Wednesday, April 29, 2009

'Anvil: The Story of Anvil' Movie Review

Back on April 22, I was supposed to go check out the Anvil Experience, a screening of the movie followed by a live performance by Anvil at the legendary [Cabaret] Metro in Chicago.

You know what?

It was SOLD OUT.

Unbelievable. I mean Anvil, until a few months ago couldn’t even sell out my living room and here they were in the midst of a sold out tour in major markets of the US. I suppose it makes all the difference in the world that for the first time in a quarter of a century, Anvil actually has a marketable product!

‘Anvil: The Story of Anvil’ is a film by Sacha Gervasi, an accomplished Hollywood writer and former Anvil roadie and it tells the story of not only a band, but of a lifelong friendship forged in what else? Metal.

It’s the story of Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner, guitarist/vocalist and drummer of Anvil and how these guys made a pact at the age of 14 to “make it” in the music business. Similar to the Maiden movie review, if you’re reading this you know damn well putting the words Anvil and make it in the same sentence is an oxy-moron. These guys were on the cusp of “stardom” back when Reagan was serving his first term in the White House with the highly influential 'Metal on Metal' LP.

Since then? (cue chirping crickets here). A lot of years, a lot of albums, a lot of good times but a lot of disappointments too. A lot of blood, sweat and tears amounting to little in terms of financial or material “success” but they never gave up, ever. As with any movie, it’s only as good as the “characters” in the movie. What we find in Kudlow and Reiner are two very deeply committed individuals, they’re committed to their families, their music, their history and most importantly each other. Some of the shit these two endure and have endured, you almost wish they were fictional characters.

The support the band receives from their families is also of note. All of these people (wives, children, siblings, parents) have also been “beat down” by the Anvil machine over the years. Some question the reality of a struggling band and what it all does to their day-to-day lives.

The trials and tribulations of being in a band are simply brutal. If you’re in a struggling band it’s even worse. If you’ve been struggling for close to 30 years…the question turns to “just how much more can one take?” If you’re reading this and you’ve got some connection to the music business, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The roller coaster of emotions associated with the biz is enough to make anyone sick.

There’s a scene in the movie where Lips is dealing with Anvil business via e-mails and phone calls, the elation in his eyes when something goes right…it’s almost too much.

I’ve seen many on that coaster and have delivered my share of both good and bad news to band members in the role of a manager and it’s never any middle ground. It’s either the greatest news or just the worst possible, ever. When Anvil gets a sliver of hope, be it a tour, a show, a new song it’s almost heart wrenching because we already know how it ends. The way it’s ended for decades, badly.

However, in light of the major success the film is currently basking in, things are definitely looking up for Anvil. The things that have seemingly forever eluded the band are essentially all lined up these days. From major management and booking agents to merchandise deals, the aforementioned hit movie and SOLD OUT shows from coast to coast, all of a sudden it’s good to be in Anvil these days, huh?

In closing, this movie is more than just another documentary on music or the business of music. It’s a true story of perseverance and dedication and doing whatever it is that gets you through the day. It’s obviously not about a paycheck or having a Ferrari buying party it’s about the journey of life and those we encounter along the way. It can be absorbed and appreciated by anyone who’s ever dared to dream.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

That Metal Show, Ep 7, Season II - Finale

Well, that was a quick season, huh? I don’t know about you, but I had fun writing about the show on a (mostly) weekly (or weakly to some) basis. My goal of keeping this blog going was aided by the show and now that it’s gone, what ever will I do?

I’m sure something will keep me going, but until then let’s get to the season II finale of VH1’s ‘That Metal Show’.

I) Show begins with the talk of reunions and who the hosts would like to see reunite. Starting with Jim Florentine his wish was Led Zeppelin, but noted that the success of Robert Plant and Alison Krause’s music will make that probably next to impossible. Don Jamieson wished for Iron Maiden to reunite with Paul Di’Anno.

I have to interject here, Paul sang on some groundbreaking songs during his time with Maiden, but he’s been nothing but a complete fucking bust since, what? 1982? Love his voice, but fuck Di’Anno. Eddie Trunk surprised me a little by wishing Skid Row would reunite (or would that be get Bach together) with their classic lineup, he also threw in UFO. Another volatile group with probably zero chances of getting together again. Right now I’m not in a reunion state of mind, so I have nothing to add here.

II) This episode’s in-studio guests, none other than Ronnie James Dio and Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath (HnH). Some decent chit chat between the hosts and Ronnie, things ranging from the invention of the “horns” to getting back together with Sabbath and what they’ve done since the release of the ‘Dio Years’ Sabbath collection.

Don told a good story about him and his cousin meeting Ronnie backstage a few years ago and how this cousin is not a “rocker type” whatsoever and how Dio spoke to him like he was the biggest star in the world. Essentially, just how fucking cool RJD is. Which I can attest to, Dio is larger than life yet doesn’t act like it. Ronnie talks about how he’d seen people like Richie Blackmore interact with fans and he did not want to do the same thing to people. God bless Ronnie James Dio.

III) Stump the Trunk: I went 2/3 on this weeks questions which were titles of Elf albums, Dave “the Beast” Spitz’ brief tenure with Black Sabbath in 1986 and a Vivian Campbell/’Sacred Heart’ related question.

IV) Picks of the week: Rudy Sarzo’s “Off The Rails” book and the latest album by NWOBHM legends Saxon, “Into The Labyrinth”, which is admittedly a stronger than you think album. Still think the Sarzo book is fucking great

V) Whatever Happened to: ex-Skid Row drummer Rob Affuso? More like who cares, right? I agree, but it was kind of cool as the hosts were fumbling around with what did happen to Rob, surprise, he was in the studio audience. So even though I’ve lost no sleep wondering about him, it was cool to get that kind of response. Now Rob can go back to complete obscurity.

VI) The Throwdown: a complete waste of time wondering which Appice drummer brother people prefer, Carmine (Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Rod Stewart, Ozzy, King Kobra) or Vinny (Black Sabbath Mk 2, Dio, Heaven and Hell). I consider them both solid, effective drummers with amazing careers, but since I met Vinny backstage in Dallas a few years ago and he was super cool, I’ll go with Vinny. Remember kids, it’s not what you know, it’s who.

So that’s it for ‘That Metal Show’ until next season. Thanks for reading my pointless drivel and wasting quality time here.

ps. 'The Devil You Know' is in stores today...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Iron Maiden, Flight 666: The Film

Ever since I started listening to Iron Maiden, over 25 years ago…one thing has always been crystal clear. When you see the IM logo, you’re getting quality. Be it an album, a video, boxset (well, we’ll let the “Eddie plastic head re-issue box slide) merchandise, tour etc. you’re always going to get your money’s worth.

Flight 666 is a film by Banger Films, best known for the ‘Metal: A Headbangers Journey’ and ‘Global Metal’ releases, as they document the first leg of Iron Maiden’s ‘Somewhere Back in Time Tour’. If you’re reading this blog, this is all NOT news to you, but the tour was a throwback to the 1984/85 ‘World Slavery Tour’ with a recreation of that famous stage set made even more infamous on the ‘Live After Death’ LP/CS/CD/VHS/DVD releases.

The 2008 version of the tour, I‘m sure it ran a lot smoother and was a helluva lot shorter, that’s a fact. The business of touring couldn’t be more different, but one thing will always be the same it’s all about the show. And what a show it was/is! The tour was done in the bands own 757 plane flown by vocalist
Bruce Dickinson.

I have to admit I suppose when I first heard that Bruce was going to fly the plane I sort of trivialized it. Like no big deal, he’s a pilot, business as usual. However, watching the film, seeing the work that goes into just the planning of the suggestion of flying, it was an eye opener. Call me impressed, Bruce is the man.

Seeing the ‘Ed Force One’ plane on a huge screen, hearing the engines, watching everyone board and get seated…it was all very real and all pretty intense. The band and crew and all their tons of equipment on this massive aircraft and off they went. I had visions of the plane being like Led Zeppelin’s storied ‘The Starship’ with the plush “cocktail lounge in the air” vibe, it was pretty straightforward except for the production cargo area at the rear of the plane.

Some of the cities they visited I can't even spell, let alone even knew existed so I won’t try to come across as National Geographic here. But one thing is for sure, the Metal is alive and well everywhere, I mean every-fucking-where! Countries where the people start camping out a week before the show, these same people brought to tears during the gig. Testimonials from people that not only made me feel lucky to live where I live, but also proud to be a soldier in the Metal War, especially after all these years.

The live footage is very good, it’s nothing that you haven’t seen before on say the ‘
Death on the Road’ or ‘Rock In Rio’ DVD’s, but one of the things that really blew me away was how fucking tight the band is. They were just so aggressive and on the money, it made the soundtrack really enjoyable. I made mention to Carc that I’d read about the official releases planned for ‘666’ and one format included a live album of the music from the film. I was thinking ‘who needs another live album from IM?’ Well, after hearing the live stuff, I do!

Probably the coolest thing was the all-access vibe the movie captured. Of all the Maiden footage, the closest thing you usually got was interview footage, which was cool, but this takes it to the next level. How about that, after almost 30 years Iron Maiden take it to the next level!! Kidding aside, it was really cool to see that side of the band and it makes for some interesting viewing for die-hards as well as new recruits. The vibe of the film seems to be about the Maiden Family, and it’s well represented via the band, management, crew and fans.

This movie comes out on DVD Tuesday June 9th on several different formats and I highly suggest those into this kind of thing to seek and enjoy! The film is just awesome. The sights and sounds captured are both cinematic and Heavy Metal gold.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Record Store Day 2008, That Metal Show - Episode 6 , Season II

So to put it bluntly I’m fucking busy. Baseball season has begun and we’re knee deep in it already so between practices I was able to sit down and get this out…

Record Store Day was Saturday April 18th…needless to say I didn’t make it to a record store on that day. I guess the collector geek in me lost out to the busy Dad and truth be told, the geek will probably always lose. Regardless, I like to think I did my part by visiting the mighty Metal Haven on the Wednesday before.

I had former Midwest Metal colleague Kain (a.k.a. Kain Diamond, Kain Bendix Petersen, Mercyful Kain etc.) along for the ride. A surprise visit from the land of Skynyrd, this would be his first trip to Chicago’s mecca of Metal. Got a bit of a late start so when we arrived the store was closed! Thanks to Mark for re-opening so we could shop!

Here’s a little personal tidbit, I used to dream of owning a record store. I remember when Metal Haven opened back in the Summer of 1999 and I thought, and still do, it’s just the best store of it’s kind, anywhere. These days the thought of owning a record store and being able to feed my family just don’t compute.

However, no one works as hard as Mark to keep Metal Haven rolling. I picked up the new Wolves in the Throne Room as well as the new Grand Magus as well as a few used CD’s.

Finally getting thoughts together on VH1 Classic’s ‘That Metal Show’, from April 11th. Not that blogging about a ½ hour show and my thoughts on it are like compiling NASA data, but like I mentioned before, I’m fucking busy!

The show starts off with a good discussion about classic Heavy Metal bands and their fans. The question being do classic bands consistently get new fans or do they simply retain their original fan base?

Eddie Trunk mentions the last time he saw Iron Maiden there were quite a few kids in the crowd, with their parents or whomever, but still.

Don makes a good point on the
merchandise end of Iron Maiden, the shirts, the shoes…Eddie in particular will NEVER go out of “fashion”.

Jim seals the deal with the Guitar Hero games and what they do for the young’ns and as I’ve said several times before, he’s absolutely right.

Me? I think it has a lot to do with the band. A band like Maiden will be around forever. Whether they’re making brand new albums or not, they will always have the younger generation interested in what they’ve done, like Sabbath, Priest and Metallica the music and imagery will be here long after we’re gone.

I) The studio guest for the evening is Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate. I have mixed feelings about Queensryche…I mean where do they even fit in with today’s music? Not that fitting in is where it’s at, but it’s a nice way of saying “who the fuck listens to them?” Where they started, where they peaked and where they’re at today are totally different from one another but if any die-hard ‘Ryche fans want to chime in, please do so.

There’s some pretty heavy talk surrounding their new LP, 'American Soldier', so heavy that it almost sounds interesting. I have yet to hear any of it, so maybe I’ll take the plunge and buy my first Queensryche album since 1986’s ‘
Rage For Order’…that’s right, never ever owned ‘Operation: Mindcrime’.

I learned that Geoff’s daughter’s boyfriend is a touring guitarist for the band…that and the band is managed by Geoff’s wife…that’s rather cool in a familia sort of way, no?

II) On location interview with: Lars Ulrich.

This was a cool piece. Eddie’s history with Metallica dates back to the Megaforce days and the interview is very good. What they aired was nothing spectacular, it was the usual back and forth banter from Lars in regards to: sound quality of ‘Death Magnetic’, ‘Napster’, re-learning ‘Master of Puppets’ and how it translated into the creation of ‘DM’ etc. etc. Enjoyable.

A highlight for the nerd in me was once the Lars interview was done they asked Geoff about Metallica and he had some pretty funny shit to talk about. His first comment though was something to the effect of how grateful Queensryche was to Metallica for the touring opportunities back in 88/89.

This was extremely cool because not having ever kept up with QR press, I never read anything reflecting on the touring they did back then. It was nice to see Geoff rather humble about the whole experience, even though it was 20+ years ago.

III) Stump The Trunk – I went one for three with questions about Krokus cover songs, who played bass on the KISS track “Love Gun” (it was Paul…) and Slayer being known as DragonSlayer back in the day. All I can say is I knew the San Antonio Slayer (S.A. Slayer) were formerly known as Dragon Slayer, didn’t know the Kerry King version did too.

IV) Staff picks: nice plug for which they call the CNN of Rock/Metal. They're right.

V) Whatever happened to? Ex-Queensryche guitarist Chris DeGarmo? Just what has Jamie Lee Curtis’ stunt double been up to? Actually Geoff had the update on Chris, saying he’s good and they get together every now and then to hang out and have even written songs together. The QR nation had to have cheered upon that revelation!

VI) Ending debate on best era for music, the 70’s or the 80’s?
I don’t recall what each voted on, but I’ll go with the 80’s, thanks. Yeah it’d be a tough debate as both have their untouchable bands but you can only pick one.

Overall another good show, one day I’ll have to try and watch a complete episode on the website, but that’d probably result in even more nonsense.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Clash Of The Titans, Part II

Here's part II of the Metal Maniacs coverage on the 90/91 traveling thrashstravangza known as the Clash of the Titans tour.
(Click To Enlarge)

Monday, April 13, 2009

That Metal Show Episode 5, Season II

I've been playing 'catch up' with the VH1's 'That Metal Show' for a few weeks now, so let me purge!

I've missed the Anvil episode, I will try to catch it soon, but doubt if I'll actually write about it. I am however excited and really looking forward to the Anvil Chicago screening/show on April 22 at the Metro!

Brian Umlaut just attended the San Francisco showing and wrote about here.

Let's go back to 'That Metal Show' Season II, Episode 5...

This episode starts with a quick discussion of "what is Metal" and "what they do and do not, or can't" cover on the show. You know, people seeing the hosts at a show or something and saying why don't you have ________ (insert your favorite band here) on 'That Metal Show'?

Well we all know the reason and I'm sure some of you reading are the ones asking the same questions to not only yourself, but also anyone within earshot. So I'll tell you why, really I will.

Metalheads are a lot of things to a lot of people, but one thing we're not is wrong! Take 20 guys or girls wearing black t-shirts at a Kreator show, ask them what their definition of Metal is and you will get 20 different responses.

Not only will you get 20 completely different replies, but all 20, will be 100% right!

It's how we are. We all think, no make that KNOW, we could do a way better job on something like 'That Metal Show' and no matter what airs on any Saturday evening, we could do it better. That goes not only for TV, but Radio, Magazines, Photography, Booking, and Festival Organization too! Don't ask me why, it's just the way it is.

I) The shows main guest for the evening is Duff McKagan.
Right off the bat there's banter about 'who the new singer of Velvet Revolver is'. Tell ya what, who fucking cares? Is there a lamer band than Velvet Revolver? And even if the singer is Robert 'fucking' Plant, that band will still suck fucking ass.

I respect Duff McKagan. I find him interesting as a person and will admit that his ability to live clean and sober after being, well, Duff is nothing short of incredible. Here was a guy who pre-sobriety couldn't even put three or four words together and has really come full circle.

I'm a fan of his band, Loaded and an even bigger fan of his writings be it on with his insightful financial musings or more importantly his Reverb column for the Seattle Weekly. His take on everything from fatherhood to being in a band and juggling everything hits home with this Rock N' Roll fan right here.

While he talks about all the things I wrote about above, it was nothing great, but still cool nonetheless.

II) Tea with...Lemmy.

It's Don and Jim having a drink with Lemmy before the Hammersmith show. How can this be bad, right? Well it's not, it's pretty funny and a cool interview with the man himself. Is there such a thing as a band Lemmy interview? The answer is no, there can be a lame interviewer yes, but that's where the lameness ends.

III) Stump the Trunk.

Some pointless question about what Led Zeppelin song L.A. Guns covered..actually all three were rather lame. Why do the audience members look like they're reading "their" questions from a cue card?

IV) The guys pick something they're into and this week's is the 30th Anniversary of Cheap Trick's legendary 'Budokan!' release. Featuring 3CD's and 1 DVD of the 1978 show, fuck...very cool. Come to think of it, didn't Lars look a little like Bun E. Carlos playing in the suit at the RnRHoF?

V) What ever happened to? Graham Bonnet?!?!?!?

Yeah, really, I haven't thought about him since, well it's been a long fucking time. Well nothing solid as far as his whereabouts other than he's planning an Alcatrazz reunion with none other than...himself! He's toured like this, but to do the new album route? Good luck with that.

VI) Final deal of the show, solo Ozzy vs. Sabbath Ozzy, whom do you prefer?

First the host's picks... Duff: Sabbath, Eddie Trunk: Sabbath, Jim Florentine: Sabbath, Don: Solo

Why does this Don guy always have to pick the opposite? My pick? Ozzy Sabbath. Other than two great solo releases the rest of the solo Ozzy stuff is, at best two songs per disc, too much filler.

There was some OK talk about where their choices are coming from, so at least it was based on solid decisions with some good points. The audience? Still a bunch of fucking posers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Halls of Fame and Halls of Shame...15 years gone.

I was going to wax poetically on Metallica’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Instead, I’d like to point you in the direction of someone who was there and whose opinion of the weekend’s festivities I hold in high regard.
Umlaut is the on-line home to a friend by the name of Brian Lew.
Former Whiplash Magazine editor,
photographer and Bay Area Metal historian, he also spent time on the real Death Star, no shit. So read all about here.

My .02? I thought it was fucking amazing. As a fan of Metallica and music in general I was very proud. It was a good moment for Heavy Metal. Say what you will about either the RnRHoF or Metallica, it was fucking cool. Metalheads don't get too many holidays ya know? This was definitely one of them.

I was a little hesitant knowing Flea was doing the official induction, but all it took was about 30 seconds into his speech to realize he was a great choice. He hit the nail on the head several times and spoke extremely high of Cliff Burton and his contribution and all around bad ass-ness. It was better than I ever imagined it to be.

There were great speeches by the band, Jason Newsted and Ray Burton they played both "Master of Puppets" and "Enter Sandman", two songs that blew the doors open on their career. "Master" was their foot in the door of World awareness and "Sandman" was World dominance.

Good stuff.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain. I remember quite clearly being at work on Friday April 8, 1994 another typical day. I remember it was raining out, pretty dreary and like I mentioned in the Mother Love Bone entry, Spring was here.

I was on my way to Andrea’s house and of course wasn’t listening to the radio on my drive. When I arrived to her place I turned on the TV and there it was. Wow! ‘Holy shit, he did it’ I thought. Sick or whatever as it may sound I was actually impressed. Kurt had put his money where his mouth is (or was) and did ‘it’. He was portrayed in the media as a complete whiner and never missed an opportunity to downplay his success.

Never met the guy, never knew him but from what I've read he was a walking contridiction. Hated fame but would call MTV and complain if his/their videos weren't being shown enough...go figure.

However his (true??) feelings on fame were made crystal clear as they recorded and released “I Hate Myself and Want to Die” on the Beavis and Butthead Experience album from several months earlier.
Photo:Kevin Estrada

So when I first heard of his “suicide” I was "impressed". I remember a sort of mexican standoff between Cobain and Eddie Vedder as far as who could come across as more disinterested in the forced upon role of ‘spokesperson for this generation’ or whatever the hell it was called. Well, Vedder definitely won that battle, but that’s not all that important right now, is it?

Later that night I was at home, alone. MTV were playing the ‘Nirvana Unplugged’ show constantly, breaking only to show more clips of what we’d seen already, the electrician who found the body, the kids holding vigil etc.

I remember interviews with David Fricke (Rolling Stone) and Michael Azerrad who had written ‘Come As You Are’ the “biography” of Nirvana which was nothing more than a publicity boosting rewriting of history between Cobain, that disgusting piece of meat he called a wife and Kurt’s handlers.

Fuck David Fricke! He writes about bands his magazine can no longer ignore. Had Rolling Stone done pieces on ‘Bleach’ era Nirvana or ‘Ride The Lightning’ era Metallica I’d have a much different opinion of his work.

Where was I? Oh yeah, at home alone drinking beer and watching the ‘Unplugged’ broadcast for the second time in a row when it hit me. No more songs, no more music, no more gigs, no more…

With this I was bummed out to say the least. I enjoyed the music of Nirvana quite a bit, still do. But this was it. It was all over, just like that, bigger than Jesus for 2.5-3 years and then gone. Sad for his kid. 15 years later and it’s still a WTF moment in music history. If I'm alive I'll be watching their induction in 2014.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Electric Crack!

I know, I know, "everyone" is waiting for my recap of 'That Metal Show' from 3/28. It'll happen, soon. However, I must say I've been sidetracked by something very, very important since Sunday afternoon.

This is like electric crack! I'm not kidding. I mean I can't stop playing, it's so motherfucking fun!

Did I mention I HATE video games?

Regardless, and I've talked this stuff before, but to me this is more than idle time playing video games. It's bonding time between Max and I and in this World I think anything that brings a parent closer to their child/children should be embraced.

Because it's a Heavy Metal based bond, well, that just makes it even better.

Playstation 3...$399.00
Guitar Hero Metallica...$59.99
GH Drum Set...$79.99
Mercyful Fate songs with my kid...PRICELESS!

Baggy Pants BEWARE!