A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Don’t Have The Grit To Rock N Roll)

I just finished reading a “Wall Street Journal” article that had a section about Angela Lee Duckworth, about how “GRIT TRUMPS TALENT” and the GRIT scale that she designed.

Grit means the passion and perseverance for long-term goals. In other words, the grittiest person will end up achieving much more than the talented person who doesn’t exhibit any grit. The career of an aritst is all about the taking risks, putting it all on the line and on occasion experiencing defeat. Add to that mix, “GRIT”.

So in every facet of our lives we will face a person that has super talent and grit. We will face a person who possess some talent, but a lot of grit. Finally, we will face a person who has no talent and no grit.

When I think of GRIT, I think of Mick Mars and Twisted Sister.

Starting off with Mick Mars.

Was he supremely talented? No.

Did he have the GRIT? Hell yeah.

Just think about it for a moment. Mick Mars started off doing the band circuit around 1971 and it was 11 years later when Motley Crue got picked up Elektra. Then came the shred era with the release of Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Rising Force” in 1983 and poor old Mick Mars was blasted by the new guitar fans of the movement.

He was too sloppy, he was too old, he was too slow, he wasn’t technical enough and it just went on and on. The last laugh is being had by Mick Mars. He is still around. Regardless of what you think about Motley Crue, or the band members within, one thing they do have is GRIT.

Let’s look at Twisted Sister, the best bar band doing the tri-state scene. For Jay Jay French, it was a long way to the top. He started off Twisted Sister in 1972. Dee Snider joined in 1976. The band came to world-wide attention in 1983, with the release of “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” and the follow-up “Stay Hungry” in 1984.

Was Twisted Sister the most talented heavy metal band doing the rounds at this time? Of course not.

Did Twisted Sister have the grit to make it? Hell Yeah.

One could argue that the band ceased to be in 1987, so what happened to the GRIT? It lived on with Dee Snider. Regardless of the success of his post Twisted Sister bands, Dee Snider continued to battle it out. He never gave up.

Looking at some other artists, I immediately think of Vito Bratta from White Lion.

Vito Bratta is a favourite of mine and a massive influence. He is a supremely talented guitarist and songwriter, however with his exile from the music business since 1992, it looks like he just didn’t have the GRIT.

Mike Tramp on the other hand, has the GRIT (Freaks Of Nature, a new version of White Lion, plus a tonne of solo releases), but without Vito, he doesn’t have the talent in the compositions.

Jake E. Lee is another favourite of mine that has sort of disappeared from the public conversation. A very talented musician, who got the boot from Ozzy Osbourne because he couldn’t agree with Sharon Osbourne over the publishing rights of Ozzy’s music. So he goes on to form Badlands with Ray Gillen (RIP) and they release two excellent albums before calling it a day with ego tantrums and arguments.

Is Jake E. Lee talented? Of course

Does he have any GRIT? I am going to answer YES on this one. Since the end of Badlands, Jake E Lee has gone on to appear on a lot of tribute albums, along with a few solo releases and a couple of projects that he demoed songs with. The bottom line is, he never really stopped creating.

Currently, he is recording songs for a new project called Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel.

To finish off, the immortal words of Bon Scott (RIP) from AC/DC;

Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looks

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

Quality Equals Success and Those Doomsday Scenarios From Misguided Artist

Remember a time when people used to fear Doomsday. Back then Doomsday was the end of the world through some act of nature or nuclear warfare. These days Doomsday has gone all up market.

Doomsday now has a three piece suit and it is a trader on Wall Street. Each week, there is a new poll that states, “Doomsday; 98% risk of 2014 stock market crash”. “Doomsday; Critical Warning as 2013 shocker looms”. This is how far we are gone as a race. Our whole doomsday scenarios now revolve around the loss of money. Our priorities revolve around wealth and the accumulation of it.

I remember back in June 2011, Chris Clancy the vocalist of Mutiny Within, posted on his Facebook page (which was then removed) about the labels not making any money from music sales, so they take from the band’s income and after four years of working almost every day, he had only earned $100 in all of that time. There was also a rant about illegal downloads and how the band was dropped from Roadrunner because they sold less than 10,000 legal sales in the US and that their album had been illegally downloaded more than 60,000 times. It is that same argument you get from ignorant musicians, that their music is stolen because the label didn’t make any money of it.

So what does Doomsday and Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within have in common. Clancy’s priorities revolve around wealth and the accumulation of it. So when he got signed by Roadrunner, he must have thought he made it. The cold hard reality is, if he wanted to be paid millions, he should have gotten into banking. Even then, not all the people that get into banking get to make millions. That is life. Some win, some lose, others just do enough to get by. Making money is not the be all and end all.

Quality = Success

I listened to both albums that Mutiny Within did, the one under the Roadrunner umbrella, and the second one, under their own umbrella. In my view, Heartist and Mutiny Within sound very similar. So why does one band have more traction than the other.

THE BUZZ

Heartist took as much time as they could to build up an online buzz for themselves before they played any shows. So Heartist end up playing their first show and Roadrunner was there along with a few other labels. Mutiny Within didn’t build up an online buzz. They did it the old way, by building up a local scene buzz, which then got the label interested. Heartist went cyber world-wide with their buzz. They did it the new way, connecting with fans and letting the fans spread the word. That is why Heartist are touring everywhere and Mutiny Within are not. That is why the Heartist EP has sold a lot of copies, even while it is still downloaded illegally. Mutiny Within when they got signed only had a buzz in their local market.

DO IT YOURSELF

Heartist did it themselves. They kept on writing and creating, on their own time schedules and own budgets. The first Mutiny Within record was a Roadrunner financed record. Heartist was all DIY.

LETTING THE MUSIC TAKE SHAPE (without thinking it will sell)

All artists and songwriters come from a variety of music backgrounds. If you write and allow those backgrounds to come to the fore, each song will end up being different and unique. Don’t stick to one song formula, just because it could generate a hit. Remember the real hits, the songs that last forever are the outliers, the rule breakers, the game changers.

Stop thinking about the RECORDING INDUSTRY and start thinking about the music

Here is a DOOMSDAY scenario for you: The record industry started to collapse when it lawyered up and went to war against technology, beginning with Napster.

So why are artists still playing to the rules set by the recording industry.

In Sweden, Spotify is the king and the queen. Digital sales (downloads and streaming) accounts for 80 percent of music revenue in the territory and remember Sweden is the original home of The Pirate Bay.

Remember quality equals success.

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