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

What Does A Million In Sales Mean?

It may be a long way to the top, but it’s even harder staying there. A lot of artists talk about the glory days, of selling a million plus albums and “having success”. They are loved and they are all over the press and magazines. Then their “fanbase” based on sale metrics move on and suddenly, the record label is not returning their calls.

Dokken, Ratt, Warrant, Poison, Love/Hate, Slaughter, White Lion, Anthrax, WASP, MSG, Stryper and Yngwie Malmsteen come to mind.

It doesn’t matter what artists did in the past. If their new album isn’t getting played on radio, (not Pandora Radio, actual DJ programmed Radio) then it’s the hard sell of the road for them. And if they don’t have the means and the smarts to hit the road, then it’s even a harder sell.

Y&T is still cleaning up on the road, despite never being on the covers of the magazines, or darlings of MTV or even having a number one mainstream hit. It’s because they are a band made outside the record label system. It was all about touring and gaining fans, city by city, state by state, country by country. Add to that list Tesla.

You notice that the acts that continue to sell and have high streams are constant on radio.

Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Pop Evil, Disturbed and Seether have the top 5 songs on Active Rock Radio right now in the U.S. As a by-product of the radio play, the bands are moving product. Volbeat is another that continues to sell.

This is what Nikki Sixx meant. He saw no point in Motley Crue spending time writing and releasing an album, when Active Rock Radio would just ignore it and the Classic Rock stations would just play the old Crue songs.

Radio was never the be all and end all. The best bands developed slowly. No classic rock band was an overnight sensation. The MTV era, killed off a lot of bands by setting the expectation that all of the artists it played had millions upon millions of fans. MTV video clips sold advertisements. As a byproduct records got sold as well. That led to recorded music revenue.

Recorded music revenue, never got to the bands. Sure the bands got advances to record their albums and they probably felt like rock and roll stars during it, but the truth is the $500K advance or even the $1MIL advance, (that had to be paid back anyway) pales to the revenue the record label got in return. If an album sold a million copies at say $10 gross; that is $10 million in gross sales. Of course some of it would be kept by the record store, some of it by the manufacturers of the LP and all the rest would go to the label and somehow the band would still be in debt.

When Bon Jovi started writing the songs for “Slippery When Wet”, Jon and Richie were still living with their parents and had a million dollar debt to the label, even though they had two albums certified “Gold”. Pretty glamorous right.

In 1987, White Lion released their second album and their first on a major label, “Pride”. It had the single “Wait”, which on release did nothing. It was followed by “Tell Me” which also did nothing. However, the band was still on tour, opening up for Frehley’s Comet, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, AC/DC and Stryper. It was during this touring cycle that “Wait” started to get some serious MTV rotation, seven months after it was released. Hot on the heels of “Wait” climbing the charts, the label released “When The Children Cry” which ended up pushing the “Pride” album into the two million mark. “All You Need Is Rock ‘N’ Roll” followed and the White Lion tour in support of the album, ended in August 1988. High fives all around. Vito was in every guitar magazine and Mike Tramp was posing in every other magazine. Pretty glamorous right.

By August the following year, “Big Game” was released. The album went Gold right off the bat, based from the goodwill that “Pride” created. The band went from 2 million U.S sales to 500K US Sales. “Little Fighter” didn’t catch on, nor there cover of “Radar Love”. “Cry for Freedom” is one of their best songs, however it looks like their serious subject matter about Apartheid just didn’t resonate with the hard rock community. “Goin’ Home Tonight” also came out as a single and disappeared quickly. The band toured, however as Vito Bratta stated in his Eddie Trunk interview, the songs just didn’t resonate with the audiences. The Monsters of Rock bill that had “White Lion” sandwiched between other bands sealed the deal in Vito’s mind that they needed to go back and write some real rock songs. The downward spiral was starting. Vito still had the Guitar covers but he was questioning how to write a “hit” as the label asked them to do. Pretty glamorous right.

So White Lion took a million bucks and went away to write and record their fourth album, “Mane Attraction”. It came out in 1991 and six months later it was all over. It received no radio play. The real fans of the band loved it. But the band wanted the 2 million fans from “Pride”. The label wanted 4 million fans. As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of the casual listeners like songs more than they like the artist, especially songs that crossover. “Wait” and “When The Children Cry” crossed over and fans of other genres picked up the album. It didn’t mean that White Lion had 2 million loyal listeners. So fast forward to 1991 and White Lion can’t even move, 500K units on their new album. Actually they get nowhere near that figure. They are seen as a failure.

“Love Don’t Come Easy” didn’t sell the message of the new listening public. “Lights and Thunder” came out and no one knew what the hell Mike Tramp meant when he sang, “There’ll be lights and thunder”. The re-recorded version of the band’s debut single “Broken Heart”, also didn’t resonate with the listeners at large. Atlantic Records dropped them not long after.

Once you’re in the spiral vortex, it is not easy to get out off it. And the audience, like it or not, always gravitates to what is successful. Tastes change and moods change. Life becomes complicated. The thing is when an album doesn’t outdo it’s predecessor, it’s labelled a flop. And no one, even the record label can understand why. Once upon a time, the label would probably go for another album to see what happens. Today, as soon as it starts going wrong, no one from the label hangs around. They move on.

So what does the artist do?

They doubt their creative process, quit the business or soldier on for a few more years. But the lifers go on forever.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Winning and Losing

In sports people lose all the time.

However when it comes to life, money and status no one wants to lose. Everyone just wants to win, all the time.

And music over the last 30 years has followed the mantra of winning, which brings us to the music of today which is all about the payday.

When you get artists whingeing about fans not buying their music, then how can they tell me that their views are not about money.

I understand that they want to get paid. I go to work Monday to Friday to get paid. I provide my time and effort to a company who wants to pay me for that time and effort because I have a certain skill set that they need for their business.

Music is not like that.

When an artist starts out there is no one there that wants to pay them for the time and effort they put in to create music. There is no fan base and there is no record label. Furthermore, people don’t become fans of music because those musicians have a certain skill set.

If an artist does have a fan base and they create new music, then there is no guarantee that the new music that artist creates will have the same impact on the fans as the previous music did.

Metallica is always a band that is up for discussion on this point alone.

There is a segment of early day fans that detest everything Metallica released after “…And Justice For All”.

There is also another segment of fans that detest the fact that the band made a film clip for the song “One” from the same album. For those fans, that endeavour alone was a sell out.

Then there are fans of the band that came into the fold because of the “Black” album. Now these fans are seen as imposters by the ultra-radical early days fans, however to me these fans are very important in Metallica history because the whole back catalogue of the band started selling like crazy as well.

And that is because these new fans wanted more. They didn’t know that Metallica had four albums prior. So they went deep into the Metallica catalogue and as a result all of the previous album became multi-platinum superstars.

So in a roundabout way, Metallica went from pushing boundaries and creating what they want with no restrictions to a band that created music under the restriction/pressure of not losing what they gained with the Black album success. The problem is further compounded when everyone else attached to the artist now needs to get paid. The labels, the managers, the accountants, the lawyers and all the other middle people involved want to get paid.

So we have a music business were everybody that participates wants to get paid a percentage. This then leads to musicians that want to be as rich as the businessmen that grace the Forbes 100 lists.

Why.

Those billionaires are hated. Do you reckon Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos or Rupert Murdoch get any respect from ordinary citizens?

Of course not.

Meanwhile the artists are idolised and adored. Artists have the reach. Their music dominates Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

So I don’t believe in this bullshit about the recording industry being financially challenged because the real truth is that there are millions upon millions of dollars in music to be made if you’re a star.

However in most metal and rock circles, 99.9% of the artists like Machine Head, Shinedown, Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat, Halestorm, In This Moment, Killswitch Engage and so on are working class acts. But if you look at their box office returns for each show, all of these bands are grossing $150,000 plus each gig and that is the paradigm shift the recording industry can’t handle. Most of the money now comes from live instead of recordings.

And just like the company I work for, 99.9% of the staff are from working class families. That is reality so why deny it and if you are an artists starting off that is grounded in reality, expect to have a successful working class musical career. However if you are an artist that is grounded in dreams and one in a million stories, then expect to be disappointed and make sure your education is up to scratch.

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

Disruption Eruption

In life we are being disrupted all the time.

Music is no different.

The biggest challenge to artists is that it’s so much harder to reach people because everyone today has a voice. In the heyday of metal and rock it was all about scarcity. You know the drill. The bands and the labels were all about making it to the top of the heap and then once they got there, they aimed to dominate that heap.

The funny thing is that once the bands got to that heap, they would seem to implode and deliver their least valued work.

Pantera worked for years to get to top of the heap. “Cowboys From Hell” opened the door for domination, “The Vulgar Display Of Power” provided the steps to the top of the heap and “Far Beyond Driven” provided the motion to get to the top of the heap. As Vinnie Paul once said in a Metal Hammer interview, “Pantera could have been metal’s next Rolling Stones”. “The Great Southern Trendkill” came after and continued that domination however the fabric of the band was already tearing apart. “Reinventing The Steel” came next and the band split after that.

Metallica on the other hand delivered their least valued work after they reached the top of the heap with the “Black” album.

Twisted Sister struggled for years to get to the top of the heap. They where selling out local bars however they couldn’t get a record deal. In that Seventies and Eighties era you needed a label to go national. Finally, they got that major label deal. It all started via an Independent label called Secret, which led to the European division of Atlantic Records showing interest and eventually signing them, which then led to the U.S arm of Atlantic taking over.

They got on MTV and went multi-platinum.

Then they lost it all. Dee Snider filed for bankruptcy and so did Jay Jay French.

After the fall from the top, both Dee Snider and Jay Jay French had to pick up and start from the beginning again. An old saying always comes back into my head space. It’s not how hard you fall but how you get back up. In the end, failure is never final, however if you allow it to be, then it will be. Jay Jay had to take a job selling stereos before Sevendust came into the scene in the mid nineties and asked him to produce their first album. Dee Snider ended up with a “Reason To Kill” during this period.

The dirty little secret is that one year’s success does not guarantee the next year’s success. It doesn’t in sport, so why should it be any different when it comes to music. If money was the end game, then Jay Jay French made more money producing the Sevendust album than what he did while he was with Twisted Sister.

So what does that say about the correlation between success and money?

It says that while a band is successful, most of the money is going to others. Only when the band is at the stage of Metallica or Motley Crue who both own their masters/copyrights, do the economics change. Otherwise why do you think Tom Scholz from Boston and Don Henley from the Eagles and Jim Steinman for “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” are putting in motions to get back their copyrights. And why do you think the record labels are resisting even though the law states clearly that the labels have to return the copyrights back to them.

It’s all about negotiation power.

The labels don’t want to lose it and the artists that have the big songs want it.

Which means another disruption is around the corner?

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Some Music Business Truths

Music Is Not Free

Look at the complex math that goes on here. The recording and publishing industries get a yearly license fee from the tech companies like Pandora, Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, Google and so on to have their music collections on the products that the tech companies offer.

Then the recording and publishing industries (via the music fan) get paid 70% for a download and 70% in royalty payments from a stream/view.

So with so much money trading between people how can people say that music is free.

How come no one is saying that APPS are free. We are all using a plethora of apps every day, and 99.9% of them are free. If anything we expect them to be free. And has that stopped people from creating new apps.

We Don’t Need Stronger Copyright Regulations To Encourage People To Create

Back in 1999, the RIAA said that Napster and piracy would stop people from creating new music because they would have no incentive to make music anymore. Then by 2005, the same argument shifted to Copyright Reform. The recording industry argued that copyright needed stronger enforcement provisions and no due process because if that didn’t happen no new music would be created.

Well guess what.

Just the opposite has happened.

More people are making more music than ever before. What we do need is for the Public Domain to be replenished again with music.

The CD

Apple has phased out the CD/DVD drive from their computers which means the CD be another niche product in the same way that vinyl is. For collectors only, because it turns out that the majority of music lovers just wanted access to music. It was never about ownership.

The MP3

It was a by-product of the CD. As the tech got better, the quality got better. Now it will become a by-product of streaming.

Streaming plus MP3

Putting my Nostradamus hat on, I predict that the streaming services will begin to offer MP3 downloads as part of a super-premium package. At the moment 45% of people still like to buy mp3’s. 45% of a three hundred million population in the US is a lot of people.

Anyone seen the adoption curve. It’s basically a bell curve that shows that 2.5% of people are innovators, 13.5% are early adopters, 34% are early majority, 34% are late majority and 16% are laggards. So in relation to streaming, it is safe to say that we are in the early majority phase right now. So if you are an artist or a record label or a tech company, how do you get the 50% plus of the late majority and the laggards to commit earlier. Offer them a product that meets their needs.

Record Labels

Still the best way to get your music heard as they have the money and the contacts. But they are still doing it wrong. They believe that a blitzkrieg publicity campaign will ensure success. The more we’re beaten over the head with something, the less likely we are to check it out.

Music Press

Save your money and don’t take the easy way out. Promote yourself personally. Work with people. Talk to people. There are no short cuts. In today’s world, the music press has never broken a band to the masses. The band has broken themselves with their music. If you make it great they will come.

Technology And Music

Fans of music want to listen to old songs however we have no desire to use an old computer like a Commodore 64 or an Amiga 500. However if both industries want to stay relevant they need to innovate and create something new and great on a regular basis. If you don’t you will be like Gene Simmons, slowly fading in the rear-view mirror and screaming to anyone who cares about the old gatekeeping model to return.

Concerts

Streaming concerts will never work as people still want to be there for the experience even though the sound quality might be terrible. As for the price of tickets, the acts are to blame. The prices I have paid range from $50 to $250 a ticket over the last two years. Guess who charged $250 a ticket. Yep it was the big acts from the Seventies and Eighties. Kiss, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi charged that.

Bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Trivium, In Flames, Five Finger Death Punch, Richie Sambora, Coheed and Cambria all charged around the $70 to $80 mark while Protest The Hero charged $50.

Know Your Fans

Great artists have made a living long before the advent of the phonograph and the recording industry. It’s because of patronage. Loyal fans will buy your super deluxe packaging, they will view your YouTube videos, they will stream your music on Spotify and they will spread the word for you. Do you know who they are? If you don’t then you are leaving money on the table.

Success And A Career

The odds of success are really low. So what can you do differently? You need to be determined as the bar is set really high. You have to be committed to the cause and honest. If you want a career you need to always pick up a new generation of people to discover you.

You want to know an upside to music piracy. Just have a look at all of the Classic Rock acts from the Seventies, Eighties and even Nineties doing big business on the live circuit and they are making way more money now than what they made at the peak of the fame when recording sales set the benchmark.

Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Slash, Evergrey, Europe, Whitesnake, Stryper, Machine Head, Dream Theater and Tesla have been seeing for the last decade, younger and younger people coming to their shows. They sing along and know all of the words. The audience base needs to be replenishment if you want a career.

And you need to have an opinion, which is hard to have in a society that is focused on being liked. However life is short and you have one voice. Use it.

Teaching

Imagine your favourite artist as your teacher. The personal interaction is what makes a difference. Playing a big show is one thing however teaching has a greater impact. You are giving someone more than just a good time, you’re helping someone grow, hopefully to the point that they will do the same for others.

And I am  not talking about guitar clinics or drum clinics. I am talking about being an actual music teacher on your time off. It could be a six to eight week course in the city you live in. Eight 30 minute lessons per day might seem like a waste of time to you but to someone else it could be a lifetime changing experience. So what are you waiting for, make the connection.

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

Niches and the Issue with too much music

Niches. There are lots of them. An audience that sees their scene as a sense of belonging and a badge of honor. In some cases, that sense of belonging is more important than the quality of the music.

You know what I’m talking about. People that keep on telling you how they listen to something non stop and then when I spin it, I go WTF was that.

In the old days, we would have to buy it and be default we would need to play it. But in the old days there was so much less music. In the old days the entry bar was higher and as a byproduct the quality was much greater.

But in the Internet era everybody can record and everybody can distribute. So we get diluted quality of music.

And in the end, it is a small group of label backed artists that succeed. And that is because all the other acts are just not good enough in their current formation or at this point in time.

Sure, bands that are self managed can have a career in music. Digital Summer and now Protest The Hero are two that come to mind, however if you want to have success like Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, Volbeat and In This Moment, you will need good songs and a label behind you.

But if you really want to have success, you need to have realistic aims about what you want to achieve.

If you really want to have success, you need to know as much information on music publishing. Because the longer you control your own publishing, the more power you will hold in negotiations if you have a hit song.

If you really want to have success, don’t hand over your copyright unless you are aware of the consequences of doing so.

If you really want to have success, don’t try to follow trends.

If you really want to have success, be brutally honest with yourself has why you do what you do.

Because there is so much music available we gravitate to what is great. And that could happen the instant you put out a new song or it could happen years after.

Which means there will be fewer acts break through on a big basis.

Which means there will be fewer acts that will reach critical mass. And for the ones that miss the old days guess what, they are never coming back.

A career in the music business was always about that one song.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Question Everything – Inspiration From Killswitch Engage and Jesse Leach

After overdosing on the new Protest the Hero album “Volition” for some reason the last song “Skies” got me thinking about Killswitch Engage. So out come the headphones and on goes the new album “Disarm the Descent.” I haven’t listened to it since about July. Our favourites don’t last long in the times of today. With so much new music coming out, we move on very quickly. As Jesse Leach pointed out recently in an interview with Lithium Magazine, the title is a creative way of saying redemption or rising again.

“You’re in a state of your life where you’re approaching rock bottom and you find a way to pick yourself up again before you hit the floor.”

I came to Killswitch Engage late. I didn’t listen to their first three albums. The only song I heard was “My Last Serenade” back in 2004 and that was via a bass player friend. However at that time, nothing really connected with me and that was it. There was no urge to commit to the band for me.

Fast forward a few years and the “Guitar World” issue arrived in the mailbox. I don’t recall which month; however it was a magazine from 2007. At that time the magazine still came with a DVD of bonus content. One of the bonuses was a lesson from the Killswitch guitarists on how to play “My Curse” and after watching it, I was hooked.

So I asked my bass player friend to burn me all of their albums, which he did. At the time, I had no idea that vocalists changed, which after hearing “Alive or Just Breathing” in 2007, I realised that the tones of the vocalists didn’t match up. So what do we do when we need information? We Google. We click on Wikipedia. In addition, “My Last Serenade” suddenly mattered. The song sucker punched me and I was hooked. The timing was right in 2007, for Killswitch Engage to enter my life on a full time basis.

By the time, their 2009 self-titled album came out; I was purchasing it without even listening to a single note. As a bonus their back catalogue was on special at the time, so I picked them up as well and added the official releases to my collection. That is why I always say that no metrics can ever measure the reach or pull of a band at the time of a release.

Of course, sales data can show what is in demand at a certain point in time; however the reach and the popularity of a certain band or a certain album cannot be properly measured until years later. Remember that history is written by the winners. In music, the winners are the artists or bands that outlast the competition.

Going back to the different singers, since Jesse’s split with the band, he kept busy with other projects, like the stoner-rock outfit “Seemless” and the metalcore/hard-core influenced “The Empire Shall Fall”. During this period, he also appeared with Killswitch Engage, performing the track “My Last Serenade” alongside Howard Jones at the Roadrunner United concert in 2005.

Then in 2011, I was blown away by “Times of Grace”. Everything about that album connected with me on so many different levels. I saw “Times Of Grace” open up for “Machine Head” at the Uni Roundhouse in Sydney in February 2012. Adam Dutkiewicz had his leg in some form of a support cast and he still went ballistic on stage, commenting frequently that “Aussie girls are hot.”

In relation to “Times Of Grace”, I could hear the regret in some of the songs. When Jesse jumped ship from Killswitch he was fighting a pretty serious depression. He had just gotten married and he couldn’t deal with being on the road all the time and away from his new family.

Songs like, “Fall From Grace (my best song on the album)”, “The Forgotten One”, “Hymn Of A Broken Man”, “In The Arms Of Mercy” and “Where The Spirit Leads Me” capture the more personal side of Jesse Leach. I remember reading in an interview in the “Revolver” April/May issue with Jesse mentioning that at the time of leaving Killswitch he was “broken and unconfident”.

So when Killswitch Engage announced that Jesse Leach is the vocalist again, I was more than pleased. His redemption was complete. When Jesse left Killswitch Engage the album he worked on “Alive Or Just Breathing” was just another album in a burgeoning metalcore scene that helped to kick start the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement.

Today, “Alive or Just Breathing” is seen as a classic. I always state that music is all about creating great music now so that it is recognised later for its greatness. As an artist grows their body of work takes on a new life of its own. It takes a while for something to be assimilated. Artists or bands have to hang in there long enough until they get their turn, getting better while they wait and releasing quality music.

“In Due Time” was the lead-off single.

“All that we suffer through leads to determination
The trials we all go through gives us the strength to carry on 

Something within us burns, desire feeds the will to live
A reason to believe I will see redemption”

As the chorus lyrics go, in due time, the shadows will gave way to the light. You just need to be patient and resilient. The words could even reference Jesse’s redemption to Killswitch and the knowledge that he had to go through all these trials so that he could come back a better person.

“A Tribute To The Fallen” has that hook that resonates. In my view this song should have led the album.

“With a new dawn we rise in renewed strength
Knowing we’ve just begun to fight this war within”

Think about all the crap that is going on in our democratic nations. Governments are spying on their own people. The Corporations and their lobby groups drive legislation. Government granted monopolies like the copyright industry are doing their best to kill innovation and when that fails, insert the corporations and their lobby groups. Transparency is promised however it doesn’t exist. Every communication is suddenly classified. Enables of pirated goods get more jail time than actual criminal offenders.

“New Awakening” has the legend behind it about how Jesse blew his voice while he was recording it in the studio. After the Doctor told him about the strain on the vocal chords, Jesse saw it as a badge of honour.

“There is more to life than this
We are more than just this flesh
We are alive and our time has come
For a new awakening”

It’s the Killswitch revolution. Killswitch wants you. Where do i sign? I’m all in.

“You Don’t Bleed For Me” connects with me because it more or less sums up our politicians and how even though they are voted in by the people, they do not work for the people. Of course there are the rare ones who do their best to speak for the people but in the end money wins the game.

“Fly your flag of righteousness
When underneath it is deviousness, it is greed and lies
Don’t pretend to know me you martyr of disgrace
With your plastic smile
I don’t believe a word you say
You don’t speak for me
You don’t bleed, you don’t bleed
You don’t bleed for me”

The closer “Time Will Not Remain”.

“None of us should be thought of as anything less than a potential to change the world”

What a lyric and what a statement. That is the reason why Jesse Leach’s return means so much to Killswitch Engage and to metal fans in general. He never stopped being who he was. He was not corrupted by the modern era. He questions social norms and ideals. He questions the crap our politicians and news outlets throw at us. He questions everything. The great vocalists always have something to say.

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

Metallica: Hot Metal – June 1992, the “Through The Never” Stage Idea Goes Back To This Period and Staying Power

I have been re-reading a lot of the magazines I have accumulated during the Eighties and the Nineties. I just finished reading a story about Metallica from the Australian magazine “Hot Metal”. It is the June 1992 issue.

The article is written by Robyn Doreian, who was the editor once however when this story hit the press, she had moved on to Metal Hammer. The story was a combination of two days she spent with the band, plus separate interviews with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.

The first part that got me interested was the following answers from James Hetfield;

RD – First up, I ask him about the new stage design, which not only challenges conventional rock shows but also has consider-able advantages for the fans.

JH – “We sat down and talked about what we wanted to do. For instance, Lars has his travelling drum kit that was all his thing. I have to make that clear,” he scoffs, “because I find it a little silly. As much as he wants to be in the spotlight, he also gets to travel. He’s basically a front man on drums. We should have thought of it earlier in our careers, I guess.”

“The snake-pit was a combination of ideas from band members and management. Initially that hole in the middle of the stage was meant to be a special effects area, with things like little crosses rising up, or a blow-up ‘Justice’ lady or something.” sniggers Hetfield.

“We said no’ Why not put some kids in there, some fans. That would be cool. We usually put between 40 and 90 kids in there, depending on each city’s fire regulations and stuff.”

RD – What about the area set aside for taping?

JH – “Fans have to buy a special ticket for the tape section. It’s like five bucks more, and there are like 20 or 30 kids who can get in there and video, audio or whatever they want to do. It’s a cool thing to do, to flood the market with bootlegs. And it makes it a little more personal.”

The above got my interest for two reasons;

1. The stage design.
2. Bootlegs.

First, the stage design. The grand stage design that is seen in the movie “Through the Never” was conceived back in 1991 for the tour in support of the Black album. Of course, an idea is just an idea until it is executed and with the exponential rise of technologies, that idea finally came to fruition in 2012.

The point of this is that no one should ever give up on an idea. If it doesn’t work at a particular given point in time, keep it filed away as it could work at a later time.

Second, the bootlegs. The Black tour did something great for the hard core fans that no other band had really done up until then.

Metallica in 1992, wanted to flood the market with bootlegs. Metallica in 2013 has the following disclaimer on their Live Metallica website “Terms of Use”;

Any violation of copyright laws may result in severe civil and criminal penalties. Violators will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible.

Compare the above to the comments from Hetfield. What a difference between Metallica and the Metallicorporation? This is why Metallica messed up big time with Napster by handing over names of fans at the Senate Hearings.

Next up in the interview was Lars Ulrich. Knowing what we know now, words from the past is always interesting.

RD – Seizing the opportunity I ask him whether, seeing as Metallica have now been so firmly embraced by the mainstream, it’s possible that they are becoming what they once rebelled against.

LU – “I don’t disagree with that, but we were always more into doing our own thing, never about being shocking for its own sake or pissing people off. You should always be yourself.”

Lars admits that he and Metallica are becoming the entity that they rebelled against. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not. Can a band remain the same after they accumulate millions? No chance.

RD – Do you ever think that in years to come there is a danger of Metallica being viewed as a dinosaur band, some sort of corporate rock giant similar to what happened to bands like Zeppelin in the 70s?

LU – “I think there are a lot of people in the States right now who, simply because we have gained confidence in what we’re doing, are saying that we are doing the same arena rock clichés that these other bands were doing. My attitude is basically that if people come and see us and think its arena rock crap then that’s fine. It doesn’t affect me; because I know what we’re doing is distinctly different from what everyone else is doing.”

RD – With Grammy awards, cumulative record sales in the millions and adulation the whole world over, what is there left for the band to achieve?

LU – “Staying power. In terms of numbers, it’s not going to get much bigger but its important not to burn out. A lot of bands don’t have the confidence for a long term career, so they try and milk everything while they can. We plan to be around for quite a while, so when this tour is over we’re going to have a long period of inactivity.”

The above is interesting to me for the following two reasons;

1. Be Yourself / Stay true to yourself
2. Staying Power

I was a fan of Metallica coming before the Black album came out. It was “Ride the Lightning” that did it for me. I cannot recall how many arguments I got into over what is the better album between “Master Of Puppets” and “Ride The Lightning”.

Then the Black album comes out and I really liked it. I thought it was perfect. The songs hammered the ear drums from start to finish and the groove was undeniable. Metallica wrote and recorded an album that they wanted to write. It was never designed to have a hit single whereas “Load” and “Reload” to me, feels like Metallica had that single idea in the backs of their mind.

The comments about staying power ring true. As Lars said, in terms of numbers, it wouldn’t get any bigger than the Black album. However reaching the top is not the end of the journey. That is when a new journey begins.

Twisted Sister failed after “Stay Hungry” exploded.

Motley Crue fired Vince Neil after “Dr Feelgood”.

Guns N Roses became Adler-less after “Appetite for Destruction” and after “Use Your Illusion,” Guns N Roses became an Axl Rose solo project.

Motorhead had Fast Eddie Clarke play on one more album (“Iron Fist”) after “Ace of Spades.”

Skid Row got one more album out in “Subhuman Race” after the massive “Slave To The Grind” and disappeared.

Van Halen released “1984” and then fired David Lee Roth. They are one of the rare bands that changed lead singers and went on to bigger success, with the Van Hager era.

Poison got “Flesh and Blood” out after the mega successful “Open and Say Ahh” and it was curtains, even though “Native Tongue” with Richie Kotzen was a great album.

White Lion never recovered from the mega success of “Pride”.

Warrant released the excellent and heavy “Dog Eat Dog”, however it was no “Cherry Pie” and they got dropped after Jani Lane left.

Also when a band reaches the top, it opens up the opportunity for some time off. Metallica had been on an album and tour cycle since “Kill Em All” was released in 1983. After 11 constant years, by 1994, they had some time off, before they regrouped for the “Load” albums.

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