Deep Purple + Orchestra Live At Montreux 2011
5 out of 10
For DEEP PURPLE fans there are a ton of great DVDs that have been released over the last couple years that give you a look into the different versions of the band and show you why DEEP PURPLE should rank at the top of everyone’s list for greatest band ever, and most influential band! The fact that the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame continues to snub them is ridiculous and just shows you why it is completely irrelevant and a joke.
The latest DEEP PURPLE offering is a recent live show shot in 2011 in Switzerland at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The hook is that DP was touring with an orchestra and on July 16th they filmed the show for a DVD release.
There have been many hard rock and metal bands that have been performing lately with an Orchestra with varying results. Most notably was the biggest hard rock/metal band in the world, METALLICA performing with the San Francisco Symphony under the direction of Michael Kamen (R.I.P.). The resulting CD/DVD of those two shows are phenomenal and set the standard for what a rock and symphony show should be.
KISS recorded a live show with the Sydney Symphony and it just doesn’t translate well at all. Dennis Deyoung performed STYX songs with a symphony. The point is most of them don’t translate well. METALLICA’s worked because Michael Kamen wrote the music for the symphony that COMPLIMENTED the music of the band, and didn’t just rework the band’s songs for strings, woodwinds, brass, etc. If you listen to the Just Symphony audio track of the DVD S&M you won’t be able to figure out what songs they are playing most of the time because they are not just playing the song the way the band wrote it with different instruments, they are playing all new original pieces that compliment the band’s songs.
DEEP PURPLE has always worked in and around symphonies from time to time with varying success. When John Lord (former keyboardist) wrote Deep Purple: Concerto for Group and Orchestra it worked because it was a symphonic piece and written as thus. It wasn’t a rock song or songs that they had the symphony play on. It was an experiment melding rock and symphony and written as such. That is why it worked.
Their new DVD doesn’t work. Because of the reasons stated above. The symphony is playing along with the band, not playing to compliment the band. They aren’t playing original pieces that work within the framework of classic DEEP PURPLE songs like Highway Star, Woman From Tokyo, Knockin’ At Your Back Door, Lazy, and Smoke On The Water. And it is this reason that the symphony here seems to take the teeth and the edge right out of the songs. Instead of building up the songs the symphony here seems to actually water down the DEEP PURPLE sound. It is unfortunate really because in any band’s music would work well with symphonic treatments it would be DEEP PURPLE’s. But on this show it is simply not the case.
I am always heralding ANY release by DEEP PURPLE because I feel they have never received the respect they deserve as being one of the first to perform Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Yes Black Sabbath is regarded as the Fathers of Heavy Metal but Deep Purple started a year before Sabbath did. They’ve released more albums, and pushed the envelope further than Black Sabbath ever could.
Sadly, I can’t recommend this DVD as it is just not a good representation of DEEP PURPLE and their legacy. But there are plenty more CDs and DVDs out there that are worthy of your time and I strongly suggest you go check them out. You’ll thank me later.
For more DEEP PURPLE click here.
My first introduction to Wayne Static came back in 1999 in the form of “Push It”, the first single off Static-X’s platinum-selling debut album Wisconsin Death Trip. I was an instant fan. Never before had I heard such a unique and deliberate stylistic approach so neatly melded with an industrial rock sound. It was born, Wayne Static’s mad genius had created the Frankenstein that would become known as “Evil Disco”. Twelve short years later, that brazen young newcomer has transformed into solo artist, CEO, and the godfather of modern industrial rock. I recently caught up with Static to talk about everything from rap-to-the recording industry-to-rusty Oldsmobiles. So relax, have a seat, and get ready, your consultation with Dr. Pighammer is about to begin…
AWAY-TEAM: First, I’d like to congratulate you on the release of Pighammer, your first ever solo project which was just released on your own label Dirthouse Records…
WAYNE STATIC: Thank you!
AWAY-TEAM: I’d like to talk to you a bit about that later. But first I’d like to know, when did you decide that you wanted to do a solo album? What was kinda the driving force behind that?
WAYNE STATIC: Well, I actually first wanted to do it back in 2001. It was when I was finishing up writing the Machine record, and realizing that it was just kind of me, writing everything by myself, while the other guys partied and did whatever they wanted, did their own side projects. Then they’d come back, and I’d have to compromise and argue with them about this and that. By the time we recorded the record, I was already sick of all the songs, and felt that some of the original energy and excitement was lost from the songs. So, it’s been in my head for over ten years, but I kinda had to wait for the right time because for me to do a solo record it meant I had to put Static-X on the shelf for a while. I knew that we still had a lot of stuff to do, so after the 2009 tour was done I felt like it was the right time to do it. Everyone was kinda ready to take a break from the band and do their own thing, and I was definitely ready to take a break and do my own thing, so here we are.
AWAY-TEAM: There’s actually a bit of a story behind the Pighammer character, explain that to me.
WAYNE STATIC: Well, the theme of the album is transformation, and we were trying to think of a cool way to depict that. It’s sort of a dark comedy type of thing where, I’m this mad plastic surgeon who changes my wife into a pig with this Pighammer surgical tool that we made up. Some people try to take that too literally, and try to read into what it is, but it’s really just sort of a humorous look at transformation.
AWAY-TEAM: I know you were once featured in the Eternal Descent comic book series, is there any chance we see Pighammer in a similar situation? Or maybe even a movie?
WAYNE STATIC: I’m always open to that kind of stuff, ya know. The last comic book thing, the Eternal Descent thing, kinda came my way through the guitar company I was working with for the last few years. I think it’s cool, I think my look lends itself very well to that sort of animation. So any time anyone makes me an offer for that sort of thing, I think it’s cool, I like to see the way it comes out. So if you wanna make a movie that sounds cool too.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) I’ll get working on that! (both laugh)
WAYNE STATIC: Alright let’s do it!
AWAY-TEAM: I understand that prior to making this album you and your wife sold your house in L.A. and moved out to the desert, what prompted a move like that?
WAYNE STATIC: Ya know, we both grew up in small little farm towns, and then we both ended up in the city… and Tera never liked L.A. she just came there for me, and I kinda grew to hate it there too. There’s just too much traffic and congestion, and we’ve had the house out in the high desert in Joshua Tree for a long time, and we used to just go there for the weekends. We were like ‘Well, what if we just moved out there and forget about L.A.?’ So it worked out pretty well, we love it, it’s kind of come full circle. Ya know, we live in the middle of nowhere, just like where we grew up.
AWAY-TEAM: Back to basics. Now, the first single “Assasins of Youth”, the video for which by the way is visually brilliant, I have to commend you on that…
WAYNE STATIC: Thanks man.
AWAY-TEAM: …that song is actually about your last days of drug use, and it took several years to write. You actually wrote the first part during a bit of a bender, tell me about that. And when you perform the song now is it more of a ‘What the fuck was I thinking?’ feeling? Or is it more of a liberating reminder of what you’ve overcome?
WAYNE STATIC: That song, and the whole album, was written and recorded while we were getting off drugs, and withdrawing, and going through these changes. So that’s really like the biggest transformation of all, so that song in particular I thought was a great first single because it kinda sums it all up. Ya know, I started writing that song in 2007, and finished it up during the Pighammer recording sessions. But in general, the whole album deals with that. Ya know, we didn’t go to rehab or any crap like that. I still drink alcohol, I’m not a quitter.
WAYNE STATIC: There was a point where we kinda realized that it wasn’t fun anymore. For me, it was just not healthy, so while we were actually making the record we spent some time cleaning up. So that’s really what a lot of the record is about.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned that you still drink alcohol, it’s funny you said that, because I had read an article a while ago about Scott Weiland and he still drinks. And I had always wondered, is that something that kind of let’s you say ‘Hey, I do have some self control’, is that an accurate assessment?
WAYNE STATIC: Ya know, I think people that have to go to rehab, maybe they don’t really wanna quit doing drugs, ya know. For me, it was a choice, and it’s not easy but when you know you gotta do it, and you wanna do it, you just deal with it. I don’t see any reason to quit drinking. Fuck, I’ve been drinking since I was 20, I’m 45, I’ll be 46 next month. So I’ve been an alcoholic for 30 years now, so why should I quit drinking? (both laugh)
AWAY-TEAM: Amen to that! (both laugh) So back to the “Assasins…” video, was it hard shooting a video with a full time chub?
WAYNE STATIC: (laughs) It was a fun and difficult shoot at the same time. It was a lot of fun, cuz the video is supposed to be funny, if you take it too literal then some people have problems with it. I knew it was kind of a risky move to do something like that. But it was kinda tough, because we did it with no money, and we kinda did it guerilla style. A friend of ours, Matt Zane, shot it by himself with no help. We were at this little hotel room, up in the high desert, and they didn’t know we were shooting it, because we didn’t wanna spend any money on the video. And it was the summer time, so it was like over 100 degrees in the room, and we were there for three days, so it was kinda brutal in that respect. But I think the video turned out great, and it seems like everyone really digs it. It’s a really fun, kind of different video.
AWAY-TEAM: I was really impressed with it. So being on the road and trying to maintain a sobriety is a bit of a daunting task. What kind of support system do you have with you to keep you from the temptations of the road?
WAYNE STATIC: I’m not even tempted anymore. I mean you could chop up some Oxycontin and put it right in front of my face, and I wouldn’t do it because I just don’t want to. I mean, I’ve seen the dark side of drug addiction and I don’t ever wanna be there again. So I don’t need a support system, I’m just over it, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: That’s great!
AWAY-TEAM: Speaking of your wife, the first single from the last Static-X album was “Stingwray”, which is an ode to both your wife and her car. There’s another song on the album called “Z-28″ , so one can only assume that you’re a big car fanatic…
WAYNE STATIC: Definitely. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: What was the coolest car you ever owned? And also, what was the biggest piece of shit you’ve ever owned?
WAYNE STATIC: The biggest piece of shit was definitely my very first car. Which a friend gave to me, because it was a worthless piece of shit. This was back in the 80′s, it was an old Oldsmobile Delta ’88. It barely ran, it was all rusted through, so I spray painted it black, and spray painted the KISS Army logo on the back of it, put a plastic machine gun in the window, and got pulled over all the time because the cops thought I had a real gun in the window. (both laugh) So that was definitely the biggest piece of shit. When I moved to L.A., I couldn’t give the car away. I drove it to the dump and they gave me $80 for it, so that was a sad day. (laughs) Probably the coolest car, ya know it’s hard to say, we’ve got a bunch of old muscle cars, and a couple cool little trucks. I guess I’d have to say the 2008 Challenger SRT8 that we got. It was the first edition numbered car, one of 6400 made, 450hp from the factory, just a badass car. We used to take it out once or twice a month and drive it, and keep it in the garage most of the time.
AWAY-TEAM: Wow! Yeah, when I heard “Stingwray” , I’ve wanted a Corvette ever since I can remember, so I said I gotta ask him about that!
WAYNE STATIC: Yeah, Tera’s car is awesome too, it’s all original. It’s a ’79, original paint, original interior, so it’s really cool. Before we got the Challenger, my Z-28 was my favorite car, but after driving 450hp with traction control and ginormous brakes so you can go fast and stop when you want it to, we don’t even drive the other cars anymore. (both laugh)
AWAY-TEAM: Also on the Static-X front, what are the future plans for Static-X?
WAYNE STATIC: I don’t have any plans right now. I haven’t even talked to the other guys in the last couple years. Everyone’s doing their thing, I’m having a great time. I’ve got my band together, we’re finally on the road, my album’s finally out. So for me it’s just kind of the start of this whole new journey, and that’s all I see in the near future. I’m not opposed to putting Static-X back together at some point, but right now I’m gonna see this project through.
AWAY-TEAM: Okay. Now you recently received the “Best Metal Frontman”, award, deservedly so, at the Vegas Rocks! Awards. I look at something genuine like that, and then I look at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. They’ve snubbed some of the greatest musicians of all time, and then I just saw recently that the rap group Eric B. & Rakim are nominated for this year’s class. What are your thoughts on that? And if they came knocking, say ten years down the road, would you accept the honor?
WAYNE STATIC: If anyone wants to recognize something I’ve done, of course I will accept it. But I agree with you that the Hall of Fame, as much as the Grammys and all of that is just a political thing. People like us, we realize that, but alot of the rest of the world doesn’t. When I was younger I didn’t realize that the Grammys weren’t real, ya know. (both laugh) I mean I would definitely graciously accept any award like that but, it is what it is, ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: You’ve been in the music industry long enough to see the evolution from cassettes-to-CD’s-to-MP3′s, now the latest wave of the future is streaming. There seems to be mixed reviews on that, some think it helps sell records, others think it takes away from sales, what are your thoughts on streaming and it’s impact on the artist or label?
WAYNE STATIC: Well, in general, I hate the internet. I wish it would die, I wish it would go away. I think it ruined a lot of things. It ruined music, it ruined people’s social skills, it ruined print, it ruined the world in my opinion. (laughs) It’s fucking Skynet from The Terminator, it’s gonna be the demise of civilization as we know it. But, having said that, it is here to stay, and I use it to promote myself, because that’s just the way it is now. As far as streaming, I think it’s cool. I had my album streaming for an entire week before it came out, because if it’s good people are gonna talk about it. The people who really go andd buy CD’s are gonna buy it, and the people who don’t buy CD’s are not gonna buy it either way. So I’m all in support of it, obviously the streaming thing is a lower quality audio, and you can’t download it and all that crap… I mean, I’m sure you can, I’m sure they make programs for that… but it still sounds like shit. So the people that are gonna buy the CD are gonna do it, and I think letting people hear it, they’re just gonna talk positive things and more people will end up buying the CD in the end.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, there’s no such thing as bad promotion. Last, but not least… I know you’re probably sick of hearing this, but obviously over the years you’ve been compared to the dude from the Slim Jim commercials…
WAYNE STATIC: Not so much lately. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) …Well that’s a good thing! So much so to the point that there were rumors that you were asked to be the spokesperson. I want you to set the record straight, is there any truth to any of that? And if not, can we give the people who still refer to you that way one final ‘Shut the fuck up!’?
WAYNE STATIC: It’s true that they did approach me at one point to do some promotional stuff for them, and I turned it down. Because I don’t think the way I look is a joke. I look the way I look, because I think it’s cool. I mean, I realize that some people think it’s a joke, but whatever, the reason I did it in the beginning is so that people remember me. If you think I’m dumb looking, if you think I’m cool looking, either way people will remember me. I’m one of the most recognizable rock stars that there’s probably ever been.
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely, you’re like a fucking brand!
WAYNE STATIC: (laughs) Right. But I did turn that down.
AWAY-TEAM: Good for you! I see the reasoning behind it, and I definitely can appreciate that. Wayne, thanks so much for your time. It’s been a great pleasure and an honor. Best of luck with the new album, the label, and everything that you do!
WAYNE STATIC: Thanks man! It’s been nice talking to you.
AWAY-TEAM: You too, take it easy.
WAYNE STATIC: Bye.
For more Wayne Static including tour dates and to purchase music visit his official website here.
Special thanks to Wayne Static for so graciously giving me his time, and to Sammy Mazur at VQPR for making it all happen.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Reviewed by: Jay Rybak
My first introduction to this quintet out of West Virginia came back in late 2007, with the killer (albeit mellow) single “Home”. Since then, the band has endured line-up changes, and became a victim of the highly publicized TVT Records bankruptcy. In the dog-eat-dog world that is the record industry, success is inevitably preceded by disappointment and persistence, and now that the first two are out of the way Bobaflex is poised to make their presence known on the active rock radar.
Upon first hearing the band name, Bobaflex, one can’t help but conjure up images of the masked bounty hunter Bobba Fett of the STAR WARS saga. It turns out, that’s exactly the intention; the only difference is that this time around, the bounty is on your ears, and Bobaflex is cashing in! The latest offering, Hell In My Heart, runs the gamut of the diverse musical talents of Bobaflex. From the first 30 seconds of the opening song, “Chemical Valley”, you realize that you are in for a pulse-pounding adventure. Little do we know that this multi-dimensional album is much more than meets the eye.
As we delve further into “Hell…”, we are met with the first single “Bury Me With My Guns”, a brilliant mixture of Hinder-meets-Black Stone Cherry. The journey continues, as we live a “Low Life”, one that sounds like Burn Halo-meets-early Poison and leaves us begging for more cowbell. From there we fall into the bloodsucking arms of a “Vampire”, one that is bred from the aforementioned Black Stone Cherry, but it’s anthemic traits could also very well be the illegitimate offspring of Gene Simmons himself. The vampire’s bite leaves us “Playing Dead”, so we don’t become her “Slave” (two tracks that scream Stone Temple Pilots).
I would be an “Empty Man” if I didn’t mention the 80′s rock influence of the previously named track. A feeling that was no doubt present when the band wrote the equally 80′s inspired “Last Song”, a track that is dedicated to the perils and misdirection of record label fatcats (TVT anyone?). Another track that tickles my 80′s rock funny bone (that’s a good thing), is the anthemic “On That Night”. But not establishing an identity of your own could be “Dangerous”, which is no doubt why the boys decided to incorporate all of their influences into their own kick-ass sound on this melting pot of melodic goodness.
The journey is nearing an end, but before we go and play with “Pretty Razors” , there is a little message that needs to be delivered; one that is forcefully evident on the politically driven, presidential fuck you, entitled “Hate You”. And now, we have reached our destination, and are left with nothing but the “Sounds of Silence“, a brilliant cover of the hit song by Frank the Tank… err I mean Simon & Garfunkel.
All in all, the latest offering from Bobaflex delivers the goods, and comes very highly recommended! It hits stores today, so get your ass off the couch and get to your local record store and pick it up! Or if you’re a lazy piece of shit like me you can pick it up here
For more Bobaflex visit the band’s official website here
Jesus titties people, this has had to be the most confusing day in music in…. like… forever or something.
Black Sabbath has reunited, but they didn’t. Rhapsody Of Fire split and dude is taking the word Rhapsody with him but not ‘Of Fire’ because… wait, why is he naming his new band Rhapsody if he doesn’t want to be in Rhapsody Of Fire anymore?
And now this…
KISS will rock Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium as part of “Michael Forever – The Tribute Concert.”
Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine Jackson revealed the latest addition to the Oct. 8 concert in the U.K. while appearing on CNN this morning, saying her son “would be very excited about KISS.” Acts already announced for the mega-show in Wales include Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Leona Lewis, Smokey Robinson, Craig David, The Jackson Brothers, Alien Ant Farm, 3T and Brit boy band JLS.
BUT WAIT!!!! There’s more…
Promoters yanked the rock band KISS from the Michael Jackson tribute show Tuesday after fans called their attention to negative remarks KISS leader Gene Simmons made about the pop star in the weeks after his death.
The reversals came a day after Katherine Jackson appeared live on CNN to announce the addition of KISS to the lineup for “Michael Forever: The Tribute Concert,” scheduled for October 8 in Cardiff, Wales.
“We have listened to Michael’s fans and are grateful to have been alerted to these unfortunate statements by Gene Simmons,” Global Live Events CEO Chris Hunt told CNN Tuesday.
Fan clubs appeared in open revolt against the tribute show after promoters added the group. Fan websites pointed to published interviews in which Simmons spoke about his suspicions that Jackson, who was acquitted of child molestation in 2005, was a pedophile.
Wait. Just wait a damned minute. Let me catch my breath.
Ok, I think I get it. But, what about these questions…
Why would KISS perform at a Michael Jackson benefit show?
Why would the Jacksons WANT KISS to perform at an MJ benefit show?
Why would ANYONE think KISS would be a good idea at an MJ benefit?
Why is there a BOY BAND performing at an MJ benefit? Can no one in the UK spell IRONY or understand it?
Big 3 Records
0 out of 10
Ok, who here had The Yellow And Black Attack? Raise yer hand! Right.
Who here had Soldiers Under Command? RAISE YER DAMNED HAND! Right, thought so.
Who here had To Hell With The Devil? Raise yer hand, yeah you, there, right there. Raise your hand, you know you had that cassette jamming in your Pinto on the way to high school in 85. Don’t lie to me.
Now, who has any album after that by Stryper? Me neither.
25 years later and the bumble bees are back buzzing around with a new album. Only this time it is covers of their influences, the songs and bands that made them want to be musicians. The list of bands they are covering on the album is great. You’ve got Ozzy, Sweet, Black Sabbath, Scorpions, UFO, Kansas, Kiss, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Van Halen, and Led Zeppelin. Sounds like a pretty badass CD doesn’t it?
Well it’s pretty bad alright. Don’t believe me? Here is Away Team‘s very own Bam Bam’s two word review of The Covering right here.
Musically there are some decent points to the disc. I mean, as soon as the song starts you can name every song they are playing. So, there’s that. That should almost be worth a point on the 1 to 10 scale right? Ok, so we’ll give them 1 point for being able to recognize the songs they are playing.
And of course the song list is great. Lights Out, Immigrant Song, Breaking The Law, The Trooper, Over The Mountain, Heaven And Hell, Carry On, Highway Star, Set Me Free, Shout It Out Loud, Blackout, and On Fire. I mean, I truly don’t think I’ve seen a better cover album song list than this on one album. So there’s a point for that. Now we’re at 2 out of 10.
The dude on the cover of the album looks like Chris Jericho the wrestler to me, so if you’re into wrestling you might give them a point for that. Now it’s 3 out of 10.
Then Michael Sweet begins to sing. Not that the guy has a bad voice, I mean he’s no Joey Belladonna and that is a point IN his favor, so we’ll give them a point on this CD just because he CAN sing better than Joey Belladonna. Here’s to 4 out of 10. Damn, they’re almost batting .500!
Oh, wait, Michael is still singing. Wow. Ok, I am TRYING to be fair here. His vocals on Set Me Free aren’t THAT bad. I’ll say that. So, in starting off the album it is OK. Of course starting off an album at just OK is not a good place to start. You better go up real quick, because you don’t have far to fall into the ‘this stinks like 10 pounds of hot steaming dog shit’ pile of no return.
The opening riff to the Scorpion’s Blackout kicks in, and you’re like, ok… Let’s get this going. Hey, Michael Sweet doesn’t sound too far off from the Scorpion’s Klaus Meine here. I’ll be damned. Oh wait, there’s the Michael Sweet Stryper Scream… Oh wait, just fucked the whole song, and now his inflection is more Stryper than Scorpions. Lost me there boys.
Heaven And Hell is next. I mean… It’s HEAVEN AND HELL for fuck’s sake! How can you butcher this? Dio, Tony, it may very well be the ultimate old school metal song. And these holier than thou jesus freaks are singing it? I was personally offended when Michael Sweet said that Stryper could have written Heaven And Hell themselves and YOU SHOULD BE OFFENDED TOO because he said that. I’m calling Bullshit! If you could have written something as epic as Heaven And Hell you’d have had a longer career than three years of semi-relevance. And the chorus of ‘ahhhhhh’ during the breakdown????? This isn’t church camp, this is Black Sabbath motherfuckers. How do you remove the balls from one of the most badass songs of all time? HERECY!!!!!!
UFO’s Light Out. Skip it. I can’t deal anymore. Again, I’ll say FOR THE MOST PART, the music isn’t bad. But fuck his voice is so unique, and so pussified that it has no balls to it. And every chance he has to pull this off, he just completely fucks it up. Maybe this should be an instrumental cover album!!!! Yeah, then it would only suck half as bad. Hell, I’d probably rate it a solid 5 then.
The weak ass drum intro into Carry On. What the fuck is that? There’s no balls in the drums either? WTF?????? Skip.
Everyone has their breaking point when it comes to savagely raping the legacy of metal. Stryper covering Deep Purple’s Highway Star is it for me. And we haven’t even gotten to Judas Priest or Iron Maiden yet. Fuck you Stryper for even THINKING about doing this album. Skip.
I don’t think I can continue. Really… My blood pressure can’t take this; my ears can’t handle the blasphemy coming from the speakers, my co-workers are yelling at me to stop killing the litter of cats in my cubicle already. Must. Finish. Worst. Album. Ever.
Shout It Out Loud. Starts out as pussy as the original does. Does that make it bad? No, but at least they can’t fuck up such simpleton songwriting as KISS. If this was maybe the second or third song on the disc, I could probably have handled it, but as we are on the seventh song of this musical abortion, I can’t take anymore, I am up to my limit in shit, so…. Moving on…..
Over The Mountain. Holy Fuck Randy Rhoads just died again. I can’t play guitar that well and I can play the opening riff better than Oz Foxx. Skip.
The Trooper. Stupid fucks, if you are going to take songs like Over The Mountain (Randy Rhoads), Highway Star (Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord), The Trooper (Steve Harris), that have such a distinct musical sound and style, you best be able to reproduce the opening riff, the organ solo, the bass line (respectively) of those songs, or fuck off and JUST DON’T DO THEM. And never mind the shit fucked guitar solo in The Trooper, come up with your own (not). Skip.
Nobody should cover Judas Priest. Period. Skip
Van Halen. Really? You try to tackle the intricacies of Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, AND Eddie Van Halen? Who do you think you are, Oz Foxx? Oh, wait… skip.
Do I even have to say anything about Stryper trying to cover Led Zeppelin? Really? Are you going to make me listen to this? FUCK YOU. and fuck Stryper.
And no, I’m not going to listen to their new song called ‘God’. Fuck that. You don’t get to do that to me after aurally sodomizing me for the last 30 minutes.
So, we got the album up to 4 out of 10 before Michael sang, so now where are we? Someone owes me for my therapy bills now!
DO NOT PICK THIS UP, you’ll thank me later.
When certain bands come to town I am forced not to photograph them because of something in the industry known as a rights grabber. A rights grabber is a contract that is normally handed to you right before you obtain your photopass at a show that you are forced to sign in order to get your photopass and be able to photograph the event.
Sometimes these contracts are harmless and state things like you will only use the photos for editorial uses and not for anything commercial. Which I am totally fine with like most concert photographers are, because we are in the business of licensing photos for editorial uses to music mags, websites, papers, etc. We are here to help promote that artist and get their name out as many places and outlets that we can. Publicity is the name of the game for concert photographers.
Publicity is the main reason why we are allowed to receive photo passes to get the access that we do to photograph all the amazing artists that we do. We rub their backs by having photos and stories published of them to promote their bands and tours and they rub ours back by allowing us to photograph them in exchange. In the world of concert photography we are very limited to access as it is, the norm is that we only get the first three songs of the show to photograph without use of any flash. With some bigger acts sometimes we have to stand all the way back at the soundboard to photograph the artist and we are not allowed close access up front in the pit. All of the limitations should be no problems for a professional. Sometimes we get crazy restrictions (first 30 seconds, only shoot from one
side, etc) but I wont bother to get into that as that is a totally different topic for discussion.
The main point that you need to know is that we get access to photograph artists in exchange for getting their bands publicity.
Then comes acts like Lady Gaga that recently appeared with a “rights grabber” contract in order to photograph her. In the past there was no contract for her and there were no problems. However Lady Gaga is not the first act to have such terrible contracts, she just got a lot of news lately mainly because she is a higher profile artist.
Artists such as Janet Jackson, Beastie Boys, Jimmy Eat World, Foo Fighters, My Chemical Romance, Stone Temple Pilots, KISS, Janes Addiction, Gogol Bordello, Steven Seagall, MGMT, Queens of the Stone Age, Cheap Trick,The Mars Volta, Matchbox 20, AFI, Sonic Youth, and many more have all felt the need to have rights grabbers. Some of these acts still have them while some have decided to change for the better on their policies.
There are two main types of rights grabbers out there at the moment, there are the full blown rights grabbers where artist owns all rights to your photos and then there are ones that state artists are allowed to you any of your photos for whatever they want without payment. Both types are totally unacceptable and a slap in the face to any photographer. I mean how would the artist feel if just by playing a venue they had to give up rights to their songs to that venue?
Why are rights grabbers bad in general?
When there are rights grabbers it basically means that any photo that the
photographer takes at a show, they no longer own them anymore and have no rights to use them in the future in any way. They are no longer the photographers photos. Which means it takes away their rights to license the photo editorially for any publications that
wish to use a photo of a artist for a story in the future preventing extra publicity for that artist. Not only do you not own your photos anymore, it also gives the artist or the management the rights to use the photographers photos for whatever they wish, whether it be to promote the band or for commercial uses such as t-shirts, cd covers, box sets, posters, etc. To add insult to injury most of these rights grabbers make you waive your moral rights also, which means when they use your photos that you no longer own, they do not even have to give you credit for using them. So in the future when you see the photo that you taken on posters, the bands websites or cd covers, it most likely
will not have your name on it. So you have nothing to show for your work because legally they do not even have to credit you not to mention they dont have to pay you for using them also.
Most concert photographers make peanuts to cover a show, they depend on owning rights for licensing their photos to editorials and publications in the future to make ends meat. With rights grabbers this is not possible for them to to license their photos anymore for editorial uses.
Why are there rights grabbers in the first place?
A lot of concert photgraphers notice that a lot of the above listed artists are represented by the New York publicity firm Nasty Little Man. When Steve Martin who owns the firm, was asked about the contracts, he said that those stipulations are up to the bands and their managers. and stated “In my experience it often comes from artists who’ve been stuck having to pay a ton for a shot they want for a box set, merch, etc. and that having the parameters set for such transactions in a legal document can keep that from happening in the future.”
Another reason that I was told by various managements was that it was there to protect the artists image so that the photos are not used for unethical uses such as tabloids, etc. They also mention that it was no big deal and if the bands ever wanted your photos they would still pay you to license them, even though legally they don’t have to and they already own them.
So basically, Steve is saying because one, two, or many bands had to pay a premium for good photography in the past for merch that they are forced to enforce the rights grabbers. I dont know specifics about these bands paying a ton for a photo for box sets, etc., or if it ever really happened at all or if its just a cop out that the management tells the band to scare them into using a rights grabber so that management can get free photos in the future. I do know however that if I asked all the bands they probably would not have a clue what I was talking about when I tell them about the rights grabber and why I was told that it was being used. Im not saying that it never happened, maybe the “ton” that was paid for that photo on a box set was really just a manager getting mad because the photographer refused to let the band use a free photo. Or maybe he was really asking for a million. Like I said, I never heard any specifics on the story to prove that it ever really happened and no one will ever fess up details about it. All in all this is no reason to go overboard and punish all the working professionals over one photographers actions.
Some photographers personally think that this excuse is a cop out used by managements in order to get free photos. Then again I personally know some photographers that have been paid for a photo usage of photos that they did not own because they signed the rights grabber. As stated above that some bands will still pay you for the usage even with the rights grabbers, which really just defies the point of the grabber in first place.
I have personally asked bands about these contracts when they had one, half the time the band has no idea about them and are oblivious to the fact that they exsist. As for the bands that are aware of them, they normally tell me what management has told them, that its there to protect their images from being used unethically, wheter the managment
does not want their photos on the wire, or tabloids, etc. But when you tell them what the contract is really saying and how it takes photographers rights they normally are shocked and or appalled about the issue. The sad part is that even when they are made aware of it, it never changes most likely due to managment decisions are final.
As for the excuse that these contracts are around just to protect the artists image from the photos being used the wrong way. Which seems to be the main reason that these contracts really exist. This is the most ass backwards thinking that could ever exsist.
Their reasoning is that if they own all rights to the photos, then they will not get used in anyway without their permission. Well they are right on that, but that only applies to professional photographers that play by the rules. But what they fail to realize is that the problem with photos ending up in the wrong places will always exist, with rights grabbers or no rights grabbers.
The rights grabbers are not really doing any thing to prevent the problem. Why is that you ask? Well the problem does not lie in the professional photographers, it lies in the unprofessional ones, and the fans that bring cameras into shows. Most of the photos of artists that are put into bad light, sent to tabloids, and used in unethical ways are from fan
photos from the crowd or the non professional photographers that will sign any contract handed to them because they plan on selling and using the photos unethically in the first place. With these people contracts do not stop them from doing what they are going to do in the first place. The only thing that will is better control on who gets passes or letting cameras into venues.
There is a big problem in the process of getting credentialed for photo passes. You will see anything in the pit these days from professional shooters, point and shoot cameras, to people with cell phone cameras. It is sad but true I must say when you are a professional trying to work when you see someone standing next to you with a photo pass and a camera phone taking photos.
But the major problem is the unprofessional photographers. When they are given a rights grabbing contract, they will take the contract and sign it and shoot. After the shoot, they will sell the photos to whoever is paying, unethical or not. They do not care about that rights grabber that they signed, they are going to do what they want to do.
Then you have a professional photographer, who is actually there working for a publication that is going to get the band some major publicity. They get the rights grabber, but have to refuse to sign it, and in return they do not get to photograph the show because of it. Why did they refuse to sign it? Because professionals actually play by the rules, and with those set of rules, it does not allow them to use the photos ever again. Not to mention that sometimes the company they are shooting for wont allow them to sign it because the company owns all rights to photos that they shoot because they are work for hire, the photographer actually has no legal ability to sign the contract cause they give their rights to the company they are shooting for and that company wont allow them to give up their rights thus killing any publicity. This is the case for most photographers that work for newspapers, they do not own their rights in the first place the paper does, so when they get these agreements, it just means that story that was going to run in the paper wont happen. Then there are the normal freelancers that will refuse to sign it out of ethics. Which again kills any publicity.
If by chance a professional is allowed to sign it, they sign, and they forfeit their rights to the photos and only get to use them for what they are shooting for and get paid from that company for the one time use of the photos. Then they can never use the photos again because they sign their rights away and no longer own them. They just photographed the show because they needed money to pay bills.
So if rights grabbers are around because of photos being used unethically, then they have to realize that they are not solving the problem by enforcing them and all it is doing is creating more problems because of it.
So here is where I am going to list the pros and cons of rights grabbers on the music industry side.
Pros : Bands / Management get free use of photos for whatever they want without having to credit or pay photographers.
Cons: No newspapers will cover bands with grabbers.
Most professional photographers will not sign them thus leaving amateur shooters taking less quality photos.
Unprofessional photographers will still use photos for the wrong reasons because they sign and shoot without reading contracts.
Less Professional Publicity is received.
Now you have to ask, do the pros out weigh the cons? In these days free photos are worth their weight in gold I assume.
Solutions to the problem?
There are alternative ways to make both parties happy but the voice of photographers is too small to make a difference in the big music industry as this has been the case for years as these contracts have gotten more and more out of control. The ideal contract
would be none at all and many big artists have realized this, and they normally play by the rule that any publicity is good. Some artists that do not have any contracts at all include acts such as Madonna, Elton John, U2, etc. etc. etc. Now if these big artists do not need rights grabbers, then why does any artist. It really makes you think about other motives for them.
So it comes down to managements saying that rights grabbers exist for these reasons but the wording in the contracts say noting about the reasons they say they are for in the first place. If these contracts were truly being used for these for the reasons that were stated the wording would read different. For example, if they were worried about paying too much to license a photo, the contract could say that you agree to license photos to the band at a fair market value if they want them. Or it would say you agree to only use the photos editorially. But managements refuse to change the wording because they know that the way they have it worded means free photos.
But if there has to be a contract, it should only state that the photographer will only use the photos editorially and not commercially without artist prior consent. Although this still will not prevent the non professionals from doing bad things with the photos. You have to realize that it is going to happen despite any precautions one takes rights grabbers or not.
If one wanted to take precautions for such they should be looking into a better process on screening photographers that apply for credentials and have better security measures at shows and fans bringing cameras in. By doing this it would probably stop a lot of the misuse from happening in the first place.
If the bands are worried about getting ripped off for licensing photos down the line, why not find a photo from the 1000 of other photographers out there that are willing to be fair with licensing, or if they really wanted that particular photo they could get it by other means. I can not say that I do not know one photographer that would pass up on licensing a photo to a band for a lower rate if not free, if that band gave the photographer unlimited photo access to their next event. Money is not the only thing we accept, we are able to barter. Then again, there will always be that one photographer who has a stick up their butt and trys to rip a band off. But that is life, there are always going to be bad apples out there.
If you are management, the real question you should be asking before deciding on having a rights grabber is should you be punishing all professional photographers for the actions of one or a few bad ones? Concert photographers are hard working artists that do this out of the love of the art and not in it for the money as most of us have multiple jobs on the side just to support us being able to pay for camera gear, gas, time, to get to the shows to support you, the artist, by giving you free publicity. The thinking that putting these rights grabbers out will prevent anything mention above is ridiculous thinking.
Why did I write this in depth article on rights grabbers when it comes to concert photography?
The main reason is that I want to make the world aware on this plague that our small community has to put up with on a daily basis and hopefully will make some higher ups in the industry realize what they are doing is not only evil, and wrong but it robs photographers of their art and lively hood. It also prevents the higher quality publicity that bands deserve and for what? To save a few dollars from that one mystery photographer ripping a mystery band off on a photo for their box set.
Also I am personally getting fed up lately of all the concerts that I have had to turn down because of these contracts, while I see unprofessional photographers still shooting them because they do not abide by these contracts, while the professionals sit out and miss the shows. Preventing professionals from using their own photos while the unprofessional photographers are using them in any way despite signing the contracts has to end.
The industry has this notion that concert photographers are making a ton of money off of their artists and are exploiting them, but what they dont realize is that 99.9% of professional concert photographers have to have multiple jobs just to keep doing what they
love. Its what we put all of our passion into, and that is making their artists look good while getting them the most publicity that they can receive at the same time.
who am I?
I vow to remain anonymous do to the nature of this industry because if someone disagrees with something that I said above then I would most likely be blacklisted from photographing certain concerts. I personally have been professionally been photographing artists for over ten years and supplying many photos to publications worldwide. I have been doing this out of the love for concert photography and I live off of my paycheck week to week from my part time job not photgraphy. I am well known in this industry and I can barely afford to keep my
camera gear running with the money I make from concerts. I will stay in the game as long as I can.
This Manifesto may be re-posted anywhere at no cost.
Taken from here.
On March 28th, Eagle Rock’s Armoury Records is releasing the truly unique SIN-atra album. This is another mind and genre-bending triumph from the team that brought you We Wish You A Metal Xmas and, put simply, is the world of heavy metal’s tribute to the genius of FRANK SINATRA.
Featuring a great line-up of artists, SIN-atra offers a set of totally original versions of classic Frank Sinatra songs. The album features twelve songs made famous by Ol’ Blue Eyes which are given a radical and individual new treatment from some of the finest voices in rock including members of ANTHRAX, TWISTED SISTER, DEEP PURPLE, QUEENSRŸCHE, MR BIG, WARRANT and CHEAP TRICK with the backing of a superb band led by guitarist Bob Kulick (KISS/MEAT LOAF).
New York, New York (Devin Townsend)
I’ve Got You Under My Skin (Glenn Hughes)
Summerwind (Geoff Tate)
It Was A Very Good Year (Dee Snider)
Witchcraft (Tim “Ripper” Owens)
Fly Me To The Moon (Robin Zander)
Lady Is A Tramp (Eric Martin)
I’ve Got The World On A String (Dug Pinnick)
Love And Marriage (Elias Soriano)
Strangers In The Night (Joey Belladonna)
High Hopes (Franky Perez)
That’s Life (Jani Lane)
These classics are re-imagined musically by the SIN-atra house band which features Bob Kulick (guitar); Brett Chassen (drums); Billy Sheehan (bass); Doug Katsaros (keyboards and orchestrations); Richie Kotzen (lead guitar on That’s Life). The songs are known to everyone but you’ve never heard them quite like this before!
To pre-order your SIN-ATRA click here.
The Notables, Carnegie Hall’s membership and ticket program for music enthusiasts in their 20s and 30s, presents REDEMPTION SONG an evening of conversation and performance exploring the relationship between artistry, dependency, recovery, and longevity hosted by HENRY ROLLINS is being held October 5th at Carnegie Hall in the Zankel Hall.
Rickie Lee Jones, blues, folk, and jazz musician, singer-songwriter, producer, and performer
Steven Adler, musician/drummer (Guns N’ Roses, Adler’s Appetite) and author (My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N’ Roses)
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels (Run-DMC), musician, founding member of the hip-hop group Run-DMC, and author (King of Rock: Respect, Responsibility, and My Life with Run-DMC)
Ace Frehley, original guitarist of KISS, songwriter, and author (No Regrets)
More artists to be announced—check back soon!
$60 Public; $40 Notables members at the Prelude level
7:30 PM Panel Discussion and Performance Zankel Hall
9:30 PM Exclusive Meet-the-Artists Afterparty sponsored by FUZE Beverage Providence (previously Media Sound Studios)
For more information click here
MICHAEL MONROE, iconic rock‘n’roll frontman and founding member of hugely influential Finnish outfit Hanoi Rocks, has entered into a recording agreement with Universal Music. The first fruits of this international deal will be a brand new live album, ‘Another Night In The Sun/Live In Helsinki’, set for release on September 27th 2010. This 15-track outing will be made available through Universal subsidiary, Spinefarm Records.
Says Jarkko Nordlund, Managing Director, Universal Music Finland “Michael Monroe is a true international rock star, and Universal Music’s international network is extremely proud to be working with him. Spinefarm Records is the best home for this rock‘n’roll legend, as both label and artist share the same degree of professionalism and passion.”
Mixed in LA by Niko Bolas (whose credits include Neil Young, Frank Sinatra, Keith Richards, Kiss, Spinal Tap and more) and mastered by Grammy winner Richard Dodd (the man behind Tom Petty and Dixie Chicks), ‘Another Night…’ – recorded on July 6th at the Tavastia Club, Helsinki – features key tracks from Monroe’s solo career spiced up with selected Hanoi classics, some well-chosen covers, plus two brand new, unreleased songs.
Says Monroe: “No excuses, it is what it is, and will probably end up sounding great with all its clunks and flaws, once it’s mixed and finished. Obviously, we’re not doing any overdubs, so you’ll have a very raw ‘rough and ready-or-not’ live recording of another rockin’ night in the sun in the beautiful Finnish summer!”
In the wake of the album’s release, Monroe (plus regular band: Wildheart’s mainman Ginger on guitar, ex-Hanoi member Sammy Yaffa on bass, Steve Conte of New York Dolls & Company Of Wolves fame on guitar, and Karl ‘Rockfist’ Rosqvist on drums, a Swedish/Finnish drummer who has played with both Chelsea Smiles & Danzig) will head out on tour in Finland & Sweden before heading over to the UK to Special Guest with Motörhead on their 35th Anniversary tour in November.
For more MICHAEL MONROE click here.
The Bay Area Thrash Scene of the early 80’s has been well documented. The most successful metal band of all time, Metallica, helped define it’s sound, and give San Francisco it’s second major music ‘scene’ (the first being the flower power, hippy, acid rock scene of the 60’s). Bands like Testament, Exodus, Death Angel, Possessed, Heathen, and Vio-lence where at the forefront of the new scene.
Death Angel released three albums to much critical acclaim and built a very strong following. With the release of ACT III the band seemed poised to jump from a well known underground band to commercial success, but a bus accident at the beginning of the tour cycle sidelined the band with injuries, and they eventually separated in 1991. Fast forward ten years to Thrash Of The Titans a benefit for Chuck Billy, the singer of Testament, who was diagnosed with throat cancer. Many of the ‘old school’ Bay Area Thrash bands united and reunited for this epic event and cause. Death Angel was reborn with a new guitarist and due in part to the crowd response, and the persistence of a record label, Nuclear Blast, the band decided to hit the road and actually record an album. The last 9 years has seen three new albums, several successful tours, and a resurgence of the Bay Area old school Thrash Scene.
Ted Aguilar has been with Death Angel now since the Thrash Of The Titans show in 2001. And while the band was on tour with Soilwork this summer, I chatted with Ted Aguilar after their Raleigh, North Carolina show (and heated Galaga video game match!) about Death Angel, a proposed tour of China, the first ever ‘metal’ themed cruise ship, the soon to be released Relentless Retribution (September 14th on Nuclear Blast), what it feels like to be starring three years of non stop touring straight in the face, and how he was able to take the stage at Thrash of the Titans after only two rehearsals with the band (‘fuckin’ nervous man, fuckin’ nervous!’ was his response)
AWAY TEAM: This is ‘Slim’ Jim Keller with Awayteam.com and I’m sitting here with Ted Aguilar from Death Angel. I want to thank you very much for taking time out again for this interview. Congratulations on the soon to be released 6th studio album from Death Angel entitled Relentless Retribution.
TED AGUILAR: Yes!
AWAY TEAM: So how long have you been with Death Angel?
TED AGUILAR: Nine years now this is my 3rd album with them.
AWAY TEAM: Ok so when they reformed…
TED AGUILAR: Yeah I’ve been with them since Thrash of the Titans.
AWAY TEAM: What brought you on board to Death Angel? They reformed for the benefit for Chuck Billy called the Thrash of the Titans and it was the first time that they’d gotten together in eleven years to perform and so how did you end up in the band?
TED AGUILAR: Actually, I’ve known the guys for a long time even back in the 80’s. I’d been to majority of all their hometown shows from Ultra-Violence until Act III. And when the band started to reform I guess everyone was into it except Gus (Pepa) the other rhythm guitar player. And I mean he just wasn’t into it, he was in the Philippines at the time he just basically checked out of music, well heavy music in general. I’d known Rob (Cavestany), and Rob gave me a call and said, ‘Hey man you want to do it? Gus can’t do it.’ and at first I was like, ‘Are you SURE?’ I don’t wanna step on anybody’s toes since Death Angel was more of a family unit. He goes, ‘Nope Gus can’t do it.’ So in 2 rehearsals I had to learn all the songs on my own and you know I jammed out with some individuals just to kinda get some ideas of the structures of the song. We did 2 rehearsals like 2 days before Thrash of the Titans and boom did the show. It was fun man. I was nervous as a motherfucker though I’ll tell you! But it was fun.
AWAY TEAM: Kind of a big stage to take on for your first with only 2 rehearsals under your belt
TED AGUILAR: Two rehearsals and its Death Angel’s first gig in 11 years! You gotta be on your game! I was nervous as a motherfucker. These guys know the songs inside out I mean they grew up writing it so it was like second nature to them.
AWAY TEAM: So what were you doing before you got the call?
TED AGUILAR: I just played in a couple local bands nothing really big, just jamming around with friends and local bands just played around the Bay Area. And my band played with Rob and Mark’s (Osegueda) band Swarm at the time. We did a few local gigs together and that’s how I guess I got the gig. They never actually told me I was in the band they go ‘You wanna jam?’ and 9 years later here I am today man!
AWAY TEAM: Still waiting to sign the contract right!
TED AGUILAR: I’m still waiting! I didn’t even get a handshake! Put it that way.
AWAY TEAM: So your first album with Death Angel was Art of Dying. What was it at that show or shortly after that they decided or you all decided you should reform properly and actually do something with this?
TED AGUILAR: Well that show was supposed to be a one-off. I mean from what the guys told me Death Angel wasn’t meant to reform, they were just done. They went out on a high note of Act III and they started doing other various projects as The Organization, Swarm, Silver Circus and Big Shrimp and all that stuff. Right after we did Thrash of the Titans… I loved it, and the rest of the guys just felt the overwhelmingness of the crowd. Just very into the band. We didn’t realize how much Death Angel was missed. So after that show there was other offers coming about and I guess we decided let’s just do one more round of touring put out a live album and that’s it, call it a day. But as soon as we went to Europe the crowd was just amazing! The first time we went there we headlined the F&R in 2002 July of 2002 I believe then we did the Dynamo Festival and those shows are just like, ‘Holy Shit!’ I mean metal is big in Europe and again we didn’t realize how much fans around the world missed Death Angel. And we did that and went back out on the road again we got this offer to do two weeks in Europe on a festival with Testament. Nuclear Blast started coming around offering us you know… they wanted to sign us without even hearing new songs! They just loved the band, loved the legacy, ‘we’ll sign you!’ So from there on we just said well let’s give it a shot we did and we released Art Of Dying, we released Killing Season, now we’re going to release Relentless Retribution and it’s been a great ride and we still got more to conquer! More to conquer!
AWAY TEAM: Well you’re currently on tour with Soilwork, Swashbuckle and Mutiny Within; I saw maybe 5 dates left after tonight, what’s next?
TED AGUILAR: After this we’re going to go home and kinda hang out with family real quick. Just hang out and chill, then the album comes out as you know September 14th, everyone go out and get it!
AWAY TEAM: On Nuclear Blast. Find it on Nuclear Blast; pre-order it now you get a T-shirt with it…
TED AGUILAR: There you go! And there’s gonna be there’s a limited DVD too. It’s the making of the record which I kinda filmed, directed, and produced the whole thing. I had someone else edit it. It’s the making of the record from the first riff all the way until the last riff and into the recording studio and whatnot. And September we’re going to do the Mezcal Metalfest the last week of September with Twisted Sister, Destruction, God Forbid, and Obituary. Then in October we’re going to South America for the first time which we’re really excited about then we come back in November. December we’re going out to Europe with Kreator, Exodus, and Suicidal Angels and that’s going to be a thrash fest festival across Europe! Come back for the holidays then in the new year we pick up at that 70,000 ton metal cruise we’re doing with Testament, Forbidden, Exodus, Fear Factory, Uli Roth, Trouble, Swashbuckle, so many bands! Then right after that we start our headlining U.S. tour and who knows what’s going to come after that. I know next summer we still have to do the major European festivals so relentless touring, relentless touring.
AWAY TEAM: So springtime we should see you back in the States then on the road…
TED AGUILAR: Around springtime yeah around there.
AWAY TEAM: Early summer before the European festivals kick in?
TED AGUILAR: Yeah then go back to Europe for the summer festivals then maybe come back in the fall too. Relentless touring! Who knows? But that’s the plan.
AWAY TEAM: On this album you have two new musicians (Damien Sissom – bass, Will Carroll – drums) on it, has that changed how you guys write?
TED AGUILAR: Well it definitely changed this time around because we have a new rhythm section. Andy Galeon and Dennis Pepa are no longer with the band due to personal and family obligations. They couldn’t go out on tour basically so we got a new rhythm section and when we got them, before we even started writing a record, we went out on tour with them. Just played the old songs and we noticed they have a thrashier element. So it was kinda good to go out on the road with them and play some of the old songs and get a feel of what’s going on. I’ve known Damien and Will for awhile, I’ve played with them, so I know what their vibe is about. But it was good in a sense for Rob and Mark because it’s probably the first time in Death Angel history they got to jam with somebody who are not family, somebody totally new. So when we came to writing the album Rob kinda knew what styles Will played, he knew Will’s a thrash drummer, basically like full on thrash drummer, Damien’s a thrash bass player but with a sense of like, ala Cliff Burton, Steve Harris, all those great players. So Rob wrote accordingly to that. The band’s been through a lot of ups and downs in the past couple of years losing members and a lot of personal things going on internally and externally. So all that influence and jamming with new people helped create this record which is the most aggressive and thrashiest record since Ultra-Violence. You know a lot of double bass a lot of fast parts and it feels like a new band. When you listen to the record, for us, it seemed like a new band getting its first record deal, excited! Just going out there again you know? It’s kinda like they helped bring that excitement back which was kinda tapering off with Dan and Andy because they just weren’t into it any more. You can’t really force anybody to be into something when they’re not. And it was really hard for the band because those guys had been with the band since the inception and a lot of fans are like, ‘Oh man! What’re they gonna do?’ But this album’s going to really prove that Death Angel can go on and we’re happy about that.
AWAY TEAM: That’s one thing I’d noticed with the Art of Dying and Killing Season. Act III to most fans out there was the ‘be all end all’ Death Angel album and it was probably the most diverse out of the three original albums, very funky, a lot of different styles woven through the basic Bay Area Thrash sound and with the Art of Dying & Killing Season and what little bit I’ve heard of Relentless Retribution it’s like you have gone more towards the straightforward thrash. Is that more angry or just…
TED AGUILAR: It’s a combination of things. I mean it was intentionally to do that and two it was like I said we’d gone through a lot in the past couple of years so all that vibe went into that, and Rob being the sole the chief writer on this one. Art of Dying was good you know it got our feet wet with the band discovering themselves again because it’d been a long time. Killing Season was a great record where everyone like pretty much honed in, but then again, like I’d said in the past couple of years there was tension within the band of collaborating. I mean collaboration is good sometimes you know and it works well when it works well and the past couple of years with everyone it was hard in a sense. And when everyone collaborated it made Death Angel, but this one was more Rob wrote everything. I mean he had the ideas, he had the thing, there was no fighting, there was no pushing and pulling. It wasn’t like, ‘No this has to be that way!’ ‘No this is that way!’ Rob had so much ideas, and so much to let out, that with our new rhythm section and we heard what Rob was writing and we’d go, ‘that’s it!’ You know he was feeling it, he had all this vibe and ideas, we just ran with it. It was easier for Rob to write. There was no pushing and pulling, he had everything, we just added to what he did. It’s like I said being a band, being in a first band, someone forms a band, ‘I got all these songs let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it!’ And when it came to the lyrics, Mark wrote the majority of the lyrics. There’s 12 songs on the record. Mark wrote 9 of them and Rob wrote the other 3 and it’s a heartfelt record. Mark finally got to release. Mark had a lot… you know we all went through a lot of stuff. We were all able to release, and that’s why the record’s more thrashy, more aggressive. It was purposely done that way. Along with the fact of what we went through, so we’re stoked about it. We’re just stoked. And it still has Death Angel elements in there. It doesn’t have the sing-along’s like some stuff on Act III, but there’s melody. It’s just aggressive melody. Who knows how well this album does. We could go on the road even longer. That’s something we want to do. It’s something a proper band should do. And that’s something we never got to do with Art of Dying and Killing Season. Due to the fact that a couple of the guys in the band either didn’t want to tour… we get booked a tour and go ‘I can do that first half but not the second half’ it’s like we gotta do it all! But now that those roadblocks are not there we are able to just tour and we need to tour to promote the record and to get in people’s faces. A lot of people want to see us live and they don’t want to wait 4 years for us to come by. So we want to keep comin’ and coming around.
AWAY TEAM: Yeah I’m getting tired of driving 5 hours to see you guys!
TED AGUILAR: Yes yes yes! We want to keep touring a lot so we can hit other markets where people don’t have to travel to. We’re hitting these markets where people have to travel because we haven’t come around a lot. The more we come around we can hit other territories. The word gets out ‘hey come over here instead of over there’. Cool. You know maybe hit your town so you don’t have to drive!
AWAY TEAM: So you’re doing South America and with the European festivals you’re hitting a lot of Europe, what is probably like the one market or the one place you guys haven’t played that you want to?
TED AGUILAR: Oh South America, one. Central America, probably want to go to Africa. I’ve heard they have shows in Africa. Morocco, Sepultura just did Morocco, they had a couple festivals in like Dubai. We’ve done the Philippines which is great awesome and …
AWAY TEAM: How are you guys accepted there?
TED AGUILAR: Great!
AWAY TEAM: I think you and Journey ‘cuz of their new lead singer…
TED AGUILAR: Yeah yeah!
AWAY TEAM: You guys are pretty much the favored children of the Philippines.
TED AGUILAR: Pretty much yeah! Well Journey more than us! We were accepted really well and the fans were awesome the people there were awesome. We want to go back to Japan, we’ve been to Japan, but I know there’s other territories. There’s talks of Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and you know Hawaii… There’s so many places, it’s just trying to get out there. It is hard but we’ll play everywhere where it’s feasible. If we can get out there without losing it, losing our asses, we’ll play! We’ll definitely play.
AWAY TEAM: In the age of downloading, you guys unfortunately don’t make a lot money anymore on the actual album sales. Labels and no offense to Nuclear Blast and some other great labels out there but the big labels we’ll say are slowly but surely crumbling. And if they don’t change their business model then they’re not going to exist in the next few years. Can you still exist and can you make a good living doing this full time?
TED AGUILAR: If you play your cards right!
AWAY TEAM: It’s about being in your blood and wanting to play. That’s one thing. But being able to survive in today’s market…
TED AGUILAR: A lot of bands seem to do it, I mean a lot of younger bands. Thing is to tour one, merchandise of course, you can download music but you can’t download a shirt. And we get people go ‘oh I’ve seen your YouTube performances’ great! And they come out to see us. Yeah you can see it on YouTube, but it’s not the same as going to a live show. Downloading does hurt and I’ve talked to people in bands and labels, it hurts but you gotta embrace the internet. I see it as touring, your merchandise, and just playing your cards right, and just embracing the internet. Don’t kind of shun it, it’s there, it’s not going away. The days of making money off platinum records seems to be over. Not even pop artists sell as much as they used to but…
AWAY TEAM: Which is good actually!
TED AGUILAR: Well in a sense, but for bands like us we gotta go out and tour. And the live show’s where people really see us. And the more we tour the more merch you sell or whatever and just gotta keep going. Putting out records cause the diehards will buy the records and in this day and age you got people like me and you who still buy records. The newer generations don’t seem to, a lot of the hardcore scene people kinda like download, but a lot of metal kids that I talk to, that I meet, have bought CDs and vinyl and want to sign it. So that’s good that they’re buying it. But it’s just touring and word of mouth the old school way.
AWAY TEAM: Well, used to be when you’re starting out you lived on the road. You lived in the back of a van and you toured incessantly just to get your name out there. Now you have to tour incessantly to put money in your pocket! As you get older it really starts to wear on you more, how do you keep up the intensity? Because you guys put on a phenomenal show! Like I was telling Mark (Osegueda – singer) before we started the interview, I’ve been following this band since ’87. I’m from the Bay Area originally and there was a high school radio station KVHS that played metal, and that’s all they played! That was my introduction to Death Angel in ’87. They played the Ultra-Violence and I was hooked instantly. I’ve seen you guys live, since you got back together, I’ve seen you probably 5, 6 times. And they are just amazing shows! And the intensity on that stage whether it’s a huge room or a very small room, you guys just slay. How do you keep up that level of intensity and that energy night after night being on the road for say another 2 years now?
TED AGUILAR: One we try to stay healthy eat right on the road a lot of us exercise a lot you know
AWAY TEAM: And a lot of Galaga!
TED AGUILAR: And a lot of Galaga!! We exercise a lot, we watch what we eat basically, and we’re not excessive drinkers. We don’t do drugs, an occasional puff here and there with the guys. Who doesn’t? It’s basically just really taking care of yourself. Plus when we play the songs that we play we’re just so into it, it just makes us go crazy night after night whether it’s a small crowd or a big crowd. We throw out the energy and the crowd throws it back at us. We love to do it, we love to go out there and perform. People come to see a show we’re going to give you a show! Plus we’re from the old school, where we go to a show and fuckin’ Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, old Metallica, all those bands they put on a show. KISS for example! So we kinda like are influenced by that, but how do we do it? We just rest, exercise, and try to work out and be cautious of intake.
AWAY TEAM: Well I thank you very much it’s been a pleasure again thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule
TED AGUILAR: No problem man thank you
AWAY TEAM: Good luck with Relentless Retribution and the next 16 months on the road and hopefully we’ll see you again in Raleigh in the spring.
TED AGUILAR: Raleigh or wherever you live! Hopefully you know the more we tour, and if the record gets pretty successful which we hope… Countin’ on you guys to buy it so we can hit more than just one city per state you know? So everyone can come out, we’re into it! Hope you’re into it too. Relentless Retribution September 14th via Nuclear Blast GO BUY IT! Come see the shows!
Thank you to Ted Aguilar for the time he took out of his Galaga match to sit and talk with me, Francois for ensuring the interview happened, Charles at Nuclear Blast for setting it up, and Melissa for her great transcription services as always.
Relentless Retribution can be pre-ordered here.
For more DEATH ANGEL click here.
Photos courtesy of Barry Knain
KISS / The Academy Is / The Envy / Airiel Down
Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh, NC
The Hottest Band in the land came to Raleigh and they invited the whole family. That’s right, what seems to be an effort to continue their legacy by introducing the next generation of music fans to one of the greatest shows on earth, KISS allowed children under 14 free with ticketed adults. Judging by the family section of the lawn it seems like hundreds of families took advantage of the offer.
Raleigh bands opened tonight’s show. Long running local band Jam Pain Society played at the gates and Airiel Down opened the main stage. They won a contest for the spot on eventful.com and did a good job warming up the crowd. A pair of touring openers where next The Envy and The Academy Is both were younger editions to the line up who brought their own energy to the evening.
KISS worked in a few new songs from last years SONIC BOOM amongst the list of classics. There were a few set list surprises including 100,000 Years, Crazy Nights and an acoustic version of Beth. The show was every bit of the spectacle you’d expect!! The Demon breathed fire, Star Man went on a rocket ride, Spaceman’s guitar went flying away into the night! Not to mention the fire, smoke and light show that is second to none! Truly the show of all shows!
Former HANOI ROCKS singer MICHAEL MONROE‘s live album will be released in Europe and Japan on September 22nd. The album was recorded in early July during a private concert at the Tavastia club in Helsinki. The album will be mixed and mastered by Niko Bolas in LA, who has worked with NEIL YOUNG, FRANK SINATRA, KEITH RICHARDS, KISS and SPINAL TAP to name a few.
The live album, Another Night in the Sun, features the highlights of Michael Monroe‘s solo career as well as a few Hanoi Rocks classics as well as two brand new songs: ‘You’re Next’ and ‘Motorheaded For A Fall‘.
Michael Monroe comments on the live album:
“Me and the guys in the band decided to record a live album – something for the fans to have, while they’re waiting for our actual studio album, due to be released in the early part of next year. We also wanted to capture the live set we’ve been playing recently, pretty much as it is, before we start playing more of our newly written material live in the future.
The show was at the legendary Tavastia Club in Helsinki and the audience was mainly people from our fan club and street teams, plus some friends we invited. The setlist was basically songs from my solo albums, the Demolition 23 album, some old Hanoi Rocks and some of our favorite cover songs, as well as a couple of our new, previously unreleased songs. It’s a very raw, ‘rough and ready-or-not’ kind of live recording that I’m sure the fans will be pleased to have.”
For more on MICHAEL MONROE click here.
Two time Grammy Nominees Shadows Fall has been shredding the Massachusetts’ metal and hardcore scene for the last 15 years. In 2005 they joined the Ozzfest tour and began their much deserved rise from kings of the underground to a house hold name around the world as the leader’s of the new Thrash Metal movement. Their style has been discussed and dissected ad nauseam. Are they metal? Hardcore? Post core? Metal core? Reggae metal? Hippy metal? Who cares… They rock; they’ll kick your ass given the chance. They’re touring the world in support of their latest CD Retribution, which they released on their own label Everblack Industries.
Shadows Fall is currently on the road with the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and I had the chance to sit down with their singer Brian Fair and talk about his views of the current condition of the music ‘industry‘, what the pros and cons are in having your own label inprint, the dangers of slamming a vert ramp with your skateboard after a few bowls of your favorite herb, and how it feels to be metal’s dirty hippie.
AWAY-TEAM: This is Slim Jim with Away-team.com talking with Brian Fair from Shadows Fall. So let’s see, first off you guys just kicked off the first show of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. How did that….
BRIAN FAIR: Yes indeed man. San Bernardino yesterday man, it was killer man, it was a great first show where there was none of the normal equipment break downs or things – just there were regular speed bumps. It went pretty smooth. Everything really worked out well. The show was killer, the crowd was killer! But I’m a little afraid today because since nothing went wrong yesterday we’re assuming it all happens today you know !(laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Right yeah absolutely. So where are you today?
BRIAN FAIR: You gotta run into the gremlin somewhere. Shoreline which is a little south of San Francisco in Mountain View, California.
AWAY-TEAM: Mountain View, California I’m very familiar with it, I’m from the Bay Area originally myself.
BRIAN FAIR: Oh nice nice. I love Shoreline. It’s one of my favorite venues there is. We’ve done an Ozzfest here before so it’s good to be back. Yeah and bein’ a hippie Deadhead myself I just feel that holy ground you know.
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah you know honestly I went to as many hardcore and metal shows growing up as I did to Dead shows and Reggae shows and stuff. So I think just kinda keeping that open mind is what’s really allowed us to really kinda push things in directions that other metal bands may not kind of approach. Or just not have the subconscious for the influences that would be there. I’m definitely the dirty metal hippie so it’s… I’m a Gemini, so I gotta have the twin side anyway you know.
AWAY-TEAM: There you go, the ‘dirty metal hippie‘ I like that! (laughs)
BRIAN FAIR: Yup! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: So for most people your band Shadows Fall kinda got name recognition within say the last five years. Probably Ozzfest 2005 it is kinda what opened a lot of doors for you, and you became if not a household name, the people outside of the underground really found out about you. But the reality is you guys have been around for 15 years. Your first album came out in 1997. So what do you think took so long…
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah it’s crazy!
AWAY-TEAM: You even have two Grammy nominations in the last three years!
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah it’s pretty crazy cuz you know, we started as like a small little Massachusetts metal band kinda just doin’ our own thing in a very small scene. But it really started to just kinda get back on the radar and blow up. When it seemed like a lot of bands kinda came up at the same time, us, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, and it just kinda put the U.S. metal kinda back on the map. Metal never goes away. It just may go a little bit underground, but it’s always pretty much full on happening in the scene. So it’s kinda cool that the industry started paying a little attention. I think just even towards like Ozzfest being so successful kinda just put metal in general back on the radar and then us getting in front of those audiences definitely helped.
BRIAN FAIR: Well you know it was just a really kind of close knit scene back in the day. Where there was a lot of small hardcore shows and the bands all knew each other and all kind of grew up playing in bands together before that. It was a very open minded scene that was the other thing. People weren’t like limiting themselves to ‘oh we only play traditional hardcore’ ‘we only play straight up death metal’, people were really experimenting melodically and I think that led to bands kind of branching out in different directions and really kinda catching a lot of people’s attention. But it is really funny cuz I mean when we all started, we, the bands, played to each other! There was no crowd you know it was just us. You’d have 10 bands on the bill and that would be 10 bands in the audience. So it’s funny now that it’s kinda like a worldwide thing where we tour Australia and Japan with Killswitch Engage or something like that. It’s just crazy to think about. So….
AWAY-TEAM: You’ve actually got a former member that’s in Killswitch and one that it’s in All That Remains and you guys did a tour together where the three bands were on the same bill or on the same tour together. How does that work backstage? Is there any kinda animosity or does the fact that you guys…
BRIAN FAIR: Aw no! Everyone’s still friends. It’s all good. Like everyone’s just friends. As all the bands were starting…that members were just kinda plucked…When your high school band would break up, you’d meet up with the other two guys. And when their band broke up; then start a new band. So we all we all toured together and played shows and everyone still hangs out. Everyone still lives in the same area pretty much where they grew up so everyone still kicks it.
AWAY-TEAM: So having that close knit familiarity when you guys do tour together, do you guys get real competitive? Does it make you turn it up a notch onstage? Not necessarily to outdo them but to you know…
BRIAN FAIR: I think in general whenever we play with good bands it just motivates you. It’s not necessarily a competition thing, but you just realize, ‘We gotta go out and crush it!‘ But metal lines in general you can’t really half step anyway. They’re gonna let you know. You gotta come out and just kill it anyway. Especially on a tour like this one with so many great bands, you gotta just do something to kinda stand out. Especially in the festival scenario where people are getting little 20 minute shots of you. You gotta make the most of your time and then leave ‘em remembering who you were. So it’s kinda like that when we go out with those bands. It’s the same way you see them go out and crush and you’re like, ‘alright, now we gotta at least hit ‘em just as hard if not harder.’
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely! You’ve done a lot of label switching over the years. You started out with Century Media, went up to Atlantic, and your last album which was released last year, Retribution, you’ve released on your own label. Is this because there’s more freedom for you to do it how you want it, more creative control, and more monetary control? Or what are the advantages of a do-it-yourself label?
BRIAN FAIR: You know honestly it’s not necessarily the artistic control because Atlantic and Century Media… we would make the records and then play it for them when they were done. So they didn’t really have a whole lot of input that way. But what is great is by doing both the indie label thing for years and then being with Atlantic for a little while, we’ve learned a lot about what works for us as a band and the best way to promote ourselves. And took lessons from both of those experiences to kinda be able to renegotiate our Atlantic deal into a distribution deal with their parent company Warner Music. Where we took the monetary control is the biggest thing too, like budget wise, we were able to spend money in the right places and make those decisions ourselves as opposed to some major labels just want to throw a bunch of money into a video or radio. And hope it hits. With us that’s just not really the way it works. So there’d be a lot of not necessarily wasted money, but money that could’ve been directed in a better direction. So that’s what’s great now, and also there’s no more excuses. Like, ‘oh I didn’t know we were doing this, I didn’t know we were doing that.’ Everyone’s involved so you can all be on the same page and really just try and make the best decisions. But also with the music industry struggling so much, record sales dropping so drastically, it was time to make a new business model anyway instead of getting 10% royalty rate on records. On declining record sales now we at least get an 80%. So we are at least working to put money in your own pocket as opposed to the bottom you know for someone’s car payment on their Porsche.
AWAY-TEAM: Exactly and that that was basically my next question, do you think having the control of your own label will help secure you in, by most people’s estimates, 3 years the major labels will all collapse if they don’t immediately change their business model?
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah that’s the thing you know. It was all about being proactive instead of waiting to see where the chips fell as is the fallout from the downloading mess of the internet… We didn’t want to wait and see what… Cuz you could tell labels were in panic mode. We were lucky when we signed with Atlantic because things were a little more stable. And we were able to get a really good advance and sign a great deal. But those days are gone. Now it’s all 360 deals or they’re trying to take a percentage of your merch, your publishing, your touring, everything! So instead of waiting around to see what was the last of the industry, we figured we’d start our own little business model. I have a feeling that even the CD itself might be gone soon, just the way cassettes and vinyl were before. It’s better to learn as much about the business side and handle as much personally, band for band, as you can. When it gets down to that your gonna have to… if you don’t know what to do then… you know you’re just gonna be sitting there just kinda stuck in limbo so we figured we’d get ahead of the game.
AWAY-TEAM: What I think a lot of people don’t realize is… you mentioned the 360 deals. Most people think that bands make a ton of money off album sales. And in the 80s and 90s there was good money to be made there. But today, and the last 10 years if not a little more than that, your artists and your bands make their money on the road. Selling the t-shirts, selling the tickets, selling all kinds of merch. That’s where you make the most amount of your money. So now labels are doing what they’re calling the 360 deals and they’re taking a little bit of your merch, they’re taking some of your guarantees at the door and your ticket sales just so they can try to survive themselves, and like you said make their Porsche payments.
BRIAN FAIR: Yup and it’s unfortunate for a lot of younger bands. Those are the only options they are being presented with. In a young band and you’re a teenage kid and you just want to get out of the practice space and get on the road. And you think that’s your only option and it may be ok when you’re on a small level. But if you start blowing up all of a sudden you realize you’re like, ‘we’re giving these people money for nothing you know? They’re not even here selling our t-shirts yet they’re getting 10% of every one we just sold!’ It’s really an unfortunate thing; cuz like you said that really is where you make your money. You know touring, merchandising, as well as publishing! Getting yourself onto video games or movies or just random soundtracks and things like that. And as soon as you let the label start dipping into that you’re gonna really be left with nothing else. So it’s really about trying to protect your assets if you can. It’s unfortunate; I remember when we just wanted to rock, now we gotta study tax laws and stuff. It’s terrible but if you want to do it full time, it’s something you gotta really take seriously.
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely, musicians have never as a rule been great businessmen. That’s what they have the managers for. And now unfortunately you’ve gotta be your own businessman, your own lawyer, your own manager, you’ve gotta take care of yourself because everyone’s getting a piece, or trying to.
BRIAN FAIR: Exactly that’s the other…we’ve seen enough of those Behind the Music’s to know all the things that could go wrong. So now you can’t pretend ignorance anymore. We’ve all watched what happened to Grand Funk Railroad, and all those bands on all those great VH1 Behind the Music’s so (laughs) no excuses anymore.
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah, right now it is just to push Shadows Fall. We wanted really to just see how things worked out. We’ve suggested to other bands to kinda look into a similar deal with the parent company and you know or the independent label group. But in the future if we thought we could help a band in a way without becoming the evil label side of it then that would be awesome. And if they could use our imprint just to help them get like a leg up that would be great. But we would want them to really be running it. It would be more, ‘here’s a platform, here’s a distribution center, now you guys gotta go out and you know run with the ball.’ Otherwise we would just be becoming a regular record label and that business model just doesn’t work. At that point you’re just a loan shark you know?
AWAY-TEAM: So to the bands that are still in the garage or the practice space … What kind of advice can you give to the garage band, they’re trying to make it, how to set themselves apart and get noticed today?
BRIAN FAIR: I would tell them to study hard and get a degree that will get ‘em a real job! (laughs) Honestly I would tell you to really, just get to the point where you just are so comfortable with your sound before you’re just throwing it out there. Really use advantage of all the free networking that’s available, whether it’s putting up songs on MySpace or just staying in touch with bands through Twitter, use all those as much – all the free outlets – as much as possible. Whether it’s YouTube or anything you know, those things weren’t available to us as a young band. We had to just go out on the road and just hand out demos physically as opposed to now, you can just give someone a little flier with all your info and they can hear your music as soon as they get home. It’s such a difference. Shit, they can probably hear it on their phone you know? Like really take advantage of all that and learn as much as you can about how the business side works. Because you’re gonna end up running it yourself at some point if it gets successful. So really, just absorb as much as you can. And also just really get out there and play as much as you can. Cuz the live show is the one thing that can never be downloaded or taken away from the band. The live performance is such a unique experience it really just where it’s all about focused energy, on going out there and kicking ass onstage!
AWAY-TEAM: Ok, enough of the business side, let’s get back to the music. Most of your albums have a cover or two on them from Pink Floyd to Dangerous Toys and even Leeway, how do you guys go about picking a cover? Are these nods to your influences or just songs you want to play putting…
BRIAN FAIR: They’re definitely always an influence you know but there’s two kinda schools we choose from there’s the bands like Leeway and the Cro-Mags that are for us kind of paying tribute to a band that helped kinda shape our sound, but they may not be known by a lot of our either younger fans, or more like not as the underground kids. So that’s where we choose to do a Leeway song or something like that. The other ones like Dangerous Toys and Bark at the Moon, those are just fun. That’s for us to enjoy the studio time and be able to just record a kick ass tune, and for me to be able to sing about werewolves or Teasin’ and Pleasin’. Like I’m never gonna say, ‘I think I got the wrong house’ you know? Like that will never fit into a Shadows Fall song. So for me it’s just a fun experience to just have a little party anthem.
AWAY-TEAM: What were your influences when you started? What made you want to sing to begin with?
BRIAN FAIR: You know I really got into early rock like KISS and Aerosmith and Black Sabbath at a pretty young age. I had a cool older brother and a cool neighbor who turned me onto a lot of good music. But then I got really into punk rock through skateboarding when I was probably like 12, 13. I was listening to Black Flag and the Sex Pistols and stuff, and that led me to going to local Boston hardcore shows and stuff. But the entire time I was going to hardcore shows I was also listening to a ton of thrash metal you know the Bay Area bands – Testament, Death Angel, Metallica as well some of the early death metal so I think that’s really where the kind of combination of sounds of just death metal and old school hardcore and the classic metal kinda all came into Shadows Fall. I think all 5 of us at least shared those kind of common backgrounds even though I was listening to a lot of reggae and jazz, whereas some of the other guys listened to a lot of glam metal and we all had our different stuff. But the common ground we shared the old school metal as well as that kinda early crossover metal hardcore stuff.
AWAY-TEAM: I’ve seen this asked of you before, and reading reviews of various CDs of yours, and when people ask me how to define your sound it’s really impossible to do. I guess it’s because of the various influences but how would you describe the Shadows Fall sound?
BRIAN FAIR: You know just call us a metal band! Because we really do take things from the entire sort of metal history, because we just grew up as fans of all types of heavy music. And you can hyphenate it a million times you can call it like neo-thrash-melodic-death-blah blah blah, and then add metal at the end, but to me it’s just its just metal.
AWAY-TEAM: Ok, fair enough. Retribution sees you guys delving into a bit heavier more aggressive tighter sound than previous efforts. Like almost more focused on a set sound for the feel of the entire album. Was this a natural progression or was it thought out and planned?
BRIAN FAIR: You know it wasn’t really planned but we knew with Threads of Life, the previous album, we definitely pushed the kind of melodic arena rock side of our sound probably as far as it could go so with this record. It was probably subconscious but we definitely started right out the gates writing really aggressive songs. Public Execution was one of the first tunes we were working on, as well as My Demise and War came about pretty early on. And that sort of set the tone where we’re like alright this is going to be a heavy fast record. And there’s still melodic moments like Picture Perfect is a very melodic song with acoustic moments and then a big chorus but overall I’d say it’s definitely probably maybe besides Of One Blood it’s probably the most aggressive record we’ve done from beginning to end.
AWAY-TEAM: I’d described it as tighter, more cohesive, more defined, and straightforward.. just balls out album.
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah there’s definitely a lot of that. We really wanted to balance all of the influences and make them cohesive. As opposed to some bands these days want to fit so much in that they’ll almost cut and paste, ‘alright here’s the death metal part, here’s the breakdown, here’s the big melodic chorus’ and they almost feel sorta just stuck together and forced. We wanted it to be if it was going to be a thrash song and fast it was going to be that way from beginning to end. There wasn’t going to be some weird left turn you know? If it was going to be a melodic hard rock song it was going to stay that way from beginning to end. And I think that’s just us getting more comfortable as song writers. I think song writing is the most difficult thing to progress and learn over time. Everyone gets better as a musician but that still doesn’t mean you can write a song.
AWAY-TEAM: So does the title Retribution reflect the music on the disc or does its meaning lie elsewhere?
BRIAN FAIR: Well you know we wanted a one word title for the first time. Something that just had an aggressive vibe to it, but also we’d kinda been off the radar for about two years between records and we kinda wanted to just stake our claim again. Let people know we were back. There’s just so much metal these days, and there’s so many bands, and it’s so easy to put a record out that we just were like…this was our sort of our coming back atcha thing. Going for the throat sort of record and we just felt like Retribution kind of fit that.
AWAY-TEAM: So how do you as a band go about writing a record? Is it collaborative musically? Do you all sit around and hammer out a song or do you take the riff tapes and piece a song together?
BRIAN FAIR: Our guitar players usually bring a very rough outline of the song or even just a few riffs, and we would just jam on them in the practice space full volume together. And I think that also led to it being an aggressive record, cuz we were actually playing a lot of it live right out of the gates. So it really led to that energy and we were thinking about how they would be onstage as opposed to just thinking of them as just studio pieces. So there and a lot of weird transitions that never would have happened if we would have just emailed back and forth MP3s. Some crazy little wacky idea would come out of nowhere while we were jamming, so I think that really helped make it a cohesive and also just a little more aggressive record. Just crankin’ it and going for it.
AWAY-TEAM: So does the music affect or influence the lyrics or does the writing of the lyrics influence the way the music is written?
BRIAN FAIR: For me, I usually wait til not necessarily the finished instrumental version, but pretty well defined. And I get a vibe from it that will affect the lyrics. If it’s a head crushing heavy song the lyrics have to reflect that. If it’s a long epic kinda song I may get more into a grand storytelling vibe. I definitely usually wait to get that from the music itself.
AWAY-TEAM: As we said before, you’re currently out on the road with some great bands on the Mayhem Festival, what would be your ultimate bill for a show?
BRIAN FAIR: You know we’ve played a festival with them before but we would love to tour with Metallica cuz that’s the one band that I grew up worshipping that we’ve never gotten to do extended time on the road with. And there’s only one Metallica man! They’re the kingpins, so that would be pretty amazing.
AWAY-TEAM: So are you guys sitting around waiting to do the opening for the Big Four then? Is that what you’re asking? To throw in your hat….
BRIAN FAIR: Oh that would be as cool as it gets! But honestly that would be a tough opening spot even to begin with. People would be like ‘yeah great we don’t care, get to the Big Four’!
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely I can definitely see that. Which hearkens back to the old Bay Area days when if you weren’t Exodus or Metallica onstage everyone would stand with their backs to you and just wait for the band they came to see get onstage…
BRIAN FAIR: Totally it’s just like the opening band getting “Slayer” chanted at them for the entire set. It is definitely some tough spots…Those are the shows that when you do come out and win a crowd over like that, those are some of your best successes. We must have kicked ass tonight because these dudes don’t give a cr-… they don’t care about anybody!
AWAY-TEAM: So I see you guys are performing some off dates while you’re on this festival getting back into the clubs up close and personal with the audience. Everybody wants to be a rockstar, everybody wants to play in front of 60,000 people every night, but which is the better show for you? In the club in front of 300 people nose to nose and fist to fist or something like Mayhem playing for 10 20 30,000 people a night?
BRIAN FAIR: You know for me it really goes both ways. But I definitely grew up playing small, small shows and going to a lot of small, small shows. So to me that’s really probably my comfort zone. The people are there to see you and are right up there supporting and in your face. But there’s something about like… we played a festival in Columbia last week where there was 150,000 people. And just seeing that, there’s really nothing cooler you know? There’s just so much energy and it’s so overwhelming you can barely even focus on one point out in the crowd. Its just so huge and it really can go both ways, but we played a packed club show in Brazil the day before and it was insane! There was so much energy, so much sweat, kids up on the stage and that vibe it brought me back to why I started doing this to begin with. So they both really have a place in my heart but I’d probably always feel more comfortable in a club.
AWAY-TEAM: So how does that change your approach to the show? I mean if you look out from the stage and you see 150,000 people out there how do you connect with that 150,000th person?
BRIAN FAIR: You do have to change the way you do it cuz in the club show you can be standing on the barricade and getting the crowd physically involved in the show so there’s not as much of just a focal point on you. At the big festival there’s a giant security barriers so the focus is just on you, every gesture is a little bigger and you do have to remind yourself to keep connecting with the crowd cuz it is so big. You try to involve them as much as possible, cuz it is really it is a completely different animal. The crowd isn’t part of the show at those big festivals until you make them part of it. Whereas in the club there’s no escape, they’re shoved right up in your face.
AWAY-TEAM: You recently completed your first headlining tour of Canada. Where haven’t you played yet that you really want to?
BRIAN FAIR: You know after doing South America, that was a big checkmark! We went down just recently and did Columbia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. That was amazing! I can’t believe it took us almost 15 years to get down there. For now we have an offer for a festival in China that we hopefully can work out cuz that to me, the fact that we’ve already gone to the Philippines, Korea and all these places I never thought metal would take me, if we can get to China I’m like, ‘Alright now we’re just really we’re runnin’ out of places we’re going to have to play for the penguins down in Antarctica next’.
AWAY-TEAM: That would be really cool, a festival in China wow!
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah that would be amazing!
AWAY-TEAM: So how do you personally get through the monotony of a day on the road without a show?
BRIAN FAIR: That’s why we sold so many off dates. I hate downtime on the road! You usually end up at a Wal-Mart wasting money on DVDs or looking for a movie theater.
AWAY-TEAM: What’s the one thing you can’t live without on the road?
BRIAN FAIR: Let’s see, I’d probably say my pipe but I’d also include my skateboard in that too so…
AWAY-TEAM: And not necessarily in that order right?
BRIAN FAIR: Yeah yeah yeah! And I usually try to keep them separate too!
AWAY-TEAM: That’s probably smartest.
BRIAN FAIR: Choppin’ it on a vert ramp all day can be end up really ending tragically. Although it does still happen from time to time.
AWAY-TEAM: What’s your favorite song to perform live and why?
BRIAN FAIR: You know right now it’s actually been the song War which is sorta, I can’t call it a Bob Marley cover, I adapted some of the lyrics from his version of the Haile Selassie speech that he used in his song, War, but it’s just balls out like definitely the fastest Marley cover ever. And for me the crowd is just like a nonstop circle pit. So it’s a great one to just throw out there and it’s also one of those 3 minute just punch in the throat and then you’re out.
AWAY-TEAM: What’s the one song you didn’t write that you wish you did?
BRIAN FAIR: Pretty much anything on Master of Puppets!
AWAY-TEAM: And my last question for you, what’s the worst name of a band you’ve ever been in?
BRIAN FAIR: Worst name of a band I’ve ever been in? Social Violation. It was a punk rock band when I was literally like probably 12 years old. At one point my whole thing was hitting the guitar with all the distortion up with drumsticks, thinking it was some art scene noise thing. It’s like no, you just don’t know how to hold it!
AWAY-TEAM: Well Brian I appreciate it man good luck out on the road with the Mayhem Festival. You’ve got a DVD coming out ‘Madness in Manila’ next month on the 24th of August good luck with that!
BRIAN FAIR: It’s actually getting pushed back, it’s actually getting pushed back a little bit. We just found a bunch more footage that we had to include so we’re going to actually push the date back a little bit to the fall but ‘Madness in Manila’ is coming.
AWAY-TEAM: I look forward to it! I’ve seen you guys 2 or 3 times, I’ve produced a couple of shows with you and Lacuna Coil in the North Carolina area and I’m looking forward to seeing you guys August 3rd in Raleigh , NC.
BRIAN FAIR: Indeed man it’s going to be a good time! I remember those shows those were good shows! Man, that’s killer!
AWAY-TEAM: Good luck, be safe, and we’ll see you soon.
BRIAN FAIR: Indeed man thanks for spreading the word, we appreciate it!
My thanks to Natalie at Adrenaline PR for the hook up, my transcriptionist extraordinaire melissa for the 15 pages, and Brian Fair for taking the time out of a busy schedule to throw down a great interview.
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William Aucoin, beloved record industry executive, manager, entrepreneur, and creative visionary, passed away this morning, Monday, June 28 at 9:11 a.. EST at the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center in Aventura, Florida.
Born December 29, 1943, Bill was battling prostate cancer, and passed away from surgical complications.
The man known for masterminding the career of the world-renowned group KISS, Bill Aucoin also managed STARZ, TOBY BEAU, BILLY SQUIER, BILLY IDOL, and numerous other artists. His most recent venture is Aucoin Globe Entertainment, which he founded in 2007. In its three years, Bill and his company developed bands in the U.S. and around the world.
He leaves behind his boyfriend of fifteen years, Roman Fernandez, and two sisters Betty Britton and Janet Bankowski.
Lydia Criss, former wife of original KISS drummer PETER CRISS has issued the following:
“Dear Friends and Colleagues:
It my sad duty to inform you that Bill Aucoin passed away in Florida this morning (Monday, June 28th) due to complications from Cancer & Diverticulitis.
We heard that there will be a service in NYC, but we don’t know the details.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Benjamin Woods and his monster creation FLAMETAL will release their latest masterpiece “HEAVY MELLOW” July 6th on Flametal Records. This album embraces the metal-works of SLAYER, MEGADETH, KISS and the SCORPIONS to name a few. “This is a Flamenco Guitar tribute album to some of the great Metal masterpieces,” says Woods. “It is definitely a different album from the other FLAMETAL releases and is more of a solo effort that is a very powerful to play live. Although the songs are very dark, everyone gets it, even your Mom.”
Woods is a new breed of virtuoso and a speed metal guitarist from the start. By a twist of fate Woods gear was stolen by a junkie, leaving him with only a Spanish Guitar to practice on. This was the defining moment that ignited a passion for Flamenco Guitar. After spending years studying and performing authentic Flamenco, Woods created the genre-bending group FLAMETAL, earning him an international reputation as the master of Flamenco and Metal. Playing Metal without a pick, or distortion would seem impossible to most, but through his training and creativity, Woods is the first and only musician to successfully combine real Flamenco and Metal. Here he pays tribute to some of his favorite metal tunes, played in the Flamenco idiom, with traditional accompaniment. “I had to use all my Flamenco knowledge to play these metal favorites without losing the integrity so I picked great songs with great melodies. On some songs I sped up the tempo, dropped a verse or created a new solo version only slightly changing the arrangements,” explains Woods. “The King Diamond song was a great challenge to put into the 12/8 time Flamenco rhythm of Bulerias, and the solo was definitely fun, but a bitch to learn on the Spanish guitar. The Megadeth tune was difficult to create melodies from Mustaine‘s vocal grunts and growls, but cool how it fit into the slithery rhythm of Tanguillos. I was very fortunate to have Steve Stevens do some nylon and electric guitar solos on my original tune “Cursed“. It’s a raw preview of what the next original FLAMETAL album will be with many great guest artists featured.”
Woods has built a substantial following through his years of touring and recording as “HEAVY MELLOW” unveils him to be a master musician with deep musical roots in metal, classical and Flamenco guitar. Woods is also one of the only American Flamenco guitarists to ever grace the pages of Spain’s national newspaper El Pais, and Spain’s number one Flamenco publication ALMA 100.
Woods raw energy combined with exotic and sophisticated acoustic playing and the talent of a new-generation shred-master is a much needed breath of fresh air to the instrumental rock genre.
FLAMETAL‘S new album “HEAVY MELLOW” is available for download on itunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.