Friday, March 26, 2010

SELL OUT WITH ME TONIGHT!


TODAY I'm going to approach that long debated discussion "Selling Out", and waffle on a bit about certain things. I will mostly be taking this up because as all three of my regular readers probably know there has been a bit of a rash lately of Swedish rock musicians sucking corporate cock.

Here is what my good friend Wiki has to say about SELLING OUT:

"Selling out" refers to the perception that someone is compromising their integrity, morality, or principles in exchange for money or "success" (however defined). It is commonly associated with attempts to tailor material to a mainstream audience. Any artist who expands their creative path to encompass a wider audience, as opposed to continuing in the genre and venues of their initial success.

Yup, we can all agree with that right?

Also, there is one band in particular (who's name I will not say as I'm sick of mentioning them) but in a recent interview they quoted me re: my comments about them being in the Melodifestival (Sweden's run up to the Eurovision Song Contest).

” if you want to sell out that much as competing in Melodifestivalen you might as well make a porno movie or a Mc Donalds commercial “.

This is what they had to say about me, and people like me, and I target this because it is so typical of the same "excuses" I been hearing from people who sold out all my life. So this goes for not only this band but every band that has ever stepped into the dark side.

"The people who think that we´re stupid for doing this are the ones that doesn´t like us anyway. Today everybody wants music related things for free the listeners also have to accept that a band sometimes participates in odd events and things like this (melodifestivalen) to be able to keep doing what they love doing. That´s the reality. As I said we think that this is gonna be a lot of fun to do and you get a lot of publicity so why not.

It´s easy to say that a band is ” a Sell Out” .It´s often bitter and immature people who are playing music themselves but don´t get anywhere that say stuff like that. A normal nice and sane person doesn´t say something like that about an artist or a band. If you feel comfortable and secure within yourself you don´t need to talk down on other people to feel good about yourself. The people who like us know who we are and what we do , we don´t need to prove anything to them by being true underground and sit on our asses in our mouldy rehearsal place in Tyresö (a suburb of Stockholm) for the rest of our lives".



So, firstly, with our accurate WIKI definition of "selling out" in mind lets have a look at just what has happened with this bands statement and just how easy it is to yell "sell out".

"THE BAND" - have two very good rock/punk albums out on a small-ish label and since their conception have pretty much done everything themselves. They have a very loyal following of good music fans spread out over many countries.

MELODIFESTIVALEN - song writers write their interpretation of a rock song and then look around for a band that looks the part to be able to play it.

So, a rocky/punky band that would usually play hard rocking tunes in smaller venues and festivals suddenly stands up in front of an audience of thousands of "norms" in a stadium, watched by millions at home on TV and plays (well, that's debatable, I think the music was at least mimed) a song that is not only not written by them but a sloppy 2nd rate power ballad catered to a pop audience. Go back to our original definition of "selling out" and you have our 101 right there.

Now lets look at some of the things that the band have said and examine them.

1.

"The people who think that we´re stupid for doing this are the ones that doesn´t like us anyway."

OR, they DO like them, and are fans and have that in common and don't want a band that they love to suddenly be liked by "norms" pop fans all over the country.

2.

"...a band sometimes participates in odd events and things like this (melodifestivalen) to be able to keep doing what they love doing"

"we don´t need to prove anything by being true underground and sit on our asses in our mouldy rehearsal place in Tyresö (a suburb of Stockholm) for the rest of our lives".

OR, the band were doing very well already. Two albums, thousands if not millions of fans, tours with the likes of MOTÖRHEAD, festivals all over Europe...I don't think they had much of a chance to sit about in their mouldy old rehearsal room. Plea to leave the faithful behind and cross over to a mainstream audience?

And the best one, and the one I will talk about now for AGES...

3.

"It´s easy to say that a band is ” a Sell Out” .It´s often bitter and immature people who are playing music themselves but don´t get anywhere that say stuff like that. A normal nice and sane person doesn´t say something like that about an artist or a band. If you feel comfortable and secure within yourself you don´t need to talk down on other people to feel good about yourself".

OR...are we really like that? I don't think so. Just this week I read by TWO other writers in two of Sweden's largest newspapers their disdain for what this band did. One I am not sure about but I know that he writes for one of Sweden's biggest newspapers so he's probably a very big passionate music fan. If he plays too (I don't know) then he's both a consumer AND a creator. That my readers is our keywords "CONSUMERS AND CREATORS" - we are the ones who have a right to say "this isn't right!" When a spokesperson for OUR music, lifestyle and scene misrepresents it we have a right to voice our opposition.



Now, the other writer I know is a musician and played for a VERY popular hardcore punk band a few years ago. When that band split up he joined another very popular punk band. He writes for a very popular newspaper, a very popular Swedish rock magazine and writes a very popular blog. He's not "jealous"... he's not sat home dissing this band because secretly he wishes that he was in their shoes. He's a CONSUMER AND A CREATOR - and opposes. His band/s never sold out because they had ethics, values and still today, credibility. It's funny how some people presume that every one's goal with a band is to be the biggest and most famous band that there is...sometimes it's not all about that!

And now...to me!

Have I ever sold out? Am I jealous? Do I want to secretly be rich and famous? Well, I've not written too much about myself yet and I don't really want this to be an ego-stroke but I'll tell you a few things...

As a youth throughout the 80s and 90s I played in many small bands. Metamorphosis, Rabid Pagan, Succubus, Whore, Angelfuck, we made demos, we put on our own shows, we did it all ourselves. My mother offered a few times to put me onto a pub covers circuit if I would only put a band together that would play old covers, I would make a lot of money but I just couldn't do it, so I didn't. There, right there, is the root. Integrity vs Money.



Later on in life I joined the band Mr.Zippy - a punk band from Clevedon, North Somerset who started out small but grew to putting on their own tours. We released our own album, distributed it ourselves and ended up playing all over the UK, Japan and Norway. By 2002 we were signed to one of (if not THE) UK's biggest punk label. We toured constantly, all over.

"play music but never got anywhere" to quote Crucif...oops, I mean "that band" is not a label I would choose for myself.

Mr.Zippy...

  • Got sponsored by Airwalk shoes but refused to play with the "Airwalk" banner on stage saying that we had more important things to say than "buy these shoes".
  • Turned down offers from "big time" managers and labels.
  • Started a protest that carries on today against swindling flyer deals and promoters.
  • Refused to make a video to go onto the UK video channels.
We were a punk band. We toured in a beat up van, slept on floors and tents, got paid shit and to be honest...loved every minute!




And so to Sweden - I started the band Lucien, who released one album on a small independent UK label. Got picked up by a Swedish distributor. We were a bunch of punks and death metallers playing rock. Our lyrics were socio-political. People didn't get it. Reviewers expected a punk album and got a rock album...hello? My theory was that we could play this music but with the message and still be punk. Oh no no no, you must sound like this, or this or this...

Anyway, we broke up when other members of the band wanted to take it to a more commercial direction. Not me say I. No more band.

So, I've always stayed true and done some great things with it. I got out of the rehearsal room, fuck I went to the other side of the world! Never once sacrificing an ounce of integrity.




"BUT WAIT A MINUTE GREG!" I hear you say. "ARE YOU NOT THAT PUNK GUY THAT USED TO PLAY IN SHEBANG????".

Well, that's part true and part rumour. I'll explain. Shebang by the way for those who don't know are a Swedish girl pop-duo, manufactured by the same company that brought you Rednex, who were quite famous about 6 years ago and had a string of chart hits in Sweden. Now...when I first moved over to Sweden I worked for their record company. They had a few sister companies and I handled promotions and booking for their more rock acts.



I think that this rumor, although part true comes from another place. You see, back then when SHEBANG were actually a big band in Sweden they did have a permanent backing band that went on tour with them. The guys in the backing band had their own band called THE ACKERMANS. A few years down the line when they were no longer the backing band THE ACKERMANS split and one member started an emo-punk band called FARE THEE WELL and another started a more crusty punk band called VARNAGEL. In a way these guys have done a reverse sell out, right? Well, anyway, there's your punks that used to play in SHEBANG.

Where do I come in? Well, like I said I worked for the record company and after the girls released their last album "Go Go Go" in 2007 they had a few gigs booked, but one of the guitar players in their backing band let them down at the last minute. One of the gigs was a charity gig in aid of child cancer, the other a small club show in Arvika. They asked me if I could stand in, I thought about it and said "ah, why the hell not!"

So there you go.

This was however picked up on by one of Sweden's biggest rock/metal magazines CLOSE UP when it came to reviewing Lucien's album.



Now, I'm not going to say anything bad about Close Up Magazine A) because it is essentially a great magazine and B) one of the writers might well read this!

But, well. Lucien had released their album and we wanted to at least let a few people know that it was out there. So, you know like when a magazine has a free CD with a bunch of songs on it and writes a bit about the band? Well, that cost us easily a months wages (for me anyway) to do.

We had a song on the CD, there was a few reviews - some good, some bad (fair doos) but....they wrote a bit about the band, but instead of writing about the band they wrote just about me and specifically to ridicule me for having played a few gigs with SHEBANG.

You see, it's all about the integrity isn't it. So let me tell you, what I told them.

Their magazine.

  • Had never replied to any of my emails until one came with a wedge of money attached.
  • They are quite quick to dis Shebang yet quite happy to take money from their record company for adverts.
  • On a personal note when they had a festival a few years back I watched their main guy get handed demo after demo by bands and as soon as the band turned their backs he just left it where he was, discarded (I by the followed him round and picked them all up afterwards, discovering some great bands, M:40 among them!)
  • And the worst of all.....
The worst of all needs a few more lines...you see, when asking them about how much it cost to be in the magazine, I also asked how much it would be to have a little extra written about the band, something nice, maybe a bit in the magazine...y'know. They told me that everything like that was selected by the magazine and it wasn't "bought" (a lot of rock magazines can be bought like this.)

Still...a few months later I saw that the band OCTOBER FILE got an amazing review and a bit in the magazine, in fact their album (which is boring as fuck run of the mill stuff) seemed to be loved, according to the magazine they were like the best thing since The Ramones.

What they didn't mention however is that the bass player for OCTOBER FILE is also the boss of PHD distribution, and that in the same magazine PHD distribution had taken out a two-page advert. Now...that could, I'm wiling to admit just be a coincidence.

(UPDATE - apparently this WAS just a coincidence. I'm sorry to have to admit that I just find their music repetitive, mundane and soullessly boring - perhaps influenced more by me knowing the people involved and knowing that it's just a put-together band formed just to sell a few albums and go on big tours with bigger bands because the boss of these bands label plays in October File. But - although this wasn't the case with O.F, this kind of money influenced worship does happen A LOT even in underground outlets, so it's a good example.)



Anyway...so, what's so wrong with selling out anyway?

More people hear the band, the band gets richer and more popular, more people like them right? Well, yes kind of but. I think the best example I can think of is Metallica, You see up into 1990 when they released "Smell The Glove" they were quite underground (not within rock circles but overall). You see, when you saw someone else with a Metallica t-shirt or patch, you knew that they were like you. That they lived like you and were passionate like you. That they had searched and found - they were your soulmate. And then after they got in the charts and became like the biggest band ever...suddenly you were not to sure. Pre-1990 I would proudly wear a Metallica t-shirt stating my lifestyle. Post-1990 I just meant that I kinda might just a little bit be into kinda rock a bit.

When you sell out you shit on your fans. You ruin your original message and fan base and you lose them, you become just another face in the sea of people waiting to shout "next!".

Look at Backyard Babies...once an "ok" rock band, then media whores, even with the band sitting in a car shouting "turn around the roundabout!" for a GPS advert...lo-oo-s-ers-

Some bands that had it right...




SATANIC SURFERS

Between 89-07 this Swedish punk band released 11 albums and toured almost constantly. They only once made a music video for a song from their last album. They signed to Burning Hearts Records but when Burning Hearts was bought by Epitaph, who were owned my a larger corporation they hopped off joined the smaller label Bad Taste. Mucho respecto!





FUGAZI

Formed by ex-members of Minor Threat and Rites Of Spring this band have always stayed very true to their punk ethics, for example, selling merchandise on tour would require a full-time merchandise salesperson so Fugazi decided to simplify their touring by not selling merchandise. Also, it's about the MUSIC right? Fugazi hated high admission for rock concerts so they kept their gigs at $5 or under if they could. They also did the same for their albums, which they put out themselves.



FALL OF EFRAFA

This English crust/doom band were active between 05-09, their music was a re imagination of the Richard Adams book/film Watership Down. They turned the "story" into a political and social adventure incorporating themes of oppression, animal rights, veganism and much more. They had a story to tell, they did it over three albums and then called it a day, Job done.

WHO DID IT WRONG...

If you're gonna write an album called "NEVER SELL OUT" - make sure that you weren't recently in an advert for Sony Playstation...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Maybe the Jedi will bring peace to the universe...




There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.
-The Jedi Code.



Would you like to be a Jedi. A REAL Jedi. Then all you have to do is claim yourself to be one and "TAADAA!" you are one!

Why is this? Well, it all started in the UK and Australia in the late 90s when both countries decided to have a nationwide census asking people to fill out household details - one of which was "religion". Now, some clever bugger realised that if enough people filled out "JEDI" on the form then the religion would, by law be made official...and it was. Well, nearly.

At first this was just laughed at, the officials said that there would be no way that it could be classed as a real religion after all it was from the Star Wars films and not real. But...said the clever buggers (oh yes, by now they were growing in masses). It can be classed as a spiritual philosophy so therefore a faith and so therefore a religion. And after all, Scientology? (Based on the writings of sci-fi writer Ron L.Hubbard and with such members in it's ranks as Tom Cruise and John Travolta). The other thing is, no one can prove that "The Force" ISN'T real so in many ways it's just the same as every other religion in the world. Who is to say that in 2-3000 years the Jedi might still exist in a very real way although the Star Wars films forgotten.

Actually, THE FORCE is real! And it can be proved!

Last year Uncle Milton toys released the "Force Trainer". The toy comes with a headset that senses EEG (electrical activity along the scalp produced by the firing of neurons within the brain) signals from the brain, which relays the signals to a tube that uses a fan to blow a ball into the air. The harder the user concentrates, the harder the fan blows, and the higher the ball is suspended.



It's quite simple science but at the same time it's a great piece of technology that actually activates things with pure thought and actually with training would increase your brain's power to do so, which is actually pretty amazing! Much thought and talk goes into the "power of the mind" and here it is, for real, as a kids toy.

So anyway, although "Jedi" is not officially recognised as a religion there are many people who claim it as there religion and it is now to be taken into account on any form that asks you to state your religion. Of course, if you were an atheist then putting down "Christian" or "Jew" is just as laughable, right?

There are now over 500, 000 "registered" Jedis and the number grows all the time.

Most people who read this will know of course that "Jedi" was invented by George Lucas, who kind of made everything up as he went along. The religion (or philosophy depending on your viewpoint) is based on BUDDHISM, CONFUCIUS and SAMURAI with a bit of a dose of a few other religions thrown in.

There are many "official" Jedi churches and temples all over the world - one of the most famous to spring up is the International Church of Jediism in the UK, founded by a young guy called Daniel Jones, who also came to the attention of the press last year when UK supermarket TESCO banned him for refusing to remove his hood in the store.





Daniel claimed that in the "The handbook of the UK Jedi Church" (written by him) it states that "Jedis must wear a hood up in any public place of a large audience." Which is pretty bad grammar but also...written by HIM. I don't think George Lucas wrote anything of the sort.

This is not an isolated case - just last week Chris Jarvis (a member of the same Jedi church) was thrown out of his local job centre for exactly the same reason. He did however get a written apology "We are committed to provide a customer service which embraces diversity and respects customers' religion."





In both cases they have said "Muslims can walk around in whatever religious gear they like, so why can't I?" Which is obviously a stab at the Muslim Burqa (the face and head covering). Which was banned in France is still in states of controversy in many other countries, including the UK.

However this is a double sided coin to me.

It could be a good thing to have attention drawn towards the growing Jedi "faith" (I prefer "philosophy") and with people saying things like "If Muslims can have X gear then why can't Jedi have Y" it could draw to the absurdity of religious traditions that need to be accepted by all but also to be broken when society/circumstance dictates.

But...by arguing with security about taking your hood down claiming that you are a Jedi, you are kinda breaking the Jedi code. A true Jedi would never be purposely argumentative and stubborn. Remember that this rule is written by the guy (Daniel) himself and NOT by George Lucas, who really stands for all Jedi law as he invented it. It has nothing to do with anything else.

I would go so far as to discourage potential Jedis from joining with any "official" church or order claiming to be Jedi. The International Church Of Jediism asks members to pay for courses in order to further their progression through the ranks. Now, I've seen Star Wars a great number of times and I don't remember Yoda asking Luke or Anakin Skywalker for any money before they started their training......

There are a great number of of these "churches" online and I would discourage all away from them. Anyone who is claiming to run a Jedi Church is indeed a false prophet. Especially one like The International Church Of Jediism that seems to have something against Muslims, is provocative and worst of all, seems to like dressing up in play Jedi clothes with toy lightsabres...



I like the picture of Yoda on the sheet music stand though...

Like most religions it starts with a good idea and gets twisted into something else as soon as humans get a hold of it - if you want to be a Jedi, be like the Jedi! Read up on Buddhism, especially the Shaolin, Confucius and the Samurai - that's where George Lucas got it from. Watch the films, listen to Yoda, listen to Obi-Wan, they speak worldly wisdom. Observe their honour, chivalry and brave yet humble ways And to be honest if there were more people trying to live like the Jedi in the world it would be a wonderful place.


"A Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will. You will know (between the good side and the dark side) when you are calm, at peace, passive."

"A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack. For my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. The Force surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we not this crude matter."

"When all choices seem wrong, choose restraint."

"To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness, Padawan. Be a candle, or the night, Padawan: but choose!"

-Master Yoda







All true Jedis carry the mark

Saturday, March 20, 2010

ONE HELL OF A NIGHT!




When I first started coming to Sweden I was in love with the way rock* was like a living breathing entity that was everywhere and thought how wonderful it would be to live among this atmosphere.

*rock in the loose term to cover most guitar based music.

However after living here a while I started to become very disillusioned and found it to be much more mainstream and unimaginative that I first thought. It was lacking a certain passion that I was used to.

So, a few months ago my partner in crime Kristoffer and I were at Wisers, our local pub having a chat to the landlord and came across the idea of starting a rock club night at the pub, but one that played mostly "non-mainstream" rock, punk, metal or whatever! Basically just good music that we liked. We decided to have just a simple set up, play music in the pub on a Friday night and see what happened.

To be honest I think that we knew that because we were going against the mainstream a lot of people may turn their noses up.

No Tiakeda or Creed? No Nickleback? No Enter Sandman or Ace Of Spades? But what about Highway To Hell? ...is there other songs or sorts of music?

Once our wheels were in motion we came up with the name "HELLOFAKVÄLL" (in English this translates roughly to "a hell of a night") and set up a Facebook group to see if anyone was interested. Within a week were over 100 members and interest became very strong.



What hope we suddenly got in the music scene that maybe this was a much better idea than we thought it would be, and soon people were requesting bands and songs that they would like to hear.

Bring Me The Horizon, Cradle of Filth, In Fear and Faith, Job For A Cowboy, Mastodon, The Mars Volta, Amon Amarth, Rancid, Rob Zombie, Rancid, Raised Fist, Deathstars, Slipknot, Caliban, Static-x, Devildriver, Disturbed, Chimaira, Ventana, Devildriver, Lamb of God, Municipal Waste, Tankard...

OK, someone didn't quite get it and requested KISS, Rainbow and Queen but otherwise it was a very pleasant surprise. The location for the night was even upgraded to the restaurant "Divine".

The big day came, we got a bit in the local paper and we went down to our local radio station to do a short interview.

How happy we were when our "alternative to the alternative" brought in nearly 400 people!!

ROCK IS DEAD, LONG LIVE ROCK!



People, the music world, the real rock world is working it's way up, or back, however you want to look at it. People are doing a good job discovering their own stuff and the kids are out there making a scene.

Everyone was super nice and super cool at the club, which is kind of what we expected but it was still nice to be proved right! Our only let downs were:

*People trying to order beer from us all night.
*People asking for songs repeatedly after we said that we didn't have them.
*A guy that got aggressive towards me after I told him that I was the DJ and not the barman. He flipped me the bird and threatened me, I got the bouncers and kicked his ass out.

But of course the good sides way out weighed the few hitches. So many people enjoying the night and the music - it was way cool, we look forward to the next one.



The best bit of the night for me was of course when my friend Robert jumped up on the bar and pulled down his pants to reveal his new tattoo....my face on his ass! How cool is that! I watch him poo forever..

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dude...who the fuck are Discharge?



Here are some punk, na na punks, look at them, don't they look wonderful!

OK, here's a thought, because I've been reading a lot of the discussions in regards to Lady Gaga wearing a "punk" jacket in her video.

here in Sweden where I live people are a bit "Different" Though it does exist individual thought is a bit special. It's like "ok, now you are a punk" so you have to dress like X and wear Y & Z patches. Not everyone but a lot of subcultures are a bit like that.

An observation.

I went to see DISCHARGE a few years back. On the way to the gig was the stud and spikes patrol, discharge t-shirts, patches, tattoos, dog clothes the works. I followed them to the gig (as I needed directions) and started talking to them. I asked if anyone had heard DISCHARGE's new album, was it any good? How were they with the new singer? and so on.

It was as if I was talking about a completely alien subject. In fact I would not have been surprised if one of them had turned round and said "dude, who the fuck are discharge?".

During the show when songs were introduced such as "Protest & Survive" there was a sea of blank faces. If someone got up on stage and had the mic thrust towards them to sing....again, blank face.

"Sorry I don't know the words to Free Speech For The Dumb".

After I while I came to think that maybe I was the only person in the audience that had actually HEARD Discharge. The rest of the audience had the patches and the painting on their jacket but I think it was more of just a punk 101 to have "I am punk therefore I must have this band on my jacket".

I have had some other cases where I have asked someone about a certain band they had a patch of and so on and it's usually the same response "ummm, yeah I think I might have heard that band, I'm not sure..."

When I was a wee 'un it was much the same too. We rockers would wear t-shirts for the same of being rock and it wasn't always that they were a fan of or had even heard the band. One friend of mine famously always wore a Nuclear Assault "Handle With Care" T-shirt and once asked another friend what band they were listening to when it was Nuclear Assault...Handle With Care, while she was wearing that t-shirt. Another friend of mine bought a Corrosion of Conformity t-shirt and when asked about the band by a bigger boy he said "oh, are they a band?". That a heavy metal no no.



Anyway, music, rock, punk, it's a lifestyle. The followers dress to be part of that scene and to identify with it. Punk has so many offshoots that it's hard to see sometimes. I myself have long dreadlocks and often hear "rastaman" yelled from across the room. People think I am a very big Bob Marley fan sometimes. Sometimes I will wear a punk t-shirt, ripped jeans and a leather jacket but I don't put too much thought into what I wear or how I appear, kinda just take what's there and what fits. Sometimes it's a hard job to tell people what kind of music I like.

However, we can say that some people want to just look the part and it doesn't have to mean they are fakes all the time, they just want to look like and fit in with that scene - let people know what they are into and that's kinda cool sometimes.

Today on my way home I saw a kid leaving school, messed up hair, a guitar slung over his back, fucked up eyeliner and a bag with "Sex Pistols" written on it. He looked like he didn't care, got shit for it and didn't care about that either.

Such great hope for the future.

Maybe...Lady Gaga does like DOOM. We'll have to ask her.













Twilight's "Bella" sporting a Minor Threat t-shirt.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

No we can't read your Police Bastard Face

Everyone else is mentioning it so I thought I'd do it too...

In her new video together with Beyonce, "something something telephone" LADY GAGA is seen wearing a studded leather jacket featuring logos from bands such as DOOM, ICONS OF FILTH and G.I.S.M







The punk rock world is having a field day with message boards lighting up worldwide wondering "why"?

Tell you what, I've got a few theories.

Firstly the video is directed by the Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund who once upon a time in the mid-80s was bashing the skins in BATHORY.



I don't know which one is his there in his loincloth. But if Gaga wanted a bit of a punky look then she'd want to get hold of a leather jacket and Jonas probably had one to hand...and that was it. There's one explanation.

Maybe he wanted to get a bit of crust punk into the world and did it on purpose.

Or....how much do we know about Lady Gaga herself? She actually strikes me that she might be one of these music/art-terrorist types and a bit wacky and off hand so maybe she herself did it on purpose. Maybe to inject a few of these names into to pop world or maybe just to make the whole punk world go...

HUH?

Well, I'm going "huh" after finding the following picture:



No idea what it is or if it's real or maybe someone just made it for a laugh to spread around the world (it's a parody of the DOOM 7" Police Bastard - original below).



Once again....

HUH?


******

ADDITION - Had to rock this today in tribute!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Aftonbladet eller Expressen, vilken tur att vi har demokrati!

Jag har fått lära mig om demokrati i skolan
Det betyder "folk styre", ordet kommer från Grekland

Aftonbladet eller Expressen, vilken tur att vi har demokrati

Pepsi eller Coca-Cola, vilken tur att vi har demokrati.

"Demokrati" - by Knugen Faller

(In English - I have learned about democracy in school, it means "the people's rule", the word comes from Greece. Aftonbladet or Expressen (two of Sweden's largest newspapers), how lucky we are to have democracy. Pespi or Coke, how lucky we are to have democracy.)

Oooo, little bit of politics there.

With the election coming up in Sweden I've been thinking a bit about how it really works. How democratic is democracy really?



Democracy is famously founded in ancient Greece in Athens and was set up to be a way of making sure the people of Greece were fairly represented and it was fairly decided what happened to the country.

A few drawbacks however. Firstly only around 300 people decided what happened. The 300 were men, and rich men at that. No one poor, no one young, no one who was a slave (or had been a slave), no one who wasn't Athenian and certainly no women were allowed to have a voice.

Only adult male Athenian citizens who had completed their military training had the right to vote in Athens. This excluded a majority of the population. Athenian citizenship was also only for males born from a father who was citizen.

So not really Democracy...but how different is it today?

In my school today we looked at the classroom to see how many of us were eligible to vote in the upcoming election and out of a class of 30 it was only 3. One of which was the teacher. Admittedly my class if for adults taking basic education in Swedish so the majority is immigrants yet most of us had lived there for quite some time. I have lived in Sweden for 6 years and am as yet still not allowed citizenship.

  • Stockholm has a population of around 3-4 million (including suburbs). With a population of around 10 million in the whole country that's about 40%.
  • This means of course that almost half of the voting public will be geared towards the capital city.
  • Around 2 million in Sweden are immigrants so that's around 20% that don't get a say, despite the majority of us working, paying tax and living as a providing member of the community.

How democratic is democracy?

There are countless claims of how George W.Bush managed to swing voting in his favour not once but twice. Two of the biggest alleged tricks were that voters living abroad didn't get their ballot papers, or got them late. The other was that convicted criminals were not allowed to vote (the theory being that the majority were African-Americans or Hispanic-Americans), also if your name happened to match that of a convicted criminal you were also not allowed to vote, being that it would eradicate a lot of "foreign" names from the voting roll meant that the more right-wing voters stood a much better chance.

There are also claims of rigged election counts in Florida and Ohio.

One of my personal theories is that we as a society are fed shit and kept stupid in order to discourage us from thinking about, or at least being properly informed about any political awareness.

From the 60s through to the 80s popular culture was rife with a political awareness. What happened? My theory is that "they" swapped our Public Enemys for Jay-Zs, our Crass's for Sum 41s. By the time we've all finished voting for who will win Big Brother, Pop Idol and Robinson...we can't be bothered to look into anything else.

Monday, March 8, 2010

After the winter comes new buds...

I've been pretty negative over the state of music for a while now, so every now and again I like to add a few sparkles of hope and joy to an otherwise bleak arena.

Just recently I've been inspired and enlightened and y'know what, I'm pretty happy about it. Those of you who know me or my writings will know that I was part of the UK punk scene from the early 90s right up until 2004 when I moved to Sweden.

During my years in "the scene" there were a lot of bands and a lot of kids/clubs/labels doing things off their own backs without the need for any major support or to compromise themselves. It was a nice time full of great people, great ideas and lots of fun. Speaking to people here in Sweden I think it was kind of the same here too.

Something happened to weaken and dissolve it, I can't say what it is but I would imagine it was a lot of bitching and the growing commercialism within the scene, it just imploded.

But...it seems that now in 2010 a few new bands are blooming that will restore these ethics and hopefully make the scene grow back!

OUT OF BOUNDS



Stumbled across this Bristol (UK) band a few days ago after finding singer Toby on. Facebook. The guy has been around on the Bristol punk scene for as long as I can remember, back when I was young he was even younger and playing in a band called HEADCASE with future members of FIVE KNUCKLE. He later went on to be the drummer/singer in the band COWTIPPER which were the first band I ever saw to put out a professional looking CD using CDR + Stickers. Later he formed the band A-KO who were a fantastic hardcore band that supported the likes of AFI, American Nightmare (Give Up The Ghost) and more. The band even featured Ben Christo who went on to play for Sisters Of Mercy.

They name their influences as Bad Religion, RKL, and Strung Out among others and their band motto: playing fast and having a blast are NOT a thing of the past.

MYSPACE: http://www.myspace.com/outofboundsbs3


You go look now!



MARCH OF THE RAPTORS: http://www.myspace.com/marchoftheraptors

Next up on my "that's fucking cool" list is MARCH OF THE RAPTORS.



This band is a bit of a supergroup featuring ex-members of ADEQUATE 7 and FIREAPPLE RED among others. Singer Jamie was a regular fixture around the Bristol and North Somerset scene way back when. His first band SPIDERPLUG were one of the best bands at the time (I was there at their first AND last gig!) they later went on to form ADEQUATE 7 who were a real breath of fresh air at the time, playing what could only be described as "punk/funk". Amazing stuff. Bassist Calvin (formerly from FIREAPPLE RED) has crossed my path more than once - as the promoter of a club in Bedford and as a roadie for Bullet For My Valentine who I worked with in Stockholm. Just check out his Faith No More sleeve!

Well, MARCH OF THE RAPTORS have taken things up to the next level with a mix of screamo, punk and hardcore - truly path makers for a new scene.

MARCH OF THE RAPTORS MYSPACE: http://www.myspace.com/marchoftheraptors






Well, watching the TV I came across some other cool stuff. First up a documentary that I've never seen before called PUNK'S NOT DEAD.



At first it was a blur of familiar faces, Glen Matlock, Billy Idol, Captain Sensible and I thought, ok, here we go with another spirit of '77 show. But after a while came Ian Mckaye and Henry Rollins, Dick from Subhumans, Charlie Harper and I thought ok, lets give it a shot!

The film describes itself as "Punk’s Not Dead follows the evolution of punk music from its anarchic roots, to its use as a corporate marketing tool and acceptance into popular culture, to its reinvention in today’s underground scene". Yup, I can stand by that. It's a great compliment to AMERICAN HARDCORE.

Find the website here: http://www.punksnotdeadthemovie.com/

And you can watch it online apparently here: http://quicksilverscreen.com/watch?video=49275



Additional to this was the show WE SHALL OVERCOME (shown in Sweden as "Pop Och Politik") was a great show with the history of politics in music, you can watch the whole thing on youtube, here is the first episode"



I found the Swedish mini-series "UPP TILL KAMP" (shown in English as "HOW SOON IS NOW")



This was a fun 4-parter following youth in Gothenburg between 1965-1976. It shows the development of 60s youth rebellion, protests against the American occupation of Vietnam, how protest folk singers get snapped up by the mainstream and 60s stars dreams are shattered by drugs. It's a great show and can be found on DVD with English subtitles for non-swedish speakers.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The one thing left in Pandora's Box...hope.





Kristoffer and I are starting this club in Borås, which is kind of a mid-size town I guess, 100,000 or so. To be honest although it's something that we would both love I did have the fear that we might have been reaching out a bit far. The club will be for rock/punk/metal and alternative music, all the stuff that we like basically. I've met a few good music fans in Borås, my close friends all have good taste, even the ones I would consider "T-Shirt Rock" fans are more daring than the average.

But out and about it seems that there are a great deal of Tshirtrock fans and nu-glammerz so it struck me that maybe they are not going to appreciate the bizzare mix of music that no doubt we will play.

But after a week or so 100+ members have joined our group and the people leaving comments are filling me with hope. One young girl left us a note asking for some truly awesome bands (some that were new to me too!) and it made me think that maybe not every young rocker is a blind sheep after all, stuck in the 80s listening to what the TV or Radio tells them.

There is hope, and that's all we need.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The super-fame springboard scam

"Here's a theory for you to disregard...completely. Music, not just rock & roll, true music, it chooses you. It lives in your car or alone listening to your headphones with the vast scenic bridges and angelic choirs in your brain". - Phillip Seymour Hoffman (as Lester Bangs), Almost Famous.

"The world is run by the man, oh you don't know the man? There used to be a way to stick it to the man, it was called rock & roll but oh no, the man ruined that too with a little thing called MTV!" - Jack Black (as Dewey Finn), School Of Rock.

"They're just dancing, nobody plays their own instruments and promotion people get paid to get it played and everybody gets paid apart from the people who are actually putting the product out...and that's a shame. Music will never die, never never never". - Hellacopters, Goodnight Cleveland.

"Some people have a hard time explaining rock & roll. I don't think anyone can really explain rock & roll. Rock & roll is a lifestyle and a way of thinking. It's a voice that says: here I am and fuck you if you can't understand it. One of these people is gonna save the world and that means that rock & roll can save the world, all of us together". - Jason Lee (as Jeff Bebe), Almost Famous.

"My job is to help destroy what's left of your imagination by feeding you endless doses of sugar-coated mindless garbage. You've turned rock and roll rebellion into Pat Boone sedation, making sure nothing's left to the imagination. The lowest common denominator rules. Forget honesty. Forget creativity. The dumbest buy the mostest. But sales are slumping and no one will say why. Could it be they put out one too many lousy records?!?" - Dead Kennedys, MTV Get Off The Air.

“Major labels didn't start showing up really until they smelled money, and that's all they're ever going to be attracted to is money-that's the business they're in- making money.” - Ian Mckaye, Minor Threat/Fugazi/The Evens.

"Being an artist is dragging your innermost feelings out, giving a piece of yourself, no matter in which art form, in which medium". - Henry Rollins, Black Flag/Rollins Band.


*******

LETS sit around the camp fire today and chat about what it takes for a band or an artist to become FAMOUS! And some of the ways in which you can still sell your soul in order to do this.

In the 1930s a young musician called Robert Johnson was said to have taken his guitar out to the crossroads to meet the devil. In exchange for his soul the devil blessed him with musical abilities beyond his regular scope and he became a legend. But with his soul taken there was a price to pay...and old legend. Right? Maybe not because in this day and age it seems that there is a lot of people willing to sell their souls, maybe not to the devil directly but at least to the evil, to THE MAN in order to be famous. Of course when you sell your soul there is always a price to pay. Lets talk about Motley Crue for a moment.



Those of you who have read the book THE DIRT will know most of the following, and some will not. For those of you who have read or will read it lets just go into a few things that you should avoid when influenced by those whacky wild lads eh... THE DIRT is a book about a band that went big and then went shit and got laughed at when grunge broke in 1992. They leave that bit out in the book, the closest you get is John Corabi moaning about how the band should make their minds up about their style when he was in the band. In no particular order this is what you can achieve by being like Motley Crue.

*An overweight fatty that needs lypo and plastic surgery on a regular basis (don't forget to film it for a reality show!)
*A rapist
*Appear on "The Surreal LIfe" (wiki describes it as "a reality television series that sets a select group of past-their-prime celebrities and records them as they live together") along with MC Hammer and Corey Feldman.
*Kill one your friends while drunk driving.
*Alcoholic.
*Drug Addict.
*In AA, NA, rehab or all three.
*Wife beater.
*Mentally unstable.
*Dead.

Lets be honest, before THE DIRT came out Motley Crue were finished. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a book written about you to save you from the scrapheap. The book leaves out the bits when the band (or some members of them) were touring with Randy Castillo or Samantha Maloney on drums, almost selling out small biker bars in Texas while their records went out of print. The band even had to form their own label in order to release their records as no one else wanted to.

Anyway...in the book the band describe the "wheels of fame" as cogs that take you up to more levels, and how some bands get stuck on one or the other and how sometimes if you are very lucky you might get taken up to a very high one and get stuck on it, or just get thrown off into the scrapheap.

Of course they are talking about musical fame in the rock world but it's not so much different in any other world of entertainment if you think about it. There are many "fast fixes" on the way up to the "big time" for musicians of every sort, along with actors, writers and more - on the way there are many ways to encounter the devil and sell your soul.

For actors the way is a bit more obvious - of course you can go for porn. This happens in legend and no doubt in reality to many young hopefuls. Starry-eyed girls and guys try to break into modeling or films and end up on their back or knees. It's a cheap selling way and works for quick cash if you don't mind comprimising your self and your morals (maybe there were none to start with). Of course there are always other ways to get stuck on a lower cog and it's not always by choice. Actors can get typecast or can make one bad film and get slung. Sometimes though fate just deals you a shitty hand, I mean look at Mark Hamil for example, what did he ever do wrong?



Out there in the musicians world there are plenty of people who prey on the stupid and desperate. One of the biggest is of course people who make you "pay to play". There are many variants of the pay-to-play scam involving such tricks as making the bands hire a bus, selling tickets, flyer deals and more. There are also a wealth of labels, publishers, promoters etc that will promise you the big time for a price. Funnily enough these scam merchants usually never have any other artists on their roster that you've heard of.

The greatest new scam to be taking over the music world is the "VOTE FOR ME TO PLAY" gigs. This is usually played out by bigger festivals, the first ones I was aware of was the Carling and Leeds festivals in the UK. When bands played at the semi finals to see who could play you could only vote for them if you bought a Carling...

The internet being a great promotion tool, most of these vote-for-me gigs happen now-a-days through Myspace (they will find a way via Facebook soon I'm sure). The festivals official Myspace usually ask the bands to write to them to be included and then they have to write to all their friends to get them to vote for them. To me they are actually one of the big things that is killing music and helping with its growing commercalism and de-value. Lets examine why.

1 - You don't need any talent or to actually be a good band to get a "vote for me" gig, just a lot of dumb friends.

2 - Should you win it's this GREAT privilege and you're going to play for free. And to boot, with all the mails you're sending out you are going to give the festival a lot of free advertisment. Maybe that's the whole point huh? I bet festival organisers would like a lot more bands that would advertise the festival and then play for free.

3 - So basically you do a lot of work for no gain, because...you're desperate enough to whore yourself for the gig. The promoters know that lots of bands will do this so exploit it. THEY ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF YOU it's not a "great oppurtunity". Would you advertise your day job and then work for free?

4 - Even if you win, who cares? you'll just be "that band that won the myspace thing" if anyone at all cares, mostly you'll be a name on a list that no one knows. Name me one band that got famous from a competition (aside from ABBA and Silverchair).

5 - Vote for me mails are just annoying and makes your band look cheap and desperate...have some dignity.

6 - if you are good there are many other ways to get a gig, especially at festivals etc. For example the Gibson Stage at Sweden Rock...its a demo stage but the bands play because they are good, not because they won a competition.

7 - if you cant get a gig the regular way....you simply ain't good enough anyway. Vote for me gigs give you NO respect.

8 - The more bands that play along with this, the more festivals and venues will do it. Soon no band will be able to get a gig without people having to vote for you first and still, not getting paid!


You vote for Big Brother, for Robinson, or Pop Idol...(or sometimes for like, governments and stuff...) NOT for a band. If you're good enough you don't need to get all your "fans" to vote for you. Hey some bands have so many Myspace fan clubs and street teams all over the world (despite the fact they've never released a demo and a Google search doesn't bring them up...odd huh? Make you think those pages might not be real...) it's no problem. If you're good, get a gig the old fashioned way, don't auction yourself. Don't be a whore. No one respects it. Did Slayer do it? Did Frank Zappa? Did The Hellacopters?


...exactly.

FROM NEVERPAYTOPLAY:COM - One of the greatest scams of all of these is the EMERGENZA FESTIVAL. EMERGENZA is THE Euro pay-to-play fest. They've been at it 13 years in Europe and now in the USA. Every band and their mums get a special myspace spam invite ) to enter the chance to win special prizes (lots of giveaway-surplus equipment from instrument companies), a trip to Germany for the last rounds and the biggest prize of all...five days on the Warped Tour (in 2007 downgraded to the RedGorilla Music Fest in Austin, TX) and six weeks of recording at Roastinghouse Studios in Malmö Sweden.

The Emergenza “Battle of the Bands” represents themselves more as a festival but the basics are still the same. Emergenza requires an entry fee of $70 (about 50€) plus gives you 100 tickets to sell. They say that you are not required to sell the tickets BUT if the votes are counted by popularity, that would be pretty much the only way you’ll get a vote. So your choice is buying into the ticket-selling idea or knowing that you’ll automatically lose going into it. It’s the Entertainment Catch-22. Emergenza is so established that all you need to do is google "Emergenza and your choice of expletives" and you’ll get the idea on all the happy bands that have tried this one. Enter the company name and the second suggestion is not a good one. "SCAM"


Here is the winners of the 2008 EMERGENZA FESTIVAL playing their "big" gig in Germany.



This all follows really up to one question...why do you make music to start with? Is it because it's fun and cool or just because you want to be famous? There are no end of reality shows these days that are basically an assembly line of "famous" people that last a few months. The chosen few last a bit longer but not much longer. The crazy thing with this is that our standards as consumers have sunk. Think back to my last post when I spoke about THE MONKEES - they got so much stick when it was revealed that they not only didn't write their own songs but that they didn't play some of their own instruments.

These days we're shown how a celebrity is made, we're shown step by step how a company makes a celebrity from a no one. Think of the IDOL franchise, in Sweden (so I guess it's the same all over) we're shown the song that the winner will release and even sometimes who wrote the song and then how whoever wins will release that song! In Sweden's Melodifestivalen (Eurovision) we are even introduced to the songwriters before the puppet dances.

I've just one thing to say....

Sharez it fukko!