Last night at Riverbend, I finished off some personal business for my 12-year-old self. I finally got to see Lita Ford sing “Kiss Me Deadly” live on stage, hear Poison play “Nothing But a Good Time” and catch Def Leppard perform “Pour Some Sugar on Me," live and in person, all on one hot evening by the river.
My parents believed that I was not old enough back in 1987 to make all of these dreams come true, but now my older self is able to make these types of things happen.
Def Leppard has been entertaining international audiences with their strong British sound for the better part of 30 years. They have provided American audiences with Rock anthems that have fired up arenas, like “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Animal.” Over the years they have put out 12 albums, including their latest offering from last year Mirrorball: Live and More. The band is among the upper echelon of Rock acts that found success, continuity and growing support through the eras of fans.
CityBeat caught up with guitarist Phil Collen to discuss the band’s continued success before the Riverbend show last night. We discussed why the band is still able to keep it up after so long and what inspires him personally in his musical voyage.
CityBeat: What do you think the secret to the band’s longevity is? I just read this morning that Van Halen just cancelled the rest of their tour. Why have you guys been able to stay together for so long?
Phil Collen: I think our motivation is very different from Van Halen’s. They broke up a while ago. They actually didn’t get off. We’ve actually experienced super-super highs, diamond albums, multi-platinum sell-out tours and all that with really bad lows, like Steve dying and Rick losing his arm.
I think we have been together more consistently than most families. We leave home for 18 months. I have been in the band for 30 years. It’s just that (it) really makes a difference if you can relate to each other on very much a personal level. You have almost a private little clique, an elite club only you can relate to.
I tell you, we have always been good. We have never gone away. We have never split up. We have never done reunions and I think that is the trick. If you have to do a reunion, I always ask “Why did you split up in the first place?” I think we still have got more to prove. We still have songs to write, great albums to make. It’s a whole new day, a whole new digital age, everything is changing, whole new sets of fans. It never really stops. There is always ambition there, and there is always plenty of stuff to do. If you really want to share your work, that’s one of the first things you do in the first place. You get to express your art, it’s an artistic release and the other thing is you actually share it with other people. We are still doing that.
CB: I know you guys have been talking about writing and wanting to release new music. What is the band's writing process?
PC: It is more difficult than it used to be. I think we have gone through every different variation. We have gone through a time when one person writes the song, one person comes up with an idea and someone finishes it off or someone has an idea or we just play on each other’s songs. That’s what Queen ended up doing.
We have done every different variation of that. The best stuff I think we have done was when Mutt Lange was involved and just the way he approached it. He had a lot more experience than us and just brought a whole bunch of things to the table. Again, it is very different, there are a couple things I am putting together that are almost finished and then I usually play them for someone else in the band and put together an idea for them and we just take it from there. That’s really how it works. It’s not rocket science and every song starts in a different way.
I think the most inspiring song is when you have a title and that’s all you got and the rest kind of writes itself around it. I have another band Man Raze and same deal with that. We actually wrote a couple songs for a movie that was The Showdown, which was about superbikes racing. Once I had the whole story I came up with the idea, “Take on the World” — it was racing and stuff, and the song wrote itself.
So it is very inspiring to start with a title or at least an idea and then you just color in by numbers almost. It can come from a million different places and that is one of the wonderful things about being an artist really.
CB: Do you have any regrets over the years?
PC: There are loads of things that we’d do differently obviously. That is the whole plan. You experience stuff and you don’t make the same mistakes again, hopefully, whether it’s driving, old relationships or whatever. You are always on this learning curve which is a different level than the past.
Yeah, you know, not really — (I don't have any) regrets, not even slightly. I love where I am right now and that is the happiest person in the world. I am having a great time. It’s really cool. None at all really.
CB: What is your craziest fan story over the years?
PC: There have been a bunch of crazy fan stories. I have always found the weirdest ones are when people get my face tattooed on their body. I remember the first time this happened years ago, this Italian girl said, “I’m going to get you tattooed on me.” I said, “No, no, no, no, have you told your parents?” And she said, “No, but they’ll be OK.” She got this tattoo done and over the years we have now seen this millions of times, you know, people show their tattoos of our likeness or face on their arm or back or wherever it is. I always try to discourage it because it is a tattoo. I have one tattoo and it is my wife’s name and she has my name tattooed on her and that’s it. I was 52 when I got that.
CB: When you've written songs in the past over the years, did you guys know when you had a hit on your hands?
PC: Some of them, but other songs you think you have a hit and they disappear. You can never really tell. It depends on the environment of the moment. Back then it would be radio. Right now, everything is about celebrity and fame and TV. It is a different one to judge. It is about getting out there. If you get something in a movie, it has more of a chance than something played on the radio. It has changed a lot. The more the music business has turned more into an industry than art, it becomes more difficult to predict (which songs will catch on).
CB: What is the best guitar solo of all time?
PC: I couldn’t put it down for one. There are a few — and it is obviously my opinion — that (have) really inspired me. A few by David Bowie. There are a few Hendrix ones — “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix. There is a great guitar solo on a song “Midnight at the Oasis” by Maria Muldaur, a song from the ’70s (that) took me ages to figure out, then I realized there were more than one guitar doing it. There are millions of them that really inspire. I could go on all day but (there's) not one in any particular — all of those.
CB: Any current music you are listening to that you find inspiring?
PC: Yeah, my favorite artist is Skrillex. I am really into dance and Techno music, love it, Dubstep especially. I just think what Skrillex is doing sounds like Heavy Metal without guitars and Hip Hop without words. That’s what I get out of it. It is just very different. It is very pure. I love it.
(I listen to) just different things; I listen to everything. I listen to Jazz or Blues, Hip Hop, Metal, Rock, whatever Pop song, right across the board. It’s all amazing and stuff to draw on really.
Get your glue guns ready, ya'll, because the Crafty Supermarket's about to take over the Northside Tavern. That's right. Your local watering hole (generally full of tight-pantsed drunks at night) will be hosting an indie craft show on Saturday afternoon (noon-6 p.m.) with handmade fine art, recycled goods, home decor, jewelry, children's items, stationery and more.
The masterminds behind this DIY dream are local writer/editor/crafter Grace Dobush and recent DAAP grad/sustainable shoemaker Alisha Budkie. The duo will be bringing together over 20 craft vendors from Cincinnati and the Midwest for a fair inspired by the likes of Renegade Chicago. Along with shopping opportunities there will be "swag bags" for the first 50 shoppers, music from PROJECTMILL, food from Dojo Gelato and others, and a Make It! table where attendees can get crafty with the BYOProjectors (read about them here).
CityBeat recently had a little e-mail exchange with Dobush, whose book, Crafty Superstar: Make Crafts on the Side, Earn Extra Cash and Basically Have It All, is about to be released, about the Crafty Supermarket.
CityBeat: What is the Crafty Supermarket?
Grace Dobush: Crafty Supermarket is an indie craft show, or a Rock & Roll craft show, which is more appropriate since it's in Northside. This is not your standard high-school auditorium, church-basement craft show: We're having music by PROJECTMILL, rad food from local vendors and 20 hip crafters who will be selling the stuff they make. No packaged stuff, no commercial stuff, no lame stuff—just arts and crafts!
CB: Why are you having a craft show? What's the goal?
GD: My goal is to solidify the craft scene in Cincinnati a bit. There are a ton of really talented crafters and artists here, but none of us seem to know each other! My co-organizer, Alisha, and I had never met until we were in Washington D.C. at the Summit of Awesome (a craft summit organized by the ladies who put on Crafty Bastards, a humongous indie craft show). We really wished there was an indie craft event in Cincinnati, and eventually we realized that we should step up and do it ourselves! It's either the DIY mentality kicking in or a pretty solid sense of masochism, I'm not sure which.
CB: You seem to be an indie craft guru. What is your crafting experience? What inspires you to craft? What crafts do you make/specialize in?
GD: That's the first time I've heard that one! I've just been crafting a long-ass time. I've been printmaking since I was a teenager and then took a course on bookbinding my freshman year of college. It just kind of snowballed after that, and I sought out like-minds on the internet. Right around 2000 was a turning point for indie craft... it got a name, the indie craft shows started coming out, and all the movers and shakers were on these craft message boards and got to know each other. Some of the folks I know from those boards back in the day I ended up interviewing for my book, Crafty Superstar.
I'm not a full-time crafter (I'm a magazine editor and writer by trade) but I love connecting with people and talking to people. There are plenty of crafters who are much more successful than me at being a business, but I saw a lot of word-of-mouth information that hadn't been collected anywhere else. And my book was born!
CB: What role does crafting play in our modern world, so to speak? Why is it important?
GD: I think the popularity of craft is a direct backlash to the super-industrialized big-box shopping culture. People are starting to see the value in knowing exactly where the things they buy come from, and there's nothing better than finding an object you absolutely love and getting to talk to the person who made it. Of course, big-box stores recognize that this aesthetic is totally hot, so you see crafty-ish knockoffs for sale that are probably handmade... but by child laborers who may or may not be working against their will.
There are also a pretty big number of crafters who focus on using sustainable, local and/or recycled materials. And of course, when you support an indie artist, you are directly supporting your local economy. I can almost guarantee the $10 you spend at Crafty Supermarket will turn around and get spent on bus fare for the Metro, dinner at Melt or drinks at the Tavern later.
CB: What vendors will be on hand at the market?
GD: We've got a really wide range of crafters—selected from almost 70 applications, which just blew us away. The crafters make jewelry, paper goods, housewares, kid's stuff, clothing, art, knit things—all sorts of stuff. We also tried to get a balance of crafters in terms of wanting this to represent Cincinnati crafters—about three-quarters of the vendors are from the Cincinnati region. And although we have a lot of vendors who are old hands at the indie craft sale thing, we also wanted to make sure to bring in some folks who are doing a show for the first time, because once upon a time, we were the newbies.
CB: What sort of crafts will attendees be able to make at the Make It! Table?
GD: We've got a really random assortment of supplies and guest curation by the crafty people from BYOProject, which is a crafty collective that meets at Happen Inc. in Northside once a month. It's an anything-goes kind of craft situation, but specifically we've got paper to make your own album cover (12-inch, of course), and little paperboard albums that you can decorate to make your own storybook or draw a demented family album. Whatev!
CB: Will this become an annual event? Do you have any other events planned for the future?
GD: From the very beginning Alisha and I have kept saying stuff like "Next year, we are so doing X and Y," or "Next year, we are never doing Z again." It's just felt kind of natural that this would roll into being an annual event. Plus, since the response has been so huge (our Facebook event has 130 guests at this point) that it would be a shame to never do it again!
We don't have any more events planned immediately—we need some recovery time!—but at this point we're totally planning to do something even bigger for next fall. The late fall is primo craft sale time because people are much more willing to spend money to buy gifts for other people. It's pretty safe to say you'll see Crafty Supermarket again next fall.
Update (June 5, 11:20 p.m.): Libertarian mayoral candidate Jim Berns didn't hand out marijuana plants at a campaign event Wednesday, instead admitting to multiple media outlets that he was misleading the public to raise awareness of his campaign and marijuana legalization platform. Berns handed out tomato plants instead, which look similar to marijuana plants.
In perhaps an act of civil disobedience, Libertarian mayoral candidate Jim Berns is planning to hand out marijuana plants at a campaign event Wednesday.
But the event could run foul of state law for both Berns and attendees. Ohio law prohibits obtaining, possessing or using a controlled substance — a category that includes marijuana.
The event will take place at the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive and Clifton Avenue on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
"If you want one of the plants I suggest you get there early," Berns said in a statement.
In this year's mayoral race, Democratic candidates John Cranley and Roxanne Qualls are generally considered the top contenders, although neither candidate has received an official endorsement from the local Democratic Party.
Berns has differentiated himself from the frontrunners by pushing marijuana legalization in his platform.
Drug prohibition laws are generally dictated at state and federal levels, but city governments can legalize or decriminalize certain drugs and force police departments to give the issue lower priority.
Marijuana is already decriminalized in Ohio. Cincinnati re-criminalized the drug in 2006, but the drug was decriminalized through a city budget passed in 2010.
Some groups are attempting to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. CityBeat covered those efforts in further detail here.
Mesmerizing local singer/songwriter Kim Taylor – who performed recently at the CMJ Music Festival in New York City — has a new five-song EP called The Greatest Story …, which is available now for about four bucks if you download it on her Web site. (In fact, all of Kim’s music is only available digitally as of now; CDs are only being sold at shows, while a vinyl version of her I Feel Like a Fading Light is due out in December.) The set will hit the iTunes store in the near future.
Last month, the Ohio High School Athletic Association declared her ineligible for the current basketball season. It says her family’s move into the suburban school district was not for “bona fide” reasons; it was solely to play basketball. A lawsuit filed by Paige’s mother, Vivian Watkins, contends Withrow High School opposed the transfer and filed an inaccurate complaint that led to the ban. OHSAA has not yet filed its formal response in the case. Court officials told CityBeat its lawyer has been in touch with the judge and indicated it will fight to keep Paige from playing high school hoops.
The 18-year-old Paige is a 5-foot-7 guard who is one of Cincinnati’s top female athletes. A post-high school college scholarship might be hanging in the balance of the court case. She was all-conference for the past three seasons in the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference, the league which includes most of the city’s public urban high schools. (Clark Montessori and Walnut Hills are the two city schools that are in different leagues). Three years worth of Paige’s stats are available by clicking here.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman has scheduled a Dec. 4 hearing on a request for a temporary injunction that would lift the OHSAA ban and allow Paige to play. The basketball player’s mom — who is acting as her own lawyer in the case — says legitimate family issues led to the move outside the city. The mom contends the OHSAA has refused to consider evidence showing her daughter transferred to Winton Woods because the mom’s marriage broke down and she moved into a suburban apartment with her two children.
“Mrs. Watkins looked for apartments that would fit her budget and a decent community to reside in,” the mom wrote in the lawsuit against the OHSAA. “She looked all over and finally found a place in May of 2012. Since Alexxus was moving with her it would have been hard to transport Alexxus back and forth to Withrow High School, so it was decided that Alexxus would attend Winton Woods High School which is closer to Alexxus place of residence.”
The state rule is designed to hamper schools from recruiting star athletes to pump up their sports programs. In the past, there have been allegations that players enrolled in schools where they did not actually reside, or had temporarily “moved” in order to improve a team.North College Hill was dogged for years over rumors it recruited O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker for its state championship hoops teams. Both are now in the NBA: Walker plays for the New York Knicks and Mayo is with the Memphis Grizzlies.
So I have to admit, I’m pretty obsessed with all the Real Houswives shows on Bravo TV. Laugh all you want, but turn that shit on and it becomes addicting.
In our local music column Spill It from the CityBeat issue out today, we announced the lineup for this year’s much anticipated MusicNOW festival, which includes a closing-night headlining appearance by Cincinnati-bred Indie music stars The National on May 15.
National guitarist Bryce Dessner is the brains behind MusicNOW, which began in 2006 and has featured unique performances by some of Indie music’s biggest names, as well as up-and-comers and those on the edgier fringe of modern Classical/Chamber music. Dessner’s Avant Chamber group Clogs has played the fest in the past, but this is The National’s first time at MusicNOW.
It’s funny that The Fray are called what they’re called, because they hardly ever leave any loose threads or ragged edges — whether on their perfectly-produced, radio-friendly songs or live in concert. The piano rock band is so harmless and clean-cut that they probably couldn’t hurt a fly if their lives depended on it.
It’s no surprise, then, that their concert at PNC Pavilion Monday night, opened by Richard Swift and alt-rock band Jack’s Mannequin, felt like a quintessentially American outdoor summer party: laid-back, pleasant and totally innocuous.
The Bengals will be on national TV tonight taking on their big brother the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they’ll be without Chad Ocho Cinco because he done broke a team rule. What kind of rules to the Bengals have anyway? No winning? HAHAHA.