Archive for the ‘The Rocking Chair Blog’ Category

I knew the song “Closer”, but nothing could have prepared me for the opening track on Nine Inch Nails’ epic 1994 release “The Downward Spiral” where a man get shot to death. I was thirteen when I picked the album up and it scared the hell out of me. The violence, the intensity, the barrage of sounds and textures were a little more than I could handle. The truth is that I liked it because of its ability to instill the darkest fears in me. I would lie in bed listening to the album, shivering in my jammies even though it was the middle of summer. The music, if stripped of its lush aural soundscapes, would probably seem very straight forward, but with Trent Reznor’s creativity it was anything but. Combining the hooks and crunch of Heavy Metal with a solid dose of Electronica and odd time signatures, Reznor created a musical envelope for his dark brooding personality. In short he was not about Industrial Music, he was of it.

Certainly not the first person to experiment thusly in Rock, Reznor can be accounted as one of the few who was able to make the sound mainstream. Some of the earliest influences came from avant-garde composers like Luigi Russolo, whose manifesto “The Art of Noises” argued that the human ear had grown accustomed to the modern urban soundscape; therefore, new approaches were needed in order to push music forward. He often incorporated household items in his compositions as a way to approach “Noise Sound” (engines, rustling trees, car horns, etc.) and break from conventional music methods. While this was a more abrasive way to enrich the sound palate, other composers were approaching the idea of sound as music from a more ambient perspective. A quick definition, Ambient is a style of music that focuses on sound and atmosphere more than the notes themselves. The immortal John Cage (who any artist dabbling in ambient productions owes their livelihood to) was instrumental in taking everyday sounds and using them in a way to “affirm life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living.” The best example of this is his 1952 composition “4’33”. A pianist (or an entire orchestra) sits with their instruments without sounding a single note; the point being that the surrounding sounds of the concert hall, people coughing, the air conditioning blowing and so on, create the composition itself.

In this examination of early ideas of Industrial music, it is interesting to note that as the music began to grow in popularity and scope, the songs became about nihilism and despair. The very style that was created as a source of hope for the future of music began to be its death knell. If we look at the idea of the Industrial sound as a deconstruction of known forms, the growth of pain and hopelessness as underlying themes in the music is a natural deconstruction of the love and sex themes in Pop Music that have become familiar. It is Rusollo’s idea taken from the realm of sound and applied to lyric.

Industrial music was still more of a curiosity then a viable movement of its own. It was during the 70s when bands began to take the idea of the music to its potential. There is a trio of bands considered to be the founders of the genre; each brought their own creativity to the form. The first, England’s Throbbing Gristle (yes that is really their name) made powerfully distorted and twisted music; however they were more known for their live shows which were more about performance art. The second band, Einstürzende Neubauten from Germany, focused on the sound itself, pushing the boundaries to their most extreme by using power tools and construction materials. The last, England’s Cabaret Voltaire experimented with Electronica as a tool with which to dig into the harsh sounds the movement was obsessed with. It was raw and unfocused but it was Industrial, and it was something new.

That bands like Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM (more on both soon) were able to create their own tonal landscapes speaks to their predecessors who gave them these very singular musical experiences to draw from. Interestingly enough it was another form of music (that was also viewed as a breakdown) that helped the New Wave of Industrial acts find their voice. Punk’s raw, explosive power was exactly what Industrial artists needed in order to polish their music. Where early Industrial music had a tendency to ramble on in unfocused directions, adding the terse manic energy of Punk directed all of that noise into a more constructed package. Beyond that, bands like England’s Nitzer Eb and Canada’s Skinny Puppy injected pounding Electronic beats that pushed the music forward.

It was bands like Ministry and Germany’s KMFDM who were able to take all of these precedents and create what is considered the true blueprint for Industrial success. KMFDM did it by tapping into Electronic Music and highly distorting it. Consider it Disco music for a generation of audiophiles raised on feedback. Ministry took it to the other side. They filled their music with hammering Heavy Metal guitar riffs, and through that were able to appeal to a much more vast audience.

So the table was set for Nine Inch Nails (whose only real full-time member is Trent Reznor) to take the world by storm. By using his musical talent and charismatic personality, Reznor was able to bring the music into the mainstream and influence an entire sub-genre of imitators with limited talent. The only Nine Inch Nails follower that had any true and lasting success was the Richard Patrick-led Filter. Patrick had toured with NIN as a guitar player on their first couple of tours, and as such drank directly from the Well of Knowledge that is Trent Reznor. Filter’s first hit “Hey Man Nice Shot” had them pegged as a one-hit-wonder, but as they have developed as a band they have successfully distanced themselves from that song, growing lyrically as well as musically.

Industrial music grew from early avant-garde roots to briefly top the charts as the most popular music in the land. As it stands today it is a mere niche, a small footnote in music history. What is interesting about Industrial music is how it grew from a style hell-bent on deconstruction to another cog in the great machine of the music industry. What is even more interesting about that is that none of the artists mentioned here would compromise their sound in order to sell records. So in that respect they made the industry bow to them, if only for a brief period of time.

What I’m listening to: Army of Anyone: Self Titled

Comprising of Robert and Dean Deleo of Stone Temple Pilots and the above mentioned Richard Patrick, the band went a bit under the radar with this, their first release. The music is straight-up Hard Rock, with added nuances courtesy of the Deleo Brothers who seem to play off one another with an almost psychic gift. The music is tight and Richard Patrick’s vocals soar above. A great album.

Stone Temple Pilots used to be awesome. Though their initial sound borrowed heavily from other bands that were either more popular or more recognizable, they refined the Grunge sound as the first true Arena Rock group of the era. Their music was groovy and catchy. They had all the right elements; a preening, dour frontman, and a tight backing band. With their second release “Purple” the sound got even tighter, and the songs even catchier. They were beginning to develop as a serious contender to the more “legitimate” Alternative acts, although they were habitually panned by the critics. Then in 1996 they released their third album, the bizarrely titled “Tiny Music: Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop.” It sold well, going multi-platinum, but the material was a departure from their early formula. Adding elements from all over the musical spectrum the album was incoherent and rambling, unable to focus on any one element long enough to make a serious go of it. In addition the usually airtight musicianship of Dean and Robert Deleo and Eric Kretz was loose, jangling like the jowls of the elderly.

There are many arguments you can make as to why something like this happened. For one the band, achieving a great deal of recognition, decided to branch out and try something different. With the band’s fame came an elevated profile; with that came information about the band’s very public struggle with drug abuse. After cancelling most of their tour in 1995 the members decided to get help. They emerged from rehab a few months later feeling refreshed and renewed, entering the studio amid a flurry of publicity only to come out with the question mark that is “Tiny Music”.

Yes, I am implying that drugs, or more specifically Heroin, Scag, Smack, Horse, (what have you) played a significant part in the early works of the band. Its removal during the recording process left the band members unfocused and confused. Take the Beatles as an example: the most creative and forward thinking era of their career, from “Rubber Soul” to “Abby Road”, was created amid a wave of hallucinogenic intake. The point I am trying to make is not that drugs are good, I am merely pointing out what Bill Hicks said best; that all those people that have made the music that enhanced our lives were “rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreal f—–g high on drugs.” Sad yes, but startling, no. Our singers and Rockstars live above the law in a realm where we give them a pass on anything they do. People were shocked when Keith Moon (Drums, The Who) busted up his teeth diving into an empty swimming pool. In a sense we are the greatest enablers of all. We stand back and watch our favorite artists self-destruct, only becoming concerned when they are no longer a viable product. The presence of drugs in the lives of our Rock heroes is hardly shocking either. In some respects the artists themselves feel that drugs help them provide us with the best possible product. George Michael, who has sold over 80 million albums in his 25 year career has said that he absolutely needs weed to make music, that he cannot write songs without it.

What is most interesting about this relationship is how the music being created usually reflects the most popular drugs being consumed at the time. For example, in the 60s and 70s the most popular drugs were LSD and Marijuana. The laid back nature of Folk-Rock and proto-psychedelic classics like Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” represented the free-thinking and free-living these drugs stereotypically foster. As the 70s began and the Vietnam War continued to escalate, more and more soldiers were found with weed stashed in the butts of their M16s. It seemed that was going to be the way of things, but as the decade wore on and musical tastes shifted, so did the drugs being consumed. As Punk-Rock rose and its newly wealthy artists turned to PCP, the youth who largely could not afford the real thing turned to Glue Huffing to satisfy their desire. PCP, or Angel Dust, Ozone, Sherm, Kools, (well, you get the picture) is an anesthetic and an amphetamine combined, which was perfectly suited for the frantic, often self-destructive nature of the music. Across town, the early superclubs like Studio 54 were packed to the gills with the social elite burying their heads in mountains of cocaine. The socio-economic rift between the Punks and the more bourgeois Disco fans is apparent. Where PCP made you crazy, Coke kept your head in the clouds and your feet on the dance floor.

This continued into the 80s. As New Wave music and early Electronica rose from the ashes of Disco, cocaine followed it. Led largely by Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, and The Pet Shop Boys, the music was ripe with the overly synthesized dance sound that filled dance floors. While true Punk faded into Hardcore, the growing Hip-Hop community already had a problem; Cocaine’s ugly stepsister, Crack. Known as a ghetto drug, crack infested poor ethnic communities all over the United States, and became the source of the rallying cry for early rappers like Grand Master Flash and Eric B and Rakim. In that respect it is not the music that reflects the drugs, rather it is the lyrics that are influenced by crack’s siege on their communities.

As the 90s were ushered in, the freewheeling rockstar cokeheads were replaced by Kurt Cobain and his eras Heroin-chic Grunge sound. The widespread use of heroin was so prevalent that Rolling Stone magazine famously put Layne Staley (vocals, Alice In Chains) on a magazine cover under the headline “The Needle and the Damage Done.” This was a reference to the Neil Young song that speaks about drug abuse. At the same time that Rock was undergoing a public struggle with heroin, another narcotic was infecting the youth of the fledgling Trance community. Ecstacy, or X, E, Go, Adam, Clarity, and so on was a bit of everything. It combined the euphoria of Marijuana with the craziness of crack, and some mild hallucinations to boot. In clubs like London’s famous Ministry of Sound it was all the rage; it fit with the upbeat excitement of the music as well as the sensory overloading light shows. That the pills were cut with a dangerous cocktail of other substances did not seem to bother the kids who came for the drugs and stayed for the music. In the late 90s the DJs themselves tried to put some semblance of sanity back into their scene. Famously Paul Van Dyk, one of the genre’s founders, donned a shirt that read “There is no E in Dyk.” This combined his fear for the drug-obsessed youth of Europe with the correct spelling of his oft misspelled surname.

As we find ourselves hurtling forward into the new millennium, this question seems to beg: what is next? We certainly will continue to idolize our favorite artists with the ever impressionable youth striving to emulate them in every way. A recent poll in England showed that Amy Winehouse, a Heroin addict, is the most influential woman in the country. Where are the boundaries? Is it our fault for idolizing these flawed people, or is it their fault for falling into the trappings of stardom? It is a symbiotic relationship that cycles from our obsessions to the artists fears, and trickles back down. At the end of the day it seems to be not only our choice but one that we have to make together.

What I am listening to: Above & Beyond – Tri-State: A trio of British producers Above & Beyond are one of the first groups in Trance to create an artist album that stands as a cohesive work. Expertly produced with crystal clear beats and lush melodies they proved that Electronic Music is alive and well. They also showed that it was possible for producers who felt trapped by the DJs whose careers they were fueling to escape the shadows and become recognized on their own.

In the mid 70s everything in popular music seemed ok. Led Zeppelin released their epic “Physical Graffiti,” and Pink Floyd put out their classic, “Wish you were here.” Brian Eno, began to experiment with Ambient Electronica on his release “Another Green World,” while Aerosmith were putting nuts in the cracker with “Toys in the Attic.” Across the pond, David Bowie released a legitimate Soul classic with “Young Americans,” and Queen took us out to “A Night at the Opera.” It was a magical time where the boundaries of musical exploration were constantly being tested and expanded. Progressive Rock was at its peak, Funk was ruling the party scene, and Electronic music was getting its feet wet at the deft hands of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream. Something had to give, and something surely did.

Almost at the same time two bands formed that were to crush the mighty with their loud yet simple ways. Even legends like The Sex Pistols and The Ramones have predecessors. Emerging from NYC and Ann Arbor Michigan, the New York Dolls and the Stooges were stripping down everything the aforementioned bands had spent years building. The Dolls had a bit more of direction with their heavily influenced Chuck Berry meets the Rolling Stones sound, although to see and hear them you would never know. The music was loud and dysfunctional. It was everything they could do to not fall apart on stage. Similarly The Stooges went even further. Raw and manic, their playing seemed to try to prove the point that anyone can be in a Rock band, and the less you knew the better. The fascinating thing about these two bands is that their debut albums were both produced by famous members of other musical movements. John Cale, who produced The Stooges eponymous debut, was known for his contributions to The Velvet Underground as much as his experiments with Ambient and Electronic Music. Todd Rungren, who produced The New York Dolls debut, was famous for his work with Carole King. These two men saw something in this new gritty style of music, and chose to offer their talent to help the fledgling genre along.

It was not until The Ramones and the Sex Pistols that Punk, which got its title when people adopted it as a source of pride rather than let arrogant music journalists use it as an insult, began to achieve mainstream success. The desire was to strip Rock down from its high horse, and bring back the fun. That many of the bands advocated drug abuse and violence added to their influence both positively on the youth and negatively on the critics who initially panned them for being unpolished, and uninteresting. Despite their best efforts though, by the end of the 70s a whole slew of bands had reached the upper echelons of the Rock sphere playing this base and unintelligent style of music.

So Punk had effectively killed off everything good about 70s music. But what of Punk itself? Could a style formed on such basic principles last? What would the artists themselves do to keep the music interesting? Well there were two schools of thought. In one instance bands began to incorporate a greater palate of sounds to the same stripped raw sound of early Punk. On the other hand was the Hardcore movement based largely in California. The best known acts came out of the Post Punk-New Wave scene because of the acceptance of diversity in the style allowed for greater radio play. The Clash were experts at this, and their 1979 release “London Calling” was a testament to that. Incorporating Reggae and Pop elements with the uncompromising lyrics of Punk, the album is still considered to be a landmark release, and one of the greatest albums in history. The realization that their genre could only go so far showed that Punk had a bit of maturity after all. It seems that the catalyst for that was the death of Sex Pistol’s Bass player Sid Vicious of a heroin overdose. His death was seen by many as a symbol of Punk being doomed from the start, a sentiment that Punk’s numerous and vocal detractors would take to heart.

The Hardcore scene took Punk at its word and made it heavier and faster, the lyrics only coming out in a series of grunts. Ruled by The Misfits, The Dead Kennedy’s, and Henry Rollins’ first band Black-Flag, their uncompromising assault on the senses did not win them much fame, but it did afford a dedicated following that persists to this day.

It is the New Wave and Post Punk movement that is most interesting though. It is almost as though the artists began to realize that they destroyed something beautiful, and needed to scramble to make up for that. The Talking Heads began to toy with electronic production methods. Blondie embraced Disco, and The Police helped to make Reggae mainstream, bringing a whole new generation of fans to the music of Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. These bands showed that the music could still contain the same frantic scathing lyrics, without sacrificing musical experimentation. It was no longer about youth culture sticking their middle fingers into the face of the government. The second wave of Punk was led by some of the most intelligent artists of our time. It shows in the way they were able to achieve mainstream acceptance at the same time they were politically active, and trying to broaden their musical horizons. Interestingly enough, it was the collaboration between the Talking Head’s David Byrne, and Brian Eno that afforded the band their greatest creative period.

Looking through the lens of early Punk trying to break rules and destroy what came before them, it is almost funny to see where Punk stands, as one of the most popular styles of music today. That the music is based on simple rhythms and chord progressions is not lost in an industry where digestibility is paramount. It is for this reason that early pioneers like Johnny Rotten, hate these new kids. He sees himself as a martyr to a cause that has long since left him behind, and is angry about the people that took over. Many of the artists understand this growth, this need to adapt and change. It is not that Punk killed what was good about the 70s, not really. It is more that a few bad seeds got loose and upset the balance for a while. It came together in the end, it nearly always does.

What I am listening to: The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

One of the most ambitious albums from the Grunge era, Mellon Collie… is an epic, two disks, with songs that range from Heavy Metal, to Classical, and almost Folk. Billy Corgan, described the album as “The Wall for Generation X.” It is a rewarding listen. Full of beautiful compositions the material almost never lags. It is the sign of a man at the peak of his creative gifts.

They always hated the label Funk Metal, yet here they were, one of the founding members of the form. I hope the irony of dedicating an entire column to a sub-genre a scant week after saying that sub-genres were meaningless is not lost on you dear readers, but I digress. Faith No More hated the term because they felt it pushed them into a corner when they were trying so hard to do so much more. It even sounds obscure – Funk and Metal. The two styles seem so diametrically opposed that the term itself seems to be an oxymoron. Let’s examine the terms at their face value. Funk implies groove, soul and good feelings; Metal implies rage, pain, and speed. The truth is that as we will discover, the two are not as different as you think. But before I can tell you about all of that we have to have a history lesson.

Funk is a style of music that was born in the late 60s and early 70s as a development from R&B. By focusing on complex rhythms and primarily bass driven sounds, early artists in the form were able to make R&B sound more raw than ever. The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, a man who collected nicknames like fake tattoos from a bag of potato chips, was actually The Godfather of Funk. With such classic recordings as “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” and “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine)” James was able to showcase his airtight rhythm section and wail over songs where the melody was less important than the groove. The next founding member of the form, Sly Stone (of Sly and the Family Stone) was able to build on James Brown’s sparse raw sound to create more lush soundscapes, still heavily bass driven but now with a touch of psychedelia that made the music more radio friendly. On a side note, with men, women and black and white musicians, Sly & the Family Stone was the first fully integrated band in Rock history. George Clinton, the man probably most responsible for making Funk popular, took Sly’s psychedelic influences to their fullest and made the music the ultimate party soundtrack. This is not to say that the music lacks real creative weight.

Thematically, Parliament/Funkadelic’s long time bass player Bootsy Collins is a legend in his own right. Along with Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone, Bootsy is credited with the invention of the slapping and popping method of playing bass. Instead of plucking strings, the thumb and index fingers aggressively thump on the strings, creating a popping sound. A great example of this is on the song “Thank you for Talkin’ to me Africa” by Sly and the Family Stone.

So, everyone was having a great time, the music was selling well and charting on Billboard’s top lists. What happened? The decline of the Funk era came in several stages. To begin with, the highly reviled Disco era owed much of its influences to Funk. When Punk took over in the early 80’s and Disco burnings were held in stadiums, Funk suffered the ire of the record buying community. The second stage was the development of equipment in the 80s. Synthesizers were taking over the roles of entire horn sections, and drummers were fired to make way for the Roland TR-808 drum machine. The slick overproduced sound of 80s Pop and R&B owed much to the earlier Funk days, but not in a way that its influences could be easily recognized. They are there though. Take Bandy’s 1994 hit “Wanna Be Down” – the pounding bass is there though the Rap beat disguises it.

Down but not out, Funk received two helping hands that brought its’ influence back from obscurity. In the mid-80s a black guitar player by the name Vernon Reid formed the band Living Colour, who had the noticeable distinction of being an all African-American band in a Heavy Metal world. While the Metal world at large was playing with demons and hot-chicks, Living Colour was injecting a serious dose of soul and rhythm. Popular almost at once, their style of Hard Rock built over a solid foundation of Funk was an extremely new sound. Similarly, when The Red Hot Chili Peppers formed, the partnership between Hillel Slovak’s Funky grooves and Flea’s popping bass at Punk speeds was dynamic. Hard Rock had another band that was championing their Funk influences.

Another movement that fully embraced their Funk predecessors (almost to a fault) was the G-Funk era of West Coast Rap in the 90s. Almost every song that was a hit in those days was lifted from Parliament, Stevie Wonder and others. Some examples: Dr. Dre – “Let me Ride” (Parliament – “Mothership Connection”), Warren G – “Regulators” (Michael Macdonald – “I Keep Forgettin”), Tupac – “Staring at the World” (Phil Collins – “In the Air Tonight”). Led largely by Dr. Dre and the Death Row Records family, G-Funk partnered violent hedonistic lyrics with smooth laid back beats. Interestingly, Rap used Funk in order to make hard lyrics seem more laid back. Rock and Metal used the style in order to add a smoother dimension to their music.

Once Faith No More came onto the scene in the late 80s, the form was ripe for the picking and this they did with great adeptness. They were able to combine an appreciation for earlier Funk with an understanding of 70s Soul music, and incorporate all of that into their vision for Heavy Metal. The problems came after the band’s demise in the late 90s. Mike Patton, the lead singer, had tried to distance himself from the legions of Funk-Metal followers that came onto the scene. From Korn to Limp Bizkit and P.O.D., almost every Heavy Metal act in the post-Grunge era flirted with Funk as an influence. Part of the reason is Funk’s ability to be hard and uncompromising while remaining easily digested by the masses. It is this link that best ties it to Heavy Metal. When a Metal act is looking to add melody without sacrificing the sheer weight of their sonic force, they need look no further than Funk. Fieldy, the Bass player for Korn, seems to understand this best and his super detuned Funk basslines drive Korn’s aggressive approach without sacrificing intensity.

It is upsetting that all these bands influenced by Faith No More are denied respect from their heroes. Like Dr. Frankenstein refusing to take responsibility for his monster, Mike Patton has moved on to different projects in other realms of the musical sphere. It is not his dislike of the genre, rather his fear of being typecast has driven him to branch out into such diverse genres.

With the death of Disco, Funk had lost almost all of its credibility. It took visionaries from the opposite ends of the spectrum to return it to glory. The tradition we remember so gloriously today owes almost all of its revival to, of all things, Heavy Metal. At the same time Funk can blame its’ death on Punk. I think that there is a column in there somewhere.

What I am listening to: Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – Texas Flood

Bringing the Blues back from the brink of destruction, SRV’s debut shines with the influences of his heroes while paving new ground. The set is a high energy burst of Texas Blues in the image of Lightning Hopkins. From the tone of his guitar to the killer licks of “Rude Mood” and “Testify,” the album is a classic.

I was looking through a friend’s Ipod, the best way to see deep into someone’s soul, and was annoyed by all the genres. They were not poorly organized, rather there were just too many of them. He had Alternative, Alternative Rock, Alt/Rock, Rock, Heavy Metal, Metal, Punk, Punk-Rock, and more. One explanation is that he does not care about his musical grouping as I do (an almost O.C.D. attention to organization and details.) Maybe these are the ways people organize their music. It is possible. The question that begs is: What is the difference between all these Genres? It seems that in the current music industry the lines have become so blurred with the influx of bands trying to cross promote themselves, they are not even sure who their target market is anymore. Take a band like The Strokes. Are they Punk? Are they the last remnant of the long-dead Grunge revolution? Maybe they are just a Rock band trying to find their place by combining aesthetics. Ask the boys; they probably are not even sure themselves. Another example: I recently watched Madonna’s new music video. The Timbaland produced “4 Minutes to Save the World,” has an R&B sound matched with a Rap beat, and features Justin Timberlake. The target market seems to be everyone. Is it Pop? Is it R&B? The only thing that people seem to care about is that it will sell.

Let’s start off simply. There is no Alt/Rock. In fact these days Alternative itself is practically dead. Before we discuss the genre breakdown and its meaningless sub categories, let us go back to the mid-90s to relive its’ glorious, albeit brief life. After Hair Metal (shudder) came Nirvana, and essentially Grunge was born. In my opinion the term Grunge only refers to four bands. The Seattle scene’s finest: Alice-In-Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and the aforementioned Nirvana. Grunge responded to the decadence of the 80s, the end of Reagenomics, and the desire to put true feeling back into the music. Alternative then became the banner for all the hangers-on, who inevitably rode in on the trends and faded out anonymously. Grunge, and to a similar extent Alternative, started as Sub-Genres until the CDs began to fly off the shelves, prompting many record store chains to create entire sections devoted to the style. On a side note, there is nothing more irritating then going to music stores, (you remember what those are right?) and not being able to find anything because you are not sure what section it’s in. So Grunge and Alternative, let us call them kissing cousins, had arrived. After Kurt Cobain took his own life and the idea of Grunge with him, Alternative was left without its’ relative to give it legitimacy. What I find most interesting about Grunge is that in any other era Soundgarden and Alice-In-Chains would probably have been considered Heavy Metal.

These Genre lines began to crumble in earnest when the first true crossover act of the era came into prominence in the late 90s. Creed was able to borrow the heavily distorted guitar tones of Alice-In-Chains, and the hollow Eddie Vedder-esque voice of Pearl Jam, and marry that with uplifting lyrics. Their debut album “My Own Prison” had a few minor hits but was a darker affair than their 1999 follow up “Human Clay.” Its’ more hopeful outlook spawned megahits like “With Arms Wide Open,” and “Higher,” raising the band to superstardom. The music was hard enough for the guys and yet sweet enough for the girls. Many critics see this as the beginning of a sorry period for Rock, where any true originality was lost amid a sea of copycat acts.

Heavy Metal, on the other hand, has enjoyed Sub-Genre status for decades, only being realized as a commercially viable product it itself in certain specific circumstances. That almost every band in Heavy Metal is its own category is an amusing fact. Take some of my favorite bands for example. Testament is Thrash, Faith No More is Funk, and Arch Enemy is Black Metal. With so many ways to classify a Sub-Genre all the categories begin to lose meaning, because as a wise man once said “No matter how thin you slice it, it’s still baloney.”

The circumstances surrounding the peaks in Metal’s popularity came in two ignominious eras of the music. In the 80s when Thrash (more on this in the future) ruled the Bay Area, Hair Metal ruled the airwaves. Led by Motley Crue and the triumvirate of bands that are all essentially the same, Ratt, Warrant, and Poison, the music was more about personalities and having a good time then making any sort of statement of consequence. It reflected the nature of the times; the economy was booming, and the Iron Curtain was crumbling, so let’s party. The most telling aspect of the rise of Hair Metal is that almost all of their radio hits were the inevitable power ballads that made them more palatable to the layperson.

The second era was the Nu-Metal, or sometimes called Rap-Metal, scene of the late 90s and early 00s. Rap, as one of the last styles of music to carry any real countercultural weight, seemed a natural partner for Heavy Metal who had lost almost all credibility with the ceremonial cutting of Metallica’s hair. When Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park burst onto the scene, they were able to cross promote themselves to angry urban kids buying Busta Rhymes disks and with Metal-Heads alike.

To borrow an idea from Plato, (yeah I’m going there) God created the idea of Rock. The next step was for the musicians to interpret that idea. We as consumers are the lowest level of society because all we do is classify the interpretations of God’s grand idea. In all seriousness though, do we need all these Genres and Sub-Genres? Does Ska so beg to be differed from Punk? Is fusion so far removed from Jazz, and will someone please explain to me the difference between Classical and Symphonic Heavy Metal? Beyond that I think that this endless classification of musical forms says something about us as a society. In the ever pressing need to compartmentalize out lives and find our niche in the world, it seems arrogant of us to exclude new experiences because they do not fit into our narrow world view.

I get frustrated when people say they “listen to everything” and then resist new musical experiences. The endless classifications in the Rock world seem to be nothing more than self-justification about staying in one’s comfort zone. I will listen to anything, at least once. That does not mean that I like everything, but sometimes I am pleasantly surprised. Recently Michael got me into Papa Roach, who drew me in with their strong hooks and powerful riffs. With the internet and the myriad of websites that are geared towards musical discovery, it is easier than ever to expand your horizons and learn something new. In other words, do not adjust your radio, just change the channel.

What I am listening to: In order to help you broaden your minds, dear readers, I am starting this section to inform you about different music you might not be aware of. This week I am excited to start you off with…

Arc of a Diver: By Steve Winwood. After departing Traffic, he had a very successful solo career. This, his second album, showcased his musicianship (he played every instrument on the album) and arrangements. It is a tight and melodic set of songs and shows that Steve had as much to say in his second career as he did in his first.

Wearing The Music by Jonny Steiner

Posted: March 30, 2008 by Maximum Mike in The Rocking Chair Blog

I have to say I looked great. Fluevog Shoes, Donna Karen Jeans, a Ted Baker shirt and over all that a black suit jacket. I was not going to a nice dinner or a play, not even a college party. I was going to see Arch Enemy and Iron Maiden at the Hammerstien Ballroom in Manhattan . Due to the popularity of my college radio show “The Hot Box with Jonny and Chaya,” I was able to get free tickets to many concerts. This time no one wanted to go with me because it was around midterm time and my friends weren’t sufficient fans to risk failing exams. So I went alone.

I picked up my tickets (2) and proceeded to seek out one of the forlorn looking kids without a ticket lingering about outside. After a sweep of the crowd, a motley crew (you like that?) of Metal Heads, I saw a guy that looked like he could use a pick me up. He was a little chunky, with dark red hair and was wearing an old sleeveless Iron Maiden shirt. His pants were another story altogether. Baggy and worn like a WWII Parachute, they seemed to have been sliced by a Japanese Katana and repaired with zippers over every hole. Needless to say, they were black. I approached the young man and asked him if he wanted a free ticket to the show. This is our exchange to the best of my memory. Let’s say his name was Josh.

Me: Hey man you want a ticket to the show?

Josh: How Much?

Me: Free.

Josh: Get out of here.

Me: Look I have two tickets right here and I am offering you one. Do you want it?

Josh: For real?

Me: For Real.

Josh: No strings.

Me: Well you have to be my date. Just kidding have a good time.

Josh, who looked every bit the Metal-Head, did not trust me in my incongruous garb to be a Metal fan or even attend a concert. In my daily dress I do not look like I can wail along with Iced Earth and Testament. The thing is that does not matter. Being a fan of a Rock band is not the same as rooting for your favorite baseball team. The love for our Rock heroes comes from within. Outward self -representation should not have to indicate where your musical preferences lie. I have found, in my concert going experiences, the most judgmental and unforgiving cliques of music fans are Punk-Rockers and Metal-Heads. This results from their strict self-imposed dress code. Through that lens, it is amusing when you realize that Punk and Metal are the two forms of Rock most strongly Anti-establishment. The way I see it, the more immature members of each society are so paranoid about being encroached upon by people who either do not respect or understand their music, they have created their own establishment. The dress code then becomes more of a defense mechanism than an actual statement. Based on the way I dress, if I approached any one of these kids regardless of my knowledge they would call me a poser or a Narc. If a Rock show is about people sharing a communal experience then anyone who would exclude another person based on their clothing is a poser.

Interestingly enough when speaking of bands themselves the opposite seems to be true. The mode of dress of a specific artist needs to be representative of what they want their music to convey. When I saw Dream Theater they were all in black. Simple and effective; perhaps the lack of pretense in regards to their clothes leaves the audience with no choice but to take the music as it comes. Another Rock sub-genre, whose dress is more haphazard than stylish, are Shoegazers: So called because of the droning music and listless performances of the artists who seem to be staring at their shoes rather than make eye contact with the crowd. A standard in their mode of dress are the Converse All-Stars whose bleached white laces seem to glow beneath the stage lights.

This can also work against a band. I hate to have my column be the Green Day bashing hour, especially since I used to love them but we will go there one more time. I recall a recent poster on which the boys were all dressed in red and black it seemed like an ad for Hot Topic more than a Rock poster. If we are to take them by their music and believe them to be Punk what do we think when we see these perfectly groomed corporate representations? Let us extend this to Electronic music. On Armin Van Buuren’s live DVD, an event in front of almost 20,000 people, where all the audience and the performers were dressed to impress, Armin was wearing a ratty old t-shirt and jeans. This shows a lack of professionalism. The band Kiss, whose professionalism only goes as far as the latest product they are hawking, have never made any bones about the corporate nature of their machine. Even the ceremonial removal of their makeup for 1983’s “Lick it Up” seemed a calculated move to get the band press after the previous album “Creatures of the Night” sold dismally. There are many who would argue it was precisely the mass marketing of the Grunge look that added to Kurt Cobain’s feelings of disillusionment, and caused him to take his own life.

At the Arch Enemy show I remember thinking how well put together the band looked. Angela, the lead singer, was wearing tight black jeans and a red and black shirt festooned with a power fist. The rest of the band wore all black to varying styles and lengths. It was later that I read that Angela, who is one of seven children, has known how to sew from a very young age. She travels with a sewing machine in order to help her with alterations of the band’s stage wear. Believe it or not, Ozzy Osbourne also designs his stage costumes. The line between personal style and corporate sponsorship is easily spotted. Take for example Lilly Allen who is coming out with her own clothing line. In sharp contrast, Amy Winehouse’s heroin chic beehive serves as a testament to the turmoil in her personal life. Perhaps artists with no style say it best by letting their music speak for itself. Either way it is up to them to match the two, not up to us to create an establishment to contain them.


Supermen with Silver Guns by Jonny Steiner

Posted: March 23, 2008 by Maximum Mike in The Rocking Chair Blog

There are superheroes in real life. I do not speak of the Firefighters and the Police who are genuine heroes and all that. I am looking to make a comparison more apropos of the costumes and personalities inherent in our heroes. Here I speak of Rock frontmen. Standing on stage, chests heaving with confidence as they convey the music to the audience, these are our superheroes. With all eyes upon them they place us in the palms of their hands and lead us like children crossing a busy intersection. Some are more talented vocally, some athletically; yet each has his own style and his own methods of performance. I remember one of my first concert experiences, R.E.M. at Gund Arena in my hometown of Cleveland Ohio. Our seats were close but a little behind the stage so that Michael Stipe had his back to us throughout the gig. It was not until they played “Orange Crush” that Michael came around to face us. I felt in that moment as though he was singing to me, even though there were a few hundred people in my section. It is the skill of transmission on a personal level within a communal gathering that is one of the more fascinating skills of the frontman. Of course a mere spiritual connection with the audience is not nearly enough to propel these men to super heroic status. It also takes a certain degree of athleticism, and movement. At a Dream Theater concert once I saw James Labrie run around onstage with his mike stand in tow. He was whirling like a madman and tripped over the stand, mid note. He caught himself on one foot and did not break the note for a second. In fact the whole thing almost looked intentional.
There are two types of frontmen. Those that play instruments and those that do not. I chose to focus here on those that do not because when your arms are unhindered by an instrument you are free to gyrate and dance around like a devil worshipping madman. With that in mind I will begin my break down of four of the greatest, and leave you with my personal top 10.
When you look up the word “frontman” in the dictionary there will be a picture of Steven Tyler. The prototype, Steven has done it for over 30 years. Getting his wings with Aerosmith in the early seventies, Steven is to this day the most recognizable members of one of the most famous bands the US has ever produced. Steven’s trademark is the microphone stand adorned with scarves. The tradition came from back in the drug fueled 70s when he would hide substances in them. It is this prop that is the source for much of his gyrating and movement. He is known for swinging the microphone stand around. This is not to undercut his musical skills in any way. Steven is an extremely talented singer with an honest raw timbre to his voice that makes him that much more adored. It is his emotive voice combined with a confident persona that makes him so devastatingly compelling. You could say that without the scarves he is only imitating Mick Jagger whose swagger is legendary. True, Jagger is a timeless figure in Rock, but I think that Steven’s vocal skills give him the edge.
From the complete package to a more nuanced performer, David Lee Roth is the consummate entertainer. His thin tinny vocals have gotten him criticized by many for the reason that he seems to be a case of style over substance. The truth is that Diamond Dave, as he is sometimes called, has the unique ability to focus his voice into a high pitched throaty scream that very few can imitate. Aside from an innate confidence that seems to fuel every frontman’s personality DLR was one of the most athletic men to ever step foot on the stage. There is a famous video of the song “Unchained” live in Oakland in 1981, when Dave does a twirl and leap off of the stage into a flying split high off the ground. He has even said that some of his personal style and antics came from a childhood love of comic books. This is to say nothing of the striped spandex jumpsuits he wore onstage throughout the 80s.
From the comic to the dark, or from Batman to Superman. David Lee Roth’s pro performance personality is in striking contrast to the brooding musings of Jim Morrison. He felt that his decent into the darker side of Poetry and Lyrics came on a family trip when he was four years old. After witnessing a car accident with several Native-Americans lying dead and bleeding on the ground Jim Described the experience “That was the first time I tasted fear… and I do think, at that moment, the souls of those dead Indians- maybe one or two of them-were just running around, freaking out, and just landed in my soul, and I was like a sponge, ready to sit there and absorb it.” The psychedelic backdrop provided by Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore, helped to solidify The Doors in Rock. The reason lay in Jim Morrison’s love of vocal experimentation. Truly he could wail Rock anthems, and yet he had the delivery of a Lounge singer. His dark brooding personality and spiritual connection to music made him a star, and one of the greatest sex symbols in Rock History.
We have covered the personalities and the performances. The true power of a frontman, however comes from the voice and there are few that can claim to have bigger voices than Freddie Mercury. Best known as the lead singer of Queen, Freddie’s voice had a four octave range which allowed him to sing a variety of songs in a variety of ways. As a performer Freddie did not disappoint either. His ability was to move a crowd as one, cajoling them into playing along with him. Whether it was singing along or clapping, when Freddie spoke people listened. David Bowie has said, “He was definitely a man who could hold an audience in the palm of his hand.“
Another interesting fact in the comparison between frontmen and superheroes is the idea of the sidekick. Truly if any of the following men read this they would beat my skinny white behind, but follow the metaphor for a moment. Each great singer has at least a famous guitar player to make his job that much easier. As I break down my top 10 singers you will see that each performed with someone musically equal to their voices. It is because of this that although the singer is in front of the band he cannot go it alone. Without Jimmy Page there is no Led Zeppelin and therefore no Robert Plant. The list is as long as anyone can explore, and plays to the most important distinction between superheroes and frontmen.
The top 10:
1) Steven Tyler – The Prototype – Joe Perry
2) David Lee Roth – The Athelete – Eddie Van Halen
3) Jim Morrison – The Brooder – Ray Manzarek (Keyboards)
4) Freddie Mercury – The Energizer – Brian May
5) Mick Jagger – The Forefather – Kieth Richards
6) Robert Plant – The Emotion – Jimmy Page
7) Roger Daltry – The Strut – Pete Townshend
8) Morrissey- The Preening Adonis – Johnny Marr
9) Bono – The Conscious – The Edge
10) Phil Anselmo – The Angry – Dimebag Darrell


Rockpinions by Jonny Steiner

Posted: March 16, 2008 by Maximum Mike in The Rocking Chair Blog

Every band has something to say. That is nothing new. Part of our connection to the artists we love is based on their ability to make us feel, to make us nod along in awed assent as we allow our emotions to be manipulated by people we will never meet. This relationship works best when the feelings are shared or at least familiar. Take the song “Better Man” by Pearl Jam in which Eddie Vedder sings about a woman who is in an abusive marriage but is too afraid to leave. Sadly these are ideas that while we may not all know on a deep personal level, anyone who has read a newspaper has heard something to this effect at one time or another. What is truly indicative of the gift that musicians possess is the ability to transmit emotions upon the listener even when the experience is not shared. Much of Alice in Chains’ catalogue is filled with heroin imagery, and the pain of being a junkie. I have never partaken in such an experience however I find myself moved very deeply by the music. On the other hand you could say it is the knowledge of Layne Staley’s untimely death from an overdose that focuses my hindsight into 20/20. The true judge of a band’s capacity for moving an audience is that audience itself. If a band sings deep and heartfelt songs from an implausible perspective they will not last, if they last at all. To stretch an earlier example, who would be a fan of Alice in Chains if after every show Layne Staley went back to the tour bus, drank tea while reading Robert Frost, then went to bed at ten pm?
Is not enough to have emotions to draw from, songwriters need a greater depth of experience in order to better captivate their audiences. I have been a fan of Sevendust for quite some time. (I have a lot to say about them but Michael says when I start to ramble scale it back, so know for the future that there is more where this came from.) From their debut album much of Sevendust’s lyrics came from the pain of crumbling relationships. This theme continues to be so prevalent in their newer music that while the compositions continue to be tight and well produced, Lajon Witherspoon’s one trick lyrics have gotten boring. On the other hand, sometimes the music speaks for itself. In the case of bands like 311 and Duran Duran, (never thought I’d mention those two names in the same sentence,) each band’s music is interesting enough to see past their repetitive lyrics of feel good times and love stories.
The real test of a band’s mettle is when their statement is not emotional but rather political or social. Bono of U2 (I knew I had to tie this in somewhere) once said something to the effect of “We had to have something to say before we could say anything at all.” This was a reference to U2’s early days touring Ireland as a cover band in the early 1980s. Their debut album “Boy,” touched on the political and religious messages to follow in their later music, but they seemed to focus on the sound and melody more so. They faltered on their second release “October” when they tried too hard to push forward creatively and emotionally, and sometimes came across as pompous. Their career was marked by similar successes and failures until the release of “The Joshua Tree” in 1987. It was in this album that they found their true voice. From the sweeping epic “Where the Streets have no Name” U2 finally seemed to understand how to marry their message with the music. Helping their believability was the fact that hailing from war torn Ireland, they experienced significant tragedies that to this day is an obvious influence on their music and their lives in general.
The opposite can also be true. When a band comes to their social commentary from an unauthentic approach their believability comes into question. Take Green Day’s modern classic “American Idiot.” Oh yes, I am going there. From the start of Green Day’s career they slipped into the punk scene on a tirade of snotty lyrics and unabashed arrogance. The music was tight and full of great hooks that appealed to the Grunge scene even more than the actual punk predecessors they were trying to imitate. By the time they released the single “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life,) they were moving away from Punk and their sound was trying to achieve a certain degree of adult respectability (not that there is anything wrong with that.) Once it seemed they realized that Punk was popular again, they decided to get back to their roots and there you have “American Idiot.” Not that there is anything wrong with that. The problem is the irresponsible way in which they pushed their ideas about post 911 America on the listeners. Here is a band that while musically talented has ridden in on the coattails of every wave of Punk Rock that they were a part of. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols has said: “It pisses me off that years later a wank outfit like Green Day hop in and nick all that [Punk] and attach it to themselves. They didn’t earn their wings to do that and if they were true punk they wouldn’t look anything like they do.” There is something seemingly unwholesome and irresponsible about 50,000 British kids singing along to “American Idiot” on Green Day’s recent DVD “Bullet in a Bible.” It was not as though they were telling a cautionary tale, like Elvis Costello’s anti Thatcher anthem “Shipbuilding.” They were not rallying people to action either like “Ohio” by CSNY. Green Day seems to be making money off of the fact that they are airing the United State’s dirty laundry to anyone that will listen. That ought to get some hate mail. But maybe I think more people read this than actually do.
When a band creates a statement for the listener, it is usually a challenge. How do we all share this communal experience in terms of our own beliefs and culture? Popular music today has deteriorated to the point where much of the youth of America listens to what MTV tells them to. It is through that we must find our own way our own message and our own Rock experience. It is not up to bands to tell us how to feel like it seemed the Dixie Chicks did when they came out so publicly and recklessly against the war in Iraq. The reason we love these artists so much is that they show us something about ourselves that we might not have noticed or been able to articulate before. Rock is the artist’s outlet, to be sure, but they are making it for us. It is sad when sometimes it seems they forget.


And Then There Was Rock by Jonny Steiner

Posted: March 12, 2008 by Maximum Mike in The Rocking Chair Blog

I remember the first CD I ever bought. “Purple” by Stone Temple Pilots. In those days (1995) STP was hated by the media and critics for pinching themes from the “real” Grunge acts like Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam. As a thirteen year old I was unaware of all that. All I knew was that the album kicked ass. It’s funny, as my taste has grown and my scope of musical understanding broadened, I can still come back to the album, and appreciate it as much as I did as a teenager. Not for nostalgic reasons, but for the simple reason that the album rocked.
Isn’t that why we are here? To rock? As much as big crunchy guitar riffs and screaming vocalists are the stereotype of rocking, there is so much more. Sure Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden rock. But you know who else rocks? Paul McCartney. Seriously. Listen to “Live and Let Die.” Granted the movie it was attached to is probably the worst James Bond movie of all time, but that song. The deep ominous tones, of the verse, when paired with the jovial Reggae themed chorus, seemed so urgent. Much of Rock is based on that urgency, The need to transmit ideas and feelings in the most efficient way possible. The Beatles were experts at that, writing economic songs that perfectly transmitted their feelings to the listener in two minutes or less.

I have joined the Rock 4 Rookies team to bring you what I hope can be a more practical understanding of the Rock music and its endless subgenres. There is so much music, so many predecessors and antecedents. They say that no one is truly original. With this column I aim to show you that while that may be correct, it is the marriage of ideas into an artist’s music that sets him apart from the rest. To stay with the Grunge model, the similarities between Nirvana’s “About a Girl” and The Beatles’ “Eight Days a Week” are quite easy to pick out. What sets the two apart is what lies behind the similar structure and chord progressions. “About a Girl” sounds dark and cynical, even though it is one of the lighter tracks in the Nirvana catalogue. The guitar buzzes throughout giving a sense of raw basement tape quality to the music which in some ways recalls early Beatles recordings, like “I Feel Fine.” Curt Cobain may have been fascinated with Punk Rock, but his love of sixties Pop is apparent.
Part of this week’s playlist is a tribute to Dream Theater, a band that has achieved a wide following and successful career with little or no radio support. Aside from obvious Heavy Metal influences Dream Theater represents another field of music known as Progressive Rock. Created mainly in England at the end of the sixties, Progressive Rock was a movement to forgo the Blues and Country inflection inherent to Rock for an approach more firmly influenced by Classical and Jazz. The Genre was quite popular early on with bands like King Crimson and Yes, but fell when Punk Rock began to dominate the industry in the late seventies. Oddly enough those two types of music which are diametrically opposed to one another are coming together now with bands that seem to straddle the gaping chasm between the two. Avenged Sevenfold, the Mars Volta, even the RX Bandits are examples of bands fusing the two (to varying degrees of course.)
That first CD still works. Its scratched to hell but it will still play. Even the Johnny Mathis inspired hidden track hums with the warmth of plastic. I remember when the disk was too scratched to work for a while my friend Zev lent me his CD Repair Kit. It polished the life right back into my disk.
You know to our kids a story like that will be like hearing about records and eight tracks from our parents. Imagine explaining a cassette tape to them. What is gratifying is that as the technology changes there are still some constant. There is music out there that rocks. I guess it’s up to Mike and I to help you find it.


A Call To Arms

Posted: February 19, 2008 by Maximum Mike in The Rocking Chair Blog

After having read Jonny’s post, I decided to take some time out and think about what this show meant to me. My journey began much later in life than my compatriots. Its true that I grew up listening to Manfred Mann, Elvis Presley and the Beatles, but it was never a decision. My sister, at the time, felt that she had been born several decades late and made her life a hippies life. Her current status of life involves a spiritual fulfillment that has nothing to do with music. My parents took great pleasure in sitting around a fire place with me and telling me all about the music they listened to growing up. My mother used to dance with the best of them and my father actually saw both Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles perform live. Today, while both of them still love music, it is not an integral part of their lives. My teenage years, spent here in the Holy Land, were a whirlpool of different types of music. Even today while I have chosen Rock as my love, I still dance to Hip Hop and Pop music. Sometimes the best way to get yourself out of bed and into the right frame of mind to face the day, is to plug into Ludacris or get smooth with a little Michael Jackson (who is still the King of Pop and always will be).
It wasn’t until 12th grade that I discovered what would become an obsession for me and eventually have much to say about my general characteristic make up. The great moment that would be birth and passage into my new world, was the moment the I first heard Nothing Else Matters by the kings of metal, Metallica!! Because it’s not one of their heavier songs I can only tell you that it was a feeling of strength that captured my attention. When you are 17, you are still playing by someone else’s rules and I needed strength to start making my own. This deep soulful tune had strength I had never heard before, but still something was missing. Shortly after graduating high school, I discovered a genre of rock which had the missing ingredient I needed, Funk Metal. Limp Bizkit, in the year 2000, became, with all of its energy and rage, my strength and my power.
7 years later, I am much wiser to the roots of music and know where the anger and rebelliousness come from. The journey from being an angry little kid to the young man I am now began with Jonathan Davis’ cry of “Are You Ready!!!!!!” to a maturity that only comes with age and experience. Still, I have a long way to go and still sing along with the music pretending to be my favorite artists, performing in front of thousands of screaming fans. At 24, I don’t even come close to thinking that I have all the answers or that I know what I’m doing. That’s where the need for the rock still comes from. When you attend a concert with 60,000 people throwing their fists into the air, you ask yourself, “From whence does this energy stem? What do I share in common with these people?” The answer lies in the simple idea that we don’t know where our lives will take us and we don’t know what we have to do to get there. Music chronicles history better than the history books because while the books were written by people, the music was written by “The People”!! Rock4Rookies is my chance to show you a reality of magic, horror and beauty and guess what, you already live there. All I know is that the current status of the world hasn’t improved since the day’s rock began and until it does, my fist will remain in the air.

“If you’re going to do something wrong, do it right” – Me

Maximum Mik