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.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Coheed and Cambria – Metro Theater, Sydney 20 April 2013 – A Set List Of Classic Songs To Be Discovered

Parking in the Sydney CBD.  It’s a nightmare, especially if you don’t frequently drive there.   Miss just one turn and you are screwed, caught in an endless maze of one way’s as you try to work your way back to where you should have been.

I had a VIP pass for the show.  I also purchased the VIP sticky pass for my cousin.  Initially, the VIP pass was to allow you inside the venue 30 minutes before normal doors opened for an acoustic show by at least one member of Coheed and Cambria (COCA).  I then saw on Facebook a few days before the show, that all VIP pass holders for the Australian and New Zealand shows will be a meet and greet session instead of the acoustic show.

Due to my issue with the parking, i didn’t know if the meet and greet went on as planned.  When i got into the venue (which was 10 minutes before the doors opened), I was treated to Travis Stever performing an acoustic song from his side project.  I didn’t realize he was such a good vocalist but it wasn’t what I wanted to see.  By the way, the meet and greet didn’t happen in Sydney, however it happened in Brisbane.  Apparently, too many people had VIP passes for the Sydney show, hence the acoustic set.

Coheed and Cambria is Claudio Sanchez.  So when i saw the rule that at least one member of Coheed and Cambria will perform an acoustic song, i always assumed it would be Claudio, since he is the vocalist and the guitarist and the main songwriter for Coheed.

So yeah, Travis played a song from his side project.  This was unfair to the Sydney fans, it was unfair to me.  Australian fans do not get a chance to see Coheed and Cambria all the time, so an acoustic song with Claudio should have been the norm here.  Next time guys, keep us in the loop.  COCA fans are devoted to COCA, but remember it’s a two-way street.  Don’t fall into the one way street train of thought that a lot of bands seem to have.

Then Circa Survive came on.  I haven’t heard a song from them, so i was interested into hearing what they are like.  What a disappointment?  All I can say is that they are the most luckiest band in the world, as Coheed as taken them around the world on The Afterman tour.  I like a song to have a good riff.  Coheed have a lot of songs that fall into this category.  Circa Survive don’t have that.  The last song Get Out and the second last song, The Difference Between Poison and Medicine Is The Dose weren’t bad songs, however that was it.  Actually one of the guitarist’s stormed off the stage pretty quickly.  He was tuning up his guitar the whole night, which was confusing, however there was an incident early on in the set where the singer hit the neck of the guitar, so maybe something got messed up there.

COCA opened up with No World for Tomorrow.  The title track from their 2007 album, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow.  This is where Claudio (the character) comes to grips with the fact that he is The Crowing and sets out for the ultimate battle with Wilhelm Ryan and Mayo Deftinwolf.  

This is the battle cry.  COCA is the ring master and the fans are the IRObots.  It was the perfect opener.

Bye, bye world, or will our hope still hold on?
Boy, you’re never going see,
The things that will come of these (days.)
Raise your hands high!
Young brothers and sisters,
There’s a world’s worth of work and a need for you.
Oh, a change is coming, feel these doors now closing in.
Is there no world for tomorrow, if we wait for today?

In the whole story arc of The Armory Wars, the characters are tools of fate.  Raise your hands high, young brothers and sisters.  We are at the show, and Coheed and Cambria has come of age.  They opened up with No World For Tomorrow and then took us to the pop/punk – emo tones of A Favor House Atlantic.

A Favor House Atlantic is from In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3.

During the War of the Mages started by Wilhem Ryan, Althaddeus Favor was a Mage that disappeared, and it remains unknown what happened to him. Ryan then moved in on his home, the House Atlantic.  This part of the story came to light during The Year Of The Black Rainbow release.

A Favor House Atlantic is about the death of Al The Killer.  At the start, Al betrays Claudio (the character), as he takes the group to the House Atlantic, which is Wilhelm Ryan’s headquarters.  Al redeems himself at the last-minute, and helps the group to escape, which in turn will cost Al his life.  The Bye Bye Beautiful part is said to Ambellina who Al started to like and it was for that reason he made his last heroic stand.

Bye bye beautiful
Don’t bother to write
Disturbed by your words and they’re calling all cars
Face step, let down.
Face step, step down

It is well-known that Coheed and Cambria songs have dual meanings, referencing real life events that then are woven into the story arc.  There are good arguments put forward on a lot of Coheed blogs, that mention this song is about the Columbine shootings.

Goodnight, Fair Lady was up next continuing with the pop rock feel started with A Favor House Atlantic.  We have gone back in time for the story.  Back to the time of Sirius Armory.  This is another song with a dual meaning.  In the context of the story, this is where Meri, the wife of Sirius is saved from having her drink spiked by a police officer called Grave Colten.  Sirius is presumed dead at this point in time, as his ship had exploded.      In real life, it is about a creepy looking guy at a bar.  The song is on The Afterman; Ascension album.

I’m the snake waiting for you, dear
And eventually you’ll come to me
I know you will

The Crowing kept the pop rock feel going.  This is where Claudio (the character) is woken up by Ambellina, a member of the Prise (a form of guardian angels) who has been sent out to protect Claudio and ensure that he becomes The Crowing, the one foretold in the prophecy, that will be responsible for the end of the Keywork.  It is from the album, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3.

If I form mistakes, would I take them back
If erasing them could, if erasing them would
But would they be the words that I would say

Next up is Vic the Butcher and the show has moved away from the pop rock feel into a more heavy rock feel.  Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher, is about Claudio’s and Chondra’s real life relationship.  In relation to the story Vic is a tyrannical general who massacred innocent people for the good of the cause.  The Achilles heel for Vic The Butcher is Sentry The Defiant, the Sargeant that defied Vic and paid the price with his life.  The song is on The Afterman; Ascension album.  

Baby I’m bad company,
And you don’t have a mark
You’re the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen
Come with me, I want to make you dirty

This will cut you down to pieces
One-eighty-four, let’s burn it down
And if I can’t keep from living with this regret
I’ll need to change the way I think

The show now went into the mellow part of the night.  The hair from Claudio was all tied up.

Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful is the opposite of Vic The Butcher.  It’s about loss, when a person that we love is gone, how would we feel.  Evagria pulled Sirius from Vic’s possession and acts as his savior from the souls who want him.  The song is on The Afterman; Ascension album. 

I am not who I seem, who you thought I could be,
The support you could lean up against when you need,
I’m the dark when you want, the lights out at all costs,
This is mine, that is yours, I’m the bricks in your wall.

The Afterman started with the beautiful delay lead written by Travis, that goes throughout the whole song.  The song was written when Claudio’s (singer) wife Chondra, found out that a very close friend passed away via Facebook.  In relation, to the story, this is where Meri, Sirius’s wife hears the news that Sirius Armory is feared dead, after his ship explodes.  

She gave her heart to a falling star
When news filtered through of his tragedy all the walls went up
Around a world she declines
As the tears from her eyes fall
No one understands, and no one will
All she has lost

Here We Are Juggernaut is heavy.  It’s a perfect pick me up after The Afterman.  In real life, it is Claudio referring to his wife Chondra as his secret weapon and together they are unstoppable.  In the Amory Wars story, it refers to the characters Coheed and Cambria, the growing attraction they are felling for each other, the discovery of Wilhelm Ryan’s plan to siphon the universe’s energy for his own use and the plight of Dr. Leonard Hohenberger, the creator of Coheed and Cambria.  Here We Are Juggernaut is the battle cry.  It is from The Year of The Black Rainbow album.  

 

We were stupid, we got caught
But nothing matters anymore
So what? Here we are, juggernaut,
So let’s hang us a hangman, we’ll bury our burdens in blood

Dark Side of Me is about allowing people into your world, the good and the bad.  As mentioned by Claudio in the deluxe edition book, “True intimacy lies in the dark side, in making peace with the fact that it lives somewhere, so that you share it with the person and they can be there to help you overcome it.”  

In relation to the story, this is after Meri had died in a crash caused by Sirius after she told him she couldn’t be with him and that she was carrying the baby of Officer Colten.  The song is on The Afterman; Descension album.

“You had a million chances to play the hero for her, but you made your choice and hers too.  You left that woman in the dark and came back like you could just turn the light on?  If you loved her, you would’ve stayed up there Sirius, you would have let her go.” Colten said to Sirius.

I gave my everything
For all the wrong things
In this cold reality I made
This selfish war machine

Oh, this has become hell
How can I share this life
With someone else?
I promise you
There is no weight that can bury us
Beneath the ghosts of all my guilt

Here in the dark side of me

In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 is the closer of the first set.  Its epic and the crowd sang it all the way through.  Man Your Battle Stations is the war cry as the Rebel army prepares for war.

In the seventh turning hour
Will the victims shadow fall?
Should the irony grow hungry?
With the victory and all they sought for
We were one among the fence
One among the fence

The encore begins.  Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute was written before the final Michael Todd (ex bassist in Coheed) episode.  In relation to the story line, Domino is a form of energy in the Keywork, angry and bitter, forever stuck in the afterlife.   

The story of Domino, a boxer with talent that gave in to all of the temptations of fame, like drugs and fell in with the local mafia boss.  After losing a fight against the current champion, Domino is offered a chance to redeem himself to the mafia boss by committing a robbery.  He convinces his brother, to help him.  It all goes wrong, his brother gets killed and Domino unable to live with himself, commits suicide.  The song is on The Afterman; Ascension album.

Welcome Home is closer, with its Led Zeppelin Kashmir groove.  It’s as epic as Kashmir.  A song dealing with loss that turns to anger.  The Writer is the character in this, he is the reaper, about to kill a woman that he loves as she pleads for her life.  The song is on the Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness album.  

One last kiss for you
One more wish to you
Please make up your mind girl…
Before I hope you die

Overall, Coheed put on a show.  They easily could have played another 5 to 6 numbers, and in my view they should have, as they don’t tour Australia often.  I remember Dream Theater put on a three-hour extravaganza the first time they toured here.  

Also a big thumbs up to Josh Eppard on drums (Welcome Home) and Zach Cooper on bass.  You guys killed it.  

Till next time.  

One last thing, parking cost $29.  Nice hit on the wallet.  Thanks Sydney CBD for ripping people off again.  At least the Beef Yeeros at Brighton Le Sands made up for it.     

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