TPS Responds: 10 Things You Should Never Say On Stage

I suppose if this “opinion piece in response to another opinion piece” type of post is going to be recurring (such as our “Interview Dos And Don’ts” post from a few days ago), we could name it.  So, “TPS Responds” it is.  Yeah.  This one is about an article I caught recently called “10 Things You Should Never Say On Stage”, written on Digital Music News by Los Angeles singer-songwriter Ari Herstand.  Herstand also has a blog called Ari’s Take, which discusses DIY music industry advice.  As it goes, there’s some I agree with and some I wanna refute, so let’s check it out – first with his thoughts, then with a good ol’ TPS weigh-in:

1) “We’re Having Technical Difficulties”

“Even if your guitar just caught fire. Well actually, that would be hilarious if you said it then. But when bands sheepishly admit it into the mic, it’s uncomfortable and kills the vibe. Technical difficulties are your fault. Even when they’re not. It’s your stage. It’s your show.  You should know your gear inside and out. If something is cutting out or screeching or feeding back, you should either know immediately what it is and be able to remedy it in 13 seconds or know how to quickly figure out what it is.  It’s your job, as the performer, to command the attention of everyone in the room from start to finish.”

If the difficulty is something small, like a slightly out-of-tune string or a bit of feedback, you can probably just carry on and your audience won’t notice.  But, if it’s something major or persistent and it’s really interfering with the show, then there’s nothing wrong with admitting it.  The audience isn’t stupid: they can tell something’s up by that point, and would probably appreciate you admitting what’s up rather than standing there wondering what you’re doing.

2) “I Forgot The Lyrics”

“The worst is when singer/songwriters sing a line like ‘I forgot this next line la la la.’ That is so annoying. Not funny. If you can’t memorize your lyrics then bring a lyrics sheet on stage as reference. Or make shit up on the spot.  The only thing worse than shitty lyrics is forgotten lyrics.”

I agree with both tips Herstand has to combat this, but – especially if it’s your concert – the audience usually knows that you’ve messed up.  When something’s that obvious, again, it’s okay to admit it.

3) “I Want To Thank My Girlfriend”

“It’s like having a one on one conversation with someone in the audience off the mic. Uncomfortable for everyone else in the house.  Leave her out of it. It makes you look whipped. If she did something truly awesome, then you can say something like ‘we’d like to thank our friend Sarah for getting this song into the hands of the music supervisor at Parenthood.’  If your girlfriend needs to be publicly thanked for her support then you have bigger issues you have to work out.”

If your girlfriend is at the show there’s nothing wrong with it, but if she’s not it’s pretty odd, yeah.  Also, how this would make you look “whipped” is beyond me: “Yeah I’m showing appreciation for the woman in my life, boy I really just took my balls off and put them on a plate in her kitchen didn’t I?”  Yeah that’s exactly it, Ari.

4) “I’m Sorry”

“Don’t ever apologize on stage. It makes you look weak. I don’t care if you just dropped a baby. Don’t apologize.  Making excuses for your shittyness (sic) makes everyone in the house uncomfortable and feel bad for you. I hear it all the time: ‘I forgot the rest of the song. Sorry.’ ‘I’m sorry if this song sucks, we just wrote it.’ ‘I’m sorry there aren’t more people here.” ‘We haven’t rehearsed this much, it might suck.’  Own the stage. Own the room. Own your set. Or don’t show up.”

Not really gonna argue this one, although it’s not something you should never do ever.  Like anything, there’s a time and place.  Overall he’s bang on though.

5) “Your City Sucks”

“Should be a no brainer, but I can’t tell you how many touring bands I’ve seen make fun of the city they are in – ON STAGE. It may be fun to joke about in the van, but your audience takes pride in their city. No matter if you think their city is cool or not.  Never say anything negative about the town you are in while on stage unless you want a beer bottle thrown at you.”

D’uh.  Another bang on point.

6) “This Song Is About My Grandma Who Died Of Cancer.  Love You Nana”

“Don’t depress your audience. You can play a song about your dead grandma, but you don’t need to tell the audience that’s what it’s about.  People don’t pay money to come to shows to be sad. They come to be happy. To have fun. To be enlightened. To be inspired.  If you can’t communicate the power of your song by just playing it, then maybe the song isn’t really that good.”

Of course people attend concerts to have fun, and you don’t want to bum them out.  But, the stories behind the songs are usually pretty cool and worth telling.  Especially if it’s your concert, people enjoy hearing you expand on your music. Also, not every song’s subject matter is obvious, and you talking about the inspiration behind it can clear things up nicely.  Some stories – song explaining or otherwise – are best left for a “soft seater” show (a venue with seating) rather than general admission stand up/rock out, but still, it’s fine.

7) “I’m Broke”

“Don’t make your audience feel bad for you. It removes the mystique and coolness factor. You can say ‘help us get to the next city and pick up a T-shirt.’ That offers an emotional appeal in a positive light.  But saying ‘we’re broke, so buy a t-shirt,’ just turns your audience off.  Guilting your fans into buying your merch never works.” 

Agreed, in fact I wouldn’t even do Herstand’s suggestion of “help us get to the next city…”  Tell people your merch is for sale and be done with it.  They’ll check it out if they want no matter what your situation is.

8) “You Guys Suck”

“Even if 95 out of the 100 people are screaming above your acoustic set while smashing glasses and vomiting in the corner, 5 people are engulfed in your set. Never insult your audience. They always have one ear to you – even if you are just background music.  You may think no one is listening, but you’ll be surprised at how many compliments you get and how much merch you sell once you hop off stage.”

Much like the city bashing point, there’s no need for this.  It’s disheartening to see the audience so preoccupied with whatever else, but  – especially if you’re just playing a random bar night – you have to accept the fact that not everyone is gonna care.  Bar, festival and opening act shows will all have only certain audience members really enthralled with your set.  Just enjoy playing, and you just might win over lots of new fans.

9) “Any Requests”

“You’re never going to get the songs that you actually have prepared and there will always be that one asshole who yells ‘Free Bird’ as if he just came up with the joke.  Play your set as is. If someone drove 300 miles to hear one song, she’ll yell it out whether you ask for it or not.”

It’s true that you probably won’t get a request for something you’re ready to play, and if you’re playing your big tunes then you’ll be fine.  I think the “Free Bird” thing is funny personally, although it’s cliche and annoying at the same time.  I’ve never done it, but if someone else did I’d probably laugh.  But yeah, there’s really no point in saying this one.

10) “How Does It Sound”

“This is a slap in the face to the sound guy. Never ask the crowd that. It should sound amazing. If it doesn’t, then it’s either your fault or the sound guy’s fault. Either way, you just pissed off the one person not in your band who can actually make you sound WORSE.”

Depending on the venue, the sound is either handled by you or someone who works there but isn’t really a sound tech.  For times like that, if you think something’s off there’s nothing wrong with asking.  If you do, toss a compliment in to the sound person (if it’s not you) and thank them for helping out.  In most cases you shouldn’t have to ask: you can tell what’s up, and usually when you hear an artist refer to a sound issue it’s “can I get more mic in the monitor?” and stuff like that.  Unless you think/know something is off, don’t bother asking for validation: you sound fine!

Ari Herstand is a musician, so he has first-hand experience with this kinda stuff.  He makes some good points, and some points that really aren’t as big a deal as he makes them out to be.  When people see you live, you should absolutely form an intimate connection with them.  Give them something they can’t get on your albums, and most of all be real.  If you’re yourself on stage – during good and bad shows – it’s equal parts funny, endearing and honest.  People want to get to know you, and hear where your music comes from.  Some of my favourite concert memories have come from those moments – as Martha Stewart would say, “it’s a good thing.”

Never thought a Martha Stewart reference would appear in this blog did you?  Neither did I, haha.

Liner Notes: Friday, March 28th

Lollapalooza has announced its 2014 lineup.  It features Eminem, OutKast and Kings of Leon as headliners, and other notable acts include Arctic Monkeys, Foster the People, Interpol, Fitz & The Tantrums, Portugal. The Man, The 1975, AFI, and a ton more.  Tickets are basically already sold out, so unless you wanna go platinum you’re gonna be “Lollapalosing” out on those.  Boom.  The festival goes August 1st-3rd in Chicago.

So Dying Scene posted about an interview Mikey Way did with NME about the breakup of My Chemical Romance, and then in their Facebook post about it wrote this:

“Wouldn’t it be nice if they never came back?” they say.  Why even post that story?  Unless you’re being self-deprecating, you shouldn’t bash your own content.  I don’t get that.

Sticking with Dying Scene, they have details on Vancouver punk legends D.O.A’s farewell tour dates.  The tour will take them all over the world, and you can also check out the video for their song “Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?” from their new album We Come In Peace.

has the news that Billy Corgan may get a reality TV show on AMC about his wrestling league, Resistance Pro.  Also, there are two Smashing Pumpkins records in the works for next year.  Man, Corgan fits the description I’ve always thought of him: mad scientist.  Can’t you just picture him wearing a lab coat?  Crazy bastard.  I say that with love, truly.

Kerrang! is compiling an “Official Rock 100” list, and asking you to vote on the songs that make it.  You can vote for people like 30 Seconds To Mars, A Day To Remember, Bring Me The Horizon, Alkaline Trio (they get my vote as my favourite band!), Funeral For A Friend, Muse and a ton of other sweet artists/songs, including lots of classic rock songs – it’s pretty all-encompassing.  They’ll reveal the results Easter weekend.

Halifax, Nova Scotia-based alternative weekly The Coast has revealed their “Best Of Halifax” winners for music, and they include The Town Heroes for “Best Online Presence”, Outtacontroller for “Best Punk Artist/Band”, Matt Mays for “Best Rock Artist/Band” and Dub Kartel for “Best Artist/Band To Get Trashed To”.  Word.

Absolute Punk has their latest “AbsolutePlaylist” up, which is their Friday feature that features choice songs from staffers.  This one is “The 90s: Where Are They Now?” from Craig Manning, and includes entries from Eve 6, No Doubt and Better Than Ezra.  Well they’re all still around – aside from No Doubt, maybe, who have said they’re done or on hiatus again.  Pretty strong list overall.

Finally, stick with AP for news on Bane’s final album, which is called Don’t Wait Up and will be out May 13th via Equal Vision.  You know who else is releasing or working on new music?  A ton of artists, a bloody ton.  If we covered everyone we’d be here all day, so let’s follow on our own and keep “Liner Notes” for the highly anticipated albums/other really beefy stuff – unless things get slow, in which case ALBUMS GALORE MOFO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Album Review: The Offensive Senses – Random Phrases EP

Random but true: this is the third album review I’ve done on TPS, and none of them have been full-lengths.  Heard from Aaron VanDuynhoven, singer/guitarist for London, Ontario’s The Offensive Senses.  They formed within the last couple of years and released their debut EP Random Phrases back in July.  I had heard of these guys and hadn’t had a chance to check them out yet, so I was glad to hear from Aaron.  From what I knew, they would be a band I would dig, and the three-piece (including bassist Greg Ilton and drummer Jason Spence) does not disappoint.

At their core, The Offensive Senses are a pop-punk group.  They have a touch of ska, as opening track “Gated Youth” puts on display.  “Gated Youth” also makes great use of “chiptune”, which is basically video game-inspired synth action.  Considering the band’s love of video games (check out their Facebook cover photo), that’s no surprise.  The EP then moves into more mid-tempo rockers “Time For A Change” and “Over Again”, before picking up the speed again to close it out.  “Say Oh Hey” starts off with some acoustic strumming before kicking in the distortion, and keeps it as a layer throughout – I’d say it’s either lead of rhythm, but both parts are strumming equally really, at least to my ear.  Either way, the acoustic accent is a nice touch for the song.  Random Phrases’ wonderfully-named closer “Tender Penetration” is the most outright punk tune on the album.  I’d say it’s between that one and  “Gated Youth” for my personal favourite.

I suppose if I could compare The Offensive Senses to a couple of other artists, I’d go with Gob for vocal style (VanDuynhoven’s lower-register and delivery are reminiscent of Tom Thacker), Through Being Cool-era Saves The Day for guitar sound (basically low on “middle”, if you know about amps and I’m not a complete idiot) and overall if you enjoy alternative rock you will enjoy these guys.  Also, Random Phrases was produced by fellow Londoner Mike Marucci of Redambergreen (whose No City EP was the subject of our last album review), and both bands are definitely worth comparing.  The Offensive Senses will be hitting the studio soon to record some new tracks – to appear on the CD version of Random Phrases –  but in the meantime you can hit their Bandcamp to have a listen and see if your senses are offended.

Want to have an album reviewed by TPS?  Send an e-mail!

Interview Dos And Don’ts: Responding To An Ancient Post From The Lawrence Arms’ Brendan Kelly

In November 2012, The Perfect Scene didn’t exist to respond to a post I read at the time from Brendan Kelly of The Lawrence Arms regarding bad interview questions, from his blog Bad Sandwich Chronicles.  I remember reading it and thinking something like “oh get off it”, although there are valid points in said post.  Now – because it’s timely as anything of course – I figured we could revisit it.  Brendan mentions four common interview questions artists get asked, and then breaks down why he thinks they suck.  So, we’ll look at his thoughts, and then weigh in TPS-style.

Before we start, I’ll say that I completely agree that some interviewers are lazy and don’t do any research, and therefore ask really bad, generic questions.  As someone who’s worked in radio for several years, I’ve interviewed countless people.  I pride myself on my research and asking questions that don’t get asked by everyone else, but at the same time some of those questions are asked by everyone for a reason.  I get that after doing a ton of interviews they get old, but still.  Let’s see what the Questions That Shall Not Be Asked are:

1) “What does your band sound like, for those people out there that haven’t heard you?”

“The reason you’re interviewing someone is presumably to hear them talk, right? A good interview is like a conversation where the interviewer gently steers while the interviewee kind of goes off on tangents and generally lets his or her guard down enough to be conversational and maybe reveal greater truths or naturally recount anecdotes through the course of the conversation. These questions don’t do that. Here’s why: “What does your band sound like, for those people out there who haven’t heard you?” is a question that will immediately put your subject at odds with you. It’s my opinion that if you’re gonna take the time to interview me, whether you give a fuck about my band or not, you can at the very least go listen to a song or just read a review. Bands are notoriously bad at describing their own sound, and it’s not interview body material anyway. The way a band’s “sound” should fit into an interview (if at all) is like this: “I sat down with Brendan Kelly, the loudmouthed know-it-all shithead bassist from everyone’s least favorite gritty, midwestern punk band that only sings about beer and crying. Here’s how the conversation went:” It’s intro paragraph shit. Not interview shit. You don’t need to go into sound in a printed interview anyway. It’s dumb. It’s a waste of time and it shows that no amount of effort whatsoever is being put forth by the interviewer to A) do even a little bit of research or B) write a compelling piece.”

I’ve asked this question before, and admittedly it’s not a good one.  Granted, I’ve done it after listening to an artist – basically just getting it in their own words – but I agree that it’s not really worth asking, and you can describe them in the introduction if you want.  I no longer do it personally.

2) “Who are your influences?”

“’Who are your influences?’ is even worse. This question is extremely lazy and reductive and it forces people to just make a list of bands that they think they sound like which is at best obvious (“Oh, the Lawrence Arms are influenced by Fifteen”) and at worst, totally fucking stupid (“Oh, the Lawrence Arms are heavily influenced by angular, esoteric mod 70’s shit”). This question, once again, forces the interviewee to do a bunch of heavy lifting. All of a sudden, he or she has to go through their brains and try to list off bands that they’ve listened to that they think has effected their output. It may sound like a small thing, but it’s fucking obnoxious. This SAME kind of question, reframed in a much more inviting way, would be “Are there any albums that you got when you were a kid that made you think, ‘Man, I want to do this?’” or “Do you remember the first time you saw a live show that totally, unexpectedly blew your mind?” Do you see why this is different? It’s asking to recall a specific memory, one that probably has a revealing story attached to it. It’s not a request to make a list of bands. It’s a pointed reminder of what are certainly pivotal moments in someone’s life.”

There is nothing wrong with this question.  Depending on who’s interviewing you, the audience may have no clue who you are.   If The Lawrence Arms are being interviewed by Alternative Press, this question isn’t necessary.  If The Lawrence Arms are being interviewed by some local newspaper in Brussels, it’s fine.  If you can name an artist or two, they might say “hey I like them, I bet these guys are good”, or at least have an idea.  I like the examples Brendan gave regarding a pointed way of asking this, but at the same time it’s not hard to answer.  It’s basically “who are your favourite artists?”.  Most artists will inevitably sound similar to the music they listen to most, so if you think of it that way it’s all good.

3) “What does your band name mean?”

“‘What does your band name mean?’ is such a stupid question that I shouldn’t even have to go into why it’s bad, but if you MUST know, firstly, it’s very lazy (see “What do you sound like?” and “Who are your influences?”) and beyond that, the answer is always fucking stupid. Always. There has NEVER been a good story about why a band is called what it’s called. Here’s the fucking story: a bunch of dorks were sitting around and trying to think of what to call their shitty new band. At one point, someone said something, and the other people in the band went “hmmmm…that’s not too bad. I’m cool with that” and boom! That’s the band name. This is 100% true 100% of the time. It doesn’t matter if a band has a great band name or a shitty band name. This is how it came about. Period.”

I tend to agree.  Most band names indeed come from people throwing words together and seeing what has a good ring to it.  Sometimes there is a good story behind it, and sometimes there isn’t but the name is so interesting you want to ask, but – especially if you’re pressed for time – it shouldn’t make the cut.

4) “What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you on tour?”

“This question is just as lazy as all the others, in that it’s asking the interviewee to just pluck a good story out of the ether with no sort of real reference frame, but it’s even worse because there’s a subliminal “wow me with this story” element that’s so fucking irritating I can’t even really explain it without getting angry. “What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on tour?” is a challenge that essentially says “hey, come up with a story right now that will wow me and my readers.” It’s the interview equivalent of shooting at someone’s boots to get them to dance. It sucks and if you ask this question, you are A) bad at interviewing people and B) bumming out everyone you interview. You know how when you come back from a long trip and people ask you what you did, or if there were any good stories, you go “hmmmm…so much happened, but it’s all kind of a blur. I dunno, I fucked some dude in Berlin, but that wasn’t really that cool.” but later, conversationally, the real stories emerge? That’s the difference right there. “What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you on tour?” and the rest of these questions for that matter, are nothing more than the journalistic equivalent of the shitty conversation you have with your aunt at Thanksgiving that goes nowhere and sucks because neither of you want to be having it.”

I lump this question in with the last one: it could get you a solid answer, but you can come up with better.  Musicians almost always have good tour stories, but the question is so loaded that you’ll get a minute of “uhhhhhh” before they can remember something decent.  If you know of something and want to ask about that specifically, like “heard you guys brought a hippo on your last tour, how did that go?” that’s cool.  I actually think Brendan nailed this one.

Huh, I remember being more annoyed with this post back in the day, but I guess really my beef was with the “who are your influences?” hatred.  In the post, Brendan admits he’s kind of being an ungrateful asshole, so at least there’s that.  I will say that while it would be boring and maybe annoying for an artist to do countless interviews and hear the same questions, doing an interview can be pretty hard too.  Often times the interviewer is also doing a blitz, and only has so much time to prepare questions.  And again, artists need to put themselves in the other shoes: not everyone knows you, and sometimes you need to do some introduction-type questions to really set things up.  Your ego needs to be able to handle that.

For the record, TPS is influenced mainly by Absolute Punk (inspiration) and baseball blog Drunk Jays Fans (stylistically).  The name came from the Mercy Mercedes song of the same name and encompassing how we cover alternative music our way, and I wrote this post while drinking orange juice.  Is orange juice interesting?

Folk You: Rocker Ben G. Rages Against The Hipster Machine

In the short time The Perfect Scene has existed, a few artists have already gotten in touch out of the blue, and I really appreciate that.  It’s led to album reviews (with another on deck, of the pop-punk variety), “Liner Notes” entries and now, VENTING!  The kind of venting that a lot of people think about doing – or deliciously just do – regardless of what it concerns.  That leads us to our new pal Ben G., who is one half of the London, Ontario indie rock duo Niiko Soul & Ben G.

Ben first introduced me to the band’s new single “Howl”, a Big Sugar/Lenny Kravitz/Jack White/Black Keys-inspired tune:

It was serviced to select Canadian radio outlets back in February, and is climbing the National Aboriginal Countdown (both Niiko and Ben are Metis).  We touched on their wanting to put the Aboriginal music scene on the map, but mainly it was their encounters with the folk community.  We’ll look at excerpts from our e-mail exchange and break it down for you.  First, here’s Ben G. on Ben G.:

“Since 2008 I’ve released music professionally. I started as a teen, some of that teen rock is STILL getting secondary radio play in Toronto. I won 6 awards, got on 3 magazine covers… had a record deal toured you name it. I even got to make two youtube hit videos one at age 19 and when I was 21. “Addiction” and “Light My Way”. “

Music is a cyclical and trendy thing, and right now there is a strong folk movement in the underground. For modern rock specifically, “indie” sounding stuff – regardless of whether they’re indie or not – is dominating radio playlists. The hipsters have taken over, they really have. Ben went on to mention that his music was largely shunned by college radio as being too “major label” “fake” “shallow”, etc etc, despite some pretty heavy themes and being an independent artist. Basically, the folk crowd wasn’t having it. Just in case you’re still wondering exactly the type of people Ben is referring to, well:

“If you go to practically any indie blog (besides yours which has a diverse collection of songs) (*Editor’s note: thanks!) you’ll see the same red beards, bands with 6-7 members all in a group, 1 of them will be a girl (with bangs) whose presence is almost inexplicable in the band… she doesn’t seem to play or sing anything. Some guy with thick glasses that don’t have lenses will be playing a mandolin and the music will sound overly reverberated. The song itself will be like Lesley Gore’s singles from the 60’s only not catchy, and a male will have the lead vocals even though it sounds like words a girl should be singing. The instrumentation will likely consist of the band playing the same notes on different instruments because despite their University Educations they can’t grasp a key or scale so just sit safely on the same 3 notes, not even chords.”

Ha. It’s largely true: with certain genres come certain fashions and the folk/hipster crowd is known for the above. That is what it is, don’t get your scarf in a knot (see what I did?). This part here I found quite interesting:

“But that’s not all. The folk-centric scene on the other hand besides scoffing at valid work, also likes to add little jabs (this is uniquely Canadian). Emails saying things like “suffice to say your music’s not very good because we don’t like it”. I had a MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR zine in Toronto respond to me like that. That is out of this world. Nobody in the USA, or UK would ever represent themselves like that, not from a major media outlet. I know because I’ve been featured, and solicited my work internationally.”

I have no idea what zine that could be – maybe NOW or Exclaim!, if I were to spitball – but if that was a serious thing, does that ever reek of arrogant, elitist tripe. As for the uniquely Canadian thing, I don’t see that being the case: while Canada – and I speak as a Canadian – can be a bit behind certain trends, having less influence than a USA or UK, a random outlet saying that could happen anywhere. We do have an unfortunate inferiority complex – which includes needing certain artists to make it elsewhere before we take them seriously – but still. Then there’s this:

“I guess it boils down to how the folk scene advertises to be non-conformist but they have actually managed to conform and network tighter than even the pop people. They dress and appear humble but actions speak louder than peasant skirts. It’s all “sustainability” “humility” and “diversity” until someone different comes along then it’s the red beard, peasant skirt mafia. We also know these were the SAME exact people who wore Nike/Adidas and pretended to be athletic in elementary school. You can’t fool me one single minute.”

It’s funny how that happens in every type of scene.  Once the image is crafted, these same people – who are trying to be different in the first place – can get on those who don’t follow.  It happens with folk people, other hipsters, punks, metalheads, non-music types, everyone.  It’s life, oddly and hypocritically.

The thing about the music industry is, it’s just a gong show: there are countless artists, managers, labels, fans, what have you, that are all trying to make their mark.  It’s hard to stand out in something so big and diverse.  I do feel that in this day and age, the boundaries are dissolving: people are listening to more genres than ever, and we’re getting collaborations from artists that you never thought would work together.  There are definitely “cliques”, but I think there’s a lot of good blending going on too.  If I can speak for Ben G., I think ultimately he feels the same way.  He mentioned that he likes all kinds of different music, and that not everyone in folk he’s encountered has been bad.  Frankly, he, like many, is a frustrated musician.  “Frustrated” doesn’t mean “unsuccessful”, it just means there’s a lot of noise that you have to wade through to get where you wanna go.  Let’s all just get along and hug and maybe give a butt rub every now and again.

You gotta admit though, “red beard, peasant skirt mafia” is hilarious.  I will use that on my hipster buds just for kicks.

Kurt Cobain’s Case Re-examined: Is There More To The Story?

Well how about this: with the 20th anniversary of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s suicide coming up April 5th, Seattle Police Detective Michael Ciesynski had been boning up on the case.  While doing so, he found several rolls of film that hadn’t been developed, and well, had them developed.  One of the pictures is seen in the top of this post, but police spokeswoman Renee Witt said there was nothing “Earth-shattering” in these images.  She added that nothing about the case has changed: it’s still a suicide.

You can check out the article from the National Post to learn more, but really that’s the gist.  The unfortunate reality is that Kurt battled depression, addiction and other ailments and hated the fame Nirvana had.  Despite what conspiracy theorists think, he killed himself.  What could Nirvana have further done had he not?  Who knows, but we can acknowledge the anniversary when it comes in a couple of weeks and admit that, no, there isn’t more to the story.

Liner Notes: Wednesday, March 19th

Absolute Punk’s Jake Denning interviewed Four Year Strong frontman Dan O’Connor, where they covered the band’s current tour with Bayside and the reception to their last album In Some Way, Shape Or Form.  They’ll be releasing new music in the summer too.

Is Weezer recording new music?  Well, this YouTube video makes it a possibility, and that would make sense for the timeline that’s known for them to follow-up Hurley.

Fall Out Boy covered Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” for the super deluxe reissue of Elton’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, – out March 25th – and you can hear it via PopCrush.  It’s not too bad, the guitar sound is thin and subdued – more so than I thought – but I wonder if that was an attempt to be true to the original’s poppier sound.  Either way, it’s a good and very “true” cover. The reissue features several artists covering Elton, so really it’s a tribute album.

Speaking of tribute albums, Fearless Records’ latest Punk Goes compilation, 90s Vol. 2, features Mayday Parade covering Bush’s “Comedown”, which you can hear via Fearless’ YouTube.

The Ready Set – aka Jordan Alphabet Soup Witzigreuter has signed to Razor & Tie, and will release The Bad & The Better on May 27th.  Hit Razor & Tie’s site for pre-order info and to listen to “Give Me Your Hand”, with the first official single to be released soon.  The Ready Set is playing Warped in its entirety as well this year.

Speaking of Warped Tour, at 7:30 Eastern time tonight they will announce thirteen more bands for this year’s lineup.  The art of teasing, I’m telling you man…

“2014, you guys!” news from PropertyOfZack: Run For Cover Records is now accepting Bitcoins as payment.  From the label’s statement: “If you’re unfamiliar with Bitcoin, in simplest terms it is an open source, peer to peer digital currency secured through cryptography, making it the first publicly traded ‘Cryptocurrency’”.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around Bitcoin, but that’s pretty ballin’.

Also from POZ, looks like blink-182 is having a time trying to get in the studio to record the follow-up to Dogs Eating Dogs.  Releasing new music before summer was the plan, but that’s lookin’ dicey.  I’ll tell ya, getting studio time is a “dogs-eat-dogs world”.   Travis with the rim shot, star wipe and we’re out….

Dying Scene reports that The Planet Smashers will release their new album Mixed Messages on April 8th via Stomp Records. It’s the follow-up to 2011’s Descent Into The Valley Of The Planet Smashers.  The band will play Rockfest in June in Quebec as well, which features an arousing lineup.  Like, if you still haven’t checked out the lineup do it right now.

Finally, Duane Peters of US Bombs has gone missing again.  He was arrested last month on “suspicion of domestic violence” and went missing for a bit after his release, and his family believes he’s in need of medical treatment.  Regardless of whether he ran – and why – that’s a scary thing for his loved ones, and we hope he turns up safe and sound as soon as possible.

Venue Menu: Serving Up Sweet Spots To See Your Favourite Band (And Other Great Music)

I don’t know what the hell happened or why whoever made this left it as is, but nonetheless…

As the weather turns for the better in much of the world – you know, those who deal with a real winter – thoughts turn to barbecues, beaches, baseball and road trippin’.  Concerts are a huge part of the latter, from music festivals to regular tours.  With this post, I figured we could profile a few notable concert venues that are scene-friendly: they routinely host alternative acts, and always have something appropriate on the go.  If you want to hit the road and see – or play, if you’re in a band – shows elsewhere, you could do worse than these places:

1) 9:30 Club – Washington, District of Columbia: One of the most seminal venues on America’s eastern seaboard, 9:30 hosts lots of “scene” acts – We The Kings, Grouplove, The Hold Steady and All That Remains are just some acts playing soon – plus many mainstreamers.  Most shows are all-ages too.

Nearby eats: Right across the street on Florida Avenue is Climax Sports Bar & Lounge, which apparently is solid (and has hookah!).  If you’re road trippin, knowing easily accessible spots to eat is essential, so I figured we should toss that in these profiles too.  The club itself also has food.

2) Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto, Ontario: Perhaps Toronto’s most famous, the legendary venue has been around since 1947 and hosted a who’s-who of artists mainstream and underground.  It was the first to bring punk, new wave and other genres to the city and continues to be the spot to catch local and up-and-coming talent.  Foster the People play there this week, and Evan Dando of The Lemonheads, and The War On Drugs are set to come in the next couple of months.  Being a bar, 19+ is the name of the game: gotta be legal drinking age.

Nearby eats: Several fast food options exist in the immediate area, including A&W, McDonald’s, Hero Certified Burgers, Panzerotto Pizza and Sushi Xtra.  The Horseshoe has food too.

3) Chain Reaction – Anaheim, California: Being an all-ages club in the heart of Orange County, Chain Reaction always has sick shows happening.  Comeback Kid, the Warped Tour Battle of the Bands and I Am The Avalanche are on the way, and every Sunday morning the venue hosts “City Church”, which is an actual church service that is actually cool.

Nearby eats: KFC, Denny’s, Wok Experience, Taqueria Garcia, Subway.

4) The Showbox – Seattle, Washington: Now with a second location – Showbox SoDo – The Showbox continues to rock your face off in one of North America’s great music scenes.  The Sounds, Bring Me The Horizon, The Neighbourhood and Young the Giant are among the artists playing soon.  The venue turns 75 this year and they’re doing lots to celebrate, so check it out if you can.

Nearby eats: Genghis Khan Restaurant, Caffe Ladro, Bottega Italiana, The Pike Brewing Company, La Vaca Mexican Restaurant.

5) Metropolis – Montreal Quebec:  Located on bustling Rue Sainte-Catherine, Metropolis is an excellent mid-level venue that’s set to host The Neighbourhood, Childish Gambino and Phoenix among others.

Nearby eats: Pho Thanh Long, La Belle Province, MVP Restaurant & Bar Sportif.

6) House of Vans – New York, New York: Located in Brooklyn, the House of Vans is an indoor skatepark that features lots of artists, including open mic nights.  They provide free water, and  it’s an exclusive, frankly kickass way to see live music.  The venue doesn’t have much of its own online presence, but Vans itself keeps you posted on things.  Here’s HOV’s Yelp to give you a better idea.

Nearby eats: Franklin Pizza, Paulie Gee’s, Le Gamin.

7) The Stone Pony – Asbury Park, New Jersey: Asbury Park is a mecca for underground music fans, and that’s largely due to The Stone Pony.  Bruce Springsteen got his start there, and upcoming shows include Chuck Ragan (of Hot Water Music) & The Camraderie and The White Buffalo, Pop Evil and Escape The Fate, and Built To Spill.

Nearby eats: Porta Pizzeria, MOGO Korean Fusion Tacos, Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant.

There are many, many venues throughout North America and the world that you can catch a great underground show at.  Alternately, there are some incredibly awesome venues that tend to host bigger events – Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl and Red Rocks Ampitheatre in Morrison, Colorado come to mind immediately – that are very worth it and are on my personal bucket list.  Obviously, if you’re planning an overnight trip you’ll need to look at hotels too, but hopefully this post helped with a decent chunk of your potential concert road trippin’.  For food, Urbanspoon is mostly what I used and is a great resource.  No matter where you’re heading – even if it’s a “staycation” at at hometown venue – enjoy the shows!

Liner Notes: Sunday, March 16th

Absolute Punk reports that Handguns have parted ways with drummer Woody Spokas.  Spokas’ statement is one of the most respectful “I got fired” responses you’ll ever read, and the band’s statement is pretty good as well.  Nice to see that whatever happened hasn’t soured the relationship.  Handguns’ new album, which Spokas didn’t record drums for apparently, is due out this spring.

Also at AP, Deborah Remus interviewed Taking Back Sunday vocalist Adam Lazzara about their new record, Happiness Is, which is out on Tuesday.  It’s their first album for Hopeless Records, which has been killin’ it over the past while with their artist signings – including Yellowcard

…and speaking of Yellowcard (see that segue), drummer Longineu Parsons has left the band.  PropertyOfZack has deets.  The band is working on new music too, so we’ll get to see how the drumming changes – if at all – sooner than later.

You know who else is releasing new music?  JT Woodruff of Hawthorne Heights.  His solo album Field Medicine is out Tuesday via InVogue Records, and PropertyOfZack has the song “Raindrops” for you.  Hawthorne Heights themselves are gearing up for their The Silence in Black and White tenth anniversary tour, which starts in April.

Dangerkids are doing a pretty cool contest that gets you on their guest list for life.  Nice.

Puig Destroyer – Riley Breckenridge’s baseball-themed band named after Los Angeles Dodger Yasiel Puig – say via Twitter that they’re releasing a new album this season. Since we’re talking Breckenridge and baseball, you should also check out the ball blog Productive Outs, which Breckenridge writes for.

Alternative Press wonders if the new act XTRMST (Extremist, you see what they did there) is a side project of AFI’s Davey Havok.  You can have a listen and wonder for yourself.

The SXSW Cares Fund has seen $20 000 raised for it already to help victims of the fatal car crash from earlier this week.  Vans is fundraising too, both at the festival and online when you buy any reissue shoes.

Chart Attack ranked nine music discovery apps, from known outlets like Bandcamp to something called Video Time Machine.  Definitely informative stuff.

Chart Attack also has “This Week’s 5 Best Songs” out, featuring Holy Fuck’s first new song in four years and new Calgary post-punks Viet Cong among others.

SPIN wonders if Chad Channing – Nirvana’s original drummer – should be inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month.  Channing played on their first album, Bleach, so absolutely he should.

Jealous that you’re not at SXSW?  Got to go and want to relive the magic?  Either way, Fuse has the “15 Best Moments from SXSW 2014…So Far”.

Finally, Vancouver’s City Walls (formerly Louder Than Love) eat while they tour, and God bless them they’re healthy.  Forget the sex and drugs, you need stories of down-to-the-minute gram consumption!

Steve Klein Charges: Who Saw That Coming? (Who Ever Does, Really)

Well, this explains why he was kicked out of the band.  Yesterday it was revealed that ex-New Found Glory guitarist Steve Klein was arraigned on charges including “lewd conduct with a minor under the age of 14” and possession of child pornography, to which he pleaded not guilty.  The date of the arraignment?  December 12th, 2013 – the day New Found Glory announced they and Klein had parted ways.  Alternative Press has the story and statements from Klein’s lawyer and New Found Glory, and we’re gonna break things down here too.

First, here’s New Found Glory’s original statement regarding the firing:

“It is with heavy hearts that we must let you know that Steve Klein is no longer a part of New Found Glory. We’ve had our differences with Steve over the years that have led us to this decision. We love Steve however personal differences have guided this decision and we no longer feel we can work with him. Rest assured that New Found Glory will still go on! After the Parahoy Cruise we are planning to write a new record and start this new chapter for our band. We have not decided on who will fill Steve’s position however we will let you know our plans as soon as we figure that out. We love you, our fans, so much and appreciate your dedication and loyalty to our band. We hope you stick by us during this difficult time.

We love you,

Chad, Jordan, Cyrus, and Ian”

Cryptic, but enough to imply that it wasn’t amicable.  Here’s what Klein was charged with:

2 counts of lewd conduct with a minor under the age of 14
3 counts of lewd conduct with a minor 14 or 15
1 count of intent to commit lewd acts with a minor
1 count of possession of child pornography

After the story broke, Klein’s lawyer, Debra White, released a statement elaborating on the charges:

“It is a difficult challenge to defend oneself in the media when there is a pending criminal case. This is because people are quick to assume that if a person is charged with a crime, they are also guilty as charged. And it is especially difficult because criminal defense attorneys insist that their clients not talk about the case to ensure that their constitutional rights are protected. Furthermore, attorneys are limited by law as to what can and cannot be said about a case to the public.

In the matter of Steve Klein, since his case has now been brought into issue by the media, I am permitted to make a few statements. To that effect, I offer you the following indisputable facts about the accusations:

1. Steve Klein is not accused of having any lewd actual physical contact with any minor.

2. ALL charges against Steve are derived solely from online consensual video chats between Steve and some female strangers he met on an adult website. Steve believed the females were over the age of 18.

3. The females alleged to be “minors” in this case are not known females. This means that no one, not the prosecution, not the police, and not the defense, actually know who the females are and no one knows their true age.

4. The possession of child pornography charge is based solely on Steve allegedly “possessing” the videos of chats with the female strangers from the adult website.

This is about all I am permitted to disclose at this time. But I can tell you, from my many years of experience in this specialty area of criminal defense, I wholeheartedly believe that Steve Klein is innocent of all of these charges.

Steve is devastated by these accusations. He has lost his band, his livelihood, and his ex-wife continues to push for full custody of his children using this case as her pawn while he literally fights for his life. Despite this heavy hand, Steve remains strong and hopeful that he will be vindicated.”

That explanation both clears and muddies the water: if Klein was simply conversing with girls on an adult website believing – as he should – that they were of legal age, this could be chalked up to a very unfortunate misunderstanding.  However, with so little known (or revealed) to this point, we really don’t know how this could all play out.  I definitely believe in “innocent until proven guilty”.  Too often the court of public opinion assumes guilt anytime accusations are leveled, and that’s unfair: facts need to be presented – from either side – and then a jury of the accused’s peers needs to take the evidence presented and make the best decision they can based on it.  If we can’t believe in our judicial systems, we’re in a bad place.  The fact that there was enough there to file charges is shady, but again, we don’t yet know the whole story.

New Found Glory themselves also released a statement last night via their Facebook page:

“Upon our return from Warped Tour Australia, Steve made us aware of possible allegations that might be made against him. At that point, not knowing all the details, we made the decision to part ways in order for him to deal with these personal issues. Us 4 members of New Found Glory have given our entire lives to this band and will continue to do so. We’ve been able to play all over the world for the most amazing fans. We can’t wait to get in the studio to make a new album and we can’t wait to get back on the road! Just coming off the Parahoy cruise and a surprise show in our hometown we are more inspired than ever! Thank you so much to everyone around the globe for always sticking by us. The future is bright.”

Maybe they didn’t mean for it to come off this way, but when I read the statement my first thought was something like “wow, they sure made that about them”.  First they admit that Klein told them what was going on, which is fine.  Then they mentioning deciding to part ways “in order for him to deal with these personal issues”, and by that they mean “so we could disassociate ourselves from him and this as quickly as possible”.  Then it’s just “we’re doing this and this and we love you and you love us!”.  It’s just kinda dismissive, and doesn’t sit right.  If they’d said something like “the charges brought against Steve are very serious, and until this has a chance to play out we will be supportive of our longtime ex-bandmate during this difficult time”, or just admitted “the charges have shaken us to our core, and while we’ve shared a lifetime of memories with Steve, we no longer feel that we can stick by him”.  Granted, they did kind of say the latter in the initial statement, but now that this is out it would’ve been nice to hear – supportive or not – something more from the band on this.

No matter what, this was a reason that I’m sure no one saw coming: a lineup together for fifteen years, known for fun and brotherhood, torn apart by something like this.  All we can really do is see how it all plays out, and for Steve Klein’s sake I hope this is ultimately just a misunderstanding and his name will be cleared.  If not, different story of course.  The charges themselves make this an especially dicey situation that must (and will, no doubt) be taken seriously by everyone involved – Steve Klein, New Found Glory (despite booting him) and their very large fanbase.  Although, I’ll freely admit that when I read the first comment on this story I laughed pretty hard: