Summertime Blues, News, and Views: Those Wacky Musicians

Hell yeah I went and saw Dream Theater last Friday at the State Theater in Minneapolis. Surprise? Of course not.

My sixth show with the band was “An Evening with Dream Theater,” a 2 1/2 hour show celebrating their 20th anniversary. They formed in 1985, although their first album wasn’t released until 1989. So, take that silly anniversary label for what you will. I’ve only been listening to them since late 1992… I’m such a newbie.

Anyway… HERE’S PROOF THAT I WAS THERE!

I had sweet balcony seats right at the front on the left side. I could see a hell of a lot better than my little Treo camera could, but eh, you get the idea.

This was actually my third “An Evening With…” show, for what it’s worth. Nothing like seeing your favorite band play for ages and not have to sit through a shitty opener.

They opened with “The Root of All Evil” from their latest album Octavarium, then started from 1985 and worked forward. They played a song from back when the band’s name was Majesty, and I don’t know the name of it although I surely have it kicking around here somewhere. From When Dream and Day Unite was “A Fortune In Lies,” which tends to be their standard WDaDU contribution. This was followed by “Take The Time” from Images and Words, which I had not yet seen live. The Awake contingency was “The Mirror” and “Lie,” played one after the other as they appear on the album. 1997’s Falling Into Infinity heralded “Under Peruvian Skies”, complete with a break into Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and a quick riff from Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam” at the end. Wrapping up the first half of the set was “Fatal Tragedy” from Scenes From a Memory.

Intermission! The intermission music was fairly interesting as I recognized an acoustic version of “Voices” being sung by some chick. Typically, the intermission music is chosen from contests and contributions from fans, but even I’m not DT-geeky enough to know exactly who it was.

Act two started with a chunk of the 40-minute song on Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence of the same name. “As I Am” followed from 2003’s Train of Thought. From Octavarium, we got “Walk Beside You,” “Sacrificed Sons,” a quick break for a key/fingerboard solo from Jordan Rudess, and the 20+ minute “Octavarium.” The latter, by the way, was made super-rad with this hilariously surreal cartoon shown on the overhead screens.

Encore was “Pull Me Under” switching over to “Metropolis Pt. 1” at the beginning of the big middle solo section. I squealed, and even my boyfriend (who is only familiar with 1992-1994 era DT) got really into it. His opinion of the show in general was more amazement with how these guys play such incredibly complex music yet make it look as simple as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, plus the complete lack of pretention. You can’t say that for a lot of bands these days.

I have yet to attend a Dream Theater show with anyone (including folks who know nothing of the band and its music) who doesn’t walk away pleased. Being a fangirl, I could get cranky about some of the song choices that I’ve seen live several times over or that I plain just don’t care for, but there’s no way I could honestly walk away disappointed. Great show, great times, especially the Awake pairing which I had not yet seen performed. Can’t wait to see them a seventh time.

Alice In Musicland

First: Lacuna Coil’s highly anticipated new album Karmacode will be out on the street April 4th. They’re going to be on Ozzfest this year, too.

Here’s a sneak peek: Stream of the video for their first single, “Our Truth.”

Now if only everything in the world could be this happy. Stuff happens in the music world, and I live to make snarky comments about it.

Although sometimes, the snark is already there! Michael Anthony of Van Halen recently did an interview with Japan’s “BURRN!” magazine. Melodicrock.com was nice enough to provide some translation.

ENJOY!

The Van Halen 2004 reunion tour:
“Well in general the reunion tour was great because it had been since 1998 that we played as Van Halen anywhere and it doesn’t take very long for me after we finish a tour, it only takes a matter of weeks before I’m ready to get up and play in front of people again. So in that respect it was great getting out there and playing again and you know it’s like when everybody got back together again, from outward appearances everything seemed fine but we had a few bumps because old things came back up again from time to time on the road between Sammy and Eddie so it was a little bit shaky. Actually the tour didn’t end with as much fanfare as I would have liked it to or hoped it would but we got through it.”

On the new business arrangements within the band for the 2004 re-union:
“I was not going to just sit home and do nothing and that kind of upset the Van Halen brothers for whatever reason I can’t understand myself. But basically when this whole reunion thing started Ed really didn’t want me to be part of it. I don’t know how he was going to call it a reunion (laughs) but I basically had to work out a deal with Irving Azoff’s management company in order to be part of this thing.

I kind of sucked it up a bit and I made less money but the way I looked at it was, if this possibly was the last tour that Van Halen would ever do then I’d be kicking myself because I wasn’t a part of it and I want to be a part of it, even more so than the money so I sucked it all up and came on and did it. I did it for the fans.”

And on the 2004 tour and tensions within the band:
“We got along great. Obviously there was tension between the brothers, basically Ed and Sammy’s tequila thing because he was never happy about that, the whole Cabo Wabo thing. And a lot of these arenas that we were playing in sold Cabo Wabo and even though that really had nothing to do with Sammy because he sells to people and then the buildings, the venues buys the stuff and Sammy doesn’t sell to them. So I think Ed would get a little put off when he’d see a lot of Cabo Wabo banners up around the arenas and sometimes that would even create some tension onstage and offstage. There were nights where you know you have that after the show flight on the jet and things would sometimes be a little tense on that plane and without getting into any great detail there came a point to where we actually split it up and we traveled on two different jets; Eddie and Al would fly on one jet and Sammy and I would fly on another. This was only to keep the peace and that sucks just like anything else that even turns into a big business you know, sports or anything. A lot of times you almost lose the reason in the first place of why you got into doing it you know, making music and getting laid (laughs) and it all turns into big business.

It got to the point to where I couldn’t even see this thing going on much longer without either somebody blowing up on somebody or whatever. So Sammy finally said, I’m not doing any more dates because this is just not working.

[Ed] did not want Sammy doing any promoting of his stuff at all using the Van Halen name but a lot of that you don’t have any control over. I came out with a hot sauce about the same time we were putting the tour together and the local radio station here in Los Angeles KLOS, they would talk about the tour and then they would talk about my hot sauce. Well the brothers caught wind of that and they thought that I had my people, as they would say “my people”, calling the radio station and telling them to pump my hot sauce on Van Halen’s dime here or whatever and they finally asked me to have my people “cease and desist”, I remember that distinctly. But I didn’t have a damn thing to do with that and I have no control over what the radio station said. In fact, gee isn’t this one of the benefits that you’re supposed to reap from all these years of success, that you can be able to go off and do something like that and promote something? They went on and they (the brothers) had their lawyers call every radio station that we were going to play at in every city and told them specifically they were not to mention Cabo Tequila or my Mad Anthony’s Hot Sauce in the same sentence with Van Halen!”

On recording a new album with Roth:
“We were going to do videos for the songs [on the Best Of Volume 1] and everything but Roth was really trying to take control and we finally just said, let’s not even do the videos for these songs because he’s going to kill the whole thing and so it fell apart.

But yeah, before that tour yeah, we tried to make it work. We went into the studio and it was kind of funny because we first got together in the studio and we were all in the one room together and we did Hot For Teacher, Mean Street and a few other songs and it’s the weirdest thing because once we started playing it was like, son of a bitch, there it is, that’s the magic! It was like a big déjà vu because it was the original band playing again and it sounded pretty f*ckin’ good too!

But then of course the longer we spent in the studio, you know we had two or three different producers in there trying to work with us and Dave would just come in with tapes of the Chemical Brothers, all different kinds of weird stuff and say hey, let’s do a song like this and Ed was having a hard time dealing with him, a real hard time dealing with him and Al was saying, well, let’s do a couple of things that Roth likes to do and then let’s just do our thing. I don’t know if we had a complete album’s worth of stuff but we were pretty damn close and unfortunately, there you go with Dave again and we just couldn’t finish it and all those old reasons why he left the band in the first place they started surfacing you know. He went right back to his old ways.

I mean even if you just wanted to look at it purely look at it from a money standpoint that guy was hurting for money. And it was like Dave, I mean he couldn’t even put his ego aside if he wanted to go out and make $50 million and you know you’ve got a pretty large ego when you’re going to give that all up even just because you don’t get your way on something. I couldn’t understand it.”

On the Best Of Both Worlds Compilation and those 3 new songs:
“You know when we did the Best Of Both Worlds we had problems with Roth because of what he wanted and didn’t want on the CD, how much he wanted to get paid and so on. So there was a point to where we were just going to say okay Dave, if that’s the way you want it, we had some live versions of some of the old Van Halen songs and we were just going to tell Dave, okay if that’s the way you want it we won’t even put you on this record, you won’t make a dime off it! I mean he was being difficult on that thing and what we wanted to do was the one disc with Sammy and the other disc with Dave plus the three new songs and Dave was even making that difficult but in the end he folded. I think he was just trying to pull a power play. Bad stuff (laughs).

I knew that we weren’t going to do a whole new album with Sammy on this reunion thing. The time that it was taking in the studio to do these three songs it would have taken us a couple of years to do an entire album. And like I said, once it started to get put together Irving Azoff really pushed it, speeded us along to get us out there and so it just turned out to be well, let’s just do these three songs. And to tell you the truth and I’ll say this for the record: I didn’t play bass on any of those three songs on there. I wasn’t even in the band yet when those three songs were done.

I came aboard and I sang backgrounds on them but the music was already done and I wasn’t even back in the band as far as the reunion part of it yet when the music was done. So that was kind of tough for me but it’s like hey, it is what it is and I don’t think Ed really talked about it much but if anybody asks me I’m not embarrassed to say that I didn’t play bass on them because I wasn’t part of the band at that point.”

I cut out a ton, too.

We’ve all known for the last few years — particularly after Hagar got booted from the band — that something truly wiggy was afoot behind the scenes in Van Halen. Well, maybe we should’ve seen it when Eddie named his kid Wolfgang, but I digress.

My real issue here is how Michael Anthony was treated. Not only that, but how lighthearted his response seems to be. He went on the reunion tour — an original member of the band — and was paid less than everyone else. Now, we all know that nobody specifically comes to a Van Halen show to see Michael Anthony or Alex Van Halen, but at least Anthony’s background vocals are a crucial part of their music from the beginning of their career to the present. Alex had his moments in the olden days, then became nothing more than a standard rhythm man. So why isn’t he getting paid less? It seems that no matter how you twist the logic, it’s never going to make any more sense than simply stating bloated egos, but it’s ice to try.

You know, Van Halen was so prevalent in my youth that my little sister was named after a song. And even though we aren’t super-close and have our differences, I’d like to smack the Van Halen brothers for sullying her good name.

As for the opposite of sullying, yet no less sad, here’s a smidge from Blabbermouth:

According to Net Music Countdown, AUDIOSLAVE guitarist Tom Morello (ex-RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE) will be the guest host of Rock-N-Roll Bingo this Thursday, March 23 at Cranes Hollywood Tavern in Hollywood, California.

The bingo charity event is open to all ages and will raise money for South Central Farmers.

The fun and games begin at 6:00 p.m. and last until 10:00 p.m. Each bingo card costs $5.

Rock-N-Roll Bingo is a non-profit organization bringing together musicians, fans, grassroots political organizations and community members to support various social charitable organizations and events.

For more information on this week’s Rock-N-Roll Bingo event with AUDIOSLAVE’s Tom Morello, visit link text.

And I thought it was pure high comedy when Vince Neil hosted The Chicken Dance a couple of years ago. I’ve still got video of that.

There are a lot of things that stars do for charity, and I have absolutely no problem with that. Hell, I think it’s great. But I’m a strong believer that sometimes charities create the wrong events, period.

It’s a charity for farmers. E-I-E-I-O. COMEDY! But where in the f*ck does Rock-N-Roll fit into this? I can understand the allure of celebrities to drum up attention, but I don’t know how many Audioslave/Rage fans are going to clamor to go play bingo with the guy. They’re certainly not going to be saying to themselves, “I would like to help the plight of the south central farmer!” It just doesn’t make any sense. Around my part of the world, the proper attraction for a bingo crowd would be hauling in Pat Sajak, Angela Lansbury, or someone who played trumpet with Lawrence Welk.

Fuck bingo. Tom Morello should grab his bandmate Tim Commerford and raise money with scaffolding-climbing contests. That’s how to properly utilize a celebrity.

Now then. Back to the snarking. Thanks again to Blabbermouth:

During a recent interview with “The Metal Show,” heard live on 92.3 FM WXRK in Cleveland, SLAYER vocalist Tom Araya slammed STATIC-X while discussing their performance during a tour with SLAYER, PANTERA, MORBID ANGEL and others. The following is an excerpt from the interview:

The Metal Show: It’s not like the SLAYER fans are very giving when it comes to anybody but you guys playing.

Tom Araya: “Well, they kind of are, especially if you’re good. You know… they’ll give into you.”

The Metal Show: I don’t know, man. I saw you guys here on the tour with PANTERA and STATIC-X where STATIC-X got booed right off the stage while people were chanting “SLAYER!”

Tom Araya: “Dude, come on. You’re talking about STATIC-X. (laughing a lot) One night… it’s pretty understandable why they got booed (Laughs).”

The Metal Show: Very nice, man, I’m sure they are thrilled to hear that.

Tom Araya: “I’m sure they will be! (Laughs).”

You can hear the interview in its entirety at Pitriff.com (Real Player required). This specific exchange can be heard about 9 minutes, 3 seconds into the conversation.

I love it. Slayer — choose your band member at random, it doesn’t matter — is long since infamous for ripping on anyone and anyone they feel like. The best part is that with their oldschool influence and clout, nobody will ever challenge the shit that pours out of their mouths. A few have tried and only come up looking like whiners. Static-X should just be glad their name is in the press at this point, but time will tell if they decide to whine to another rag in return.

I’m right here to listen. Call me, Wayne!

Your Band Here

It’s another edition of Your Band Here, meaning some bands get some exposure and I get to exercise my bitchiness. Okay, that’s not so true as I tend to be relatively lenient (unsigned = room to grow!), so if you or your band friends would like some free press, send ’em over to my MySpace or email me.

Madam Robot and the Lust Brigade:
According to their profile, they sound like “your mama tripping out on acid.” I don’t know about your mom, but this probably does sound like my mom on a bad trip, that’s for certain. Madam Robot et al brings back the ’60s era psychedelica as if they never left the decade. Sure, other bands have tried to bring elements of psychedelica back into the mainstream soundscape, but none as authentically as these guys — hell, they even duplicate the antiquated lo-fi production. On the other end of the scale, they can kick back and rock in no way like they did 40 years ago.
Positives: The greatest strength these guys have is their uniqueness. It’s different from the current popular indie sound, but yet it doesn’t stand out as being too different or inaccessible. They sound like pros, the writing is tight (hear “Dharma Candy”), and they make a statement.
Negatives: I don’t know. This is serious “mainstream” (among indies, anyway) fodder. For crying out loud, I’m not normally into this type of music whatsoever but I would listen to it twice. Three times, even. That says more than you can imagine.

Memory Fade:
They call themselves “Rock” with little other descriptor; perhaps it’s best sometimes to leave it to generalizations when your music wanders between categories. Even still, it’s no more wandering than current rock radio with some hard crunching numbers mixed with emotional ballads. They could use a re-write of their bio though; I don’t think they mean for it to say that musicianship takes a backseat to the mainstream, but their sound is indeed very mainstream.
Positives: “Truth Falling” and “Iniquity” definitely have a tight grasp on what’s selling these days. The latter of the two, I’d venture to place higher than a lot of Nickelback crap. Still, they say a big influence of theirs is Staind, and it really shows. Oh yeah, and the bass player knows his shit.
Negatives: There’s a real lack of adventure here; not to say that there isn’t promise here, but there are no risks taken either. What would happened if they were to get signed and release an album of this type of material one year from now? Would anyone care?

Rook:
Oklahoma tosses us quite the curve ball with Rook. Yeah, I know a few metalheads from the state, but most don’t stay there due to bans on porn and tattooing. So is it not only odd to find a solid metal band in Tulsa, but it’s even stranger to find them incorporating bleepy-bloopy synth along with prog and hot chicks. It’s a recipe that’s meant to work in Sweden, not the dust bowl.
Positives: I hope that opening paragraph wasn’t too drooly. Goddamn, these guys (and girls) absolutely rock. Think Lacuna Coil with a heavier electronica influence. Their song construction is top-notch; listen to “Pandora’s Box” to catch not only some fine, catchy riffing, but chord progressions and breakdowns that compel you to rock the f*ck out.
Negatives: Rook is by far one of the best MySpace bands I’ve reviewed. Hell, they’ve gotten all sorts of local awards. The big negative is that they aren’t signed and I don’t have a promo in my pocket right now.

The Rad Ones

My daily predecessor, Kyle David Paul, ruminates on why kids are turning to classic rock to get their quality fix. I know I did, and that’s probably why I hold quality in music to such a high standard.

Take notes RIGHT NOW from Shawn M. Smith. CREED RUINS LIVES.

Chris Lamb has been reviewing stuff.

And (WARNING: SNOB ALERT) Tom D’Errico praises the wrong Fear Factory album. 🙂

HEY, ALEX! I got my Pichu Nice Card yesterday!

Oh yeah, and last week, I helped out covering Eric S’s wrestling spot. No worries though: he’s back.

And a note to the Movies guys: I saw V For Vendetta. I certainly wouldn’t give it a 10 or a 9, but it was alright. It didn’t suck and maybe compared to most of Hollywood’s dreck it’s a welcome offering, but… I’m not going to continue my snob run here in the pimpola section. Enjoy what you will.

Outro

I have “It’s Raining Men” stuck in my head. I have no idea why.

I’ve also written most of this column naked. Trust me, if you had to deal with the unadjustable heat in this building, you’d be naked, too. So it’s sweaty, icky naked. Not hot, sexy naked. So put those thoughts away.

I’ll just leave you with that.

–gloomchen