Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Rockerist Manifesto

By Tripriech Loon, Edited by Sefbrouex Ashby
I wanna be a rock ‘n’ roll critic and counter culture activist when I grow up. After you're done reading - if you put up with these long scribbles that is - you are going to understand that I am a messiah put here on earth to save this generation for rock ‘n’ roll.

After my words do their little song and dance on yer glowed up compooooter screen, you'll get an idea about where I'm coming from, and what my fight is about. I figure you have a right to get to know me before reading any of my reviews and opinions on this here Dead Notes blog.

So let me crack my knuckles and get started . . . *crrrraaack*

Ok! I get really annoyed when I rock-talk and someone just dismisses everything and says: "to each his own maaaaan, to each his owwwwn;” or "this is art! you're not supposed to analyze it maaaaaan;" or "where's the mystery and wonder in things if you got everything figured out maaaaaan?".

Listen pal, if you turn off the observation button in your brain, how will you ever be a visionary? I'm a rock ‘n’ roll thinker, and thinking is good, ok? If the whole world went your way, scientists wouldn't exist; where's the wonder and mystery in things if people try to get God's creations figured out, right? Why don't we just all rely on palm readers and tarot cards to run our lives while we're at it? Jeez!

Now where was I? . . . Oh, yeah!

Look, I want you all to know that I have a complete bias towards loud, blues-based hard rock and arena rock. Your gut will tell you that my verdict on anything else will be very predictable, and . . . Wha . . . ? Wait wait wait wait wait! Don’t close your FireFox window yet! Just gimme a minute here, all right?

I don’t want you to think that I’m just passing judgement on your favorite band. ‘Cause my job is not to pass judgment. My job is to give insights; insights are the enlightening part. So hearing the reasons why I don’t like something is what will get all you bands and fans out there to expand yer noggins.

I read a Lester Bangs article once about why he hates Led Zeppelin. I thought his verdict was impulsive and based on ignorance, but when I read his points and arguments I learned a lot of pretty interesting perspectives. I still don’t agree with him, but I think the guy has sharp observations that made my act tighter in a band, and expanded my insights on how shit works. So, if you see a critic hating on your band, read anyway. You’ll learn something.

I wanna be a counter culture player because I wanna fight for a certain kind of change. All the “rock” music we get nowadays is cute Nickelodeon soundtracks and a bunch of Adam’s family shit. (I have in depth articles that bitch-slap those bands, but that’s for later).

Let me throw some of my heroes your way: Deep Purple, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith . . . Too obvious? Ok, let me throw in some of the lesser known ones, too: Cactus, Budgie, Frijid Pink, Slade, Road, Mountain, Robin Trower, etc. So, what’s the common thing about all these bands?

It’s not blood and monsters, and it sure as hell isn’t teenage wankerism. It’s musicianship and swagger. That’s what I’m preaching: musicianship and swagger. Dream Theater have musicianship, but it’s masturbatory. You know why? ‘Cause there’s no swagger, that’s why. I don’t feel like the Marlboro man when I listen to them, that’s why. Muse and Radiohead have musicianship; they just need to grow their hair longer. Maybe leather jackets with a lot of studs on them would help too. What? You think that’s shallow? Well believe it or not buddy, long hair and leather jackets matter a lot in changing the lifestyles and attitudes of listeners, maybe even more than music composition on its own ever would.

I’m fighting for a cultural change. I think the youth of the world lack dirt, they lack sleaze, and they lack filth. I think the youth of the world lack a sense of humor. They lack that fired up will to party; they lack the desire to be badass; they lack that lust for life. Maybe the youth should stop watching the Disney channel. Maybe the youth should stop looking up to the characters in their fucking XBox games. You know who the youth should start listening to? They should start listening to their fucking hormones! They should worry about fucking and sex! Carpe diem stuff! And you know what’s gonna make them do that? Long hair and leather jackets, that’s what; a fast car and sunglasses, that’s what; a lust for life, that’s what! You get the picture, right? I’m sure most of you will agree with me when I say that carpe diem is not the feeling you get when you listen to Green Day, or Avril Lavigne, or Avenged fuckin’ Sevenfold. Kiss on the other hand, now that’s carpe diem!

Listen to “Movin’ On” by Aerosmith, “Speed King” by Deep Purple, “Detroit Rock City” by Kiss, listen to “One Way Or Another” by Cactus, “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent . . . That’s carpe diem! That’s swagger! Marlboro man stuff! That’s what makes me feel like wearing my leather jacket, putting my shades on and throwing a hot babe on my stinkin’, stained, dirty bed after a wild night in town!

That my friend, is rock ‘n’ roll! And that’s what I’m fighting for.

Still think I’m shallow? I bet your thinking: “Who the fuck does this guy think he is? He’s disrespecting the craft! He’s disrespecting the craft! He doesn’t care about what really matters maaaaaaan! He only cares about hairrrrrrrr!”

I used to think the same way. I used to claim that only the instrumentation matters. I used to feel guilty about liking Kiss. I used to feel pressured to transforming myself into one of those snobs that like Ludwig Beethoven and Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach. I felt pressured to wear white gloves and look like the Monopoly guy. I kept slapping myself in the face. Why the fuck are Kiss so awesome? They’re clowns! They’re ridiculous!

I never understood why people like the music they like, or why the hell I like Kiss. I never understood why people like pop punk, or rap, or Ke$ha, or whatever the fuck they like. I mean that type of music doesn't have any craftsmanship when it comes to instrumentation. Some of these genres don’t even have instrumentation in the first place. It’s just a bunch of fucking computer bleeps with someone talking over ‘em. But I thought to myself, instead of being an ignorant grump, I’m gonna listen to that hack garbage and see what all the fuss is about.

I listened to some pop punk. I heard the entire discographies of Green Day, Avril Lavigne, and Blink 182. I began to understand the psychology of their fans. When you listen to that stuff, you begin to imagine a Sunday afternoon family barbecue in American suburbia. You start to imagine a pimple faced kid yelling “MOOOOOOOOOOOM! JAMIE JUST STOLE MY NERF WATERGUN BASEBALL BAT!” Those are the voices you hear in your head when you listen to pop punk. So then it hit me! All of America, except a few major cities, is suburbia! No wonder pop punk is big!

Look at Ke$ha. Everybody is force fed Ke$ha. Wherever you go she haunts you in the air, whether you’re in an American Apparel store or at a deli ordering a Philly cheese steak, Ke$ha is on the airwaves making you real grouchy. So, I heard her lyrics. It turns out her imagery and her statements are all about how she’s a wild party chick. Then a light bulb flashed in my head! Oh ok! I see now! I get it.

You know all the ditzy chicks you see on the weekend? “Like oh my God! Like.. I like to dance! I sooooo like to dance! It’s good for your abs! It’s good for your … like .. abs! Teehee! This is so totally like yah!” You know how many of those ditzy chicks exist? They’re fucking everywhere! So, when Ke$ha pops up, it’s no wonder she’s gonna have a gigantic following.

Now, take rap and hip-hop. I braid my hair in a ghetto neighborhood, and they play rap when they braid my hair. It’s not the kind of rap you hear in the clubs; it’s a different kind. The way the people braiding my hair talk, and the way the rapper coming out of the boom box talks, is the same. When I saw the album cover of the CD, they even looked the same! Most of America is suburban America, ghetto America, and ditzy chicks. That’s why pop punk, pop, RnB, hip-hop and rap are the biggest genres here.

If you go to Europe these genres aren’t as popular. (Maybe they don’t have Nerf watergun baseball bats in European suburbia). They like techno. I guess it’s because there’s no American “imperialism” in it with regard to the fact that it has no lyrics; specifically, no English lyrics; even more specifically, no “American” lyrics. It’s instrumental, so maybe their identities aren’t alienated in their listening experiences.

Pop punk is just the same three chords over and over again. Rap and Ke$ha don’t have real instrumentation, or a stable band - their music comes out of a keyboard or some software. It’s like George Harrison said: “Rap music is just computerized crap. I listen to Top of the Pops and after three songs I feel like killing someone."

So if it’s terrible craftsmanship, and it’s terrible musicianship, then why is it selling so much?

Because it’s all representational!

I guess the perfect analogy for this would be soccer. Let’s say Brazil plays against Canada. Everybody in the entire fuckin’ world and their uncles and their mothers and their second fucking cousins know for a fucking fact, that the Canadian soccer team is going to lose that match. They know that Brazil are just fucking better. But if you’re Canadian, guess what? You’re not gonna be cheering for Brazil, despite the fact that you know Brazil are more talented and more skilled. You’re gonna cheer for the team that represents you, completely oblivious to the fact that you know deep down inside that they suck.

That’s why kids are gonna cheer for the Jonas Brothers, no matter what; that’s why the gay community and glamour-loving fashionistas are gonna cheer for Lady Gaga, no matter what; that’s why that teenager in suburbia playing catch with his dad who has a crush on the school cheerleader is gonna like Blink 182, no matter what; that’s why that poor, disenfranchised, neglected, broke dude in the ghetto is gonna like rap, no matter what; and that’s why someone like me who has a lust for bursts of life and excitement is gonna like Kiss, no matter what. The bottom line is, people respond to what feels like a soundtrack to their lives, or sometimes, the soundtrack of the life they dream to have.

It’s amazing how people are completely oblivious to how shitty the music is as long as the statement is heroic (heroic to the listener that is). Some of them reach a point where they admit it. Do you know that all the Lady Gaga fans I spoke to admit that her songs are awful? They all start their arguments with stuff like, “look, I know her songs are not that great, but . . .” Wow! Just wow! Isn’t the whole point from all this supposed to be good music?

I gotta admit. If the whole point in all this is the music, then I have no right to bitch. Because Muse and Radiohead have much more craftsmanship in their work than Kiss. If I like Kiss more than Muse and Radiohead, then I have no right to bitch.

I think we’re filling ourselves with hot air when we say that craft is the only thing that matters. That’s just bullshit. Imagine a zit-faced kid who just reached puberty jumping up around you about his XBox video game: “Yeah! But look at the graphicssth! Look at the gameplayyy! The A.I in the enemy bossthez is exthssstremelyyy acurrrate! And you can custhtomizthe your own characterrrr! And you can do thisth! And you can doooo thatttth!” He’s right. The people behind that project did an amazingly genius and crafty masterpiece. If it is amazing craftsmanship, then how come a lot of us don’t give a shit? There’s craftsmanship in Kung Fu and Karate, a shit load of craftsmanship. What was the last Martial Arts movie you saw . . . Rush Hour? Do you follow up on Tae Kwan Do tournaments? Yeah . . . Thought so.

We’re all full of shit. None of us really care about craftsmanship in a general sense. We only care about craftsmanship in the kind of art that speaks to us. Sometimes craftsmanship doesn’t really matter at all as long as the piece speaks to us, in the way rockers respond to movies like Bill & Ted or Pick of Destiny. They’re not directed like the Godfather, and they’re very stupid. But it speaks to us, and so we like them.

I digress, what speaks to us is the kind of art that feels like a soundtrack to our lives. Blink 182 speaks to Nerf-face the same way Miley Cyrus speaks to your little sister. And if you think that this is just the case with music listeners, well, guess what? It’s the same case with rock critics too.

Take a big rock critic like Robert Christgau, for example. His top favorite artists are Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk,The Beatles, and The New York Dolls. Gee, Robert, you’re not basing your favorite artists on the fact that they put New York on the map. They’re your favorite artists because they have craftsmanship; especially The New York Dolls. ‘Cause they deserve to be among your favorite artists more than The Rolling Stones, right? Oh wait, The Stones didn’t put New York on the map. I get it.

Look at Jann Wenner, founder and editor in chief of Rolling Stone Magazine. His poster boys are Lennon, Hendrix, Bono and . . . Hmm, let’s see . . . Will.I.Am? Gee, Jann! You’re not basing all your poster boys on the fact that they’re all supporting the political agenda of liberals. No, no, no! You pick your poster boys based on their craft. ‘Cause the republican Ted Nugent is horrible at his craft and that’s why he isn’t in your magazine that often, right? Not ‘cause he’s a republican.

So even rock critics are full of shit. And if yours truly claims that he’s turning you on to craft, then yours truly, is full of shit. The only way I wouldn’t be full of shit is if I turned you on to Muse and Radiohead. But I genuinely don’t care for them that much.

Wenner and Christgau, however, both have a fight. Wenner’s fight is to make music and culture a tool to progress society towards a liberal direction. Maybe Christgau’s fight is to make people appreciate the musicians of New York. L.A. disc jockey, Rodney Bingenheimer, fights to bring the U.K.’s musicians to America through his club and his radio station, KROQ. That Metal Show host, Eddie Trunk’s fight is to be a PR guy for all the great 80’s bands that the world felt embarrassed about, because they wore zebra spandex. All these “critics” aren’t really critics. They’re fighters; they fight for a change they wanna make.

So what’s the change that I wanna make?

The change I wanna make is restoring carpe diem as the zeitgeist of the generation. And here’s why . . .

I’m a victim; a victim of suppression. I came from a country that banned night clubs and movie theaters. From a place where all the women are dressed like ninjas. You could only see their eyes, if you’re lucky. ‘Cause sometimes you can’t even see that. I always wanted to have a life like the American TV shows I watched, where a boy has a magical moment with a beautiful girl at the prom. I didn’t have that. I missed out on all of that. My girlfriend was a girl I met in the neighboring country, the U.A.E., and our relationship was on a Skype screen through a poor Internet connection. Even when I moved to the U.A.E., it was like Mission Impossible trying to see her. ‘Cause her religious parents would never let her out of the house on her own. I thought the only way I’d have a real life and be happy is if I go to America. So, I went to Miami. And guess what? I was still bored out of my fucking mind over there.

Everything sucked. Everybody wore baggy clothes. Everybody wore black or grey. (Yes, even in Miami). I thought this place was supposed to be exciting. I went to the clubs, and despite all the hot women and alcohol, life was still so fucking lame. It wasn’t cutting it for me. I came here for thrills and kicks. But I found nothing, absolutely nothing. I realized that the problem wasn’t where I was. The problem’s the era I’m in. It’s not the country that’s boring, it’s the generation.

I call this the “Whatever Generation.” Where everybody is fucking boring and everything is fucking grey and fucking black and fucking baggy; where every time you raise your fist and say “yeah!” everybody gives you a “whatever” face. Fuck this generation. This generation sucks. And fuck all the boring whatever-people that are in it.

I went back home to my country. One of my previous bands hired me to sing for them. All the songs I knew were oldies from a bunch of Quintin Tarrantino movie soundtracks. I didn’t know much about rock ‘n’ roll. I thought rock ‘n’ roll was Marilyn Manson, and that Adam’s Family shit wasn’t very appealing to me. They told me to learn AC/DC covers. So, I looked them up on YouTube and the first thing that popped up was a live number called “For Those About To Rock.” Now that I’m writing this it feels really fucking cool how fitting that song was in changing my life. ‘Cause that’s exactly what happened. I was about to rock.

When I saw a spot-lit Angus Young all majestic and electrified in that opening riff as the crowds yelled and cheered at the top of their lungs, that was it! Look at him go! He’s like a Tasmanian devil! Finally! Some life! Some thrill! That’s what was missing my entire life! That’s it! That’s the answer to the void I had all those years! It was the only thing that gave me my kicks. It was the only thing that understood me.

Fast forward a year later. I was in L.A. and I witnessed a concert featuring the newly reunited Mötley Crüe, live and right in front of my eyes. I experienced what I never experienced in Miami. The people around me weren’t whatever-generation people. They were lust-for-life people. I went to the Rainbow Bar & Grill and I never ever wanted to get out of that place. I wanted to get a pillow and a blanket and sneak in and just sleep over. But the bouncer wouldn’t let me.

I moved to Dubai, and I told my partner in crime, Sef Ashby that our band is gonna make a change. I didn’t wanna do any mellow bullshit. This generation needed a punch in the gut. This generation needed a hot towel smothered all over its boring face to wake it the fuck up! He agreed.

We wanted the world, but our sound pretty much sucked. We just sounded like a watered down version of Guns ‘N’ Roses. I read Mötley Crüe’s autobiography, “The Dirt,” and I was obsessed with everything Nikki Sixx. I had that phase where the 80’s was everything to me. People would yell to my face, saying “dude the 80’s sucked man!” And I’d go “fuck you the 80’s ruled!” I wanted a girlfriend with a Nikki Sixx hairdo and all that shit. You know the phase I’m talking about, right? Silly me, I was oblivious at the time.

Anyway, Los Angeles was my Mecca. I’d been to Spain, Paris, Miami, San Francisco. I’d been everywhere. It was all lame. It wasn’t like the Rainbow Bar & Grill. That place had the right crowd with the right spirit, the right personality and the right music. What if the entire world was like the Rainbow? All the other rock bars had aging Hulk Hogan types filling the place. And by “filling the place,” I mean there were only five of them, with two dinosaur chicks, who had boyfriends. Great . . . I had two choices: I could either move to Los Angeles and camp at the Rainbow Bar & Grill for the rest of my life, or I could create a bunch of Rainbow Bar & Grills throughout the rest of the world. I could succumb to the rest of the world and “adapt,” or I can make the rest of the world adapt to me. Being the crazy fucker that I am, I chose to go for the latter.

The reason I use the words “me” and “I” is because I didn’t know that other people like me existed at the time (except in L.A. of course). I was the only one who went out of my way to make denim vests with patches and studs on them. I was the only one who went out of my way to look all hard rock. ‘Cause everybody else was a lame Adam’s Family, Hot Topic fashionista who claimed they were “punk.”

“Cut your hair,” “You look ridiculous,” “Why can’t you just be normal,” “Look at what you’re wearing,” “Why are you asking for so much attention?” “You’re in the wrong decade!” “Why can’t you look like a civil human being?” “Weirdo!” “We’re in the millennium, son! Get hip to this lifetime boy!”

I get friends, family and strangers who bark at me with that noise everyday. At the same time, when I go to concerts I find people who “grew up” and “matured.” They all come up to me and say “hey man, I really dig your style. I wish I can get away with looking like that again.” Then I answer “ok, why don’t you?” They all light up when they find someone who’s unapologetic and daring with his self-proclomation, but they’re all afraid to do the same. They’re too afraid of what people are gonna say about them. Even if they’re in bands, they play a lot of indie shit. And I ask them “what do you like to rock out to?” They all say “We love to rock out to Zeppelin, AC/DC, Deep Purple and Hendrix, man.” So, I ask “ok, why don’t you?” And they answer with that annoying fucking line . . . “It’s not our time.” Well our time sucks man. Don’t fucking “adapt” to it if you don’t like it. Change it! Fix it!

Every time somebody fucks with me about my hair or about my musical affiliation, I just make my stance. “Listen, I’m a maniac, a party animal, I’m a superstar. I’m not boring and I’m not fucking ‘normal,’ ok? I like to be outrageous and I like to live ‘til I fucking burn, ok?” Every time I go to a metal bar I rock out like a Tasmanian devil, just like Angus Young. I get a gamut of reactions from people who dig it to people who’re weirded out. Fuck them. I don’t give a fuck. Carpe motherfucking diem! If you don’t like it, then go back to your plain black, baggy, boring bullshit.

For some people carpe diem is cocaine and a champagne bottle. For some people carpe diem is skydiving and jetskiing. For me, carpe diem is sex and Aerosmith tickets. It can be whatever the fuck you want it to be. What I’m surprised about is this: Isn’t carpe diem supposed to be a universal desire? Why the hell doesn’t the rest of the world have that spirit too? I always wondered about that.

Carpe diem used to have a lot of slogans in the past. First it was “peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll,” Then it mutated into “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.” I think the universal appeal of carpe diem declined in the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” era - fat rockstars with bellies hanging out of their tight leather pants with a lot of bald spots in their big hair. They just got out of rehab, still looking ridiculously and freakishly androgynous. They were plagued with heroin-deaths, cocain-overdoses and HIV/AIDS. You’d see a grown man with a hairy chest pouting at you with lipstick on his kisser - a full fledged fucking freak show. Carpe diem had a huge PR crisis.

In the 90’s they back-lashed with “artistic integrity,” and they got rid of all that noise. Not only in music, but in everything. The desire to be sane and normal was the theme in film, politics, fashion and everything else. People felt relaxed that things were going back to normal again. Responsibility and normality now became a notion more important to them than carpe diem, or the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” version of it at least.

You know what though? I think the reverse is happening right now.

That boring, mundane normality took its toll on us for a very long time. Everybody started feeling like I do. They started getting bored out of their fucking minds with the way things are. I’m seeing it right in front of my eyes everyday. Ever since shows like Family Guy started making gags about the 80’s, people started wondering about what it was like back then, and then they started to like it!

I hate the 80’s now that I know how hack it is, but back then I didn’t. I thought it was the most interesting era ever. The band that embodied it all was Mötley Crüe. They were my favorite band, and they were everybody else’s favrorite band too. The Crüe’s fan-base started turning into an army. Everybody changed their Facebook profile so they’d have either “Sixx” as their last name or “Nikki” as their first. And it wasn’t just L.A. It was everywhere! France, Sweden, U.K., Latin America . . . It was crazy! 

Nikki signed an act called The Last Vegas to his label, Eleven Seven Records. Finally, a new band that don’t do the Adam’s Family bullshit! Finally! My hope in the future of rock ‘n’ roll has been restored again! His label included acts like Buckcherry and Charm City Devils, and it was all hard rock!

I checked up on what was going on in L.A. Then I found a group called the Chelsea Girls, another one called The Riot Brides, Dirty Penny, and Black Robot. Classic Rock magazine debuts articles about The Darkness, Airbourne, and The Answer. Independent Film Channel airs a show called Z Rock. Wait, what? They’re not a fictional band? They’re real? I went to their concert! Holy shit, this is great! Who are these guys? A video on YouTube called “Death To All but Metal” by Steel Panther. Oh my God this is awesome! A new movie in the theaters featuring Jimmy Page, “It Might Get Loud.” Whoa! Jack White has more songs than just “Seven Nation Army?” Wait, who are these guys? The Black Keys! Oh my God this is great! A new wave of hard rock is coming together! Finally new bands that cater to people like me! THIS IS SO FUCKING COOL!

People in the U.K. are starting to get bored of Coldplay, Radiohead, Muse and Oasis. ‘Cause now they’d rather just go see the lineup of the Download festival instead. Not only are the bands coming together, but even the consumers of the rock world are slowly departing from the Indie acts and going towards hard rock, metal, and punk.

So a new wave is catering to us now, but why aren’t they on the Billboards yet? Why aren’t they on MTV? Something’s not right here. How come Avenged Sevenfold is on the Billboard’s and ZO2 and Airbourne aren’t? Maybe they just debuted too late and it’ll take them a few more years till they’re on the radar.

One day I was having a discussion with a bunch of rock 'n' rollers. And they mentioned a Stones song that I didn’t know about, then a Zeppelin song I didn’t know about, then a Hendrix song that I didn’t know about. All I knew was like five songs from each of these bands. I knew Mötley Crüe inside and out though. But I never wanted to look stupid in front of those rockers again. So I did my homework, and I listened to most of the discographies of the 60’s and 70’s bands. Then my brain shifted and all the convictions that I was so strongly passionate about shook and collapsed.

You know when you’re used to fucking a mediocre chick who’s average in bed? Then time passes and now you’re fucking a super model who’s really good in bed? The mediocre chick isn’t fun anymore is she? That’s what happened. Nothing in the 80’s was ever appealing to me anymore. But I was still holding on to Mötley Crüe as my favorite band, just like everyone else was.

Then I went to a Uriah Heep concert. They played a song called “July Morning.” That song floored me. It didn’t hook me. No, it floored me. The rest of their set floored me. I never knew the taste of asphalt as well as I did that night. It was better than every other concert I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to AC/DC, Ozzy, Kiss, Slayer, Megadeth, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Slash and Alice in Chains. This wasn’t in an arena. It was in a small shitty club full of old people at B.B King’s in Times Square with a bad P.A. system. Despite all that, it was still better than anything else I ever witnessed in my entire life.

I called my partner in crime Sef Ashby and said, “Dude . . . Mötley Crüe SUCK!”

I started digging deeper into the 70’s. Not only the famous 70’s bands, but the bands that nobody even heard about, like Grand Funk Railroad, Ten Years After, Budgie, Dust and all those “Dead Notes.” Holy cow man! It’s like having sex with the hottest women on earth! Me and Sef started exploring and finding out more about these great acts. All of a sudden Sef sends me riffs he was inspired to write on the guitar. And I’m tellin’ you, we don’t sound like a watered down versions of Guns ‘N’ Roses anymore.

Now that everything else started to suck in comparison, carpe diem wasn’t the only thing I wanted to restore in this generation. Now my mission is to also restore musicianship and great songwriting; to raise the bar for greatness in the songs that are gonna put this dreadful millenium in the history books. So, the journey isn’t only my band’s alone, it’s the journey of everyone else in this new wave of hard rock as well. That’s why I wanna critique the bands in this wave. I wanna raise the bar for musical standards.

You might think I’m putting you down when I hold some observations against you, but whether you like it or not, I’m gonna speak up. Whether you like it or not, I want this generation’s wave to hit you like a tsunami. I dare to say that I want this wave to be even greater than the 70’s. I’m that mad. You’ll find my critiques on your music very helpful. I’m not here to critique Ke$ha, Blink 182, Nickelback, Coldplay or Jay Z. That’s just a complete waste of my time. I’m here to critique the bands that I love. Some of you are my peers, some of you are even my mentors. Whether you like it or not, I have to take this wave and flood the world with carpe diem and musical genius.

I’ve met some great people who organized a local classic rock-inspired scene here in New York City. And I’ve met some great bands here, too. I’ve met someone who in my opinion has the best voice in rock ‘n’ roll since Chris Cornell. I’ve seen a band who wrote a song as epic as Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” if not better. I’ve met charismatic personalities that rival David Lee Roth. This local scene is gonna be the next great wave of hard rock. I guarantee you. But it will only happen if there’s the right counter culture activity. This scene can’t stay local. And I’m sure there are great things going on in Detroit, Seattle Chicago, L.A., London, San Francisco and other cities as well. They need to be known. They need to be heard. They need to get out of the pubs and get into the arenas. They can’t be hidden forever.

A label is not gonna do that for you. Don’t ever wait for one to discover you. You need a Christgau, a Bingenheimer, a Wenner, an Alan Freed or an Eddie Trunk to fight for you. That’s where I come in. That’s my fight. That’s the change I wanna see. I’m talkin’ bout’ my generation!

I’m studying in film school for a reason. I’m hooking myself up with everything media, and I want to make rock ‘n’ roll the dominant force in the world again. From the new blood who know about the right icons, to the bands, to the counter culture players, this calling goes out to all of YOU! Let’s rally to take this wave to the stars!

Sef’s job is to report and critique on the lost underrated bands that nobody ever heard about throughout rock’s ages. My job is to report and comment on the new discoveries that nobody ever heard about in this age. I’m gonna report on all the rock ‘n’ roll counter culture activity that’s going on in the world as well. I’m mad enough to make this wave of hard rock the music industry’s main event!

If any of you are in a band that love the kind of hard rock acts that we blog about, add me on Facebook and send me a message.

If you’re all swagger and hard rock, if you’re all long hair and leather jackets, then fucking message me! Tell me if there are any hard rock acts that deserves to be known in your local scene. I don’t care they're in San Francisco or fucking Timbuktu. Send me their MySpace link. If there’s anything exciting going on in your city, town or even village, let me know about it. Let me know about every single detail. If you’re in Antarctica and you live in a fucking igloo, let me know if there are any rock ‘n’ roll eskimos in your parts. And if there’s nothing going on at all, let me know about that too. Let me know about everything that’s making it tough for you guys to rock.

A friend of mine told me how he thinks this generation is doomed. I told him that the problem isn’t the lack of bands, the problem is that the counter culture is weak. I got a lot of fight in me as a counter culture activist. And I think we should stop being divided and isolated. Kelle Calco, the best rock ‘n’ roll promoter in all of New York City, said “rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead, it’s just divided.” He inspired me. I say we all join forces. Start our own little Live Nation. Start our own national club circuit. Fuck it, we’ll start our own international club circuit! We’ll start our own podcasts, webcasts and broadcasts. We’ll start our own industry conventions! Our own South By Southwests! Our own Rainbow Bar & Grills! Our own CBGB’s! We’ll start festivals with line ups that are bigger than the ones in Donnington and Rio! We’ll shoot our own videos and broadcast them to the world! We’ll write our own blogs and e-zines until the big magazines hire us. Shit, we’ll start our own big magazines and we’ll hire them! We’ll do commentaries on Vh1 Classics. Maybe even start our own fucking music TV networks! Let’s start our own local scenes. If you’re a promoter that specializes in booking hard rock bands, and you throw rock ‘n’ roll parties, get in touch with me and tell me everything that’s going on in your local area. I’ll hook you up. Let’s DIY the shit out of this! All for the sake of riding this next great wave higher! If we do it right and play it right, soon enough a gigantic following will take this carpe diem statement sky high, and we’ll all sweep this generation up like stormbringers! We’re gonna make that change! You think I’m mad? I’m just getting warmed up! I’m gonna make this counter culture stronger than it ever was before mother fuckers!

Carpe fucking Diem!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Update 01/24/11

I realize the group's moving at a turtle's pace, but you know the story of the turtle and the hare right? Don't worry, soon enough this blog is going to kick even more ass than it already does.

Trip Loon is going to be posting his first article any time now. This guy has some serious insights on rock 'n' roll. If you don't know who he is, get acquainted.

I've been listening to Leaf Hound's first album "Growers of Mushrooms." I'm going to put up a review in the next week or two, so stick around. And if you wanna know what's going on with the blog, and the inevitable migration to a full-on website sometime this year, then follow me on Twitter. I'm always rambling on about what's happening.

If you've got any music we should be aware of, let me know on Twitter, or post the artist and album in a comment here.

Here's a bitchin' tune to keep you going until the next post.

Guts by Budgie

Rock 'n' roll you sick animals!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

One Way... Or Another by Cactus - Why this cactus stayed out in the desert

The Band: Cactus
  • Rusty Day (Vocals, Harmonica)
  • Jim McCarty (Guitar)
  • Tim Bogert (Bass)
  • Carmine Appice (Drums)

The Album: One Way... Or Another (1971)

Key Tracks: Song For Aries, Hometown Bust, One Way... Or Another

Score: 3.5 / 5

Sounds like:

Distorted and fuzzed up blues boogie with drum and bass virtuosity, soaring lead work, power-soul vocals, and a more modern take on Delta-style harp. Some subtle elements of early heavy metal, but with a consistent Southern vibe full of funky grooves.


Cactus were a supergroup from the 1970s, both in the sense that their members were the alumni of incredible bands, and in the sense that they've got super powers . . . Like Superman.

Rusty Day used to sing for Amboy Dukes, the band that made Ted Nugent famous; Jim McCarty (not to be confused with The Yardbirds’ drummer) played guitar in Buddy Miles Express, one of the remnant bands of Jimi Hendrix’ Band of Gypsies; while Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice were the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge, a great 60’s psychedelic band that set the foundation for hard rock in the 70’s. Appice is the guy that influenced every drummer from John Bonham and Ian Paice to Nicko McBrain and Dave Lombardo. So putting all of these guys together in one band should give us nothing short of a classic album. Unfortunately, “short” is the only word that holds relevance when you’re talking about this album as a whole.

The most serious and persistent problem they seemed to have was channeling the energy of their super powers to give us a full-fledged, legendary album. You know what I'm talking about, right? The kind of album where you can't seem to pick which song's better than which; or the kind where you've memorized the chronological sequence of the songs, 'cause you've heard it so damn much. In a nutshell, I mean the kind of album where every song deserves a solid 5 out of 5 stars without even thinking about it twice. When I think of albums like that, I imagine Deep Purple's "Machine Head," or something like Iggy and The Stooges’ “Raw Power,” or Led Zeppelin IV. However, what I don't imagine, is Cactus' "One Way... Or Another." Again, that’s because Cactus kept falling short of their full potential on this album.

The album kicks off with such a strong, commanding, in-your-face note. It screams out of Jim McCarty's amplifier all fuzzed up and dirty, then it falls into a 50's influenced boogie rhythm. It's a groovy rhythm, no doubt, - it's full of swagger and attitude - but we're missing that intense musicianship we're used to from Cactus' former Vanilla Fudge rhythm section. They seem to be taking it easy here, and they keep on taking it easy throughout "Long Tall Sally," a cover of a Little Richard song; "Rockout, Whatever You Feel Like;" and the first part of "Rock 'N' Roll Children.” So basically, we're waiting through three songs for Appice and Bogert to hit us with the powerful, driving rhythms you'd expect them to pull off. Sure, they kind of tease you here and there, but that's all they do.

The third track, "Rock 'N' Roll Children," opens with another boogie rhythm under the late Rusty Day’s vocals with the rest of the group singing back-up. The bass line is mean and growling, often distracting from the guitar work. And that’s definitely a good thing in this case. But the band don't hit you hard until Appice starts galloping into the solo like a fucking stampede. McCarty and Bogert start a dueling bass and guitar solo like gunfire hitting you from either side. And now, finally, we're listening to Cactus. You only wish this track would go on longer. Sadly, the stampede hit the edge of the cliff too soon, at a little under six minutes.

"Big Mama Boogie, Parts I & II" builds up slowly from an acoustic Delta-style guitar and harp dance. It's like the morning songs I put on while I'm flipping pancakes and grilling sausages. But then the stove catches fire and the kitchen fills with smoke when Appice comes out of no where like a fucking machine gun, Bogert's fingers slipping all over the fingerboard of his overdriven bass, and McCarty tearing it all up, this time battling with Day's harp, and the beautiful madness that is Cactus comes out again. Their brilliant, organized chaos punches you right in the gut. And then again, they end it in under six minutes. Why the fuck do they always do this? All of these songs are the perfect foundation for 9-minute epics like Grand Funk Railroad's "Inside Looking Out" or Humble Pie's "Live With Me," but it's like they're worried about their tape budget or something.

The next song, a cover of "Feel So Bad," is only slightly better than Chuck Willis' original. It's forgettable, and sounds like Cactus are trying to be psychedelic. There's really nothing interesting to say about this song, except for the fact that it precedes one of the greatest instrumentals I've ever heard, "Song For Aries."

"Song For Aries" is so fucking eerie. It kicks off with an acoustic chord progression that sounds very similar to The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," emphasizing the similarities even more with McCarty's wah-guitar lead work. I imagine a campfire where a group of soldiers are gathered before a battle they know they can't win. The acoustic guitar comes in like it's David’s theme song as he prepares himself to face Goliath. It brings the soldiers' spirits up slowly. Then Appice goes mad with his drum work, like he's the commanding officer, ordering the soldiers to get up and face the enemy. And then McCarty's guitar screams: "Get up! It's time for war!" Ladies and gentlemen, this is Cactus.

"Song For Aries" is like a spell cast on the remainder of the album, making sure the rest of it is all perfect. And without a fucking doubt, the next two songs are milestones of rock 'n' roll history.

"Hometown Bust" is a story of a man whose "friends are getting locked up." It's a blues standard that's been served so well. McCarty shows us a deep understanding of double-tracked guitar harmonies that wouldn't catch on in popularity until Judas Priest and Iron Maiden almost a decade later. Day's voice is unbelievably passionate, full of the blues, visceral and soaring like he had the soul of a tired old black man. The song swings back and forth between McCarty's beautiful acoustic guitar and Day's harp that sounds like a jailbird on death row. Then out of the blue, McCarty tears it up, and Bogert and Appice join in to give us Cactus' chaos once more. McCarty and Day steal the spotlight from each other over Appice's foreshadowing "tap, tap, tap" of the hi-hat. Then it's chaos all over again, bringing your emotions up and down like the sickest roller-coaster you could ever imagine. Bogert keeps the mood dark throughout, to the point that you can't help but feel the blues in the song. The Vanilla Fudge alumni hold the rhythm so well while embellishing and filling it all up in a way that makes it seem effortless.

The album leads us to its closing title-track, a song that really is rock 'n' roll at its best, “One Way... Or Another.” If this song was five seconds long, I'd still give it a solid five stars . . . One for each second. The song is built on an incredible guitar riff that's loud, heavy, full of power and soul, and just the right amount of speed. Appice, like the insane architect of rock 'n' roll drumming he is, pushes us deeper into the song while Bogert carries the chord progression forward with the kind of expertise that would make Jack Bruce shiver. Day's commanding vocals make sure the lyrics get to you: "One way or another you go through life / You live alone, you keep a wife / You beat the law, you leave your hometown / Finding out it's hard when you're all alone and brought down." Cactus demand your full attention like a good rock 'n' roll band should, and you give it to them willingly. Then the song travels into the coolest fucking breakdown I've ever heard. Cactus use their boogie roots here the way they should have throughout the entire album. This part introduces a shift in rhythm where Bogert and Appice cool it down, while making damn sure you know that Cactus' chaos is coming. Then out of nowhere: "BAM BAM!" - the band in perfect sync, with two explosions like a shotgun to the brain, they take us over to the solo. Appice and Bogert bring McCarty's 10 out of 10 performance on the solo up, and make it a beyond-perfect 12 out of 10. Then Day comes back in to sing, but the solo doesn't stop; McCarty just rolls his volume down for a more subtle vibe. Bogert drives us crazy with his bass work, hitting every note the right way while making sure he's everywhere at the same time. There is no criticism for this song. It's perfect. This song has all the reasons why I love rock 'n' roll rooted in the fingertips, hands and throats of these amazing musicians.

It's just sad that the album doesn't have much more to offer than those last three songs. Cactus remind us with "Hometown Bust" and "One Way... Or Another" why they've been called the American Led Zeppelin. If the rest of the album was as solid as those two songs, I’d have given it a much higher score, and we'd all probably be calling Led Zeppelin the British Cactus.