Archive for August, 2008

Rock 4 Rookies Podcast: Episode 29

Posted: August 31, 2008 by Maximum Mike in Rock 4 Rookies Podcast

What do you get when you cross three decades, three cups of coffee and a wiener dog? THIS WEEKS SHOW!!!! Everlast, Rod Stewart, Papa Roach, Rick Derringer and a beautiful salute that will have you shaking your head in wonder at my genius!!

Rock 4 Rookies Podcast: Episode 28

Posted: August 24, 2008 by Maximum Mike in Rock 4 Rookies Podcast

After giving my Mom a preview of the show, her only comment besides the obvious “You’re Adorable” was that there was too much screaming. So.The SCREAMING and NOISE Show!!!! Featuring bands like Fun Lovin Criminals, Black Stone Cherry, Coyote Shivers, and Theory of a Deadman!!!

To truly be a Rockstar you have to live like one. Being a famous artist is a career that comes with among other things a lot of money, so the real rockers back up their lyrics by leading appropriately hedonistic lifestyles. Whether you buy and crash Ferarri’s like Leif Garrett, or snort your height in lines of coke ala Motley Crue, if you are a famous artist you are guilty of some hedonism and here is the proof: Paul McCartney has been quoted as saying “Somebody said to me,’ But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.’ That’s a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, ‘Now, let’s write a swimming pool.” If The Beatles did it, everyone has. Rockstars need to make people believe that they are gods performing on stage and creating an almost magical level of energy in the crowd, One of the best ways to do that is to spend money like crazy showing us normies just how pathetic our lives truly are.

It starts with possessions, the biggest of which is the house. I have seen most, if not all the episodes of Cribs and it always make me laugh at how no one on the show ever shows off their library. There is never a lack of ridiculous things that people put in their homes. The most amusing is the 52 room mansion in Connecticut owned by rapper 50 Cent. Aside from the movie theater and the recording studio (which for an artist is not such a bad idea) the house’s former owner was none other than, you guessed it, Mike Tyson. If there is a better crazy celebrity to take lessons on high-living from I would love to know. The house also has no less than 4 kitchens and a heli-pad. The really disappointing artists are celebrities like Sully Erna of Godsmack, and David Draiman of Disturbed. These two guys are the frontmen for two of the biggest bands in the world, and their homes do not reflect that. Sully’s Boston pad is nice, tastefully decorated save for the swords hung up all over the living room. The same is true of Draiman’s LA residence. The house itself is big but tame looking like a dark Martha Stewart decorated it. Where is the excess? These are just big houses. Brad and Angelina just threw down 70 million on an estate in France. Let’s go rockers pick up the pace.

Surely cars are a great way to cash in all that platinum album bonus money. 50 Cent once again sets the bar with his collection of rare Ferraris he never drives. You will argue with me that he is a Rapper not a Rocker. Fair enough, then let’s look at some rocker rides and see what they have. Sully Erna has a couple of Mercedes and motorcycles, and Travis Barker of Blink 182 is obsessed with Cadillacs. Sebastian Bach, of Skid Row has a couple of classic Camaros, and Robbie William’s has a Bentley. Whoop de do. Where are the insane customized cars you see at the houses of Ja Rule and Nelly? Where is the overindulgence that Rock music has come to symbolize?

There was a time when Rock music was the epitome of excess. Jim Morrison’s decadent drug fueled ways, Mick Jagger’s rumors of sexual experimentation with David Bowie. It almost seems like the last truly larger than life Rock band was Guns N Roses. Known for trashing hotels and rampant drug use, they truly embodied the lifestyle of the music they created. A famous story involving them took place in Montreal in 1991. The band had been on tour with Metallica and Faith no More in one of the biggest tours in history. The night of the Montreal show James Hetfield of Metallica was seriously burned in a pyrotechnics accident and the band was forced to cancel. G’N’R could have come on played a three hour set and been heroes. This is not their way. About forty minutes into the concert Axel Rose decided he had had enough and walked off stage taking the band with him. Then he sat backstage smoking and drinking champagne while complaining about how his throat was bothering him and he could not sing. While that was going on the angry crowd was rioting, overturning cop cars, and burning the city.

It is this attitude that is almost a necessity in Rock. The solid band Papa Roach, has a very charismatic frontman named Jacoby Shaddix, (great name I know) who off stage is known as one of the most engaging and friendly people around. I am not saying that Rockstars should be assholes, but part of their mystique is the attitude that by performing nightly in front of thousands of people they are somehow better than them. Especially now when we worship our celebrities like never before one would think that they would despise the people that put them on that pedestal.

Times have changed. In the past people used to camp out at Elvis Pressly’s Graceland ranch, hoping for a glimpse of their idol. Elvis usually obliged riding his horses down to chat with people, and even sending his cooks down with hot chocolate in the winter. These days that would not happen, but with the internet and the breakdown of the record label’s stranglehold over the consumer, artists are having to make themselves more available to grassroots marketing campaigns. This brings Rockers ever closer to the fans who not only put them up on the pedestal of fame, but are ever more responsible for that fame. For example, My Chemical Romance started out giving out free tracks on Myspace, and Pure Volume, the word of mouth and devotion won from those early fans guided them to a platinum record and a major label contract.

That they live larger than we can imagine is a given, but today’s artists are a new breed devoted to their art and to their fans. Sully Erna has a Godsmack quilt made by their fans as a gift when his daughter was born. Hollywood actors are on the screen, as far away from us as possible pretending to be other people. If we are taken on an emotional journey with them it is not a real connection because at the end of the day they are only acting. With our Rockers the connection is in person and shared on a communal emotional level. Even the most hardened dead to the world Rockstar feels that connection on stage, unless its Axel Rose, that dude hates everyone.

Rock 4 Rookies Podcast: Episode 27

Posted: August 17, 2008 by Maximum Mike in Rock 4 Rookies Podcast

Pushing the boundaries of Rock, we find out why Rock 4 Rookies is as twisted as it is!!! Even I was weirded out by this week’s show, featuring RUSH, Alterbridge, Finger Eleven and The Beatles!!

Studies show that our generation is losing its hearing at a rapid pace. In my parent’s day when you went to a concert you blew your ears out and took a few days off to rest up and get that wicked buzz out. Now with the proliferation of car stereos and mp3 players the only time we rest our ears is when we sleep. We listen to music on the way to the concerts, blast our ears while there, and listen to music all the way home. The constant drowning of our eardrums in a sea of loud music is killing our ears. It also does something else. By living in our own self-induced musical world, we shut ourselves off to the sounds of the world around us, and by that we close ourselves to a type of music that is constant and ever changing.
Avant-garde composer John Cage was fascinated by sound as music. He talked about how when he listened to music he heard people talking. The music spoke about relationships life and emotions. When he listened to the traffic outside his apartment on 6th Avenue in Manhattan, he did not have the feeling that people were talking, rather he felt as though sound was acting. Cage was fascinated by the activity of sound. Sounds in the City for example, got longer and shorter, softer and louder, higher and lower, all with the ebb and flow of a regular day. According to Cage our problem is that we look at music in terms of time instead of in terms of space. The experience of music to us is to take it internally and make it a part of our emotional experiences. Sound on the other hand is taken externally dismissed as nonsense. But take the complexities of listening to your favorite Pop record, and compare that to a few minutes standing at a bus stop and listening to your surroundings. The Pop music is structural and confined by the space it inhabits. The Bus Stop is the sound of structure. Busses people wind weather, and not confined by a simple three minute construction. Sound is alive, and if you will join me I will show how it breathes.
We will not pretend that what we hear is meant to be something else. For example, a glass shattering on concrete will be just that. The crack of a baseball bat will be just as we describe it. In our constant need to escape the toil and monotony of our daily lives, we forget just how beautiful and real life actually is. There is no substitute for the power and splendor of a thunderstorm. It is almost symphonic in movement. The distant rumbling starts miles away, as a gentle rain taps out a steady backbeat. The rumbling gets nearer and nearer growing louder and louder until it claps overhead booming echoes of sound across the horizon. Then as soon as we grow comfortable with its steady current, it fades almost imperceptibly at first blowing in whatever direction the wind takes it. The truth is that in the previous description I made an important mistake that illustrates Cage’s understanding of sound. By describing sounds in musical terms we remain confined by those conventions. The hardest part is to remove all those ideas from our description and take them in as they are.
Let us take another part of nature and see if we cannot experience its sounds for what they are not for what we project them to be. The sounds of a forest are both beautiful and haunting. A river flows gently through the scenery, while birds and insects chirp at random hidden from our eyes by the rich foliage. I remember being on a camping trip in the Allegheny Foothills, I woke up in the morning to the gentle sound of a breeze rustling through the trees. That was all it was, a soothing hiss as the leaves shifted and blew about. People talk about the wind whispering but they are missing the point. Whispering is talking, and we are trying to free ourselves from terms of communication.
To experience sound for what it is take off your headphones and listen. A breeze blows steadily creating a blowing whooshing sound. A man on a scooter buzzes by, I can hear the engine grow louder and fade as he passes. In the distance the steady drone of the highway mixes with children in a sandbox, their shrill laughter in direct opposition to the soothing rush of faraway cars. Somewhere a crane rattles as it lifts its load. I cannot see it. Another car passes and slows its brakes squeak slightly. Some sounds of the outside world are barely perceptible, and yet they undoubtedly add to the remarkable confluence of noise that is the sounds of our lives. A truck has pulled up to the fruit stand downstairs. I hear the electric hum of the loading platform descend, as men greet each other and prepare to unload the day’s delivery. This is not emotive, and it is not telling a story. It is a picture of being, an indelible link between life and the people who wish to experience it.
There is new technology making the experience of sound even more enriching. Holophonic Sound claims offers stunning 3d sounds without a mess of complicated machinery. It is produced by recording the wave pattern generated when the original recorded signal is combined with an inaudible digital reference signal. The sounds that come from that are so realistic it is almost scary. This technology however only works on a smaller scale i.e. headphones, because of the way the sound needs to reach the ear. Combining this technology with the sounds of life and the world around us it is almost possible to have an experience of walking on the beach from the comfort of your home. The problem is that if these sounds and this technology can replace the actual experience then we have missed the point completely.

Rock 4 Rookies Podcast: Episode 26

Posted: August 10, 2008 by Maximum Mike in Rock 4 Rookies Podcast

For those of us about to fly off, to spend their summers in far off wonderful places, remember, if you have rock with you, you’re always home. This week, Sprung Monkey, Snot, Usless ID and of course a Maximum Salute!!!

Where could you go? What could you do if you were a musician trying to make Rock music in the late 70’s and early 80s? Punk’s strangle-hold on the business was so total that it seemed almost impossible to break from the current trends or even try to do something different. Ironic for a style of music that was initially created in order to return Rock into the hands of a less discerning more accepting crowd. If you were Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, you changed your name to a verb present tense, united with Andy Summers and Stuart Copland and created something unique. Something New Wave. The term initially was interchangeable with Punk used by fans and artists alike. It was not until the 80s when Punk’s grip loosened did the term come to mean something more. In the Post- Punk, era there were two types of music. Post-Punk referred to bands like the Talking Heads and Joy Division, bands whose music was avant-garde and challenging but still informed by the ideals of Punk. On the other hand you had bands more interested in exploring Pop Music and there you have New Wave, the subject for this column.
Bursting onto the scene with the super smash Roxanne in 1978, The Police, were one of the first bands to add the title New Wave to their jittery, yet tight brand of Rock. By infusing the music with a heavy dose of Reggae, and some Jazzy tendencies, they were able to fill the simple rhythms of Punk music with a more accessible edge. It was this sound, polished, well written and a little nerdy, that defined the early movement. Another of the early giants of the form was Mr. Nerd himself, Elvis Costello. Hiding his intelligence behind his early Punk compositions, Costello was able to instill his music with a myriad of themes and ideas making his music as intelligent as his lyrics. It is told of his early career that he dumbed down his music in order to get a recording contract, because Punk Rockers were being handed record deals like Skittles. Once he secured that, he was free to expand his music. It is a similar case with The Police, who were far more talented musically than the average Punk.
After the break between New Wave’s modern take on Pop and the more arty Post-Punk, New Wave was adopted as the Genre du jour by the fledgling MTV, and its fortunes began to rise. The influence of music videos made the genre super popular. Some of the early creative standouts of music videos were Aha’s classic “Take on Me”, “Rio” by Duran Duran, and the epic “West End Girls” by the Pet Shop Boys. It was the right place for the new slick sound, and there was seemingly no end to the countless one hit wonders that were trotted out week after week, year after year. Let me give you a short run down. Flock of Seagulls Kajagoogoo When in Rome, these bands were hurled into the limelight one after another, each band catapulted to success by climbing on the backs of those that came before them. In that respect, it is the producers who perhaps deserve the credit for making the sounds so crisp and polished. That is what I love about the music. It is so perfectly formed, crisp, concise, without a note out of place.
The peak of the genre and its style came, on what is my favorite TV show of all time, Miami Vice. Helmed by Michael Mann, the show centered around two Vice cops in Miami. One of the show’s innovations was the obligatory musical interludes that came in each episode, the most famous of which was set to “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. It took the music to new moody heights and found a mainstream way in which to bring the music to new fans. In addition, the pastel suits and sockless white shoes became staples of the New Wave style, not matter how cheesy they seem today.
By the middle of the 80s it wasn’t just new acts popping up all over the place that were trying to make their way in the style, older acts were launching big comebacks by coopting the approach in their own ways. Perhaps the most famous is the song “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen. Yes, it is off “Born in the USA” arguably one of the best Rock albums of all time, but the song’s synthesizer driven throb is more of a nod to New Wave than a throwback to The Boss’s early music. Another artist who fully adopted the style for a while was Rod Stewart, whose 1981 release “Tonight I’m yours “ was not only a full on New Wave affair, but one of Stewart’s last great recordings. It featured the amazing “Young Turks” that sort of sounds like Dire Straits on New Wave, although Stewarts voice is unmistakable. Even Fleetwood Mac got in on the fun with the dark, yet palatable “Little Lies” a dreamy track from their 1987 release “Tango in the Night.” Even Stevie Nick’s classic “Edge of Seventeen” has elements of New Wave in the driving guitar and keyboards.
New Wave music is awesome, and as a fan of Electronic music it was a vital step in the development of the form. Depeche Mode is the first Pop band made entirely with keyboards, and hints of Trance music can be found in the amazing album “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. These days with the way the craze for all things retro has possessed us, music from the 80s has roared back into vogue as though it was too cool for us to really enjoy back then. It is, within that framework, that artists are making music that sound as though it was plucked straight from the80s, although the technology used makes is sound vibrant and current. It was a watershed moment for a music industry recovering from Punk and looking towards the future.
What I am listening to:
Mackintosh Braun: The Sound – A lush album with dreamy sounds and stirring harmonies, this band hailing from Oregon wanted to create an album that was meant to be listened to all the way through. They have succeeded with style

It’s summer time here on Rock 4 Rookies!!!! You may have finished studying weeks ago but some of us finished last week so it’s time for decompression!!! Summer chill out with Lit, Our Lady Peace, Hopeful Sinner and much more!!!