pale THIN LIZZY clone. They were rock ‘n’ roll with a capital “R” and that led to some crazy times, poor performances and excess as you can imagine. I cannot imagine these days how I got through some of the situations that I was faced with over that period, and in UFO!”
Neil Carter

The line-up was Phil Mogg on vocals, Paul Chapman on guitars, Neil Carter on keyboards/bass and Andy Parker on drums while Gary Lyons was on board originally and then replaced by Mick Glossop as producer.

They had a bizarre way of working as a lot of the songs were basically written as backing tracks with little or no thought of the melodies or lyrics until Phil Mogg actually did the vocals. A lot of the tracks were written and formed in the studio which is rather an expensive way of doing things! Sad in a way, but we had to get on with it and musically it made no real difference, surprisingly. I read a few things that Pete said about the direction the music was heading and, under my influence, how there were more keyboards etcetera, but UFO had always tried different things in the studio, long before I joined. For “Making Contact” Paul [Chapman] and I had to take control and use the studio time effectively. We were a bit more organized on that one and spent several weeks writing at a hotel in Sussex before recording it at the Manor Studios in Oxfordshire. A lot of “Mechanix” was written in QUEEN’s studio in Montreaux… and that was expensive!
Neil Carter 

Blinded By A Lie
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg and it’s got a pretty wicked riff.

I got the information from a friend last night
And it looks so very different in black and white
I was “part of the second party”, that was me
Signed away my life, really couldn’t see

Is it about those dubious recording contracts artists signed in their quest for fame.

Call My Name
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg.

I met you watching the cars go by
You were there, every night, at the corner of elm and vine
And you had nothing to hide
For just a few bucks and you know it’s a free ride

One of the biggest problems for UFO was their lyrics. In 1983, we wanted the “rebellious, standing up to the authority” lyrics. Instead Mogg is singing about being in love with a lady of the street.

All Over You
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg.

Dumb lyrics ruin a good musical song.

By 1983, UFO was playing the MTV catch up game and their past 70’s success was not enough to keep them going, so it was no surprise that they disbanded. Billy Sheehan started off the “Making Contact” tour, but things didn’t go too well and after Phil Mogg performed wasted in Athens, Greece, UFO was no more.

Motorhead – Another Perfect Day
Another band that was playing the MTV catch up game was Motorhead. Although Lemmy was a legend of all legends, the Chuck Norris of the metal world, he wasn’t a superstar in a commercial sense and would never really become one. But the man had a way with words. Eventually, he would make more money writing lyrics for Ozzy than what he did with Motorhead.

Here is a quick snapshot of some golden words in each track from “Another Perfect Day”.

I really like this jacket but the sleeves are much too long
From “Back At The Funny Farm”
Lemmy’s take on a straight jacket.

Bet ya thought I wouldn’t have no style
From “Shine”
Don’t judge Lemmy based on his looks and appearance.

But you know you ran out of money
Wound up on your knees
From “Dancing On Your Grave”
A Lemmy tale for a cold winters night, about Lemmy’s favourite topic, a woman out of money and resorting to a career on her knees to make it through.

Rock’n’roll music gonna stop the world
From “Rock It”
The start instantly reminds me of “Under The Blade” from Twisted Sister. I would have used the words, rock and roll music gonna change the world.

Two faced women, two black eyes
From “One Track Mind”
The social lynch mobs would tear this line apart for promoting violence against women.

The truth is only black and white
No shade of grey
From “Another Perfect Day”
The legal profession deals with the grey.

Never rise again, we lost a million friends
From “Marching Off To War”
World War 1 and the end of worlds’ innocence.

Here’s the story, there’s only me
From “I Got Mine”
Damn right, it’s only Lemmy and no one else.

You’ll find that I’m real bad luck
From “Tales Of Glory”
It’s as heartfelt as Lemmy would get.

Deal with the misfits, wipe ’em out
From “Die You Bastard”
Lemmy’s take on governments trying to wipe out the punks.

Musically, this album is excellent. The problem was MTV and Motorhead didn’t fit the MTV bill of marketable bands that looked good on video. So Motorhead would be that cult band that is forever respected but not as commercially successful as they should be.

Heavy Pettin – Lettin Loose

“Glasgow in the 1970s was all about learning through meeting people, going to gigs (Nazareth included), running around wild, listening to KISS, getting drunk and learning to play guitar, and meeting lovely creatures that produce little people from their insides. Most of my learning about music came from three distinct places during the 70s: The Glasgow Apollo (an amazing place to experience live music at the time), Listen Records, and my mates Mick and Stu (incidentally, I played in a band with these guys – we almost started World War III in Scotland with our band the Criminal Minds). Had it not been for these three elements I’d have struggled with learning about music and the music business. Glasgow itself was made up of many crazy people who lived in dreary rundown council estates. I was born in the backroom of a tenement house on one of those estates in a place called Castlemilk. I remember Castlemilk as a place of violence and early deaths. I also remember it as a place of adventure.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Heavy Pettin are from Scotland and “Lettin Loose” is their debut album. Brian May was on board to produce and then disappoint three-quarters of the band with the final product. Roger Taylor was even asked to leave the room as his presence intimidated Punky Mendoza from recording a lead.

“When I joined Pettin the band was actually called Weeper. But it was only used as a transitional band name. I only played in one band before Pettin. It was basically a bedroom headache called Zero Trap. Incidentally, if you have heard of the band The Almighty, the original guitarist, Tantrum, was the bass player in Zero Trap.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Music is a lifers game. You can’t enter it when you want and expect something gold to happen. It’s a long process full of highs and lows.

“We actually did better in America than anywhere else. The name was accepted in America without any problems. The record company had better fries to cook than Pettin. That was why we never made it in the States.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza 

A lot of people asked why Heavy Pettin never made it. Was it the band name, was it the lack of a single or as a record label exec would say, was it the “Minnie Mouse on helium voice of their lead vocalist”.

In the 80’s, for a band to make it, they needed a large push from their record label. If that didn’t happen, their recorded product would not get out to listeners. I didn’t hear Heavy Pettin until the 90’s, when I picked up their first two albums in a second-hand record shop.

“There is no doubt at all that most of the band wanted to sound like a Mutt Lange production. In fact, partly due to the influence of Def Leppard, Pettin lost the chance to be managed by Peter Mensch and Cliff Burnstein – Leppard’s management team at that time.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Why have two of the same acts, especially when Def Leppard in 1983 are still very current and active.

In And Out of Love
The first 17 seconds sets up the song by using minor key (sad) with major key (happy). Overall, it’s a great song musically and the Chorus is pretty cool.

As a bonus, the “Minnie Mouse on helium voice” was not really relevant on album number 1, but it would be on Album number 2.

(In and out of love) she told me she loved me
(But love is not enough) oh, lead me away
(In and out of love) I’ve gone all to pieces
She can’t hear a word that I say

It’s a cool Chorus. Nothing original, but melodically its good.

Victims Of The Night
The 90 second intro is quality metal and for any people who said to me that Heavy Pettin is too light for them, I always tell them to check out this song. Because for 1983 standards, this song is as metal as it gets.

Can you hear the cries as they scream out in the night
The children live in fear, the victims of the night
(Raging like thunder) flashes line the sky
(They’re going under) too many young were born to die

The only time the title of the song is mentioned, and that’s in the first verse.

Take no prisoners
No-one stands in your way
Fight for your life here today

It seems like that every single day, especially right now. We are all so over committed with our banks/lenders, it’s a fight every day to keep a roof over our heads. Our leaders like to make war and in the process invite war back to the streets of suburbia. The war on drugs has been going on since the 70’s and almost 50 years later, more drugs are on the streets than ever before.

Rock Me

(They’re out there waiting) anticipating
(No turning back now) so get on with the show

The Rock N Roll show.

Once upon a time everyone could get a ticket at a reasonable price. Today, everyone can get a ticket at a premium price and depending on which credit card company you are with, you might have access to early pre- sales.

Roll The Dice

It’s basically a speed metal song.

You can’t get it all in your life
It’s the way you roll the dice

Damn right. Small actions each day lead to great changes in the future.

For an audience that was eating up the pseudo-Satanic barbed-wire pop metal of Crue’s Shout at the Devil, Pettin’s breezy melodic rock didn’t quite deliver the goods.
Classic Rock Magazine 

Choirboys

“We used to rehearse in a friend’s parents’ garage. Then we went into a shop that was in a deserted building that we rented from somebody for about a year. We did recordings in there and we did rehearsals there. That was at Rosebery in Sydney. It was a classic garage band. We literally rehearsed in a garage.”
Mark Gable

Choirboys is an Australian band, formed in 1976 on the Northern Beaches, about 90 minutes away from where I live on the Southern Beaches. By 1983, they had a record deal with Albert Productions, after a demo found its way to George Young.

“And then George rang me up and said ‘I like what you’re getting together Mark’ and away we went… And then there was no turning back. As George described it, ‘you’re on the treadmill’ and it’s a wonderful treadmill.”
Mark Gable

As soon as they got some momentum going, Mark Gable’s vocal cords ruptured and 1984/85 was spent in hiatus. Of course, once “Run to Paradise” came out in 1987, the Choirboys, would go on to fulfil the potential they showed 4 years earlier.

Never Gonna Die
“Never Gonna Die” is the lead single from their self-titled debut.

When the Fridays bring the weekends
The night will be our home again

It’s a pub rock song, about playing in a pub. You can’t get any more Aussie then that. Maybe our PM Turnbull can add Pub Rock to his list of Australian values.

The smell of beer and perfume

All of these places still smell on beer and perfume and whatever else ends up on the floor these days.

I don’t live for music, no
I say I live for rock ‘n’ roll
We won’t let them push us
We won’t let them touch us

It’s a melodic rock anthem.

Other tracks of note on the debut album is the AC/DC inspired “Talk Big” with some cool lyrics about people I am sure we have all come across in our lives.

And I’ve seen you kiss the feet
Of someone better than you

Yes, how many of those people have we met in life?

Well you Talk Big
But you ain’t got nothing to say
All that big talk
But your mouth gets in the way

In the end, all of that big talk lends to empty houses and loneliness.

Your With The Big Boys Now (Carrie)
The riffs in this song are brilliant and it’s got some tasty shred at the end.

You’re sleeping with a rock star
You’re with the big boys now

It’s all about trying to grow up to fast.

Fight by the Book

Another tasty guitar lead over an AC/DC inspired rhythm.

He gets his clothes
At the best store
He gets his hair cut for free
He never walks with the riff raff
He wouldn’t like to talk to me

We are the riff raff and we are the ones that drive society and culture. It would be great if we all realised it.

Bull Shit

I say the politics
Well they’re lunatics
They say it’s right
But we know it’s wrong
Spread the word

It’s all just
Bull shit to me

We used to call it once upon a time. These days, we still like to call it, however with social media and the need for everyone to be liked, we are hesitant.

On Twitter I see Zoltan Bathory get into a few exchanges with followers/trolls on his political and social views. Robb Flynn calls out Anselmo for racism and he gets his life threatened. Artists who supported Clinton, slam Trump and his followers and alienate a percentage of their fan base who voted for Trump.

Saxon – Power And The Glory

It’s their fifth studio album produced by Jeff Glixman and their last album on Carerre before their supposedly big money move to EMI Records in 1984.

Well, I always thought that was one of our best albums, because it was great to do it. We did it in Atlanta with Axis Studios with a guy called Jeff Glixman, and Jeff was great to work with, because he was sort of a pretty easy-going type, but he knew how to keep the band happy. So we’d go into the studio, and…he was a keyboard player and he’d have his Hammond organ, and he’d just say, “C’mon, let’s go jam some songs!” So we’d be there jamming some songs, and then he’d get off the keyboard, run into the control room, and say, “Right, we’re gonna do a take now!”
Steve Dawson from Saxon 

That’s a cool vibe to have recording an album, but not so cool when the band is forking out the cost of the recording. No wonder bands never recoup.

But Jeff got a good vibe out of us. But I could never understand why the critics didn’t like it, to be honest. It didn’t get really great reviews. But I like it. “Watching the Skies” is one of my favourites. And the actual title track, “Power and the Glory,” is brilliant to play live, absolutely. One of the best things ever.
Steve Dawson from Saxon 

The Power And The Glory
It kicks off the album with a riff that would have influenced Iron Maiden’s “Two Minutes To Midnight”.

The General says we’ll will win the war,
Just sacrificed a thousand more

We just commemorated Anzac Day in Australia and if you read Anzac history, you will see how the British Generals sent the soldiers of their Commonwealth countries into battle first. While the young men got cut down by machine gun fire, the Generals watched from afar, safe from all the hell.

Nightmare
This song has got a cool groove.

That my nightmare begins where reality ends

“Take the blue pill or the red pill”, Morpheus said to Neo.

The Eagle Has Landed
It’s very Sabbathy in the Intro, just plodding along and building. And when the very “Stormbringer” influenced riff from Deep Purple comes in, it’s time to bang that head. Actually, when I heard “The Outlaw Torn” from Metallica, I immediately thought of “The Eagle Has Landed” from Saxon. The songs are very similar in structure.

The world’s in celebration
As we wait for your return
You took a giant leap for mankind
On another, on another world

The moon landing fascinated people. After another half a dozen more trips, the moon trips got canned. People got bored and didn’t really care anymore.

I had Helix, Great White, HSAS, Krokus, Arc Angel and I-Ten on this list as well, but the albums are not on Spotify Australia, so no commentary about them.

And if you want to listen to 1983-Part 7, click here.

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Music

Clash Of The Titans

I watched the Big Four DVD recently. I know, I’m about 4 years late to the party, however after seeing those bands live on numerous occasions, I didn’t think it was essential viewing. And I was right. It wasn’t essential viewing.

Regardless of the quality of the live performances, the Big 4 got me thinking about the “Clash Of The Titans” tour that took place back in the early Nineties. After Metallica’s self titled”Black” album blew up all over the charts a funny thing happened in the recording business. The major labels started spending a lot of money to get thrash bands away from their independent labels and onto the major label roster. These labels then spent a lot of money to record new albums from Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax and Testament. They started to put some serious dollars behind the music videos and the marketing. Some of these clips bordered on hilarious. Testaments “Electric Crown” comes to mind immediately. The clip just didn’t make sense at all with the palm tree paradise like landscape interspersed with footage of a dude that looks like he’s got issues.

Regardless Thrash Metal was strong.

Suddenly bands on independent labels became major label stars. The sub-genre was growing at an exponential rate. Albums from artists that got caught up in the wave were selling 500,000 copies and then a million plus copies. MTV played their videos and the movement skipped borders and went global.

Which brings me to “The Clash Of The Titans” tour.

The first iteration in 1990 featured Megadeth, Slayer, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies. The second iteration in 1991 featured Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax, as headliners. The funny thing is that a lot of people would probably be surprised to hear that a future superstar band in Alice In Chains was opening.

And how ironic is that. The opening act would end up catching the next musical wave and they would become bigger than all of the thrash acts that they opened for on that tour.

What the tour went on to show was “where do these bands go from here?” All of the bands (except for Suicidal Tendencies and Alice In Chains) had this technical and fast music which was commercially popular but also running low on quality. Metallica stopped re-writing the same record over and over again. Alex Skolnick in the Thrash Metal episode of the Metal Evolution series said it the best;

They made a record that sounded as big as any pop album.

Suddenly, Exodus, Testament, Megadeth and Anthrax all tried to follow the Metallica blueprint. The pressure from their major label backers was relentless. For a lot of these bands, the money aspect proved to be a game changer. Slayer on the other hand, stayed true to their extreme ways.

But then the commercial wave crashed down, and a lot of the bands that had major label deals started to get dropped, or break up.

Fast forward to 2015, all of those bands are around in some shape or form. With different members, but still thrashing.

“Man In The Box” from Alice In Chains has about 11.2 million streams on Spotify. Megadeth’s “Symphony Of Destruction” has over 6.5 million streams. “Madhouse” from Anthrax has 1.8 million streams. “Raining Blood” from Slayer has almost 9 million streams. “Electric Crown” has 721,000 streams.

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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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Music

Some Hard “Music Business” Truths – Dave Lombardo, Tom Araya and Band Agreements

Dave Lombardo hasn’t been silent when it comes to the financial “behind the scenes” happenings of Slayer. It doesn’t matter on which side you are on in this argument, one thing that is true is that these kinds of issues are real. Bands cannot exist without a band agreement in place. And when a Band Agreement is drawn up there are a few main players in it.

1. The Band themselves
2. The Manager
3. The Lawyer
4. The Accountant

Musicians are always taken for a ride when it comes to management, lawyers and accountants. The whole Adam Duce vs Machine Head saga is down to the same questions that Dave Lombardo is asking. What happened to all of that money that was grossed?

Let’s look at some of Lombardo’s claims.

He claims that in 2011, the band Slayer grossed $4.4 million and that he only earned $67,000. He also claims that he earned that same amount from the band when he rejoined the band. Sounds like a pretty shitty employment contract if you ask me.

So what do we know about 2011?

In 2011, Slayer played 62 shows based on the website Setlist.fm. Doing some simple math, Lombardo came away with $1080 per show. For a lot of independent musicians this is a nice pay-day for the whole band, however in this case it is for an individual in a band that grosses over $4 million dollars.

Now let’s do some math around the gross earnings per show from Slayer. In order to do the math, I searched the internet for a Slayer Billboard Boxscore and I found one.

Slayer in November 2013 played a show in Winnipeg, Canada and the gross sales for the show came to $57,100 and the venue was half full. The data is available on the lambgoat.com blog. So let’s just say that $60,000 gross is an average intake for a Slayer show. Multiple that gross amount by the 62 shows and you get a figure of $3.72 million. Add merchandise, licensing, publishing and royalties and you get close to the $4.4 million mark. So it is safe to say that Slayer is a million dollar business. And Dave Lombardo was just paid $67,000.

Back in February, 2013, Lombardo first announced his findings that 90% of Slayer’s tour income was being deducted as expenses, leaving 10% for the band to split amongst the four of them.

Again, going back to the math, if Slayer grossed $4.4 million, that would mean that $4 million went to expenses and $400,000 was left to be split between the original 4 members (I am assuming that the touring guitarist “Gary Holt” is part of the Expenses). So Dave Lombardo gets $67,000. That leaves $333,000 to split amongst 3. $111,000 each sounds about right.

Tom Araya claimed Dave was a working member of the band and never a partner, making mention that when Dave joined again during the ‘Christ Illusion’ album, Slayer offered Dave a contract with the band, hence the $67K amount.

This is in contrast to Lombardo’s claims who also mentions that Araya got his silence bought, when management handed over a lot of money to go against Lombardo. Lombardo claims that he was a percentage holder within the band and all that he asked for was to see the detailed expenses.

The thing is Araya is pulling a double face here, as he blasted the band’s management when it came to Jeff Hannemann’s tributes. This is what he said in an interview on Classic Rock;

“I wanted to do more – I was hoping to do more. But the nature of the business… the management gets involved in anything we do and they fucked it up. I’m throwing them under the bus. It really upset me, because it would have been more than just that.”

Money talks. Slayer is a machine that is all about the business and making profit. The person that has the cash has the leverage and in this case, the Slayer management team has that leverage. So why would they use some of the cash that Slayer earns to pay a tribute to the most important member of Slayer. Jeff Hannemann gave them all a career with his great songwriting skills.

It’s bad enough that record labels rip off artists. It’s bad enough that accountants, managers and lawyers rip off artists. But it is the worse when band mates rip off band mates.

If Kerry King and Tom Araya stuck with Dave Lombardo, they would have had the leverage. It’s like the Machine Head song, “Who We Are”.

DIVIDED WE STAND.

But it should be UNITED WE STAND.

In the same way that the audience all stood united to watch the original four at the Horden Pavillion in Sydney back in 2007, with Mastodon opening.

http://loudwire.com/dave-lombardo-claims-only-made-67000-slayer-4-million-gross-2011/
http://loudwire.com/slayer-tom-araya-elaborates-dave-lombardo-exit/
http://loudwire.com/slayer-tom-araya-why-dave-lombardo-ousted/

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Uncategorized

The Development Of Zoltan Bathory – Grit and Determination

Raw talent has to mature. So what we have is the artists that stick with music and mature themselves. All the other wannabes got out when they realised that there sole purpose of being involved in music was driven by money and fame. So when those artists that do stick around break through, guess what happens. The majors come knocking with big money.

It is interesting to hear or read about an artist’s development and the things they did to get to where they are today.

If you look at the Wikipedia page for Zoltan Bathory, the earliest musical output you get is from 2004, where he played bass in the band “U.P.O”. However his story begins a long time, in communist Hungary.

So he grows up in a country where the average person is making pennies. In dollars speak it was like a hundred dollars a month. It doesn’t leave a lot of money lying around for guitars, amplifiers and record purchases. He wants to be a heavy metal guitarist, however that music is censored. He wants to be a heavy metal guitarist but he doesn’t speak English. He is basically trying to succeed in a genre that doesn’t technically have a voice in communist Hungary.

You can see already the grit and determination exhibited by Zoltan just to even get to America. Compared that with people who are cruising on sub-standard effort and constantly told that everything they do is great. You can see that an edge exists in Zoltan’s corner.

Determination has been part of Zoltan’s mindset since childhood. I remember reading an interview that his parents enrolled him in judo classes in an attempt to temper his schoolyard aggression and how that discipline has served him well as he got older.

So he puts together a band that would become Five Finger Death Punch. The band is his first thought in the morning and his last thought at night. He lived and breathed the band. Even the style of music that Five Finger Death Punch produce wasn’t very popular at the time. It was Hard Rock, merged with Thrash Metal, merged with Death Metal and classic Euro Heavy Metal.

I have heard bands like Accept, W.A.S.P., Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Death, Possessed and Annihilator mentioned as early influences.

It was all underground. They had no label but they had people connecting with them on MySpace in the thousands. The record labels started to take notice as this underground band where getting more views and plays than their major label artists.

The first album was recorded on their own. They produced it and paid for it. The version that we all got to hear was the Five Finger Death Punch version. The label at the time just picked it up and released it.

If you look at Five Finger Death Punch in 2013, every single member came from bands that had some level of recognition before. Jason Hook goes back to the late Eighties and early Nineties, with ties to hard rock bands, plus various session work and backing bands for pop stars.

Ivan Moody goes back to the mid Nineties before achieving some recognition with Motograter and his side project Ghost Machine.

Drummer Jeremy Spencer has a similar story to Jason Hook. Hard Rock bands are attached to their stories.

Bassist Chris Kael was doing the Las Vegas circuit with various bands and had made enough contacts to vouch for him when the Five Finger Death Punch bass auditions happened.

They took a risk on their music. They gambled. They didn’t know it would resonate and connect with people the way it did. If the music is good, there’s a ton of money to be made. Not all of that money would be on recorded music.

Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they DID THE WORK…
Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they kick ass…
Five Finger Death Punch are winning because they rock each place they visit…

That’s the way rock and roll works.

Life is tough and no one is owed nothing.

People want bands to make a living because we all want to be involved in some way. It makes us feel good on helping artists by going to a show, buying some merchandise or by purchasing their recorded product.

Remember that all of the music that Five Finger Death Punch has released is available on line for free to either stream, view or illegally download. Yet, they still sell. Funny that.

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Uncategorized

The State Of Heavy Metal

There it is again. Heavy metal. It doesn’t matter how many times the labels tried to kill it, mainstream it or commercialize it, Heavy Metal has remained consistent from when it began. Whenever pop music becomes pretentious, heavy metal rises up as an alternative answer.

What does the term “heavy metal” mean?

Black Sabbath started something in 1969 in the UK. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin started something on the hard rock front. In the U.S you had Kiss, Styx, Ted Nugent, Journey. In Australia, you had a pub rock band called AC/DC. Progressive Rock became a force to be reckoned with on the backs of Pink Floyd, ELP, Genesis and Yes.

By the mid Seventies, disco, punk and new wave became the darlings of the scene and heavy metal and all forms of rock went underground again, waiting for the day to rise again.

Then came the New Wave of British Heavy Metal between 1979 and 1983. At the same time, hard rock, glam metal and speed metal roared out of the Los Angeles and San Francisco scene. Think Motley Crue, Ratt, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.

When heavy metal and hard rock drops off the mainstream scene, it is never gone for long. Heavy Metal is the answer to all things corrupt. It is the soundtrack.

Typically most metal fans come from working-class homes or changed family dynamics. According to a recent study, all us metal heads must have low self-esteem, because that is why we listen to metal music.

The mainstream always ignored metal music, seeing it as too dumb. Of course, when a band breaks through, the mainstream are the first group of media outlets to jump on the wagon. Remember Metallica. Ignored by the mainstream completely. The only mainstream press they got was the sad and tragic death of Cliff Burton. Then the Black album comes out and it is undeniable. It’s a juggernaut and everyone wanted to be a part of it.

So here is the list of the current state of heavy metal.

CLASSIC EVERYTHING

Rush – enough said. Move on.

AC/DC – enough said times two.

CLASSIC METAL

Iron Maiden – they need another great album like “Brave New World” soon or they will be playing to smaller and smaller audiences with each tour.

Metallica – they need to start making better decisions and they need to release new music. Look at their decision-making process. A project with Lou Reed (RIP) that just didn’t connect with the fan bases of each party involved and an $18 million dud of a movie. In relation to new music, they can only go back to the same market place year after year before the fans get burned on it.

Megadeth – Dave Mustaine said on “The Metal Show” that his top five Megadeth albums are “Countdown To Extinction”, “Rust In Peace”, “Peace Sells”, “So Far So Good So What” and “Killing Is My Business”. He needs to have a current album in that Top 5.

Slayer – are finished in relation to new music without Jeff Hanneman. He was the main songwriter in Slayer, full stop. To hear Kerry King saying that if the Jeff Hanneman music in the archives is not good, it will be not used is a load of B.S. Who made Kerry King the gatekeeper?

Judas Priest – is not Judas Priest anymore. It’s all about the dollars.

Black Sabbath – is all about the last paycheck. Anyone remember the recent album? Name me the whole track list without Googling it. I bet if i asked you to name me the whole track list on “Paranoid” or “Heaven And Hell” I would get an answer.

Pantera – lets hope that no one is stupid enough to reform Pantera with a “guitarist” paying tribute to Dimebag. Stick to your guns Vinnie. Pantera died completely when Dimebag died.

CLASSIC ROCK

Led Zeppelin is still big business in the market place. That is what the mighty Zep has become. A Corporate entity.

Pink Floyd are on hiatus however Roger Waters is still doing the rounds. He is the real deal anyway.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same market places year after year since 2008. The fans are getting burnt on this grab for cash as no new music has been forthcoming expect for the song “Sex”. The movie and the farewell tour are constantly dropped to the public.

Deep Purple should call it a day. They are out of ideas and inspiration.

Styx, Journey, Toto and Night Ranger are shadows of their former selves, doing enough to make a living in the current music business, but out of touch of what the music business fans want from their artists today. Which is a direct line, a connection.

THRASH/GROOVE METAL

Machine Head is the leader in this group. In Robb Flynn, they have a work horse of epic proportions who has the grit to see things through.

Trivium are real contenders. Say what you will about them, one thing is clear; they are not afraid to try new shit out and take risks.

METAL (all styles)

Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch lead this group. They are ticking all the boxes. They have the sales on the board and both are part of the public conversation.

Bullet For My Valentine – have a great album in them. Can they write it?

Stone Sour – should have released one album instead of two.

Sevendust – I love them and the new album was a welcomed return to form.

Disturbed – The Device album had the same impact as the last Disturbed album. Do they still have a place in the Metal world?

Heartist – could be the next big thing or they could crash and burn with their next album as now they have a record label A&R department in their house.

ROCK (all styles)

Shinedown are the new ROCK GODS. Volbeat are not that far behind with Black Veil Brides and Skillet as decent contenders.

Eve To Adam – released a great rock album but no one has heard it.

Buckcherry – veterans of the scene and play to a niche.

Thirty Seconds To Mars – took too long to release a good album. If you are going to take 4 years between releases, you need to release a great album.

Airbourne – fill the AC/DC void when AC/DC is on hiatus.

Alter Bridge – are an experienced team that deliver consistently.

One Less Reason – great music, great songs however if people buy a physical product from them, they need to deliver.

10 Years – a great fan funded release in 2012. Now they need to make some hard decisions. Do they go the fan funded route again or do they seek to get a deal or something entirely different.

DO IT YOURSELF ROCK

Digital Summer – they run their band as a company that puts money back into the band and they still hold down jobs that gives them money for living.

Burnside – released a great album that no one has heard.

Vaudeville – another band that released a great album.

SUPER GROUP

The Night Flight Orchestra – If you haven’t heard “Internal Affairs” from 2012 you need to. TNFO is made up of melodic death metal bands playing classic rock and metal.

PROGRESSIVE METAL/ROCK

Tool – it’s going to be an event when the new Tool album comes out. Is it too late? Time will tell.

Coheed and Cambria – can’t do nothing wrong currently. Excellent double releases, plus great fan perks.

Dream Theater – are doing their best to maintain the success they achieved 10 years ago. Need a great album otherwise it’s bye bye.

TesseracT, Protest The Hero and Periphery are the new leaders of Progressive Music.

Today I Caught The Plague, Sound of Contact, Op Shop, Scale The Summit and Lizzard are rookies to take notice off.

METALCORE (MELODIC DEATH METAL)

Killswitch Engage are firing on all guns.

In Flames need to bring out new music.

All That Remains needs to head back to the studio.

The rest of the bands in this movement need a re-think.

SYMPHONIC METAL/ROCK

Within Temptation – enough said

DEATH METAL

Lamb of God – they are angry and they are pissed off. A bullshit murder trial and banned in a South East Asian country by ignorant pricks.

SHOCK

One final mention; “Du, Du Hast, Du Hast mish a fraud.” Rammstein has a dicka, so let’s get together, what is the problem?

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Who Is the Real Star? The Band Name or the Personnel In The Band

There is an article doing the rounds at the Hollywood Reporter about how “The Walking Dead” is TV’s number 1 show and that the stars of the show are still largely unknown.

So it got me thinking. I was very interested to check out the show based on my love of the Horror genre. Once I checked it out, I was hooked. I didn’t start watching the show because they had certain actors in it. The only actor I was aware of was Daryl’s brother and that was from the movie Cliffhanger with Stallone and that was after watching a few episodes. So I got into the show because i was a fan of the horror genre.

However I got into “Sons Of Anarchy” because hard-core friends eventually got me to invest some time in it.

The point I am trying to make is that we get into certain TV shows, movies or artists based on a thousand different reasons. One thing is clear; we don’t get into these cultural icons because of the people in them.

For example, when Metallica started on the scene, no one was walking around saying that they got into Metallica because James Hetfield was such a cool cat or Lars Ulrich was the man. We got into Metallica for multiple reasons. For example, we were fans of the metal genre, the songs connected with us; we wanted to be part of the conversation and so on. From the outset, we become fans because of the music we hear.

That is what culture is all about. Sharing stories about the things we love.

Of course some outliers do exist and some artists have a cultural influence that transcends their music. They become institutions themselves. For example, Slash is now a cultural institution. Ozzy Osbourne is a cultural institution albeit with a lot of help from his “friends”. Nikki Sixx is a cultural institution. Robb Flynn is a cultural institution. Dee Snider is a cultural icon. These artists can all survive on their own. They are brand names themselves.

It’s taken Slash almost 14 years from when he left Gunners to re-establish and re-brand himself as a force to be reckoned with. That happened in 2010 with the release of his solo album and with a little help from his friends.

Randy Rhoads and Bob Daisley helped Ozzy Osbourne break the shackles of Black Sabbath. Jake E. Lee and Phil Soussan enhanced what Randy Rhoads and Bod Daisley created. Zakk Wylde turned it all into a blockbuster with “No More Tears” being the pinnacle.

Nikki Sixx re-invented himself and Motley Crue by first gaining control of Motley Crue’s back catalogue from Elektra Records. A task that no other artist had accomplished before. Then he pushed for the writing of “The Dirt”. Since then, he has become a solo artist with Sixx AM, a song writer for other artists, a social media junkie, a photographer, a literary writer and a radio personality.

Robb Flynn showed the world that he can survive. He really went out of his comfort zone recently and performed acoustically. He survived the “Through The Ashes of Empires” era and lived to tell the tale. Talk about Grit and Roll. It was music all the way, with no safety net. No plan B. His Journals are pure gold. Even if you don’t like Machine Head’s music, you can still appreciate the Journal Ramblings. For any artist starting off, there is information in there that is real. There is information there that is not sugar-coated by a mainstream writer.

Dee Snider, what else can be said. Read his bio.

These artists have all connected with us on different levels. They have become so large in people’s lives that they have become cultural institutions themselves. We then stick with these institutions through the good times and the bad times.

So what about all the other artists. Well for the remainder of the artists it is still about the music. They need to have the music pumping out and they need to make connections.

Dee Snider once said that there are no more rock stars in this day and age. I took that to mean, that in the internet age, there are no real recognizable faces to put to certain bands. While I agree with that comment in parts, I also disagree with it.

For example, Coheed and Cambria has Claudio Sanchez. Watch them live and you get to see the hair. Instantly recognizable.

Five Finger Death Punch has Zoltan Bathory with the dreadlocks and the UFC/mixed martial arts look. They have Ivan Moody and the Mohawk.

Shinedown has Brent Smith, who performs like an adrenaline injected Steve Tyler.

Black Veil Brides have, well they have the whole band.

Avenged Sevenfold have Eighties rock star stage names with instantly recognisable faces.

However if any of the band members in the above mentioned bands, decide to go on their own, it will be a tough slog for them as the bands they are in have all become cultural institutions. Then you have a band like Protest The Hero who look like normal guys going to University.

So going back to “The Walking Dead”. The show is the rock star. That is the cultural institution.

So for any wannabe rock stars, think about all of the above for a second. No one is going to wake up tomorrow morning and think to themselves, “damn, I want to hear some music from Zoltan Bathory, or “Insert New Artist name here””.

We wake up in the morning and think to ourselves, “damn, we want to hear some Five Finger Death Punch. We wake up and go “damn its “The Walking Dead” tonight.”

That is what a lot of misguided artists fail to grasp when they leave a certain cultural institution citing musical differences. They (meaning the person) were never the stars. The band name is the star and it always will be.

That is why Guns N Roses is still rolling along, playing to large audiences.

That is why Tommy Lee returned to Motley Crue.

That is why James Hetfield returned to Metallica after rehab. That is why Lars Ulrich never contemplated anything else except Metallica during this period.

That is why Dave Mustaine resurrected Megadeth after he disbanded the band.

That is why Dimebag didn’t want Pantera to end. He knew that Pantera was the star.

That is why David Lee Roth worked with Van Halen again. That is why Sammy Hagar wants to work with Van Halen again.

That is why Alex Skolnick returned to Testament.

That is why there is a fight over who owns the right to the Queensryche name.

That is why Benjamin Burnley went all legal for the right to use the Breaking Benjamin name.

That is why Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned to Iron Maiden.

That is why Rob Halford returned to Judas Priest.

That is why Black Sabbath reformed with three of the original members and released ’13’.

That is why bands like Ratt, Quiet Riot, Dokken, Poison and Skid Row are still continuing.

That is why Joey Belladonna returned to Anthrax and why Scott Ian is still continuing the band.

That is why Slayer is continuing without Jeff Hanneman.

To finish off with the immortal words of Ronnie James Dio “And on and on and on and on it goes….”

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