So You Wanna Start A Band Too?


imagesI’ve decided to do a series of band tips. I figure my band is successful enough and I’ve learned enough to have some wisdom to pass on. I’ve been doing it for a while and notice a lot of awful things bands pass off as normal behavior so hopefully I can make the world a better place by helping to prevent this.

I don’t profess to know everything about ‘how to make it in the music biz.’ If I did I would be writing this from the lounge of a tour bus and not the free couch in my cheap apartment (Or maybe I would be writing it from this couch between tours). At the moment my band has 277 likes on Facebook, 273 followers on Twitter and 835 fans on Reverbnation. We do well playing out and people enjoy our stuff; however, if you disagree with my views I encourage you to share your own. This tutorial is intended to help people catch up with where I’m at or surpass me. If you have another way of doing things which will bring more success I’d love to hear it.

Part 3: Criticism

1ea803353adb5dee29eb63665e0529dfAre you familiar with the saying “Everyone’s a critic”? How about “Opinions are like assholes”? There’s a reason people say things like that… They’re true!

And both the best and worst thing about the internet is that people can now share opinions with everyone. They can even share them with the band. This often leads to confrontation, name calling and a few buckets of hurt feelings.

My advice: Get over it.

Every couple of weeks I see some band on my Facebook feed going crazy over a bad review or someone saying they don’t like them. Since when do local bands expect everyone to like them? I know people who don’t like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, Alice Cooper and Motorhead. Personally I’m not a big fan of Radiohead. And while it hasn’t been discovered ,the LHC is looking for certain particles believed to exist that don’t enjoy Pink Floyd, CCR or Faith No More. Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity mathematically proves that not everyone in the world likes Johnny Cash.

So what’s so special about your band that everyone who hears you must love you?

07fe17371518c179a78031fd3e7a97053c64392d40363f7b1c2769535b9f9e78I think one of the biggest problems with local music is the complete lack of constructive criticism about bands. Constructive criticism is one of the best ways for bands to learn, grow and become better. Yet, whenever I say “I don’t really care for your style,” “I’m not a big fan of the backing tracks,” “You guy’s fucking suck,”  or “You should focus more on the music than masks and trying to be Slipknot” I’m called an asshole.

I’m not an asshole, I’m just the only one saying what a lot of other people are thinking. Bands seem to only want to hang out with folks who blow smoke up their ass and tell them how great they are, but that’s just not healthy.

Don’t get me wrong, the musician in me knows the pain you feel when someone says they don’t like your music. After putting all that hard work into something it sucks when people don’t dig it the way you do. But you have to remember that yelling and name calling don’t help your case and only make you look like a total asshole.

The only band that managed to turn around a bad review on the Audible Stew were the Said So. I didn’t care for them the first few times I saw them, but after I wrote about them and they got wind of it they offered me their album to review. When I heard “Leggo Your Ego” I thought it was pretty good and my view of the band has changed since then.

But my views of the bands who call anyone who doesn’t kiss their asses and worship them only ever changes for the worse.

If you enjoy this post you may also enjoy So You Wanna Start A Band? or So You Wanna Join A Band?

Musical Friends – July 2014


Companies like Musician’s Friend and American Musical Supply do a great job of connecting aspiring musicians with instruments, accessories and amplification, but they don’t connect these future rock stars with what they really need to make it big: Bandmates!

The real money is to be found not in selling $2000 guitars to rich kid who will just get bored and let it collect dust in the corner of the bedroom, but to sell the perfect vocalist, guitarist or drummer to that guy who really wants to make it in a band and just needs another person who shares his enthusiasm, determination and complete and utter lack of talent.

Now that you’ve contacted all of your friends, put up a flyer in the local music store and posted your ad on Craigslist it’s time to try the one way to guarantee you find the right musicians for your project.

Welcome to: Musical Friends

 

 

Guitarists-

 

Yankee Ingstrom

Yankee Ingstrom

The shredder (can’t play rhythm) - This guy can sweep pick arpeggios, slide, squeal, hammer on and pull off like all the masters! He can shred like Dimebag, Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Zakk Wyle, Van Halen or Ingvee Milmsteen!

Just don’t have him play rhythm. This dude can not play rhythm. Even “Smoke on the Water” is too much for him.

Comes complete with a volume pedal to turn him down (off) when he’s not soloing.

MSRP- Just take him. He’s constantly playing neoclassical crap in our warehouse and driving us all crazy.

Eric & Pattie_468x354The Steal Your Girlfriend – Perfect for emulating the sounds of Johnny Ramone or Eric Clapton! We all know at least one guy on the scene that will fuck anything he can get his hands on! This is the guy that you don’t want to leave alone with your girlfriend, wife, mother or daughter or any other vagina that is not tied down.

Comes with complimentary chastity belt so you don’t end up like Joey and George Harrison.

MSRP- No Alimony!

I have no idea who this guy is. He looks cool though.

I have no idea who this guy is. He looks cool though.

The Swede – To be perfectly honest… I have no idea how this guy sounds or if he can even play. He just looks the part.

MSRP – $200?

 

 

You know I can't play guitar until I put my makeup on.

You know I can’t play guitar until I put my makeup on.

The Fall Out Boy – A great player for power pop-punk. Just don’t make fun of his hair. He’s really sensitive about that.

MSRP – $800

 

 

 

Bassists-

 

Some guy.

Some guy.

That guy – Yeah. Him. You can have him play bass for you. It’s not hard.

MSRP – It doesn’t matter what we charge you it will be too much.

Your friend from elementary school – You probably talk to this guy more than you talk to the last guy you had play bass in your band, so might as well have him.

MSRP -$750.99

paul-mccartney-bassA Former Guitar Player Willing To Give The Bass A Shot – It could go either way: he’ll either perfectly compliment your guitar and drums with tasty fills and lay down a cool groove using licks his years of guitar playing has taught him or he’ll completely overplay distracting licks that differ so much from what the guitar and drums are doing that it’ll sound like a different song.

MSRP – $900

The Guy Who Couldn’t Get A Gig Playing Guitar So He’s Decided To Give Bass A Try – There’s probably a reason this dude couldn’t get a gig playing guitar. Is it his complete lack of talent? Or is he an insufferable dickhead? Order now to find out!

MSRP- $700

Your Girlfriend/Boyfriend – I’ve seen it done both ways. They’re already going to be at the show to make sure you don’t get any strange so why not?

MSRP – $40 (Hey, it was our idea.)

 

THIS MONTHS SPECIAL:

Keyboard Players - Wait… we’re still looking for these ourselves.

 

 

Marilyn Manson – Portrait of an American Family


Platinum Anniversary Album Series

Here’s my latest entry in a series on albums that still matter 20 years after their release.

1994goth1Marilyn Manson – Portrait of an American Family (19 July 1994)

The most notable thing about Marilyn Manson’s debut is that it’s Marilyn Manson’s debut. That’s not to say it’s a throwaway album; I think it’s one of the best the band have ever done. But if you’re not already a fan of Manson and didn’t love Antichrist Superstar there’s no reason to check out this offering.

The best thing about Portrait is the hunger. This isn’t millionaire Marilyn Manson who doesn’t really need to but keeps releasing awful albums. This is a band learning their craft and clawing their way to the top. The songs have the raw, unfocused energy of punk rock, but also make heavy use of samples and keyboard like industrial metal. The corset and torn stocking goth look wasn’t perfected yet and Marilyn Manson had a lot to prove.

After the Willy Wonka prelude, the album starts off with what I think is the best song on the album, “Cake and Sodomy”. The juxtaposition of lyrics about televangelists and phone-sex numbers mix perfectly with the repetitive bass line and Daisy Berkowitz’s juvenile guitars.

“Lunchbox” is mostly notable for being the last time Marilyn Manson wore bluejeans in a video. Aside from that it has perhaps the best guitar riff and is probably the best written song on the album.

 

 

“Dope Hat” has the most punk/industrial crossover vibe. All the instruments play simple three-chord progressions (aside from some crazy guitar solos) and the vocals aren’t the most challenging. I’ve always loved this one for the Willy Wonka and carnival images, it’s definitely the most fun.

I’ve never understood what “Get Your Gunn” is about, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it. It has a great riff and a chorus I can sing along with, even if I have no idea what I’m singing about.

Another high point is the band reworking “Mechanical Man” from Charles Manson’s Lie into “My Monkey.”  It’s a take on Uncle Charlie’s tune that I never would have thought of. With a great horn section, processed vocals and what sounds like a 10-year-old singing along. It may be the most shocking point on the album. Of course, now the most shocking thing Marilyn Manson could do it to release an album half as good as Portrait of an American Family.

A lot of the other songs are throwaway tracks and filler. There are some high points; “Organ Grinder” has a great keyboard melody. “Wrapped in Plastic” features the second bet guitar riff of the album, but loses mainly because it’s a little more slow and laid back. “Cyclops” has a great solo.

The band debating whether to cover "Sweet Dreams" or "Goodbye Horses" in 1995 Catherine McGann Copyright 2009 54

The band debating whether to cover “Sweet Dreams” or “Goodbye Horses” in 1995
-Catherine McGann Copyright 2009 54

I like to think that if I was hearing Portrait in 1994 I would know this was a band to watch, but I can’t be certain. It’s obvious that there is potential here, but it’s difficult to connect this with the remix and covers EP Smells Like Children from ’95 or the breakthrough Antichrist Superstar a year after that,

But then again, maybe the best thing about this album is hearing the Antichrist before he was a superstar.

For more Platinum Anniversary Albums:

Part 1: Weezer – The Blue Album

Part 2: Soundgarden – Superunknown

 Part 3: Hole – Live Through This

Part 4: The Summer Nationals Tour 2014 

The Summer Nationals Tour 2014


summernationalsThe Vandals, Pennywise, Bad Religion, The Offspring

Stage AE – Pittsburgh, PA

29 July 2014

While I can’t say the Summer Nationals tour started off without a hitch on Tuesday, I also can’t say that the small technical problems hindered the show in any way. It was fun, loud and not disappointing (as I expect the new Ninja Turtles movie will be).

 

Due to an unfamiliarity with the area and my friend’s infuriating habit of driving the speed limit we arrived just in time to see the Vandal’s finish up their cover of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” This didn’t bother me too much as I’m not really a fan of the Vandals. Their stuff is good, but all that really sticks out to me is the covers.

Pennywise 7292014We were discussing whether Pennywise took their name from the clown in Stephen King’s “It” when they took the stage and opened with a song about said antagonist. Pennywise is another band that I haven’t been able to get into due to the fact that all of their songs sound the same to me. However, they did do an awesome cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” and a few of their originals make me want to explore them a bit more. I also feel inspired to write a song where the chorus consists solely of the letters ‘O’ and ‘H.’

Bad Religion_2014072My biggest problem with Bad Religion is that I’m not extremely familiar with their material. I know their songs better than I did when I saw them a few years ago, but still only well enough to recognize and sing along with the titles. It’s great to see the awesome rhythm section of Wackerman (is there any better name for a drummer?) and Bentley. I didn’t recognize Brian Baker at first, I think he lost a bit of weight. And newcomer Mike Dimkick did a good job replacing Greg Hetson. Of course, the best part is Greg Graffin, who is now quite bald and totally gray. He’s not your typical punk madman, but instead performs more like the college professor that he is during the off season.

Offspring_20140729I was hoping the crowd would clear out a little for the Offspring. After all, they’ve achieved massive success and according to many punk purists would be considered sell outs. Then I remembered how much all the jocks I hated in school liked them. But still they played an awesome set. It was great to see Smash performed in it’s entirety. I grew up listening to that album and it’s meant quite a lot to me over the years. It was probably my introduction to punk. I know every song and by the end my jaw was sore from singing along so much. Everyone at the venue was disappointed when the crowd didn’t go into the “drivers are rude…” part in “Bad Habit,” but after a bit of a prompt we did all sing along with “Stupid dumbshit goddamn mother fucker!” After Smash and “Intermission” they returned to the stage and played another set, mostly from Americana. I would have liked to have heard them play “Gone Away,” but other than that I really can’t complain about the songs they chose, at least they didn’t play “Hit That.”

I had fun, but there are a few gripes. Sage AE seems like a pretty cool place right in the shadow of Heinz field (I want to watch The Dark Knight Rises again to see if I can spot it), but why do they have to end the show at 11 pm? That just seems like a completely unreasonable time to end a rock show, even for the old farts we were there to see.

And I think being an open air theater caused the sound to diffuse away from the stage pretty quickly. As I age, I tend to like to avoid the mosh pits and crowd at the front of the stage, but at Stage AE, standing back left me without that kicked-in-the-face-by-rock feeling that makes me love live music. And while standing back allowed me plenty of space, the opportunity to people watch and check out cool t-shirts, it also bought the frustrating distractions of selfies, couples kissing and people walking around. I think next time I’ll have to suck it up and hop in the pit to get the experience I want. My ears weren’t even ringing by the end.

I have to say I got my moneys worth and had a good time, but I think if I’d been a little close to the stage my mind would have been blown.

I’d also like to give a shout out to the singer from Last Day’s Pay who I saw at the show. If you like the bands I saw here, you’ll probably like LDP. Give them a listen.

 

While this doesn’t exactly conform tom my series on 20-year-old albums, the fact that The Offspring are playing their 1994 breakthrough Smash and Bad Religion are celebrating 20 years since Stranger Than Fiction I’m going to include links to my other Platinum Anniversary Albums:

Part 1: Weezer – “The Blue Album”

Part 2 Soundgarden – Superunknown

 Part 3 Hole – Live Through This

So You Wanna Join A Band?


imagesI’ve decided to start a series of band tips. I figure my band is successful enough and I’ve learned enough that I have some wisdom to pass on. I’ve been doing it for a while and notice a lot of awful things bands pass off as normal behavior so hopefully I can make the world a better place by helping to prevent this.

I, in no way, profess to know everything about ‘how to make it in the music biz.’ If I did I would be writing this from the lounge of a tour bus and not the free couch in my $355/month apartment (Or maybe I would be writing it from this couch between tours). At the moment my band has 271 likes on Facebook, 237 followers on Twitter and 745 fans on Reverbnation. I’m OK with these stats because we do well playing out and people seem to be enjoying our stuff; however, if you disagree with my views I encourage you to share your own. This tutorial is intended to help people catch up with where I’m at (or perhaps surpass me), if you have another way of doing things which will bring more success I’d love to hear it.

Part 2 – How to Not Join A Band

I hadn’t planned on doing this post, but I my bass player quit earlier this week and the first respondence to my open invite on Facebook left too perfect an example to pass up on.

Page One

 

Page Two

Page three

I do have a few questions I didn’t get a chance to ask:

a) Why would you use the single most racist word in the English language if don’t want people to think of you as a racist?

b) Was there supposed to be something in any of those seven comments to make me change my mind about not wanting to be in a band with someone who uses inappropriate language in extremely public places?

c) Have you ever though that the reason “every time some fucking asshole makes you wish you hadnt even offerred” is because you’re the asshole?

Yes, dear reader. I do realize that it’s rather passive-aggressive and assholish of me to post this on my blog without directly confronting this person, but I did have a few reasons for that:

1) I didn’t want to exacerbate the situation. I already tried to diffuse it politely (though looking back I may have come off as a little bit of a prick) and just wanted to get this off the site. I’m just as much a fan of freedom of speech as I am of my freedom not to associate with people I don’t agree with.

2) Arguing with an idiot is like playing chess with a pigeon. He’ll knock over the pieces, shit on the board and strut around like he won.

So let this be a lesson to you all. If you really, really, really, REALLY don’t want to join a band, or get a job, or make a good impression on people the quickest way to do that is the copious use of racial slurs!

801-Blazing-Saddles-quotes