Music, My Stories

And The Grammy Goes To……. Metallica

The Grammy awards is not about the awards, it is about the performances. The Grammy organisation exists solely to sell a TV show and advertising. Go on all the music and news websites and what are people talking about after the Grammy’s.

If you said, Metallica and their mashed up performance of “One” with classical pianist Lang Lang, then you are right.

If you said, it is people blasting Metallica’s terrible and pitchy performance of “One” then you are right again.

If you said, it is people applauding Metallica’s performance, then you are right again.

That is why after the Grammy’s, Metallica got a 125% boost in Spotify streams for the song “One”. So if they had 100,000 streams the previous week, they had 225,000 streams after their Grammy performance for their song “One”. Overall, across their whole catalogue, their Grammy performance gave them a 63% increase.

Heard anything about the actual winners in the Best Metal category. Who was it again? Who won the Metal award?

To prove my point, look at the Daft Punk performance of “Get Lucky”. Their performance of “Get Lucky” included Stevie Wonder and a large portion of Stevie’s song called “Another Star”. Guess by how much that song streams increased by on Spotify after the Grammy performance?

Did you say 635%?

Yep, spot on. Was Stevie Wonder nominated for anything?

Okay that was a trick question, he was part of two nominations. A massive group nomination for Best Musical and a nomination in the R&B category for a song that he featured in. However no other song performed at the Grammy’s got even close to the percentage increase experienced by Stevie Wonder on Spotify.

When you carry out a performance in front of 28.5 million U.S viewers, it is bound to get a reaction. Metallica and their management team know this. Credit Cliff Burnstein. A good manager is the difference between the haves and the have-nots. And that is what Cliff is. A good manager.

So what about the winners of the metal category. “God Is Dead?” from Black Sabbath didn’t get much traction after the awards. Out of mind, out of sight is what I say.

But back to Metallica.

You see while Keith Urban and Beyonce played some of their new stuff that no one cared about, Metallica played what the people wanted to hear. They used that exposure to remind people, why they care about them in the first place. They didn’t try to promote something recent or a special new song, written for the Grammy’s. They played “One” goddamn it. Even though I didn’t really like the mash-up, it was still Metallica, playing a signature tune that is 26 years old.

Who cares about the categories? There are too many of them anyway, so no one cares about who wins. The artists that do win at the Grammy’s are the ones that perform. And the Grammy for Best Metal Performance goes to Metallica once again.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/01/28/daft-punk-post-grammy-streams-jump-205-percent-on-spotify/4968507/

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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

Life Is About Experience

I like going to the movies. It is an experience that I enjoyed growing up and it is an experience that I have passed on to my boys.

Today, we are watching “Planes”. So I purchase my tickets. Lucky for the budget, my wife had vouchers which made the tickets $8 each. Otherwise, the tickets at the Event Cinemas are $17 each.

So three tickets = $24.

Then comes the big rip. The boys wanted the “Planes pack” which involved “Planes” themed drink cups, along with a “Planes” theme popcorn box.

However, Event Cinemas, had no more “Planes” popcorn boxes and they couldn’t sell me the Planes Drink Cups with a generic pop corn box because “the generic popcorn box is a touch larger than the Planes themed popcorn box.”

Bullshit I said. Then I was told that it really has to do with stock counts. My boys finally agreed with what they want and off to the movie. Then I had to put up with kids way too young to even be there, that just kept on screaming and crying.

In relation to the movie, it is another great flick from the same “Cars” team.

What can I say, the movie just got me thinking about GRIT. In the movie, Dusty Crophopper is a crop duster who wants to be a racer. Everyone tells him that he is crazy, a dreamer and that he should be just a normal crop duster. In the end, the good old crop duster just persevered.

What I got out of the movie is that you can’t tell people what to do. Everyone has to find out for themselves. Life is about experience. Just like Bon Scott (RIP) said in “Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock N Roll)”, it’s a long ride that we all have to take. We have to find our own way. Every classic album that we have come to love, never came out as a debut album.

“Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue came out in 1989. It is their best album. Mick Mars played a large part in the songwriting process. By 1989, he had been playing in bands for 17 years. Nikki Sixx, the other main songwriter had been playing in bands for 14 years. Life is about experience, and when that experience is translated into a song, it connects with other people who have lived that experience. Bob Rock paid his dues before he rocked the world with “Dr Feelgood” and the Black album from Metallica.

An album like “Appetite For Destruction” from Guns N Roses is an outlier, however if you read the stories about the album, the songs and the ideas of the songs were written years before.

Life is not always up. If you haven’t experienced disappointment, you haven’t taken any risks. Life is about losses, even more than victories. As Ivan Moody sings in “Lift Me Up”;

Lift me up above this
The flames and the ashes
Lift me up and help me to fly away

Lick your wounds, lift yourself back up and get back in the game. Learn from what happened. Don’t let it weigh you down. Quoting from Ivan Moody again; 

Best get out of my way
‘Cause there’s nothing to say
Is that all that you got?
Because I ain’t got all day

I won’t be broken
I won’t be tortured
I won’t be beaten down
I have the answer
I take the pressure
I turn it all around

Moody gets it. People see him as a winner, however he is like us. He makes mistakes, he falls down and he picks himself up again to fight another day.

Finally, in relation to the cinema experience, in this day and age, most people have decent sized TV’s with wi-fi connections and surround sound systems. It is an untapped market. Movie Studio’s should be releasing the movie to us, the same day it hit’s the cinemas. Once the movie is out, it is out. I would have been happy to pay $20 to watch it at home via a 24 hour stream. 

However the movie studios would still like to scream PIRACY instead of servicing it’s customers.

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