A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Content Rockundrum or The Content Metalundrum – Finding an audience for your content.

I just finished reading an article called “The Content Conundrum: How to get people to view what you create”, that was published on the website, Smartcompany.com.au

Of course it got me thinking about rock and metal music and artists.

FACT – It’s getting easier to get content out in the world for musicians. iTunes, CDBaby, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Facebook, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Instagram, website, WordPress and many more. Due to this ease, the web is saturated with content.

As the article alludes, “the challenge is no longer how to publish content, it’s how to find an audience for it.”

FACT: There is so much competition, how does an artist stand out and compete for someone’s time. Back in the glory day of the recording industry, the record labels would be competing for the listener’s dollar. Now it is record labels and artists themselves competing for the listener’s time, attention and maybe their dollar.

For example, it’s funny how a lot of bands or artists don’t think about uniqueness and branding when it comes to deciding what band name or artist name they should go forward with. I was listening to a melodic rock band called “Rain” today. I wanted to know more about the band, so I Googled the words “Rain band.” Of course I knew that the term “Rain” would bring back everything to do with actual rain. To my amusement, the term “Rain band” also brought back everything to do with the weather term “rainbands”. Do you get where I am getting with this? Other bands I listened to today are called “Prime Circle”, “The Black Rain”, “Redline” and “Vaudeville.” Google these band names and tell me if you get the bands website or Facebook page as the first search result.

Motley Crew is not unique, Motley Crue however is.

Metallica is unique. Metal Britannica is not.

Megadeth is unique. Mega Death is not.

Aerosmith is unique. Aeroplane is not.

Coheed and Cambria is unique. That’s it.

Judas Priest is unique.

Queensryche is unique.

Pink Floyd is unique.

Twisted Sister is unique.

Volbeat is unique.

Dream Theater is unique, however Dream Theatre is not unique. Get the difference one little letter change has achieved.

Every artist should aim to have their name to come up as search item result number 1 in Google. If I type in “Tool” in Google, I get 6 returns for the band Tool and 4 returns for other forms of tools, like Tax Tools, Definition of Tool and so forth.

If I type in “Rush” in Google, I only get 2 returns for the band Rush and that is because they have a history in Google’s “SEO” algorithm. I guarantee you, that if a new band called Rush came out on the scene today, there web presence would be lost as the name is generic.

What are you doing different compared to what all the other artists are doing? By using the phrase that you are “putting your heart and soul into the music”, just doesn’t cut it these days. What reasons are you giving for the fans to connect with you and for the fans to buy from you?

If you want to be a millionaire by playing Djent music, then you are dreaming. It will not happen. You could have a career in music, however you will not be rolling in the cash. If cash is the reason why you got into the music industry, then get out right now. There is more money to be made in banking and the technology sector.

Which area or space are you trying to occupy with your music?

Remember the movie Highlander, “there can be only one.” Look at technology. Facebook is unrivalled at the moment. Sure there are other little players on the scene, however all the social media fame goes to Facebook. Amazon has the online shopping experience cornered. Google has the search area cornered. Apple did have the innovation market cornered, however they stopped innovating and Samsung is rising up to take the crown. Blackberry is dead as they refused to see that the future lays in apps. One will become dominant and the other will fall.

Music is the same. Sure, we all have our little niche bands that we love, however there is always one band that rises to conquer all.

Metallica have no challengers at the moment for the Thrash, Rock and Metal crown. Of course, I still love Slipknot, Stone Sour, Machine Head, Megadeth, Slayer, Trivium, Killswitch Engage and so on, however none of those bands can rival the juggernaut that is Metallica.

Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch are fighting it off to be the current conqueror of the Modern Metal movement. Of course, other bands exist in this era that fans also like.

Killswitch Engage are the kings of the metalcore movement in the U.S. Of course there are a thousand wannabes however, Killswitch remain unchallenged.

Dream Theater are the undisputed kings of progressive rock and metal.

Coheed and Cambria are kings of their comics and sci-fi world and they get a fair amount of crossover fans.

If any artist looks back at the careers of the bands/artists that influence them they would see that those artists didn’t release the same content as their competitors.

Metallica in 1991 released an album vastly different to what the other thrash bands released in 1991. They are still selling copies of that album, while all the other releases from their competitors have no traction today.

Motley Crue released a sleazy heavy classic rock album with “Dr Feelgood” in 1989, a far cry from the glam rock and pop metal/rock releases that the other competing bands released.

Guns N Roses released a very heavy blues rock album with “Appetite For Destruction” in 1987 and they stood out from the pack. Axl Rose is still doing victory laps on this album.

Dream Theater released “Images And Words” in 1992, which was totally different to the hard rock releases of the day. When compared to the new wave of Seattle sounds coming through, “Images and Words” was a total outlier.

The blog states that “Content should be influenced by a blend of audience needs, brand positioning and values, and corporate and communication objectives – and these are likely to be unique to your business and enable you to find a unique voice.”

The way I view the above comment is as follows;

I call it “The Led Zeppelin Fix.” When you have one of the largest bands in the history of music call it a day in 1980, what are all the hard rock fans of the band going to do. “Zebra” took in a decent cut, however it wasn’t until “Whitesnake” released their self-titled album in 1987 and “Kingdom Com”e released their self-titled in 1988 that fans of Led Zeppelin had their “Led Zeppelin fix”.

When a novice listener hears the albums mentioned above for the first time they will never notice the obvious influences. Kids these days do not know enough about the history of rock and metal music, in order to make the comparisons. They are too busy trying things out.

This is what Dream Theater is trying to do with their new album. They are trying to make it a great reference point for any new fans hearing the band for the first time. Time will tell if they have succeeded.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Cog

When the History of Australian music is written by the mainstream pop writers, a certain band from Bondi, Sydney called Cog will be forgotten. Seeing the band play live on a lot of occasions, I can say without a doubt, they are one of Australia’s best live bands.

The star of the show without doubt was always Lucius Borich on drums. He rolled and he grooved. The energy he produced on stage, he somehow miraculous transferred over to the audience.

I remember the times when we played with Cog at the Oxford Tavern and UniBar in Wollongong. We all had to load in early as the doors to the venue would shut. (Note: The venue was normally open and entry to watch the live show was free, however when Cog came into town, the venue was turned into a concert hall.)

So we just sat around, drinking beer and watching Lucius sound check. There he is, sound checking the drums, then the guitars and then the bass. The thing that blew me away was the riffs he was playing during the guitar sound checks. At that time, the information doing the rounds on Cog was very vague.

So I had no idea that Lucius was such an accomplished instrumentalist and songwriter. That is why as a drummer he really locks in with the guitar and the bass. That is why his drums move with the peaks and valleys of each song.

No Other Way

What an album track! For an Australian band, it is a ballsy move to open an album with a 10 minute song. The rules are made to be broken and that is what Cog kept on doing with all of their releases. While all their contemporaries went to the hook immediately, Cog took their time to build up to it and when they did, it was well worth the wait. Every time I go back to this song, I keep on hearing little things that I missed with each play before.

Once upon a time albums were not made for radio. Of course, each band had a few songs that could be considered radio friendly, however, the soul of the album was always found by digging deep into the cuts. I remember reading a lot of polarising reviews of the “Sharing Space” album released in 2008, however, if you listen to “No Other Way” and not nod your head, then you must be dead.

Bridges are burning but faces are looking away
People are yearning for someone to show them the way
Tables keep turning and time is the price that we’ll pay
Fast cars and freedom as long as you learn to obey

Fear is the virus they use to divide us
Hoping we’ll all just pretend
That there’s no other way

I remember sitting down to learn this song and I started to break it down into movements. The above lyrics form part of the intro which I call “Movement 1 (0:00 to 2:17)”. It’s got that major chord to minor chord transition and it’s got a melodic hook that draws you in. This is Cog saying to the fans, we are still progressive, we are still mathy, however we are a touch different to what you are used too. This track has melody, it has soul and it has groove.

The subject matter is way understated and so relevant. This is Cog, not playing for a radio hit, but somehow if people stumbled onto it, they would be hooked like it was a radio hit.

Ordered by a god above
To murder in the name of love
And they’ll always claim that truth is on their side

Holding keys to a paradise
All their noise is a lullaby
For years they have ruled over you and I

I called the above, “Movement 2 (2:18 to 3.32)”. Anyone seen the documentary, “Zeitgeist”. It is great viewing. Even Robb Flynn spoke about it recently in one of his journal posts.

Lay down your guns people and start again
And stop digging this hole
Into which we’re all sliding

Screaming down a dead end track
We took a wrong turn now we’re heading back to love
Once this ship has departed
Everyone can feel at home

All invited
Humans undivided
Why not set aside the time to understand your mind

Take it slowly
While facts are showing
Until we’re there
Until we all arrive

I call the above Movement 3 (3:33 to 6:05). People need to listen to each other and take the time to understand each other, instead of talking over each other. “Anybody Listening” from Queensryche, also invokes a similar theme of trying to find a freedom for the soul and to pay attention to what people are saying.

Bridges are burning but faces are looking away
People are yearning for someone to show them the way
Tables keep turning and time is the price that we’ll pay
Fast cars and freedom as long as you learn to obey

Take it slowly
While facts are showing
Until we’re there
Until we all arrive

Fear is the virus they use to divide us
Hoping we’ll all just pretend
That there’s no other way
No other way

I call the above Movement 4 (6:06 to 9.55) – Hearing the melodic hook of the intro sung again over a different chord progression is brilliant.

Are You Interested?

The most famous song off “Sharing Space” is “Are You Interested?” The song embedded itself into the listeners mind and it never left. Producing something magical rarely follows formula. The vocal line of Flynn Gower drives the song.

Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And they’re scanning all their databases
Hunting terrorists
Yes their making lists of people interested in this
And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist

In 2008, Cog sang about how personal privacy is extinct. In 2013, the world is in uproar at the Governments spying on their own citizens.

Four Walls

I am sitting at work listening to “Four Walls” telling myself THIS IS A HIT!. You need to dig down deep into the album to check out “Four Walls” as it is track 12. It’s truly genius, a hooky track based on agoraphobia.

I’m stuck in a space
Four walls
In a room again
But I feel safe
Cause I know, where the end begins

What If

It is the 5/4 timing at the start that hooks me. Again, the vocal line drives the song. It sounds primal and angry. It is almost robotic. It is one of the shorter tracks, however it is still infectious. The song has elements of math rock in it, and in a way the message is one of hope.

What if
In the future
People
Just decided
No more leaders
Fighting to control us

This is Cog offering solutions.

What if
Life was
Just an
Illusion
Made up
By you

We don’t trust our own voice or conscience anymore. We procrastinate and we fail to make important decisions in life. We are fearful of losing what we have, so we over analyse everything to death. So we live a life, that we surround with illusions, just to make us feel better about where we are at in life. I remember this phrase, about proving that a chair exists outside of our mind.

Some things don’t seem right
Change is in sight
Some things are so wrong
Blind eyes too long

It’s like the Queensryche song, “Sign of the Times”, where they ask the question, “Can we do better than this?” The answer is we can, however we have been blinded for so long, we fail to see the wrongs.

Bird Of Feather

This song is dark. It is confrontational.You can hear the anguish in Flynn’s voice at the separation from his three year old daughter and his partner. He was away from them for eight months while he was recording the album in the U.S and then once the album was released, he had to seperate from them again to tour.

 

But I’m only trying to make it better,
Is there no other way,
No other way to go,

Bridging the gap with calling,
Don’t fade away,
Tuning my ears to the sound of your tears,
Is there no other way?

Of course she’s wondering why,
Only three years old,
Dad’s gone again,
Don’t know when,
We’ll all be back home together

Sharing Space

All the faces that we’ve learnt to love
And all the tears we cried when we opened up

I been working, dreaming, wanting something more
And I’m thinking; all this shit I’m doing, what’s it for?

I’m waiting for the day to arrive

They have been writing and touring for years and they have come a long way. They set themselves goals and then complete them. Now they are at a point in their life where they are doing some self-evaluation. They are re-assessing, asking the question why they are together, as life moves so fast, they need to take a pause to absorb it all.

All the fighting, the hurting, the bleeding, the crying
What’s it for?
All the people living, breathing, dying
Wanting more…

For some reason it reminds me of the song, “Promised Land” from Queensryche. Queensryche asks the question, what is success and what is happiness in that song. Does success equal happiness? Our whole society is based on consumption. We are all part of this system, so what’s this life for? Basically all of the ideals our society stands for is a load of crap.

Listening to Cog brings back memories of Tool. Progressive, a bit alternative, a bit rocky, a bit metally, very left of centre, quirky and artistic and in the same way that Tool could cross over with a song like Sober from their album Undertow, Cog do the same with What If?

In the end it just looks like the people that dealt with them, didn’t know what to do with them, how to market them, how to sell them to the public on a world-wide scale. Despite a hard core of die hard fans who purchased every album and went to see the show, the core never really increased.

“Sharing Space” did crossover and the band did see an increase in the fan base during that tour. Maybe they just needed that force of nature personality type, who would not take no for an answer to take them to the next level.

In a country that is infatuated with American Culture and reality TV shows like The Voice, X Factor, Got Talent and Idol, Cog was the antihero to all of this crap.

Cog’s music will endure forever.

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

Semi Obscure Machine Head songs

Getting dropped by Roadrunner U.S after the Supercharger album saved Machine Head. The first album Burn My Eyes (released in 1994) was a success. For a debut album Machine Head went on a three year victory lap. The second album The More Things Change (released in 1997) stagnated.

In order to keep their deal with Roadrunner Records going they had to resort to the metal music that was popular at the time. In this case it was Nu Metal. The Burning Red (released in 1999) and Supercharger (released in 2001) came and went during this period.

Then the band got dropped. They even got rejected by every record label they approached for a new deal.

They could have broken up. Instead they went away and wrote Through The Ashes of Empires (released in 2003) which they self-produced. Just like how Rush’s, 2112 laid the foundations of what was to come for Rush, Through The Ashes of Empires did the same for Machine Head.

The lifestyle of a musician isn’t just rags to riches. It cycles back to rags and then back to riches and back again. I always use the Apple analogy. Apple was a leader when it came out on the scene. Then it was going out of business. Then the company got Steve Jobs back in and it became a leader again. In the process, it changed the way live and how we consume music. Now it is running on fumes again.

The list of songs you are about to read are cult favourites. They are not the songs that Machine Head will put into a concert set list every time, however they deserve the same attention as the big ones.

Left Unfinished released in 2003 on Through The Ashes of Empires.

Lyrics and music are written by Robb Flynn. It starts off with the creepy tinker box music. Robb Flynn was adopted at birth. He told LA Weekly that for the longest time he hated his biological parents and never wanted anything to do with them. He wrote this song as a “F.U” to them.

After the tinker box music, a Pantera groove kicks in.

How Korn like are the verses? All the way from the vocal melody to the phased/flanged/tremolo’d guitars to the bass hitting the note and sliding the finger down to the hip hop groove of the drums.

The chorus again is a standout, with the perfect backing vocals of Adam Duce.

I’ll never forget
Life you disdain
So to the parents that bore me this pain
With all those things you left unfinished

This is real life, this is real hurt. This isn’t no Bon Jovi song written by a committee. It isn’t pretty. It is the anthem for all the other kids given up for adoption. I can never relate to the lyrical theme of the song however I can relate to the pain. Pain doesn’t discriminate. It affects us all. The abandonment that Robb feels can be translated to the abandonment a kid feels when the school bully lays into him or her.

You never could love me
I’m glad that you never did
My parents that raised me
Had plenty of that to give
And for that
I’ll love them forever with all my heart
But to you don’t let there be no mistake about it
F.U you cocksucker F.U, you whore
I’ll live my life the opposite of what you are
Love will be my rock
The rock that I stand on

It’s all there. The exorcism of a childhood denied from one set of parents to the childhood obtained from another set of parents. I can’t help but make the connection to Queensryche and Chris DeGarmo’s Bridge, which served as his exorcism of being abandoned by his father.

Don’t try to reach out to me
Don’t try to call
The boy that you created
Is dead for all you f&@king know
You just pretend you’ve never heard or seen
The name Lawrence Mathew Cardine

Wow. The world knows him as Robert Conrad Flynn. However his birth certificate states Lawrence Matthew Cardine. I have seen Robb perform with Machine Head on three occasions in Australia, and he commands the stage. When he says the words, the circle pit gets into a frenzy. You would never pick up on his wounded past.

We are all damaged a little bit. The ones that make it through the heartache and the depression end up changing the world.

As I have said many times, you cannot copy the vocal style of Robb Flynn. You need to have lived his lifestyle to have his vocal style. To me it is the best voice in the metal genre. He can be melodic in a Rob Halford /Bruce Dickinson way, he can be aggressive in a James Hetfield way, he can be progressive in a Jonathan Davis/Maynard Keenan way, he can be hardcore in a Phil Anselmo way and he can be deathly in a Chuck Schuldiner way.

In a world where everyone believes they are a winner, a world-beater who feels entitled to success, you have Robb Flynn the anti-hero to the victorious life portrayed by the fakes. The maestro Flynn who has more questions than answers.

People like Robb Flynn and Corey Taylor have made it through and they are changing the world.

Descend The Shades Of Night released in 2003 on Through The Ashes of Empires

Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn and Dave McClain. It’s my favourite song on the album.

What can I say, when I heard this song I was in a bad place. The acoustic intro is so sad and depressing. The reason why this song connected with me, is knowing that there are other people out there feeling the same way.

Sitting in the empty black
The last slivers of dusk have passed
Accept the dawn to ease the fear
One day I will not be here

They don’t teach you about death in school. They don’t tell that death can come at any time. You feel invincible when you are 18. As you get older you start to think about death a bit more.

The lead break from Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn for some reason reminds me of Tesla. I know, they are two separate bands from two totally different time periods and genre’s, however the whole passage and even coming into the harmony guitars, just reminds of The Great Radio Controversy from Tesla released in 1988.

Then the sing with me part is up lifting.

It is the humanity in the song, knowing that Robb Flynn has got more questions than answers. We can put on a happy face and we can get along with those at work but what we really want to do is let go, be ourselves and be accepted.

Pearls Before The Swine released in 2011 on Unto The Locust

It’s a Robb Flynn, Phil Demmel and Dave McClain composition.

It’s the familiarity of the Ride The Lightning intro. The drums and bass groove from McClain and Dice is identical to what Ulrich and Burton play in Ride The Lightning. It is that familiarity that hooks me in. I didn’t like this song when I first heard it because the other songs like Unto The Locust, Be Still and Know, This Is The End, Darkness Within and Who We Are really stood out. However, playing those stand out songs to death, I unearthed this little gem, sitting between Darkness Within and Who We Are.

This is what guitarist Phil Demmel told Sonic Excess magazine about the song;

“It was a song without lyrics really for a while, without a concept. We kind of came up with an idea to write about addicts and addiction, when talking to each other and watching Breaking Bad episodes to kind of catch up and start again to see it. (laughs) It’s not a song about hope. It’s just a song about being in the throes of addiction, in its claws, and a lot of my lyrics are in there. So, there’s a lot of descriptive thoughts of addiction. It’s not a song of hope for sure. It’s not ‘Stairway To Heaven.'”

Lie in this state of perdition
Never to awake

Perdition – A state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful person passes after death. What a powerful line that sums up what addiction and depression is.

Make love to denial her sober embrace
Nails they’ve embedded never to release

If you don’t realise you have a problem, you can never treat it.

Count the 12 times you step equal 12 times you fail
No abstination relapse tip the scale
As you swallow the hook and you chew on the line
Choke on the sinker in this sea of lies

Man, what a verse. The 12 steps of rehab just didn’t work out and before you know it, the habit is back; hook, line and sinker.

The passage from 3.18 is superb. The music, the build and the melodic vocals. People have tried to imitate Robb Flynn in his vocal style, however as far as I am concerned, you need to have lived his life in order to sing like him. His vocal style is his lifestyle. I will replay this song a thousand times just to hear this section.

Broke vows and broken rosaries
Bind these rusted hopeless dreams
Broke vows and broken rosaries
Bind these rusted hands in prayer
Faith trust and love are mowed down lonely In these killing fields

What a vocal melody. It’s goose bumps all the way. The double kick from McClain keeps it rolling.

Then it’s all thrash from 4.36. I would have loved to be in the studio when they wrote this bit. It would have been high fives all around. The whole song is progressive. Not in the weird time changes progressive, just the fusion of so many different styles and melodies and riffs.

Machine Head hold their own against the Big 4. Hell, that concept should be expanded to include Machine Head. Better yet get rid of Anthrax and put Machine Head on the bill.

A Farewell To Arms released in 2007 on The Blackening

This is the album where Machine Head finally got their victory lap. The Blackening is such a strong album that other songs could be missed if you don’t dig deep into it. A Farewell To Arms is unbelievable. Great music and great vocal melodies. The lyrics are written by Robb Flynn, Adam Duce and Phil Demmel. The music is written by Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel.

Mutilated lives
Blackening as coffin line the sides
Filled with fathers
Who has won?
When only sons
Hold their grieving heads and mourn
A farewell to arms

The end product of war for the ones that do not return. It comes across in a powerful way. While the verses are great what truly makes the track is the chorus.

I’ll wave this flag of white
So the venged see the light
We’ll pay for closed eyes
With our genocide

Is venged even a word? Who cares right, as it fits the vocal melody to a tee? The chorus has a similar guitar melody like Halo underpinning the vocal melody.

Then the Iron Maiden-esque lead break wails from 7.10. The drumming and the backing tracks all have that Maiden Trooper Gallop. Then at 7.40 it is the Creeping Death “Die By My Hand” part from Metallica.

Somehow they bring it all back to an ending reminiscent of Master Of Puppets, again from Metallica. Just when I think it’s over, a few more bars of clean tone and the immortal words A FAREWELL TO ARMS.

Who has won when we’re all dead? This song also points the finger at the rich and the government officials that pushed the country into war. One of the verses deals with how the children of the fallen are left without fathers and how the children of the government officials will never know what it is like to fight a war.

Kick You When You’re Down released in 2001 on Supercharger

It’s a Robb Flynn, Ahrue Luster, Adam Duce and Dave McClain composition. The Supercharger album didn’t get as much attention from me as it should have when it first came out. As I got older, I went back and listened to it. Now I appreciate it more.

You have to trust in yourself
You must believe in yourself
You have to follow your heart
You overcome, improve, endure

It’s the anthem for the determined. As the other lyrics in the song state, sometimes you fight and you win, sometimes you fight and you lose, however it is the fighter in you that will never lose. In the end you move forward by overcoming obstacles, improving on what you did before and enduring. Remember, to be a winner, you need to outlast the competition.

Deafening Silence released in 2001 on Supercharger

This song is a Robb Flynn, Ahrue Luster, Adam Duce and Dave McClain composition.

One thing I really liked about this period of Machine Head (1999 to 2001) is that Robb Flynn was pushing himself lyrically and really went to town writing about his own personal issues. That is why the albums that came after had the perfect mix of personal reflections, political reflections and religious reflections.

You drink a thousand lies,
to freeze the past in time

Numbing the present with alcohol. I am sure every metal head has been in this situation. That is why we gravitate to this kind of music. We are the outcasts, the ones that society couldn’t pigeon hole. Note the reference to a song from Burn My Eyes.

See the pain in my eyes
see the scars deep inside
My God, I’m down in this hole again
With the laughter I smile
with the tears that I cry
Keep going down this road called life

The chorus above speaks volumes about society in general. My favourite lines are “With the laughter I smile, with the tears that I cry, keep doing down this road called life.” That is who we are in a nutshell. We just roll along. The ones that don’t, end up taking their lives.

Silver released in 1999 on The Burning Red

It’s got similar lyrics from A Nation On Fire. This song really reminds of Tool, especially that Cold breakdown. Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Dave McClain, Ahrue Luster and Dave McClain.

Take my hand
Across this land
Escape this, all the hell inside

Creating that other shell of a person to take the pain while the real person is hidden somewhere in the recesses of the mind.

Create this man
To make my stand
And break this hardened shell in time

It’s like this, we put out a face of confidence to all who see us, however inside, we are filled with doubt. We are scared. We are questioning. And if we feel like everything is going great, the real person will break away the mask and step into the light.

I see a mirror to me
The lines along my face are drawn in
I believe reflections bleed
The sorrows of our souls

I remember reading an interview with Robb Flynn that he was bulimic at one point in his life, always forcing himself to chuck up so that he can look the part. It’s a powerful verse with great imagery. We have all stood in front of the mirror and we have all judged our appearances.

A Thousand Lies released in 1994 on Burn My Eyes

The verse riff is the same as Cowboys From Hell from Pantera. Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Chris Kontos, Logan Mader and Adam Duce.

In poverty there is no democracy

Basically in poverty there is the motto that only the strong survive. That whole fairness and equality is rubbish. Even in poverty there is class warfare.

This urban life is so volatile
An inner city or a concrete hell

This is it, you either live, or you die or you end up in prison.

What is a man who don’t stay true to the game
Don’t care for no one, only cares for his greed
He’s playin’ God killin’ thousands of people ‘
Cause the power is the fix that he needs

When Robb is writing about themes that piss him off, he is always on game. He is basically saying, who can we trust in this world anymore, when all we get is lies.

A Nation On Fire released in 1994 on Burn My Eyes

Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Chris Kontos, Logan Mader and Adam Duce. The intro clean tone riff is that good, that it was re-written for A Farewell To Arms and Unto The Locust.

A world that spends more to kill than to cure

Another brilliant line. What kind of a world do we live in? Our Governments give more money to the military then what they do for research on finding cures.

So take my hand across this land

There are the lines that re-appear in Silver. It’s almost like he is saying to an angel to take him away from this world.

You tell me peace, Well I hear gunshots all night
The scars I have, I’ve earned ’cause I’ve had to fight

As we get older and we accumulate knowledge, we find it hard to believe the B.S that our Politicians try to push. The themes that Robb explores on the first Machine Head album keep re-occurring time and time again on other albums.

How cool is the SLOW part at the end. The groove just gets slower until the song ends.

I’m Your God Now released in 1994 on Burn My Eyes.

Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Chris Kontos, Logan Mader and Adam Duce.

The vocal melody at the start is that good, that Robb Flynn used it again for A Farewell To Arms. It’s a sad and sorrowful tale of addiction. The “her” in the song is the heroin. Drug addiction is covered a far bit in the songs of Machine Head.

So pain told you to take her
Well I learned to accept that feeling
‘Cause I found how to numb it
If only for just a short while
I’d get so high, I’d forget my own name
I scarred my fist, I scarred my brain
I think that I’m going insane
I think that I’m going insane

This song was brought back into my memory when I was listening to the Sixx AM album and the song, The Girl With The Golden Eyes. Nikki Sixx is another person that struggled to deal with the abandonment of his father.

So now I’m in your system
And I’m what helps you numb your pain
With time you will confide in me
So lonely my friend, I’ve made you lose control
You’ll use me more and more with time
Our friendship grows with each mainline
So glad that you could be so blind
So glad that you could be so blind

Again I am thinking of the Sixx AM song.

She speaks to me in Persian
Tells me that she loves me
The Girl With Golden Eyes

And though I hardly know her
I let her in my veins
And trust her with my life

I wish I never kissed her
Cause I just can’t resist her
The Girl With Golden Eyes

Every time she whispers
Take me in your arms
The way you did last night

Everything will be alright
Everything will be okay

People like Robb Flynn, Nikki Sixx and Corey Taylor have made it through and they are changing the world.

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Music Is A Long Road – A Trip Down Memory Lane with Fates Warning, Tom Petty and Dream Theater

For any artists these days, be it Bon Jovi or Metallica or Dream Theater or Motley Crue or Imagine Dragons or Shinedown or Machine Head or any new band starting off right now, they all need to understand one thing. We are living in the generation of kids born from 1997 onwards. This generation wants to consume music. Their sense of community is all online. Anyone that says they don’t have a Spotify account is not living in the modern age. These kids weren’t alive when the Record Labels ruled the day, so they have no desire for yesterday, they are all about today and what lays beyond.

For any artist these days, their whole career is about relationships. If you want an audience to invest, you need to establish a relationship. You need to make the effort. The days of touring a city based on the record sales figures for that city are long gone. Ask Dream Theater or Iron Maiden how many albums they have sold in South America? Then ask them how many people came to their shows in those countries.

Mike Portnoy stated in the linear notes on the released bootleg recording of Dream Theater’s Santiago, Chile show from June 2005 that they didn’t know what to expect from South America due to the low number if records they had sole there. They even went to the show with a cut down stage set to save money. In the end, they played to their biggest headlining audience ever.

It’s all about roots. If an artist doesn’t have any, the audience is not interested. Experience moulds the artist, it influences them. Music is an end unto itself. When done right, the sound and the feel is enough. It doesn’t need the videos, the PR sell and all the pyro that comes with the rock n roll show.

Tom Petty sang that Love Is A Long Road. That is the aim of every artist. To foster the love of the audience into a sustainable career. To paraphrase Tom Petty, Music is A Long Road. The same way that a relationship with a partner has its ups and down, so does the relationship between artist and fan. The same effort that an artist puts into a loving relationship is basically the same effort they need to put in to their music career.

The music community has shifted to being a song centric community. We just dont know it yet. The album format that used to make the most money for the record labels is almost a dead format. However artists still go back and release a collection of songs as an album.

In order for the album format to work for you, you need to create an album that is playable throughout. You need to create an album that needs to be heard over and over again. You need to create an album that stands up years after its release.

Fates Warning released an unbelievable album called Disconnected in 2000. However talk to anyone these days and it is like the band never existed. It’s been years since I’ve heard Disconnected and to my amazement, it sounds as fresh and innovative today as it did 13 years ago. Jim Matheos is the pure definition of the progress is derivative statement. He has the ability to take good things from songs that came before and mould them into something great, unique and innovative.

In the Year 2000, progressive music was at opposite ends of the spectrum. You had the Dream Theater style of progressive music on one side and the Tool style of progressive music on the other side. In between you had a band like Porcupine Tree, merging Tool like aggression with Pink Floyd like atmospherics. The mainstream was ruled by Nu-Metal bands. The missing link was Fates Warning.

With Disconnected, Jim Matheos merged the Tool and Porcupine Tree progressive elements with the Dream Theater progressive elements and put them through the Fates Warning blender.

Disconnected is a fusion of all the best progressive elements at the time into a cohesive piece of work that can be listened to over and over again from start to finish. It is a tragedy that this album is so overlooked these days. In the same way that each lick and melody from Images and Words by Dream Theater sticks in my head, Disconnected from Fates Warning does the same.

I am looking forward to hearing “Darkness In A Different Light” when it comes out on September 27. Nine years is a long time between albums. Nine years in the music business is an eternity. So much has changed. Love is a long road. Music is a long road.

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

Where are the new Classic Rock heroes?

The main classic rock bands were all about individuality. The Eagles, Boston, Styx, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Rush, Bad Company, Foreigner, Aerosmith and Cheap Trick all had a unique sound. 

The Eighties gave us Metallica, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, U2, Duran Duran, AC/DC, Journey, Whitesnake, Van Halen (and yes i know that some of these bands formed in the seventies), Aerosmith again and Foreigner.

Look at the list, Metallica played fast speed metal that was labelled thrash, Motley Crue played a hybrid version of pop, punk, rock and metal. Van Halen wrote the book on the nuclear band, Guns N Roses rewrote the seventies classic rock period with a dash of punk and Def Leppard merged Queen, with Bowie with Mott The Hoople with their NWOBM leanings into a pop rock format. Each band spawned thousands of imitators.

Today, all the young bands want to be a member of the same club. Metalcore is one club that is completing suicide on itself. Each year, thousands of bands come out that sound the same as the original bands that came before it.

Modern Rock is another genre that is suffering from over saturation. Where is the uniqueness. The reason why Imagine Dragons are at the top of the food chain is that they had that uniqueness that separated them from the pack.

What is the difference between Pop Evil, Young Guns, You Me At Six, The New Black, The Maine, Tango Down, Smile Empty Soul, Red Line Chemistry, Redlight King, Pillar, Plan Three, Projected, Nonpoint, Three Doors Down, My Darkest Days, Rev Theory, Three Days Grace, Eye Empire, Egypt Central, Emphatic and so on? Absolutely nothing is the answer.

All the young uns want is to be a member of the club however individuality is the key to creating everlasting art. Don’t shun your individuality. Dream Theater stayed true to themselves at a time when grunge, industrial and nu metal ruled the mainstream. Tool came through on their terms and in the words of Frank Sinatra, they did it their way.

Today’s world has everybody Tweeting and Facebooking just to be liked. Where is the edge of the Classic Rock era?

Dave Mustaine and Ted Nugent have an opinion and everyone has a knee-jerk reaction to it.

Rolling Stone is coping a lot of flak for their cover of the Boston Bomber. What did the outburst of David Draiman or Nikki Sixx or any other celebrity that wanted to join the anti-Rolling Stone club do to change the matter? Nothing.

If anything they brought more attention to the Rolling Stone article. It’s the Streisand Effect all over again. However at least they are going out there and stating an opinion. Did anyone come out and say that the Rolling Stone cover was cool?

Magazines like artists live in the culture of being paid right now. Do the people that work for Rolling Stone magazine care if the magazine is still around in 12 months’ time? Of course not. They will dust themselves off and get another job.

Everybody’s got their own agenda. When I read a tweet or a post from a celebrity, I evaluate where they are coming from as opposed to accepting it as truth. Has anyone seen a news story that says piracy doesn’t hurt sales?

A lot of research has come out from various Universities that support this argument. Instead we get the RIAA/MPAA piracy stats banded about on major television, with no information as to where those numbers come from. Why? The major televisions are owned by the giant copyright monopoly organisations.

Another important distinction from today’s artists and the Classic Rock era artists is that no one can say no to the money. Rush could have recorded a mainstream radio friendly album in 1976 just to please the record label. Instead they recorded 2112, an album that set up a very lucrative future for Rush and an album that made the record label very nervous when they heard it. As guitarist Alex Lifeson has stated in numerous interviews, 2112 set up a career for Rush.

Egypt Central wanted to be a member of the Modern Rock club and have disbanded. Three Days Grace were a member of the Modern Rock club and lost their vocalist with the parting words that the recording industry just want hits and push artists to write songs in that vein. My Darkest Days and Rev Theory are all modern rockers and they have lost their lead guitarists, which are normally significant songwriters.

Remember, individuality is the key. How good is Machine Head, since they broke away from following the trends that the label used to push on them. Since 2003, they have gone from strength to strength. 

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The old rock star is dead. Its time to create a new rock star that is a product of the times

Influences/Inspiration

Nobody exists in a vacuum. Inspiration comes from what you read, watch and experience.  Inspiration is the merging of these experiences and influences into something new. When Metallica came on the scene they were inspired and influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. They were influenced by Punk. They were inspired and influenced by Classic Rock. They were excited and this made them nervous. Nerves made them play faster.

When Black Sabbath came on the scene they were originally influenced by the Blues. Just another blues band among the many blues bands doing the rounds at that time. Then they applied their gloomy industrial upbringing and the rest is history.

Experience

Inspiration doesn’t take place in a vacuum. All day long you are experiencing.

Could Nikki Sixx have written Kick Start My Heart if he didn’t experience death and life? Could James Hetfield have written The Unforgiven if he was brought up in a wealthy household that didn’t have Christian Science beliefs? Could Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi have written Wanted Dead Or Alive if they never toured? Could Dee Snider have written We’re Not Gonna Take It, if he was rich?

If you think you can write a hit song with no prior experience, you’re dreaming.  Our whole life is information. Be ready to reference it.  Trust your first initial feeling.

Sign Of The Times

Don’t get caught up in doing things in the old way. Today’s medium is the Internet. No one wants to hear new music from their favourite artist every two years. We surf the net each day, looking for new music and information.  If there is a demand for your music, you should create and distribute constantly.

The days when we used to have very little music are over. The days of saving up to buy an album and the playing the same album over and over again are also gone.  Now, we’ve got the history of recorded music at our fingertips. YouTube has everything that you want, Spotify has almost everything that you could want and if all of that fails cyber lockers and The Pirate Bay fill the void.

Product Of The Times

The old rock star is dead. Its time to create a new rock star that is a product of the times. Keep innovating.  Embrace the new reality that is being born. Stop playing by the rules of the Classic Rock artists.

Look at the band Heartist. When they formed, they decided that they would not play by the old rules of playing as many gigs as possible just to get noticed.  They decided to not play by the old rules of guaranteeing promoters 50 presales for each gig (which more or less meant, the band either had to beg people to come to their show that didn’t want to be there or they basically paid to play).  They decided to write songs.  They decided to keep on writing. They started posting demos on YouTube. They started building a buzz. The songs had quality. People started to spread them, share them, talk about them. They played ONE gig and got signed by Roadrunner and management.

What Does Music and Success Mean These Days?

Music is for the fans. Music is for the people. Music is not for a record executive to make billions so that they can compete with the Forbes 100 Rich List.  If you want to be in the music business, you need to focus on what music means. Be inspired! Create!  You have to practice, be original and wait for your moment, when you have to deliver.

Def Leppard’s Hysteria was out for over a year before it exploded on the back of the Love Bites single. A sleeper hit that no one saw coming. If the song is really damn good it will get people’s attention.

If you want success, you need to get people’s attention. If you want success you need to work hard and don’t plan for it. If you want success, practice and be ready to turn that inspiration into a product.  If you want success, you need to know that you have no control over what spreads and what doesn’t. Don’t judge the success of your project straight away. Success is always ten steps behind. It takes a while for it to happen.  Don’t just the success of your project in dollar terms. Success is about laying a solid foundation and building on it.

Your music has to be accessible. It needs to make an instant impact. Fans do not have the time to spend on letting an album sink into our brain like the old ways. These days there are so many options and people don’t endure that which is not pleasing to them, They move on. Repetition is not an artist’s friend in the current times. The life span of a song is different these days.

Most of the time you get one shot for each new fan. It is that one time when people will hear what you have created. One time where you need to satisfy them, so that they can respond and share.

Today, you need to have that one unbelievable cut, that makes the people need to hear it over and over again. That one cut that makes the people want to go and find out more about you.

Whether it be Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, Dio’s “Holy Diver”, Ozzy Osbourne “Crazy Train”, Kiss “Lick It Up”, Shinedown’s “Second Chance” or Metallica’s’ “One”. It works in every genre of music.

Connections

Artists can go straight to their audience, there are no restrictions. Artists by now should know that their career depends on building a loyal relationship with as many fans as possible. In order to build relationships, you need to get people’s attention. You need to find a way to be heard over all the noise.

Standing Out – Visuals and Music

You want to be remembered. You want to be talked about. How can you achieve that? Society is a visual culture. That is why we watch TV shows, movies, take pictures and film ourselves.

Why do you think, when you see a preview for a new movie coming out, the studio marketeers have music with it? Why do you think TV shows and movies have soundtracks? They are re-enforcing the visuals with music, as people take more notice when that happens. If people notice they will talk about.

Putting your music with visuals is a big step forward to getting people’s attention. How many times have you walked out of a movie, thinking, what a tough score. I just watched World War Z and I loved the track that Muse did for it.  Man Of Steel had an unbelievable score by Hans Zimmer, that captured the emotion in each scene. It was also inspiring and uplifting. I still remember the preview to the Captain America movie, where they had the music (46&2) from Tool playing and that was almost three years ago.

Standing Out – Opinions

No artist can please everyone. So don’t try. All artists stand for something. If you write a song that is anti-(insert topic here), you will alienate some, and connect more with others. When people get fired up (via positive or negative feelings) they pay attention.

Standing Out – Different = Success

If you look at all of your heroes, they are there for a reason. They are different. When they came on the scene, they were different. Twisted Sister was different to all the other bands in the Eighties in how they dressed and looked. Their style was a combination of AC/DC style rock, mixed with Judas Priest metal, with a dose of punk chucked in. Metallica was different to all the metal and rock bands when they came onto the scene. Motley Crue was different to all the new wave music that was popular at the time. Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were all different to the Eighties Glam Rock movement. Black Sabbath was different to all the hippie folk music at the time.

Different also includes doing cover versions of popular songs. Take jazz songs and turn them into rock songs. Take pop songs and make them into rock songs.  The original artist’s fans will be curious to hear these versions.  Led Zeppelin did a lot of covers, Metallica the same. Van Halen had cover songs on their first five albums. Motley Crue did Smokin In The Boys Room and Helter Skelter.

What Does It Mean to be an Artist Today?

You don’t want to be an artist that becomes who others want them to be. You don’t want to be an artist that whores themselves out to make money. You don’t want to be an artist that does what they have to do to keep the status quo.

It’s okay to not be liked by everybody.

Real artists don’t believe in conforming. Real artists stay true to who they are. Real artists play to their fans and allow the fans to talk about them. Do not change for all the new people that could tag along to your success train, that’s death. You need to keep playing to the hard core fan base. A great artist is someone who leads us into the unknown who we can’t help but follow.

Dream Theater is one artist that comes to mind, that did it their way or the hard way. Signed as a progressive band, they released When Dream and Day Unite, which the label ignored and then went on a long search for a vocalist. When Pull Me Under got traction on MTV and Radio, the band was then a commercial prospect for the label. So the label now wants more crossover songs, and this lead to the issues with the label around the Falling Into Infinity project. After that the band stayed true to who they are and they have grown with each album and are more successful now than ever.

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