The music of one of Cincinnati’s all-time greatest musical exports, The Afghan Whigs, hit me at precisely the right time.
As a child, the music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who tattooed itself on to my DNA, while my high school years found me becoming obsessed with College Rock, Punk, Hip Hop and Hard Rock.
But The Afghan Whigs were my “coming-of-age” soundtrack — from (approximately) the ages of 20-27 — and, like those childhood musical heroes, their music has never left me.
Those years were pivotal in my growth as a human being. In that brief span, I was a raging alcoholic, a one-step-from-the-gutter junkie and a newlywed — at least for a few years all at once — with a handful of relationships that played themselves out painfully woven in between, followed by the “light” that comes with sobriety and clarity.
I can’t remember exactly the first time I heard The Afghan Whigs. I knew of
them right after high school by seeing their names on fliers for shows
at bars I wasn’t old enough to get into. But once I finally got my hands
on the band’s debut for SubPop, Up In It, in 1990, I was hooked.
While the music on Up In It still gives me a jolt every time I listen, the songs (save “You My Flower”) never became as emotionally resonant as 1992’s Congregation, 1993’s Gentlemen and 1996’s Black Love would prove to be for me.
The sound of the Whigs’ music was the perfect transition
for me from favorites like Dinosaur Jr., The Replacements and Husker Du.
But there was an aura in the Whigs’ music that those groups were never
capable of invoking. And originality — no one before or since has
conjured the magical abstract-art guitar squiggles Whigs guitarist Rick
McCollum has churned out and John Curley is one of the “Alt Rock”
revolution’s most distinctive bassists, with his sublime mix of melody,
feel and sheer propulsiveness. Original drummer Steve Earle also had a
trademark sound in his playing, a flurry of Hard Rock bluster and
shuffling dance rhythms.
Together with the hearty, evocative songwriting, The Afghan Whigs always had something more — an air of mystique and a sound beyond the trends — than their late ’80s SubPop peers, not to mention their ’90s Alternative Nation breakthrough cohorts.
I got lost in the dark corners and ominous shadows of the music, as well as its manic moments of pure, jubilant uplift and smothering, inescapable sadness. And I soon began to pick up on the words of frontman Greg Dulli, which have repeatedly given me those moments every deep music lover has where they’re almost freaked out by how closely the lyrics mirror their own feelings and experiences.
Dulli’s lyrics were raw, clever, poetic and brutally honest “love songs.” It was the brutal honesty of his poetry about relationships that led to a still ongoing belief by detractors that Dulli is a misogynistic asshole. But I never got that vibe, even when the lyrics (always taken out of context when used against him) skewed that way, like on Gentlemen’s “Be Sweet,” where Dulli croons,“Ladies, let me tell you about myself/I got a dick for a brain/And my brain is gonna sell my ass to you/Now I'm OK, but in time I'll find I'm stuck/'Cause she wants love and I still want to fuck”
Some find Dulli’s swaggering “lothario” persona onstage off-putting and such lyrics crude, sexist, deplorable. I find them a relevant part of the story and character development, but also a realistic portrayal of a virile young man’s mental process. Dismissing Dulli’s words because you find them dick-ish or “sexist” just seems disingenuous. Men are assholes sometimes. And they can realize that in themselves. And women can be assholes, too.
When I met my current longtime partner, she was as obsessed with Liz Phair’s music as I was The Afghan Whigs’, which made me draw some parallels between the two. She loved Liz Phair for the same reason I loved the Whigs — their music spoke directly to us and was dazzling in its self-awareness and rare candor.
It should be noted that I really love Liz Phair’s first album (the main one she built her legend upon, Exile in Guyville), but my girlfriend merely seems to tolerate my affinity for the Whigs. Still, The Afghan Whigs have tons of female fans, some who just love the sound of the band, some who appreciate the quality writing and musicianship, some who find Dulli’s honesty sexy and some who find the man himself a hunk among hunks. There are usually an equal amount of male and females in an Afghan Whigs audience.
Dulli’s lyrics have a personal, intimate style, like something being revealed to you in a whisper or drunken yowl in the backroom of a speakeasy, which might be why most of his critics fail to consider the possibility of a non-autobiographical “narrator.”
What Dulli’s lyrics offered to me was something I hadn’t heard before, and it all goes back to that brutal honesty. He was presenting a more complete and complex picture of love, one that admitted mistakes, wielded vitriol like a sword, cranked up the self-deprecation, wallowed in sex, drugs and misery and held on to the hope and promise that love first presents. The Whigs’ connections to classic Soul music isn’t just in the sound or beats; that lyrical description could also be about Marvin Gaye or any number of great vintage Blues and Soul artists.
Dulli sings about the emotional ups and downs a man in, out or around love feels. And his honesty made a lot of uptight people (and men trying to seem “femi-sensitive”) uncomfortable. It’s sort of like a non-ridiculous version of Howard Stern’s “He says the things we all think and feel but can’t say ourselves!” Like Charles Bukowski and Henry Miller, Dulli never ran his insight through a PC filter — he just ran it out, filter-less.
I can be masochistic in my listening habits, cuing up songs that are painful in their reminder of darker times or clinging to them during fresh, new depressing moments. But I’ve also listened to the Whigs while elated and ready to celebrate. Though I don’t have the same visceral response to the Whigs’ more upbeat “party” anthems (particularly on the band’s swan song, 1965), I’ve grown to love them almost as much.
During dysfunctional moments in love affairs, with my issues with drugs and alcohol, Gentlemen’s “Fountain and Fairfax” — with it’s lines like “Let me drink, let me tie off/I'm
really slobbering now” — stung. But it was a good sting, like a shot of
whiskey. Songs like these, the ones that echoed my weird, nihilistic
feelings of “fuck it all,” helped me realize I wasn’t totally insane. Or at least I wasn’t the only one who was trying to understand and deal with this insanity.
Black Love closer “Faded” has been an anthem for many breakups, the Purple Rain-sway
giving me the same kind of chills Wendy and Lisa get in the Prince
movie when he plays the title track for the first time. And whenever my
longtime battle with depression has led me to suicidal thoughts in my
life, “Crime Scene (Part One),” the numb, opening salvo on the Whigs
noir, emotionally-wrenching masterpiece Black Love, starts
running through my brain: “Tonight, tonight I say goodbye/To everyone
who loves me/Stick it to my enemies, tonight/Then I disappear.”
More than once, it’s brought me to tears and squashed all suicidal thoughts — thinking of saying goodbye to everyone who loves you is sometimes all it takes.
As I eventually got my shit together, getting off the hard drugs and managing my alcohol intake, another Whigs’ song would haunt me, but this time in a purely reassuring way. I’ve used a “program” called Rational Recovery to help me stay off of drugs and alcohol and the essence of the system is mental cognizance — being able to recognize when your mind and body are trying to get you to drink or do drugs. You turn this “feeling” into a physical thing and name it. I suppose it could be named anything, but I’ve gone with “The Beast,” per the suggestion of the Rational Recovery book.
It sounds silly, but merely saying in my head, “That’s The Beast,” has worked wonders for me staying sober. I eventually started to cling to a line from The Afghan Whigs’ single “Debonair” from Gentlemen: “Once again the monster speaks/Reveals his face and searches for release.” It so perfectly matches my “sobriety mantra” and mental ritual, I’ve considered having it tattooed on my arm.
I’m fairly certain that I would’ve become a huge Afghan Whigs fan if I wasn’t from Cincinnati. Even before I found a way to make a living from writing about music from the area, I loved “homegrown” music and never saw it as simply “local music.” But being able to see the Whigs in concert dozens of times, venues big and small, all over the region, including a few epic holiday shows and a couple of “secret” warm-up shows the band would sneak in before hitting the road — that certainly helped their “favorite band” status in my mind.
The Whigs have long been a phenomenal live band.
Musically, it’s always been a tight but ragged glory. But Dulli is one
of the most entertaining, funniest banterers in the history of Rock
& Roll. His mid-set chats (formerly trademark “smoke breaks,” though
Greg is now apparently a non-smoker) were like an edgy, fired-up
stand-up comedian going into the audience for some “Hey, where you
from?” volleying. But in Dulli’s case, it was usually a time to talk
musical tastes, new bands, maybe throw out some humorous sports
commentary, playfully taunting every other person in the venue. It was
loose, like party chatter, and I always found it an hysterical highlight
of every Whigs show. Comedy and music are my two favorite things in the
world and the Whigs usually delivered both in concert.
The band members were a few years older than me, so there was a sense of awe early on when seeing them around town. When a band I was in was playing at Sudsy Malone’s in the early ’90s, it would be a total mind-fuck to hear a Whigs member was in the crowd. Especially because I’d taken to listening to the band’s music so much, almost everything I played for a long time was informed by the Whigs. (Big C chords with a suspended 7 or mere C to E-minor chord progressions are classic early Whigs’ motifs.)
I’m far from the only local musician from the’90s (and likely beyond) inspired by the Whigs’ music, but there was another kind of inspiration during that era when all of the band members were out and about in Cincinnati. The Whigs’ “fuck it, let’s just go do this” ambition, just getting in the van and going, actually worked. That gave a lot of musicians hope that they could be heard outside of city limits even if they were from Cincinnati. But, unlike in Seattle, where there were several groups with similar sounds rising simultaneously, the Whigs were too unique to copy to the point where a label might sign a “soundalike” band. It’s what’s great about Cincinnati music — the lack of a unifying sound as a result of artists trying to make their own unique thing.
The Whigs were even involved in starting my career — the very first review of any piece of art I ever wrote was a take on the band’s Congregation album for a features/criticism class I took at the University of Cincinnati. (I remember getting a pretty high grade and thinking, “I got this.”) Once I’d decided I wanted to write about music full-time, I accepted an internship in New York City. Driving over the hills into New York City, the Whigs’ remix of “Miles Iz Ded” called “Rebirth of the Cool” came on some random NY/NJ-area radio station. It made me feel like I was on the right track.
Gradually, I’d meet all of the members out and about, and each had that Midwestern down-to-earthness that it usually takes outsiders to point out.
Well, I’d meet every member except Mr. Dulli. During the peak Whigs years, Dulli seemed especially sensitive to negative press, reportedly calling out (or just calling up) writers who’d say sometimes legit, sometimes stupid things about him or his band. I was a mentally unstable substance abuser who, for reasons I don’t completely remember or understand, added a couple of dumb barbs about the band into my column or elsewhere in CityBeat over the course of a few years. They weren’t especially harsh, save for one aside where I mentioned (jokingly) that a rumor was suggesting Dulli had developed a massive bourbon habit and gained 500 lbs (or something equally outrageous). It was stupid and baseless and, given his family lives in the area and might read it (this was pre-internet-is-everywhere), he had every right to be angered by my youthful idiocy. If you’re reading this, Greg, I apologize. It was another lesson in growing the fuck up, courtesy of The Afghan Whigs.
I came to despise that sort of trashy journalism but, in a cruel twist of fate, baseless gossip websites might just be the only job I’ll be able to get one day given the state of newspapers.
In response to my bad-taste alcoholic/obesity sentence, I received a fax (a fax!) from Dulli’s publicist saying the Greg was challenging me to an AIDS test. I’m still not totally sure why, though I think it was either a comment on my taste in women or my IV drug problem at the time. I was flummoxed. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Confused. Then tickled. “Greg Dulli knows who I am?” (Then ashamed again: “One of my musical heroes hates me.”)
That how much I love Dulli and his musical partners’ output — he might’ve strangled me with his bare hands if we ran into each other at a bar and I would’ve been all, “He touched me!”
Many of Dulli’s more direct peers from the Cincinnati area who were around when the Whigs were coming up don’t seem to have a very positive opinion of the man, but I’ve always taken their shots at him with a grain of salt. There might have been some jealousy or maybe Greg really was an asshole in his mid-20s. I can relate. There are so many stories and legends about Dulli’s personal life and actions during his time in Cincy as the Whigs were taking off, he’s like an urban Rock Star Davy Crocket.
None of it has ever changed how I listen to the Whigs’ music. To this day, when I’ve been in a relationship in turmoil or crumbling apart, I still think to myself, “My life is becoming an Afghan Whigs song again.” And I know there will be some emotional pain and probably a few bad decisions involved, but it’s at least going to be an interesting ride. The one that never ends.
The quintessential Columbus rock festival, Rock on the Range, drew great crowds this year. We met with a flock of artists to get the scoop on this galaxy of music. Here are interviews with many of them:
Killswitch Engage is a metalcore band from Westfield, Massachusetts, formed in 1999 after the disbandment of Overcast and Aftershock. Killswitch Engage's current lineup consists of vocalist Howard Jones, bassist Mike D'Antonio, guitarists Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz, and drummer Justin Foley.
Mike D’Antonio plays bass guitar and is a founding member of the band. He sat down with us at Rock on the Range to discuss the band’s fifth self-titled album, Killswitch Engage and life on the road.
CB: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Mike: All my musical influences are from growing up when I was a kid. I was really into New York, Cromags, Agnostic Front, and Madball. Hard core music shaped the way I view music and who I am today.
CB: What is your favorite song on the new album to sing live?
Mike: The opening track “Never Again” is a hard rockin song and in your face which is what I gravitate toward so that is probably my favorite.
CB: I’ve been listening to your music to prepare for ROTR and I found the music on the new album to be a little darker and more aggressive than your past work. Is there a reason? Are you guys angry?
Mike: Not so much anymore. We used to be. I just had a birthday and turned 37 and I think we are through with being angry. I don’t know why it is darker. It is definitely darker, but it still has a positive message in the songs like we have had in the past. It may be because this is the first time that we have used an outside producer, Brendon O’Brien on this one. He has done work with Bruce Springsteen, Mastodon, AC/DC, Pearl Jam and others. He is not necessarily a dark producer though. Maybe it is just what we came to the table with this time.
CB: What was your process to write this album?
Mike: Whenever we write, we all bring demos to practice and we listen and critique it. We always have one week of practice and two weeks off to work on demos. We re-work it all the time. The process is always the same. The only monkey wrench in the system was the outside producer. Usually, Adam, our guitarist produces all our stuff and we are very comfortable with that. It was our fifth album and we thought that if we ever were going to take a chance, now would be the time. I don’t know if we will do it again. I really feel like we can do it on our own. No need to spend the big bucks if we don’t have to.
CB: What do you miss most when you are on the road?
Mike: Definitely my wife. I also have 2 pug puppies at home named Raisin and Potato. I desperately miss them right now. Potato just fell in the pool the other day when we took off the pool cover with all the chemicals in it. He fell right in and we had to wash him down.%u2028
CB: I guess he can swim.
Mike: It was even more scary because we didn’t see it happen. We just saw him soaking wet. It is scary. They have big heads and small legs so he definitely sank and swallowed some water.
CB: I read that you have a background in graphic design and that you do all the artwork for the band. It is cool that you can meld two things that you love to do together.
Mike: I started as a graphic designer because my friend’s bands actually needed art for covers and it was fun. For every band I have been in, I actually just assumed the position of graphic designer and took over as art director because it needed to be done and it needed to be cheap.
CB: This is a little bit timely, you guys recorded a cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver.” He is a legend and recently passed, so how much did he influence you and what are your feelings?
Mike: Even until right before he died, he was an amazing musician and he could still belt it out. A lot of old timers today cannot. He was very “on” every single night. I have never met him but he was supposedly a super nice guy. The world will miss him, especially the metal world. When we did the cover he graciously signed off on it and we heard he liked it. We actually got a photo from our friend who was on the Heaven and Hell tour with him that he took a himself holding a cardboard sign that said, “Hey Killswitch, Where are my Royalties?” It is actually hanging in our guitar player’s entry way to his house. So that is a really cool memory we have of him.
CB: You have a lot of tattoos. Is there any special significance behind them?
Mike: I love Japanese work, when I was little I used to watch a TV show called Force 5 with giant robots, but many are just cover-ups for shitty tattoos that I got when I was younger.
CB: Any message to your fans?
Mike: Apparently we have the best fans in the world. We have had some tough times with Howard and having to make up shows with Phil from All that Remains. The fans still came out to support us. We needed it desperately and it was like a giant hug that our fans gave us. We are in a great spot and we have no one to thank but them for us being here.
Like A Storm began in 2005 when brothers, Chris, Kent, and Matt Brooks first played together in their native New Zealand. They almost immediately decided to move to North America to pursue a career in music. Their song “Enemy” is featured weekly on ESPN’s College Football and their song “Chemical Infatuation” was featured in USA’s hit Royal Pains.
The debut album, “The End of the Beginning,” was released in 2009 and they have been touring almost non-stop to support it over the past 6 months in the United States with rock giants Creed, Staind, Hoobastank, Puddle of Mudd, Saliva, Skillet, Shinedown, and Burn Halo.
We sat down with Chris Brooks and Matt Brooks from Like A Storm after their set at Rock on the Range to talk about the tour and what’s up next for the band.
CB: You guys are from New Zealand, one of my favorite places on earth. When you are touring, what do you miss the most about home?
LAS: Friends and family for sure and savory mince pies, a staple of boozy nights in New Zealand. To be given the chance to do this kind of makes it worthwhile. lf we stayed in NZ, we would never be able to tour and do this everyday.
CB: I saw you guys with Creed back in the fall. What was your craziest Creed tour story?
LAS: It was a nightly occurrence to some extent. We played a show in Tinley Park in Chicago and it was the the last show for Creed. We decided to go out for a few quiet drinks and it ended with some of the band at 4 in a morning at a piano bar with us all singing and making requests. It doesn’t get any more rock-n-roll than that. We had a show the next day and it was very rough. Everyone was limping in one at a time barely making it.
CB: If you could have one of your songs in Guitar Hero or Tap Tap what would it be?
LAS: “Chemical Infatuation” just came out in Rock Band this week actually. I’m not sure if I could play guitar hero. I would probably lose.
CB: Do you still live in Vancouver?
LAS: Yes, but we kind of live on the road now. We are nomads. Any time off we have we try to go back to Vancouver or New Zealand.
CB: What is up next for the band?
LAS: We are on tour until Mid-June and then we go back to Vancouver to make a video for our new single, “Into Me.” After that we head back out to tour to enjoy the rest of the summer.
LAS: We played with Helmet last night and it was great and a huge honor. They are such an influencial band. It doesn’t get better than that.
CB: Who would be your dream collaboration if you could work with anyone?%u2028LAS: It is hard to pick one but I would say, Matt Bellamy from MUSE. I had a dream the other night that I met him. I would love to bring back Jimmy Hendricks and jam with him even though he would shame me on guitar.
CB: I know you guys are family, brothers in the band? Does it ever get crazy? Do you ever have issues since you are all family and together all the time?
LAS: It makes it easier. You spend so much time together and even if they weren’t your family, you would still need time apart. We all have this bond to play this music that we love. It is pretty cool. I can’t believe we all ended up here. We all started in different bands so for the three of us to be playing here at ROTR with Deftones and Slash is amazing.
CB: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at ROTR?
LAS: Limp Bizkit, I love Wes Borlund. He is one of my all time favorite guitar players. I can’t wait to see him play. Also, Definitely, Deftones and Slash.
CB: Any message to the fans?
LAS: Thank you guys for all your suport and allowing us to do what we love to do more than anything else. We can’t wait to see you when we tour.
CB: We want you In Cincinnati.
CB: What is your favorite venue and city to play in?
LAS: The other night we played in Spokane for 1200 people at the Knitting Factory. This was one of our first headlining shows and it became my favorite place. We had played huge crowds with other bands, but this was our first big crowd as headliners.
Janus is a Hard Rock band based out of Chicago, Illinois. They were formed in 2004 and are signed to REALID/ILG Records. Their unique sound mixes heavy rock with non-traditional rock instruments, such as auxiliary percussion, and electronic sounds. Their album Red, Right, Return was released last year and is getting radio play across the country with their single “Eyesore.”
We caught up with David Scotney the lead singer for the band JANUS in the back of their van at ROTR after their set.
CB: One of the interesting things about your music is that you kind of have heavy metal music with non-rock arrangements. How do make the leap from the studio to the stage show and figure out how you are going to perform it?
David: We just tried to make the best record we possibly could. We have influences based on where we all came from individually. We took a look at radio and the industry in general and what is out there and tried to do something that sounded different. We wanted to get people thinking. It has made the road a little harder and slower for us.
We’ve seen a little hate on the road, like people saying “We’re here to see Five Finger Death Punch, why aren’t you screaming at me like Five Finger Death Punch.” But then you meet people who say, “You got me thinking a little bit.” It is good to see people open their mind. It doesn’t always have to be dumb down beer drinking rock-n-roll just because you are in a club. People respect the fact that there is a little bit of thought behind it.
CB: You guys are on the road constantly. When you are on the road what do you miss most about home?
David: Yes, we are literally in this van you are sitting in for 9 months a year. Family, 100% the one thing we all miss. The hardest part of being on the road is missing family. No matter how much you believe in what you are doing, what you want to say and getting your art out there. There is nothing that compares to the gravity of family as a person.
CB: What is your writing process?
David: It mostly comes down to Mike, our guitar player and myself. Mike is an amazing song writer. He comes up with ideas all the time. He understands all of the latest technology that comes out and is by far the smartest person in the band. He can track a demo with the latest technologies for percussion, bass, guitar, melodies, even vocals. He really is the heart of Janus.
CB: What is the hardest part about being on the road?
David: It is phenomenal how hard it is to get to a show to do 30 minutes of music. 90% of that time would be better spent writing new music for the next record. It is ridiculous how hard it is to drag yourself and your equipment all around the country to play the next show when all you want to do is play that show and write new music for the next record. It is disheartening to spend your time traveling and drowning in logistics. You are traveling constantly. The best part is writing the music, doing the show, and meeting the fans on the road.
CB: What is your funniest tour story?
David: Before we got signed, we went to NY to showcase for a terrible record label and we are so happy we didn’t sign with them. We were going to play at a dive bar. There was a guy in a white range rover who we evidently cut off even though we were in the middle of nowhere. He pulled in front of us and got out of his white range rover in his suit and got a baseball bat out like he was going to hit our car and kill us. All of us got out, like 20 of us and were like “Really man?” The guy quickly got back in his range rover, thought about his 401 K, and then drove off. It was really scary for a minute and then hilariously funny.
CB: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at ROTR?
David: Helmet. I love Helmet. They are one of my biggest influences ever. They create harmony and emotion in the silence between chords. We played in Phoenix with them two weeks ago. They were the nicest guys and the most down to earth people. Page Hamilton is one of the most amazing artists I have ever met and an inspiration.
Adelitas Way is a Hard Rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada that broke into mainstream in 2009 with their song "Invincible", which is the official theme song for WWE Superstars. The band was formed in 2005 in by lead vocalist Rick DeJesus, lead guitarist Chris Iorio and drummer Trevor Stafford. The second single off the Adelitas Way album, "Last Stand" was released on February 2, 2010 and they are currently on tour all summer to support their record.
I caught up with Rick DeJesus at Rock on the Range to talk about the tour and discuss his writing process.
CB: Who are you most excited to see here today?
Rick: I was very excited to see Skillet today. I am also really excited to see our boys in Papa Roach and the Deftones.
CB: No exciting stories today?
Rick: I am the boring one of the bunch. I am the old married one in the group, so I don’t have too many exciting stories. The other guys probably have some by now.
CB: You have been out on the road constantly since the release of your album last year.
Rick: Yes we are out on the road with Puddle of Mudd right now.
CB: When you are on the road, what do you miss the most about home?
Rick: I miss my wife and my dogs. I am from Las Vegas. I miss my city. I miss my house. I miss my favorite restaurants. I wouldn’t trade this for the world though. I love what I do and playing music on the road. I love playing in front of the amazing fans. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We have had a dream year. We have been out touring with Shinedown, Puddle of Mudd, Papa Roach, Chevelle, Three Days Grace, and Sick Puppies just to name a few. It has been a dream year.
CB: It seems like a fairy tale to live in Vegas.
Rick: Yes it is. I miss it. I love it. Best restaurants, Best clubs, Best people.
CB: What is your favorite place to play when you are touring?
Rick: I always love San Diego. It is beautiful there. I always love going back to Knoxville and Nashville in Tennessee as well. Atlanta is always good. Touring you see so many amazing places.
CB: Are you originally from Vegas?
Rick: No I am from Philly. We never go back there haha.
CB: How long have you guys been together?
Rick: This group has been together for 2.5 years. I started doing this going on 6 years ago. I started this with me writing. Writing poems. Writing stuff.
CB: You guys have the young one, Chris in the band, correct?
Rick: No he is back in Vegas. The road is not made for everyone. Some people can live in a van. We drove in from Buffalo last night and played right away. We get no sleep. For some people the lifestyle catches up with them. We leave our family, our homes, our friends and you are out on the road in a different city every night. Some people when they get out here they realize it is not for them.
CB: If you could have a song on “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band” what would it be?
Rick: Our new single “Last stand.” It has the guitar anthem. I like it and it is a good song.
CB: Where are you heading next?
Rick: North Dakota. We have a long drive but we are used to it. It is nothing new to us.
CB: How did you get started in music?
Rick: I always liked writing and loved music. When I was 18, I snuck into a bar and played a couple of my songs and the response was great. It started there and I never looked back.
CB: Was your family supportive?
Rick: Yes, they have always been supportive.
CB: If you weren’t a rock star what would you be doing?
Rick: I would probably be working with my father working running his heating and cooling refrigeration company back in Philly.
CB: What is your writing process?
Rick: I am nuts. I come up with stuff all the time. I’ll be sitting over here mumbling and tapping away and the songs come together. I write from a lot of personal feelings, so how I am feeling ends up coming out in the songs.
CB: Any message to the fans?
Rick: We love you guys. We are out with Puddle of Mudd right now and Halestorm in July. Maybe a headliner tour in August, so come and check us out. We are working on a new album. Buy this one and buy the next one. Lzzy, “You are a Ninja!”
Check out Adelitas Way at www.adelitaswaymusic.net
Theory of a Deadman, often known as TOAD, is a Canadian Rock band from Delta, British Columbia, formed in 2001. The band is currently signed to Roadrunner Records as well as Island Records.
On April 1, 2008, Theory of a Deadman released their third album, Scars & Souvenirs, from which they released eight singles, "So Happy", "By the Way", "Little Smirk", "Bad Girlfriend", "All or Nothing", "Hate My Life", "Not Meant to Be" and "Wait for Me". “Bad Girlfriend” was a number one single for the band. The band is planning to take time off later this summer to work on a new album.
I talked to Tyler Connolly, lead singer for the band, backstage at Rock on the Range to discuss his advice column and some of his craziest tour stories.
CB: I know you have this column called Ask Tyler? Have you ever given advice that screwed somebody up?
Tyler: Not that I know of, but I hope so. There should be a disclaimer that says if you listened to Tyler and it ruined your life then it is your own fault.
CB: How did the column start?
Tyler: The record label started a promotion to “Tell Tyler about your bad girlfriend” as a contest and then it turned into me telling people what to do with their bad girlfriends and then me just giving advice on what to do with their lives. It is quite funny.
CB: Do you answer them all yourself?
Tyler: People don’t believe me, but I do answer every one of them
CB: I read that you visualize when your write songs. Can you walk me through your writing process?
Tyler: I’ve heard some lyrics from bands that are just terrible. Bad Girlfriend has bad lyrics but you can visualize it. I believe that the most important thing in a song is the lyrics. I think fans can tell when something is made up and just trying to rhyme with no meaning. When I write, I want people to be able to picture the lyrics in their head like a music video. It is important for people to get into the songs.
CB: You guys are from Canada and I know you recently played at the Olympics. What was your Olympic moment?
Tyler: Winning an Olympic gold metal for Luge. The curling team captain was a cougar and hot. The snowboard chicks were pretty hot as well. Playing the show was cool, people from all over the world waving their flags. That was very cool and fun.
CB: I know that you are married. What is your secret to a good marriage?
Tyler: I don’t have a good marriage. There is no secret. It is impossible to have a good marriage in a rock band.
CB: How do you turn bad girlfriend into a good marriage?
Tyler: You don’t. It’s tough and you just do what you can.
CB: Do you have any new music on the horizon?
Tyler: We’re working on new stuff right now. Fall/winter we are going back in the studio. We have canceled stuff after August to work on it.
CB: I saw you had been on tour with everyone including Motley Crue, Shinedown, etc. What is your craziest tour story?
Tyler: We watched Tommy Lee burn his hand off with fireworks, but that wasn’t that crazy. We had this one girl that came on our bus with a bullet hole painted on her forehead. One of our roadies was trying to sleep with her. She was on drugs and wouldn’t get off the bus. She thought I was a lawyer and tried to attack me on my bus. We had to have someone drag her off the bus and then she went and laid down under our bus and would not go away.
CB: So you now ban girls from the bus or just no bullet-hole girls?
Tyler: We ban girls on the bus. No girls on the bus. We have had a couple bad experiences and it is not worth it. No more people on the bus. All it takes is one girl to come on the bus and say something bad happened and we are screwed. The band is finished.
Shaman's Harvest is an Alternative Metal band from Jefferson City, Missouri. Their newest single from the album Shine entitled "Dragonfly" is currently making a large impact on radio across the country. Shaman's Harvest is comprised of Josh Hamler, guitarist, vocalist Nathan Hunt, guitarist Ryan Tomlinson, bassist Matt Fisher and drummer Craig Wingate.
We caught the band’s set at ROTR and it was one of the standout performances of the weekend. The crowd was packed at the Kicker Stage to see them and sang along to all their hits.
I spoke with the newest member of the band Ryan backstage after their set.
Ryan: That’s right I am pretty new to the band. I just get told when to get in the van.
CB: Is there any new guy hazing?
Ryan: They have been together 12 years. I joined the band a year ago. I actually turned 21 three months after I joined the band and I pretty much don’t remember much of this year, but I know it has been fun.
CB: What is your craziest tour story?
Ryan: A recent one, we were just in North Carolina and the Jagermeister was flowing freely. Apparently there are alligators in NC. Behind the bar we were playing, there is allegedly an alligator in a stream so with a little liquid courage, our lead singer decided to take a swim. He didn’t get bit and he made it out alive. Everything ended up ok, but it was crazy. The guys from Adelitas swore they saw it during the day.
CB: Back to the hazing, what is the worst thing they have done to you in the van?
Ryan: The van is a nasty place. I haven’t got hazed too much. I never get to drive. I like to drink and we all like to drink, so we get along fine.
CB: How did you meet them?
Ryan: In our hometown in Jefferson City. It is a pretty small town. I grew up playing the bass and blues. I made a pretty good name for myself. When I was 8 years old, they were just starting Shaman’s Harvest and I knew Josh through a friend. I didn’t even play guitar when they started. When they had a guitar opening they called me and I auditioned and made it in the band. I am loving it. It is kind of like “Rockstar” the movie.
CB: If you weren’t a rock star what would you be doing?
Ryan: I worked for a cabinet shop for awhile and liked it. I would probably still be making cabinets for minimum wage.
CB: How has your life changed since you joined the band?
Ryan: Less money and being gone constantly. I have always been a homebody so now I am all over the country. It has been weird but fun.
CB: When you are out on the road, what do you miss the most about home?
Ryan: My family. I miss my family a lot because we are gone all the time. We are very close and every time I talk to my family we tell each other we love each other and the guys give me crap about it all the time.
Halestorm is a Hard Rock band from Red Lion, Pennsylvania. The group is currently signed with Atlantic Records. Halestorm has been actively writing and performing original music since 1998, when brother and sister, Arejay and Lzzy, were, respectively, 10 and 13 years old. Their debut album was released on April 28, 2009. The song "I Get Off" serves as the album's lead single and has gained heavy radio play. Their newest single is "It's Not You" and the music video for the song was released in late November 2009.
We caught the band’s entire set at Rock on the Range and they quickly won us over with Lzzy Hale, the ultimate rocker chick leading the way. I sat down for a quick interview with Arejay backstage before their set to talk about their current tour.
CB: Is this your first time at Rock on the Range?
Arejay: No, we were here last year and played the Jagermeister stage. This year we are on the Kicker Stage so we are working our way up the ladder. Maybe the next time we will get the main stage.
CB: When you are out on tour what do you miss the most about home?
Arejay: The funny thing about this band is that my sister is the lead singer Lzzy. Our parents tour with us. My Mom is our tour manager and our Dad is the bus driver/stage tech. We bring home on the road. The cool thing is that our home is our RV. When we go home to Pennsylvania, we actually sit in the RV and hang out because our house feels weird and like a hotel.
CB: What would be your dream collaboration?
Arejay: We just got to hang out with Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains. Alice in Chains is one of my favorite bands of all time. Another one would be Stone Temple Pilots. I also recently got to co-write with Corey Taylor from Slipknot. I met him and we became fast friends. We will be touring with them in the fall and it is going to be awesome.
CB: Any message to the fans?
Arejay: Thank you guys for letting us do what we do. We’ve had so many great times. We willl be in Dayton at McGuffy’s House of Rock in July, so come and check it out. Everyone in Cincinnati is always receptive and keeps coming out to our shows and we appreciate it so much. You guys are out of your minds. Keep Reading CityBeat!
CB: If you could get a song on Rockband or Guitar Hero, what would it be?
Arejay: “Dirty Work.” It is a rocker and everyone starts jumping in the crowd when we play it. You can play Tap Tap or Dance Dance Revolution with it as well. I would pick that one.
Airbourne is an Australian Hard Rock band originating from Warrnambool, Victoria, where they gained a steady following with their hard rock sound. A big part of Airbourne's growing success is the exposure they have gained in other media - most notably, video games. The band consists of Joel O'Keeffe - Lead vocals/Lead guitar, Ryan O'Keeffe –Drums, David Roads - Rhythm guitar,Backup vocals and Justin Street - Bass guitar. The band’s new album, No Guts, No Glory, was released in March 2010.
At Rock on the Range, this band would get the award for most onstage energy. Their lead singer surfed through the crowd while playing the guitar and actually kept playing while being lifted onto a roadie’s shoulders. It was insane and got the crowd excited to see what they would do next.
I sat down with Dave Roads at Rock on the Range to discuss the band’s upcoming tours and their recent success.
CB: What was the reason behind the title No Guts, No Glory?
Dave: No Guts, No Glory was a title we always liked because it has a good ring to it. We felt it was good for the second album.
CB: You were just in Nashville. What was your favorite experience about playing there?
Dave: That day we were in Nashville, our bus driver took us to his father’s ranch in TN. He got out his shotguns, rifles and semi-automatic weapons and we had a day of shooting which was really fun. I always love going to Nashville to play with the crowds there.
CB: What is your scariest tour memory?
Dave: Sometimes it can get a little bit hairy on the road at night time. Some of the roads can be dodgy while we are sleeping and can wake you up and scare you a bit.
CB: Who would be your personal dream to collaborate with?
Dave: Certain producers like Bob Rock would be great. We nearly worked with him on the second album but it fell through.
CB: How did you get hooked up with the video game industry?
Dave: Steve, who we have a good relationship with at EA games, discovered us as the music coordinator there. He was a fan of the band and really got us started. We are on Madden, the best selling game in the states, and about 10 or 11 other games. It is great for establishing the name Airbourne out there. I don’t play Guitar Hero. I think that if you play real guitar, you are not coordinated enough. The games are a great way to get young kids to hear our music and support rock-n-roll.
CB: I was talking to your tour manager about your energy and I was telling him that I was amazed that you guys did not pass out on stage in the heat. He said you guys are from Australia and that you are used to being hot. Is that true?
Dave: I don’t think you can ever be used to the heat. At home in Australia, we usually go inside an air conditioned pub and have a cold beer. We actually have had a lot of close encounters to passing out on the stage. It is mainly from being too hung over, dehydrated and rocking out. It can be dangerous.
CB: What is next for the band?
Dave: After this we are going back to the bus to have a cold beer. This month we are finishing touring with Bullet for my Valentine. We then head to the UK for the summer festivals. In August, we tour Canada and then we jump on the Uproar festival in the Fall back in the US.
CB: What are your favorite venues to play in the US?
Dave: I like the Fillmore venues. We played it in San Francisco and we are playing in Detroit soon. I am pretty diplomatic and like it all.
Puddle of Mudd is a rock band from Kansas City, Missouri. They achieved success on rock radio and some success in the mainstream, and their major-label debut Come Clean has sold over 5 million copies. To date the band has sold over 7 million albums, and have had a string of #1 mainstream rock singles in the United States. They have released 2 independent and 4 major albums, with their latest being Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate in December 2009.
I caught up with Paul Phillips, guitarist for the band, the week after Rock on the Range to discuss what is up next for the band.
CB: Did you have any crazy Rock on the Range stories from last week?
Paul: No not really. It was actually pretty tame. It was pretty much a regular show and uneventful.
CB: What is your craziest tour story ever?
Paul: We used to play London and for some strange reason Mr. Jimmy Page would always come out and stand on my side of the stage which was really weird. It was pretty heavy to look over and see him standing on the side and hanging out with us in the dressing room. I don’t know how it all happened and the first time he came out I had to leave the room. I couldn’t handle it. It was too intense.
CB: Did he ever play with you?
Paul: No he never played with us. I never asked and I couldn’t even talk to him because it was so crazy.
CB: You left the band for awhile and came back last year after a break. How has it been since you got back? Was it just like the old days?
Paul: It has been great and easy. A week after I came back we had our first show. It was a great show. We went back into writing and recording. Every one was getting along and the vibe was much better. The record was the easiest and the least stressful one that we have done. It was right back to the old days.
CB: You had a new record that came out last year. I know the title changed several times. Where did the name Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate come from?
Paul: We were sitting around on a day off and management was on the phone and said that we had to come up with a title now or the record wouldn’t come out. I knew that I wanted to do something with Love and Hate. They are two of the most powerful words in the English language. I think that in order to have one, you have to have the other even though they are opposite. Then "Volume 4" came because it was our fourth record. It really came together last minute.
CB: You had a connection to Fred Durst and he is the one who hooked you up with the band. Can you tell me the story of how that happened? Did you reconnect with him at Rock on the Range?
Paul: I am from Jacksonville, Florida as is Limp Bizkit and we used to play together at local clubs. When Limp Bizkit got signed, Fred actually came to me to sign my band at the time but it was dissolving. We kept in touch. When this opportunity came up he remembered me and flew me out to LA and I auditioned. I have been here ever since. We didn’t see him at Rock on the Range because we had to leave after our set on Saturday for a two day drive, but we played a show in Tampa a few weeks ago and I saw him there. He had a big family day since he is from Florida so we only talked for a little while. We had lost touch for awhile and it was good to catch up and see him again.
CB: When you are out on the road, what do you miss most about home?
Paul: You miss friends and family. I miss my little doggy. You miss the comforts of home. I get into a routine that I cannot find on the road with different restaurants, different hotels every day. I miss the stability of being at home.
CB: Do you still live in Florida?
Paul: Yes, I still live in Jacksonville.
CB: One of my all time favorite POM songs is “She Hates Me.” Can you tell me the back-story?
Paul: The funny thing was when we were making our first record we used to play it. It was something that Wes came up with that we played at parties as a joke to make people laugh. We were playing it at the studio one day and our A&R guy said you have to put that on the record. We were like “No way!” I said, “I’ll agree to put it on the record as long as it is never a single.” Then it is was single and a hit that helped us sell millions of records. That shows what I know. I would have never had it on the record. I guess that is why I am a musician and not an A&R guy.
CB: I thought there may be a crazy girlfriend story there?
Paul: It was written as a joke. Obviously having love not returned your way. Pretty literal song I guess.
CB: Have you ever had any boyfriend or husband issues coming at you out on the road?
Paul: Yes and no. We are kind of setup with the proper security for those things. Sometimes people are crazy. They forget that they have husbands or boyfriends in the audience and they come and hang out backstage. We get word that a husband or boyfriend is looking for them. It is kind of weird and I always feel bad for the guy. I am like, “What is wrong with you?” People get crazy and lose their minds around rock bands. I don’t understand it. People are just people and it is not worth giving up your husband and boyfriend and doing something extremely crazy.
We all have girlfriends and wives now so our bus is pretty tame compared to the old days. We have to lock the doors on the bus because people will just walk onto the bus. They are crazy and just have to see inside. They don’t understand it is our home and you wouldn’t walk in someone’s house.
CB: What is up next for the band?
Paul: We have three weeks off coming up soon and I am excited about that. We’ve been touring and had only 3 days off the past 3 months. July 16th, we go on the Carnival of Madness tour with Shinedown, Sevendust and Chevelle. We will probably spend the remainder of year touring and then start working on the new record next year.
The sixth season of TV One's entertaining and informative Unsung series, showcasing artists who did well but didn't quite reach the heights many expected, kicks off tonight at 10 p.m. with an episode about the late, great Soul star Isaac Hayes. Next week, on Jan. 30, the series focuses on a group that was formed at Kentucky State University and ended up calling Cincinnati its home base — Midnight Star.
The R&B/ElectroFunk nine-piece band was a major success in the ’80s, giving the music world massive hits like "Slow Jam," "No Parking on the Dance Floor" and "Freak-a-Zoid." But the band eventually splintered — due to "arguments over money and management," according to the Unsung synopsis — with Reggie Calloway and brother Vincent leaving and eventually forming Calloway (which had success with the smash "I Wanna Be Rich" in 1989).
Midnight Star carried on and produced a couple more albums that featured R&B chart hits before taking a break. The "hiatus" ended in 2000 and Midnight Star continues to this day, performing most recently at the Macy's Music Festival last summer. Click here to read up on the band circa 2013.
The Unsung series has a loose definition of "unsung" (as the Isaac Hayes episode suggests), but its profiles of various R&B/Soul, Hip Hop, Funk and Gospel artists are always fairly illuminating. The show has dedicated episodes to a wide range of successful artists, from The Ohio Players and Zapp to Kool Mo Dee and Big Daddy Kane to George Clinton, The Spinners and another Cincinnati-affiliated star, Bootsy Collins.
Unsung (Documentary) - Bootsy Collins... by GENERATIONDISCOFUNK
The rest of Unsung's season six includes episodes on EPMD, Lou Rawls, Eddie Kendricks, The Whispers, Mint Condition, Johnny Gill and a special two-hour look at the Disco phenomenon.
TV One is channel 217 for local Time Warner Cable subscribers (1217 for the HD channel).
If someone told you that two of the biggest musical icons of the 20th century had collaborated on an album that was never released and has never been mentioned in the big history book of popular music, what would you think? Sketchy, right? What if you read the same thing on the Internet? Needless to say, the skepticism increases manifold. So is the case with some recent murmurings on the Web about a “long lost” collaboration between Marvin Gaye and Pink Floyd.
Rockers Papa Roach hit the scene in 2000 with their most successful studio album, Infest. Six albums later, they are still headlining tours and festivals across the country including this weekend’s Rock on the Range in Columbus.
I was able to catch up with the man behind the music, Jacoby Shaddix, the lead vocalist. The two discussed the hard times and redemption that led to Papa Roach's most recent album, The Connection, released late last year.
Papa Roach plays Rock on the Range's Main Stage Saturday
afternoon, getting the night ready for Three Days Grace, Stone Sour and
The Smashing Pumpkins. Find full Rock on the Range details here.
CityBeat: What is your favorite Rock on the Range memory?
Jacoby Shaddix: Shit man, coming in headlining the second stage and utterly fucking demolishing it and being the only band asked back the next year to play the Main Stage and crushing it again.
CB: If you could trade places with anybody for one month who would it be?
JS: My wife.
JS: I just want both of us to live our lives in each other’s shoes for a month. I think we both would learn a lot. I know that it is not the super mega-kick ass Rock star answer, but that is some real shit.
CB: I know you wrote the last album through some of the toughest times of your life. Are any of the songs hard to play for you personally?
JS: No, they are just really good reminders. It is like I had to re-calibrate my life and re-focus myself on what my priorities were in my life and what was important to me and where I wanted to put myself five years from now and 10 years from now. All the decisions I made in the process of making this record I believe are some of the most important decisions that I’ll make in my lifetime. I think the songs are real good reminders of that desperate place that I once was.
CB: Well my favorite song on the album when it came out was “Where Did the Angels Go”…
JS: We had a No. 1 Rock track with that song, which was fucking awesome.
CB: Can you tell me the story behind the song?
JS: As we were making the record, me and my wife had split up at that time and I was strung out again. It is no secret that I have substance abuse issues and I was caught up again and I finally decided that enough is enough. I had to stop and that just utter desperation of hanging on to life by a thread and just feeling completely alone and so broken and not really knowing if I was going to be OK. I just finally realized how much my demons ate me alive and it was time to get myself back and that is where that song came from, utter desperation.
CB: Is it hard to be on the road and stay sober?
JS: Not this time around. It used to be really hard. I have a network of sober musicians I stay really close with and I have a support group through that.
It is finally clear to me in my life I can’t fucking drink, I can’t do drugs, because it eats me alive. I am finally on the road enjoying my life. I faced a lot of demons in the process of getting sober again and I finally put a lot of stuff to rest. I am trying to work on being in the moment, like some of that Buddhist-type culture philosophy — if I am not here now then what is the point? If I am not feeling the moment, then what is the point of my life. Just focusing on that, my spirituality makes all this other stuff that goes on out here on the road way more tolerable and way more fun.
CB: Have you ever had an experience that led you to believe in angels?
JS: I don’t necessarily have a grasp on the idea of angels. I have an understanding of people that have come like saviors in a sense, people that have been sent to me by my higher power to show me and guide me out of the darkness. I had to be broken down to realize I needed help.
CB: People have shown up at the right time?
CB: If you could ask one question to a psychic about your future what would you ask?
JS: I wouldn’t ask anything. I wouldn’t want to know. What do you want to know? Are you going to live different or some shit? I’d rather let it be. Let the future be what it is going to be.
CB: What does your perfect day look like?
JS: Perfect day — wake up next to my wife, sex right off the bat. Then go downstairs and cook breakfast for my kids, take them to school, go for a run, dance with my wife, go fishing with my brother-in-law in the bayou swamp, stretch out and warm up, play a Rock & Roll show, then fall asleep next to my wife. That sounds pretty fucking kick ass.
CB: I know your songs that you write are very autobiographical. Have you considered writing a book or a memoir in the future?
JS: Oh definitely, that is something I am going to definitely do in my life. 100 percent.
CB: No immediate plans?
JS: No immediate plans, but I have put pen to paper. It is something that I can craft as I go along.
CB: What can the fans expect this weekend at Rock on the Range?
JS: A fan that is on fucking fire. We have been doing these festivals, May is a big festival month, and we have been fucking annihilating audiences. We just devastated Carolina Rebellion, just ripped that shit up, we had a great show. Fort Rock in Florida, Rockville down in Florida. Memphis in May was awesome at the Beale Street Festival. That was rippin’. I just feel like we are tuned up and primed for these big festivals. I have to say, all these other bands, bring your fucking A-game because P Roach is coming to town and we have come to rip it.
CB: Memphis was awesome. I saw most of the set. It was awesome. It was great as always. I look forward to shooting you guys again. Smile for the camera on Saturday.
JS: Fuck yeah. Cool. We will see you Saturday.
Dear Diary: Friday Midpoint. Wearing my green Noctaluca T-shirt, my super cool non-leather jacket that looks like leather and my faded black jeans that are too big and too long — with my distracting, cool clothes choice, I was trying super hard to steer people away from the fact that I hadn’t had time to shower. Seemed to work. Yes.
I don’t like Radiohead.
Just like that, my budding career as a music journalist is destroyed by one, four-word sentence. I’m sure the pretentious Pitchfork police are on their way to my house right now to take me away.
I can imagine most of you yelling at me through the monitors on your Mac Book Pros, passing judgment on me through the lenses of your dark-rimmed Woody Allen-esque glasses.
I assure you, I can’t hear a damn thing you’re saying. So just save your breath and read.
I know why people like Radiohead. They are talented musicians who are constantly expanding their sound. Not to mention, Thom Yorke’s (even though he doesn’t know how to spell his name) vocal range goes for miles, making him one of the most impressive singers in Rock & Roll today. They are like the indie rock version of The Beatles, except The Beatles don’t take an eighth of magical mushrooms to appreciate. (Although I’m sure it makes it better, I wouldn’t dare know about such devilish things.)
Upon numerous occasions during my 23 years, I’ve tried desperately to enjoy this band.
At 16, I would peruse through cute “indie” girl’s MySpace pages, listening to “Karma Police” among various other cuts off of OK Computer. I would force-feed my metalhead mind to try and wrap itself around the ambient tones coming from my speakers. No matter how hard I tried (believe me, I tried; I needed something to trick these girls into liking me) it just never stuck.
A few years later, I made my second attempt. In Rainbows had just been released and it was a hot topic of conversation between my more “hip” friends. They would play the record on an endless loop and, eventually, I really did begin to dig it. Then I had a revelation.
While I was driving to work one day, I put the album on and quickly realized that I had never listened to this while I was sober. I mean, I know 2007-2008 had pretty much become a blur of various substances, but as the docile sounds of “House of Cards” rang through my car stereo, I said to myself, “Blake, put down the bottle and get your shit together! Also, take off that ridiculous v-neck shirt and skinny jeans. No one wants to see your Teen Wolf-covered man-boobs or your ‘Basilisk’!” (That’s right, my junk is nicknamed after the giant snake in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets; get over it.)
It was as if the smoke had finally cleared (literally and metaphorically) and I came out of this catatonic state of intoxication a new man. That man just still happened to dislike Radiohead.
My final attempt was no more than four months ago. My lovely girlfriend bought me a record player for my birthday and I decided I would give In Rainbows one more shot.
I had grown up quite a bit since the last time I heard this record. Not only was I knee-deep in my journey to becoming a music journalist, but also I wasn’t totally sloshed all the time either.
Plus, if it doesn’t resonate with me on vinyl, it never will.
This last go-around, however, was a futile one.
I always thought, “Maybe I was just too young to get it?” Or “Maybe, I was just too fucked up to understand?”
But as I put the record on, more questions came up, like “Am I too old to get it?” or “Jesus, what’s that drug dealer’s number again?”
As I racked my mind trying to figure out why I’m the only music journalist who isn’t a part of this worldwide circle-jerk over Radiohead, I finally came up with a simple, yet honest explanation.
Radiohead fans can be broken down into two factions. You’re either a Radiohead guy or a “Creep” guy. I’m obviously a member of the latter group.
“Creep” is the anthem for every broken-hearted loser too cowardly to talk to the girl he dreams about every night. It’s the anthem for every outcast kid that roamed their hallways aimlessly; unable to find their place in the proverbial hell that was high school. It’s the anthem for every overweight, underachieving, late-blooming, weirdo band kid that the band chicks didn’t even want to associate with. It’s pretty much my 7-12 grade experience told in three minutes and 56 seconds.
“Creep” just always spoke to me in a way that no other Radiohead song ever had. It was effortless and truthful, yet, real and depressing. I made a connection with that song, a connection which I tried ever so earnestly to do with the rest of their catalog, but failed miserably.
So to the Radiohead fans out there, keep listening to them.
Do whatever makes you happy, whatever you want. Because truly, you’re so fucking special.
I just wish Radiohead was special, too.
Radiohead then …
Radiohead lately …
Where do you begin with a band like Lynyrd Skynyrd? Everyone has been out at a bar or a concert and heard some crazy and/or drunk lunatic shouting to the band on stage, “FREE BIRD!!!” They are the epitome of and gold standard for Southern Rock music. Even now, through the tragedy of the plane crash in 1977 to the re-formed band, Skynyrd still provides electric performances every night. They still happily rock the hits of the early days. like “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” while mixing in the music they are still releasing, most recently Last of a Dying Breed, which came out late last year.
CityBeat had time to catch up with lead vocalist Johnny Van Zant, the younger brother of the band’s original front man Ronnie Van Zant. The two discussed how Skynyrd fits into Rock music today, as well as the wonderful feelings the band still gets performing every night on stage.
Skynyrd performs at Riverbend Music Center tonight with Bad Company, providing the same energy as the cast from the ’70s and showing audiences what real Southern Rock sounds like.
CityBeat: Do you have any crazy Cincinnati memories from the past?
JVZ: We have had so many good shows there. Years back, when a flood hit, there was water in the first four or five rows. People were kind of standing in the water. I was like, “Wow these are really diehards.” I don’t even know how many times we have played at that particular amphitheater (Riverbend), but it has always been a good, hot, sweaty, summer Rock & Roll show, which is how it is supposed to be.
CB: The band has had multiple lineup changes over the years since you joined the band. How do you integrate someone new into the band?
JVZ: For us, they have to be a friend, someone we have known, someone we admire as a musician, someone we think would fit into our family. When we are out on the road, running up and down the road playing shows, you have to be not only a member of a band but, especially with Lynyrd Skynyrd, you have to be a part of the Skynyrd nation. You have to be a part of the family. Our newest member is Johnny Colt, who was bass player with The Black Crowes. Colt fits right in with us. He’s loony as heck and so are we. We have a great time and love doing what we do. I hope Johnny is with us for a long, long time. He is quite the guy. It has been awesome.
CB: I know you guys have worked many times with one of my favorite guitarists, John 5. What was that experience like for you and have you done any collaborations recently?
JVZ: Well, yeah, he was on our last record, Last of a Dying Breed.
John is a good friend of us. We knew we were going to be good friends
with John because we were in Nashville writing and our manager mentioned
John and said, “You know, he is a little different than you guys.” And
we said, “ That’s OK, that’s no problem.”
John walked in, he was just coming from a photo shoot. He had on the fingernails with his hair all up. When he walked in and I went, “Damn, you are different. Damn, are you a freak or something?” And he said, “I was thinking the same crap about you guys.” We just hit it off. He is a wonderful guitar player. Not only can he play Heavy Metal and Rock & Roll, but he can play the hell out of some Country music, which we love. I just admire his work and he is one of the most phenomenal guitar players I have had the pleasure to work with.
CB: A lot of people are saying Rock is dead and Country music is the new Rock. Do you believe that Rock is dead?
JVZ: No. I think Country music is Lynyrd Skynyrd. I
think a lot of the Country music is what we do, but I don’t think Rock &
Roll is dead at all. People have been saying that shit for years and
years and years: "Rock & Roll is dead." Then it comes back. It’s like
For us we just played Houston, Texas, in front of 10,000
people. We played Bristol, Va., I think there were 14,000 people on
a Sunday night. The night before last we were in Camden, N.J.,
14,000 people on a Wednesday night. I’m sure Cincinnati is doing quite
well. We are in Pittsburgh tonight. It is going to be phenomenal here.
If Rock & Roll is dead and gone, man, I am missing out on it.
CB: Tell me a little bit about Last of a Dying Breed and which songs we are going to hear from that album when you come to Cincinnati?
JVZ: Well, it is debatable. What we do, each night we try to think about what new song we want to put in. Right now we are really concentrating on 40 years. It’s been 40 years since (Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd) came out. It’s been our major focus to play as many songs off that record and celebrate that era.
CB: Where do you see yourself in 15 more years?
JVZ: Hopefully alive. Hopefully playing some shows
and still doing this. Doing a lot of fishing and drinking a good
Budweiser and something like that, I don’t know. If you want to make God
laugh, tell him your plans. I never really plan too much. I just like to
go along with the flow and the good Lord throws me in the direction he
wants me to go.
CB: Do you ever get tired of playing “Free Bird”?
JVZ: Not at all. I am quick to say, "Not at all." How
many bands would love to have songs like that? Most bands say we would
give anything to have one of those. “Free Bird” and ("Sweet Home Alabama"), that’s
the cool thing about Skynyrd. We have three generations of fans who love
those songs. It is amazing to me.
We are out with Bad Company right now and we are real big Bad Company fans. We are at the top of the game with these guys. From my era and a lot of other people’s era, Bad Company was the rule of the roost when it came to Rock & Roll. Paul Rogers is one of the best singers. Simon Kirke and Mick Ralphs have been around for years. It is just great to be out on the road and playing shows with good friends too. We are having a blast. We hope to do it again sometime after this tour and look forward to coming your way.
CB: Are you flattered when someone like Kid Rock uses "Sweet Home Alabama" in his songs? Excited? Upset? How do you feel when someone integrates that song?
JVZ: We were actually doing a tour with Bobby when
he had “All Summer Long” (the song that incorporates "Sweet Home") out. For us, hell, it keeps us in the spotlight.
He did a good job on it. It was a hit song for him and everybody got
paid. So surely, we are like, “Can someone else use it again and again?”
It is kind of funny when you think of stuff like that. Who would have thought when that song was written a long, long time ago, people would still be loving it and a band from Jacksonville, Fla., and what success my brother and Alan and Gary, my hat is off to them. I love keeping the music alive. It is a great thing. It’s a great thing because the song has been used in Forrest Gump and various movies. Any time anything like that pops up as long, as it is not in bad taste, is great. It has been a good ride.
Right around Thanksgiving time, CityBeat began to receive several queries via email, Twitter and Facebook, all essentially asking, "What the hell happened to the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards?"
CityBeat's annual celebration of Greater Cincinnati's best original music had been held for 15 years on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The reasoning was that musicians who tour a lot would hopefully be home for the ceremony and regular weekly giggers might be less likely to have an every-Sunday residency. Also, we thought, perhaps the holiday timing would allow us to nab a few of the city's favorite sons and daughters (Jerry Springer? SJP? Any Lachey we could get our hands on?) as presenters.
In the end, the timing of the ceremony never really had much effect. We did have Jerry Springer — via video tape from Chicago — at the very first CEAs (held at the old Sycamore Gardens in Over-the-Rhine), but the video malfunctioned. Maybe it was an omen. We also spent many years attempting to lure the Isley Brothers to perform and be inducted into the CEA Hall of Fame, but the Isleys haven't been "local" in almost half a century, so the Thanksgiving timing was irrelevant (and the Isleys would have cost a fortune to bring to town).
We also discovered those hard-touring musicians tour so hard, having an off day the Sunday before Thanksgiving is hardly a given. Last year, for example, Artist of the Year winners Walk the Moon were on the road and unable to attend (though they still created one of the show's better moments by having their mothers accept on their behalf).
Having the ceremony in November was also a hassle once CityBeat acquired the MidPoint Music Festival, which occurs annually in late September. The CEAs bumped up a little too close to MPMF, making the organization of the awards a hectic endeavor.
So, starting with the 2012 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, the ceremony will now be held in January. This change allows our staff to fully focus on the CEAs without battling MPMF fatigue. And it creates an easier-to-track window for nomination consideration. In the future, the Album of the Year category's eligibility timeframe will be anything released that year. Previously, the timeframe was approximately October of the previous year to October of the current year. (This year, eligibility will be extended to anything released in 2012, but also includes releases that came out October-December 2011.)
The 16th annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony will be held at Covington's Madison Theater on Jan. 27. This year's host will be the very funny Ted Clark, who is also making plans to do his popular "live talk show" at the after-party (read more about Ted here). And there will be more live performances at the CEA ceremony than ever before. Ticket info, the lineup of performers and more details will be released soon.
(Let's get this out of the way right up front, since the Northern Ky. locale always gets mocked every year — yes, the "2012" "Cincinnati" Entertainment Awards will be held in Covington in 2013. How odd!)
Another new wrinkle for the CEAs this year will be a live showcase of the "New Artist of the Year" nominees; the winner of the category (normally decided by the nominating committee) will be largely determined by audience vote at the showcase, which is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 18 at Bogart's. More details to come.
The 2012 CEA nominees — determined by a large pool of local music experts, including writers, bloggers, club owners, radio show hosts and others (this year's committee is the largest yet) — will be announced Dec. 12. The ballot will go live at citybeat.com and then it's up to you. Fan voting determines all categories except for the "Critical Achievement" ones — Artist of the Year, Album of the Year — which are voted on by the committee.
Stay tuned for many more CEA announcements to come. And visit citybeat.com's CEA page here for a look at past nominees, winners and more.
Let’s forget, for a second, about all of the talk surrounding Gregg Gillis, a.k.a. Girl Talk (a.k.a. this week's CityBeat cover star). Certainly in an era of Internet piracy and intensely important discussions of fair use doctrine, Gillis is at the forefront of pushing boundaries, both musically and legally. And Gillis also sticks out like a wonderfully sore thumb to those at the Federal Communications Commission and the like, that would have artists censored or denied their right to perform in the way they say fit.
However, at a live Girl Talk show, none of this matters.