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

Blabbermouth The Sequel – Music Is Melody and Improvisation Is A Genesis Of Composition

The website Classic Rock Revisited conducted an interview with Yngwie Malmsteen recently. The interview was aimed at promoting Malmsteen’s new biography. Malmsteen is one musician who is not afraid to share his opinions. His recent opinions on the state of the music industry has polarised the internet. The mere mention of the word “piracy, and music” a reaction is always forthcoming.

“When I started out, it was very much like the guy with the big cigar in a big office saying, “I’ll give you a record deal, boy.” You had tour support, tour buses, local A&R people, the whole nine yards. I did that, but it’s all gone now. It can be for better or worse, because if you don’t have name recognition now.”

This is what used to happen. Any musician that wanted to write songs and have those songs released to an audience, had to meet that “guy with the big cigar.” In no way did a recording contract guarantee an artist success. Yngwie Malmsteen seems to forget that between the period of 1983 to 1988, he released an album each year in order to get name recognition. The reason why he got name recognition is because he had the songs and two great vocalists in Jeff Scott Soto and Joe Lynn Turner. In the end, as good as Malmsteen is on the guitar, if the song sucked and if the vocals sucked, he would have remained in the underground.

“If you want to start out now, how the f!&k do you do it?”

The same way you always have done it. Create great songs. In the end, it is the songs that will sell you. Regardless of how good you play your instrument, if the songs are not making a connection with people, then nothing will happen. The only difference is that bands these days, don’t need to play 2000 shows to get traction.

Look at bands like Heartist and Digital Summer. Heartist is signed to Roadrunner and Digital Summer is all DIY. Both bands have decent traction. Heartist built their following online. Digital Summer did it in a hybrid way. Starting out before the MySpace craze, they did it with feet on the ground, handing out flyers and playing shows. When technology started playing a part in promoting and marketing a band, these new opportunities got filtered in to their workload.

“Back in the day, DEF LEPPARD said if they could get a few singles on MTV, they’d be able to make it, and they did. That happened with a lot of bands who did that back then. Now we have YouTube, but there are billions of videos and musicians on there and if nobody knows your name, nobody’s going to look you up. It’s a little bit weird, but in that sense, the music industry situation is really bad for whoever wants to start out now.”

FACT – MTV used Heavy Metal music as a means to get traction. Look at the clips produced by hard rock / metal bands. Twisted Sister, had “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock”. Motley Crue had “Smokin In The Boys Room”. Van Halen had “Hot For Teacher.” All of those clips were game changers in the video format. As soon as MTV got traction, they booted metal music and put it back to a monthly/weekly segment that would become Headbangers Ball.

FACT – Music is getting released on a grand scale today. With so much new music out there fighting for listeners attention, artists need to give fans a reason to listen to their music. By saying that they put their heart and soul into it, just doesn’t cut in this day and age. You need to have great songs.

Look at the band Periphery. The band got traction via message boards. Has piracy stopped the band? I saw them live in Australia this year at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney.

Look at the band Shinedown. They came out in 2005, when piracy was rampant. Has piracy stopped the band from becoming a giant in the hard rock scene? They have two albums that have sold over a million units and two albums that have sold over 500,000 units. Singles on the other had have moved in the multi-millions.

Look at the band Digital Summer. They came out in 2005, when piracy was rampant. Has piracy stopped the band from touring and releasing new music? They are all DIY and have total control over their affairs. Even bands that had major deals have asked the band to represent them.

Look at the band One Less Reason. Another DIY band. One of their albums has gone GOLD. Has piracy stopped the band from touring and releasing new music?

Look at the band Protest The Hero. While they were signed to a label, they were told that never made any money. Finally they broke free from the label and started an Indiegogo campaign, raising over $300K (with the goal being $120K). Has piracy stopped the band from touring and releasing new music?

“The good part is that there is no longer this slavery to a certain format going on, where in the ’80s, if you didn’t follow format, they wouldn’t give you the time of day. You had to conform to get a shot at a record deal. That’s gone now, and it’s bizarre.”

I love Malmsteen however he is a confused albeit funny individual. He is putting a lot of information out there without any thought. If anyone was treated like dirt by record labels, it was Yngwie Malmsteen. Elektra chased him, signed him to a large deal and then dropped him cold after one album. During the Nineties, no label in the U.S would touch him. If it wasn’t for the Japanese market, Yngwie would be broke and destitute and without a career in 2013.

As much as Malmsteen is seen as a musical dictator, he knows it deep down, that if he didn’t conform and write more accessible songs, then his career would have been over. That is the power that the labels held over the artists.

Classic Rock Revisited: The Internet changed a lot for the industry; piracy has certainly had a hand in changing the game. Do you think that piracy can be beneficial to some of those bands starting out? How has it affected you?

Yngwie: How could it possibly be positive? If you go into a store and you see a car that you like, you can’t just drive off with it. The cost and the blood and sweat and tears that go into making music is the same thing, it’s not free. Try telling the engineer and the producer that they have to work for free. It’s utterly bizarre. It’s like just going into a store and taking things off the shelves. It’s stealing. The reason there are no bands coming out now is that the money that was once there is not there anymore. So what happened was, in essence, by pirating music, you kill the music industry. The music industry died because of the piracy, and now all the fans will have no new music. Isn’t that wonderful? It’s a direct consequence of that.

Again, Malmsteen is confusing the recording industry with the music industry. The recording industry is not dying. It has changed. The labels made the most money from selling the LP and then the CD. So when fans could pick and choose what tracks they wanted to buy, the biggest cash cow for the labels became obsolete. Licensed streaming is gaining traction. Unlicensed streaming on YouTube is bigger than ever. If the recording industry listened to advice back in 1998, maybe it would still be as powerful as it was back then. However, they ignored the advice.

The whole stealing analogy has been shot down a billion times. Maybe Scott Ian, Duff McKagan and Yngwie Malmsteen should form a band called “Steeler.” Oh wait, Malmsteen was already in a band called Steeler.

It’s simply economics. Digitised music equals less CD’s. The MP3 made music easy to share and distribute just by the click of a mouse button. Chart success and sales of actual music is not as relevant today as it was back in the Eighties and Nineties. What is relevant today is what music of the band are fans listening too.

Look at the band Shinedown. Call Me is their most streamed track, however they do not play the song live.

Finally, the best part of the interview, the quotes.

“Improvisation is a genesis of composition”
Malmsteen

“Music is melody and melody is music”
Mozart

“One must feel strongly to make others feel strongly”
Paganini

“When you’re a writer, you write the whole book, when you’re a painter like De Vinci you don’t say to someone, hey come over here and help me with my painting. There are a few reasons why I work this way. First of all, I’m so full of creativity that I don’t need any other input. The other is that I feel so strongly about my work, it’s like a burning passion to create something that is uniquely me.”
Malmsteen on song writing.

“Back in the day the record label was putting up all this money and you had to record whether you were inspired or not. I like to capture the moment.”
Malmsteen on recording now.

“ I don’t live in the past. The best show I’ve ever done is the one I’m going to do next. The best album will be the next one I do. I don’t look back, I look forward. It’s dangerous too, because if an album does well you might get stuck in that one sound for the next couple albums instead of having this evolution of your sound. I like to have the classical stuff on my records, and some blues. An album to me is supposed to be a snapshot of who you are at that time.”
Malmsteen on progress

http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/yngwie-malmsteen-the-music-industry-died-because-of-the-piracy/

http://classicrockrevisited.com/show_interview.php?id=995

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Music, My Stories

Remembering Mega

Remembering Mega

Mega isn’t his real name, but a nickname given to him for his love of the band Megadeth.

This all begins in the Australian summer of 1985, when I first heard Stay Hungry from Twisted Sister.  It was on a cassette tape and it was my cousin Mega that introduced me to it.  He also had a video tape of rock and metal music clips that he taped from the music programs that used to play on Friday night and Saturday night.

That is how we did it back then.  There was no Spotify or an iTunes store to sample songs.  We religiously used to stay up late, so that we could tape the new video clip from our favourite bands or bands of similar style.  Hell by staying up late, that is how I was introduced to Motley Crue(the Smokin In The Boys Room clip and then Home Sweet Home clip), Ratt (the Round and Round clip), Quiet Riot (Cum on Feel The Noize clip), Vah Halen (the Jump and Panama clips) and many others.  But one band stood tall over all the others for me back then.  And that was Twisted Sister.   We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock where doing the rounds back to back.

We’re Not Gonna Take It, No
We Ain’t Gonna Take It
We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore

Three opening lines that summed up the youth of 1985.  The ones that didn’t want to follow what their fathers did and leave school early to work the factory floor.  This was our war cry.  Mega and I listened to this song over and over again, by watching the video clip over and over again.  We even rented Animal Farm because we saw the psychotic parent from the video clip on the cover. 

We’ve got the right to choose it and there ain’t no way we’ll lose it, this is our life, this is our song
We’ll fight the powers that be, just don’t pick our destiny cause you don’t know us, you don’t belong

Mega’s dad was one of those people that never should have been a father.  He was all about money, money and more money.  Mega came a very distant last.  He always kept on comparing Mega to other kids.  Poor Mega could never measure up to his father’s expectations.  That is why this song was special to him and he made it special to me.  Mega’s life was exactly that of the kids in the video clip; however his life didn’t end up getting back at his father, with the power of music.  He just used the music to get away from it all.

You’re so condescending, your gall is never ending, we don’t want nothin’, not a thing from you
Your life is trite and jaded, boring And confiscated, if that’s your best, your best won’t do

Those words could have come from any adolescent child in the eighties.  Mega’s room was a cultural haven.  The walls where covered in posters from Hard Rock, Glam Rock and Metal bands at that time.  He had a record collection that left me envious.  He cherished his records.  He wouldn’t lend them out to anyone and only he could touch them for fear that they will get scratched.  I remember one day, when Mega and I went to the Utopia Record Store, which at that time was in a little shop at Martin Place train station in Sydney.  Mega had the money so he picked up a few more albums and I just stared at the covers of albums that I wanted to buy.  We return back to Mega’s place and it was chaos.  His parents trashed his room, the records where all over the floor, pulled out of the covers.  The reason, his mum smelled cigarette smoke on his clothes when she was throwing them into the wash and wanted to find where the cigarettes where hidden, so they trashed his record collection.  Seriously, who hides a packet of Winnie Blues inside a record cover? 

I remember him saying to his parents, IF THAT IS YOUR BEST, YOUR BEST WONT DO.   That is how important music was to him, he even quoted the song.    Hell, he even tattooed the TS logo onto his shoulder.

We’re right/yeah, we’re Free/yeah, we’ll Fight/yeah, you’ll See/yeah

We’re Not Gonna Take It summed up how we felt at the establishments, our parents and all the rules of what we should be.  Songs like I Wanna Rock, Smokin In The Boys Room, We Rock, Cum On Feel The Noize and Shake Your Foundations summed up what we wanted to do.  

I WANNA ROCK! (ROCK)

The war cry. 

Turn it down you say
Well all I got to say to you is time and time again I say No
NO! NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!

I can’t even mention how many times Mega’s parents would walk in and turn down his stereo and then walk out.  As soon as the door shut, Mega would crank it again. 

Turn the power up
I’ve waited for so long so I could hear my favourite song so let’s go
GO! GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!

When it’s like this I feel the music shootin through me
There’s nothing else that I would rather do

Music when done right is like that.  You lay back with the album, the lyric sheet in front of you and listen to each song and read the lyrics.  It was a therapeutic feeling, without going to therapy.  This is something kids these days will never feel as their lives are always on the go and they are connected to each other 24/7.  Back then, no one was texting you or phoning you, there was no Facebook to kill time on and there was no Computer in the house that you could use.  Music, Books, Magazines and TV was all we had, with the occasional Cinema outing for a new release. 

Cum on feel the noize
Girls rock your boys
We’ll get wild, wild, wild
Wild, wild, wild

That’s all we wanted to do.  Get to the Rock N Roll show, to hear the music, to feel the noise so that we could get wild.   Mega just wanted to be a drummer.  He saved up his social security money to purchase a drum kit and then saved up again to purchase another bass drum so that he could do double kick.  His father frowned at him and they both kept on yelling at him every time he played.   His father wouldn’t let Mega borrow the car, so we used to catch the train with his drum kit and my guitar and amp to the rehearsal room.  That is full blown commitment.

We always talked about our band and the songs we would write.  We never got there.  He more or less gave up drumming due to all the stress pushed on him from his parents.  He failed at school so his father wasn’t pleased, especially since Mega’s sister was all A’s.  He went to Art School as his other talent was drawing, and that led nowhere as Australia post-recession in the early 90’s wasn’t employing young up starts.  And this was the pre Internet era.

By 1997 Mega was diagnosed with schizophrenia due to a chemical imbalance in his brain.  His parent’s won.  His parents finally had control of him.  From all the medication that was prescribed, Mega ballooned into a 140kg slob.  I abandoned Mega after 2006.  It was too painful to see him.  He hadn’t showered for weeks and he looked like Crusty the Clown from The Simpsons.  He never could remember the last time we spoke due to the medication even though it was 24 hours ago over the phone.  It got to a stage when I called and his parents wouldn’t even give him the phone.  I used to send him CD’s of the EP’s I was doing with my band, and his parents wouldn’t give the CD’s to him.

I heard he broke the fridge door because aliens where inside it.  Prior to his diagnosis, I remember I was at his place and he goes to me ‘She is there.”

“Who is there”, I answer back.  Mega’s face got all spooky and weird.

“Her.  She is there next to you, laughing”, he answers back.  I am at this stage thinking WTF.  The hairs on the back of my neck are hard as a rock.  I turn to where he is pointing and as I expected, no one is there.

“WTF, Mega.  What’s this shit?’ I fire back, both worried and angry with him.  What came next freaked me out.  He started laughing hysterically, like those weird horror movies where kids have these evil imaginary friends.  Typing this and recounting the events is just freaking me out.

Mega was such a mega influence on my life and the music I listen too.  He was my first cousin.  Mega’s mum and my mum are sisters, but they are so different.  Maybe because my dad was a muso it was easier for me, but Mega he didn’t get that.  That is why he loved coming down to our place and staying for a week or a month.  He was liberated at my place.  We would go down to the Pub, drink beers, shoot Pool and just crank the Jukebox until the morning hours.  On the other hand his home life was hell.

It wasn’t healthy anymore for me to be around him.  I didn’t want to be dragged in to all of that shit that was going on.  By 2006 I had my second child.  I didn’t want my kids growing up around an uncle that was mentally ill.  Selfish and cruel maybe, but these are the choices we make in life.  You can say I took the easy way out by abandoning him, and a lot of people condemn me for it, but those people haven’t dealt with a person that has a mental illness.  Then others, who have experienced mental illness with loved ones, tell me that they only wish they had the courage to walk away.  Instead they got sucked down with their loved one and are now suffering depression as to why they couldn’t help them.

Mega is still alive.  He will probably even outlive me.  But to me Mega died in 1997.  After that it wasn’t Mega anymore.  The jokes and the laughs went out the window, his fascination with Horror movies became greater and his paranoia was getting the better of him.  I still think he will knock on my door and say, what’s up, have you heard the new ….

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