From BLACK SABBATH‘s Facebook page:
“We were saddened to hear yesterday via Facebook that Bill declined publicly to participate in our current Black Sabbath plans…we have no choice but to continue recording without him although our door is always open… We are still in the UK with Tony. Writing and recording the new album and on a roll… See you at Download!!!
- Tony, Ozzy and Geezer”
If you missed it yesterday, Bill Ward, Drummer for BLACK SABBATH posted the following on his personal website:
Dear Sabbath Fans, Fellow Musicians and Interested Parties,
At this time, I would love nothing more than to be able to proceed with the Black Sabbath album and tour. However, I am unable to continue unless a “signable” contract is drawn up; a contract that reflects some dignity and respect toward me as an original member of the band. Last year, I worked diligently in good faith with Tony, Ozzy and Geezer. And on 11/11/11, again in good faith, I participated in the L.A. press conference. Several days ago, after nearly a year of trying to negotiate, another “unsignable” contract was handed to me.
Let me say that although this has put me in some kind of holding pattern, I am packed and ready to leave the U.S. for England. More importantly, I definitely want to play on the album, and I definitely want to tour with Black Sabbath.
Since the news of Tony’s illness, and the understanding that the band would move production to the U.K., I’ve spent everyday getting to or living in a place of readiness to leave. That involves something of a task, and as I’ve tried to find out what’s going on with the U.K. sessions, I’ve realized that I’ve been getting “the cold shoulder” (and, I might add, not for the first time). Feeling somewhat ostracized, my guess is as of today, I will know nothing of what’shappening unless I sign “the unsignable contract.”
The place I’m in feels lousy and lonely because as much as I want to play and participate, I also have to stand for something and not sign on. If I sign as-is, I stand to lose my rights, dignity and respectability as a rock musician. I believe in freedom and freedom of speech. I grew up in a hard rock/metal band. We stood for something then, and we played from the heart with honesty and sincerity. I am in the spirit of integrity, far from the corporate malady, I am real and honest, fair and compassionate.
If I’m replaced, I have to face you, the beloved Sabbath fans. I hope you will not hold me responsible for the failure of an original Black Sabbath lineup as promoted. Without fault finding, I want to assure everyone that my loyalty to Sabbath is intact.
So here I am. I lay my truth down before you. I’m good to go IF I get a “signable” contract. I don’t want to let anyone down, especially Black Sabbath and all the Sabbath fans. You know I love you. It would be a sad day in Rock if this current situation fell to the desires of a few.
My position is not greed-driven. I’m not holding out for a “big piece” of the action (money) like some kind of blackmail deal. I’d like something that recognizes and is reflective of my contributions to the band, including the reunions that started fourteen years ago. After the last tour I vowed to never again sign on to an unreasonable contract. I want a contract that shows some respect to me and my family, a contract that will honor all that I’ve brought to Black Sabbath since its beginning.
That’s the story so far.
Stay safe and stay strong.
I love every single one of you.
Interview: STRAIGHT LINE STITCH’s Alexis Brown: from Stevie Nicks to Korn a logical musical progression
It is 100 degrees in the parking lot of the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, NC and I am being escorted to Straight Line Stitch’s bus. Well, to the back end of the bus to be accurate, As I tweeted at the time, I’ve done a lot of things in the back of an equipment trailer, but never given an interview, so my thanks to Straight Line Stitch for popping that cherry for me. In the interview we touch on Alexis’ R&B roots, her love of Stevie Nicks and Korn, and the work ethic for one of the hardest touring bands I know.
Away-Team: I am sitting in an equipment trailer with Seth and Alexis of STRAIGHT LINE STITCH here at the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Fest and it is going to be a hot one today, the temperature is predicted to hit 103. So how do you handle the heat like this when you are out on stage?
Seth: I just drink lots and lots of water. And I try to get her to drink lots of water.
Alexis: (holding a beer in her hand as we speak) I never do what I am supposed to do (laughs). Beer is colder to me! It just tastes better.
Seth: She’s like, ‘water has no flavor!’ But I don’t care, you have to hydrate! It’s good for you…
Alexis: He mothers me. If I die from the heat, at least I’ll die on stage, I’ll die happy and full of beer!
Away-Team: Does the heat affect your voice at all? Or is the set so short that it doesn’t have time to mess with your voice?
Alexis: The set is short but it is so hot that it feels like an eternity! I’m up there thinking we’re on the fifth song and we’re on the third song. The affects you because you get winded and tired, and as a singer, you think, ‘if I sing this note, it is not going to come out right.’ (laughs)
Seth: It affects our guitars too, strings stretch, and swell, and go out of tune, but you deal with it the best you can. Yesterday our show was awful! Our guitars would not stay in tune; it was so bad. It sounded like cats fighting on stage!
Away-Team: So when you can feel it derailing like that and you can’t reel it back in, do you just put more energy into the set? Just hope the crowd overlooks the out of tune guitar, the missed note, and just vibes on the energy you’re putting into trying to put on a good show?
Alexis: Yes, yes.
Seth: You jut gotta show your poker face to the crowd, ‘hey, ain’t’ nothing wrong here!’
Alexis: More than likely they won’t know there is something wrong going on until they see you up there looking at each other or throwing a fit. If you react badly then they’re like, ‘oh damn, this is a shitty show!’ but if you act like it doesn’t bother it, it doesn’t faze you, then it’s just rock n roll.
Away-Team: At that point it is just the PA’s fault, the sound system is bad, it isn’t the band’s fault! (everyone laughs)
Alexis: (acting innocent) I don’t know what’s going on, it sounded good to us. (laughs)
Away-Team: So you guys have been around since 1999/2000, Your ‘debut’ was a combination of atmospheric interludes with bursts of manic full bore metal, where The Fight Of Our Lives see you blending the two much better. Is it maturity as songwriters? Was it all new material or did you take things from the past 10 years…
Alexis: Excuse my language but it was a conscious effort by the band to say fuck everything else! Let’s just make an album that we as a band can be happy with.
Away-Team: That was the end of my question, was it because nobody was riding you this time saying, ‘do it this way, don’t do that. We want to hear this…’
Alexis: We basically just knocked the monkey off our back and said, ‘This is about us first and foremost, this is OUR dream.’
Seth: On the last record we did what they said, and nothing happened for us, on this record we did what we wanted, we put our hearts into it, and I think it transcends to the fans, and they can see that and hear that. So in that alone it has done more for us.
Away-Team: Well if it feels right to you, then it should come across in the music and most certainly in the live show.
Alexis: It definitely resonates more with our audience.
Away-Team: I’ve heard of you guys out on the road on every tour it seems for the last 4 years. I’ve seen you on huge tours like this, and playing tiny little rooms in a one horse town in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina. I see you guys constantly on bills of shows everywhere. When was the last time you had a break?
Alexis: If you are not touring, if you are not performing, and you’re not recording then what are you doing? We have got to stay busy, that is our whole bread and butter. Whether it is a big one a little one, somewhere in between, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, we don’t care, we’re gonna play.
Away-Team: At some point though you have to recharge your batteries don’t you? Or is that what the studio is for?
Alexis: Sometimes we’ll have a week off here and there; very seldom we’ll have a month off.
Seth: We’d love to do a month on and a month off that would be the perfect scenario. But if an offer comes up, you gotta take it!
Away-Team: The band hails from Tennessee, but actually you all live all over the US and OUTSIDE the US, how does that help or hinder being in a band together and say when it comes time to write an album?
Alexis: I think it is good that we have a little bit of distance at times.
Seth: When we write everyone has their own ideas, and we’ll put them all together, send them around to everyone else, and then come together for about a month and write an album. We don’t put out a song unless everyone is 100% happy with it.
Alexis: Basically we make it work. We’ll tour, then go our separate ways and write. Then when it is time to get back together, we’ll take all our ideas and put them in a big kettle and hash them out and make something of them.
Away-Team: I’ve read one of your main influences is Stevie Nicks, how do you go from Stevie Nicks to the kind of vocals you do now?
Alexis: I fell in love with Stevie Nicks through my step dad. He had a bunch of records of hers, and I would look at them and say, ‘she’s really pretty and kinda kooky, I love that about her.’ So I checked out the music finally and fell in love with her as an artist. It was actually my brother who was into the heavier stuff, Pantera, Ozzy, and Korn. And he introduced me to that kind of music and I fell in love with that genre. I’ve always wanted to be a singer but not necessarily a heavy metal singer. I was the cliché; I wanted to be the black girl that was doing R&B. That’s what I went after. But when my brother introduced me to metal, he showed me a whole new world, and I fell in love with it.
Away-Team: Since you brought it up, do you find it hard being accepted first a female in metal and secondly a black female in metal?
Alexis: I think if I were being a poser I’d have a harder time…
Away-Team: You mean like say Jada Pinkett Smith?
Alexis: Whoa! She was doing her; I’m not going to say nothing bad about that, I plead the fifth. (laughs) She did her thing, and…. We’ve got to embrace each other we can’t be knockin’ each other down. Speaking for myself if I was fake and I wasn’t a good person people would see through that… But people can tell I’m genuine and I don’t use the color card, I don’t use the female card. It’s just about us making music that we love and music that we are trying to get out there. I think people respect that, so no, it’s not hard for me.
Away-Team: What is the best part of being on a touring Festival like this and worst…
Alexis: The fans! The fans are the best part! The bands too the bands are the best part. The worst is the heat, that frickin’ heat…
Seth: And the dust! When we play in parking lots like we are going to do today, there is nothing but a big dust cloud raised by the audience, and it sits right on us on stage. You breathe that in and you got big boogers in your nose…
Alexis: Speaking of race… everyone’s going to be brown today!!! (laughs)
Away-Team: Unity through dust!
Alexis: Yes! Yes! (laughs)
Away-Team: What is the worst name of a band you’ve been in?
Alexis: Smooth As Silk… that was my all girl band.
Away-Team: Was that your R&B phase?
Alexis: Yes, but I still listen to R&B, I listen to everything!
Away-Team: As I think all good musicians should.
Alexis: Yes, me too, I love all kinds of music, all music.
Away-Team: After Mayhem winds down and you wash all the dust off, what’s next for Straight Line Stitch?
Seth: Afro Punk Fest in New York and it is FREE so come on out and support us at the stage! It’s on August the 28th. Then we’re doing a hometown show, first hometown show in about 2 years on September 26th. We’re excited about that! Then we were supposed to go to Europe after that but the band we were supporting had family issues and canceled the tour.
Alexis: They’re having some hard times but we still love them.
Away-Team: Well good luck with the rest of the tour, continued success, and thanks for hanging in your equipment trailer with me.
Seth: Thank you, careful in that heat. DRINK WATER!!! Maybe you’ll listen to me because she won’t! (laughs).
There is a long list of people to thank for making this and all of our Mayhem Fest interviews happen, so, forgive me if I forgot anyone, but thanks to Lilly at Roadrunner, Bill at eOne Music, Rikki, Natalie, and Jessica at Adrenaline, and Laura Jean with Mayhem.
For more STRAIGHT LINE STITCH click here.
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.
Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, and Ozzy Osbourne… aside from being iconic figures in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, what do they all have in common? They’ve all had the honor of calling Tommy Clufetos their drummer. Ever since he picked up the drumsticks at the age of seven, Tommy Clufetos has lived and breathed rock ‘n’ roll, doing more in ten years than most people dream of accomplishing in a lifetime. It’s that kind of dedication that has brought him from keeping time for the Motor City Madman to tearing through the Diary of a Madman. Recently I had a chance to speak with Tommy about what it’s like to play with rock royalty, covering everything from the Prince of Darkness to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. So sit back, grab a cold one, and kick up your feet as we delve into the mind of one of rock’s great stickmen….
AWAY-TEAM: I’d like to start by congratulating you on the success of the current tour, and on semi-recently being named the new full time drummer for Ozzy Osbourne.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Thank you.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys are currently touring with Slash as your supporting act, I know you’ve had the chance to play with him before, how did that come to be?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: You mean how did it come with me jamming with Slash before?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I was doing this thing with Alice Cooper, not when I was in Alice Cooper’s band, he just asked me to help him out and do this thing called the MAP Fund, which is affiliated with the Grammy’s and it helps those with substance abuse addictions. So we played at this concert, and Slash jammed with Alice when I was playing drums, I think he played “School’s Out” or something. So we played together then, and he just asked me to jam with him a couple times out of that. He’s a total gentleman, Slash, I love his guitar playing. Ya know he’s one of the last guitar hero rock stars out there, so… I can’t say enough about that guy, he’s such a great guy, and great musician.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, he’s legendary!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Right.
AWAY-TEAM: Now I spoke with Gus G. a few months ago, and he hadn’t yet met Slash, and I asked him this very question, but he didn’t have the answer yet. So now it’s time for an update… have you guys played any songs on this tour with both Ozzy and Slash on stage at the same time? I know they played together on Slash’s album.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Ozzy sang on Slash’s album, yeah. But they don’t do that during the concert, because we fly in and out of the shows, so it doesn’t really leave much time for us to… ya know, sometimes we’ll get there when he’s already on stage, and we have to get ready, so. The schedule is quite compact, so I don’t think it technically leaves room to do that. But that would be cool.
AWAY-TEAM: Sure would.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: But the package of Slash and Ozzy together is going over really well, and I think it’s a great thing for fans. Alot of tunes that people are familiar with, and alot of tunes where people go ‘Oh, I forgot about that song’, so it’s a great night of rock ‘n’ roll hits for everybody.
AWAY-TEAM: I think the great part of it, is we haven’t seen something like this in a long time, and I’ve said this before, it kinda brings you back to the days of the old Monsters of Rock tours and things like that.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Yeah. I mean Slash is just an icon, and so is Ozzy, so it makes for a great night for everybody.
AWAY-TEAM: Right. So how did you get the gig with Ozzy? Did you have to audition? Or did they call you and say “Hey, what are you doing? We want you to play with us”? How did that work out?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I was kinda in the right place at the right time. I was brought in to help out during Gus G.’s audition, he came in from Greece, and their drummer at the time couldn’t make it, so I was asked to do it just so Gus could be comfortable and focus on playing guitar… and the music would be solid. So that’s what I came in to do, and then they asked me to play at a thing called Blizzcon in California, which again Mike Bordin, who’s an amazing drummer, could not make due to commitments with Faith No More. They asked me to do that, and out of those couple experiences they asked me to join the band. So I was very lucky, and excited, and so ecstatic to say ‘Yes’.
AWAY-TEAM: Now you left Rob Zombie’s band to take the gig with Ozzy, I understand Rob was a little bitter when you left him. Have you spoken to him since, and managed to salvage your friendship?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I have not spoken to him. But I have nothing but great things to say about Rob and my time spent there, and ya know I base our relationship on what I saw when I was there and I have nothing but great things to say about that. I wouldn’t say anything negative, just because of a couple statements in the press. So, no hard feelings on my end. I wish him, his wife Sheri, and all the guys nothing but the best. I still think the world of all of them. So, that’s how I feel.
AWAY-TEAM: These days Ozzy seems to be a bit more energized than he has been in the past few years. I’m sure in part it has to do with some of you younger guysbeing around. With guys like yourself and Gus being closer in age to Ozzy’s kids, than the man himself; do Ozzy and Sharon treat you with more of a parental instinct? Or are you still just one of the guys?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: The age thing doesn’t really come into play. We play in his band, and it’s business. But this is more like a family than anything I’ve ever been involved with. They’re super cool, and super nice, and ya know we just played an L.A. show and Ozzy’s whole family was out there. They couldn’t be better to us, they treat us all great despite the age. Whether you’re old or young, it’s all the same thing.
AWAY-TEAM: It’s all rock ‘n’ roll. And speaking of that, Ozzy’s still going at age 62, where do you see yourself at age 62?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I’ll still be rockin’ n’ rollin’ my friend!
AWAY-TEAM: Kick ass!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I just hope I die on stage. That would be… not too soon! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Yeah. Let’s not rush it!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I can’t stop. So I’ll probably be that dude up there that people are saying ‘Why won’t he quit?’
TOMMY CLUFETOS: At least I know it right? (laughs) I’ll probably still be taking my shirt off when I’m a fat guy!
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) I gotta ask this question… the whole metal world let out a collective ‘What the fuck?” when we first heard that Ozzy was working with Justin Bieber, in fact I even read somewhere somebody said ‘I hope Ozzy bites his head off’ (laughs)
TOMMY CLUFETOS: (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: How did the guys in the band feel about it, see when we first heard we didn’t know it was a commercial, we just heard they were working together so it obviously created a bit of a storm in the media. So how did you guys feel about it? I mean did you bust his balls a bit?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I mean he’s doing a Super Bowl commercial, so who wouldn’t be in a Super Bowl commercial? It’s like the biggest thing in the world, and I mean he’s Ozzy Osbourne he can do whatever the hell he wants. So I think it’s great, Ozzy is more than music, he’s a cultural icon! He’s like Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is just fucking cool, and so is Ozzy. So, I mean we go up on stage and Ozzy just rocks balls! Harder than anybody out there, harder than any punk kid. He’s the real deal, so whether he’s in a commercial with Justin Bieber, or in The Osbourne’s, he still IS rock ‘n’ roll. He’s the definition of rock ‘n’ roll, and he proves it when he gets on the stage, and we’re there to back him up on it!
AWAY-TEAM: Speaking of backing him up, current band not included, if you could pick an all-time, all-star lineup for Ozzy, consisting of former band members who would it be?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Oh man, that’s a tough one. He’s always had such great bands. The No More Tears era was a great band, of course the Blizzard era was a great band, ya know I just feel honored to be in the Ozzy Osbourne band legacy. That’s what I feel lucky about. My name is in those ranks, and that’s just a great feeling, because he’s always had and always found the great musicians. Ozzy’s so good at getting great musicians in his band, and he can see talent, so I feel blessed and honored to be in that category. I’m not saying I’m in that category, but just to be mentioned with the same guys is a great feeling.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I think Gus put it really well. He said you guys get to “…go out there every night and play the Bible of Heavy Metal” That’s pretty fucking cool!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: When we played in Los Angeles the other night, Tony Iommi was out there and Bill Ward came into our dressing room… sweetheart of a guy, total monster, amazing drummer. So it was great to meet those guys and have ‘em at the show.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s awesome. So how did you get started playing drums?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: My father was a musician, and I got drums for my 7th birthday, and from that moment on I’ve known what I was gonna do with my life. So it was full on instantly, blinders on, to get to doing what I’m doing now. So it’s been an endless, relentless pursuit of quality and determination to get where I am now.
AWAY-TEAM: What was the first song you ever learned? And who did you idolize, or style your play after growing up?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Wow, first song I ever learned (pauses) I think it was, my dad was a musician, so I think it was growing up a song called “C-Jam Blues” which was a Duke Ellington thing. Kinda like a little swing number, and it had little breaks for me to do some fills in, and stuff like that. That’s the earliest thing I can remember doing. I started so early, it just sort of came easy for me. I could just play tunes instantly, so um, ya. Once you look back it’s kinda funny how quickly it goes by.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I idolized my parents. Ya know, as you get older it’s harder to have idols, but my parents; I give them the greatest credit for me doing what I’m doing now. They never told me I couldn’t… I mean my mom, I can’t imagine the noise she had to deal with for 20 years in the house, at all times of the day blasting music and playing drums. And my dad always made sure I had drum stuff, and took me out and saw music, and put me in his band, so. The support was always there, and they always told me I could do whatever I wanted as long as I put the effort in. So they gave me the tools to have the confidence, in order to go out and do what I do. That’s really who I’m gonna give credit to. To do music, ya know, you gotta have that right mindset. Being able to play your instrument and be good at it is almost the easy part. Your mind has to be together, and you have to understand your place and your role. So it’s very easy, ya know we’re staying at the Four Seasons Hotel and just got off a private jet, it’s easy to start thinking you’re a big shot. But you gotta remember where you came from, and remember why you’re there. You gotta stay grounded, and I credit that to my parents for instilling those values in me. Ya know, when I did wrong, they put you in your place, when you did good, you got credit for it. So I carry those lessons with me to this day.
AWAY-TEAM: Now you got your first real big break with Ted Nugent, how did you end up playing with him? Had he known you from the Detroit scene?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I got to first play with Ted, a guy in Detroit, a great sax player named Alto Reed whose played in Bob Seger’s band for the last 30 years, asked me to play on a movie soundtrack that he was putting together. Ted Nugent also played on it. So I first played with Ted during that, and didn’t have any idea of what music we were gonna play, he just sat down and wrote a song, and I immediately followed him. We did one take of it, and we cut it. Then we did another one in one take, and I think I impressed him because he called me the next day to go on tour with him. So, ya know, you get certain moments in life where you go “This is my shot.” If I didn’t buckle down and kick ass, Ted Nugent is not gonna give me another shot. You can work for ten years busting your hump, and eventually your break will come in a round about way, and you get that one opportunity to go to the next level. And I knew that was my moment, my one moment. I’ve had numerous moments like that, that have led me to where I’m at. But you don’t get those moments without the years and years of hard work and preparation in order to lead you to be prepared to take advantage of that moment.
AWAY-TEAM: Right, it’s all about what you make of it. So being with a guy like Ted, it’s almost a requirement to be into guns…
TOMMY CLUFETOS: You know what, Ted doesn’t give a shit. Ted only cares about you working your ass off, and being professional, and doing your job. Of course he’s gonna take you to shoot guns, but he doesn’t care if you’re a vegetarian, if you’re black or white, as long as you kick ass and do what you do to the best of your ability, your his best friend.
AWAY-TEAM: So what’s the sickest weapon you ever shot with him?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Oh my god. We went out in Texas, he would fly us out to these hunting ranches for his birthday and shoot like, I don’t even know what they’re called. But like insane crazy machine guns, like you’d see in movies, like in Red Dawn. Just stupid, stupid stuff. I’d be firing these things and be like “What am I doing right now!” For me it was crazy, being the city guy, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Right. Having played with so many greats over your career, do you ever get jaded? In other words, let’s take someone I know you’ve never met, at least I hope you’ve never met! Elvis walks by, is it ”So what it’s Elvis he’s just another guy like me”? Or do you still get a little starstruck?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: You picked the one guy, I mean I’m an Elvis nut…
TOMMY CLUFETOS: …so if he walked by, I’d really be going crazy. Second of all, I would have loved to play for Elvis, that’s one guy I would’ve loved to play for. I am an Elvis fanatic! To me though, we’re people. Elvis would be the one dude that I would freak out about though. But, we’re all people, and at this point you’re either an asshole, or you’re not an asshole! (laughs) So sometimes you meet famous people and they’re fucking assholes, sometimes you meet famous people and they’re the greatest people in the world. So, ya know, we’re all just people. I don’t really let anybody freak me out, cuz who cares. You can’t be intimidated by people either. You can be excited, and have a certain charisma that makes you excited to meet them because they’re exciting. But it’s not just because they’re a star, ya know. Like Ozzy has a certain charisma, where you’re like “Oh my god, this is Ozzy“ It’s fucking cool! But it’s not just because it’s Ozzy, it’s because he’s a cool person. If that difference makes sense.
AWAY-TEAM: I know exactly what you mean!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Like there’s certain guys I’ve played in bands with where I go “Oh my god, this guys a douchebag!” But the guys I play with now, everybody is so cool, everybody is on the same page, and so professional, it’s just a joy to be around. We’re having a riot out here…Blasko, Adam Wakeman, Gus G, Ozzy…all top notch supreme gentlemen, and highest level musicians.
AWAY-TEAM: Of all the legends that you’ve played with, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, and Ozzy, what’s the best advice any of them has ever given you?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Best advice anybody has ever given me… that’s a tough one. (pauses) I have no idea. I learned alot from Ted Nugent, he gave me my first big break, we’re both from Detroit, share alot of the same influences, come from the same place and look at things the same way so I learned alot of things from him. But most of the stuff, my parents gave me the tools, I knew what I was doing. I was ready when anything came down the pipeline. I’m talking emotionally, and mentally I was ready. The best advice I can give somebody, if they wanna do this, is to keep the music number one. If something else comes in front of your music, or whatever you wanna do in your life you will not make it. Everything I do during the day has to do with me wanting to play music for the rest of my life. And when you get away from that, when you start getting into drugs, and start drinking, when the partying becomes too much eventually, it may take years, you’re gonna fall. I don’t care who you are, when you stop practicing as much you will lose your chops. You will lose it, I’ve seen so many drummers that are like “Oh yeah, I don’t really pick up the sticks in between tours.” WHAT? You don’t pick up the sticks? I have to pick up the sticks, I have to play, I have to stay hungry for it. Or year, after year, after year you will become dull, and you will lose it slowly. You gotta keep the hunger, and you gotta keep the music number one. So that’s my biggest advice, and everybody who I’ve worked for, that’s what they do and they have 42 year careers because of it. So they may not say something, they may not say the advice, but if you’re smart enough and perceptive you can pick it up on your own. Watch and learn.
AWAY-TEAM: Very true. Excellent pearls of wisdom. Tommy, thank you for your time, it’s been a true honor.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it, and all the best to you!
AWAY-TEAM: Same to you. Best of luck with everything, and I look forward to seeing you behind the kit for many years to come.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Appreciate it. all my best.
AWAY-TEAM: Thanks buddy! Talk to you soon.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Bye.
Special thanks to Tommy Clufetos for so graciously giving me his time, and to George Vallee at Sumerian Records for making it all happen.
WHITESNAKE, the legendary rock’n’roll legacy founded and formed by renowned singer/songwriter David Coverdale, unleashes a brand new storming ‘Snake statement, “Forevermore” on Frontiers Records on March 25th in Europe and March 29th in North America.
Their 11th studio album, “Forevermore” was recorded, produced and mixed by Coverdale, guitarist Doug Aldrich and Michael McIntyre at Snakebyte Studios and Grumblenott Studios & Villas in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, with additional work at Casa Dala, Sherman Oaks, CA, and WHITESNAKE will take to the road for a full world tour in support of the release.
Formed in 1977, and steered by the legendary Coverdale, WHITESNAKE carry a rightful reputation as one of the world’s leading rock’n’roll bands. Coverdale’s blues and soul roots, combined with a feral sense of rock and roll, have consistently shaped the ‘Snake’s sound, and add to that Coverdale’s love and appreciation of impeccable musicianship and you have a failsafe recipe for success.
Their ascent to the very top of the rock’n’roll tree was confirmed with 1987’s self-titled mega-platinum album, which saw two top 10 hits, two number one singles with ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Is This Love’ and a virtual 24 hour domination of MTV around the world. Such triumphs were surely foretold when as a young man from Saltburn-By-Sea; Coverdale enthusiastically answered the call to be Deep Purple’s singer. Such bombast, bravado, talent and passion have thus helped establish WHITESNAKE as the perennial platinum favorite they have become.
With “Forevermore” Coverdale has reignited an explosively fruitful vein of creativity with guitarist and co-writer/producer Aldrich, Reb Beach (Winger, Alice Cooper) on guitar, Brian Tichy (Ozzy, Billy Idol, Foreigner) on drums and Michael Devin (Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Lynch Mob) on bass, and as with all WHITESNAKE’s albums, Coverdale aided so capably by Aldrich opens up his heart and soul to express emotions and empathy rarely heard these days in any musical genre.
More than simply their latest release, “Forevermore” represents WHITESNAKE’s no holds barred, most heartfelt, melodic and musically muscular excursion for many a year.
The album’s release will be anticipated by the digital only release of the first single/video clip “Love Will Set You Free” on February 21st.
“Forevermore” will be specially released on a “Snake Pack” edition for the first 3 weeks in England only. This very special release – arranged in conjunction with Future Publishing and Classic Rock magazine – will come with a collector’s edition 132 pages deluxe magazine + A1 poster & metal pin badge and shall feature an exclusive cover art and 2 bonus live tracks “Slide It In” and “Cheap An’ Nasty” which will serve as an appetizer for the forthcoming “Live @ Donington 1990” to be released in the summer 2011.
The album is also being released on a double gatefold vinyl format, with deluxe special editions to be announced shortly.
This time Coverdale and Co. have really laid it on the line for their fans, and be sure of this, the Snake’s charms are going to convert a whole new army of believers… just watch.
For more WHITESNAKE click here.
Slim Jim’s Top Ten of 2010
SHOOTER JENNINGS – Black Ribbons
The 70’s big classic rock – ball trippin’ – brain smokin’ – ear melting heavy tuneage of old is not dead. Shooter Jennings has created the heaviest album of 2010. In pure sonic fury, huge epicness, and massive songwriting. This isn’t Outlaw Country, This isn’t your daddy’s classic rock, this is Shooter Jennings and Hierophant (his band) racing along your brainwaves, fucking with all you thought you knew about music, and tainting what may come in the future. Take a little WHITE STRIPES, sprinkle some MUSE, add a dash of BLACK KEYS, smoke it with some Pink Floyd and dose repeatedly with Shooter himself, and you’ll get Black Ribbons. While the music will kick your ass, the lyrics will fuck with your brain, and the whole experience will make you think this whole fucked up industry could simply be saved if they’d just put out more solid music like this. This album should propel Shooter into Arenas and onto your grid faster than the clap takes hold of your sad tiny withered cock. But it seems the world would rather listen to the likes of sluts like Ke$ha, or 16 year old pubescent boys like Beiber than embrace the monster that is Shooter and Hierophant. WAKE UP people… If you haven’t experienced Black Ribbons… GO NOW. Do it here. You’ll thank me later. Oh, yes, Don’t Feed The Animals… And… FUCK YOU I’m FAMOUS. Did I mention there are 20 songs on this disc? 20! All of them will fuck with you, tie you in psychedelic knots and drip musical ecstasy semen out of your earholes. And don’t forget the indelible STEPHEN KING. Oh yeah, how could I forgot the title track Black Ribbons? It is quite simply the best Bruce Springsteen song that he never wrote.
ELEPAHNT MOUNTAIN – The Last Days of Planet Earth
Joe Altier and Slider from BRAND NEW SIN reunite to form ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN. The best Southern tinged Hard Rock album of the last year or three, and they hail from SYRACUSE, NY! If you’ve heard of BRAND NEW SIN, and have heard their first two records, then you’ll know exactly what ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN sounds like. And you’ll love it. You can spread the herd here.
THE BLACK KEYS – Brothers
Raw. Stripped. Deeper grooves than the ones fading on your wrist. Monochromed Stereophonically challenged. Bluesier than 20 quarts of Papa’s Jambalaya. More soulful than the most devout Methodist. The more I listen to this the more I want to go find all my ex’s. And slap the unloving chaos addicted shit out of them. The ultimate break up album. As it spins right now, I’m thinking it should move UP my top ten list. Fuck it. Ten Cent Pistol just reinforced the fact. And this is now my #3 best album of 2010 (As I originally wrote this, it was set at 7). You can join the Brothers here.
FILTER – The Trouble with Angels
An amazing return for FILTER. Raw, punishing, beautiful. Read my original review here.
ACCEPT – Blood of the Nations
Another reunion of sorts for ACCEPT. A new singer and a new lease on life. A great album that reminds us all why ACCEPT are Fast as a Shark. Read my original review here.
DISTRUBED – Asylum
More melodic than the past albums. More straight forward guitar solos than before. And more David Draiman. What more could you ask from a DISTURBED album? You can join the Asylum here.
SLASH – Slash
Slash gets a bunch of singers to sing on his album instead of going around singing on theirs. Great songs, great singers like Myles Kennedy (ALTER BRIDGE), Lemmy (MOTORHEAD), Ian Astbury (THE CULT), Ozzy, Chris Cornell (AUDIOSLAVE, SOUNDGARDEN), and many more. The most notable standout track and singer is Fergie (FERGIE, BLACK EYED PEAS) on the track Beautiful Dangerous. The woman should be singing balls out Rock N Roll all the time, not this pop pap shit with BEP. She has a great voice and holds her own amongst the more traditional and legendary vocalists on this album. You can get Slashed here.
AVENGED SEVENFOLD – Nightmare
Never a big A7X fan. But after seeing them this year at the Rockstar Uproar Festival with Disturbed I found a new respect for them as a live band. I figured out my problem with the band. M. Shadows has a good voice, but as he sings about dark lyrics, and leads the crowd into chants of ‘fuck you’ his voice has a rather high range to it. Making the music seem lighter and more lilting than the lyrics therefore belying the heaviness of the music. At times making it seem rather jokish or tongue in cheek. However after seeing their amazing performance live, I now get it. And can move past the vocal issue. The album is their best by far. Blazing guitars you’ve come to expect, full stream riffs crunch and chunk along getting your head and feet involved tapping along. Definitely deserving of anyone’s top ten list. You can become the Nightmare here.
EXODUS – Exhibit B: The Human Condition
EXODUS simple continues to pummel you into submission with their latest album. It is the fourth album in their return that does not fail to impress. The one drawback may simply be Rob Dukes‘ dry vocal style. But the brutal beating that you endure while listening to the album more than makes up for the lack of dimensions in his voice. Albums 6 – 10 will continue to beat the ever loving fuck out of your brain and spleen. I have no doubts about this. The band has never sounded better, tighter, or more focused than here. Which can only mean great things on the horizon for us fans. You can witness the Human Condition here.
DEATH ANGEL – Relentless Retribution
Any year is a good year when DEATH ANGEL releases a new album. The most important part of this is that the band promises to tour endlessly for this release. So that means we get more live Death Angel than ever before. And this boys and girls is a good thing. You can read my original review here.
When Ozzy Osbourne parted ways with long time guitarist Zakk Wylde in early 2009, many people thought he was losing it. When he replaced him with a relative unknown, people thought he’d pulled a page from his Diary of a Madman. The key word here is “relative” unknown; you see, Gus G. had already forged a name for himself within the inner circles of rock via his band Firewind. In fact, what most of those doubters didn’t realize is that Gus was already well on his way to being considered one of the great guitarists of our time, not only by his fellow axemen, but also garnering the distinction of being named one of the Top 3 Guitarists in the World by Japanese magazine Burrn! Approximately a year and a half later Gus G. is out “burning” up the stage every night with The Prince of Darkness, and did I mention he’s a comic book hero too? Here’s how it all went down when I had Q&A with the man destined to become a living legend…
AWAY-TEAM: Congratulations on the release of the new Firewind album, “Days of Defiance”, which by the way is a fantastic album…
GUS G.: Thank you very much!
AWAY-TEAM: …and also on being named the new guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne…
GUS G.: Thank you very much. Thanks.
AWAY-TEAM: …we’ll talk some more about that, but first I want to talk a little about Firewind. I’ve described your sound with Firewind as sort of a “melodic speed metal”, that harkens back to the days of the great 80′s metal bands. If you had to describe Firewind’s sound to someone who has never heard you before, how would you describe it?
GUS G.: I would say it’s melodic heavy metal, yeah. Ya know people like to put tags on music, like I know for example we’ve been tagged as a power metal band, and that’s not the case. We almost feel like it’s a bad thing to be called a power metal band these days, because it’s not fashionable. But I’m thinking we are not even power metal, just because we sound “European” or we have fast double bass on some of our songs, that doesn’t mean anything. I think it’s just, our roots come from traditional rock or heavy metal, like you said from the 80′s and the 70′s. We’re just like a traditional heavy metal band, but with modern elements.
AWAY-TEAM: There were a few influences that were highly discernable on the album. For example, there seemed to be a lot of Iron Maiden in songs like “Chariot” and “SKG”, and a great deal of Scorpions sound in the track “Broken”. Who were your strongest musical influences growing up?
GUS G.: Well, you’ve actually named two of them. I mean, um, we’re all big Maiden fans, and you can tell that on a song like “Chariot”. I love the ballads that the Scorpions made, and I guess it’s natural for me to write a bit in that vain as well. So some of the stuff I do will remind you a bit of early Scorpions. Uh, you know, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, all of the great bands of the 70′s and 80′s really. Thin Lizzy. These are the bands that we really look up to.
AWAY-TEAM: So what was the first song or album that you heard that made you pick up a guitar and start playing?
GUS G.: Actually it was Peter Frampton, the album Frampton Comes Alive. My dad had the album at home, and he was playing it, and when I heard him do the talk box thing in the song “Do You Feel Like I Do” I was like “Wow, the guitar sounds like a robot”. So then I wanted to play the guitar. I must’ve been about 9 years old or so, and that’s when I asked my dad to get me a guitar. He got me a guitar and about a year later I started taking lessons.
AWAY-TEAM: Earlier this year you guys (Firewind) were featured in an issue of the Eternal Descent comic book series. Comic book artists often take artistic liberties when drawing a real life person into a fictional world. What, if anything, would you change about your character in the comic book if you were the artist?
GUS G.: Oh I don’t know, my imagination is not that wild to be honest. (laughs) So I can’t see myself in a comic book, so I left that up to the artist who’s a really talented young guy Llexi Leon. He made it super cool man, we all had super powers. I think mine, because I have a flame tattoo on my right hand, he turned that into a super power so whenever I would get pissed off or anything my hand would go on fire, and my guitar as well. (laughs)
GUS G.: And I would just burn the fuck out of people or something. So that was pretty cool. Plus he made me a little bit more muscular which was cool. (laughs)
GUS G.: It was a year and a half ago, when his management sent me an email asking me if I’d be interested in the gig, and if I’d go out and audition. And that’s how it happened.
AWAY-TEAM: So you actually had to audition for him? What songs did you have to play?
GUS G.: Um, ya know, a bunch of his classic songs like “Bark at the Moon”, “Crazy Train”, “I Don’t Know”, “Suicide Solution”, “I Don’t Wanna Change the World”, “Paranoid”, stuff like that, ya know. We went in there and did about six or seven songs.
AWAY-TEAM: So now, you’ve gotten the job, and you come in during the middle of the recording of the Scream album; for someone like yourself who’s used to having a large amount of control over what goes into an album, what was the creative process like? Did they give you as much freedom as you’re used to? Or did they just say ‘Here you go, play it like this.’?
GUS G.: No, they didn’t tell me how to play really. They told me “Do what you gotta do as a guitar player. We need alot of your guitar in there.” Because when I walked in all the songs were already written of course, but the guitar work had been done by Kevin Churko the producer, who is not really a guitar player so it sounded a little bit weird. Ya know what I mean? Like very processed and stuff. So they were like “Make it as real sounding, and as heavy as possible. Just do what you do. We want Gus on there.” So like I said, while alot of these songs were not my songs, I thought it was very challenging to be involved in a different project for once. And try to make my mark as a guitar player on songs that I didn’t write. And secondly, it was cooler than ever because I got to play on an Ozzy Osbourne album.
AWAY-TEAM: With that being said, you’re following in the footsteps of some legendary guitarists in guys like Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, and Zakk Wylde. Those guys all had their own unique sound, when your playing their songs do you try to put your own stamp on them? Or is it more like, those guys were so good it’d be sacrilege to change their sound?
GUS G.: Well, as a fan I don’t like to change stuff they did. Because we’re not just talking about anybody’s song, this is the bible of heavy metal man. This is what shaped the sound of hard rock and heavy metal for all the rest of us to follow. So it’s not like I’m gonna go in and do my own version of “Crazy Train” or my own version of “Paranoid”, ya know. That’s not gonna happen. But you know, Ozzy and Black Sabbath songs, these songs came from jams mainly, and there’s always a little room for the guitar player to do his own little fills and tricks here and there. I definitely do my own thing, but without really interfering with the song composition if you know what I mean.
AWAY-TEAM: Zakk Wylde has been highly complimentary of you, in the media especially. Have you had a chance to meet or talk with him yet?
GUS G.: No. I never got to meet him, and I would really like to. I really want to thank him for saying all of these great things about me, because it means alot to me. I mean Zakk Wylde is an icon, and someone I always looked up to growing up. He was one of my guitar heroes, and just to hear a guy like that saying all those great things about me is amazing. It’s awesome, and I really appreciate all of his support. He’s really cool with me about that. He’s really given me the platform I need to go out there and do my thing. He’s been very nice, and I’ve always had the best thoughts about Zakk, ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s really cool to hear. Now, your first show with Ozzy was last year at Blizzcon; what was the moment you stepped back and realized “Holy shit! I’m really Ozzy’s guitarist!”?
GUS G.: (laughs) Yeah, that was definitely the gig where I was thinking about all of that. Even the rehearsal, everyday I was like “What the fuck? Where am I?” And that didn’t really end after Blizzcon, it still goes through my mind every other day. I’m like “Wow! Look how things turned out!” This is not something you can expect to really happen in life. It’s beyond any biggest honor a guitar player can have in heavy metal and hard rock. I mean, I was happy I was playing with my band, and when this came along I was like “Wow! Really???” When they called me for the audition I went in there and was like “I’ve got nothing to lose. At least I can jam with ’em and it’s a story I can tell my children one day.” But who would’ve ever thought that I would be in his band, and working with Ozzy for over a year now.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned being a fan, as a fan what was your all-time favorite Ozzy or Sabbath song?
GUS G.: You know, that is a problem actually, because he has so many great songs, I just love ‘em all man. I love doing the Ozzy stuff on stage, I love doing the Sabbath stuff. He has so many great songs on all of his albums. I mean, I love the Diary of a Madman stuff, I love the stuff from The Ultimate Sin that we’re doing. There’s more songs that I love that we’re not even doing, ya know. We’re playing two and a half hour sets every night, and to fit it all in we need at least four to four and a half hours to fit all of this material in there. He has so many classic songs that you just can’t possibly fit in everything.
AWAY-TEAM: So what was the most challenging song to learn?
GUS G.: Uh, I don’t know. You know all of his guitar players had some very interesting stuff in there. I really cannot seperate one guy from another because everybody was unique in their own way. Like Jake E. Lee, he was special, he was doing all these weird chords and playing around with harmonics and stuff. Randy, he had all this classical influence and mixed it with heavy rock stuff, and it’s also very interesting to play that stuff. And of course Zakk, his technique was at another level. And then you’ve got Tony Iommi, who’s super, super heavy and bluesy and just plays freeform. So you really need to be a well rounded guitar player to play all these different styles. But for me it’s really a natural thing, because those are the kind of guitar players I grew up listening to. I come from that school of guitar, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: With the extensive touring schedule you have planned with Ozzy, Firewind has sort of taken a back seat for now. Do you foresee yourself pulling the same type of double duty with Firewind on future Ozzfest’s as Zakk did with Black Label Society?
GUS G.: You know, in a festival, I could see it happening in a festival. We just confirmed a festival for the summer in France, called Hellfest and we’re headlining with Ozzy and Firewind is also gonna be on the bill. So that’s gonna be the first double duty gig for me. I wouldn’t really go out and do it if it was like an arena tour, or a headline tour with Ozzy because I wouldn’t really want to compromise the tour by being tired or anything, playing back to back. But in some sort of situation where I play with Firewind, and then I get a few hours to rest and go play with Ozzy, I would love to do that. What we’re doing with Firewind right now is, we’re doing our gigs in between the Ozzy tours. Because we have a few months off here and there from the touring; and actually the reason we’re not doing that many gigs with Firewind is we’re covering alot of ground by doing alot of special gigs. Covering alot of major territory, we were just on the East Coast a couple of weeks ago. We did New York, Montreal, Washington, D.C., Virginia…and we’re gonna go to Japan in Januray, we’re gonna go to England. So we’re covering alot of ground even though we’re not doing 150 dates or something.
AWAY-TEAM: That actually kinda answers my next question. How do you plan to balance and be able to put your heart and soul into both projects?
GUS G.: I guess I just answered that, didn’t I? (laughs) Obviously Firewind has a new album as well, and I would want to promote that too. You know with Firewind we’ve been touring extensively for the last four years or so, and we’ve played like every fucking club on earth. So we thought this was an opportunity for us to do special gigs, in bigger cities, in bigger venues and be able to promote those gigs better. So actually the fact that I’m so busy with Ozzy has actually worked in our favor, because we were able to better handle our promotion, and better handle the gigs that we are doing. It makes it more special both for us, and for our fans.
AWAY-TEAM: Slash is going to be joining you in January for the second leg of the tour. Can we expect to see you guys on stage together at all? Maybe doing the song Ozzy recorded with him for his album? Or just a good old fashioned guitar battle?
GUS G.: Well, I don’t know Slash personally. I’m looking forward to meeting him. I hear from everybody that he’s the sweetest guy, and I’m a big fan of his as well. I grew up with Guns n Roses, and I love his new solo album. I will definitely be on the side of the stage watching him as a fan, I don’t know if I’m gonna get to jam with him, but I’m definitely gonna be there to watch the show.
AWAY-TEAM: I read in Rolling Stone that this tour could include full performances of the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman albums, in honor of their 30th anniversary. Is there any truth to that?
GUS G.: No. It’s rumor. We haven’t rehearsed a full album to be honest. I don’t know if something’s gonna change before the tour starts, and we’re gonna go into rehearsals and play alot. But nothing like that, that I’ve heard of right now.
AWAY-TEAM: Well Gus, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a great honor to speak with you.
GUS G.: Thanks man.
AWAY-TEAM: Good luck with the new album, and the tour, and I look forward to seeing you when you make your way to Florida in February.
GUS G.: Yeah man, I’m looking forward to it, we’re doing three shows there. I actually have some family down there, my uncle lives in Miami, so I’m looking forward to coming back to Florida, I haven’t been there in years.
AWAY-TEAM: Excellent, I’m looking forward to it as well.
GUS G.: See you there.
For more Firewind, including tour dates and to purchase music, visit http://www.firewind.gr/
For more Ozzy Osbourne, including tour dates and to purchase music, visit http://www.ozzy.com/us/home
Special thanks to Gus G. for so graciously giving me his time, and to Josh Eldridge at Century Media for making it all happen.
Ozzy says John Lennon was a “driving force for humanity.” He also credits THE BEATLES as the inspiration for his musical career.
‘How?‘ is a song from John Lennon‘s second solo album Imagine, released in 1971.
The former Beatle would have been 70 on Saturday. He was shot to death in December 1980.
Video for Ozzy‘s version of How
For more OZZY click here.
SHINEDOWN’S Zach Myers-”Bands that use 45 minutes of their 2 hour set to talk politics should be shot!”
Atlantic recording artists Shinedown formed in Jacksonville, FL in 2001. Since then, they have released three albums full of countless hits, such as “Fly from the Inside”, “45″, ”Save Me”, and more recently “Devour”, “The Crow and the Butterfly”, and who could forget their brilliant cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Simple Man”. All the while they have been touring their asses off, and playing in front of packed houses, and surprisingly enough none of them have included me. I don’t know how it came to be that I never had the chance to get out and see these guys, but I can’t believe what great shows I’ve missed. That being said, it should come as no surprise that when the opportunity arose to interview guitarist Zach Myers at a stop on this summer’s Carnival of Madness tour, I jumped at the chance. Here’s how it all went down as Zach and I talked about everything from the tour, to Ozzy, to oil spills.
AWAY-TEAM: First off, I’d like to congratulate you on the tour, and the success of the fifth single off “The Sound of Madness” , “The Crow and the Butterfly”. I saw that it just hit number one on the Active Rock charts, and it’s poised to do the same on the Mainstream Rock chart.
ZACH MYERS: Thanks. That’s five number ones on this record, we’re so very blessed, and we’re really excited. And now we just found out they’re gonna release one more single, so we’re gonna go for six.
AWAY-TEAM: Can you tell me what that’s gonna be?
ZACH MYERS: I think it’s gonna be “Breaking Inside”, but I’m not sure. I can’t confirm that, but I think that’s what it is.
AWAY-TEAM: So six singles AND you’re gonna knock Ozzy off the top spot. That’s pretty cool.
ZACH MYERS: Yeah. We did already, actually, on Active Rock. Sorry Ozzy.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Back to the tour, you guys have assembled a killer lineup, how did this all happen?
ZACH MYERS: The idea came up…Brent (frontman Brent Smith) wanted to do a festival tour, our manager also wanted to do a festival tour, our manager manages all of these bands. So it was pretty easy to put together, ya know what I mean, it was all in house. It was cool man. It was something that we asked all these bands, we picked the bands. It was a fun idea, when we put it all together, and ya know the best thing about the summer is festivals. And these are all bands that would be on a festival anyway, so we went to every single one of them and said “Why don’t we put on a festival. Our own festival, and travel around” The backstage vibe is way cooler like that. Festivals are just like class reunions, you get together and see all your friends again, so why not have that for a couple months. So it was a very easy idea to put together. It was a no-brainer.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned that you thought summer festivals were fun. Is this something that you plan to do annually?
ZACH MYERS: It is gonna be an annual thing. But it’s gonna be almost like when Limp Bizkit did the uh…
AWAY-TEAM: Family Values?
ZACH MYERS: Yeah. We’re not gonna be on it every year. I know that we probably won’t be on it next year, but the following year we’ll probably do it.
AWAY-TEAM: So kinda “One on, one off”?
ZACH MYERS: Yeah. But it will be an annual thing. The Carnival will be an annual event, but who headlines will be different from year to year.
AWAY-TEAM: With Ozzfest kinda winding it’s way down, it seems like the perfect replacement.
ZACH MYERS: Yeah, and you never know, maybe we could move it to like two or three stages. We would all love that.
AWAY-TEAM: That’d be great. In ten words or less, what can a fan expect to see at the Carnival of Madness?
ZACH MYERS: Madness. It’s a carnival. (laughs) Um. Loud. (pauses) Five of the greatest live shows you’ve ever seen.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys had a Live DVD that was scrapped back in 2007. Any chance we’ll get a Live DVD/Album from this tour?
ZACH MYERS: I can tell you that we’re gonna record a couple shows. DVD’s are so hard pressed now with labels, because they don’t really make any money off of them. They put money into them but they really, no matter how many you sell of them, it’s not like the old days where when you sell a concert DVD, you can’t really sell a million copies of one. Ya know what I mean? I couldn’t tell you the last person who did that in the last ten years, so. We actually talked about doing it ourselves, and funding it ourselves. This is way too cool of a show to not put out a DVD of some sort. If there’s not a DVD, after this we’re doing an acoustic tour and we’re definitely gonna film alot of that, so…
ZACH MYERS: Umm. At the earliest, I would say at the end of 2011. At the very earliest. We’re gonna take October off, and go write in L.A. We’ve been writing alot anyway, we wrote the Alice in Wonderland song (“Her Name is Alice”), we’ve written “Diamond Eyes” for The Expendables. But yeah, we’re gonna go write in October, then we’re gonna go do this acoustic tour, and then I think we’re gonna wind it down in about mid-December. Kinda take a break, take about a month or two off, and then start it all back over again.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys recently joined the ever growing list of bands that are boycotting BP Petroleum…
ZACH MYERS: I don’t know where this is coming from.
AWAY-TEAM: Not true?
ZACH MYERS: No. We’ve been asked that like five times. I don’t know where… I disagree with it, I think it’s completely fucked. We all live in the south, so ya know that’s our home…Do I get gas at BP when I’m home? No.
AWAY-TEAM: So I guess the question still does apply. If you had the podium at a BP board meeting, what would you say to them?
ZACH MYERS: What can you say? Who’s fault is it? It’s really not their fault. In all honesty, it’s not their fault when something like that happens. It’s a natural disaster, they didn’t pop the cap off the thing. But it is their fault for not fixing it sooner, or not having a plan in place. They really, if they would’ve kept their mouths shut, then it would’ve been fine. But this guy kept going on and saying things like “There’s more shrimp in Louisiana”. This guy’s an idiot, ya know what I mean? He’s put his foot in his mouth so many times. When you’re the head of a company and you have to have security to escort you back to Europe so people don’t kill you, it’s because you’ve opened your mouth too much. But no, as a band we can’t get involved in that. It’s not our place, we’re not a political band. The most political we’ve ever been is “Devour” and that’s just us talking about what WE saw when WE were in Iraq. But other than that, we’re not a political band, it’s not our business. Eric (bassist Eric Bass) and I are very political as people, but we don’t bring that into the band. You don’t talk about politics, and you don’t talk about religion, that’s just something that you don’t do.
AWAY-TEAM: This is your work. You don’t talk politics at work.
ZACH MYERS: Yeah, and bands that use 45 minutes of their 2 hour set to talk about politics should be shot! I’m sorry, it’s people that pay to hear you bitch? So what? No one cares! U2 is one of my favorite bands of all time, and yeah Bono will slip things in here and there, but he doesn’t take half an hour. And that’s the thing about it, it’s finding that line, ya know. Some bands don’t do that.
AWAY-TEAM: Well thanks, man. I’m looking forward to the show tonight, and thanks for your time. Have a good show.
ZACH MYERS: Thank you very much. We’ll do our best. This is only our third show of the tour, so we’ll see how it goes.
AWAY-TEAM: Just warming up.
ZACH MYERS: Just warming up, and my whole body hurts already. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Well, hey Zach thanks alot. It’s been a pleasure.
ZACH MYERS: Thanks. I appreciate it.
For more Shinedown, including Tour Dates and to purchase their music visit http://www.shinedown.com/
Special thanks to Zach Myers for so graciously giving me his time, and to Julie Lichtenstein at SKH Music for making it all happen.
OZZY OSBOURNE will return to North America for a month-long arena tour launching November 12 in Victoria, B.C. and concluding December 12 in Minneapolis. These shows — in support of his album “Scream” (Epic Records) and latest single, “Life Won’t Wait” — are part the of the rock legend’s in-progress 18-month world tour on which he’s earning some of the best live reviews of his career (including raves for new guitarist, Gus G.). HALFORD, featuring legendary JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford, will perform on all dates. The first leg of arena dates will mark Ozzy‘s first headlining North American tour since 2007′s trek for his “Black Rain” album. Tickets for the Live Nation-produced tour go on sale beginning Friday, September 17.
A limited number of VIP tickets are available for each show on the North American tour through two unique meet-and-greet packages. VIP packages go on sale Monday, September 13 at 10:00 a.m. (local venue time) and are limited to four per show date for the met-and-greet package and eight per show date for the party package. Descriptions of the two VIP packages are as follows:
* The “Ozzy Osbourne Meet-And-Greet Package” is limited to 30 tickets per show and amenities include: premium seating within the first three rows of the stage, meet-and-greet and personal photograph with Ozzy, VIP access to the exclusive pre-concert party hosted by MC Big Dave and a variety of Ozzy tour- related items.
* The “Ozzy Osbourne Possessed Party Package” — available to the first 200 buyers —-includes a ticket located within the first 10 rows of the stage, VIP access to the exclusive pre-concert party hosted by MC Big Dave and a variety of Ozzy tour-related items.
The preliminary tour dates are as follows (with more dates to be announced):
Nov. 12 – Victoria, BC – Save On Foods Memorial Centre
Nov. 14 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
Nov. 16 – Calgary, AB – Pengrowth Saddledome
Nov. 18 – Edmonton, MB – Rexall Place
Nov. 20 – Winnipeg, MB – MTS Centre
Nov. 23 – Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
Nov. 25 – Ottawa, ON – Scotiabank Place
Nov. 27 – Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre
Dec. 01 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden Arena
Dec. 03 – E. Rutherford, NJ – Izod Center
Dec. 05 – Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena
Dec. 12 – Minneapolis, MN – Target Center
Dark Star Records
Rating: 3 out of 10
You know the old saying “Never judge a book by it’s cover”? Well, when it comes to Herman Ze German‘s latest offering “Take It As It Comes”, you can throw that philosophy right out the window. I have to admit, I was anticipating something good from the former Scorpions stickman…I mean why wouldn’t I? Herman Rarebell helped write such classics as “Another Piece of Meat”, “Blackout”, and “Rock You Like a Hurricane” (A song that this album makes you want to forget).
That anticipation went away the moment I received this disc. Upon seeing the cheesy vampire themed cover art, I thought to myself “This can’t be good.”, but remember “Never judge a book by it’s cover”…right??? Wrong. The nightmare begins with the title track, in which Herman begs us to “Take It As It Comes”. I was about ready to do just that before…was that a saxophone I just heard? Are you kidding me? I had to stop the CD and eject it, just to make sure nobody was playing a cruel joke on me and inserted the soundtrack to “St. Elmo’s Fire”.
The “brass section” doesn’t let up, however…we hear it on the next two tracks “Don’t Lose Your Trust” and “Rough Job”, which reek of mediocre garage band rock. But wait, there’s more to this story, the sax is being played by none other than Claudia Raab, Rarebell‘s girlfriend. Now it makes sense, a broken down, pussy-whipped rock star puts out a shitty album for “love”.
We move on to Track 5, “Your Love Is Hurting”, which is a song I really want to like. Musically, it is a cross between Ozzy’s “Road To Nowhere” and Aerosmith’s “Amazing”, but lyrically it sounds like something I heard on a recent episode of Spongebob Squarepants. (If you have young kids, you know exactly which episode I’m referring to).
After shining a dim light on things, we are hit with “Freak Show”, a catchy, albeit cheesy track that keeps the light shining before casting us into the darkness that is to come. After two more cuts of the status-quo, we get to perhaps my most anticipated song of the album, “Rock You Like a Hurricane”. That’s right, a remake of the 1984 Scorpions classic, done by one of the men who originally penned it, so it must be good. Wrong again. The intro sounds like a slightly industrialized version of the original, and then…Herman sings. What a fucking disgrace. He tries to do the whole spoken word thing, and ends up sounding like a Transylvanian Micro-Machines man. He goes and fucks it up even further by letting his girlfriend play that damn sax again. Even more comical is Rarebell’s strong German accent…“Cat is puwwing, skwatches my skin”…I keep thinking the next track is gonna be “The Monster Mash”.
I was wrong, but close…a remake of the Surfari’s classic “Wipe Out”. Once again…are you fucking kidding me? Really? A trenchcoated aging German rocker playing surfer rock? If it weren’t for the lack of saxophone, I’d say this was brought on by a sexual withholding as well.
After a display like this, perhaps Herman Ze German’s next album should be called “I Take It Back”. This was the biggest letdown of the year for me. I came in excited to hear something new from Herman Rarebell, and I was left jabbing sharp objects into my ears, wishing I was listening to Herman Munster. Definitely one of the worst albums of 2010.
Eaglevision/ ISIS Productions
Rating: 9 out of 10
Stuck inside on a rainy Wednesday night in June, nothing on TV worth watching (unless of course you consider World Cup “kickball” entertaining), thankfully I had just received my copy of the latest entry in the Classic Albums DVD series…Black Sabbath “Paranoid”. Instantly my DVD player became a time machine, transporting me back to the year 1970. Through a combination of vintage footage, and recent commentary from Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, and Bill Ward, this DVD takes you inside the studio for the making of one of heavy metal’s quintessential albums.
Classic Albums- Black Sabbath “Paranoid” gets things started with Ozzy and company taking you on a journey, from their early years as “Earth” to the birth of “Black Sabbath”. From there, we are brought inside the studio and behind the soundboard to see and hear the stories behind each track on this masterpiece (with the exception of “Rat Salad”, which can be found in the special features section of this DVD), which, amazingly enough, was recorded in just two days and very few takes.
We learn things like, the fact that the title track “Paranoid”, was merely an afterthought, composed after some time at the local pub as a three to four minute filler to finish out the album. Not only do we hear the story, but we actually get to hear Ozzy “riffing” (making up lyrics as he goes) just to get the melody. The DVD also takes us behind the soundboard with the original sound engineer, Tom Allom, who downmixes each instrument for us, allowing us to gain a newfound respect for bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward.
Another interesting factoid that comes our way is the origin of the “cosmic keyboard” sound heard in the psychadelic ballad “Planet Caravan”. Surprisingly, this is not a keyboard at all, but rather nothing more than feedback accidentally created by producer Rodger Bain while turning some frequency knobs.
As if taking us behind the scenes for each song wasn’t enough, we actually get to see Tony Iommi play the intros and riffs to the respective tracks from the best seat in the house… and no, I’m not talking front row at a Sabbath show. I’m talking perched atop Tony‘s knuckles! Mark my words, never before, and never again will you hear me say I enjoy sitting on some dude’s hairy knuckles…but for Tony Iommi‘s mastery of the strings, I’ll make an exception.
Overall Classic Albums- Black Sabbath “Paranoid” is jam-packed with never before seen musical insight, and over 40 minutes of special features that give new life to this “Classic Album”. My one regret is that my only copy of the actual album, lies 1600 miles away somewhere in my parent’s basement…on cassette. (I just heard a simultaneous “Cassette? What the hell is a cassette?” from my under 25 readers. Don’t worry someday Uncle Jay will teach you about these things.) In the meantime, get your ass over to http://www.black-sabbath.com/onlinestore.html, and pre-order your copy today. Classic Albums- Black Sabbath “Paranoid hits stores this Tuesday June 29th. This DVD comes Very Highly Recommended.
On Sunday June 20th Ozzy signed copies of his new “Scream” CD at Amoeba Music from 5 to 8 p.m. and the first 600 fans in line who purchased a copy also received a free ticket to that night’s 10 p.m. House of Blues performance.
Bark At The Moon
Let Me Hear You Scream
I Don’t Know
Fairies Wear Boots
Shot In The Dark
I Don’t Want To Change The World
Fan-filmed video footage of the House of Blues concert can be viewed below.
“Scream” will be released on June 22 in North America via Epic Records. It will be issued in Japan on June 23 with the exclusive bonus track “Jump The Moon“. A special iTunes pre-order is available which includes the bonus track, “One More Time“. Once the album is released, the song will be unavailable.
For more information check out everything OZZY here.
OZZY OSBOURNE‘s first album in almost three years, Scream, is currently streaming in it’s entirety at Ozzy‘s MySpace page.
Scream will be released on June 11th in mainland Europe, June 14th in the UK, June 22nd in North America and June 23rd in Japan via Epic Records.
Ozzy Osbourne recorded most of Scream at his Los Angeles home studio, The Bunker, and co-wrote all the songs, primarily with Churko. Notably, the album marks the first appearance of Ozzy‘s new guitar player, Gus G (FIREWIND).
Ozzy‘s band also features bassist Blasko, drummer Tommy Clufetos and keyboardist Adam Wakeman.
Scream tracklisting is as follows:
‘Let Me Hear You Scream’
‘Diggin Me Down’
‘Let It Die’
‘I Want It All’
‘I Love You All’