Monday, August 31, 2009
This high quality footage was recorded last Friday night, August 28. That's Melrose Larry Green (of the Howard Stern show) pictured Steven Adler (above).
The next night, Steven and his buddy Slash jammed with Aces & Eights at the Viper Room.
Thanks to Blabbermouth.
posted 12:14 PM
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Slash and Steven Adler joined Aces & Eights on stage!
Slash: "Going to the Viper Room is like going back in time a couple decades everytime I go there, like a time warp. Cool, but disorienting."
"It's So Easy"
Richard Fortus: "Playing the last show at the Viper Room tonight with Dizzy at midnight"
Dizzy Reed: "Viper Room tonight. Playing some new original songs with Richard Fortus and other surprise Guest Stars. You don't wanna miss this! Come and rock!"
Photos via twitter by T.J.Roe. http://twitter.com/@intr0vert
posted 6:39 AM
1. It's So Easy
2. Shadow Of Your Love
3. Move to the City
4. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
5. Whole Lotta Rosie
Live from the Jungle is an EP by Guns N' Roses that was only released in Japan. Tracks one, four and five were recorded live at London's Marquee Club on June 28, 1987.
This EP is referred to as Live from the Jungle even though the similarly titled song "Welcome to the Jungle" does not appear on the EP. It is named so because part of the large red text on the album's obi strip reads "raibu furomu za janguru", meaning "live from the jungle".
The cover art uses the banned Robert Williams artwork originally (but very briefly) used for Appetite for Destruction.
Thanks to Rock is Dead / R.I.P.
posted 12:13 AM
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Peter Hodgson at i heart guitar just conducted another new interview with Guns N' Rose master of P.R. and fan liason, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal.
A brief excerpt follows.
What are your memories of Australia on the Guns N' Roses tour?
Oh man, let’s start off with the flight to Australia. At first I was dreading the flight because it was a good 14 hours, but it was the most comfortable flight I’ve ever been on. It was the first time I actually had a full comfortable night’s sleep on an airplane in my entire life, so it’s the first time I ever experienced that. So it was off to a good start.
I think we landed in Sydney then shot all the way over to Perth. Then we drove up to Fremantle and visited Bon Scott’s grave, paid our respects. Just the little things you remember. I remember being on a train and there was a young girl who had part of her face painted – she was going to a football game and the way it looked was something different to what you see in America. She had a little flag painted under her eye. It’s the little things like that. I remember those things more than the shows. Just the normal, human moments. Those are the things that really stand out.
Y’know, the view from the hotel in Sydney overlooking the Opera House and the bridge and everything. Walking around with my wife, Sebastian Bach and a couple of guys from his band, and suddenly some guy in a trenchcoat comes running up to us going “Hey! Hey! Hey!” and he opens his coat up and pulls out Axl’s microphone. It turns out that the night before, when Axl through his microphone out, that’s the guy that caught it. Oh what else ... I remember also in Sydney eating in a really nice restaurant along the water at night… just the nice moments like that.
The shows are always ... how do you even describe a show? It starts and your brain is in this other mode, and next thing you know the show is over and it’s more like one of those hazish dreams: “Did I just play, or didn’t I?” So unless something very significant happens in the show, I don’t really remember the show in a very clear way. But it’s everything after.
Going back afterwards and meeting Chris Szkup and his girl, hanging with them. I can still picture seeing them and this nice drawing they gave me in a frame, which is hanging in my living room right now. It’s hanging over my wife’s head as she’s sitting on the couch right now watching Hell’s Kitchen on TiVo. So it’s little things like that. No matter what happens, good or bad, those are the fond memories that make it an endearing experience you cherish. The dinners, the hanging out.
Are there any plans for more GN'R touring?
There have been a lot of plans, it’s just that when it comes to battling the economy ... there are so many variables that could make it not work. I’m guessing at this point that if something is confirmed, management would let everyone know. So at this point if I said anything it would be premature, so I should just wait for them to say anything.
(As usual, this is just a short snippet. You can read the full interview here.)
posted 12:35 PM
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Yesterday, GNR Evolution published an interview with Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal.
I've copied a brief excerpt of the Q&A below.
GNR Evolution Q&A with Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal
GnREvolution: I would like to ask if your solos on "Shacklers" and "Riad" were influenced at all by Buckethead and did you secretly try to out do him?
Bumblefoot: Hahaha, no and no. Listen to my demos from 20 years ago and you'll find that I play the way I play, long before there were buckets on anyone's head or bumbles on anyone's feet. Guys from the same era like me, Bucket, Mattias Eklundh, Christophe Godin, Guthrie Govan, and plenty more, all have a similar thread in the spirit of what we do.
No one's copying each other, the same way most 70's blues rock guitarists aren't copying each other - but there was something in the air at the time their cast was solidifying, that affected how they expressed themselves. This happens throughout every era of music, and in our case, the transition from the fun gluttonous 80s into the tighten-your-belt 90s, a time when cultures began to merge, big hair rock turned toward funk rock, grunge, rap rock ... there was an open-mindedness, more of a multi-mindedness that occurred. Listen to any of our solo albums, you'll hear what I mean.
GnREvolution: Are there any songs on Chinese Democracy that nearly didn't make it? What can you tell us about the alternate album artwork and CD booklet?
Bumblefoot: Ah man, I never get into things that haven't happened - it can affect the final outcome of things, ya can't do that. It's like going up to a stranger and saying, "In 10 seconds I'm gonna try to steal your car." Guaranteed, the outcome won't be the same. So I never talk about plans, things that haven't happened yet - also, as I'm here typing this, managers could be walking out of a meeting in LA, and I don't know what's up until they tell me. Anything I'd say would be mis-information until it's so absolutely undeniably definite, in which case you'd probably find out from them soon after I did.
In my own band, there's less riding on things, it's OK to open the window and let everyone see inside. And I enjoy that, making videos in the studio as an album's being recorded, letting people know what I'm planning for myself - no biggie, if the plans don't happen, it's not like multi-million dollar companies have invested time and the work of hundreds of people are affected by the change. There's a need for protection and privacy when it comes to GN'R biz, or anything on that level. I know it can make you feel frustrated, invisible, abandoned - even though it sucks, I hope you understand that there's too much at stake to risk being irresponsible with information.
GnREvolution: Do you have anything to say about the chemistry of the members of Guns N' Roses, either person to person, or as a whole group? And what the hell happened with Robin, it's so weird he left on the eve of the album release?
Bumblefoot: I can't and won't speak on Robin's behalf, it's totally up to him if he wants to share anything about it. Me, I'm in touch almost daily with members of the band and crew, we hang when we can. I see Frank most often because we live near each other on the East Coast. But we all have phones, email, we're in touch pretty often.
GnREvolution: Did you work on any of these tracks which Axl confirmed as working titles of future GN'R Material or was your involvement in the recording process strictly limited to the songs which appear on Chinese Democracy? (Ides Of March, Berlin (Oklahoma), Atlas Shrugged, Oh My God, Silkworms, Down By The Ocean, Soul Monster (Leave Me Alone), Seven, The General, Thyme, Quick Song, Zodiac).
Did you contribute to writing any new material for GN'R that we won't hear until some possible future album? Is the material you've heard for the follow up albums heavier or is it pretty much the same ballad to rocker ratio as appears on CD? Basically anything you can tell us about any future GN'R material would be appreciated...
Bumblefoot: I played on a good handful of songs that weren't on Chinese Democracy. [I] can't predict what the fate of any of those songs will be. I haven't written any new songs with GN'R, [but I] would like to see it get to that point.
(This is but a short excerpt, you can read the full interview here.)
posted 11:47 AM
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
From Slash's twitter: "I think this is the coolest show I've seen at The HOB so far, definitely the best vibe. That was a gas last night, Billy was phenominal & John Mayer is a pretty bad ass player as well."
From John Mayer's twitter: "Sometimes I hear myself say something and I feel like a liar even though it's true. 'Last night I jammed with ZZ Top and Slash.' Finally met Slash. I had to keep reminding myself that I'm sort of cool too and that I shouldn't feel like a gnat. Worked half the time."
Here's "La Grange"
And here's some more music from the same night, this is the transition between "Waitin' on the Bus," and "Jesus Just Left Chicago."
This last video is of Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top jamming with Slash at his Vegas birthday bash on July 23 of this year.
posted 3:51 PM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Motley Crue's Vince Neil has slammed Axl Rose for letting the Guns N' Roses fans down.
GN'R's latest album, Chinese Democracy, the band's first since 1993's The Spaghetti Incident, failed to live up to the hype its 10 years in the making generated.
Neil tells the UK's The Sun that believes GN'R's loyal fans have finally grown sick of the band, thanks chiefly to Rose's failure to turn up to rehearsals and perform live shows.
"For [Chinese Democracy] to fail was pretty crazy after so many years of being recorded. Then the tour got cancelled," Vince is quoted as saying.
"A buddy of mine [presumably referring to current Guns N' Roses guitarist DJ Ashba, who also plays in Sixx: AM with Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx] went to go play guitar for him. They rehearsed for three months and Axl never once turned up. Rule number one: show up!
He's been doing that for many years. Finally I think the fans just went, 'Fuck it — can't do this anymore.'
You can't be a fan when you can't see the band."
Chinese Democracy, estimated to have cost around $13 million to make, had to settle for third place behind Kanye West and Taylor Swift on the US album chart when it was released in November last year.
Neil adds: "I heard one track and then it just disappeared off the radio. It was never talked about again."
Read more from The Sun.
posted 5:43 PM
Axl Rose may bring Guns N' Roses to the seat of Chinese democracy, namely Taipei, Taiwan, to kick off the Asian leg of their Chinese Democracy World Tour.
Guns N' Roses
2009 Asia Tour
Date: Dec. 11, 2009
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue: Taipei County Stadium
In March, GN'R manager Irving Azoff told Rolling Stone that "we have some exciting things in the works this year for GN'R, I’m looking forward to it."
More rumored dates as they trickle in ...
Guns N' Roses at "THE CRASH MANSION"
Saturday, Oct 24 @ 10:00 PM
posted 8:25 AM
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Time Magazine's list of "10 Greatest Electric Guitar Players" named Slash number two, just behind Jimi Hendrix.
1. Jimi Hendrix
The greatest of all time? Maybe. No one merged the blues, rock and psychedelia with as much ease, or wielded his guitar with as much charisma.
A remarkably precise player who had to put up with more crap from his lead singer than any guitarist on this list. Does he make the cut partially because of the hat? Yes. Yes he does.
3. BB King
He doesn't call his guitar Lucille to be cute. With King's emphasis on vibrato, she sounds like a real woman singing the blues.
4. Keith Richards
The most notable of Chuck Berry's many disciples is also the creator of more memorable riffs—"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Gimme Shelter," "Start Me Up," etc.— than anyone in rock and roll.
5. Eric Clapton
Fluent in every blues style, Clapton is probably best known as the king of the Tulsa Sound. He's also among the most melodic of guitarists, using his solos to move a song along instead of stopping it cold.
6. Jimmy Page
Page's guitar sounds like six guitars, and the heaviness of his right hand is key to the instant recognizability of Led Zeppelin's sound.
7. Chuck Berry
The father of rock and roll guitar, his staccato influence is still heard on most songs today.
8. Les Paul
An amazingly talented guitarist, Paul had a series of futuristic sounding hits in the 1950s. But his music has been superseded by his invention: Paul pioneered the design and construction of the modern electric guitar, which made everyone else on this list very rich.
9. Yngwie Malmsteen
The Swede's superfast "neo-Classical" style —he credits Bach and Paganini as influences—is a blur of scales and technical precision. It almost makes you forget that the great bulk of his music is so fast that it's unlistenable.
He does a little singing, but Prince also plays a mean lead guitar. The solo on "Let's Go Crazy" is a frequently cited example of his frenetic style, but covers of "Just My Imagination" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" prove he can also play under control.
11. Johnny Ramone
No one hated guitar solos more than Johnny Ramone, so it's not surprising he perfected the Punk style, packing chords together tightly and leaving no space for freelancing.
posted 5:45 PM
Appetite for Discussion
Are you on Dizzy's solo record?
What future music projects will you be involved in?
I have a new band that's coming together quickly; we should be out there by the Fall. More info as soon as we have something recorded and shows booked.
You can read the full interview here.
posted 11:17 AM
Monday, August 17, 2009
Slash and his wife had mixed results in court today in their bid to recover more than $500,000 they say they lost in a transaction involving a Hollywood Hills home.
LA Superior Court Judge Mel Red Recana said he is leaning toward allowing a jury to decide whether Slash and his wife Perla deserve punitive damages from real estate agent Gregory Holcomb and Sotheby's International Realty.
However, the judge said he wanted to consider the matter further before making a final decision.
On a second issue, Recana said the couple's lawyers cannot begin collecting information on the defendants' financial worth unless a jury finds they acted with malice, oppression or fraud.
The Hudsons' lawyers wanted to begin gathering the financial data sooner in preparation for a possible punitive damages phase of the trial.
They allege Sotheby's and Holcomb acted in conscious disregard of the Hudsons' rights by not telling them they were entitled to a preliminary title report.
The plaintiffs' lawyers also argue the Hudsons should have been told they could have backed out of the purchase if they chose and gotten a refund of their $186,500 deposit before escrow closed.
Slash and Perla sued in November 2007. They allege they were not given proper disclosure about the home, including that it was much smaller than 7,800 square feet, as listed, and that there were other issues with the title to the property.
In a sworn declaration, Perla Hudson said she and her husband closed escrow on the home in January 2006 for $6.25 million, then sold it in November 2007 for $5.725 million without ever moving in.
The couple lost an additional significant amount of money in carrying costs on the property, while Holcomb received a commission of nearly $124,000, the Hudsons' court papers state.
In choosing a home, Perla Hudson stated she and her husband also were concerned about security for themselves and their two young sons, after being forced in the summer of 2005 "to obtain a restraining order against a deranged fan."
Defense attorneys say punitive damages should not be available to the Hudsons because there is no evidence anyone in authority at Sotheby's was responsible for approving anything Holcomb is alleged to have done wrong.
The lawyers also maintain there was no way their clients could have known that the MLS description of the home was incorrect and that it was not actually on a private street as the Hudsons had thought.
The trial of the suit is scheduled for Sept. 21.
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
posted 10:07 PM
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Xils 3 synthesizer released
XILS Labs has just released the Xils3 software synthesizer, a recreation of the great EMS VCS3 Modular synthesizer from the 1960’s. This synth was used by Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Brian Eno amongst others and well known for its individual character and unique experimental sounds.
Chris Pitman has programmed some factory presets for this software version. Included are sounds for bass, ambient soundscapes, noise and experimental sounds, and new for this structure are polyphonic sounds.
Check it out at their website.
posted 6:56 AM
Friday, August 14, 2009
Yesterday after learning of Les Paul's death at 94 years old, LA Weekly caught up with Slash, a guitar legend in his own right, for an exclusive chat about the loss of not only a brilliant musician and innovator, but also a friend and mentor. "It's important for kids to know who Les was because when I first started playing, I thought Les Paul was the name of a guitar," Slash says of the days before he was schooled by other players like Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton on who Les Paul - the man - was. Eventually the two icons met, Paul took Slash under his wing, and they became fast friends. Slash remembers Les Paul as a "total fuckin' maverick" who was upbeat and funny, both polite and perverted, and who lived life to its fullest.
Slash: So, with Les...
LA Weekly: Yeah, sad day.
Slash: Les Paul invented the guitar that I use. The first guitar I ever got was a Les Paul copy [laughs]. First and foremost, he's an amazing fucking musician and jazz guitar payer, but he also invented a whole bunch of recording techniques that we use: reverb, multi-tracking, overdubbing, echo, delay ... He invented them because they didn't make them back then. He thought he needed different things so he built them. He was a total fuckin' maverick. He was awesome. I've known him since 1991. The first time I met him I jammed with him at the club where he had a residency, Fat Tuesdays, in New York. Meeting and jamming with an icon like that was pretty overwhelming. He promptly just wiped the stage floor up with me [laughs], you know? It was one of those humbling experiences. But he sort of took me under his wing after that and we became friends. I would always gauge my progress as a guitar player by how well I did jamming with Les on any given day. [Laughs] He was like the barometer for my evolution as a guitar player.
It's an honor for me to have Les Paul models with my name on it. He's going to be missed. He was such a great guy, really warm, funny, very to the point, didn't mess around, didn't mince words, but had a really great heart and tons of energy. He was one of those people that set out to do something and accomplished things. He didn't sit around and wait for things to happen; he just went for it. He lived to be 94, always stayed true to his school as a musician, and kept inventing the whole time. He was a landmark influence on all us young musicians [laughs]. One of the reasons Jeff Beck, one of my favorites, is such a bitchin' guitar player is because he was so heavily influenced by Les Paul. I'm just paying tribute to the guy.
LA Weekly: Are there any particularly memorable moments that stand out above the others from when you'd hang out or jam together?
Slash: I just had a gig with him at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few months ago, a tribute to Les Paul, where a dozen guitar players all got together and jammed and then Les played at the end of the show. It was really one of those special events where some phenomenal guitar players got together and each one of them did their own little show, [laughs] including myself ... it was another humbling experience ... and when all that was done, Les got up there. And this is only a few months ago, so at 94 years old he gets up there and makes jokes into the microphone and has his whole band with him and fuckin' plays phenomenally. For the last 60 years he's had this major influence on guitar playing and the recording industry. So there he is, this little guy, so fuckin' full of life and vibrant and doesn't seem 94 years old, jamming out to this huge audience. It was really a special moment ... it's hard for me to verbally explain it. Les was the kind of guy that anytime you were in his presence, he was always very upbeat, always cracking jokes, always making comments about the women present ...
Very polite but very perverted at the same time, you know? [Laughs] The fact that he took a liking to me and took me under his wing was a huge honor. We always talked on the phone and that kind of stuff. It was special. It's important for kids to know who Les was because when I first started playing, I thought Les Paul was the name of a guitar. I didn't know it was a real person until I learned from guys like Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. Obviously from that point on I researched and then finally got to meet him. Kids nowadays don't even really know that kind of history but it's important to have an understanding of that delay pedal that you're using and where the original concept came from [laughs]. Whenever you hear guitar harmonies recorded, like Brian May used to record harmonies on all of Queen's records, that was all Les Paul stuff. He invented the technique where you could layer guitars. Before that people just had to play live and that was it.
LA Weekly: Yeah. It's a sad day but for someone that lived such a full life ...
Slash: Yeah, it's a drag that he's not here. I would have loved to have seen him again but at the same time he was such a great example of a life fully lived that everybody should just celebrate the fact that a human being could have such a great life and accomplish so much. You can never complain about being bored when you think about a guy like Les Paul, you know?
posted 1:39 PM
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Les Paul, whose innovations with the electric guitar and studio technology made him one of the most important figures in recorded music, has died. He was 94.
Paul died in White Plains, New York, from complications of severe pneumonia.
Paul was a guitar and electronics mastermind whose creations - such as multitrack recording, tape delay and the solid-body guitar that bears his name, the Gibson Les Paul - helped give rise to modern popular music, including rock 'n' roll.
No slouch on the guitar himself, he continued playing at clubs into his 90s despite being hampered by arthritis. (CNN)
posted 12:46 PM
Next Tuesday, August 18 at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard section of Seattle, Duff McKagan will be playing with Loaded's acoustic offshoot, the Rainmakers, at a benefit concert for Dave Ravenscroft, who has been suffering through Squamous-cell Carcinoma.
Dave has not been able to work for the last 12 months while going through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy.
Donations can be made to the Dave Ravenscroft Benevolent Fund at any Chase branch.
posted 12:20 PM
The woman who's allegedly stalking Slash and Steven Adler found a clever way of recycling her restraining order - cops say she wrote a bunch of crazy stuff on the back of the documents and mailed them to Adler's lawyer!
Lisa Jill-Martin Cahn was arrested on Monday by Oregon police for violating the order, after she allegedly scribbled a bunch of disturbing stuff of seven pages of the documents and mailed them off as separate letters to Attorney Eric Greenspan - hoping they would land in Adler's lap.
In one of the letters, Cahn says she believes the restraining order is the musicians' way of communicating with her. In another, she refers to herself as Adler's "runaway kitty kat."
The letters can easily be translated as a call for help, because she asks Adler's private investigator - David Mancini - to "come and get me ... I'm scared and sick ... I can't do this on my own and I'm really, really, really, really, really, really scared!"
Cahn is currently behind bars at the Washington County jail and could face up to eight charges.
You can read the letters here.
posted 9:08 AM
One Louder - Wild Beasts And The Importance Of Being OTT
by Luke Lewis
"Oh untetherable bird of the blue! Oh unpluckable flower of the moon!"
That's not a line from the new Gallows record. It's the work of Hayden Thorpe, hooting and howling vocalist with Wild Beasts, whose second album Two Dancers has sent traffic to thesaurus.com through the roof as music journalists seek out synonyms for "grandiloquent".
There seems to be a taste for this sort of thing at the moment - a pervasive appetite for camp excess.
Florence And The Machine's Lungs picked up glowing reviews, despite being so over-produced as to make the "Ride Of The Valkyries" seem subtle. At Latitude last month the line-up was laden with artists – Of Montreal, Patrick Wolf – performing between-song masques while dressed in outfits that would have been regarded as "outre" by the denizens of Studio 54.
Musically, though, these artists can hardly be called over-the-top. Not when there are people like Axl Rose in the world. Rose famously burned through $20 million recording Guns N'Roses' Chinese Democracy, which Rolling Stone called a "great, audacious, unhinged and uncompromising hard-rock record", and absolutely everyone else called a load of rancid old dogwank.
A choir, strings, Mellotron, a bloke playing guitar inside a chicken-coop: Chinese Democracy had everything. Except tunes, and soul: two things no amount of money and time can guarantee.
Then again, who didn't have a sneaking respect for the sheer, insane ambition of it?
Everyone loves a grand folly. Rock would be a drabber place if it weren't for the nagging inner voice that makes a musician think: "Write a sprawling concept album based on the tale of Gawain And The Green Knight? Why yes, that's a fantastic idea."
Call it the Meat Loaf gene: the eternal, ill-advised desire to go one louder.
Something like this presumably gripped Suede's Brett Anderson while recording Dog Man Star and convinced him it would be a wise idea to augment "Still Life" - a song that started life as a beautifully understated acoustic ballad – with an 80-piece orchestra, and the kind of vocal hysterics that would make Celine Dion think: jeez, tone it down a bit, will you?
Again, you've got to admire the spirit, if not the end result. It takes a special kind of delusional maniac who, when in the studio overseeing the final mix, surveys the winking LEDs of a dangerously overloaded, 90-track, everything-in-the-red mixing desk, and solemnly tells the engineer: needs more alpenhorn.
By way of tribute to these lunatics, then, what are the most ridiculously overblown albums ever?
posted 8:16 AM
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Black Gives Way to Blue available everywhere September 28/29.
All Secrets Known
Check My Brain
Last Of My Kind
A Looking In View
When The Sun Rose Again
Take Her Out
Black Gives Way To Blue
iTunes pre-order begins this Tuesday.
Alice In Chains
posted 2:59 PM
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Guns N' Roses anthem "Sweet Child O' Mine" has been named the Greatest Guitar Riff in a new poll by Asian News International.
Eric Clapton's 1971 hit "Layla" came second in the poll of 5,000 music lovers.
Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" landed the third spot while Michael Jackson's "Beat It" came fourth.
Motorhead's "Ace Of Spaces" rounded out the top five.
The top ten are:
01. Guns N' Roses - "Sweet Child O' Mine"
02. Derek and the Dominoes - "Layla"
03. Aerosmith - "Walk This Way"
04. Michael Jackson - "Beat It"
05. Motorhead - "Ace Of Spaces"
06. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"
07. Queen - "Another One Bites The Dust"
08. Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
09. Deep Purple - "Smoke On The Water"
10. Green Day - "American Idiot"
posted 8:55 AM
"You know, we've only done one show before this, and already we have been criticized for playing the old songs, but I have no intention, and I never did, of denying you something you enjoy, and I thought it was only fair for you to see that this new band can play the fuck out of these songs.
It's very hard to ask a musician to learn to play the part or parts played by other musicians before them. These guys here have worked very hard.
As for you guys ... On lead guitar here we have Mr. Buckethead. You've already met my friend Mr. Paul Tobias. On keyboards once again Mr. Dizzy Reed. On the drums - Brain, and on the keyboards over here, Mr. Chris Pitman. You've met Mr. Robin Finck, and leading us through these rehearsals, General Tommy Stinson.
This is a new song, I hope you like it, this is called "Chinese Democracy."
It's very hard to ask a musician to learn to play the part or parts played by other musicians before them. These guys here have worked very hard.
As for you guys ... On lead guitar here we have Mr. Buckethead. You've already met my friend Mr. Paul Tobias. On keyboards once again Mr. Dizzy Reed. On the drums - Brain, and on the keyboards over here, Mr. Chris Pitman. You've met Mr. Robin Finck, and leading us through these rehearsals, General Tommy Stinson.
This is a new song, I hope you like it, this is called "Chinese Democracy."
posted 1:02 AM
Monday, August 10, 2009
From Slash's MySpace blog:
"I don't know how I'm supposed to wait until next year to put out this record! It is so fucking cool & I am so anxious to get it out already. We start mixing soon & that will be that, ready to go. But, I have to wait, there's no way around it, for all kinds of logistic reasons & that's the reality.
But, my VR bandmates & I had a meeting a couple of weeks ago & although the search for a singer will continue, I am going to tour on my solo record most likely thru next summer starting in March or April. We (VR) will keep the word of mouth system going & listening to submissions from singers & checking out different singer's sites etc, we know the right guy is out there somewhere. It's possible somebody could turn up before I do my tour & we could start working on new material sooner than later, in a perfect world.
As far as my tour is concerned, I have already started to put together ideas for a kickass band & the plan is to perform some new stuff, Snakepit, VR & Guns stuff. The new album is really great & deserves that I should support it. Plus, I'm really looking forward to getting out there & doing some gigs, its been more than a year since I was on a proper tour & all these one off jams are basically just a tease.
So, there's the update for now, I'm still tinkering away on the solo record but there really isn't much left to do on it but mix it, which starts in September."
posted 2:34 PM
Sunday, August 9, 2009
20 years ago, Axl Rose gave one of his most quotable interviews ever to Rolling Stone magazine. The August '89 issue sat in my bedroom all Summer, as I read and re-read it, before signing up for a slew of business classes at school that Fall. I was 16.
The Rolling Stone Interview With Axl Rose
Rolling Stone, August 1989
by Del James
Sitting on a black Persian rug, chain-smoking Marlboros and sipping Corona beers, the singer welcomes any and all questions about the band. His onstage roar is replaced by a soft-spoken tone, but nonetheless he can be brutal in his honesty.
A few years ago you were a poor kid in a struggling rock band, and today you're in one of the most popular groups in the world. How have you adjusted to your success?
Trying to handle success is a pain in the ass. It's really strange and takes some getting used to. I've never had my own place to live before, never had to deal with the amount of money we've made and not get ripped off, never understood doing your taxes and all these things. I was hating it a few months ago, trying to get organized and trying to get a place to live and to get a grip on everything. But now things are coming together. I've wanted to be here my whole life.
Did you ever in your wildest dreams think your first album Appetite For Destruction would do as well as it did?
Thought about it a lot.
Besides dreaming about it, did you ever believe it had a real chance to sell 9 million copies?
No, but it was like this: I thought about trying to sell more records than Boston's first album. I always thought that and never let up. Everything was directed at trying to achieve the sales without sacrificing the credibility of our music. We worked real hard to sell this many records. The album wasn't just a fluke. Maybe Appetite will be the only good album we make, but it wasn't just a fluke.
Does the business end of rock & roll ever interfere with your creative attitude?
Not for us. This is music, this is art. It's definitely a good business, but that should be second to the art, not first. I was figuring it out, and I'm like the president of a company that's worth between $125 million and a quarter billion dollars. If you add up record sales based on the low figure and a certain price for T-shirts and royalties and publishing, you come up with at least $125 million, which I get less than two percent of.
I like being successful. I was always starving. On the other side. When it came to people with money, it was always "The rich? Fuck them!" But I left one group and joined another. I escaped from one group where I was looked down on for being a poor kid that doesn't know shit, and now I'm like, a rich, successful asshole. I don't like that. I'm still just me, and with a lot of people's help, the group was able to become a huge financial success. None of us were the popular kids in school - we were all outcasts who got together and pooled our talents.
Is there any lesson you've learned that you wish you knew a few years ago?
What I'd tell any kid in high school is "Take business classes." I don't care what else you're gonna do, if you're gonna do art or anything, take business classes. You can say, "Well, I don't want to get commercial," but if you do anything to make any money, you're doing something commercial. You can be flipping hamburgers at McDonald's, but you're a commercial burger flipper.
Now that the band is getting ready to work on the follow-up to Appetite and the GN'R Lies EP, what's your frame of mind?
As my friend Dave puts it, I'm jacking off [laughs]. We're trying to regroup. I'm ready to work. I'm creating, and finally I have an environment in which I can work. I haven't had that for a long time, since three years ago, when we all used to live in one room, sitting around writing songs. Until recently, I haven't had peace of mind. There were always distractions, but now it's like we can finally work on our songs.
Do you feel heavy pressure to sell as many copies with your next album as Appetite?
We have two records out, both of them in the Top Ten, and everybody wants another record immediately. They all say, "Let's milk this sucker." It'd be nice to outsell that album. A lot of groups are trying to outsell it. For a debut, it was the highest-selling album in the history of rock and roll. Definitely in America, but I'm not sure that's true worldwide. I read where Bon Jovi was saying nobody's out done their biggie, Slippery When Wet. He knew it was their biggie, and he didn't know if New Jersey would be as big. Of course, you're gonna want to outdo it. What I want to do is just grow as an artist and feel proud of these new songs.
Although you're only in the pre-production stages of the next album, how do you feel it will compare with the others?
The next record will definitely be much more emotional. I try to write so the audience can understand what emotions I was feeling. Also, I think the songs are worded in a way that a great number of people will be able to relate to the experiences; it's not so personalized that it's only my weird, twisted point of view. We hope to make a very long record. It'd be nice to make one that's seventy-six minutes long, A seventy-six-minute CD, with varied styles.
The most important songs at this point are the ones with piano, the ballads, because we haven't really explored that side of the band yet. They're also the most difficult songs to do - not difficult to play, but to write and pull out of ourselves. The beautiful music is what really makes me feel like an artist. The other, heavier stuff also makes me feel like an artist and can be difficult to write. But it's harder to write about serious emotions, describing them as best as possible rather than trying to write a syrupy ballad just to sell records.
Any specific titles for the next album you can talk about?
Well, there's a song called "November Rain" and another one called "Breakdown." There's also a song tentatively titled "Without You." Last night, I wrote a whole new intro to that. It just appeared out of nowhere, like the verses - just little pieces that have come whole.
How do write complete songs from separate bits and pieces?
They'll just show up. I keep them on file in my brain and then add them together. Like, I'll be brushing my teeth and all of a sudden a prechorus will come, and I won't know why. Then a bridge came about a year ago. Six months ago another part came. Last night a whole intro came. When I was writing it, I wasn't planning on putting it with this song, but all of a sudden it just flowed.
The GN'R Lies EP surprised a lot of people because of it's emphasis on acoustic material. Aren't you afraid that some people may be turned off by the band straying from the sound that got them on top?
We're not getting away from hard rock. Our basic root is hard rock, a bit heavier than the Stones, more in a vein like Aerosmith, Draw the Line type stuff. We love loud guitars. George Michael was telling me he really loved our melodies and wondered why we covered so much of it up with loud guitars, and I said because we love that. I told him he should put some more loud guitars in his music. He has such beautiful melodies, and it'd be nice to hear some loud guitars in there. At the same time, I have my favorite symphony pieces, orchestra pieces if you will.
I've always looked at things in a versatile sense because of Queen, ELO, Elton John, especially early Elton John and groups like that. With Queen, I have my favorite: Queen II. Whenever their newest record would come out and have all these other kinds of music on it, at first I'd only like this song or that song. But after a period of time listening to it, it would open my mind up to so many different styles. I really appreciate them for that. That's something I've always wanted to be able to achieve. It's important to show people all forms of music, basically try to give people a broader point of view.
Speaking of versatility, you're known primarily as a singer, but you've been playing piano quite a bit lately.
I've been playing piano my whole life. I took lessons, but I only really played my lesson on the day of the lesson. All week long, I'd sit down at the piano and just make up stuff. To this day, I still can't really play other people's songs, only my own. I haven't had a piano for years. I couldn't afford one. I couldn't figure out where I was sleeping at night, let alone try to have a place for a piano. So I had to put it aside and have the dream that I'd get into it. Now I really want to bring the piano out.
So far the song that's inspired the most controversy in the band's short career has been "One in a Million." How did you come to write that song?
"One in a Million" was written while sitting in the apartment of my friend West Arkeen, who's like the sixth member of the band. I wrote it at his house, sitting around bored watching TV. I can't really play guitar too well, I only play the top two strings, and I would write a little piece at a time. I started writing about wanting to get out of LA , getting away for a little while. I'd been down to the downtown-LA Greyhound bus station. If you haven't been there, you can't say shit to me about what goes on and about my point of view. There are a large number of black men selling stolen jewelry, crack, heroin and pot, and most of the drugs are bogus. Rip-off artists selling parking spaces to parking lots that there's no charge for. Trying to misguide every kid that gets off the bus and doesn't quite know where he's at or where to go, trying to take the person for whatever they've got. That's how I hit town. The thing with "One in a Million" is, basically, we're all one in a million, we're all here on this earth. We're one fish in a sea. Let's quit fucking with each other, fucking with me.
The lyrics have incited a lot of protest, so let's go over them line by line. Let's start with one of the verses, "Police and niggers, that's right/Get outta my way/Don't need to buy none/ Of your gold chains today."
I used words like police and niggers because you're not allowed to use the word nigger. Why can black people go up to each other and say, "Nigger," but when a white guy does it all of a sudden it's a big put-down. I don't like boundaries of any kind. I don't like being told what I can and what I can't say. I used the word nigger because it's a word to describe somebody that is basically a pain in your life, a problem. The word nigger doesn't necessarily mean black. Doesn't John Lennon have a song "Woman Is the Nigger of the World"? There's a rap group, N.W.A., Niggers with Attitude. I mean, they're proud of that word. More power to them. Guns N' Roses ain't bad ... N.W.A. is baad! Mr. Bob Goldthwait said the only reason we put these lyrics on the record was because it would cause controversy and we'd sell a million albums. Fuck him! Why'd he put us in his skit? We don't just do something to get the controversy, the press.
How about the next verse? Immigrants and faggots/They make no sense to me/ They come to our country/And think they'll do as they please/ Like start some mini-Iran or spread some fuckin' disease." Why that reference to immigrants?
When I use the word immigrants, what I'm talking about is going to a 7-11 or Village pantries - a lot of people from countries like Iran, Pakistan, China, Japan et cetera, get jobs in these convenience stores and gas stations. Then they treat you as if you don't belong here. I've been chased out of a store with Slash by a six-foot-tall Iranian with a butcher knife because he didn't like the way we were dressed. Scared me to death. All I could see in my mind was a picture of my arm on the ground, blood going everywhere. When I get scared, I get mad. I grabbed the top of one of these big orange garbage cans and went back at him with this shield, going, "Come on!" I didn't want to back down from this guy. Anyway that's why I wrote about immigrants. Maybe I should have been more specific and said, "Joe Schmoladoo at the 7-11 and faggots make no sense to me." That's ridiculous! I summed it up simply and said, "Immigrants."
How about the use of the word "faggots"?
I've had some very bad experiences with homosexuals. When I was first coming to Los Angeles, I was about eighteen or nineteen. On my first hitchhiking ride, this guy told me I could crash at his hotel. I went to sleep and woke up while this guy was trying to rape me. I threw him down on the floor. He came at me again. I went running for the door. He came at me. I pinned him between the door and the wall. I had a straight razor, and I pulled the razor and said, "Don't ever touch me! Don't ever think about touching me! Don't touch yourself and think about me! Nothing!" Then I grabbed my stuff and split with no place to go, no sleep, in the middle of nowhere outside of St. Louis. That's why I have the attitude I have.
Are you anti-homosexual then?
I'm pro-heterosexual. I can't get enough of women, and I don't see the same thing that other men can see in men. I'm not into gay or bisexual experiences. But that's hypocritical of me, because I'd rather see two women together than just about anything else. That happens to be my personal, favorite thing.
How about gay-bashing? Have you ever beaten up somebody simply because of their sexual preference?
No! I never have. The most I do is, like, on the way to the Troubadour in "Boystown," on Santa Monica Boulevard, I'll yell out the car window, "Why don't you guys like pussy?" 'Cause I'm confused. I don't understand it. Anti-homosexual? I'm not against them doing what they want to do as long as it's not hurting anybody else and they're not forcing it upon me. I don't need them in my face or, pardon the pun, up my ass about it.
The "One in a Million" lyrics about "faggots" who "spread some fuckin' disease" got GN'R bounced from an AIDS benefit in New York by the Gay Men's Health Crisis, one of the groups that was involved with putting on the show. How did you feel about that?
We're in no way associated with the Gay Men's Health Crisis, except that David Geffen is on the board of directors for the concert and he's the owner of our record company. We were asked to do this, and we wanted to contribute some money to help stop a deadly disease that's killing humans of all kinds. A friend of mine who's homosexual and was largely responsible for the record companies taking notice of us was upset about it because we didn't even get a chance to clear ourselves, to make good. AIDS is something very scary. The concert was something we wanted to do and felt it was important to do but we were denied the opportunity. We were even denied the opportunity to say anything about it. It was just publicly announced that we weren't allowed to do it because the Gay Men's Health Crisis wouldn't let us. I don't feel they have the right to deny the money and attention they would have gotten from us playing. It's pride, it's ignorant and it's childish.
Women seem to be one of the more popular subjects with Guns N' Roses. Are you a romantic kind of guy?
I'm a person that has a lot of different relationships. It's really hard to maintain a one-on-one relationship if the other person is not going to allow me to be with other people. I have a real open, hedonistic, sexual attitude. Just 'cause you're not totally in love with a person doesn't mean you don't like them. You can think they're attractive, and you want to touch them, have a great time with them. Maybe at that moment you are in love. I think love and lust go hand in hand, like good and evil. One without the other is not complete, But I don't tell someone I'm in love with them if I'm not. I never have.
You'd describe yourself as promiscuous then?
I have sex as often as possible.
Don't you ever think of contracting AIDS?
Yeah, but I also live in a city that's supposed to get the big quake any day. You can get killed on the freeway in drive-by shooting, the foods irradiated, there's a million ways to go out. A lot of times, sexual situations are very spontaneous, but I try not to be overly careless.
So you practice safe sex?
Practicing safe sex ... I like the word practice. It means keep doing it, keep repeating the process, get it right. Practice makes perfect. I don't know if it'll get perfect. But you can get a lot better. Just keep practicing.
What about drugs? Everyone and their mother seems to have a GN'R story involving junkie debauchery ...
I'm not and never have been a junkie. The last interview in RIP Magazine got taken out of context about me talking openly about my drug use. That was over two years ago and was only for a few weeks when there was nothing to do. I was also very safe about it. That doesn't mean that at some point I won't get really sick of life and choose to OD. Then people will go, "He was always a junkie." That's not the case, but you can believe what you want, I don't give a fuck. No one's really gonna believe anything I say anyway as far as what I do or don't do with drugs, 'cause it's such a taboo subject. Lately I've been drinking champagne for fun, a few beers, you know. Right now drugs get in the way of my dreams and goals. I really don't want drugs around me now, I'm not necessarily against the use of drugs, they just don't fit in my life right now. Then again, I could be out on tour for six months and a blast might be what cheers me up that night.
Do you ever think these excesses might hurt other members of the group?
I don't want to see drugs tear up this band. I'm against when it goes too far. Right now, for me, a line of coke is too far. A line of coke puts my voice out of commission for a week. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I did a lot of stuff before. Maybe it's guilt and it's relocated in my throat. All I know is it's not healthy for me right now. And if somebody goes, "Oh, man, he's not a partyer anymore," hey, fuck you! Do you want a record or not?
With all the misconceptions floating around about G N'R, the biggest misconceptions seem to come from magazine interviews you've granted.
That's just a lot of sensationalism. People out there don't know what's real or not. Things are always going to get changed or taken out of context, but some magazines will make up an interview just to sell issues. One's written that Slash said I run over dogs. I think it sucks when a kid has three bucks and he buys a candy bar, a soda and a magazine because he's really into Guns N' Roses, and he gets bad photos and an interview that's not true. It's not fair. Unfortunately, it probably will never change.
Some schools have banned GN'R t-shirts, and organizations like the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) have objected to what they feel is the band's glorification of a degenerate lifestyle. When you sing to a younger audience, do you think you have any responsibility as their idol?
It's just a record. . . . I don't know. You have to go through your own changes sand growth. I'm not trying to influence anybody in a negative way. Also, I'm not raising your kid. You're the parent. The PRMC? Who are they? A TV show, like AM/PM?
If you had a young son, say Axl Rose II, how would you feel if he brought home an album with lyrics about "niggers" and "faggots"?
Right now I don't want to have a child, because I can't give it enough time. But I'd want him to talk about what he listened to with me, and have him show me new things, and me show him new things. He could play me the Screaming Banshees From Hell, and I could play him Jimi Hendrix or something. We could talk about the music. We'd talk about things together. I think it's a parents job to raise their child. My father likes "Welcome to the Jungle." Ten years ago, if a song like that was caught in our house, man, it was over. But I can't hold how he once felt against him.
Let's go back to your childhood. Were you a bad student?
No. On the placement tests in school, I was always in the top three percent. I dropped out in the eleventh grade, went back as a senior, then dropped out again.
Why did you drop out?
'Cause I couldn't make school work for me. I was having to read books, sing songs, draw pictures of things that didn't stimulate or excite me. It just didn't do anything for me. So I dropped out and started drawing and painting at home and spending a lot of my time in the library. Basically I started putting myself through Axl's school of subjects that I wanted to learn about.
You grew up in Lafayette, Indiana. What influence do you thing your small town had in shaping you?
It made me despise people with closed minds. It made me want to break out.
What about small-town values?
That's a load of shit.
Were you in trouble a lot?
Me and my friends were always in trouble. We got in trouble for fun. It finally reached a point where I realized I was gonna end up in jail, 'cause I kept fucking with the system. This guy and I got into a fight. We became friends afterwards, and he dropped charges against me, but the state kept on pressing charges. Those charges didn't work, so they tried other ones. I spent three months in jail and finally got out. But once you've pissed off a detective, it's a vengeance rap back there. They tried everything. They busted me illegally in my own back yard for drinking. They tried to get me as a habitual criminal, which can mean a life in prison. My lawyer got the case thrown out of court. I left and came to California. They told me not to leave, but I left anyway. My lawyer took care of it. I didn't go back for a long time. Now when I go back to see my family, I avoid the police there. I try to avoid all police in general.
What happens when you go back now as a celebrity instead of an outcast?
It gets a little bit out of hand. I can't really go any where. I just go to my friends' houses, but people I don't know show up wanting autographs. People that I used to go to school with, people that used to hate my guts, want me to invest money in this and that. People say shit like "Axl thinks he's too cool to party with us." But those people never wanted to party with me before, The people who are offended by this comment are the ones who should be.
How do you explain your volatile nature?
When I get stressed, I get violent and take it out on myself. I've pulled razor blades on myself but then realized that having a scar is more detrimental than not having a stereo. I'd rather kick my stereo in than go punch somebody in the face. When I get mad or upset or emotional, sometimes I'll walk over and play my piano.
Your own music has been diluted somewhat by radio stations that play different, shorter versions of GN'R songs. How do you feel when you music is cut to suit the airwaves?
Not that any of our songs compare, but if you hear a short version of "Layla," I think you're gonna be pissed off, especially if you're planning on hearing the big piano part at the end. I hate the edit of "Sweet Child o' Mine." Radio stations said, "Well, your vocals aren't cut." My favorite part of the song is Slash's slow solo; it's the heaviest part for me. There's no reason for it to be missing except to create more space for commercials, so the radio-station owners can get more advertising dollars. When you get the chopped version of "Paradise City" or half of "Sweet Child" and "Patience" cut, you're getting screwed.
What kind of music and bands do you enjoy?
That's always the hardest question. Lately I've been listening to Derek and the Dominos, the Bar-Kays. I really like the first Patti Smith. I'm just starting to discover the Cure. I keep trying to find things to open myself up to. I enjoy Soundgarden. The singer just buries me. The guy sings so great. On the club circuit, I like Saigon Saloon a lot.
Today, my favorite record is Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything . I just got turned on to it. I've still got my favorites and things like the Pistols, ELO and Queen. The two records I always buy if there's a cassette deck around and I don't have the tapes in my bag are Never Mind the Bollocks and Queen II . I think I'd be in a bind to figure out which one I'd want if I was stranded on a desert island. I might go with the Pistols, because maybe a boat would hear me if I played it.
You are also a Rolling Stones fan. There were some rumors floating around about G n' R possibly opening for them on their upcoming tour. What happened?
No formal offer has been made. I'd love to open for the Stones, but at the same time I really want to do my own record. We'll probably go back on the road sometime next year. I don't know exactly when.
Do you consider yourself the leader of the band?
That's a good question. I'm gonna do what I want to do. That may be selfish, but it's the best way for the most to come out of me. When we write a song, nobody in this band plays anything they don't really want to. When we write a song, the bass player plays his line and it ends up being what he wants to do on bass. It ends up working that way and fitting, so we end up with a set of songs that everybody likes. I couldn't say I'm the leader, like "We're gone do what I say." It doesn't work that way.
Earlier you touched on the rock-star image and people falling into the music just because it adheres to a certain attitude and look. What about Axl Rose's longhaired, tattooed, pierced-nipple image?
What about it?
Is it just an image?
It's part of me. When I put on my clothes or do a photo session, I want to look the best I can. If you're going on a date, you want to look good for that person or for yourself. I've got enough money now to buy a suit I like and wear it the way I want. I don't wear suits every damn day now. Maybe I'm gonna shave and wear makeup and do my hair fuckin' way up. We're definitely image conscious. I think if Izzy came wearing a clown suit to a photo session, we'd want to know how he could validate his presence in a clown suit [Laughs]. But if he could back it up and convince us there was a reason, then it would be cool. Otherwise, it wouldn't be. Steven has his own way of dressing, in the latest commercial-rock fashions. Steven enjoys the hell out of the clothes he wears, whereas Slash and I wouldn't be caught dead in either. It's just different personalities. If we're gonna do a show, I wear a headband because my hair gets in my face. When we do a photo session, a lot of the time I'll wear a headband because that's how I am onstage. If I feel real dominant and decadent, I'm gonna be wearing my jack-boots and stuff like that. I try to express myself through my clothes. It's another form of the art. I'm not afraid of what people think about different ways I look. I'm gonna do what I want to do.
Do you really get hassled much when you go out locally in LA?
I really only go to clubs where I know the people who work there, so I can have some privacy and hang out. It's hard when you go to a club with 600 people and you end up having to talk to 400 people. You have no time of your own to have fun. Maybe if I haven't gone out for a week, I'll go to the Cathouse, because I know some friends are gonna be there. I just want to be around my friends, even if we don't talk about anything. I just need it. You have all these people asking you for an autograph, and it gets kind of embarrassing. I don't want to be a prick to people and go, "Get away from me." But I don't enjoy going someplace and just signing autographs all the time. It comes with the fame, but sometimes it gets out of hand and people can be very rude and obnoxious about it. I've had people break into my hotel room with cameras, waking me up and taking photos. People find out where I live and show up at my building. I've never asked anyone for an autograph.
Having to deal with autographs doesn't seem like it's the worst thing in the world. At this point in your life, what's your biggest regret?
That I didn't talk to Todd Crew before he went to New York. [Crew, the bassist in the band Jetboy, was a close friend of the band's who died due to an alcohol-related overdose.] I felt a massive need to talk to him out of concern for his well-being. But I wasn't aware enough to realize I didn't have the time I thought I did. I thought I'd have time later ...
You seem to have an exceptionally strong bond with your friends. Do you think your values have changed any since you've become a rich rock star?
I saw a guy last night, a homeless guy on the beach. I hate panhandlers 'cause I've never done that. I just couldn't, it would have felt too weird. I walked past the man and realized I had some money in my pocket. It's not that I give everybody I see money. I don't at all. But I handed him twenty bucks and he was like "Thanks, man, I appreciate it." He can have breakfast tomorrow. I could have just walked away, but I could tell in my heart that the guy could really use the money. He wasn't trying to scam. He looked like he was gonna get up tomorrow and look for a job or something to survive. I felt good about that, and I'm wondering if he's all right now. I don't know. The next day I was hoping he didn't go buy crack with it.
posted 12:01 AM
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Imitation as a Form of Flattery
No Longer a Parody, Tribute Bands Pay Homage to the Original
By Mario Iván Oña
Who knew that tribute bands could be the beneficiaries of a bad economy?
Given the chance to pay $50 to see the original Journey or $12 to see the Frontiers, a band that covers Journey songs, fans may well be opting for the low-cost alternative. And that alternative may also be high in entertainment value.
We're not talking about Elvis impersonators here or other similar parodies. We are talking about talented musicians who may, in fact, put on a better show than their aging counterparts.
"The Rolling Stones are obviously in the twilight of their career or farther," says Chris LeGrand, 47, who is Mick Jagger in the Rolling Stones tribute band, Satisfaction, which is performing in the area next week. "Our shows give fans a slightly younger version of what they're used to seeing, and we're looking to do some shows with a '60s look, a '70s look and a modern-day look."
Musically, Satisfaction is dead-on. But for the full effect, it might not hurt to squint to convince yourself that LeGrand's pouting lips really belong to Jagger.
Joe Pascarell, 48, lead vocalist of the Machine, a 21-year-old Pink Floyd tribute band, says: "I think we've probably done as many shows as the real Pink Floyd at this point. We've performed about 2,000 gigs."
And it shows. During a recent acoustic set (a departure from the band's typical high-octane, laser light show), the musicianship permeated with hypnotic effect. During "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," the classic Pink Floyd tune dedicated to founding member Syd Barrett, Pascarell sang with such genuine sentiment and visible emotion, you would have sworn Barrett was Pascarell's pal.
Chad "NotQuiteAxl" Atkins, 33, lead singer of Appetite for Destruction: The Ultimate Tribute to Guns N' Roses, thinks a hardcore fan should catch both bands. "We would quench your thirst for that old Guns N' Roses with Slash and Axl Rose wearing a bandana instead of sporting cornrows or braids," he says.
The band has learned Rose might not be touring in support of GN'R's long-awaited album, 2008's Chinese Democracy, and though Atkins says he likes the album and his group has learned it, "we're kind of sitting on it until we see how people respond to it."
So far, so bad. Though it has gone platinum, the album received tepid reviews and hasn't been selling as well as expected. If Rose does go on tour, fans will have to decide between forking out bigger bills to watch an older Rose perform some unrecognizable songs or watch younger, more nimble look-alikes perform vintage GN'R.
In most cases, the impersonators have not met the impersonatees, though they've often come close.
Current GN'R keyboardist Dizzy Reed has played with Appetite for Destruction, and saxophonist Norbert Stachel, who has toured with Pink Floyd founding member Roger Waters, has played with the Machine. Although Waters's son, Harry, can't recall watching the Machine, he says from his London flat: "I think tribute bands can be great, particularly for bands that don't play anymore, like Pink Floyd. I can only see this as a way of honoring the band."
Steven Kurutz, author of "Like a Rolling Stone: The Strange Life of a Tribute Band" agrees: "My sense is that most famous musicians are flattered by tribute bands, and in a way, they keep the flame alive and help promote the music. I'm certain the extensive touring of Badfish, a Sublime tribute, has helped push sales of Sublime's recordings."
posted 12:41 PM
More Lefsetz readers' responses. Read part one here.
Kevin Lyman Responds
Only thing I will say we never take buy ons and merch rate is 10% or none for most bands...if someone will not put their name to a letter you should not post it.. because they don't really know what they are talking about .at least kid rock has an opinion and always will.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
Kid Rock's attack on Kevin Lyman is laughable, I was there in 1998. Warped Tour was an incredible concert event that is cost effective for fans and touring artists. Kevin is fair to the artists, he rewards those who work hard and are loyal and he punishes those who complain about their slots or act like rock stars. Kid Rock behaved terribly the whole 2 or 3 weeks he was on the tour, at the time he was nothing, he didn't contribute to the draw and it was basically a favor that he got booked in the first place, despite this he complained nearly everyday and treated people abhorrent.
At the time I was working for a small hardcore band named H2O, we did the tour that year in a Winnebago until it broke down, Kevin put all of us up for free in two tour busses that had spare bunks and we completed the tour. That summer was one of the best of my life, Deftones killed it everyday, we did a show in Wisconsin with Ozzfest called Skatin Meets Satan at Float Rite Park, a memorable day.
Perhaps what Kid Rock is really upset about is that Fletcher from Pennywise came out to visit that summer, Pennywise was not on the tour. Fletcher confronted Kid in Asbury Park, NJ and tore his gold chain off his neck and threw it away. Now, this was definitely an immature move but it was hilarious at the time and many felt deserved.
I have enjoyed an 11 year career in the touring business and I, amongst many others, owe a great deal of thanks and praise to Kevin Lyman. In addition to giving people great opportunities, he teaches a great ethic of work hard and be frugal.
Please withhold my name.
I notice that some are taking a poke at Kevin Lyman and Warped Tour. I have been heavily involved in concert production, both from the promoter side and touring side, for over 20 years. I had the pleasure of being on Warped Tour 2 years in a row and I still don't think there is a better summer tour/festival. I watched the band I work for go from Warped Tour into Arenas, thanks in part to Warped Tour. All those bands and activities for that price cannot be beat. Usually, the bands spend all day walking around in the crowd, meeting their fans and joining the party. Bands get to make friends with other bands, and the crews do the same.
All the side stage bands do not have to buy their way on, although I'm sure that some do. Of course there are sponsorships, this is not the 60's anymore.
And the 30% merch that they are taking, they pay the venue merch rate with the bulk of that. I did a few shows where the venue didn't want to cut a deal. You should see them trying to count in merch for 70+ bands and have doors open by 11am. A total nightmare. After 15 years, they do what works. Do people make money, of course they do. And they do it without raping teenagers and their parents.
And as far as "biggest star in the world in 1998", sounds like sour grapes to me.
Your back and forth with Mr Fogel is interesting. While the numbers are impressive for this year's tour, I don't see how they can possibly expect more of the same for the next U2 tour if they release another empty, rambling, tepid, recycled album like 'No Line.' I used to have U2 on my list of bands that "you've gotta see before you die, man!!!" - not anymore. Sure, there's those diehards out there that will see them every time they come through, who show up because of 'The Joshua Tree', and the 'young money--pop the collar on your polo' crowd referenced earlier in an ACDC rant who has nothing better to do with their time or money. It's the rest of us who are really feeling jilted as of late, and are going to stop shelling out good cash for last century's crap with a new stage production on it.
It's not Broadway. It's freakin music.
--The point is-- that something smells. While things might still look good on the skin for now, this apple is rotten and eventually things are going to deflate.
Clearly 'too big to fail' doesn't apply to the concert promoters, as much as they'd like it to.
Please withhold any identifying info.
Nickelback this and Nickelback that, but come to Southern California and they are having a tough time selling tickets. In Irvine just over 7,000 in a 15,000 person venue and San Diego they have sold 5,500 of 9100 but that is misleading because Blink 182 has sold over 18,000 at the same venue.
As for Liza you can buy all Gibson Amp shows with No Service fees at the Hollywood Palladium.
There is an ex-president in Texas that should be getting all of this wrath, not one a concert company or musical act or another. None of this would be said in such a manner, if the economy didn't tank...
You all have such great passion to point out what's wrong in our little business, while your real anger should be at these people that suddenly made every one of us examine every dollar we spend on anything and everything, not just concert tickets!
Let's use this emotion to protest the real problems, and "tear down the war," which is the real issue? Did the 60's just tire everyone out on the topic of making a change?
Anytime commerce and art get together it is tough, always has been. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. We all love music and we all love the live spectacle. And everyone has always thought the ticket prices are too high, until the show they want to see comes. And now, everyone in this business is evil, is the feeling I get, when I read what everyone has to say.
There is competition for every show and in the end it comes down to who has the right combo of guarantee, venue, ticket price, amenities and so forth. All of your readers know that, the act has to say ok eventually, so why direct all of this nasty shit at promoters?
Meanwhile, all of the Monday morning quarterbacks are here running everyone down and I don't know what you are doing to make this better, and then there's the people who hold your name back and spout off...except Kid Rock, who always signs his name to his statements, which I always admire. The rest should be ashamed. Hit and run is illegal in most states.
I've run venues for 27 years in Australia.
In the 80's we were getting $2 out of $10 from an act and the act paid for the promo and supplied the PA. We paid a guarantee
In the early 90's we were getting $2 out of $20 and the act supplied the PA. We stopped paying guarantees and the act/promoter took the risk and did the promo.
By the late 90's we were getting $1/$2 out of $30-$40, we supplied the PA, and did more advertising.
Now we are getting $2 out of $50-$80, supply top line digital PA desks and lighting, video and do advertising, pay for security etc.
So don't whinge about the beer price and the extras.
The agents/promoters need to share everything around. If we got 10-20% of the gross we could keep prices in line.
The greed displayed by agents and managers in part echoes the conditions that brought down the economy in the last year. We are all in the same business and the greed brings us into disrepute and will affect sales.
Younger bands keep the prices down (on the whole) and ensure that fans are happy.
Will Springsteen miss the $10m if he lowers his prices?
If you piss off your audience enough they revolt.
It''s not the artist that suffers but the promoter who pays the guarantee.
And if your promoter suffers do you just move on, or do remember that your promoter built your career and help make your career and made you a lot of money in the past.
I love what I do and am happy to have had a long career in making people happy.
I like to think that I have showed integrity over my time. And that brings me business.
And agents/promoters who do the same continue to work with great artists.
And much like great record labels fans respect great promoters.
When Kid Rock says, " treated me like a bitch," what he means is, "Lyman refused to treat me like I'm better than everyone and instead treated me like anyone on the crew, at the merch table or in any band ever on Warped."
The Pennywise / Kid Rock / Warped Tour stuff came up a little bit in the exhaustive Oral History of Vans Warped Tour I wrote which appeared as the cover story in the most recent issue of Alternative Press.
I attempted to cover 15 years of history and did over 30 interviews. This was a minor, though entertaining, footnote. The anecdote came up a few times with a few people, so when I interviewed Fletcher (Pennywise -- like NOFX & Bad Religion, you know, "the California bands" -- is part of the heart and soul of the tour and has done it a zillion times) I asked him about it and he told me the story. Much of it made it into the piece.
From how the Warped Tour folks tell it, Kid Rock & his handlers were one of those camps like Alien Ant Farm who came on the tour with rock star attitude and didn't understand the communal and egalitarian way the tour was and continues to be run. So a drunken Fletcher went a little overboard and called him out for it in a comical way.
Did I contact Kid Rock for his side? No, as this was a large story about Warped Tour, not him. The little bit about Pennywise and Kid Rock served to illustrate a larger point about how Warped Tour operates: regardless of your style of music or place in the industry scheme of things, if you treat everyone with respect you will be respected. If you come into the punk world acting like you're hot shit -- even if you are -- you're going to get made fun of by the VWT family.
Plenty of others outside the punk world, from Sugar Ray to Katy Perry, DID figure out how to make the best of Warped and managed to get along within the community while blowing up their careers at the same time.
And Fletcher sees the humor in the whole thing now and doesn't begrudge Kid Rock his success one bit.
Kevin Lyman and Fletcher Dragge are two of the most down to earth, well-intentioned and honest people in this crooked business. I don't know Kid Rock and have never met him, but "down to earth" doesn't seem like his style. And that's cool because the world needs rock stars. It's just that the Vans Warped Tour does not.
Kid Rock and Warped Tour makes about as much sense as Kid Rock and iTunes, or Kid Rock and Twitter.
Different strokes, ya'll...
Wow, this Lyman thread sure is interesting. The guy who worked for H2O hit the nail on the head (for the most part), but he withheld his name??? I think that sums up a lot - we all have to make a living and in these very challenging times we all don't want to offend anyone who can help in that. I bet he wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to make money working with Kid Rock, and why should he? He probably has mouths to feed. But, that is a statement in itself.
I was the Warped Tour marketing dude for its first two years (1995 and 1996), and it was indeed a great experience. 1995 was No Doubt, Sublime, Quicksand, Face to Face, L7, Orange 9mm; 1996 was Deftones, 311, Blink, Bosstones, NOFX, Unwritten Law and many others. At its core, it was the essence of punk rock. That spirit was instilled by Kevin.
In 2001, I was managing a band called Alien Ant Farm, who at the time, had the number one rock single in the world with their bad-ass cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal". They were not punk rock, and probably not unlike Kid Rock, they were on the tour for other reasons, and they were not so happy on that tour. They wanted to have prime slots (after all, they had a global number one single), and they let it be known, probably not very tactfully, that they expected the best slots, and more often than not, they did not get them. After an altercation with some real punk rock bands on the tour, they dropped off. Interestingly, Kevin called me that night genuinely asking that the band stay on the tour. They didn't. Kevin, being truly punk rock, was trying to teach them humility and gratitude in light of their explosive success, and also being a smart businessman, didn't want them to leave the tour. I'd be willing to bet that in hindsight the band wishes that they would have stayed on the tour and slugged it out like the other bands.
Ironically, the band accepted an invitation to appear at this summer's Warped Tour date in Pomona only days after Michael Jackson's death, one of their first gigs since reuniting after a hiatus (I haven't managed them since early 2007).
When I was booking shows at ski resorts in the early 90's with bands like No Doubt, The Offspring, Sublime, I needed professional production and I needed credibility, and Kevin provided both. Shortly thereafter, he hired me as the marketing dude when he launched the Warped Tour. He should not be condemned for building Warped Tour into a commercial machine; he should be applauded, just as Tony Hawk has done for skateboarding. If being "cool" has legs and broad appeal, it ultimately is sold to a larger audience. Kid Rock should know this, he has done the same thing, and I applaud him for that.
While Kevin and I have had a couple of challenges in our relationship, he is a good righteous dude, a true punk rocker, and a savvy businessman. He is one of my most valued mentors, and I am sure that there are dozens others like me who feel the same way. Truth is - we are all trying to get ahead and make a living in this business, and that isn't always easy, particularly in this environment.
Kid Rock and Kevin actually have a lot in common, the big one being success! I'd bet Kevin would invite Kid to perform on Warped anytime, and hey, maybe Kid should take him up on it. As Rodney King says, "can't we all just get along?"
Name included - JOHN BOYLE
I was at the Warped Tour when Kid Rock played... He's great now, but was absolutely awful at those shows. As in "hold your hands over your ears" awful.
And Warped Tour isn't as much about the music anymore as it is about a "teen scene"... Although, if 10% of the kids get hooked on music, god bless em!
there's just a few people that have stayed a true course on what they feel is right, and don't rationalize impure decisions by deciding that their money priority is holier than others
I don't know how he did it, but somehow Kevin Lyman has not fallen prey to success, and has not taken the bad path most everyone else has when they have created something good
I think it boils down to having fun
which isn't a matter of "getting it", or making having fun a strategy...it's either in you or it isn't, and the public always knows
Kevin still has fun, so the people that work for him have fun, and then the bands have fun, and then the people going to the show have fun
that's really how it works, and I look forward to the day when our business has finally ousted the ones that don't get it
you call it imploding...I call it karma
Hey bob, not trying to beat this to the ground but as a band that has participated in the Warped Tour ten times, I can tell you that Warped's success isn't smoke and mirrors. The success is in the willingness of Kevin to take a chance on up and coming bands, to see past the horizon line on fads and fashion and keep on coming up with tour line ups kids want to see year after year. We never have paid more than 10% of merch, always have been treated equally out on the tour, and always name check the tour as one of reasons for our 16 year career. Just my two cents..
Less Than Jake.
Long time reader, had to jump in on this one. Kevin is a stand up guy with a vision that he created on his own, from the ground up. This was all before any major talent buyer paid attention. Nobody was doing a festival tour for independent bands when he started. I was at that Warped tour date in Chicago the other day and was very happy to see how far the tour has come. You can't fault a guy who's seeing these types of numbers when his tour has maintained integrity for 15 years. I have learned that most people will diss someone who's having success, for no reason at all. I don't buy the concept that he's selling "cool" -- each year, he not only has the "latest" bands, but he books old school acts that played some of the very first years of the tour still, year in, year out. This IS a cool tour, you have the new and the old, something for everyone. I saw a number of people brushing 40 years old attending to see acts like Less Than Jake and NOFX. People should stop using "band math," $40 x Sellable Capacity = Promoter's Profit......don't work that way, festival tours are expensive to produce. $40 ticket price is a steal for a day at this tour. Kevin stepped out and gave a handful of acts their first shot by booking them on his tour. If anyone has done it the right way, it's him.
KL would not take my $ for buy on. Lord knows I tried.
You know Kevin is not gonna remember, but we were fortunate enough to get him to speak at a conference of production pros about five years ago. Even then he was way ahead of the curve and i still find myself talking about him as an example of how to make touring work in the "brave new world" of digital distribution and the total irrelevance of record companies. He is--IMHO--an example of what is RIGHT about the biz
Editor, Front of House Magazine
I can vouch for Lyman on how he handles WARPED bands. I rep a band that recently did four dates on the Kevin Says Stage and one on the Ernie Ball stage at WARPED. The band IONIA, is a local draw around New York and New Jersey; Kevin gave us a chance, we did not buy on to anything but an insurance rider (which was cheap and easy), we were allowed to keep all of our merch sales, and we had a great time mixing into the fans, bands and pop culture. From what I saw, the thousands of teens at all of the venues we played at, were having a great time meeting their favorite bands, buying merch, and giggling at each other - looked good to me.
I just went to All Points West, and although Jay-Z was epic, the food and drink prices were aristocratic, and a shirt cost $45 - I didn't see one giggling teen spending any money within miles of that spot. I am guessing APW took a bath (all puns intended due to the rain) compared to the three local WARPED dates to NYC.
As for Kid Rock - This year, there is a band named GALLOWS out of the UK that is on the WARPED tour; they are super hardcore punk rock. On numerous occasions during their set they "called out" the more glitzy teen-pop bands on the tour. Those bands that are a bit more studio oriented, consumable radio play types. I can only imagine the situation that would occur if Kid Rock was in the pit of a GALLOWS set at WARPED; wow pandemonium.
EEP! Artist Management
I just spent two days at the Warped Tour in Saint Louis and Kansas City. The bands there are pouring their souls on the ground every day to thousands of fans and building followings the old fashioned way....they are earning them. Kevin and his team are giving these bands a chance to play on a stage every day to hone their message and their talent......he should be praised and thanked for his 15 year commitment.
Kevin Lyman is one of the biggest contributors to the music industry and to letting artists grow as well as management companies, specialized products who help the industry and families all across the world. He has also blessed me personally and artists I have worked with who have needed a reason to go on.
Bruce Hablutzel pres.Starzz Promotions and Management...
Great Kevin moment. I'm with Richie and Jon in Vancouver while they're tracking Keep the Faith and Lollapalooza comes through town. I convince the boys they need to see Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Jon is not interested, Richie is. We're standing on the stage and a downpour ensues. Eddie is swinging from an electrical vine like a crooning Chimpanzee the rain starts pouring down in Biblical sheets. The canopy is really sketchy were we're huddled. Kevin comes over and says, 'Lonn, it's dangerous up here, you should take the guys off stage." If memory serves, I said, "Dude, you tell 'em." So Kevin delivers the news to Jon that it would be best to move but Jon shot back one of those looks that if it could speak would have sounded something like, "it's cool, man. I'm Jon Bon Jovi. Lightning would bounce off of me." Kevin gave me what I will describe as snicker, turned his head to my guests and said, "Hey man, I know who you are but you're getting off my stage now because I am responsible for you."
Kevin Lyman ran production on the Palladium RIP parties, local live urban legend. Only time a band didn't hit their mark was at the 7th and last party where the aforementioned Bon Jovi headlined later that 92. Kalodner asked me if Jackyl could open and I said sure, but Jessie James has to chain saw on stage the disgusting sofa from my office, a relic of the HUSLTER studio where god knows what found its way into the cushions. Sure enough, during the Lumberjack song saw solo, Jessie went to work, foam and material flying everywhere. End of set, Kevin comes over and says, "Thanks, Lonn, for making a fucking mess of my stage! I'm gonna need another five minutes." Then his face cracks and a genuine smile appears. Kevin Lyman is the best.
Merch rates are retarded at some venues. Although some bands go too far. A fifty dollar tank from motley and areosmith is just greedy when the top cost is 9 bucks!!!!
Average percentage is 25. I love venues that do 20 but that is becoming very rare.
Arthur Fogel lies. In Barcelona none of both shows sold-out. OK, you can call it a success as most of the tickets for the enormous 90,000 seat stadium were sold. But there were hundreds of tickets at the boxoffice the first night, and a few thousands the second night. Technically Fogel will say it's soldout, and will be proud of his fake numbers. Truth is scalpers were selling at super cheap prices because no one was buying. Truth is, I asked at least 20 people about the show... most people were dissapointed. Weak performance, lots of technology to blind us and make it all look spectacular and hide the poor new songs they were playing. Ands for the bad view is some parts of the stadium, and for the ridiculously high prices (150 euros) for what whas supposed to be the best and closer seats. A circus is what it was. Of course, Mr.Fogel will keep on preaching us. Fuck him and fuck them all the stupid greedy people (artists included) in the music biz. They should get out in the street and check with fans.
Please don't put my name if you publish this.
In another (almost literally) galaxy, the rule of thumb for big shows was that 85-90% of the gross went towards all expenses involved. A sell-out (term seems used rather loosely of late), was 100% sold, and that last 10-15% was the clear profit. Nobody was smiling until 9/10ths of the seats had gone, at face price. All calculations were based on that knowledge; you could boast about selling 19,000 tickets in a 20K venue, and it looked like a good house; and of course you could paper the upper-tiers, and it looked like a great house. Neither good in the former instance, and certainly not even good but pathetic in the latter, of course.
We had AGENTS then, like Frank Barsalona and Barbara Skydel at Premier Talent, and menschy promoters like Delsener and Graham, and they gave the artists and mgmt. a clear picture of possibilities & options.
A clear picture is NOT what I'm getting from these U2 stats that you are battling over w. the producers of the tour. I rely on you for the clear picture. How do these putatively astronomical numbers work out in real life these days?
Please, help me through the smoke and mirrors of the concert industry in 2009.
U2 is doing a groundbreaking tour that most people I speak to (in the 23-30 year old age bracket as I am 25) are excited about it yet instead of applauding them you and many of your readers just sound ignorant in being negative abt this tour. This band is selling hundreds of thousands of tickets per market and you call it "cracks in the edifices". Does a band have to underplay a market for you to consider the tour a success? We should be applauding Live Nation for finding a way to open up the capacities in these venues to include more people. Since when is being inclusive a bad thing. This is not the 60's, your favorite band is not going to play a club for 10 dollars a head. Everyone needs to stop crying about the golden age and enjoy the fact that many older bands are still able to perform and do so at a very high level. And the idiot who said something abt U2's new album having long term effects on there ticket sales is not giving U2 enough credit. This band has enough hits that they will sell out arenas for the legnth their careers without putting out another record. Most people going want to hear the classics they grew up listening to anyway. Also, blaming the promoters for lack of breaking new bands is also ignorant. So many different forms of music exist now and so many more societal niches exist that there are going to be less bands that appeal to the masses. It is common sense but it doesn't mean the business is falling apart, rather you are going to see more bands that cater to abt 5-10,000 fans per market in the future then arena bands and I don't know that there is anything wrong with that.
The problem with the concert industry is debt, debt, and more debt. Look at the Live Nation and Ticketmaster debt load on the following Morningstar and Standard and Poor links.
The debt load is a combined $1,751,000,000.00 that's billion not millions. Their future if they merge will be to buy everything under the sun and fee the concert going public to death. Drive premium seats to Ticketmaster's secondary market. There is no other way to make their debt payments and show a profit, it will not come from the marginal profit deals that the promoters receive from the agencies, artist and management.
The SFX consolidation that grew to be Live Nation is a failure. There are indy promoters of all sizes like Jam, Bowery, IMP, and Another Planet. AC, Superfly that are profitable. They are not over employed, and show yearly growth. But being a national promoter you are trying to make one size fit all.
Of course Blink 182 sold out in their hometown, of course Bob (Kid Rock) sold out two stadium shows in his hometown on Detroit. That is what hometown bands should do. Look at these two acts' business in Miami, Raleigh or Kansas City and get a reality check
Live Nation has priced themselves out of the market, with the national tour promoter business model. What works in Detroit does not work in San Diego.
I was recently in the Fillmore in San Francisco, and all I can say is spend some money on upkeep. If Bill Graham ever saw a venue in that kind of disrepair his screaming voice would still be echoing thru the streets of San Francisco. Live Nation venues across the country are not well kept and the monies for general maintenance do not exist. One day Live Nation, and the artists will realize it all starts with the fans, and greed will kill you in the end if the debt load does not get you first.
Bob withhold my name if you post this
"Did you really think people were going to want to overpay to see the Stones, believing this was the last tour, when that whisper campaign began TWO DECADES AGO?"
Two? Try FOUR !!
The Stones' first "farewell tour" was in 1969 !!! Look hard enough and you can still find their "1969 farewell tour" T-shirts!
i played for $250 tonite in a crowded, loud, smokey bar where the only draw was the $1.50 beers-- certainly not me...most people are there to get drunk and meet a girl-- and not for the music...my job is to keep the beer flowing and the guys thinking they can get laid....im actually quite good at that! i make about $50,000 a year playing in and around DC as a solo acoustic act and the patrons of these bars are getting the covers of the orginal artists for free!! in fact, last nite, someone told me i did a better cover than the original artist! maybe thats where all this live "concert" shit ya'll are blabbering about is heading: to small local bars where the music is heard free and costs are covered by alcohol....rock on!
The "superstars" may be having a tough summer, but the jambands are killing it. Low ticket prices, long shows, great bills, lots of value for the dollar, that's always been our business plan. Fans first, that's our deal.
Of course you already know all of this, but I feel like it is getting lost in all the talk about live nation/ticketmaster etc.
The biscuits have had our biggest summer ever, by far, with shows in the 6000-10000 range throughout the summer. Sure we had our "Clevelands on a Wednesday", our smaller club shows, but the kids love those shows, and they are a nice change of pace from our red rocks show that don strasburg rolled the dice on.
How does an unknown band do 7000 people at red rocks? With great support and a low ticket price. 8 hours of non-stop music, all for $36. And priced to sell, that is exactly what we did. Kids came from all over to see it, just like they do for all jamband shows.
So in our little world, the music business IS alive and well. We had two successful summer festivals that we own, Camp Bisco and Bisco Inferno (our red rocks fest), and a host of other successes.
One bit of interesting info, advance sales have been down, while day of show sales have gone through the roof. Promoters are freaking out leading up to the show, but we have to tell them again and again, there is nothing to worry about, the shows have all been great, our fans are just sick of paying 40% more for their tickets by using ticketmaster. And time and time again we have walked away selling more tickets than ever before.
And then, of course, there is phish. Not many people are mentioning it, but one band doesn't have any trouble selling out shed shows instantly. $49 for a four hour show. It comes as no surprise to me that it is a band within our genre, where the quality of music and value for the fan is the focus. Even knowing that I can most likely get walked in the back door, I have no problem shelling out the $50 to see my favorite band in top form.
As for selling our new album, that's where we are going to have to get really creative. We have a plan to roll the album out in bits, two singles at a time, complete with remixes, videos, and all kinds of other interesting content. We'll let you know how it goes.
Cheers, love the blog,
So in the midst of all of this promoter/agent/ticket gouging/bashing going on back & forth, the one culprit who remains nameless is the artist. Among the reasons Live Nation has razor thin margins, and is supposedly laying "on their death bed" (hey, at least Arthur Fogel had the BALLS to sign his name to his rant, you spineless name-withheld coward), and is resorting to these apparently desperate deeply discounted no-fee free Weds whatever measures, is because they are beholden to the preposterous fees imposed by the same artists who deign to take the stage and claim allegiance to their fans.
It's all bullshit. Which is why I am ripping their tunes freely and downloading their torrent concert DVD's as a result of not actually being able to afford to attend their live performances.
The last show I saw was Radiohead, and after realizing that my prized $45 ticket turned into a roughly $90 ticket after service fees, facility fees and parking, I vowed never to support that machine again. For the record, every second of that concert was worth it, but rare is the act who can warrant such unsurpassed musicianship and dazzling artistry. Certainly not Madonna or Britney today, perhaps U2 back in the day, but now it's all about spectacle as Mr. Fogel says, the bigger the better. Anything to detract from the lack of genuine talent.
I demur with Mr. Fogel, there is much more that fans want than just a dizzying visual distraction. I don't particularly feel a deep emotional or spiritual connection with Bono on the giant video screen, as I once did when I could literally just elbow my way up to the stage and be within spitting distance of him, without having to pay "Golden Circle" or VIP prices.
It used to be about having the gumption and the passion to be willing to go hand in hand, toe to toe, with the artists you believed in, because as a fan we felt they believed in us. They needed us to survive, just as much as we needed them to feel alive. Now, they mock us, and expect us to pay for their privileged, blingtastic, chauffeured, private-jetted, failed album lifestyles. So fuck Bono, fuck Madonna, fuck the Stones, fuck Beyonce, and all of them. They will find out sooner or later that their fans have better things to spend their hard earned $200-$300-$400 on than lip-synched, tape-enhanced parodies of rock stars.
So don't hate Live Nation, all they're doing is trying to deliver entertainment, but they're just at the mercy of greedy artists and their Shylock managers with their ridiculous 85/15, 90/10, 95/5 + all-in deals, now they want a cut of everything from parking to concessions too. They're the ones causing Live Nation to increase everything from the price of parking to hot dogs. One day it will (and should) come to light that very seemingly altruistic, popular artists do scalp their own tickets, raking in generous profits from secondary markets, and are nothing short of hypocritical mercenaries. But boomers do as boomers can (we are one stupidly bloated, shallow generation), and as long as they can afford the Amex Platinum fees, they will continue to perpetuate this gluttonous cycle. Like I said, no more live concerts for me until this whole mess settles down.
Time to start pointing the finger in the other direction, and boycott the artists. When promoters finally refuse to pay their exorbitant fees, just let them try to put on their own concerts and pay for their own productions, crews, insurance, busses, catering, etc. I'll bet you suddenly ticket prices would be a lot lower if it was their own money on the line.
Bob, funnily enough, I wrote about this the other day, and I thought you might be interested:
and on the implosion in sales of concerts, this has been happening in less obvious ways for several years already. In fact, last year was the aberration, with concert sales up. Back in '06, I believe it was, concerts had a terrible year because they were relying too much on the old acts. That hasn't gotten any better, but a couple of fresh names (The Police and AC/DC) momentarily freshened it up.
While of course I'm bullish on live entertainment overall, the Big Rock Star model of concert going is definitely petering out. The future is a niche market, and some of those niches will be incredibly profitable.
I don't know if you're familiar with my company, but I'm the CEO of Goldstar (www.goldstar.com), and although we're the world's biggest seller of half-price tickets online, our service is designed around getting people out to live entertainment more. When you ask our members what they like about us, the first thing they say is usually "I find out about shows that I'd never have known about" and then second is "and the prices are great." We learned last year that 84% of the time, people come to Goldstar without a clue what show they want to see and we actually connect them to one. This is the inverse of the traditional business.
_Or as I like to say it, most of the industry finds buyers for its tickets. We find tickets for our buyers. In other words, we serve the 850,000 or so people who are Goldstar members and make sure we've always got lots of things for them to do.
The price is a way to remove barriers to trial. Our venue partners tell us that 80 to 90% of the people we send them are people they would never have seen otherwise, so the whole point of the exercise is to grow the pie for live entertainment.
And the reason we do it (besides having a profitable business and making a living) is because we believe live entertainment (and not just music, btw) is great and makes peoples' lives better. It makes them more social, connects them to the places they live, makes them smarter and more interesting, gives them interesting things to talk about. It's good.
And we also know that people like to go out to live stuff a lot but don't get out as often as they'd like. We try to cure that.
Anyway, that's more than I intended to write, but since you think and talk about these issues a lot, I thought I'd add a strain or two of thought into your concoction.
posted 9:57 AM