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

So You Wanna Be In A Band


I feel bitter as I’m going through a clean up/archiving process of some old emails. What can I say, they just brought back so many bad memories from my ex band members.

The first thing that stands out is the entitlement of my ex band members. Just because they played an instrument on a song, they argued that they were entitled to a song writing percentage. Just because they suggested that we play the riff once instead of twice, they believed they were entitled to a song writing percentage. And the bass player who joined to play live gigs also put in a song writing claim.

The band was formed in 2008. The majority of the songs that I used in the band were written during 2004 to 2006. I registered the songs with the rights organisation during that time as I was planning on shopping them around to other artists. Even though I showed these facts to my band members they still argued with me over their entitlement to a song writing share for the songs.

Let’s face it, bands are complex beasts and very hard to hold together. Instant fame and riches could push aside some of those bad vibes for a little while or maybe even a decade. However those bad vibes will always come to the forefront until an explosion happens of mass proportions. Motley Crue and Vince, Axl Rose and the rest of the Gunners crew, Don Dokken and George Lynch, The Eagles, Machine Head and Adam Duce. And there are many more examples when that innocent love for music turns sour.

Arguments ensure over money all the time because each band member is on a different financial path. Some are on unemployment benefits, some are on unemployment benefits and casual wages, some are on something else all the time and some are full-time workers. Some band members are more important to the band than others.

The thing that pissed me off the most was when I used to hear the drummer or the bassist or the vocalist telling other people that they were involved in creating the songs and that they had some input. That piece of dishonesty didn’t sit well with me and still to this day it makes me bitter.


I know that all of the songs have been written by me and only me. I was the one that spent time away from my family to write the songs. I was the one that recorded them on my Zoom 8 track machine alone late into the night. I was the one who tabbed them on Power Tab while my foot was rocking the bouncer in an attempt to put them to sleep.

To me, if a person suggests that we do the chorus once instead of twice that is not a reason to add them as songwriters. They didn’t contribute anything musical to the song nor did they contribute any new lyrical ideas or melodies. All they did was suggest to play a piece of music/words already written once instead of twice. In an end of credits scroll list from a movie these people will be listed as editors. The writer is still the writer regardless of what the editors do with the script flow.

So of course, I confront the drummer at his dishonest statements, and of course he disagrees with me aggressively stating that he did provide input. Of course I don’t let it slide easily and I ask him what input did he actually have. What piece of music did he contribute? What lyrical verse or melody did he contribute?

He answers that he provided ideas on subject matter. I reply that an idea does not mean that he wrote any music and lyrics. He answers that he assisted with a melody in a verse. I ask him what did he actually change that was so different to what I wrote in the first place.

Singing a word by enhancing the syllables is not a reason to get a song writing credit. Otherwise, James LaBrie or Vince Neil would get song writing credits all the time. Hell, if I used the logic that the drummer put forward that would mean that Bruce Dickinson needs a songwriting credit for every single Iron Maiden song, even the ones from the Paul Dianno and Blaze Bayley era of the band as Bruce did enhance the vocal delivery.

At this point, the singer and the bass player are on the drummers side and I feel betrayed.


I remember the day when I got a call from the rights organisation advising me that counter claims have been made on the songs I wrote from the drummer, the bassist and the vocalist. I was in a state of shock. And boy did I hate and curse them bad. I will never forget that moment because it made me realise how deceitful and dishonest people can be.

I told the rights organisation that I do not agree with their counter-claim however the rights organisation did not care either way. The songs go into suspension and any money accumulated from them is held by the rights organisation. For the rights organisation it is a win win. But for me, it was a loss. I had to get a lawyer who charged an arm and a leg however the work that he did was not of the quality that he charged me for. I was told that the onus was on me to prove that I wrote the songs. I saw this as unfair and unjust. The onus should be on them to prove that they contributed to the song writing.

So why did all of this rubbish happen?

GREED leads to a sense of ENTITLEMENT. What I had was a bunch of average musicians that have never written a song in their lives wanting to change the truth so that they are seen as more important than what they really are/were. To prove my point once I was out of the band, in the space of eight months they didn’t write nor release not one NEW song. What a bunch of talents, hey? And then the band ended.

So while forming bands are initially fun, if any artist is serious about making it in the music business and they think that the above doesn’t happen then they are living in a delusional world. This is what happens in the real world because untalented people are greedy. This is what happens because untalented people want to trump up their efforts as being more important than what they really were.

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

Persistence, Timing, Diversification and playing to your core audience

I am reading the recent issue of Guitar World and I come across a question where Mick Jones from Foreigner is asked how it was to work with Mutt Lange? For those that don’t know Mutt Lange produced the Foreigner 4 album in 1981.

Mutt had really wanted to do our second album [1978’s Double Vision], I believe. But he didn’t seem quite ready at the time. So we did the next one [1979’s Head Games] with Roy Thomas Baker.

So Lange goes away and he proves himself to Foreigner. He takes on AC/DC and produces Highway to Hell in 1979 (their American breakthrough album) and Back in Black in 1980 (their first with Brian Johnson and their biggest album in regards to sales to date). He also produced For Those About To Rock We Salute You in 1981.

He didn’t just give up. In between the period between 1977 and 1981, apart from AC/DC, he also produced albums for artists like City Boy, Clover, Supercharge, The Boomtown Rats, The Rumour, Savoy Brown, Michael Stanley Band, Outlaws, Deaf School, The Records and Broken Home. He is paying his dues, getting the stats on his side, just so that he can work with a band that he wants to work with.

… then Mutt was kind of knocking on the door again. I must say, he was quite enthusiastic.

Then he gets the gig to do Foreigner4 which came out in 1981. Persistence. Paying your dues. Credentials. Hard work. Timing. They all play important parts in the recipe for success.

Mutt’s persistence to hard work, made him turn over a lot of records as a producer. A lot of those records made a large impression with the public.
Mutt’s timing was off when he first approached Foreigner in 1978. It wasn’t off in 1981. This time around he also had the credentials to back himself. For a producer, your credentials are the works that you produced, for an artist, your credentials is the music that you make.

He was the first producer I worked with who really challenged me. He was not only very insightful with the songs and in helping to bring them to fruition but he was also really great at achieving sounds.

The real rock stars hated to get challenged. The “songs are their children” is a common cliché that so many of them would say. Mutt Lange didn’t give a shit about that. He wanted perfection. He wanted greatness. He wanted to be involved in something that would last forever.

He was just unbelievably dedicated to the process…to the point where I think we kept Def Leppard waiting six or nine months because Mutt was still working with us on 4.

Def Leppard waited for him. Why? They knew. They knew that this guy was special. They knew he was the person that would be able to capture their pop leanings and merge them with their rock and blues influences. All of that pales, compared to what they really needed. Def Leppard needed a song writing partner. Look at the history that they created.

Def Leppard – High ‘N’ Dry, 1981
Def Leppard – Pyromania, 1983
Def Leppard – Hysteria, 1987
Def Leppard – Adrenalize, 1992

Mutt really set a standard with Def Leppard. I called it the layers standard. Others call it the over dubs or over producing standard. Others call it multi-tracking. The fans loved it. They wanted the big vocals, the arena rock chorus’s layered in harmonies. Once Hysteria exploded every other band released albums in the same layered style. Suddenly every hard rock band was doing the Bon Jovi and Def Leppard thing. Kiss went all pop metal with Crazy Nights and Hot In The Shade. Whitesnake did it with Slip Of The Tongue. However, there was one band that was doing things their own way. That one band is called Guns N Roses. I digress.

Once you become successful, it doesnt mean you stop. Mutt Lange didn’t. He kept on going.

Song writing for other artists became a new income stream for him from the eighties onwards. As an artist, if all you do is just write music and perform it live, you are limiting yourself to that income stream. However, if you write songs for other artist, you have an additional income stream. If you produce for up and coming bands, sharing your expertise and knowledge, then you have another income stream. If you are a guitar player, become a guitar teacher on time off from recording and touring. That is another income stream. Suddenly, you have a years’ worth of work. Yes it is hard work. It was never meant to be easy.

Look at the following list of people that keep on working hard;

Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater. He plays keyboards in Dream Theater, he is a solo musician, he is an instructor and he is an app developer.

Claudio Sanchez from Coheed and Cambria. He is the founder, singer, guitarist and main songwriter for Coheed and Cambria. He also has a side project called Prize Fighter Inferno. He has written novels and comics. He appears at Comic Conventions. He has just signed a production agreement for The Amory Wars story to be turned into a movie or movies. He is also an app game developer.

Corey Taylor is another. The recent House of Gold and Bones releases by Stone Sour have seen that concept story turned into a graphic novel and comic book, as well as a production deal to turn it into a movie. Apart from Stone Sour, Corey still tours with Slipknot. He is also a novelist.

Nikki Sixx is the leader of Motley Crue. He does Sixx A.M as another band. He does photography and his work is being exhibited on line. He has penned two autobiographies (The Dirt and The Heroin Diaries), as well as a picture book/biography for This is Gonna Hurt. He uses social media to build connections with fans. Finally, he is overseeing the long overdue Motley Crue movie. There is also the SixxSense “radio” gig and a range of other outlets like clothing and accessories.

Phil X is currently fill in guitarist for Bon Jovi. He is a session musician. He is a fill in guitarist .He is a solo artist. He is a band member. He is a guitar teacher. Five different income streams. He endorses different product lines of gear.

Kevin Churko is a producer, sound engineer, masterer, mixer and a songwriter. While his production credits involve the hard rock and metal genre, I bet a lot of people didn’t know that he was involved with Britney Spears when he started off. Yep that is right. In 2000 he was the Digital Editing and Programming guru on Britney’s Oops!… I Did It Again album. He had that same job title for The Corrs, Shania Twain and Celine Dion albums that followed between 2000 and 2003.

From 2003 onwards, he then started getting appointments as an Engineer and a mixer. He had those titles for Shania Twain and Ozzy Osbourne albums.

Then from 2006 and onwards he started getting producing appointments.

Churko built up a credentialed name for himself between 1999 and 2006. Since then he has done I Don’t Wanna Stop, Black Rain and Scream by Ozzy Osbourne. Apart from being the Producer, he was also the Engineer, the Mixer and Composer.

He has filled the same role for In This Moment, Hinder, Beggars and Thieves, Emerson Drive, Five Finger Death Punch, Otherwise, Kobra and The Lotus and Rob Zombie.

The point in all of this. Success in music is not just about writing a song and watching it sell. You need to earn your success. You need to pay your dues. You need to live and experience life. You need to be patient. You need to persevere. The bottom line; don’t quit.

And remember: still play to your core audience. That is what all of the above artists are doing. They are keeping their core audience satisfied.

Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Bridge – Queensryche

Chris DeGarmo really went to town on the 1994 Promised Land album.  His name is all over the song writing credits?

Bridge is a song written by DeGarmo and he is referencing his relationship with his father for inspiration.  Growing up he didn’t have the relationship with his father and now that he’s all grown up, his father wants to be in his life, however the only problem, is that the bridge was never built.

Time has made you finally realize
your loneliness and your guilt inside.
You’re reaching for something you never had,
turning around now you’re looking back,
and you know… I’m not there.

You say, “Son, let’s forget the past.
I want another chance, gonna make it last.”
You’re begging me for a brand new start,
trying to mend a bridge that’s been blown apart,
but you know… you never built it dad.

You can feel the anger, the disappointment.  DeGarmo is telling his dad, that he is not going to be there for him, in the same way his dad wasn’t there for him.  Stop trying to have a relationship, it was never there to begin with.  Geoff Tate nails the vocal for it.  This is the Queensryche that exists, not the poor imitations that they are now.

DeGarmo’s dad died during the recording of the Promised Land.