Category Archives: Editorials

Lost Members Of Nirvana Part 1: Melora Creager

Edited by Brett Buchanan

Nirvana and Kurt Cobain have been featured heavily in the news and media this year, climaxing with the HBO broadcast of Brett Morgen’s documentary Montage of Heck. Part of Nirvana’s appeal lies in their unique history, emerging out of a know-nothing town from the Northwest to top Michael Jackson in the charts, in a shift of power dynamics that was faster than most political revolutions. The band’s most stable and consistent members were Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl – but their history included a long list of drummers, and later many auxiliary members in the post-Nevermind era. This series of articles will deal with the personal and career history of those members of Nirvana that were skewed away and footnoted by history.

Melora Creager

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Born March 25, 1966 in Kansas City, Missouri, Melora Creager was born to a graphic designer and physicist, who in their private and professional lives promoted the arts. Creager and her siblings were brought up learning instruments, Melora taking up piano at age 5 and then cello at age 9. She attended Parsons School of Design in New York, where she took cello back up and began to play shows with friends’ local bands as cellist.

Her band and largest project, Rasputina, began in 1989 after she put out an ad in Village Voice seeking “female electric cellists”, with an accompanying manifesto. Originally a huge nine piece, the band’s permanent members have dwindled to just three as of 2015: Melora Creager, Luis Mojica and Carpella Parvo. Hailing from New York City, the band played around the city’s club circuit until landing a record deal with Columbia in 1996.

In 1994, Melora Creager was recruited to replace touring cellist Lori Goldstein for the European leg of the In Utero tour, the latter who had also performed at Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged appearance. The first performance on record with Creager and the band happened February 5, 1994 in Cascais, Portugal. The version of “Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam” on the With the Lights Out boxset, featuring Creager on cello.  Creager, as quoted in Borzillo’s “Eyewitness Nirvana”:

“I got really excited, so all my parts were cadenzas and crazy cello everywhere. [Then] Krist would ask me, ‘ You’re playing like the record, right?’. . . Those guys [Cobain and Novoselic] didn’t really talk much. And in my mind, Kurt’s the leader and he told me to play whatever I wanted, but Krist didn’t like it like that… It was really nerve-wracking!”

The session also featured “Polly”, “The Man Who Sold The World”, “Dumb”, “Where Did You Sleep Light Night” and “Something In The Way”, but these recordings have yet to surface. Creager toured with Nirvana throughout France, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Italy and lastly Germany, where Nirvana played their last show on March 1, 1994 in Munich at Terminal 1 of the old Flughafen München-Riem airport, which had fell out of use by 1992 but the buildings were left and used as venues for concerts and festivals. The death of Kurt Cobain devestated everyone in Nirvana’s inner circle, but like Dave Grohl, Kurt’s death inspired Creager to dedicate herself to working harder on music. Creager laments, “He was an artist, and the world wanted to hear what he had to say, and he shut it off. You can’t do that.”

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From left to right: Kurt Cobain, Melora Creager, Krist Novoselic

Nirvana’s subsequent end had Creager return to Rasputina with a determination to make and play music better than she ever had before. Signed to Columbia in 1996, Rasputina saw their first major label release Thanks for the Ether, released later that year. The following year, Rasputina famously collaborated with Marilyn Manson, a collaboration which gave birth to their follow up EP, Transylvanian Regurgitations. Around this time, they opened up for Perry Farrell’s Porno for Pyros during their last tour in promotion of their second album, Good God’s Urge. Their second album, How We Quit the Forest, features Chris Vrenna (aka Tweaker) of Nine Inch Nails/Manson on drums/percussion and producer.

After their first two albums, they left Columbia and signed with Instinct from 2000 to 2007, and sporadically have released albums and EP’s on Filthy Bonnet Records. Many of their recent releases have been self-released and produced. In 2010, ex-member Dawn Miceli directed and produced a documentary on the band, entitled Under the Corset.

Rasputina’s sound steps into a multi-platform time machine, having one foot in the Victorian era, one in the Edwardian, and your head somewhere between 1988 to 1992. While Rasputina has a separate legacy and artistic vision, Kurt Cobain was looking to step into a direction that involved much less of the “Seattle sound” and “grunge” and more of acoustic and classical stringed instrumentation. This is marked by the steady increase of cello instrumentation from Nevermind to In Utero, climaxing with the MTV Unplugged performance. Rasputina’s lyrical subjects were also typically disturbing and profane, not unlike Nirvana’s, though Creager’s themes are often times more historical.

Below are examples of Creager’s live work with Nirvana, and selected tracks from Rasputina’s discography. Look out for more parts in the Lost Members of Nirvana series in the near future on AlternativeNation.net. To learn more about Rasputina, visit their website here.

<h2> Nirvana featuring Melora Creager </h2>

“Heart Shaped Box” from Nirvana’s last show in Munich, March 1st 1994

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8AZdoXBXlk

“Dumb” from the last show in Munich (same as above)

Excellent version of “Polly” from Nirvana’s show in Rome, February 22nd, 1994.

<h2> Rasputina </h2>

“Transylvanian Concubine” from Thanks for the Ether

“The Olde HeadBoard” from How We Quit the Forest

“Holocaust of Giants” from Sister Kinderhook

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.

1995: How Foo Fighters, Silverchair, Bush & Mad Season Created Rock’s Most Epic Year

#1995Week kicks off with an editorial on why 1995 was the most epic year in the history of rock.  We will have other articles later this week continuing to look back at 1995 20 years later.

As we pass the time of year where celebratory fireworks color the sky, I began to look at the numerous milestones reached this year within the world of music. There are quite a few. As I cracked it open however, I found a common theme — 1995. If it’s mindboggling to wrap your head around all the anniversaries, accomplishments and accolades received so far in 2015, well then there will be no words to describe what happened 20 years ago. The year where many of these accomplishments started.

There must have been something in the air in 1995, the wind was at the back of many bands in the world of Rock. The springs on the launch boards must have all been changed and greased up. To start, Foo Fighters debuted in 1995. This was the first time we really saw Dave Grohl since the end of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain’s suicide. As Alternative Nation recently highlighted, Silverchair also debuted in 1995 taking the world by storm with their breakthrough single “Tomorrow.” They would go on to be one of Australia’s most successful and impactful artists of all time.

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1995 also served as the year where certain acts that had debuted a few years earlier, found their niche and broke through with a vengeance. Considered in the vein of grunge at the time, the edgy Alanis Morissette released her breakthrough record Jagged Little Pill in June of 1995. The record has sold 33 million copies to date. Lead single “You Oughta Know” was an in your face, unapologetic rocker that was timed perfectly. Her touring band would include future Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins.

The Smashing Pumpkins continued their rise, releasing their biggest hit Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, an epic double album that featured a tour that continued well into 1997 and numerous radio hits including lead single “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”.

Orange County Pop group, No Doubt, saw their mainstream success catapult in 1995 thanks to their certified diamond record Tragic Kingdom, released in October. Los Angeles by way of Omaha, NE rock band 311, also exploded in 1995 with their self-titled record. Singles “Down” and “All Mixed Up” changed everything for 311. SoCal rockers Incubus, independently released their debut record “Fungus Amongus” in late 1995. Although it would later be re-released under Epic/Immortal in 2000, the record served as starting point and key component to landing their record deal with Sony. Minneapolis rock band, Semisonic, had a similar story. They independently released their first EP entitled Pleasure in 1995. Upon the success of their smash hit “Closing Time,” Pleasure would later be re-released.

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Perhaps the most intriguing part of rock music in 1995 were the amount of unique projects that took place. The year started with Pearl Jam hosting Self Pollution Radio from their headquarters in Seattle. This was a four-and-a-half-hour-long pirate broadcast which was available to any radio stations that wanted to carry it. It featured live performances from Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, The Fastbacks and Mad Season. Pearl Jam formally introduced Jack Irons as their new drummer during the broadcast and took phone calls from Mike Watt, Dennis Flemion and Voters for Choice. Speaking of Mad Season, this was a grunge super- group that consisted of Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Layne Staley from Alice in Chains, Barrett Martin from Screaming Trees and John Baker Saunders from the Walkabouts. They released their only record, the moody yet melodic Above 20 years ago featuring hit single “River of Deceit.” A song that is still played on rock stations everywhere to this day. Above was certified gold in June of 1995. Recently to commemorate 20 years, Chris Cornell and Duff McKagan joined reunited Mad Season for a performance with the Seattle Symphony.

The world of collaborations was extraordinary in 1995. In January and February of that year Neil Young joined Pearl Jam at Bad Animals Studio (owned by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart) in Seattle, Washington. It was there they recorded Neil Young’s Mirror Ball record that would then be released in June. Shortly after, the members of Pearl Jam (minus Vedder) and producer Brendan O’Brien (on keyboards) joined Young over the summer for an eleven-date tour in Europe to promote the album. There were two songs left off the Mirror Ball record that were recorded at the very end of the sessions. These two songs, entitled “Long Road” and” I Got Id,” were written and sung by Eddie Vedder. Pearl Jam then released the two-sided single in late 1995. “Long Road” and “I Got Id” remain two of the most appreciated and loved songs amongst their diehard fans.

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If you were an avid fan of live music, 1995 was a concertgoer’s paradise. The most captivating tour of all was a blend of all the different categories previously mentioned. This was Mike Watt’s Ball-Hog or Tugboat? six week club tour during the spring. On the heels of his first solo effort, Watt recruited Eddie Vedder to play guitar in his live band and Dave Grohl to play drums. What made this bill even more special was the opening acts were Foo Fighters (first official major tour) and Hovercraft featuring Eddie disguised on drums and his wife at the time, on bass. It was a common occurrence to hear the introduction “Hi, I’m Dave Grohl and we are the Foo Fighters” at some point during the Foo’s set.

Almost every alternative/grunge band in existence was on the road at some point throughout the year. Soundgarden played numerous shows with bands like Pennywise, Sponge, Kyusss and Blind Melon in support. Bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers,  Bush,  Oasis, R.E.M,  311,  The Smashing Pumpkins, and Silverchair toured extensively. Mad Season played a handful of iconic shows which would be the last with their original lineup. Whether you had an itch to go see a rock band at an intimate club or a desire to see the roof blown off an arena, chances are you had your choice during any given week.

A countless number of new records were released in 1995. There was nothing like going to Tower Records the day that new CD came out or the night before waiting for the doors to open at midnight and finally ripping open what you had been so anxiously waiting for. You’d then read the liner notes, study the artwork and lyrics as you blasted it in your stereo at full volume.

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Even the records that broke in late 1994 rode the wave of ’95. Though Bush’s debut record Sixteen Stone was released in late 1994, four of the five singles were showcased throughout 1995 including megahits “Comedown,” and “Glycerine.” Pearl Jam’s third record Vitalogy, came out in December of 1994 but it too reached its pinnacle in 1995. Tracks “Better Man” and “Corduroy” saw themselves plastered on the rock charts for weeks. “Better Man” was the most successful song from Vitalogy. Soundgarden too released arguably one of their more popular singles to date in 1995, Superunknown’s “Fell on Black Days. “

With the good comes the bad unfortunately. The music world lost Jerry Garcia in August of 1995 and Blind Melon’s Shanoon Hoon in October. The Grateful Dead had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. The following year (yes – 1995) the official Hall of Fame in Cleveland opened. There is somewhat of a reincarnation of the Grateful Dead that has come together to perform for the fiftieth anniversary this summer. Joining them will be Trey Anastasio of Phish.

What about some of the other big songs of 1995? How about; Blues Traveler – “Run-Around,”  Seal – “Kiss From a Rose,”  Notorious B.I.G – “Big Poppa,”  Hootie and Blowfish – “Only Wanna Be With You,”  Coolio – “Gangsta’s Paradise” (#1 song of the year),  Better than Ezra – “Good,”  U2 –“Hold me, Thrill me, Kiss me, Kill me,”  Everclear – “Santa Monica,”  2Pac – “ Dear Mama,”  Oasis – “Wonderwall” (from one the U.K’s best-selling records of all time),  Spacehog – “In the Meantime”,  Radiohead – “High & Dry,”  Smashing Pumpkins – “Bullet with Butterfly Wings, “  Red Hot Chili Peppers – “My Friends,”  Michael Jackson – “Scream.”  Yep, all 1995.

Finally, Classic Rock was not to be forgotten as well. Queen’s released their final record Made in Heaven (which has sold 20 million copies), as did the Ramones with ¡Adios Amigos!. The Beatles put out “Free as a Bird” as their first new single in over 20 years and The Rolling Stones delivered Stripped (a collection of live and studio recordings) during their Voodoo Lounge Tour.

All of that somehow fit into the 365 day calendar of 1995. Sure times were different than. The business was different; there was no iTunes or massive download streams. People had to physically buy music. The CD was a prized possession. Furthermore, it was a creative juggernaut where artist pushed the envelope and people truly listened. So as we recognize and celebrate some of the great things 2015 brings, let’s not forget where much of it came from. A year unlike anything else.

NOTABLE ALBUMS OF 1995:

2Pac – Me Against the World

311 – 311

AC/DC – Ballbreaker

Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill, 3x diamond, 33 million sold

Alice in Chains – Alice In Chains

Bad Religion – All Ages

Ben Harper – Fight for your Mind

Bender – Joe

Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad

Candlebox – Lucy

Collective Soul – Collective Soul

Coolio – Ghangsta’s Paradise

David Bowie – Outside

Deftones – Adrenaline

Everclear – Sparkle and Fade – featuring “Santa Monica”

Fleetwood Mac – Time

Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters

Garbage – Garbage

Green Day – Insomniac (Green Day – inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015)

Heart – The Road Home, produced by John Paul Jones

Hole – Ask for it

Incubus – Fungus Amongus

Lenny Kravitz – Circus

Mad Season – Above

Marilyn Manson – Smells Like Children, featuring “Sweet Dreams”

Michael Jackson – History

Mike Watt – Ballhog or Tugboat?

Morrissey – Southpaw Grammar

Morrissey – World of Morrissey

Natalie Merchant – Tigerlily

Neil Young – Mirror Ball

Nine Inch Nails – Further Down the Spiral

No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom

Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, featuring “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” “Champagne Supernova”

Ozzy Osboure – Ozzmosis

Pearl Jam – Merkin Ball

Prince – The Gold Experience

Radiohead – The Bends, featuring “Fake Plastic Trees, “Just,” “High and Dry”

Rancid – And Out Come the Wolves

Semisonic – Pleasure

Sevan Mary Three – American Standard, featuring “Cumbersome”

Silverchair – Frogstomp

Sonic Youth – Washing Machine

Soul Asylum – Let Your Dim Light Shine

Spacehog – Resident Alien, featuring “In the Meantime”

The Ramones – ¡Adios Amigos!

The Rolling Stones – Stripped

The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, featuring “Bullet with Butterfly Wings, “1979,” “Tonight, Tonight,” “Muzzle”

Ugly Kid Joe – Menace to Sobriety

White Zombie – Astro Creep: 2000

Blink-182, Sublime, Flogging Molly & More Discuss What Morrissey Means To Them

Alternative Nation’s #MorrisseyWeek has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean our coverage of “this charming man” is going anywhere! Alternative Nation was able to acquire quotes from various rock artists on what Moz means to them! Alternative Nation contributor Charles Peralo would also like to foreword this by stating what Morrissey means to him:

“Well with Morrissey he’s truly a big mouth who will always strike again. With either a great lyric in a new song, a quote that I really agree with him on or a quote I really really disagree with him on. The guy knows how to always strike again and I hope he stays in the music scene for decades to come.”

filterrichardpatrick

Richard Patrick (Filter): To me, Morrissey is the elegant rebel. A man that would hate to have to kick your ass.

8th Annual Musink Tattoo And Music Festival

Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio/Blink-182): When I got into punk rock at age 10, I had an older cousin that took me to shows and would make me mix tapes. One of the mixes she made for me had “What Difference Does It Make?” on it. I used to mow lawns and immediately went to the record store and bought “Hatful Of Hollow” as soon as I had enough money. I collected everything by The Smiths and Morrissey on cassette as quickly as I could mow those lawns. I would listen to them while I cut grass on my Walkman. I’ve been a HUGE fan ever since. I now have everything on vinyl and I work out to YOU ARE THE QUARRY almost daily on my iPhone.

Bridget1

Bridget Regan (Flogging Molly): In my humble opinion, Morrissey (aside from my husband) is the single greatest songwriter gracing our planet right now.

EricWilsonSublime

Eric Wilson (Sublime): “Have you ever read his quotes? They’re probably better than his songs.”

EmersonHart15

Emerson Hart (Tonic): I can honestly say there are quite a few songs I would have never written if it wasn’t for ‘how soon is now?’ Still as great today as the first time I heard it when I was a kid.

VottaTwins

The Votta Brothers (Art Of Anarchy): “I have the highest respect for him as an innovator and artist, anyone that creates something different, unique and inspires people will always have our respect.”

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Jesse Kristin (Jukebox the Ghost): I used to find it near-impossible to choose a favorite band when people asked, until I decided to employ a quantitative method: Which band has the most songs you absolutely love? After excluding The Beatles on principle, I realized that band for me was The Smiths. This was ten years ago. Obsession with Morrissey’s early solo albums followed: Viva Hate, Bona Drag, Kill Uncle, Your Arsenal, Vauxhall & I. Each one of these records did me in at one point or another. Morrissey’s m.o. is paradox: harmonious, relentless self-loathing and self-idolization. Think the guy’s cocky? Listen to his lyrics. Think he’s miserable? Listen to his lyrics. There’s a word for this paradoxical condition — “human”. Speaking of being human, I got to very briefly meet Johnny Marr backstage at Lollapalooza in 2010. I showed him my “Ask” tattoo then, overcome with existence, immediately retreated into my sunglasses and cried like a baby.

Top 10 Unique & Exciting Morrissey Lyrics

Morrissey has been a legend in the new wave music scene since the time mom jeans were cool and people thought Apple stock was worthless. Yet, with that legend, people tend to sometimes listen to a song and just go “Ugh….. WTF?”. Regardless of how good they are, meet the top ten Morrissey/Smiths songs which will confuse but excite you with their offbeat lyrical content, topics ranging from the double decker bus to your girlfriend being in a coma.

Be sure to check out our other #MorrisseyWeek articles in commemoration of our recent interview with Morrissey himself.


 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTev6og-edU]

10. November Spawned a Monster

Perhaps one of Morrissey’s lesser known pieces, it does carry the legacy of the great English singer to be edgy, different and holds a bit darker tone. Yet why does it hit this list? It focuses on the disabled and how that burden can be like a monster in itself. A very unusual topic for a song, but once again in a very strong set of lyrics and melody give this rare topic of a song a great delivery. Why number ten? Well, while great, it’s just not the song people remember from Morrissey.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk8qObWe3f0]

9. Death of a Disco Dancer

The song is great and it was a well known classic by him. Now, it doesn’t really dive that hard into some of the issues or tough lines which his other songs get. So why number nine? Well, that moment someone looks at your laptop to see the song that’s playing and read you are listening to something called “Death of a Disco Dancer”. Now, while not the best song ever in terms of lyrics, the melody and changes in pace to it really do make it memorable.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nRRu9WAA-k]

8. We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful

While many songs have without a doubt gotten into the idea of envy, this song without a doubt is the only one in my memory which flat out says the reality of how almost everyone thinks. We live in a world where one friend getting the job you’ve never even wanted, but just the happiness of it makes them have bitter envy. The song itself also nails the lyrics which unlike many Morrissey songs holds a diverse choice of words and lines, but manages to hold on well.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjPhzgxe3L0]

7. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

Without a doubt a classic to anyone who’s even a moderate fan of Morrissey and the Smiths. It is a classic in any right and also sparked controversy being attached to the line “Suffer small children”. .

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlYXp_3A64k]

6. Panic

The easiest song by far to sing along with of any Morrissey song with a strong nature of chanting and very positive stream. Panic delivers a ton of cultural and political references, but at the end of the day just holding the line “Hang the DJ” over and over and over manages to lock it up for an easy number six.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xacRTqk5QFM]

5. Meat is Murder

This song just is clearly about passion. The idea a musician will go this far out to stretch an entire album and song into the mission of stopping consumption of animal products is simple amazing. Without any doubt, the song’s message and focus gives it a clear frontrunner status for the most interesting song Morrissey has done. That said, it’s not his best song. The lyrics and melody while good nowhere near catchup to many of his cult classics.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjeMWCa716E]

4. Suedehead

We interviewed Morrissey while putting the song “Suedehead” in the context of the question. He corrected us on how we totally missed the meaning of the word suedehead and for that, this interesting and fun song needed to be in the top five.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKoS5X4SMrY]

3. Irish Blood English Heart

This song very well could be Morrisseys greatest song. It is literally a massive party in the form of music. The political nature of it is soothing and intelligent, but the focus on how it moves in such rush can make this truly a classic song to want to get into UK history. Educational, fun and even a bit weird. A lesser known piece, but easy number three.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgxEJOi6GtA]

2. Bigmouth Strikes Again

At this point, you probably want to read more articles on this site or just go and listen to Morrissey songs. With that, I’ll make this one quick. Listen to this song!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GhoWZ5qTwI]

1. Girlfriend In A Coma

First off, the melody is absolutely fantastic. Probably the most unique of any song he’s ever done. That said, the lyrics made this a clear shot for number one. This while just being another relationship song does nail how what many relationships are like. The focus is simple. For perhaps the majority of relationships, you could want to murder the partner, but when it actually comes, you don’t want death or pain to happen.

Check AlternativeNation.net tomorrow for our next #MorrisseyWeek article! You can follow AlternativeNation.net on Twitter and like us on Facebook

Morrissey Tour Dates:

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Morrissey’s Albums Get Ranked Up!

Edited by Brett Buchanan

Alternative Nation’s interview with Morrissey made waves in newspapers and news outlets, worldwide as well as social media, Morrissey Week sojourns on! We will continue with ranking Morrissey’s ten solo albums, in the second edition of the Ranked Up! series. The first installment was Riley Rowe’s article on Pearl Jam. We will take into consideration the musical instrumentation, production styles, lyrical styles, and artistic vision. There are no “bad” albums, but it is worth discussing where each album holds a place.

Morrissey-Kill-Uncle

Kill Uncle (1991)

Major collaborators: Mark E. Nevin, Clive Langer

From the Smiths’ break up until late 1991, Morrissey worked with a number of different musicians and producers. For much of 1989, he worked with all former Smiths members: Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce and second guitarist Craig Gannon. As he says in his Autobiography, “Rourke and Joyce had gamefully participated in the 1989 singles [“Playboys” and “Interesting Drug”]... The unhappy past descends upon me each time I hear their voice and I decide not to invite them to any further recording sessions. Lawyers for Joyce might take legal action in search of Smiths royalties, but will not do so if I agree to make him a permanent member of the Morrissey band (a band which, in any case, doesn’t even exist).”

Having no permanent band, it allowed him to experiment. 1991’s Kill Uncle is largely an experiment. Most successful artists have albums they distance themselves from, and Morrissey hasn’t played a song from Kill Uncle since his 1991 tour in support of it. It did, however, produce fan favorites like “Sing Your Life,” “There is a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends,” and “Our Frank.” The former two widely referenced Morrissey’s devotee culture. The album lyrically largely deals with alienation and estrangement: personal, circumstantial and political. Tinges of rockabilly, showtunes, orchestrated rock, and post-Manchester sound from Viva Hate all play a factor, but it does not play like one album. In support of this tour, Morrissey joined up with renowned neo-rockabilly guitarists Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer, the latter whom he has been collaborating to this day, marking nearly 25 years of collaboration.

viva hate

Viva Hate (1988)

Major collaborators: Stephen Street, Vini Reilly 

Viva Hate has distant roots from the last Smiths session featuring Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce, Morrissey and guitarist Ivor Perry, after Johnny Marr had quit and left the band ambiguously. The controversial “Bengali in Platforms” was penned during this session, but allegedly became a very different song during the writing and production of Viva Hate. Because of this, the album did not have a great chance to develop independently outside of the Smiths universe, which was clearly Morrissey’s goal, since the title which is a reference to the bitterness in the aftermath of the Smiths’ breakup.

Stephen Street, years later in the documentary Morrissey: The Solo Years, sent a tape of demos to Morrissey written in the “Smiths style”, hoping they would be used as B-sides for the last singles for Strangeways, Here We Come. Morrissey, instead, wanted to create a whole album with Street. It is a Morrissey album, but lacks the sound which made Morrissey distinct from his work in the Smiths with the partnership between Whyte and Boorer, and later Jesse Tobias. It contains significant hits like “Suedehead” and “Everyday is Like Sunday,” as well as great deep cuts like “Late Night, Maudlin Street,” “Alsatian Cousin,” and “I Don’t Mind If You Forget Me.”

The album is not unlike Morrissey’s greatest work, but it certainly is not weak.  It is a fantastic album, but judging from the outtakes from around this period like “Happy Lovers at Last United,” “Please Help the Cause Against Loneliness” (also covered by Sandie Shaw, who worked with the Smiths early on in their career) and “Lifeguard on Duty” and B-sides like “Disappointed” and “Oh Well, I’ll Never Learn,” it is not the well rounded album it could have been. It’s definitely an album torn by two conflicting forces: the remnants of the Smiths, and the post-Smiths sound Morrissey was developing.

quarry

You are the Quarry (2004)

Major collaborators: Alain Whyte, Boz Boorer, Gary Day

Seven years without a solo album caused some fans to panic, despite regular touring after 1997’s Maladjusted tour until the You are the Quarry‘s tour, including the now famous ¡Oye Esteban! tour leg in Latin America. You are the Quarry draws some parallels towards Viva Hate, in the fact some of the songs are connected to other institutions and/or bodies of work. Guitarist Alain Whyte remixed previous compositions from an older musical venture, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, and low and behold we get “Irish Blood, English Heart” and “First of the Gang to Die,” though with completely new lyrics by Morrissey and some instrumental altercations.

You are the Quarry jump started Morrissey’s comeback, and it almost became a double album – the first disc containing twelve new tracks, and the deluxe edition’s second disc containing another nine. Some of the material on the album has origins dating back as early as 2001, and because of the spacious time between writing and recording, the album plays more like a compilation. Produced by pop punk producer Jerry Finn, it makes for a very different, and perhaps with time, an all too familiar album. However, Morrissey’s career would not be the same without hits like “First of the Gang to Die,” “Let Me Kiss You,” and “Irish Blood, English Heart.”

maladjustedmaladjusted2

Maladjusted (1997)

Major collaborators: Alain Whyte, Boz Boorer, Spencer Cobrin

On most accounts Maladjusted is misunderstood, or rather, malunderstood. The biggest problem may be the original track listing itself (comparative track listings available here at True to You). Maladjusted became the second and last album produced by Steve Lillywhite. Lillywhite’s presence in Morrissey’s career, for better or worse, was followed by a lack of commercial success.

Lillywhite produced albums like U2’s War and Boy, Chris Cornell’s Carry On, and The Killers’ Battle Born. It is not an album to be ignored because of gorgeous hits like “Alma Matters,” one of the best performing Morrissey singles in his career. The 6 B-sides from this period should have been featured on the album originally, with songs like “Papa Jack” left as a B-side (it was removed off the remastered track listing). Tracks like “Maladjusted” and “Trouble Loves Me” have been played fairly regularly on Morrissey’s recent tours.

Rarities like “He Cried” and “Ammunition” are particularly wonderful if given the chance, and they may or may not be reflections on Morrissey’s relationship with Jake Walters, which ended sometime before Maladjusted‘s release. It is also worth saying how wonderful this album sounded live compared to the studio recording. The 1997 Maladjusted tour was full of fantastic performances ranging from all periods of Morrissey’s career by that point, including a more emotionally driven rendition of “Speedway“. Tortured by time, Maladjusted is definitely worth defending. But the culmination of the album’s lack of success, the Mike Joyce hearings and subsequent harassment from Joyce, his lawyers and the British media, caused Morrissey to leave England altogether, settling down in Los Angeles for several years until his return to the scene with You are the Quarry.

Maladjusted is often seen as a decline in Morrissey’s career because the period of 7 years that followed with no commercial release, but increasingly as time goes on, fans and critics alike give the album the due worth it deserves, not unlike the legacy of Weezer’s Pinkerton album, which made an almost identical impact on Weezer’s career as Maladjusted did to Morrissey’s. Maladjusted is a very mature and personable album, but just happened to be in the wrong place and time. Watch a collection of Maladjusted era performances below, if interested (or not convinced).

your arsenal

Your Arsenal (1992)

Major collaborators: Alain Whyte, Boz Boorer, Mark E. Nevin, Mick Ronson

Morrissey’s first major release with his partners for the next 15 years, Your Arsenal, founded modern “Morrissey” as we know him outside of the Smiths. Embarrassingly, many of his early pre-Arsenal singles like “Suedehead” and “Everyday is Like Sunday” are oftentimes mislabeled on the Internet as Smiths songs. It is pretty hard to mislabel anything off as Your Arsenal as anything but simply Morrissey and his boys. Produced by Bowie collaborator Mick Ronson, it combined the influences of glam rock, rockabilly, and vestiges of indie rock to create a wholesomely new sound, the sound that sets Morrissey apart from virtually anyone else in the world of music.

According to the latest Soundscan records from 2007, Your Arsenal stood as the best selling Morrissey record at around 366,000 copies sold, the compilation Bona Drag not far behind at around 360,000. The album spawned monster hits like “Tomorrow,” “You’re the One For Me, Fatty” and “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful”.  The last of the Morrissey/Nevin compositions appeared on the album, “You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side” and “I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday,” although Nevin was not present at the sessions. Your Arsenal is indeed a brilliant album that saved many lives, but it was only the seed that would blossom hundreds of songs written by the trio of Morrissey, Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer from 1992 until 2009’s Years of Refusal, when Whyte finally left Morrissey’s circles once and for all.

 

ringleader of the tormentors

Ringleader of the Tormentors (2006)

Major collaborators: Alain Whyte, Boz Boorer, Jesse Tobias, Michael Farrell

Ringleader of the Tormentors is definitely Morrissey’s most orchestrated album, featuring the orchestra of famed Italian conductor Ennio Morricone. The city of Rome was a huge influence and muse on the album, where it was recorded and produced by legendary producer Tony Visconti, of David Bowie fame. This brings a very European and near operatic feel to the album’s direction.  Entering the ring was new guitarist and future full-time replacement for Alain Whyte, one time Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Jesse Tobias. Whyte had stopped touring with Morrissey during the You are the Quarry tour in 2004, citing some sort of meltdown.

If you listen closely, you can hear a certain conflict in the album. With three guitarists, the album is varied to say the least. Whyte wants control, but slowly is loosing his grip on Morrissey’s artistic direction. Tobias has a certain suave and fiery tenacity about him (he’s an Aries), the reason was fired from the Chili Peppers apparently was on grounds that he was cuter than singer Anthony Kiedis, so there is an air of at least some friendly competition. Tobias holds his ground with his songwriting credits to all four singles off the album: “I Just Want to See the Boy Happy,” “You Have Killed Me,” “In the Future When All’s Well” and “The Youngest Was the Most Loved”.  The singles contrast towards the album’s tracks is a bit misleading if one does not know who wrote what. The chemistry with Tobias is refreshing, whereas the efforts of You are the Quarry, which despite arguably saved Morrissey’s career, make Ringleader frankly more exciting than the hit driven You are the Quarry, which was written over a number of years, and again, functions more as a compilation.

world peace

World Peace is None of Your Business (2014)

Major Collaborators: Boz Boorer, Jesse Tobias, Gustavo Manzur

Late 2012 through much of 2013, the press was beginning to predict Morrissey’s end, with declining health and frequently cancelled tour dates. The future was bleak, but things began to look brighter again with the release of Autobiography, and then came the record deal with Harvest Records. Last summer, we were blessed with World Peace is None of Your Business. Relevant, bold, fresh and ethnic, it is the kind of work in a similar vein to Ringleader that establishes Morrissey simply not as a rock musician, but a playwright, poet, conductor and in one way an acrobat.

World Peace, if set against a play, would make a perfect opera for the modern world. In fact, it is the opera for the modern world. Divulging in themes like the skirting condescension of governments against their people, the failures of archetypal romance, internationalism, the suicide epidemic among teenagers and young adults, and most prevalent: apathy. There are very few artists who can say so much so fast. The instrumentation is influenced very much by classical guitar, giving the album a wide and regal sound. Produced by versatile producer and Grammy award winner Joe Chiccarelli (Oingo Boingo, U2, Frank Zappa, Beck) and recorded at La Fabrique in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, these factors along with the final departure of Alain Whyte, marks a new era for Morrissey. The songwriting credits stem from almost every band member, with a wide (but not too wide) variety of sounds to make an awesome and again, relevant, record.

 

years of refusal

Years of Refusal (2009)

Major collaborators: Alain Whyte (writing only), Boz Boorer, Jesse Tobias

The return of Jerry Finn produced a very different sounding album compared to You are the Quarry, with Years of Refusal featuring a roaring and raw sound. Roger Manning, Quarry‘s keyboardist, also returned to the sessions after the departure of keyboardist Michael Farrell. On the album’s writing and production, he would comment, ” I think fans will be pleasantly surprised by this new solo offering. It was all tracked live which added a great punk, garage, DIY urgency to the tracks”. It is a tremendous album that is the closest thing Morrissey has come to making a punk album.

Solomon Walker is an enormous presence, his bass jumps and jumbles throughout the tracks. The tone and distortion, not often seen before in Morrissey’s music, works incredibly well. The album begins dealing with life’s tragedies and the overwhelming nature of it all – but slowly explains all of these things and why they happen, because “That’s How People Grow Up,” because “One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell” and that to remember in the end: “I’m OK By Myself.” It is the culmination and maturation of Morrissey’s previous work, and the insight given from 50 years of scorn, betrayal and unrequited love emerges the fact that all of these things will come and pass. Why not enjoy the brighter sides of life? The question Morrissey asked himself years ago in the Smiths in their song “Still Ill,” he answered his younger self by releasing the triumphant Years of Refusal. He’s still got it. At 50 years old, there are worse things Morrissey could have been doing, and instead he wrote a magical and awe-inspiring album.

vauxhallgrammar

Vauxhall and I (1994) & Southpaw Grammar (1995)

Major collaborators (Vauxhall & I): Alain Whyte, Boz Boorer

Major collaborators (Southpaw Grammar): Alain Whyte, Boz Boorer, Spencer Cobrin

A tie! Yes, a tie. This was a very hard list to compile, I tried to be as objective as possible. I also realize not everyone is going to be happy with this list. When it comes down to it, Vauxhall and Southpaw are long lost brothers – two different images offered by Morrissey and his boys. Vauxhall and I is dark-lit, remorse, haunting and desolate, while Southpaw Grammar is manic, thundering, courageous and heart-racing. The main difference is the more passive (but not weak) drumming of Woodie Taylor on Vauxhall, compared to the incessant but melodic beatings from Spencer Cobrin on his return to the band in 1995 after being fired for reckless partying. Vauxhall sold very, very well while Southpaw is still Morrissey’s lowest selling record. Morrissey, in our interview with us, had to say of the latter, “I loved Southpaw Grammar, but there was no interest from the labels that released it: Reprise in U.S and RCA in London. I think it’s a criminally underrated album​ and the band were in full flourish… I thought the band were so fantastic that the world would open up and finally admit that the Morrissey band were a formidable force… but, no!” 

Vauxhall and I brought forth the big hit, “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get”, written by Boz Boorer. The whole album is lovely and very atmospheric, as if Moz is singing to you in a large and sparse manor with no electricity with a humongous bath, with fifty or so small candles scattered around. Fan anthems like “Speedway” became Morrissey’s most privately adorned piece of work since “Asleep” was written with the Smiths. Here Morrissey finally opens up to the prospects of some sort of romance. At the time he was involved with photographer Jake Walters, and would be for about the next two years.

Southpaw Grammar’s themes are a bit more open ended and contrarian. There is definitely a motif of adrenaline – fighting in “The Operation” (the title itself a reference to the boxing term for left handed fighters) and car racing in “The Boy Racer”. The album begins to venture in progressive rock, with three of the songs at least ten minutes in length, which would have been unthinkable on albums like Viva Hate or Your Arsenal. Morrissey came so far from 1988, a time when he continued to work with people he half resented, to coming together with a separate group of musicians and again creating music unlike any other. These two albums prove him much more than the “ex-Smiths” frontman. He is Morrissey, the Mozfather, the Messiahs of Moans, the Pope of Mope, Mozzer, Mozza, MOZ! Most of the people who were featured on these albums have gone their separate ways, but Morrissey still continutes to bewilder the world with his incredible intuition of musical style.

Honorable Mentions!

bona drag

Bona Drag (1990)

Major Collaborators: Stephen Street, Kevin Armstrong, Andy Rourke, Clive Langer, Vini Reilly

Most people would associate this album with Morrissey’s career than anything else. The problem with that is, it’s a compilation album, not a studio album. However, because of its magnitude, it is worth mentioning, maybe even mandatory. Originally Bona Drag might have become an album of original material, but it became a compilation of Viva Hate and non-album singles with most of their B-sides. There is no better best hits album than this, and Bona Drag belongs with the realms of Nirvana’s Incesticide and the Smashing Pumpkins’ Piscses Iscariot as the best compilation albums. “Playboys,” “Suedehead,” “Interesting Drug” and “Everyday is Like Sunday” in one release is too much to ask for, let alone the magnificent B-sides like the droning “Disappointed” and the poignant “Hairdresser on Fire”. It is a solid testament to Morrissey’s early solo work before the Whyte-Boorer partnership.

8 Albums That Saved Bands Careers

Many rock and roll bands, especially ones with long careers, tend to face challenges and ups and downs commercially throughout their careers. Below are 8 albums that saved bands careers.

greendayidiot

Green Day – American Idiot

After 2000’s Warning had seen Green Day hit the lowest sales of their career, the band took a break before heading back to the studio in 2003 and recording 20 new songs, which were later stolen. The band decided to create an all new album rather than recreate the material they had been working on, and the result was 2004’s landmark album American Idiot. American Idiot has arguably been Green Day’s biggest hit, introducing the band to a new generation of teenagers a decade after Dookie.

u2all

U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind

While U2 never really went away in the 90’s or had to downsize the venues they toured, 1997’s Pop flopped with fans and underperformed commercially. By 2000 it had been 7-9 years since the Achtung Baby/Zooropa era, and U2 came roaring back with All That You Can’t Leave Behind, featuring some of U2’s biggest hits of their entire career like “Beautiful Day.” The album recaptured the band’s classic sound and led to another peak period for the band commercially.

weezergreen

Weezer – The Green Album

Weezer were overnight starts with 1994’s Blue album, but the followup, 1996’s Pinkerton, underperformed commercially despite later becoming a fan favorite, and by 1998 bassist Matt Sharp had quit the band and they were completely inactive as Rivers Cuomo worked on new material at his home. In 2000 Weezer returned to the stage after 3 years, and in 2001 the band released another self-titled album, this time the Green album, and they experienced a resurgence in popularity 8 years after their initial commercial peak with hits like “Island In The Sun” and “Hash Pipe.”

rhcpcalifornication

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication

The Red Hot Chili Peppers found huge commercial success with 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but after John Frusciante’s departure from the band in 1992, the band had several turbulent years. Dave Navarro joined the band and they finally released One Hot Minute in 1995, but despite the album’s cult following, it was not as commercially successful as Blood Sugar Sex Magik and alienated many mainstream fans. The band also did not heavily tour the album due to the drug problems members of the band were having, and Dave Navarro was eventually fired in early 1998. After years of drug abuse, John Fruscinate had entered rehab in January 1998 and after a three month stint, he was invited to rejoin the Chili Peppers. The result was 1999’s Californication, the biggest hit of RHCP’s career and kickstarting a new era of commercial prosperity for the band.

aerosmithvacation

Aerosmith – Permanent Vacation

After years of subpar albums and lineup changes, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford returned to Aerosmith for 1985’s Done with Mirrors. While that album was intended to be the band’s comeback, 1987’s Permanent Vacation was Aerosmith’s return to commercial prominence. The band brought in outside songwriters to assist them in the writing process, with Desmond Child co-writing “Dude (Looks Like A Lady),” “Angel,” and “Heart’s Done Time.” Jim Vallance and Holly Knight also co-wrote select songs on the album.

acdcbackinblack

AC/DC – Back In Black

1979’s Highway to Hell had seen AC/DC reach their highest commercial success yet, but frontman Bon Scott tragically passed away in February 1980 as they were beginning work on the followup record. The band considered calling it quits, but Scott’s parents encouraged the band to find a new lead singer. Brian Johnson was one of the band’s top choices, as Bon Scott had raved about him to Angus Young. Johnson was hired, and the result was 1980’s Back in Black, one of the biggest hit albums of all time, going 22X Platinum. The album not only saved AC/DC’s career, but arguably defined it.

aliceinchainsblack

Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way to Blue

Like AC/DC, Alice In Chains also lost their lead singer, though under very different circumstances. Alice In Chains’ last album had been their self-titled 1995 effort, and following select 1996 live performance the band was essentially finished, outside of recording two new tracks, “Get Born Again” and “Died,” in 1998. Layne Staley died from a drug overdose in 2002, ending any hopes of the original/classic Alice In Chains lineup ever reuniting. In 2005 though surviving members Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, and Mike Inez regrouped to perform a charity show with several guest singers, followed by a full tour in 2006 with William DuVall stepping in for Layne Staley. The band needed a new album though to validate the new lineup, and 2009’s Black Gives Way to Blue made many fans accept that a version of Alice In Chains could exist without Layne Staley, with radio hits like “Check My Brain” and “Your Decision.”

genesisatrickofthetail

Genesis – A Trick Of The Tail

In 1976, Genesis were at a crossroads after the departure of frontman Peter Gabriel. After auditioning several potential new frontmen, drummer Phil Collins decided to take over lead singer duties on A Trick Of The Tail, which kickstarted a new era for the band that led to their longest period of sustained commercial success. Genesis were also $400,000 in debt to their label before releasing this album, and it finally got them out of debt after its success.

Top 10 Happiest Morrissey Songs

In celebration of Alternative Nation’s Morrissey interview,  welcome to #MorrisseyWeek!

Morrissey has often been portrayed by both his fans and critics as “the Pope of Mope”, a figure consisting of nothing but utter despair and sadness. Oh, they were half right… amongst the Mozfather’s tales of woe, there are a number of songs that exert a great, upbeat jubilance. Today, we will examine Morrissey’s happiest songs from his solo discography.


 

#10  – “Do Your Best and Don’t Worry” from Southpaw Grammar

“I loved Southpaw Grammar, but there was no interest from the labels that released it … Reprise U.S and RCA in London.  I think it’s a criminally underrated album​ and the band were in full flourish.” – Morrissey, from our exclusive Interview

Not a single though it easily could have been, “Do Your Best and Don’t Worry” is a good ol’ “chin up” from Morrissey, who might sometimes say otherwise. He politely reminds us, though even at our worst, “this is you on a bad day, you on a pale day”. The song has some limited electronic elements, which sometimes find their way on Morrissey albums. Paying attention to the lyrics, taking a few deep breaths, would make anyone happier.

Happiest lyrics:

“With your standards so high
And your spirits so low
At least remember…
This is you on a bad day, you on a pale day

Just do your best and don’t…
Don’t worry, oh
The way you hang yourself is oh, so unfair”

9.  “The Last of the Famous International Playboys” – Non-album single, Bona Drag

One of the first marks in Morrissey’s career towards a fascination with the underworld and crime, “The Last of the Famous International Playboys” is a love letter to the the Kray Twins – the London mobster twins who functioned as de facto rulers of the East End of London during the 1960’s. Initially a non-album single, it was later released on Bona Drag, Morrissey’s famous compilation album.

Kray Twins

Ronald “Ronnie” and Reginald “Reggie” Kray – circa 1960’s (snappy dressers!)

What makes this song happy is the production and writing behind it – it is one of those rare Smiths reunions! On bass we have Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce on drums and Craig Gannon, the Smiths’ one time bassist (while Rourke got clean from drugs) and rhythm guitarist all playing with Morrissey, along with Smiths/Morrissey producer and engineer Stephen Street and Neil Taylor (Tears for Fears, Robbie Williams) on guitar . The quartet also played Morrissey’s first solo show in 1988 at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, where the crowd came close to tearing down the venue with their wild energy. It was the last of such Smiths reunions, though Andy Rourke continued to collaborate with Morrissey on and off until 1991, ultimately replaced by Gary Day.

It’s also a very happy song on the basis that the longer a song title is, the happier the song is. The music video is also a very happy piece, with no tears or frowns. “Playboys” has been covered by a few different artists, like Leeway, J Church and Russian Love.

Happiest lyrics:

“I AM NOT NATURALLY EVIL
Such things I do
Just to make myself more attractive to you
HAVE I FAILED ?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgqxDsNS8OI

8. “Mute Witness” – Kill Uncle

Kill Uncle marked Morrissey’s furthest departure from his Smiths career at the time, falling out with Smiths engineer and producer Stephen Street and now relying on a whole new creative team, with producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, which the former contributed the instrumental writing and arrangement for “Mute Witness”.

The lyrics follow a short vignette about a mute witness to a criminal case about an incident occurring at  “4am, Northside, Clapham Common”, a large park in south London, seemingly unable to tell her side of the story. The showtime piano and Morrissey’s crooning empathy make for a very particular song, one of the more notable pieces from Kill Uncle, which did not receive stellar reviews, but did produce fan favorites such as “Sing Your Life” and “Our Frank”. Clive Langer continued to produce Morrissey through the rest of 1991, but Bowie’s early 70’s collaborator Mick Ronson took over the board for 1992’s hit album Your Arsenal.

Happiest lyrics:

“Well, I’ll ask her
“now dry your tears, my dear”
Now see her mime in time so nicely
it would all have been so clear”

7. “My Love Life” – Non-album single, World of Morrissey

“My Love Life” would become the last single to be released before Morrissey’s partnership between rockabilly tinged guitarists Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte began full time, although the soft antique guitars and sweet harmonies do invoke images of popular 1950’s music, though not as flamboyantly as the previous single, “Pregnant for the Last Time”, does.

The song is so very pleasant, and is a nice change of pace from scourging the prospects of love to embracing, indeed, welcoming these prospects. It must have been a very good day for Morrissey when he wrote this. The song’s lyrical content deals with the limits of monoromantic love, and Morrissey’s simultaneous feelings for different people, a challenge many face throughout their lives, but few address. The video features Boz Boorer, Gary Day, Alain Whyte and Spencer Cobrin, who weren’t a part of the song’s production, but became a part of Morrissey’s suave alternative rockabilly image for the first half of the ’90’s.

Happiest lyrics:

“Come on and do something new
I know you love one person so
Why can’t you love two?
Give a little something
Give a little something
To My Love Life, to My Love Life
My Love Life” 

6. “Sunny” – Non-album single, My Early Burglary Years

An often overlooked period of Morrissey’s career, even among fans, is his series of releases after 1994’s Vauxhall and I but before his comeback album You are the Quarry in 2004. 1995-1997 saw an abundant creation of music that is sadly overlooked nowadays. One of the finest gems, is “Sunny”. A ballad with acoustic undertones, it was with pieces of work like “Sunny” that Morrissey finally distinguished and distanced himself from his work in the Smiths.

Released late in 1995, it would serve as the last Morrissey release until 1997’s Maladjusted, an album which marked an end of an era for Morrissey. The music video is quite poignant, with the simple shenanigans of British young adults in the mid ’90s. Think Doctor Who with nothing extraterrestrial. “Sunny” celebrates the “sunny” beauty inherent in people – despite their flaws and addictions.

Happiest lyrics:

“So, Sunny, send at least one thoughtful letter
My heart goes out to you
Tell us all how things are so much better
My heart, it left with you
What else can I do?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhocLKDjmkA

5. “Ammunition” – Maladjusted

Maladjusted saw the scope of some of Morrissey’s most triumphant and happiest pieces of work, and some of the most despairing (and vengeful). The content of “Ammunition” is actually very zen-like, the premise being having seen all this before, Morrissey no longer sees a need to get anymore frustrated than he is.

One of the finer pieces written by Boz Boorer, “Ammunition” is unabashed rock n’ roll with some minor chords and a terrific solo. It would have made a nice single, but alas. What is not very happy at all though is the fact that “Ammunition” has never seen a live rendition. Indeed, nearly half of Maladjusted‘s track listing would remain as that – never have been played live before.

Happiest lyrics:

“I don’t need more ammunition
I’ve got more than I can spend
I don’t dwell on things I’m missing
I’m just pleased
With the things I’ve found”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbTK7OffQgs

4. Lucky Lisp – “Playboys” Single B-side, Bona Drag

Lucky Lisp appeared as a B-side for the “Playboys” single, already a very happy song. What a perfect way to celebrate a happy A-side: give it a happy B-side. Lucky Lisp displays small tinges of electronic beats, definitely the first but not the last of Morrissey songs to do so.

Morrissey and his interests, including Oscar Wilde, James Dean, the Beat generation etc. have many associations with LGBT culture. Reading the lyrics to “Lucky Lisp”, it seems to be a word of encouragement to those who struggle with their identity. Instead of shaming themselves, they only need to see themselves as a part of greater history of well-established individuals who made innumerable contributions to society and culture. After all, “the saints smile shyly down on you”.

Happiest lyrics:

“The saints smile shyly
Down on you
Oh, they couldn’t get over
Your nine-leaf clover

Oh, lucky lisp was not wasted on you
Lucky lisp wasn’t wasted on you”

3. “Sing Your Life” – Kill Uncle

Arguably the most well known song from Kill Uncle, “Sing Your Life” is another rouse of encouragement from the Mozfather, letting the meek know it’s okay to sing and use their voice, to indeed sing their life instead of letting someone else do it for them.

“Sing Your Life” would act as a prelude to the rockabilly leanings that would influence Morrissey’s career very apparently until 1994’s Vauxhall and I. Though it has not been played live in over 20 years, it is very popular at Morrissey karaoke events, and brings a smile to every longtime fan’s face. Truly one of the jewels of the Morrissey/Nevin partnership.

Happiest lyrics:

“Why don’t you?
Do you want to?
Oh…
Sing your life
Walk right up to the microphone
And name
All the things you love”

2. Alma Matters – Maladjusted

In terms of ethos and meaning, I would believe this is the song most representative conclusion of Morrissey’s entire message: “It’s my life to ruin my own way”.  No matter what, it’s just that: this life is ours. People will not understand the things we do or even be nice in their reactions, but it’s your life and what you do with it is what counts, not what someone else makes of it, not even your parents, significant other, friends or otherwise. As Morrissey once best said, “Self-lovers are the only genuine people on this particular planet. Self-adoration should be a compulsory inclusion on all educational curriculum.”

“Alma Matters” actually made considerable chart performance, reaching #16 in the Top 20. References were once again made to one of Morrissey’s favorite plays that influenced much of his early work in the Smiths, A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney, which “It’s my life to ruin my own way” is used from.  Quotes can be heard in the Smiths’ “Reel Around the Fountain” and “This Night Has Opened My Eyes”. Delaney was also featured on the artwork for “Girlfriend in a Coma” and the compilation Louder than Bombs. “Alma Matters” returns to upbeat indie rock from the art rock dominated Southpaw Grammar, combining his early Smiths muses with the new but old instrumentation provided by Alain Whyte.

Happiest lyrics:

“It’s my life to wreck 
My own way 
You see to someone, somewhere, oh yeah
Alma matters 
In mind, body and soul 
In part, and in whole “

1. Kiss Me a Lot – World Peace is None of Your Business

Morrissey’s most recent album, World Peace is None of Your Business, rings in a new era for Morrissey, with no input from long-time guitarist Alain Whyte who dominated much of Morrissey’s creative work and collaboration throughout the ’90’s, though his influence would decline in the 2000’s as his relationship with Morrissey faltered, ultimately replaced by one time Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Jesse Tobias full time back in 2009. The album sees a wide range of collaboration between Morrissey and the members of his band, including the happiest Morrissey we have ever heard: “Kiss Me a Lot”!

Never once has Morrissey vocalized his desire for kisses so loudly! It’s almost uncharacteristic to simply ask for someone’s affection without any snappy quips to follow. The horns, the melody, it’s a very different kind of Morrissey song, because it’s just so darn happy! If he said in 2006 that he “just wants to see the boy happy“, maybe he is finally happy now, at least that is what he sounds like. But with Geminis, you can never tell.

Happiest lyrics:

“I don’t care when or where 
I only care that the two of us are there 
And that you, and that you will

Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot 
Kiss me all over my face 
Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot 
Kiss me all over the place 
Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot 
Kiss me all over and then when you’ve kissed me 
Kiss me all over again”

 

Stay tuned, Morrissey Week isn’t over! This week we will feature many more articles about this Charming Man, this Pope of Mope, the Mozfather himself. Don’t forget to hashtag #MorrisseyWeek everywhere!

10 Hard Rock & Metal Songs That Sound Better Live

Photo by Anwar Rizk

Despite the fact that, in recent years, we’ve had quite a few detractors to this medium, I remain a proponent of the live record  Many of the records that I have enjoyed picking up over the years were live albums since they contained pretty much every song I wanted to hear and the atmosphere of the crowd; plus, the arena/concert hall setting adds so much more to the performance.  In addition, there are some songs that sound significantly better live than they do on the record.  Here’s a list of some that I think fulfill that case.

“I Was Made For Loving You” by KISS

Say what you will about KISS having made a disco album (or KISS just being KISS in general), but this song sounds much heavier and harder when performed live.  I first encountered this song when I was in high school looking up the KISS official website.  One section of the site contained a whole section of live audio from the October 31st (Halloween) show at Dodgers Stadium from the Psycho Circus tour.  When I stumbled upon the live rendition of “I Was Made For Loving You”, Paul’s introduction to the song made me a little concerned, but it proved to be a very rocking and heavy introduction followed by an equally heavy and very non-disco performance!

“Existo Vulgoré” – Morbid Angel

The reception for Morbid Angel’s “comeback” album Illud Divinum Insanus was extremely negative.  So much so, that it is now considered by many to be Morbid Angel’s worst album of their entire discography.  On the album, this song sounds pretty flat and tinny.  I saw them perform this song at last year’s Summer Slaughter Tour (2014) at the Trocadero in Philadelphia, PA and the live sound was definitely an improvement.  The video above is from a different show, but it definitely captures the idea.

“Hate Worldwide” – Slayer

Upon its release, I wasn’t a huge fan of Slayer’s World Painted Blood.  It was produced by Rick Rubin and had the same sterile sound as Metallica’s Death Magnetic.  Lucky for Slayer, having seen them twice and also having seen live footage from just about every instance in which they have performed, I can say with full confidence that, in the live department, any song that Slayer plays will sound astronomically better than the record.  Their performance of “Hate Worldwide” on Jimmy Kimmel Live! is proof enough.

“An Ocean of Wisdom” – Gorguts

When Gorguts’ Colored Sands was released in 2013, I didn’t really care much for it, and to be honest, I still don’t.  Regardless, I saw them perform this song while they were on tour with Origin in December 2013 at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY and I thought that it sounded so much cleaner and defined where, on the record, it sounded very muddy.  In fact, during the open stringed sections, I was able to hear everything clearly without the use of earplugs (often, earplugs tend to clean up a lot of the extra noise experienced at Metal shows).

“New Millennium Cyanide Christ” – Meshuggah

This is a classic Meshuggah tune that definitely sounds awesome on the record, but even so much more incredible live.  I, myself, have never actually seen them perform, but my favorite performance comes from their Alive 3.0 DVD.  For the first time, I can actually hear every single note exactly without them sounding ambiguous at times like they do on the album ‘Chaosphere’.

“Valhalla” – Blind Guardian

 I’m starting to think that at this point, we will be getting into classic tunes from classic records.  “Valhalla” from Blind Guardian’s Follow the Blind is most definitely one of those tunes.  One of the significant differences in the live experience and the recorded version is that the pre-chorus section of the song is sung by Kai Hansen of Helloween.  I found that when Hansen’s vocals come in, the song sounds like a Helloween song for a moment instead of a Blind Guardian song.  Live, when Kursch performs it, the song becomes more uniform, and the character of the song is maintained.

Also, a typical trait of live recordings, is that there is the addition of the hall’s reverb, which in just about any case in which I have heard a live version of this song, it always gives it an extra boost of heaviness.  The live versions of “Valhalla” also allow for the band to be more expressive and also to interact with the crowd which also becomes a part of the song.  I saw them at the Monsters of Rock Festival in 2007 in Zaragoza, Spain and those qualities were prevalent there as well even if the entire audience knew every single word to every single song and drowned the band out a bit (Blind Guardian is one of the top five Metal bands among Spanish Metalheads).

 “I Am The Black Wizards” – Emperor

The Black Metal community typically doesn’t hold Black Metal bands with symphonic sounds in high regard.  Emperor, being that they were the founders of this sound, but also maintained Black Metal’s signature rawness, is one of (possibly, the only) symphonic bands that is held in high regard within that community.  Outside of that community, the band is equally successful.  I’ve heard both recordings from the ‘Wrath of the Tyrant’ demo and ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’.  Depending on which version you listen to, especially on Youtube, each time, the song may sound slightly different.

One version sounded masked by some sort of atmospheric effect which many Black Metal fans will say is “the point” (I’m sorry).  Another version sounded very full, but it’s the kind of full that makes me think of someone “talking with their mouth full” (again, I’m sorry).  Even though I have not seen them perform live,  their live recordings are a world of difference from their demo/album recordings.  There is no atmospheric effect to mask any of the sounds of the instruments.  All of them are completely audible.

This goes for the ‘Emperial Live Ceremony’ live album as well as the live performances at Wacken in both 2006 and 2014.  The differences between each one are that the ‘Emperial Live Ceremony’ version is played much faster than the original version; the 2006 Wacken version mimics the ‘Emperial Live Ceremony’ version, but is played more to the tempo of the original; and the 2014 Wacken version sounds very close to the original in terms of atmosphere, but the tone is like the previous live versions.  My personal favorite is the ‘Emperial Live Cermony’ version for its speed, it’s aggressiveness, and lastly, Ihsahn’s encouragement to the crowd, “I WANT YOU TO REALLY BANG YOUR HEADS FOR THIS ONE!”

“Godzilla” – Blue Öyster Cult

My first experience hearing this tune was on a live album called Some Enchanted Evening.  To this day, I still enjoy the live album’s version as Buck Dharma’s leads are much more expressive and free-sounding.  The song is also heavier and a lot of the effects that are heard on the original are performed live and aren’t really masked by anything.  The ending is also very solid as opposed to the fade out on the album version.

 “Mad Butcher” – Destruction

The Teutonic Thrash classic “Mad Butcher” comes from the EP of the same name.  On this EP, the sound is generally on the thin side.  Schmier’s high-pitched siren vocals in the post-verse sections of the song last for about a split second with some delay added.  On Live Without Sense, the song is basically the same with a sped-up bridge section.  The most recent live album ‘The Curse of the Antichrist – Live in Agony’ has the heaviest version of the song as it is both downtuned and has a great amount of reverb as well since the performance was recorded at Wacken 2007.

The siren vocals in the post-verse section are sustained for much longer and could quite possibly rival Tom Araya’s siren vocals in “Angel of Death” or “Aggressive Perfector”.  However, during the solo, since Harry Wilkens left the band in 1990, lead duties have been taken care of solely by Mike, so the harmonies that appeared on the EP and ‘Live Without Sense’ versions did not appear in the current live version.  I still have yet to see them also, and what’s worse is that I’ve had the misfortune of missing them twice so far.   Hopefully, there will not be a third time.

“Propaganda” – Sepultura

Chaos A.D. was an album that marked a shift in Sepultura’s sound.  This shift consisted of more downtuned and groovy riffing.  While the album version of “Propaganda” is quite strong, the live version featured on the band’s ‘Blood Rooted’ compilation is even stronger.  The heaviness is definitely beefed up, it’s played faster, and the vocals are significantly more aggressive than in the original.

I found a video of a recent performance of this song in Russia.  Even though the Cavalera brothers are no longer in the band, and have been missing from the bands lineup for quite some time, this version of “Propaganda” is very much like the original recorded version, but downtuned further.

 

My Dad Wrote Light My Fire: Escaping The Shadow Of The Doors’ Legacy

“The first song my dad wrote was Light My Fire,” said Waylon Krieger, son of guitarist Robby Krieger of The Doors. “That’s like winning the lottery a million times over on your first try.”

Waylon wasn’t even alive during The Doors’ heyday, born just a bit over two years after Jim Morrison’s death at the age of 27 in 1971. “He almost looked like a veteran coming out of Vietnam,” Waylon mused. “Just put a green jacket on him. It was scary.”

Regardless, Waylon’s life seems to have been almost entirely in the shadow of the band’s storied legacy, a fact that has come full circle over the past couple years by touring with his father, performing vocals on the current Robby Krieger Band and Jam Kitchen tour dates.

I met Waylon at the Robby Krieger band’s Tarrytown gig in April 2015, when he relinquished the microphone to my father, Joe McCausland, to fulfill his lifelong dream of singing the classic “Roadhouse Blues” live with a member of The Doors. When I asked him about it afterwards, Waylon would only tell me, “I’ve discovered that when I make other people feel better, it makes me feel better about myself.”

Waylon drew a breath. “I consider myself an artist and I definitely haven’t been an angel my entire life. I’ve tried lots of different things, and have done stuff I’m not proud of.”

Waylon’s life as a child was pretty straightforward, staying in the public educational system. Waylon claims his hands were “too small” to play guitar, also noting that his father wasn’t much of a teacher in that regard. “My dad never pushed music on me,” Waylon assured me.

Waylon first showed some interest in a drastically different career trajectory from his father in grade school: “I was interested in acting as a kid and took a two or three week class, but I couldn’t understand what it meant. I ended up hating it because I was a really shy kid growing up. There were all these outgoing kids doing other stuff and it made me feel stupid, like I didn’t belong.”

That is until he was around eleven years old or so, when his classmates suddenly began to treat him much differently, with Waylon being automatically lumped into the “popular” category.

Waylon really began noticing that his father’s career was much different from most others when he was a bit younger, but it didn’t really click until then, the fact being sealed by a conversation Waylon still remembers to this day. “Don’t you get it, man?” Robby asked of his son when the latter asked why his classmates began to treat him differently. “You got The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix… and The Doors!”

“What’s it like having a legend for a dad?” one classmate would later ask of him.

From there, school seemed to be a breeze. A couple of events really seemed to lay the groundwork for the two passions that would continue into Waylon’s adulthood: seeing Back to the Future, with its famous Chuck Berry scene, inspired Waylon to really pick up the guitar for the first time (emulating the greats such as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Johnson, & Hendrix), and a bizarre experience with Val Kilmer arguably reignited the young adult’s interest in acting circa 1990.

It was during the production of Oliver Stone’s The Doors that Waylon came the closest to ever meeting Jim Morrison in the flesh. “[Val] was dressed up in leather pants and his hair was grown out. I don’t know if he was stoned or not for real,” Waylon reminisced. “I’ve never met Jim, I only know what I’ve seen from documentaries, but he’s just standing on the balcony of my dad’s house and the three of us are just staring at the view just chatting about life, and I’m just like, ‘it’s just so fucking strange!'”

Waylon was hit by the full brunt of method acting. “My dad called me one time and told me to come down to the Fillmore West. I watched them shoot for a few hours, and it was a wrap. Afterwards when I was talking to the producer, Val changed into his street clothes, and he was like, ‘Oh hey man, Waylon, what’s up bro?’ Completely different guy! He just snapped out of it right there. He just turned [Jim’s persona] off like a lightswitch. I’ll never forget that. It was one of the strangest things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. Out of nowhere, he’s this dude who I have no idea what he’s like.”

Waylon dabbled in extras acting around that time period, his portfolio including the classic Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers lineup and the drama Fame L.A.; however, his priority at the time was playing guitar, both with his father and his own rock and roll band, Bloodline.

Featuring Waylon on guitar, Erin Davis (son of Miles Davis) on drums, Berry Oakley, Jr. (son of the same Berry Oakley of The Allman Brothers), and a very young “Smokin” Joe Bonamassa on lead guitar, the appropriately named Bloodline scored a hit single with “Stone Cold Hearted”, though the band split soon after the release of their debut album and a tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd. In reality, it may have been the grunge revolution that seared some doubt into Waylon’s heart, whose band had been decidedly classic rock oriented.

“That was when Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains were coming out. I knew something was changing.” Like many other Generation X’ers, Waylon didn’t connect with the excessive 80’s pop culture and looked to reshaping his generation’s pop culture interests. “I was in my late teens/early twenties. I got fed up with the hair band shit. I love Guns N’ Roses, but I knew something was changing in music. I played with my dad’s band in Montreal, and I remember we had a night off and me and a buddy went out to a nightclub with these girls we met. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ came on and everyone started jumping around and freaking out. I was so amazed by that. ‘Are they really playing Nirvana at a club?’ I wanted to be a part of that as much as I could.”

After Bloodline’s abrupt end, Berry and Waylon formed a new band called the Oakley-Krieger Band, playing a gig every Wednesday night for a month or two. OKB was eventually offered a record deal; however, Waylon’s heart wasn’t entirely into the new project, which wasn’t nearly as grungy as he desired. After recording eight or nine songs, the band decided to call it a day, and they drifted apart, not speaking for years.

Waylon drifted from one workplace to another after the demise of OKB, dabbling in a bit of everything: refrigeration, air conditioning, wiring, and even aquarium work. Despite Waylon’s father’s wealth, the former Doors guitarist is very frugal and is mostly “hands off” with his son’s career path; Waylon is by no means a trust fund baby. “I work my ass off,” Waylon joked, though it’s a trait of his father’s that he’s actually appreciative of. “He’s been putting up with my ass for the last few decades.”

Robby eventually did offer his son a chance to tour with him and Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek. However, that offer slipped out of Waylon’s grasp, and the late, great Ray (as John Densmore called him last year) “broke on through to the other side” in 2013. “I was supposed to audition for the part of singer when Ray was still alive,” Waylon told me with a hint of regret. “For whatever reason, on the day of the rehearsal, I couldn’t make it. That was the last straw for my dad. ”

“If you’re gonna be a flake, so be it,” said Robby to his son. That was when Ray and Robby hired  Dave Brock from the renowned Doors tribute, Wild Child.

Thankfully, at just the right junction point in his life, Waylon received a surprise call from a friend, Nick, that would send his life in a completely different direction. “My buddy Nick called and asked me to be in a movie he wrote based on a 30 minute short he had written called American Addict.” Waylon was initially apprehensive of the project due to his previous experiences in acting classes as a child. “Dude,” Waylon said. “I’ve never acted before in my life.”

“Just be yourself,” Nick replied.

One thing led to another, the project morphed, and after shaky rehearsal sessions and changes to the creative team, Waylon eventually found himself on the set of what would be called Chowdaheads with director Douglas Quill and Orson Chaplin, grandson of Charlie.

“I figured I could help fund the rest of the production… let’s try something different.” Though rattled by the stressful pre-production and his still uncertain acting skills, it was too late for Waylon to turn around; he had already put enough time and money into the project when they started shooting in early 2013.

“He’s a real working actor,” Waylon said of his co-star, Chaplin. “I was nervous. He was a pro.” Still, Waylon found his groove. “The first time we [rehearsed], it felt really weird. The second time was way better. By the third or fourth time, it felt so natural. Orson loved [my intensity].”

Sadly, the project was ultimately halted. “What we got out of it was a lot of A and B roll footage. We were only able to make a really cool trailer. That’s all I’ve gotten back so far.” Despite this obstacle, the whole ordeal was a learning experience for Krieger, whose ambitions in life were reoriented.

However, despite his connections within the movie industry, Waylon feels inclined to find success based on his own merit. “I’m buddies with actors like Patrick Warburton. We hang out at parties, and I don’t want to be asking, ‘Hey, can you fit me into a film?'” This approach to the acting extends to his father, who tried to help his son line up at least one acting gig while the former was slated to score the soundtrack for an undisclosed feature film.

“At least with the acting, I can say, ‘Hey, I did that, and my dad didn’t do much of that.’ Another reason why the acting thing would be cool if it ends up really going somewhere. I got a couple of good calls lined up!”

“Nothing is just gonna fall into your lap,” Waylon assured me, “and you gotta be proactive.” Krieger put aside any and all distractions and focused on becoming more goal-oriented to see how far he’d make it. “I feel like nowadays I’m doing positive things.” Besides just recently trying to bury the hatchet with Berry from Bloodline (now a father himself with four kids), Waylon reconnected with his own father, who was happy to invite him on tour to provide vocals for the current incarnation of the Robby Krieger band featuring Phil Chen on bass.

“Even though I’ve been hearing this music my whole life, I had three weeks to get ready before we headed out on tour,” Waylon told me with some anguish. He had around 25 songs he had to memorize in short notice. The pressure was high: the son not only lives under the umbrella of his father’s legacy; he now feels pressured to hoist it for the both of them.

“I’m a much better guitar player than I am a singer, though I’d much rather just get up and sing. Let my dad do his thing so we don’t get compared to each other.” Still, Waylon enjoys picking up his guitar alongside his father during downtime and jamming together.

“I can’t imagine how I’m being judged for the whole singing with my dad thing,” Waylon said with a sigh when he was telling me about a negative review of a recent Long Island concert. “I don’t even think about it anymore.” Waylon took a breath, sounding much more confident speaking the following words.  “I’m just out there doing what I do, the way I know how to do it. I’m not trying to be anybody else. I’m not channeling Jim.”

Despite the pressure and the occasional critic, Waylon finds himself in a great place, reconnecting with his father and some old family friends. “I’m having a good time. As long as I have a good time, everyone else is, too. Phil Chen… I’ve known him since I was a year old. It makes you feel good to hear praise from guys like him. They know when somebody’s on or not. My dad must enjoy what I’m doing, because he invited me out to his Jam Kitchen dates as well. If I’m able to do this for the next couple of years with my dad… we’re getting to hang out and travel together, laugh together. I feel very blessed and happy with where I am in life right now.”

waylon
Photo by Ida Miller.

Still, Waylon sees the Robby Krieger tour as an opportunity to raise awareness of his public figure and acting aspirations. “I’m not getting any younger… I could use this as a stepping stone.” He can even envision himself combining his acting and musical interests in a movie that features him as a guitar player. Still, Waylon will be playing it by ear; in the meantime, the bond between father and son trumps all anxieties.

Waylon told me of a time Robby gifted him with a copy of his black Les Paul, numbered 001 in a limited print of 150 and the bittersweet debate that followed when his father requested him to return it three days later. “I’ll give you another one… 003 or 007… you’ll be like James Bond.”

Waylon was befuddled by the request. “What the hell, why do you care, you have the original anyway!”

Robby’s logic was a bit melancholic: “You’ll own every one of my guitars one day when I’m dead, so why do YOU care?”

“Hey, don’t get all morbid,” Waylon replied. “What about this: you let me keep it, and you can enjoy watching me play it while you’re alive.”

Thankfully, Robby will enjoy watching his son advance his acting career; the last I heard from him, Waylon was overcome with joy over landing his first big acting gig as “Engineer Ed” in the upcoming Ruta Madre. “Whatever happens, happens. I just want to end up in a positive area. I just want my dad to see me do well.”

The one thing Waylon is 100% sure of is that his father will never stop playing golf.

Deep Six: Rock’s Greatest Modern Bands From England

The massive success of the Arctic Monkeys’ latest studio album, AM, in overseas markets might have just marked the beginning of a neo-“British invasion” of guitar-based rock and roll music, considering Americans seem to be preoccupied with having banjo in their rock music. Even Britain’s folk crown jewel, Mumford and Sons, have distanced themselves from American bandwagoners like The Lumineers and Imagine Dragons by switching to electric guitar on their latest record.

Seeing the Monkeys at Firefly last year, you would have thought you were at a Beatles concert circa 1965 based on all the screaming women. With Royal Blood (more on them later for the uninitiated) solidifying the potential for British success on American rock radio airwaves, we should expect to see plenty of more fresh blood (no pun intended) coming from the UK in the coming months. Here’s a few guitar-based rock bands from England whose mainstream potentials haven’t quite been achieved as of 2015.

Royal Blood

You’ve probably heard of the Brighton two-piece, bass-centric Royal Blood by now, but I’ll throw a bone to those who have been living under a rock: they’re probably the biggest name in mainstream rock at this point, having several rock hits like “Out of the Black”, “Figure It Out”, and “Little Monster” in just the first seven months of their self titled debut’s existence.

Discography: Royal Blood (2014)

Similar artists: Queens of the Stone Age, Tool, Jack White

Dinosaur Pile Up

Delivering stadium-ready licks and singalong choruses that echo arena rock bands like Foo Fighters and Queen, Dinosaur Pile Up frontman/guitarist (and only constant member) Matt Bigland has the potential to become a powerhouse in the modern rock scene. Their third studio album is expected to debut over the next year.

Discography: Growing Pains (2010), Nature Nurture (2013)

Similar artists: Foo Fighters, Weezer, Queen

Drenge

A two piece British band rock and a roll band that was ultimately beaten to the punch for international success by another two piece, Royal Blood, Drenge created quite a buzz in 2013 when the band’s music seemed to inspire MP Tom Watson to resign from his post, writing “be that great Labour leader that you can be, but try to have a real life too. And if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge.”

Discography: Drenge (2013), Undertow (2015)

Similar artists: Royal Blood, The Doors, Clutch

Blood Red Shoes

Blood Red Shoes, yet another two piece, are sort of a spiritual successor to the various underground rock bands of the 80’s that you might find scribbled in Kurt Cobain’s journals. The band is already seven years into their recording history and have built up a steady fanbase, yet have not become a household name. They certainly have the pop songwriting chops to do so.

Discography: Box of Secrets (2008), Fire Like This (2010), In Time To Voices (2012), Blood Red Shoes (2014)

Similar artists: Fugazi, Nirvana

Pulled Apart By Horses

Blood Red Shoes’ close friends in Pulled Apart By Horses have the distinction of working with Pixies/Foo Fighters producer Gil Norton. The band is way more frenetic than their friends in BRS; think those Queens of the Stone Age songs featuring Nick Oliveri on vocals.

Discography: Pulled Apart By Horses (2010), Tough Love (2012), Blood (2014)

Similar artists: Blood Red Shoes, Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures

The Heavy

Last but not least are The Heavy, a band that mostly everyone has probably heard at this point yet may not have realized it: the band is one of the most in-demand artists as far as movie, television, and video game soundtracks are concerned, fusing funky vocals with grungy music and, for a lack of a better description, Quentin Tarantino-like sensibilities. Simply put it, they’re the “How You Like Me Now?” band. This is a strange case where the band’s songs transcend the band name itself, and The Heavy have seen little to no radio airplay. The band’s fourth studio album is nearly finished and due for release sometime soon; perhaps this will change.

Discography: Great Vengeance and Furious Fire (2007), The House That Dirt Built (2009), The Glorious Dead (2012)

Similar artists: James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Mighty Joe Young-era Stone Temple Pilots

Gene Simmons ‘Hugely Influenced’ Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, According To Meat Puppets Drummer

In Part 2 of Alternative Nation’s interview with Meat Puppets drummer Shandon Sahm, Shandon discusses performing at the Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck premiere, how he bonded with Krist Novoselic over their love of KISS, and opening for Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players. Check out Part 1 here.

How was it playing Sundance at the premiere of the Kurt Cobain doc, ‘Montage of Heck’? Who were some celebs you got to meet and hang out with at the premiere?

That was freaking cool, too. We met Jack Black, who was a huge Meat Puppets fan, and saw Novoselic again – we always talk about Kiss when I see him. Gene Simmons was a huge influence on him, and you can tell by his sound – he uses a 70’s Gibson Punisher or Grabber. Meeting Frances was cool, too. She was very sweet and I thanked her for having us. She was so down to earth. Park City, Utah is very beautiful. Great weather and the place we stayed at was “styling” to say the least. Lots of fun. I guess the only thing was it could have been more of a venue instead of sticking us in a corner and a little more PA. But in the end a good time was had by all, and that’s what really matters. I met Brett Morgen, too – he’s a really nice guy and I’m gonna put him on the list when we play LA on July 20th at the House of Blues! That was really it as far as celebs, but we did see Toby McGuire, but he seemed a little standoffish. Jack was totally freaking cool though.

meat puppets

How was it opening for Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players, and what was the atmosphere like backstage with that with so many legendary musicians?

Man, that was off the hook. It was funny and surreal seeing Dave watch me playing drums. I told him I really liked his playing – he was a busy man that day. But yes, we got to see John Fogerty soundcheck, and seeing all those great drummers like Brad from Rage Against the Machine and Taylor Hawkins was great, too. The sound system was amazing – one of the best sounding gigs I have ever played. Just really dialed in. I got to play on Taylor’s kit too – a Gretsch with concert toms, no bottom heads, like Peter Criss used to use in the 70’s. We only played 30 minutes – we opened up the whole show, but it was an amazing night. Saw Rick Springfield, Daryl Hannah and Rick Nielsen, who I got my pic taken with, I love old Cheap Trick, and Eric Burdon from the Animals was hanging out, too. And me and the Foo Fighters’ guitar player talked about our love for Ace Frehley – he has a sticker of him on one of his Les Pauls. He was a cool dude, too.

For more Meat Puppets (and for a listing of tour dates), click your clicker here.

Top 10 Reasons That Bands Hate Their Singer

It’s uncomfortable and a subject few musicians talk about openly, but the behavior of a lead singer in a rock band can gravitate to new depths never imagined. Let’s explore the many paths that can be presented that divide a band and help give the singer a stage name that even their parents reluctantly call him.

LSD

At some point in achieving a bit of success, the singer gets a sudden burst of undeserved confidence that rubs everyone the wrong way. He turns into a controlling egomaniac. For this condition, there is no known cure. This is called LSD or “Lead Singer’s Disease.”

Jim-Gillette

Unexpected Stage Attire

At the last minute, your singer shows up on stage wearing something totally wrong for the band. It could be green hair, a mustache, or even the dreaded flaunting of a Scottish kilt.

kiedisedited

I’m A Singer, Now I’m the Producer

Eventually the singer starts telling the band how to play their instruments in the rehearsal room. But it’s when they enter a recording studio, that they think they have become a recording genius, using phrases such as “I think the guitar should go duh duh duh duh, chunka chunka chunka…”

Sully-Studio

The Late Show

If it’s a rehearsal, your singer may not even show up. He will use the excuse, “You guys need to work out your parts and get tight.” But what’s really annoying is when they show up fashionably late for a big show, forcing the band to play a twenty-minute intro until he appears on the stage.

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You Lift Equipment, I Just Sing

A singer never helps to carry equipment to the gig and doesn’t even own a microphone. While humming a song from the band’s repertoire and galloping like a horse, he will stride past his band members who are lifting Marshall amps with sweat degrading their Affliction shirts.

Roadies-OK-Go

Let’s Name The Band After Me

All too often, a singer thinks the best name for the band would be their own last name. Unfortunate cases are the bands called “Glasscock”, “Mangina”,  “Stroker”, “Morehead”, and the incomparable “Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele”.

Viper-Room

I Wrote That Song

Singers love to tell fans that an entire song was written by them, forgetting to mention that they just wrote the words, and actually had help with the words too.

Tom-Cruise

Stand Behind Me

During a band photo shoot, and without any warning, a singer suddenly steps in front of the entire band to look bigger and more important. Then he points and spreads his arms out in an attempt to take up all the real estate allowed on an 8×10.

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I’m The One With The Microphone

When a singer gets the urge, his opinions can really shake up the band. It could be an alcohol-induced political rant or the dissing of a singer in another band. Everyone naturally expects the band to agree with him and there have been many performances when bandmates have come to blows onstage. The scene plays out like a lightweight edition of the WWE: hair pulling and men in tights.

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Your Girlfriend Wants Me

Those pelvic lunges and seductive stares are no stage act. The singer honestly believes he has the looks and talent to take any girl. It gets really ugly when the band’s girlfriends are in the front row to witness the gyrating moves of someone who has studied every detail of a Miley Cyrus concert.

DLR-Bandage

12 Bands That Should Play Maryland Deathfest

Every Memorial Day weekend, thousands of Metalheads and punks make the journey to Baltimore Maryland Deathfest (aka MDF). Starting in 2003 as a small fest that only booked death metal and grindcore, MDF eventually grew into one of america’s biggest extreme music festivals, adding a huge plethora of different metal(and some none metal) subgenres with over 80 bands playing in three different venues (Edison Lot, Ramshead Live and Baltimore Soundstage) over four days.

The line ups have always been pretty impressive, with many bands who don’t play in the US (and some that don’t even normally play live) always on the bill. Alternative Nation’s Anthony Carioscia has some suggestions for the festival down the line…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=ZUHAAltgmbI&w=420&h=315]

Krieg

Black metal band from the mythical land known as South Jersey. The band is known for its distinct mix of fast, raw energy and atmosphere. The band is also known for their cover of “Venus in Furs” by the Velvet Underground.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=042yyvj_dhI&w=420&h=315]

Swans

Yes, it’s been along time since post-punk/noise rock outfit Swans have been MDF friendly, but the same could be said about Amorphis, who are on this year’s bill. Like Amorphis, Swans could play one of their older albums in full. A set based on Filth or Cop would have a huge draw.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOfsMESDCrU&w=560&h=315]

Necrophagia

The horror-themed death metal band Necrophagia has been around as long as death metal founders Death and Possessed, but did not get the credit those bands received.  Many old school death metal bands have played the fest… the time is now for Necrophagia to be among them!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRJyKP8crAI&w=420&h=315]

The Locust

It’s a surprise California’s experimental grindcore outfit never played MDF. The band’s distinct sound, devoted fan base, and over the top stage shows are sure to bring in heads.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVvDOTxEb_Q&w=560&h=315]

Rudra

Rudra are a Singaporean band who mix blackened death metal with Singaporean folk music. They call their style “Vedic metal”. With a sound soimilar to Israeli band Melechesh (who have played the fest) and MDF’s love for booking Asian bands, Rudra would be right at home at this fest.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MOvk-dNLRY&w=420&h=315]

Shrinebuilder

One of the best supergroups in all of metal. This awesome stoner doom band is commonly thought to be broken up, but they are actually just on hold. Three of the bands that make up this band have played the fest before (Melvins, Neurosis and Saint Vitus), so it shouldn’t be too hard to get this project on the bill.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX5TH_thOao&w=560&h=315]

Lurking Corpses

A horror punk band with metal influences.  The band has been getting a lot more attention recently with the release of their latest album, Workin’ for the Devil. They are set to play Hell’s Head Bash Festival this year. The band’s unique sound and over the top look would make for a fun set at MDF.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkdG0hjGzgw&w=560&h=315]

Blut Aus Nord

France’s acclaimed black/ambient/industrial fusion who, depsite popular belief, actually does play live shows once in a blue moon… next year that blue moon should shine over Baltimore!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHYNOMKCSMc&w=420&h=315]

Root

From the Czech Republic comes this nice hidden gem, Root, a black metal band from the first wave of black metal. Their early material influenced a lot of the old Norse bands( mainly Burzum, who used one of their riffs). On their later albums they changed to a more epic-sounding heavy metal band.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dUbTxm7Y-w&w=420&h=315]

Toxik

Toxik are a thrash metal band from Westchester, New York.  The band mixes speed with technicality and falsetto vocals.  Their first album, World Circus, is one of the best NY thrash albums out there.  Every year, MDF has a few classic thrash bands on the bill. Toxik deserves to be one of them.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJznI121Ox0&w=420&h=315]

Sarcofago

Brazilian black metal pioneers, Sarcofago, have been broke up since 2000. As of 2006, members of the band have been playing Sarcofago tribute shows. Over the years, MDF had several people play tribute shows to their old bands (such as Nocturnus), and this would be a great tribute on the MDF bill. If they get them in 2017, they could even play an anniversary show for their first album, INRI. 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i70zFUh5ugA&w=420&h=315]

Discharge

Since 2013, MDF’s Soundstage venue has been the place for the punks. The venue is always loaded with more extreme forms of punk such as grindcore, powerviolence, crust punk, and crossover. It’s surprising the band that started all of these never played the fest. The Soundstage is young, so Discharge might be the most likely band on the list to be added to a future line up.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyRao18lxX4&w=420&h=315]

Mercyful Fate

Does Mercyful Fate even need an introduction? The band that’s been requested for this fest for many years, it was rumored that MDF tried to get King Diamond but couldn’t because King was not ready to perform again. As of 2014, he’s been touring again, played Fun Fun Fun Fest in Texas, and is set to play the Mayhem Festival. MDF should one up these fests by getting all of Mercyful Fate to play. The band would obviously have to play the Edison Lot on Saturday with a 90 minute set.  This would the means to make a flourishing fest even bigger.

Honroable mentions:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkP0xJZEAwA&w=560&h=315]

Humming Bird of Death

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90bgtLRQIEE&w=420&h=315]

Sadus

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uItO3GKoL_c]

Nucleus

Doug McCausland is co-editor for Alternative Nation... if you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or death threats, you can let Doug know via dmccausland1(at)gmail.com.

Reflections Of A Sound: 20 Years Of Silverchair

“In the sun we are found to be reflections of a sound.”

March 1995: a record entitled Frogstomp was released by Murmur records. An initial recording of the lead single, “Tomorrow,” first hit Australian airwaves a few months prior and ended up spending six weeks at number one on the ARIA singles chart. Shortly after, an official single was made available to the U.S. market. Who was this group? What was this song? What would the reaction be? The answer – three 15-year-old amazing musicians from Newcastle, Australia who were schoolmates that decided to start a band. Oh, and did people like it? Just look at the facts. “Tomorrow” became the most played song on U.S. modern rock radio that year in addition to spending 20 weeks in the Australian top 10. In total, Frogstomp has sold over 2.5 million records worldwide, was certified double-platinum in the U.S. and multi-platinum in Australia.

You would think at 15 years old that was the very beginning of their journey. For Daniel Johns, Chris Joannou and Ben Gillies it had actually been on-going a few years already. Upon settling on a power rock trio initially billed as Innocent Criminals, they casually entered a national band competition. The rest is history. Astonishingly, they placed first in that competition and found themselves in high demand from record labels. Sony A&R manager John Watson, became their manager and away they went.

Over the next 16 years, Silverchair would release a very diverse mix of five albums which have sold over six million records worldwide. They are one of the most renowned and successful Australian bands of all time having won 21 ARIA Awards – (more than any other artist in history) and all five of their studio albums have made it to #1 in Australia, which remains a national record (Midnight Oil and Cold Chisel have had four #1 records, AC/DC, INXS and Crowded House have each had three). Not to mention Daniel Johns was the first person to ever win the prestigious APRA “Songwriter of the Year Award” on three separate occasions. Regardless of their tempo, their songs bleed with emotion and honesty. Anthems such “Tomorrow”, “Ana’s Song”, “Straight Lines”, and “The Greatest View” were in constant rotation amongst rock radio stations everywhere. Embedded in their catalog, however, you will find lyrically rich, vulnerable gems like “Shade,” “ Point of View,” “Miss You Love,” “ Across the Night”, “ Without You”,  “ Emotion Sickness”, and “Asylum.”

March 2015 officially marked 20 years of Silverchair music. This is a time where the band finds themselves in what they call an indefinite hibernation with each of them plugging away at their own personal endeavors.

Along with business partners, Chris spent time in the brewery business and is now an owner of the recently opened Newcastle restaurant The Edwards.

Ben released a solo record entitled Diamond Days in late 2012 under the moniker BENTO. He can also occasionally be spotted on The Real Housewives of Melbourne, where his wife Jackie is one of the stars of the show.

Daniel is currently starting a new chapter in his musical career as a solo artist. Shortly after a surprise appearance at Triple J’s 40th birthday where he played a chilling piano rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Daniel debuted a new soulful song entitled “Aerial Love” in late January 2015 on the Triple J radio station. The song is from a four-track EP that was released in March. A full-length studio album entitled Talk will be released on May 22.

In the spirit of honoring and recognizing this incredibly worthy band, I reached out to various musicians, producers and touring partners to share their thoughts, experience and admiration for the one and only Silverchair.

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SHAUN MORGAN

Seether – lead singer and guitarist

Right after Frogstomp came out; I remember how the music blew my mind from a kid a few years younger than me. It was so pure and angry and perfectly fit my attitude to life at the time. I was fucking exhilarated! Between Silverchair and Nirvana, I had music that spoke to my angst and kept me alive. When Freak Show came out I was blown away. Daniel Johns is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. I wish they’d write a new album so I can feel that incredible intimate release when I hear new music from them! We still play Israel’s Son almost every time we soundcheck.

Favorite Silverchair song?

“Freak”

Hands down. Christ, listen to our song “Remedy” and tell me that I didn’t have that song in my subconscious. It’s a shameless tribute to Silverchair.

Favorite Silverchair record?

Freak Show or Neon Ballroom.

I think “Ana’s Song” is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever created.

Most memorable Silverchair live experience?

I saw them in LA on the Young Modern tour and I actually got to meet them. I was completely star struck and I was mesmerized by how great Daniel sounded live. Such a fragile man with such a powerful voice. It’s one of my favorite memories of all time.

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PAUL MAC

Australian electro-pop musician, singer-songwriter and producer. Played keyboards in Silverchair’s touring band. Founded the band The Dissociatives with Daniel Johns

I first met Daniel in the mid 90’s. He was a bit of a fan of my techno band Itch-E & Scratch-E and asked me to do a remix for the band. The first mix I did was for “Freak” (remix for US rejects). I always thought they were incredibly funky. They made me want to dance. Daniel Johns is one of the most amazing artists Australia has produced.

Favorite Silverchair song?

“Those Thieving Birds / Strange Behaviour”

Favorite Silverchair record?

Diorama

Most memorable Silverchair live experience?

Playing keyboards on stage with the band at the Big Day Out wearing my Yoko Ono T-shirt and having a bottle of piss thrown at my head. Good times!

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KEVIN SHIRLEY

Famed producer of Silverchair’s debut record Frogstomp

I first heard Silverchair on the radio; it was when they were called The Innocent Criminals. I loved their sound straight away. I remember thinking they sounded like a good old school band; kind of 70’s meets the grunge of Seattle. I really thought they were a fantastic band, and I think they should have continued the power trio thing. I think the world was ready for that.

During the recording of Frogstomp you have to remember they were three 14-year-old boys, not exactly very experienced in the studio and so I had a lot to do and they had some downtime. At first they took to playing cricket in the hallways of Festival Studios and then they quietened down and discovered some Ron Jeremy pornography that had been left behind in the lounge. I went into the lounge to call them into the studio, and they needed a few minutes to get back.

Favorite Silverchair song?

“Israel’s Son”

I think that song is mighty. I get images about music, and that song always made me think of war in the desert – I guess the Middle East. I did tell Daniel that at a party sometime later on and he just looked at me kind of strangely. I had him add that scream during the recording because I could imagine a young soldier running out of a foxhole with a bayonet and rifle, charging the “enemy” but I’m actually not so sure what the song is about. I just loved it. I had them start with that tinny distorted bass riff and then added subharmonics to unsettle you from the first note!

Favorite Silverchair record?

Frogstomp!

Most memorable Silverchair live experience?

A couple actually. Ben used to make a cut in his bass drum and at the end of the show he would dive into the bass drum. At one show in Los Angeles he dived into the bass drum but they had forgotten to make the cut beforehand and he just bounced back and then he got up really dazed and confused. I guess he’s lucky he didn’t break his neck! Then there was a show at Rock in Rio 2000 which was fantastic and I heard the first songs for the next album, and I thought it was going to be a monster. Towards the end of the show, Daniel was totally exhausted. He finished and at the end of it fell on the floor in the dressing room.

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PARKER GISPERT

The Whigs – lead singer and guitarist. Opened for Silverchair during their 2007 Young Modern US tour

I remember hearing Silverchair all the time on Atlanta’s 99x radio station in 1995.  I was 13 years old and thinking that they were way further along in their careers than my band at the time. We then had an opening slot around the release of “Young Modern” years later.  A few months after that The Whigs played Omaha, Nebraska and a couple of their fans gifted us a very rare and valuable Gibson guitar and Rickenbacker bass!

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DARREN MIDDLETON

Powderfinger – lead guitarist. Co-headlined the Across the Great Divide tour with Silverchair in 2007

We both played at a festival gig in Tasmania (mid to late 90’s). The lads were still young but the excitement surrounding them was building and building. At first I was envious! That guys this young were making music this good. They just came out of the gates with all the great elements. Not at the top of their game yet, but you could hear all the right pieces in place. I remember sitting next to Daniel on the return flight from the festival gig, just chatting away and thinking….this guy is not how I may have preconceived. He was polite and incredibly funny, really joyous and light.

They are one of our great bands, always did what they felt was their artistic expression. They worked hard and are a great example to all aspiring artists out there.

Favorite Silverchair song?

“Emotion Sickness”

I love a song that takes you on a journey.

Favorite Silverchair record?

Neon Ballroom

Daniel is coming into his composer element here.

Most memorable Silverchair live experience?

Touring with them on the Across the Great Divide tour was fantastic. A great chance to spend some time with them all. I have a lot of respect for them, their work and their constant professionalism in live performance.

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THE MADDEN BROTHERS – Benji & Joel Madden

Good Charlotte, The Madden Brothers

I first heard Silverchair when a bunch of kids came back from the Red Hot Chili Peppers show in high school talking about this cool Australian band that we had heard on 99.1 WHFS in DC. A girl I knew was wearing the Frogstomp album cover T-shirt with the tour dates on the back- I thought it was really cool. After first hearing their music, the thing I remember the most was thinking- wow these guys are the same age as me, maybe I could do this too.

This band was an inspiration to kids everywhere and Daniel Johns has never ceased to grow as an artist and writer. Fans will always love the Silverchair we knew, but we will always be excited to see what Silverchair we get next.

Favorite Silverchair song?

“Emotion Sickness”, “Slave”, and “Israel’s Son”.

Coincidentally the first songs on those albums. Loved pushing play every first time…

Favorite Silverchair record?

Freak Show and Diorama.

Most memorable Silverchair live experience?

Silverchair at the 9:30 club in Washington D.C. for Freak Show with Handsome (dudes from helmet and quicksand super group) as the opening act.

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NINA DIAZ

Girl in a Coma – lead singer and guitarist

I first got introduced to Silverchair when Neon Ballroom came out in 1999. I then went back and listened to the previous albums and fell in love. First I felt very attracted to Daniel Johns, of course. But then I also liked that they were a three piece band because I was also starting in my own three piece band, Girl in a Coma. Their songs were very rock but also melodic. I remember locking myself in my room for hours just hearing their records and singing along; recording their videos off of TRL when they would pop up and longing to one day meet them. To put it simply, I was inspired. Being an “adult” now I can understand Daniels lyrics much more in depth than I did before. I love that he was open about his eating disorder and recovery just as I’m open about my drug/alcohol addiction and recovery. All of them are talented men and they are a huge part of my musical up-bringing especially the beginning of forming Girl in a Coma.

Favorite Silverchair song?

“Miss You Love”

It’s so beautiful. I actually sang this song to my mom to prove to her I was serious about music when I was 13. I sang to the wall because I was shy. She then got me my first acoustic guitar afterwards!

Favorite Silverchair record?

Neon Ballroom

Most memorable Silverchair live experience?

I have yet to see them live! I so want to sing a song with Daniel one day! It’s on my bucket music list! Ha! But I do remember seeing their live performances on TV and loving the energy.

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NICK LAUNAY

Acclaimed music producer out of London. Produced Silverchair records – Freak Show, Neon Ballroom and Young Modern

In 1995, my friend Robert Hambling (film maker) who first discovered “Innocent Criminals” (as they were then called), played me a CD of demos they had made at age 14. Daniel’s mother had sent it in to the SBS music show he was working on. I was blown away at the song writing on the demos and in particular Daniels low voice. I had no idea that they were under 20 years old, let alone 14, this made me all the more fascinated. Robert and I then took their demos around to all the record labels we knew at the time, but none were interested.

In regards to recording Silverchair records, I have so many memories I could write an entire book. All three albums were great fun to make. They are a true band, in that once they are in the same room playing together; sparks fly and magic is put on tape. All three of them are incredible musicians, and it’s worth noting that by the time they made Freak Show (age 15) they had been together for eight years.

The vibe in the studio on all three albums was electric, but in different ways:

During Freak Show they were incredibly wild and young, the energy and adrenaline in the room was like the biggest sugar rush imaginable. Craziest moment: Ben climbing inside a flight case with a movie camera being pushed down the long corridor at Festival Studios by the other two crashing into walls while filming from the inside. Result: black screen, shrieking screams, major damage to the walls.

Neon Ballroom was more ambitious and about experimenting in the studio, something they hadn’t done to this point. I also remember the concerns about Daniel’s struggles with anorexia, which culminated in the amazing song: “Ana’s Song.” It was written and recorded in the last eight hours of studio time before flying to LA to mix.

Best studio moment however? Daniel lying on the floor with a huge green beanie on his head that made him look like an alien, singing out all the individual notes that each member of the orchestra should play, while string arranger Jane Scarpantoni immaculately translated every note he sung onto music paper. The whole symphony was in his head … talk about mind blowing!

Young Modern was like a reunion of friends many years later. Everybody had grown up in their different ways yet when playing they were like one. Best moment here was listening in ore (and amusement) in Prague while Van Dyke Parks conducted an 80 piece orchestra in a massive room where Einstein used to teach. He had us in stitches while he instructed the violin players that they sounded too froggy, like nasty little green things too much “ribbit ribbit.”

Silverchair will always be my favorite people. The experience I had making their records and the feeling of growing and pushing boundaries was second to none. Silverchair are a phenomenon, and undeniably one of the most phenomenal bands ever to exist.

Favorite Silverchair song?

“Israel’s Son”, “Slave”, “Ana’s Song”,  and “Straight Lines”

Favorite Silverchair record?

Freak Show.

Because of my fun memories making it. They were so in their element. The focus in direction of what they wanted to do was inspiring to be around.

Most memorable Silverchair live experience?

Seeing them play on the small stage at Sydney’s big day out 1995. I remember standing next to David Fricke side of the stage, watching them play so loud and with so much confidence, and seeing the massive crowd of people who had streamed over on mass from the main stage areas. Many climbed on top of nearby buildings and up lamp posts to get a glimmer. Their set was perfect. One of the most memorable gigs I’ve ever seen. Me and Fricke looked at each other knowing history was being made.

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WRITER’S PICKS:

Favorite Silverchair song?

“Point of View”

Favorite Silverchair record?

Diorama

Most memorable Silverchair experience?

Seeing them live for the first time at the Bowery Ballroom in 2003. I rushed home from college finals (maybe a little early??) specifically to go to this show. It was amazing to be in such a small room packed with genuine and extremely passionate Silverchair fans. They played a wide range of songs from their entire catalog including Daniel solo on the piano for two very rare and deeply moving songs; “After All These Years” and “Asylum.”

CLICK HERE
to read part two of this feature, featuring an interview with Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies.



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Pearl Jam’s Albums Get Ranked Up!

It seemed inevitable that as a music site, there would be some form of album ranking series, so here we are with the debut of ‘Ranked Up!’ We decided to begin with the Alternative Nation community’s favorite band, Pearl Jam. Although many other sites and blogs may have previously attempted to sort albums in a qualitative manner, we hope that the attribution of multiple factors regarding the overall process and release of the album will create a more informative and fair ranking. Please note that this list is pure opinion (from yours truly) and you are free to disagree. We are also including Lost Dogs, the band’s B-sides collection.

Do you feel so strongly for or against this ranking? Share your opinions and personal ranking in the comment section below. Enjoy.

11. Riot Act

PearlJam-RiotAct
Release date: November 12, 2002

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Adam Kasper, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (guitar, vocals), Mike McCready (guitar), Stone Gossard (guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Matt Cameron (drums, percussion, rhythm guitar)

Singles: “Bu$hleaguer,” “I Am Mine,” “Save You,” “Love Boat Captain”

Sales: Gold

Opinion: Taking on a more political stance, this record has a larger focus on lyrical content than memorable musical characteristics. Even though the addition of keyboardist Boom Gaspar allowed the sonic qualities to possess a more mature and cohesive flow, both the vocal and instrumental aspects throughout are mostly dragged down by a cloud of dullness.

10. Lightning Bolt

Pearl_Jam_Lightning_Bolt
Release date: October 11, 2013

Record label: Monkeywrench Records, Republic Records

Producer: Brenden O’Brien

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (vocals, guitar), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar, background vocals), Matt Cameron (drums, background vocals)

Singles: “Mind Your Manners,” “Sirens,” Lightning Bolt”

Opinion: For the most part, this a risk-less release. With influences of punk and classic rock dispersed evenly across the board, there are very few eyebrow-raising worthy tracks. The modern hooks of “Infallible” show progress, but a cover of Eddie’s solo “Sleeping by Myself” uke-piece seems a bit unorthodox. I doubt the full band would ever include a tune from the other members’ projects on an official PJ album.

9. Binaural

PearlJam-Binaural
Release date: May 16, 2000

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Tchad Blake, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (vocals, rhythm guitar, ukelele), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Matt Cameron (drums)

Singles: “Nothing as It Seems,” “Light Years”

Sales: Gold

Opinion: The continuation of sharing on songwriting roles between the five musicians showcases a larger diversity of melodies. There seems to be a found balance between the anthemic ballads, acoustic mid-tempo numbers, and upbeat hard rockers. Regardless of the less successful hooks, singles, and overall impact of the record, there is still a lively energy and push for experimentation.

8. Lost Dogs

PearlJam-Lostdogscover

Release date: November 11, 2003

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Tchad Blake, Adam Kasper, Brendan O’Brien, Rick Parashar, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (guitar, vocals), Mike McCready (guitar, piano), Stone Gossard (guitar, vocals, bass guitar, percussion), Jeff Ament (bass guitar, guitar, vocals), Matt Cameron (drums, percussion, guitar), Jack Irons (drums, guitar, vocals, percussion), Dave Abbruzzese (drums), Dave Krusen (drums)

Singles: “Last Kiss”

Sales: Gold

Opinion: While a band’s typical b-sides and rarities compilation is usually a bit of a drag with acoustic demos and raw material, this collection of outtakes proves to be mostly enjoyable. Although never released as an official single, “Yellow Ledbetter” is undeniably important in Pearl Jam’s career and radio airplay. Unfortunately, there are many pieces on the two discs that are far less notable to make an impact.

7. Backspacer

Pearl_jam_backspacer
Release date: September 20, 2009

Record label: Monkeywrench Records

Producer: Brendan O’Brien

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (guitar, vocals), Mike McCready (guitar), Stone Gossard (guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Matt Cameron (drums, percussion)

Singles: “The Fixer,” “Just Breathe,” “Got Some,” “Amongst the Waves”

Sales: Gold

Opinion: The polished, production-heavy sound created a mixed reception for critics and fans alike. There is a handful of forgettable tracks that are faltered by a predictable and cliche format. But in the end, this 36-minute bundle contains some of the most serene, reflective, and thought provoking compositions released by the band.

6. Yield

Yield_(Pearl_Jam_album_-_cover_art)
Release date: February 3, 1998

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Brendan O’Brien, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar, vocals), Jeff Ament (bass guitar, vocals), Jack Irons (drums, percussion)

Singles: “Given to Fly,” “Wishlist”

Sales: Platinum

Opinion: The Single Video Theory documentary creates a greater respect for the effort and struggles that went into the material. The album features hidden gems and soaring choruses are dispersed amongst the other non-conventional pieces.

5. Vitalogy

PearlJamVitalogy
Release date: November 22, 1994

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Brendan O’Brien, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (vocals, guitar, accordian), Mike McCready (lead guitar, vocals), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar, vocals), Jeff Ament (bass guitar, vocals), Dave Abbruzzese (drums)

Singles: “Spin the Black Circle,” “Not for You,” “Immortality”

Sales: 5x Platinum

Opinion: Easily the most odd concoctions to be garnered together and considered an album in their discography. Interludes including “Pry, To,” “Bugs,” and “Aye Davanita” may leave you scratching your head, but that is simply the beauty of it all. This release freed the band from their arena rock pigeonhole. Nonetheless, there is still an abundance of fan favorites and crowd-shakers laced across.

4. No Code

PearlJam-NoCode
Release date: August 27, 1996

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Brendan O’Brien, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Mike McCready (guitar, piano), Stone Gossard (guitar, vocals), Jeff Ament (bass guitar, guitar, vocals), Jack Irons (drums)

Singles: “Who You Are,” “Hail, Hail,” “Off He Goes”

Sales: Platinum

Opinion: In the same vein that Vitalogy opened new doors for the group, this record paved the way for a softer and more intimate experience. Elements of worldbeat and a larger dependence on minimalism let each riff or vocal wail truly stand out. With each progressive verse, there is an underlying catchy melody, making No Code an unforgettable mark in the PJ catalog.

3. Pearl Jam

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Release date: May 2, 2006

Record label: J Records

Producer: Adam Kasper, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar), Mike McCready (guitar), Stone Gossard (guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Matt Cameron (drums, percussion, backing vocals)

Singles: “World Wide Suicide,” “Life Wasted,” “Gone”

Sales: Gold

Opinion: With four years since their last album, the anticipation level was high for this album. Yet the Bush administration re-sparked the band’s early angst and gave them a surge of inspiration as the energy and urgency shines through in numbers. The dynamics consistently excel as all musicians are vital cogs in the clockwork.

2. Vs.

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Release date: October 19, 1993

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Brendan O’Brien, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (vocals, rhythm guitar), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Dave Abbruzzese (drums)

Singles: “Go,” “Daughter,” “Animal,” “Dissident”

Sales: 7x Platinum

Opinion: Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains were already creating a concrete name for themselves in the ‘grunge’-trending music industry by 1993, but with this sophomore release, it was clear that Pearl Jam was an unstoppable force. Punks, geeks, thrashers, and the diverse collective of cliques could latch on to the various styles within this album. Vs. was not just a well-rounded musical monument, but also a guarantee of a prolific future.

1. Ten

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Release date: August 27, 1991

Record label: Epic Records

Producer: Rick Parashar, Pearl Jam

Lineup: Eddie Vedder (vocals), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Dave Krusen (drums)

Singles: “Alive,” “Even Flow,” “Jeremy,” “Oceans”

Sales: 13x Platinum

Opinion: To have not expected seeing Ten being the highest ranked LP on this list would be slightly preposterous. The group’s debut harbors some of their most well-known masterpieces. The lyrics, cohesion, song structure, and production value allow for both intimate acoustic performances and stadium-filled concerts. Every single track held flawless qualities. And overall, Ten is essential for any grunge fan, a necessity of 90’s rock lovers, and a certain classic in music history.

Top 10 Pete Yorn Songs

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to see Pete Yorn perform his ‘You & Me’ show live at the Constellation Room inside the Observatory in Santa Ana, CA. The concert was very intimate, with Pete playing his acoustic guitar and openly taking requests from the audience. He even debuted a new song that he had never performed live before, and talked openly about making a Dean Martin mix tape for his dying 103 year old grandfather. On the night he died in 2013, Yorn was at the Observatory and heard a song from the mix tape.

This was the first time I had seen Yorn live, and the concert brought me back to being 10 years old in 2001 and hearing my Dad play Yorn’s debut album Musicforthemorningafter in his car nonstop for at least a year.

While I was at the show, my Dad texted me his memories of buying the album and listening to it on a trip to Mexico. “I bought that CD of Pete’s on a whim. Sat on it for like a month, then popped it in when I was about 400 miles into Baja after I got gas. I remember putting in the CD in and thinking holy shit, what a fucking artist. Listened to it the whole way down for another day and a half.”

The album could easily pass as a greatest hits album, and is the type of debut album every artist should aspire to make. At the time, Yorn was a throwback to someone like Bob Dylan, but he brought a modern pop and indie rock sensibility, but with the sincerity of Eddie Vedder.

It’s hard to really pick standout tracks from Musicforthemorningafter. The album’s style varies from upbeat rockers like “For Nancy (Cos It Already Is),” to the piano driven ballad “Lose You,” The Curesque “On Your Side,” acoustic ballad “Just Another,” pop rocker “Closet,” and folksy rocker “Strange Condition.” Yorn’s relentless hooks and varied instrumentation make the album stand the test of time as one of the best rock records of the early 2000’s. Yorn has continued to add to his discography in the last 14 years, with more solo albums and releases with Scarlett Johansson and The Ohms.

Below are ten essential tracks from Yorn’s career.

10. Lose You

9. Don’t Wanna Cry

8. Pass Me By

7. On Your Side

6. Closet

5. Just Another

4. Life on a Chain

3. Crystal Village

2. For Nancy (Cos It Already Is)

1. Strange Condition

10 Astonishing Metal Bands From Israel

This June, yours truly will be making the third trip of his life to Israel. In honor of this upcoming trip, I’ve decided to do some reflecting on my favorite bands from the country home to “The Holy Land”, in order of formation date. Metal is viewed as sacrilegious particularly in Israel. Many venues will not host shows on the Sabbath. Despite this, several of the bands below have endured the controversy and have become well-respected in the metal underground.

Salem – Tel Aviv – Formed in 1985

The name was taken from the horror film “The Witches Of Salem”. Their style is a blend of death and doom metal with occasional oriental influences. Drummer Nir Nakav, has stated in an interview for the documentary “Global Metal”, that their lyrics pertaining to Jewish suffering has had the band butting heads with Varg Vikernes (despite Varg admitting to appreciating the music). In 1994, they released their debut full-length Kaddish. The title pertains to the Mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer for dead relatives, included in three daily synagogue services.

The opening track, “The Fading”, received regular airplay on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. The 9th track on Kaddish, “Ha’ayara Bo’eret” (The Burgh is Burning), is a cover of an Israeli folk song, sung in Hebrew, and its lyrical content is associated with the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust. They’ve released 4 other studio albums since then, and in 2011, Kaddish was re-released. A special concert to commemorate the re-release took place in Tel Aviv, where GN’R guitarist “Bumblefoot” joined the band on stage.

 

Orphaned Land – Bat Yam – Formed in 1992

A progressive metal band which incorporates elements of Middle-Eastern and Arabic music. Each of their albums contain the concept of two extremes clashing; Shadow to Light, East to West, Past to Present, or God to Satan. Their lyrics have often promoted a message of unity and peace between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Their debut on Century Media Records, Mabool, tells the story of three angels, one from each of the Abrahamic religions, on a journey to warn humanity of a flood invoked as punishment for its sins. Despite several biblical references in their lyrics, most members of this band identify as agnostic or atheist. Overall, the one message this band wants to relay to all who listen is as follows: “People should be judged by their hearts and inner sincerity, not their religious beliefs.”

 

Melechesh – Jerusalem – Formed in 1993

They may be residing in The Netherlands now, but Melechesh have a history in Israel and are still being marketed as a band from Jerusalem. Their name derives from two words with Aramaic and Hebrew origins. The meaning of the conjoined words is “King of Fire”. Up until 1998 the band recorded and gigged in Jerusalem where they were harassed by law enforcement officers with deeply held religious beliefs, prompting their relocation to The Netherlands. Their debut was controversially titled As Jerusalem Burns. They refer to their sound as Sumerian metal. Just think Absu, but with more oriental influence. On their most recent album, Enki, from this year, they had the opportunity to collaborate with Max Cavalera.

 

Distorted – Bat-Yam – Formed in 1996

They took influence from progressive and gothic metal bands and an oriental influence from their country-mates Orphaned Land. They didn’t release a debut album or tour outside of the Tel-Aviv area until 10 years after forming. The success of the debut, Memorial, earned them a deal with Candlelight Records.

 

Winterhorde – Haifa Region – Formed in 1999

Originally called Autumn Palace, they changed their name to Winterhorde two years later after some soul searching and line-up changes. The success of their demo grabbed the attention of Greek label Burning Star Records. The label would release their debut album, Nebula, prompting positive feedback and demand for Israel’s answer to theatrical melodic death/black metal to tour Europe. Their 2010 sophomore album Underwatermoon was met with similar positive response, and the band is currently working on album number three, Maestro. They have shared the stage with several international acts with similar musical influences. Such includes Keep Of Kalessin, Negura Bunget, Crematory, and later this year they are due to open for Ne Obliviscaris in Tel-Aviv.

 

The Fading – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2000

They began at the dawn of the new millennium as Excessum, then changed their name to “The Fading” (me thinks named after the opening track on Salem’s debut) in 2006. Two years later, The Fading competed in Israel’s division of the Waken Metal Battle for a spot on the WET stage at that year’s Waken Open Air. They competed against several Israeli metal bands including one with their former producer, and won. They also won the global division of the Waken Metal Battle, held while they played the festival. Their prize as such, was a record deal with the festival’s record label. Under this deal the band recorded their debut album, In Sin We Find Salvation.

The success following the debut, has earned them the opening spot on several shows with international metal bands coming through the Middle-East. They are often matched up with melodic death metal favorites such as In Flames, Children of Bodom, and Arch Enemy. In 2013, the band announced work on a sophomore album, self-produced. As of this year, they have announced via Facebook that ‘Till Life Do Us Part, is due to be released later this year.

 

Nail Within – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2001

Like The Fading, Nail Within play melodic death metal, though the latter is a little more aggressive and thrashy. While recording their debut album in Germany, the band got to meet figures of the Teutonic Thrash Metal scene, as well as At The Gates singer Thomas Lindberg, all whom made guest appearances on the eponymous album. The band ended up being short-lived, breaking up soon after their release show, yet being highly influential to Israel’s melodeath scene. They played a one-off reunion show in Tel-Aviv with Salem’s drummer as well a guest appearance by Thomas Lindberg.

 

Dagor Dagorath – Afula – Formed in 2003

Filed under Tolkien-named metal bands. Specifically, their name refers to “The Battle Of Battles”. They faced a four-year hiccup due to some members’ mandatory civic duty of military service. Hence their debut album, Yetzer Ha’ra, was released 6 years after their formation. They have been featured in an issue of Metal Hammer UK as well as the first volume of Burning Roots, an anti-nsbm compilation.

 

Whorecore – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2003

A six-piece grindcore/death metal act, from “The city that never stops”. Known for playing as many shows as they can with a total disregard for venue or audience. They are considered Israel’s best live actin the punk, grind, and metal communities. They have two full-lengths under their belt, with their debut album, Protection, released in 2006. Also featured in “Global Metal”. “Supporting violence against stupidity since 2003” (Facebook excerpt).

 

Hammercult – Tel-Aviv – Formed in 2010

Considered a supergroup in Israel’s metal scene that featured two members of The Fading. Their unique blend of thrash and death metal won them the Israeli Waken Metal Battle of 2011, as well as the Global Waken Metal Battle that same year. They’ve done several European tours with the likes of D.R.I., Sepultura, and Napalm Death. Their first album, Anthems Of The Damned, was released by German label Sonic Attack in 2012. Continuing to promote their second album, as well as a potential third album, they will be the support act for Overkill’s show in Tel-Aviv this June.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Acropolis – Melodic Power Metal with Trance influences  – Tel Aviv

Buzzer – Stoner/Sludge Metal – Tel-Aviv

Edited by Doug McCausland
record label

A Beginner’s Guide To Record Labels: Independent #2

A Beginner’s Guide to Record Labels is our most recent series feature that will cover the current large record labels in the music industry. A record label can be defined as a business organization that holds most financial responsibilities over a group of artists. The company will also possess production, distribution, marketing, promotion, copyright, and A&R duties. During this series we have previously discussed the major record label-owning companies including Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment. Last time, we focused on independent record labels belonging to the Beggars Group company.

We shall continue the series with some of today’s significant independent metal and hard rock record labels. All the labels below are considered independent because they are not owned by the three major record labels previously stated. Razor & Tie, Wind-up, Eleven Seven Music, The End, Megaforce Records, and eOne Music do not belong to a music-related parent company and are not associated with each other except in regards to genre.

Razor & Tie

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Bio: Razor & Tie was created in 1990 by Cliff Chenfeld and Craig Balsam. The company is headquartered in New York City and is currently partnered with Artery Recordings. While the label is mostly known for mainstream rock albums, a large amount of profit is gained through their Kids Bop compilations, which began in 1991.

Notable Releases: Brand New’s Déjà Entendu (2003), All That Remains’ The Fall of Ideals (2006), Danko Jones’ Sleep is the Enemy (2006), Shadows Fall’s Fire from the Sky (2012), The Sword’s Apocryphon (2012), Brad’s United We Stand (2012), Nonpoint’s self-titled (2012), P.O.D.’s Murdered Love (2012), Sworn In’s The Death Card (2013), HIM’s Tears on Tape (2013), Protest the Hero’s Volition (2013), Hatebreed’s The Divinity of Purpose (2013), Yellowcard’s Lift a Sail (2014), Chiodos’ Devil (2014), The Pretty Reckless’ Going to Hell (2014)

Current Artists: Foreigner, The Pretty Reckless, All That Remains, HIM, Yellowcard, The Ready Set, Chelsea Grin, Hatebreed, Chiodos, P.O.D., Atilla, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Nonpoint, For Today, Shadows Fall, Protest the Hero, I Declare War, Norma Jean, The Sword, Crossfaith, Finch, Adestria, Sworn In, Sirens and Sailors, Such Gold, Starset, Kyng, Death of an Era, Sylar, Brad, Wilson, Red Sun Rising, Sons of Texas, Wounds, Hearts & Hands

Summary: This label has created a distinguished title for itself with a diverse array of established rock and metal acts, yet the constant release of low-brow musical compilations seem to lower its overall redeemable reputation. The individual albums within Razor & Tie’s discography are strong within their niche, but when deathcore is placed in the same bubble as Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, there seems to be an obvious inconsistency

Wind-up Records

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Bio: Wind-up Records was formed by poker player Alan and his wife Diana Meltzer in 1997. Unfortunately, Alan passed away in 2011 at the age of 67 while leaving over a million funds towards his doorman and chauffeur. The New York-based company has been referred to many times as the world’s largest independently-owned record label. They have also released multiple superhero soundtracks including Daredevil, Fantastic 4, and The Punisher.

Notable Releases: Creed’s Human Clay (1999), Drowning Pool’s Sinner (2001), Boy Hits Car’s self-titled (2001), Evanescence’s Fallen (2003), Seether’s Disclaimer II (2004), Alter Bridge’s One Day Remains (2004), Finger Eleven’s Them vs. You vs. Me (2007), Five for Fighting’s Slice (2009), Hawthorne Heights’ Skeletons (2010), O.A.R.’s King (2011), Young Guns’ Bones (2012), Civil Twilight’s Holy Weather (2012), Scott Stapp’s Proof of Life (2013), Filter’s The Sun Comes Out Tonight (2013), Crobot’s Something Supernatural (2014)

Current Artists: Five for Fighting, Filter, Young Guns, Civil Twilight, Aranda, Strange Talk, The Revivalists, The Griswolds, Crobot, The Virginmarys,  Jillette Johnson, Speak, Genevieve

Summary: Many may discredit the radio-rock-ready albums in this company’s past, but from a business perspective, the high-charting singles have done this label damn well in regards to financial and touring success. Most would agree that the current roster seems to not have as large of draw in comparison to past

Eleven Seven Music

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Bio: Eleven Seven Music was founded in 2006 by 10th Street Entertainment CEO Allen Kovac. The label operates on both coasts in New York and Los Angeles and is notable for winning the FMQB rock label of the year in 2008 as well as Mediabase’s #1 Independent Rock label. They also have created the sub-label, Five Seven Music, for indie and alternative groups including Dirty Heads and Nico Vega.

Notable Releases: Buckcherry’s 15 (2006), Everclear’s Welcome to the Drama Club (2006), Motley Crue’s Saints of Los Angeles (2008), Trapt’s Only Through the Pain (2008), Drowning Pool’s self-titled (2010), Sixx:A.M.’s This Is Gonna Hurt (2010), Vince Neil’s Tattoos & Tequila (2010), Cold’s Superfiction (2011), Crossfade’s We All Bleed (2011), Cavo’s Thick as Thieves (2012), Escape the Fate’s Ungrateful (2013), Nothing More’s self-titled (2014), Hellyeah’s Blood for Blood (2014), Papa Roach’s F.E.A.R. (2015), Apocalyptica’s Shadowmaker (2015)

Current Artists: Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch, Motley Crue, Escape the Fate, Drowning Pool, Hellyeah, Buckcherry, Crossfade, Pop Evil, Sixx:A.M., Deuce, Cavo, Nothing More

Summary: Similar to Wind-up Records, this company has held on to some questionable hot topic/80’s nostalgia pandering groups, but each serve the purpose of possessing a solid following, novelty, and ability to sell out those large rock stadiums

The End Records

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Bio: The End Records was created by Andreas Katsambas in 1998 and is yet another New York-based independent label although originally operating out of Pasadena and Salt Lake City. In 2008, they won the CMJ Indie Label of the year award followed by success on Billboard Top 30 with Mindless Self Indulgence. Last year, the label signed a deal with the Alternative Distribution Alliance followed by providing distributor services to smaller indie labels including 7Hz, Crash Collide Records, Evilive Records, Imagen Records, Music For Nations, Small Stone Records, and more.

Notable Releases: Enslaved’s Below the Lights (2003), Voivod’s Katorz (2006), Stolen Babies’ There Be Squabbles Ahead (2006), Agalloch’s Ashes Against the Grain (2006), The Gathering’s Home (2006), Tub Ring’s The Great Filter (2007), Sleepytime Gorilla Museum’s In Glorious Times (2007), Lordi’s Deadache (2008), Dir En Grey’s Uroboros (2008), Mindless Self Indulgence’s If (2008), Novembers Doom’s Aphotic (2011), James Iha’s Look to the Sky (2012), The Dandy Warhols’ This Machine (2012), Anvil’s Hope in Hell (2013), Sponge’s Stop the Bleeding (2013)

Current Artists: Cradle of Filth, HIM, Helloween, Hinder, Billy Talent, Trapt, Danzig, Lordi, Funeral for a Friend, Paradise Lost, Everclear, Alien Ant Farm, The Charlatans, The Dandy Warhols, Anvil, Better Than Ezra, Dead Letter Circus, The Mission, The Orb, AxeWound, Novembers Doom, Badly Drawn Boy, Hatchet, Charm City Devils, Krokus, James Iha, Daniel Lioneye, American Sharks, Empress AD, Nocturnal Poisoning, My Jeruselum, Arthur Channel, These Are They, The Wild Beyond

Summary: The fact that this company has the balls to release such experimental and risky releases as avant-garde and black metal amongst mainstream indie rock is deserving of high praise. Although most won’t see their roster frequently hitting the charts or radio airplay, there is a large amount of talent hidden within

Megaforce Records

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Bio: Megaforce Records was formed in 1982 by current Breaking Bands Management owners Jon and Marsha Zazula. The label is notable for being the first to publish music by Metallica while continuing their reputation with Billboard Top 200 presence and RIAA certifications. Their main office resides in New York City with additional output from Philadelphia.

Notable Releases: Manowar’s Into Glory Ride (1983), Metallica’s Ride the Lightning (1984), Stormtroopers of Death’s Speak English or Die (1985), Overkill’s Taking Over (1987), Anthrax’s Persistance of Time (1990), Testament’s The Ritual (1992), Fozzy’s self-titled (2000), Wellwater Conspiracy’s self-titled (2003), Ministry’s Rio Grande Blood (2006), Bad Brains’ Build a Nation (2007), Living Colour’s The Chair in the Doorway (2009), Meat Puppet’s Sewn Together (2009), Lit’s The View from the Bottom (2012), Mushroomhead’s The Righteous & the Butterfly (2014), Fuel’s Puppet Strings (2014)

Current Artists: Anthrax, Bad Brains, Mushroomhead, Living Colour, Fuel, Lynam, Lit, Meat Puppets, Truth & Salvage Co., The Hellraiser

Summary: The bar was set high with the addition of Metallica to the music industry and this label continued impressive musical discoveries throughout the 80’s and 90’s, but more recently the company seems to be scraping the bottom of the barrel and hoping to re-establish mostly the past-their-prime groups

eOne Music

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Bio: eOne Music was founded by Michael Koch, not associated with the US corporate billionaire family, in 1999. The company is most notable for earning the most Billboard hits of any independent music label in history with the inclusion of rock, hip hop, country, children’s, and classical genres. The label is owned by Entertainment One Ltd., which also handles TV and film production and distribution.

Notable Releases: Dope’s No Regrets (2009), Kittie’s In the Black (2009), Black Label Society’s Order of the Black (2010), High on Fire’s Snakes for the Divine (2010), Chickenfoot’s III (2011), Bush’s The Sea of Memories (2011), The Contortionist’s Intrinsic (2012), Saving Abel’s Bringing Down the Giant (2012), Impending Doom’s Baptized in Filth (2012), Chimaira’s Crown of Phantoms (2013), Pop Evil’s Onyx (2013), Avatar’s Hail the Apocalypse (2014), Crowbar’s Symmetry in Black (2014), Unearth’s Watchers of Rule (2014), Ace Frehley’s Space Invader (2014)

Current Artists: Black Label Society, Bush, Saving Abel, Overkill, Tesla, Ace Frehley, Pop Evil, Dope, Impending Doom, Chickenfoot, Unearth, Within the Ruins, Kittie, Crowbar, Fit For An Autopsy, High on Fire, The Chariot, The Contortionist, Cliver, Throwdown, Glamour of the Kill, Reflections, Full Devil Jacket, Avatar, No Bragging Rights, Dagoba, Conditions, Legion, ’68, Black Crown Initiate, Like Monroe, Dark Sermon, Motopony, Assassins, Black Fast

Summary: Some “independent” music labels seem to garner such large amounts of financial gain via other entertainment backing, that it is difficult to consider them part of the homegrown independent label family. eOne Music falls into this category as they are owned by a relatively respectable parent company and it comes to no surprise that their past catalog and roster is indeed impressive

Exclusive: NIN, Pixies & AWOLNATION Members Discuss Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Off the heels of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, the world has reverted back to 1977, when the storied franchise was on everyone’s minds. Credit it to a trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens that even has the most skeptic of fans pumped. We’ve been asking most of our interviewees and staff as of late of their thoughts on the heavily anticipated sequel; hit the jump to hear what members of bands like Nine Inch Nails, Testament, Pixies, and our own humble website have to say.

Ilan Rubin (Nine Inch Nails/Angels & Airwaves drummer) – You know what, it looked really good. I’m really excited about it because Star Wars was an obsession of mine growing up. I went from dinosaurs to Star Wars, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed throughout my life. The original trilogy will always hold a special place in my heart along with most of the population on this globe. Obviously Episodes I, II, & III were disappointments, that were becoming less disappointing as they went on. This new trailer looked really good, and I’m excited for it. It had a darker element which I think is exciting. The prequels were too childish, especially The Phantom Menace!

Joey Santiago (The Pixies guitarist) – Looks awesome! I want to watch it. I haven’t watched any sequels… I watched the movies until those bears came in. What the hell were they called? I thought it was getting too commercial. I thought they were just going to sell dolls… but I’m looking forward to the new one.

Aaron Bruno (AWOLNATION frontman) – So far what I’ve seen is beyond epic and better than I ever imagined. It seems darker and right. I got chills and had a tear in my eye I was so excited! At first, I was gravely disappointed with [the prequels], except III, because you can watch Anakin truly lose his mind. They even suggested some terrible things he did which was hard to sell, but they were true to the story. Darker throughout the whole thing, it was ridiculous. I recently recently got to watch all six of them again, the original trilogy first, obviously, with someone who hadn’t seen them. I’ve been so far removed from the prequels that I was able to enjoy them more now… Darth Maul was an incredible character. I feel like he kind of died in whack way. I don’t like the way they killed him. [Doug points out he was resurrected in The Clone Wars animated series] Oh, yeah?

Eric Peterson (Testament guitarist) – The stuff they can do with movies nowadays… its amazing what they accomplished. I remember in 8th grade when the first Star Wars commercials were on TV and every kid was like “Did you see that?” I’m a huge science fiction fan so I can’t wait. I’m also a huge fan of Vikings, can’t get enough of it.

Waylon Krieger (Actor/Robby Krieger band frontman) – I met George Lucas indirectly once at Skywalker Ranch and was taken back by how humble he was. I only hope they can match episodes IV and V in quality.

Anthony “Tiny” Biuso (Session drummer) – I think it looks great! I think JJ Abrams is the best director choice they could make, because he knows what he’s doing. He is really a fan of that franchise and he definitely knows the genre. The trailer was a little vague, but I think it’s going to be great. I’m a big fan, but the last few movies were just horrible. I liked Return of the Jedi, but I know most people only liked the first two . I like all three of those. They have the bucks to do it. They have the craftsmen and producers to do that movie justice. Movies like that are really made or broke in the editing in the final process . I think Disney… oh what do I know, I’m a ****ing drummer.

Rick Warwick (Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders singer) – I am a Star Wars fan. Funny thing is I haven’t seen them till just a few years ago. I guess it was the punk in me but during the Star Wars crazy when everyone was going nuts for them I had no interest in seeing them. But a few years ago my daughter, who was 4 at the time, saw The Empire Strikes Back  for the first time on TV and fell in love with it. So we got her all six movies and she used to watch them constantly. I would watch them with her and fell in love with them myself. I am excited for the upcoming film. The trailer looks fantastic. We just have to wait and see how it is.

Nick Gray (Noiseheads singer/guitarist) – I’ve been a Star Wars fan forever – was basically my childhood. I think the new movie looks great so far. There are few directors that just know how to make a fun movie, and I think J.J. Abrams is one of them. I’m just hoping William Shatner shows up somewhere.

Ken Faggio (Manga author/Morpheus Descends bassist) –  I like what J.J. Abrams did with the Star Trek movies, so I’m optimistic about it. The fact that he is a fan of the original movies is a good thing, so I think he’ll do them justice, but you’re never going to please everyone. No matter how good something is there will always be someone who has something they don’t like. For every Darth Maul there’s a Jar Jar Binks. I think the biggest problem with Star Wars fans is that they want that same sense of wonder they had when they saw first movie and no matter how good anything is that comes after that, it’s never going to measure up.

Josh Schifris (Lesch-Nyhan drummer) – I honestly flipped! With the first trailer I was a tad disappointed but the second one got me so hyped… not just because Han Solo had the cameo… the deceased Darth Vader, the new TIES and X wings… that awesome looking Sith Lord!

Greg Capra (Striven guitarist/Grunge Metal Graveyard host) – When I first heard the news that Disney haf acquired LucasFilms, I was skeptical. Alright, let’s be real. I’m still skeptical! But with a teaser of the Star Destroyer having crash landed in the desert and Harrison Ford (Just For Men Version) back to kick some ass with Chewbacca, I can’t wait to watch Episode VII on Christmas Day!!

Josh Hadley (Alternative Nation guest contributor/Radiodrome podcast) – It just looks like a sad and vain attempt to fix the massive damage that Lucas did to the franchise and it just comes off as desperate.

Jeremy Neubauer (Rock Show Radio founder/Alternative Nation Radio manager) – I like the Star Trek reboots because I think [JJ Abrams] stayed true to the spirit of Star Trek while still making them ‘modern’, and from the looks of the Star Wars trailers it’s going to be more of the same. As long as there are no characters like Jar Jar Binks, I have no doubt he will succeed!

Brett Buchanan (AlternativeNation.net owner/Darth Vader to Billy Corgan’s Emperor) – Jar Jar should be the Sith Lord guy.

Doug McCausland (The sad individual who wrote this article/Han Solo) – Brett Buchanan kept telling me about how much Attack of the Clones sucked while simultaneously giving me a play by play and telling me how cool every scene was. I think he’s in denial. But yeah, I cried like a baby when Han Solo and Chewbacca showed up.

Riley Rowe (Alternative Nation reporter/Luke Skywalker) – While the hype is out of the roof on this movie, I’m trying to keep my expectations low. This has the potential to be on either side of the spectrum in regards to entertainment and quality. I have respect for JJ Abrams for what he did with the recent Star Trek movies, but he has so many different demographics and audiences to pander to with this one. The fact that Harrison Ford will be in it makes me slightly nervous due to the sub-par last Indiana Jones.

Anthony Carioscia (Alternative Nation metal guru/Greedo) – I think it looks awesome. Getting Star Wars out of Lucas’s hands is what saved the franchise. Now if we ever a movie set in the Knights of the Old Republic timeline, I can die happy.

Travis Weiss (Alternative Nation contributor/R2-D2) –You had my curiosity, now you have my attention”. Also, it was pretty badass to have the wrecked spaceship in the desert.

“Birdman” Dan (Alternative Nation producer/Roargh singer/guitarist/C-3PO) – I am not a fan of Star Wars past the originals.

Austin Eddington (Alternative Nation contributor/Kyle Katarn) – I think that the new style the Empire has going on is pretty cool. They look like they were designed by Apple. Pretty fitting for the bad-guys.

Gabe Brady (Voice actor/Alternative Nation contributor/Lando Calrissian) – I wonder who Luke was talking to in the beginning of the trailer…

Mike Mazzarone (Alternative Nation booking manager/head reporter/Jar Jar Binks) – Uhh, Spock is cool, I guess.

Interviews with Anthony Biuso and Eric Peterson originally conducted by Anthony Carioscia. Quotes range from November 2014 to April 2015. Lord Vader finds Lauren Gornik and Tim Branom's lack of faith.. disturbing.