All posts by Hanna Graf

Hanna Graf lives in Sweden but has a great love for American alternative music. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg. Hanna's favourite bands are Green Day, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Audioslave and Soundgarden. She started writing for Alternative Nation after witnessing Dave Grohl fall from the stage and break his leg during a Foo Fighters concert. Contact: hanna.graf@live.se

Green Day’s Surprise Christmas Single Sounds Nothing Like Green Day

It’s safe to say I’m the biggest Green Day fan among the Alternative Nation reporters. Green Day has been at the top of my list for over 20 years. I have defended them numerous times against people saying they are not punk, they have no punk influences and so on.  This is why it pains me to have to say what I’m about to say about the single Green Day released as a surprise on Christmas Eve. My excitement when I saw the announcement immediately disappeared when I listened.

Had I not recognised Billie Joe Armstrong’s vocals I wouldn’t have guessed this was Green Day. That’s saying a lot considering how much I listen to them. What I hear is his voice, filtered almost beyond recognition and almost drowned by background noise. It’s hard to distinguish the instruments, apart from a jingle bell sounding hi hat. I hear almost none of the characteristic drums, and not even a hint of bass. This isn’t punk. It isn’t even pop punk. It’s plain and simple uninteresting overproduced pop. And I won’t even mention the Christmas cliché lyrics.

I’m spending a lot of time and energy on reviewing just one little Christmas single, but that’s also because it’s the first new material from Green Day in a long time, and I expected more. I’ve heard rumours that they have a new album coming out next year and if this is how it’s going to sound from now on… God help me. I hope and pray though that I can come back and give you a review of an album that actually sounds like Green Day, preferably pre-American Idiot.

Nonetheless: Merry Christmas everyone!

Top 10 Alternative Rock Christmas Songs

It’s that time of the year again. Time to revisit all the good old classic Christmas songs. Again. Or just forget about them and go for alternative songs instead. I have put together a list with my own favorites. Some are non-traditional songs and some are classics with more or less new arrangements.

10. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” – Weezer (2008)
A rather classic version of the song, with just a little nerve added to make it interesting.

9. “The Season’s Upon Us” – Dropkick Murphys (2012)
Here’s a family you do not want to spend Christmas with. Trust me. You want to listen though, the lyrics are hilarious. Sounds like your average sweet Christmas carol, until you start to listen to the lyrics.

8. “Jingle Bells” – Drown The Witness
A ska/punk version of a classic Christmas song? Why not? It’s brilliant!

7. “O Come All Ye Faithful” – Bad Religion (2013)
This just fits so good, it’s almost as if the song was written to have heavy speeding punk rock drums in the background.

6. “(It’s Gonna Be A) Punk Rock Christmas” – The Ravers (1977)
This song appeals to the punk rocker in me and puts me in my own kind of Christmas mood. Apparently this song is often attributed to Sex Pistols, but The Ravers is an American duo. Given that this song was released the same year as Sex Pistols’ only album, I’d say the resemblance is deliberate.

5. “I Almost Met Santa Claus” – Marc Amendola (2003)
If this isn’t the joyful spirit of Christmas I don’t know what is. A perfect blend of punk rock and nu metal at breakneck speed. This song is a one-off, very different from Marc Amendola’s usual music.

4. “Fairytale Of New York” – The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl (1987)
I don’t know what it is about this song. It’s certainly not high quality vocals, the story is sad and bitter, and the lyrics is about as explicit as you can get away with. Or rather, probably shouldn’t get away with, but still it works. ”You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last”. Yet it remains, year after year, one of the most popular Christmas songs ever recorded. And it’s painfully beautiful despite all the misery.

3. “O Holy Night” – Mark Lanegan (2012)
Wow. Just wow. What a voice for a Christmas carol! Makes me wonder why he didn’t do it sooner. This is so beautiful.

2. “Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmas Time)” – Pearl Jam (1991)
So fragile, delicate and beautiful, only the voice of Eddie Vedder can do this song justice. It’s like a soft, warming blanket. This was the first of Pearl Jam’s annual Christmas singles.

1. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Scott Weiland (2011)
Classic version, no more no less, but a perfect match between voice and song. He nails it, it’s perfect. All the Christmas spirit anyone can ask for is there. It’s so beautiful, and now so sad. Normally this wouldn’t be my no 1, but this year it has to be, and we all know why.

Eagles of Death Metal Announce Paris Concert & European Tour

Eagles of Death Metal just announced on their official webpage that they have rescheduled the remaining dates of their European tour. After the tragedy at Le Bataclan in Paris on November 13th the band cancelled the rest of the tour. Now they return with “The Nos Amis Tour” (Our friends’ tour).

The tour starts on February 13th 2016 in Sweden and ends on August 16th in Germany. There will be a show at the Olympia theatre in Paris on February 16th, with free tickets for those who attended the show at Le Bataclan. Fans who had tickets to the cancelled shows will be eligible for a pre-sale window.

EODM co-founder and frontman Jesse Hughes says:

“The people of Paris have always been incredible to us, and our feeling of love towards this beautiful city and its people has been reinforced a million times over this past month. Hearing the stories of the survivors, the injured and those who have lost loved ones has been overwhelming. Not returning to finish our set was never an option. We look forward to coming back in February and continuing our mission to bring rock ‘n’ roll to the world.”

Nos Amis Tour dates:

13/02/16                    SWEDEN                        Stockholm – Debaser Medis

14/02/16                    NORWAY                            Oslo – Sentrum Scene

16/02/16                    FRANCE                               Paris – Olympia

18/02/16                    GERMANY                          Munich – Tonhalle

19/02/16                    CROATIA                          Zagreb – Tvornica Kulture

20/02/16                    HUNGARY                           Budapest – Akvarium

22/02/16                    AUSTRIA                              Vienna – Arena

23/02/16                    SWITZERLAND                  Zurich – Komplex

24/02/16                    FRANCE                               Lille – Le Splendid

25/02/16                    BELGIUM                             Brussels – Forest Club

27/02/16                    ITALY                                    Treviso – New Age

28/02/16                    ITALY                                    Turin – 10100

29/02/16                    ITALY                                    Rome – Orion

02/03/16                    FRANCE                               Nimes – La Paloma

03/03/16                    SPAIN                                   Barcelona – Apolo

04/03/16                    SPAIN                                   Madrid – Joy Eslava

05/03/16                    PORTUGAL                             Lisbon – Coliseum

09/08/16                    POLAND                               Katowice – Mega Club

11/08/16                    DENMARK                        Copenhagen – Amager Bio

15/08/16                    GERMANY                          Bremen – Aladin

16/08/16                    GERMANY                          Cologne – Live Music Hall

Josh Homme Seeks Donations For Families Of Paris Attack Victims

Sweet Stuff Foundation, a charity co-founded by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme in 2013, is now seeking donations to help the families of victims killed in last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

“The mission of The Sweet Stuff Foundation is to help our musical community and their families with the vital elements often overlooked during periods of illness and disability”, according to their webpage.

Now, under these special circumstances, a statement has been added:
“In honor of the musicians and crew members killed in Paris, The Sweet Stuff Foundation is dedicating all money received through this site until December 31, 2015, to their surviving families. We are thankful for all the fans, crew and band members who survived this horrific event. Now more than ever it is important to contribute to the ‘Sweet Stuff’ in life.”

Le Bataclan, where Eagles of Death Metal performed on the night of the attack, will reopen in the future, though it is not yet decided when. “Hearts will be heavy for a few months, a few years. But we will reopen. We will not surrender”, says the venue’s co-manager Dominique Rever, according to Fuse.

Review: Green Day Documentary ‘Heart Like a Hand Grenade’ Is Nonsense

A couple of months ago came the news that a ”lost” Green Day documentary had been found and would finally be released, 11 years later. The film, ”Heart Like a Hand Grenade”, was made by director John Roecker who spent nine months in the studio filming Green Day during the recording of their award-winning and highly praised punk rock opera concept album American Idiot in 2004.

A while back we reported that the mythical film was never lost at all. Since the album is played in its entirety in the documentary, it was probably a question about who owns the rights to the music. Why it’s released now remains a mystery though.

”Heart Like a Hand Grenade” was first shown only in selected movie theatres throughout the US a few days in October this year. In my report I wrote ”As a Green Day fan overseas I very much hope it will be available here at some point. A film that shows the whole recording process of American Idiot and also contains a rare concert where they perform the album in its entirety is just too good to miss.” Now it’s available worldwide on Vimeo so I’ve seen it and… almost wish I hadn’t.

What I expected was to get more insight into the creative process that led up to American Idiot. Since it is a complex album that tells a story as well as being a political statement, I was excited to hear Green Day’s thoughts behind that. I wanted to hear the background story, follow their discussions and decisions about songs and lyrics, see the recording sessions, hear them talk about what they wanted to do and how American Idiot came to be what it is.

That is NOT what this movie is about. If you have the same expectations as I had: don’t bother. Don’t waste your money on ”Heart Like a Hand Grenade”. Director’s statement on Green Day’s official web page says ”This movie is like a ‘fly on the wall’ art house piece.” I’d rather say it is very much staged and intended for an audience, since they often address the camera when they talk.

And what is it they talk about? It’s mostly nonsense. I get the feeling that if you want to feel like you are friends with the Green Day members and spent time in the studio with them, then this is for you. If you want to hear them talk about random stuff, laugh, goof around, make juvenile jokes, look stoned, make fun of journalists, hear Billie Joe Armstrong teach kids how to drink, see Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool bathe naked in a swimming pool, you might enjoy most of the film. If you already know as much as you want to about American Idiot, you will probably like it. For me, I feel like I have seen and heard things I would have been better off without.

There are some interesting moments, like when Armstrong recounts how they felt they needed to do something different. They weren’t sure what to call it until they decided on punk rock opera, and they were a bit scared about how people would react to something that might not sound like Green Day. They briefly tell that American Idiot is divided into three sections, that there’s this Jesus of Suburbia character who hates everyone, leaves everything behind and goes to the city like a rebel. It’s also mentioned that the album is political, but without an agenda, it’s about thinking for yourself. That’s all that’s said about the content.

There is a scene where they brainstorm about the logo – the hand grenade shaped like a heart – which is a symbol for American Idiot and also what the name of the documentary refers to. But it’s not revealed how they finally came up with it or what it stands for, so basically that adds nothing.

The rest is snippets of recording, a little singing, guitar, bass and drum playing here and there, a few words about the order of some songs, but mainly clips with all the irrelevant content mentioned earlier. No explanations, no background story, no chronology, no context. Just a bunch of close friends with their own internal language having fun in a studio.

The only thing I actually enjoy is that the whole album, as advertised, is played. It comes as live numbers, clips from a concert, but in the wrong order, and tucked in here and there between the nonsense, sometimes introduced and sometimes not. I love to see and hear Green Day play live, so of course I like those parts, but I can see them elsewhere. It’s far from enough to save ”Heart Like a Hand Grenade” from being an utter disappointment.

Review: Eagles of Death Metal’s ‘Zipper Down’

Ever since I first heard an Eagles of Death Metal song, I have loved listening to them. Not in a ‘this-is-my-favourite-band’ kind of way, but their entertaining, fun, mood lifting vibe has always appealed to me.

That’s what I expect from Eagles of Death Metal, no more, no less. Zipper Down is their fourth studio album, and it has been seven years since the last. This time, original members Jesse Hughes (on the album cover referred to as Boots Electric) and Josh Homme (Baby Duck) do everything themselves without help from additional musicians, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The album hit the spot for me immediately.

The first track, ”Complexity”, captures the spirit of EoDM: funky, uptempo and fun.

”Silverlake”, ”Got a Woman” and ”Got the Power” follow the same pattern, while ”I Love You All The Time” is a slower song that is, as the title suggests, full of love.

”Skin-Tight Boogie” is a groovy kind of rap, featuring Hughes’ girlfriend Tuesday Cross on backing vocals.

An unexpected track is ”Save a Prayer”, which is a cover of the song by Duran Duran from 1982. It sound surprisingly much like the original, only a little faster with a dirtier kind of garage sound.

With ”The Reverend” the band finishes the album excellently with the classic EoDM sound that leaves me smiling for the rest of the day.

A couple of plain and uninteresting song make the overall impression a 4 out of 5, but for the most part I love the album. Eagles of Death Metal is a band that’s here to entertain you, with no pretentious intentions. I bet the duo has as much fun in the studio as I have listening to the result of their recording sessions.

Track listing:
1. Complexity
2. Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M.)
3. Got a Woman
4. I Love You All The Time
5. Oh Girl
6. Got the Power
7. Skin-Tight Boogie
8. Got a Woman (slight return)
9. The Deuce
10. Save a Prayer (Duran Duran cover)
11. The Reverend

eagles

Was ‘Lost’ Green Day Documentary Ever Really Lost?

Earlier this week Green Day released the news that ”Heart Like a Hand Grenade”, a documentary that is said to have been ‘lost’ for 11 years, will finally be screened in a few selected movie theaters in October this year. The film was made by John Roecker who spent nine months in the studio filming Green Day during the recording of their award winning and highly praised punk rock opera concept album American Idiot. That was in 2004.

The story was picked up by Rolling Stone and a few other sites who used phrases such as ‘lost’ and ‘mythic status’. The director himself in a statement on Green Day’s official webpage calls it an ‘urban legend’ and claims that some fans thought ‘it was some sort of prank’. This caught my interest, so rather than just report the news I decided to dig a little deeper into the mystery.

Green Day Authority proved to be a good source. They first mention ”Heart Like a Hand Grenade” in 2006, with a comment from director Roecker who told them the movie was almost ready and would be released early in 2007. The reason for the delay was ”timing issues for it’s release”.

Obviously that release never took place, because next post is from 2008. Again, GDA has spoken to Roecker, who this time says ”the entire documentary is now complete”.

Almost a year later, the film is actually shown, but only once. In a movie theater in Hollywood a lucky 500 people get to view “Heart Like a Hand Grenade” in March 2009. The people from Green Day Authority were there and give it an overwhelming review. It is also in that review the answer to the mystery comes. ”Our only complaint is that we understand we may never have the pleasure of viewing this movie again, as Warner has no plans to authorize its release.”, the reviewers write.

So no, “Heart Like a Hand Grenade” wasn’t ever lost. It was a question of rights. Since the documentary contains the whole American Idiot album it makes sense for the record company to stop it.

Now the next question is: why now? I have no answer to this. Obviously the record label changed their mind for some reason. DIY says it’s a way to celebrate American Idiot‘s 10th anniversary later this year. That could have been a good reason, had it not been for the fact that American Idiot turned 10 in 2014.

I am left with my own guesses. It might be a question of money, some kind of agreement between Warner and John Roecker. Maybe the record company feels it’s time to put Green Day in the spotlight again. It’s been three years now since their last release, the ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! trilogy, and the next album doesn’t seem to come anytime soon. Or it might be a celebration of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction earlier this year. But surely that would have been mentioned? The director’s statement ends with the line ”And finally the little film that could is being released.” But why? That question is not answered anywhere.

Another little mystery remains. Why does the movie poster say ”In theaters October 15th” when the first screening according to the schedule is actually on October 8th?

I have no information about any other showings or a possible DVD release. As a Green Day fan overseas I very much hope it will be available here at some point. A film that shows the whole recording process of American Idiot and also contains a rare concert where they perform the album in its entirety is just too good to miss. If it doesn’t get ‘lost’ again.

greenday_hlahg-15_09_03

Trent Reznor Reportedly Working On Fight Club Rock Opera

Multiple sources say that it looks like Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor’s next project has been revealed, but no one seems to know for sure.

Jeff Goldsmith from the podcast The Q&A said on Twitter a few days ago that he heard from Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk that he is working with director David Fincher and Reznor ”to do a Fight Club rock opera – an enhanced version of the film!”

Metal Injection reports that they have tried to get a statement from Reznor, who replied “The first rule of my new project is I am not allowed to talk about it. The second rule of my new project is I am not allowed to talk about it.” which seems to be an allusion to the famous Fight Club quote ”The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!”

Henry Rollins & Iggy Pop Star In ‘The Loudest Silent Movie On Earth’

rollins

This might be the craziest and most bizarre rock ‘n’ roll movie project that has ever been announced. Belgian-Swedish director Bjorn Tagemose and Shoottheartist Films present ”Gutterdämmerung – The Loudest Silent Movie on Earth,” reports SPIN.

BEAT Magazine has some insight into the plot, and reveals that it revolves around the Devil’s Evil Guitar. Iggy Pop plays the punk angel Vicious and Henry Rollins a puritan priest.

The director says in the clip below that he is ”a visual artist who writes his films primarily with imagery”, and therefore he has asked Henry Rollins ”to help him with the dialogue”. However, reveals Rollins, the film has very little dialogue. But it’s loud. The audience will be standing up watching the movie, and there will be a live rock band playing below the screen. ”It’s like a silent movie, but with your favorite band playing instead of that piano,” says Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal. ”It’s not a rockumentary, but the real fucking deal,” continues Hughes.

12 participating rock icons will be presented, one every week. Watch the launch movie where the first names are presented below, and keep yourself updated every week on the official site, gutterdammerung.com

The film is supposed to premiere in London and Berlin, but no date is mentioned yet.

Honestly, I’m not sure that this isn’t a joke. But if it’s actually true – I can’t wait to see this movie!

Soundgarden, The Meat Puppets & Green Day Take On The 4th of July

Edited by Brett Buchanan

This is a little late, I know, but I hope you all had a great 4th of July weekend! As a non-American I’m not a part of it, but I like the celebration of independence and everything that comes with it. The patriotism that shows great love for the country and the freedom of speech that also allows criticism.

Anyway, I decided to take a closer look at some song lyrics where the 4th of July is mentioned, to try to get a deeper understanding. There were three songs that immediately came to mind, because I’ve listened to them endlessly: “Lake of Fire” by The Meat Puppets (and the famous cover by Nirvana), “4th of July” by Soundgarden and “21st Century Breakdown” by Green Day.

The two first mentioned suggest that the 4th of July is somehow connected to doomsday. I’ve never understood why, so I decided to try to find out.

Before we start, it has to be said that the views and interpretations of these lyrics are my own opinions, and do not represent the views of AlternativeNation.net.

”Lake of Fire” by The Meat Puppets

Where do bad folks go when they die?
They don’t go to heaven where the angels fly
They go to the lake of fire and fry
Won’t see them again ’till the fourth of July

Bad people burn in hell and we’ll see them again on the 4th of July? I tried hard, but didn’t find a single reference anywhere that Independence Day would symbolize the apocalypse. So instead, I took a look at how other fans interpret the song. Many, like me, wonder why that line is there, but I found two general views:

1. It doesn’t mean anything at all, it just happens to rhyme with ‘fry’ in the previous line
2. The fireworks on 4th of July made them think of the fire in hell

Both are equally far-fetched to me.

“4th of July” by Soundgarden

Cause I heard it in the wind
And I saw it in the sky
And I thought it was the end
And I saw it was the 4 th of July

Clearly, this must be about the end of the world, and it happening to fall on Independence Day? Nope. I found the answer from the author himself, Chris Cornell, in a 1994 interview with RIP Magazine:

Chris Cornell: “One time I was on acid, and there were voices ten feet behind my head. The whole time I’d be walking, they’d be talking behind me. It actually made me feel good, because I felt like I was with some people. At one point I was looking back, and I saw that one person was wearing a black shirt and jeans, and the other person was wearing a red shirt. They were always there. It was kinda like a dream, though, where I’d wake up and look and focus once in a while and realize there was no one there. I’d go, “Oh, fuck, I’m hearing voices.”

RIP: Do you write a lot of songs on acid?

Chris Cornell: No, but “4th of July” is pretty much about that day. You wouldn’t get that if you read it. It doesn’t read like, “Woke up, dropped some acid, got into the car and went to the Indian reservation.”

So much for a deeper meaning.

In the beginning of this clip, though, Cornell says they’ve come there on this day to surrender themselves back to the U.K.
Personally, I don’t think so.

“21st Century Breakdown” by Green Day

My name is no one
The long-lost son
Born on the 4th of July
Raised in the era of heroes and cons
That left me for dead or alive

Like other Green Day lyrics, this is a song that shows patriotism, as well as criticism of how returning war veterans get nothing in return for what they’ve done. The line ‘Born on the 4th of July’ appears to be there as a symbol for America, and may also be a reference to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” which has a similar meaning with its lyrics.

The scars on my hands
And the means to an end
Is all the that I have to show”

I praise liberty
The “freedom to obey

Freedom of speech comes with an obligation to adapt to the system.

Foo Fighters Reveal If They Will Be Able To Continue Touring

It looks like Dave Grohl’s days of resting his leg are over. While the five European shows between June 19th and June 26th were cancelled due to the frontman’s injury, it now seems like they will go on with the North American tour as planned.

No official statement has been made, but the band has posted the same message on their official website, Twitter and Instagram: “Can’t f***ing wait for the 4th!!! See you at home, DC.”

Since the next scheduled show, the first on their North American tour, is in Washington DC on July 4th, it feels pretty safe to bet that it’s going to happen.

Screenshot_2015-06-29-21-28-46~01

Grohl discussed his injury in a recent open letter to fans:

So….here I am, recovering with 6 metal screws in my leg, thinking about a lifetime of holding up TSA lines from here to Kalamazoo….damn.

Here’s the not so witty bit…….My doctors have advised me to lay low for a while. The most important thing now is for me to recover from the surgery, to keep my leg elevated so as to keep swelling down and prevent any infection/complication that could do long term damage. I’m not out of the woods yet, folks…

Which means, and it kills me to say it…..the doctors have told us to cancel shows. I’m really so sorry, guys. You know I hate to do it, but I’m afraid it’s just not physically possible for me at the moment. We’re doing our best right now to work out a plan, so bear with us. You know we’re good for our word. But for now, I need to make sure we have YEARS of gigs ahead of us….

You have always stood by our band, and we will always stand by you. Like I say at every show, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you guys. And I mean that. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And I will do everything I can to come back and give you a night to remember for the rest of your lives AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Billie Joe Armstrong And Norah Jones Play Intimate Acoustic Gig In New York

Last night Bille Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones performed together at The Bowery Electric in New York. The show, which was a rare acoustic gig, was anounced on Twitter only a day in advance and tickets were exclusive to members of the Green Day fanclub Idiot Nation.

The duo played their album Foreverly in its entirety during the hour-long show. Foreverly is a collection of songs by The Everly Brothers recorded by Armstrong and Jones. It was released in November 2013 and so far it’s the only collaboration between the two artists.


Setlist:

Roving Gambler
Long Time Gone
Lightning Express
Silver Haired Daddy of Mine
Down in the Willow Garden
Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?
Oh So Many Years
Barbara Allen
Rockin’ Alone (In an Old Rockin’ Chair)
I’m Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail
Kentucky
Put My Little Shoes Away

Encore:
Sure To Fall

Dave Grohl’s Doctor Has A Band, And He Dedicated A Song About Whiskey To Him

As reported earlier, Dave Grohl fell off the stage and broke his leg during the Foo Fighters show in Sweden last Friday.

When Grohl surprisingly returned to finish the show it was with his leg covered in bandages supported by a doctor who held his leg still. Grohl later dedicated the song “My Hero” to the doctor who made it possible to go on and at the same time told the audience he had asked for a whiskey but was advised against that.

Reported by Gaffa (in Swedish) the doctor, whose name is Johan Sampson, has a band of his own, The Rebel Doc’s. After denying Grohl the whiskey on stage, they have now dedicated a song called “Whiskey” to him.

“To Dave Grohl from the crazy m*****f**ker Doc who went up on stage with you. Here’s a song from our band, The Rebel Doc’s.
Here’s your whiskey…”