Great Rock Moments In VMA History (Back When Music On MTV Was A Thing)

It’s certainly been a while since music video channels actually focused on music videos.  MTV and screw-it-let’s-just-admit-what-we-are-now-and-drop-“music” Much have been more about reality shows than music itself.  But, they both still have awards shows for music and the MTV VMAs are tonight.  The VMAs are known to be wild (crazy Miley is hosting tonight, in fact) and they’ve provided some interesting moments with rockers…and just regular moments!  Let’s look back at some choice ones.

Tim Commerford Climbs Up Stage Prop In Protest

At the 2000 VMAs Rage Against The Machine lost Best Rock Video to Limp Bizkit.  In protest, bassist Tim Commerford climbed a stage prop and wouldn’t come down.  He ended up getting arrested and spending the night in jail.  Rage are never afraid to protest, but this – aside from 1993’s Lollapalooza set, maybe – was the funniest.

Nirvana Troll MTV Execs, Hurt Selves

At 1992’s show, MTV asked Nirvana to perform “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, despite the band preferring not to.  The performance did start with the opening of “Rape Me” to the horror of the network, before going into “Lithium”.  Bassist Krist Novoselic also accidentally smoked himself in the head with his bass during the performance, and Axl Rose challenged Cobain to a fight backstage before the show.  Nirvana made quite the impression that year apparently.

Courtney Love Is Crazy

At the 1995 Awards, Hole performed “Violet” and then trashed the stage.  Then, Love threw makeup at Madonna and Kurt Loder as they did an interview after the show.  So…that happened.

Liam Gallagher Did Not Give An F

During Oasis’ 1996 performance of “Champagne Supernova”, Liam Gallagher started off by telling the crowd they were all having a “shit time” but were too afraid to say so, then acted all surly during the performance.  He made gestures to Noel, spit at the drums, spilled beer and could not have looked less interested in being on stage.  Finally, the brothers split for good in 2009 after a fight backstage at the V Festival.

Man, you have to go back a while to find great rock moments huh?  It’s really just a sign of the times.  In the 90s, rock was king.  As the new millennium hit teen pop took over – although nu-metal/rap-rock/garage rock had their moments – and the mainstream really gravitated away from rock music for the most part.  Meh, whatcha gonna do?  As for tonight’s VMAs, the Best Rock Video nominees are Hozier for “Take Me To Church”, Fall Out Boy for “Uma Thurman”, Florence + the Machine for “Ship To Wreck”, WALK THE MOON for “Shut Up and Dance” and Arctic Monkeys for “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” which…holy crap that video is two years old when is the cutoff?  Performance-wise, WALK THE MOON will do the pre-show and Twenty One Pilots will perform with A$AP Rocky during the main show.  Enjoy!  (?)

Interview: Plastic Rhino


Los Angeles duo Plastic Rhino are putting out their new album Recondition September 12th.  It’s their third effort, and follow-up to last year’s Let’s Begin.  For it, they brought back that EP’s producer Tom Chandler to further grow their sound, and TPS exclusively premiered their new single “Big Man Baby” last week.  So, what’s up with Recondition?  What’s up with Atara Gottschalk (vocals) and Jack Glazer (guitar) period?  Why the rhino gotta be plastic?  All answers can be found in our chat!  (Well, not the rhino part…)

It was in part love of live music that saw you two cross paths.  Did you meet at a show?

Jack: We actually met through an old cover band I was in.  The band needed a female vocalist, so we put an ad up on Craigslist and she blew us away.  The two of us realized that we needed to part ways with that particular project and do our own thing.

Before the band really got going, you played acoustic covers around town.  What songs were staples of those shows?

Jack: Some of the first ones we would do that were my favorites to play were Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”, Toto’s “Africa” and The Beatles’ “Oh, Darling.”  Whenever we did Tool’s “Sober” it was always a hit with the audience.

You worked with producer Tom Chandler on your second EP (2014’s Let’s Begin) and again on the upcoming Recondition.  What about him made you go “we gotta work together again”?

Atara:
A lot of progress was made with the last EP in trying to hone in on what makes our general sound unique.  We were able to build on the past experience and take things to the next level in production and songwriting.  Tom is really good at guiding you in developing an idea or theme.

Recondition is gonna be heavier than previous efforts.  Will it differ in any other ways?

Jack:
Synths weren’t used at all this time around.  Lots and lots of guitar layering going on.  Anything that you think sounds like a synth part, is guitar.

The release show is September 12th at Loaded in Hollywood.  Beyond that, any more dates planned?

Atara:
There will probably be a listening party soon, followed by an album release show.  Haven’t settled on where we would like to do it yet.

Happy belated birthday to Atara!  Did you do anything notable for it?

Atara:
Thanks!  We played a show with all of our friends at The Maui Sugar Mill Saloon.  Next week, we’re seeing Deftones and Incubus. What can I say, my life is music!

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Album Review: A Brilliant Lie – Threads: Cutter

Orlando, Florida’s A Brilliant Lie released one-third of their third album Threads: Cutter (because it’s a three-parter LOL!) last month.  Cutter is first installment of the alt-rockers’ Threads trilogy, which’ll come out over the next year.  You may remember them from such automated information kiosks as “Welcome to Springfield Airport”, and “Where’s Nordstrom?” interviews as the one we did in January, and now, this review of said EP!

Cutter’s five songs start with “Always At Odds”, an uptempo jam that’s fast but with plenty of room to breathe.  As frontwoman Tara Lightfoot says, “this is the story of/our fighting hearts”.  It makes great use of rapid-fire power chords combined with clean picking and is a strong opener.  “Pieces” comes next, and features lots of fast, largely single-note down strumming and call-and-response guitars – especially in the first verse.  The real standout is the bridge: it has heavy, machine gun-style musical delivery and just begs to be air-banded.  Track three is “Circles For Sewing”, which features the lyric “take this thread and spin/I’ll sit on the side of this circle for sewing/the one’s unknowing of time gone by” which…album title reference!  It’s a song of loss, with a frantic pre-chorus before the second verse that’s my favourite part.  “Drive ‘Til Morning” slows things down a touch – it’s not a ballad, but certainly down-tempo from the first three songs.  The hi-hat is worked nicely in the chorus’ third bar, and instead of going into the chorus in fact the second verse heads straight into a bridge that features great guitar…what sure sounds like harmonics, which…is actually all over the first verse too, which sounds subdued before the chorus kicks in. (Was that the longest run-on sentence in the history of TPS?  It’s a contender anyway!)Ahem…finally, “Bittered Bones” closes Cutter out by slowing things down just another touch.  The verses are entirely clean, with the chorus lamenting “you said you’d go/that meant nothing to me/spare me words, just spare me.”  Lyrically though, perhaps the album’s strongest is featured in the epic bridge: “music makes moments, in this one I’m shutting you out”.

I really like A Brilliant Lie because alt-rock – or maybe punk, I don’t know – is probably my favourite rock subgenre.  But, they’re just a great band period.  Having shades of bands like Fall Out Boy, Autopilot Off, Alert The Medic and Amy-Lee-with-less-range-but-more-balls vocals makes for a compelling listen.  It’ll be interesting to see where the Threads trilogy goes, but Cutter is definitely a good start.  Have a listen why don’tcha:

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Celebrating NFL Season With Its Markets’ Musical Counterparts


Sports are great all-around, but there’s no league – in North America, at least – that’s as popular, hyped and anticipated as the National Football League.  The preseason is on now, with the regular season getting underway September 10th.  I’ve been pondering how TPS should tackle (OH SNAP see what I did!?  HAHA I said “snap” too!  Neither was even intentional!) marking the NFL’s return, but by gosh why not run down the teams with an artist from their area?  We’ll turn the American Football Conference and National Football Conference into the American Music Conference and National…wait for it…Music Conference.  Here’s the kick and we are underway…

AMC

East

Every Time I Die (Buffalo Bills)
Autopilot Off (New York Jets)
Transit (New England Patriots)
New Found Glory (Miami Dolphins.  Go Dolphins!)

North

Stacked Like Pancakes (Baltimore Ravens)
Anti-Flag (Pittsburgh Steelers)
SomeKindaWonderful (Cleveland Browns)
Settle Your Scores (Cincinnati Bengals)

South

The Cunning (Tennessee Titans)
Yellowcard (Jacksonville Jaguars…for now?)
The Contortionist (Indianapolis Colts)
Fenix TX (Houston Texans.  Hope all’s well too, Will.)

West

Tennis (Denver Broncos)
Short Stories (San Diego Chargers…for now?)
The Story So Far (Oakland Raiders…for now?)
The Lucky (Kansas City Chiefs)

NMC

East

On Better Terms (Dallas Cowboys)
Skyline Hotel (Washington Redskins)
Shark Tape (Philadelphia Eagles)
Hope Vista (New York Giants.  She’s a huge fan too.)

North

Alkaline Trio (Chicago Bears)
War Poets (Minnesota Vikings)
MASKED INTRUDER (Green Bay Packers)
The Tea Party (Detroit Lions)

South

Palardy (Atlanta Falcons)
Actions Speak Louder (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
MUTEMATH (New Orleans Saints)
Alesana (Carolina Panthers)

West

Story of the Year (St. Louis Rams…for now?)
Amber Pacific (Seattle Seahawks)
Blaqk Audio (San Francisco 49ers)
Moovalya (Arizona Cardinals)

How does that lineup treat ya?  32 artists representing 32 teams.  The whole “…for now?” thing was of course a reference to the NFL getting a team in Los Angeles sooner than later, and San Diego, St. Louis, Jacksonville and Oakland all potential relocation options.  Don’t be offended if you’re a fan of any of them!  Either way, enjoy the upcoming season and here’s hoping Ndamukong Suh stomps on someone like a douche plays good, clean, brutal D for my ‘phins.

Scenematography: Whisky Stain – “The Lord’s Revolver”

Nottingham/London, England duo Whisky Stain are putting out their new single “The Lord’s Revolver” a week from today.  If you’re in the UK, you may have caught it in Sky TV promos for season three of Ray Donovan.  The accompanying video is out, so why not do a little “Scenematography” – you know, before I inevitably fall asleep on the couch while trying to stay up for the whole Jays/Angels game because damn you Pacific time! – and give it a watch and breakdown?

The video for “The Lord’s Revolver” starts with several people wearing scrambled TVs on their heads while the band plays.  There’s a quick shot of a woman sitting in a room, before she walks out to the main scene for verse two.  Then she’s back in the room, and then for verse three (what I’m pretty sure is) a clone of herself walks up to meet her standing, then kisses her.  After that, the TVs the others have on their heads actually unscramble and show something.  The girl holds herself for a time, the TVs scramble again and all the while shots of the band playing cut in.  It’s a simple video, but an effective one.

“The Lord’s Revolver” itself has a gospel tinge, with great fuzzy bass and not really a chorus – just four verses (with the first repeated at the end) and breakdowns in between.  If you like Royal Blood and Death From Above 1979, Whisky Stain is a band you’ll dig.  You can pre-order the single on iTunes, and in the meantime here’s the video for “The Lord’s Revolver”:

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Premiere: Plastic Rhino – “Big Man Baby”

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times: there’s something just awesome about a beautiful woman who can melt your face off.  I’ve always loved female vocals in general too, so that alone makes me excited for TPS to premiere Plastic Rhino’s new single.  The Los Angeles duo – Atara Gottschalk (vocals) and Jack Glazer (guitar) – have two EPs behind them and are readying their new album Recondition.  They’re inspired by several rock subgenres and artists like Garbage, No Doubt and Metallica.  Vocally, Gottschalk’s raspy howl reminds me of modern gals like Nina Gordon and Louise Post of Veruca Salt and Dawn Michele of Fireflight, to classics like Sass Jordan and Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart.  You know how we talk about guitars shredding?  Well, vocals like this shred too.

“Big Man Baby” is about being with a man who thinks he’s all that, and not being who he thinks you should be.  I love how the first part of the verses is just drums and very subtle palm-muting – that’s my favourite part of the song.  There’s also a great bass-laden interlude before the solo, and the chorus features wailing vocals and the refrain of “you always had to be the big man baby”, which…is that a double meaning!?  Like, “big man, baby” (calling him “baby”) and “big man baby” (calling him a “man baby”!).  Right!?  Also, I love the line “I made a big mistake/in thinking I could train you, fighter” because LADIES YOU CAN’T TRAIN US WE’RE NOT PROJECTS.  That’s like the biggest mistake women make: you can’t change a man, move on if he’s not good to you. (/tangent?)Okaaaayyyy so now, let’s listen shall we!?  Behold, the premiere of Plastic Rhino’s new single “Big Man Baby”:

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Music + Lyrics: The Combo That Makes You Go *\m/* The Most


While I was listening to the new Neck Deep single “Threat Level Midnight” the other day, I was thinking about the perfect pairing of music and lyrics.  Now, that song doesn’t have it (lol?) but I got to thinking about how detractors of pop-punk think of the genre as more of a phase in people’s listening habits.  Those people are like “it’s for 13-year-olds man!  Buncha dudes with bad hair and whiny voices talkin’ about getting dumped!”  I was talking music with a musician buddy a while back and even he said something like “yeah, I had a pop-punk phase when I was like 12”.

I actually get that sentiment to a point: pop-punk/emo/etc is certainly music that is largely for a younger crowd, and every song being my-girlfriend-left-and-I’m-sad gets kinda old.  There’s also not a damn thing wrong with that, as today’s teenagers are tomorrow’s adults and the majority – like now 30-year-old me! – won’t grow out of the genre.  We all go through phases where we prefer certain genres over others, but good music is good music – it’s timeless.

We start paragraph three of this post with me admitting that I’m kind of losing the plot of why this one’s happening, so let’s bring it around shall we?  Musically, I’m a fan of so much – rock (obviously!) and otherwise – but I get in more specific moods for punk than anything else.  Punk rock, pop-punk, whatever related genre is what usually fires me up the most.  Lyrically, lyrics that are dark and/or cryptic are the best – I love the way they make you think, can be interpreted however and provide great imagery.  That said, it’s obviously not surprising that my favourite band is Alkaline Trio: how well do they combine punk and dark/cryptic lyrics?  Oh they’re so good.  I love the Trio.  Alk3 for life.  Matt Skiba’s a total mancrush of mine too.

The moral of today’s story?  Punk + dark/cryptic lyrics = ballin’ as anything.  How about you?  What’s that musical combo that makes you throw up your rock hand (that’s that thing in the title if you didn’t recognize it, by the way) the most?

Interview: Pullman Standard


The term “power rock” is pretty badass yeah?  That’s what Los Angeles’ Pullman Standard have been called, and when you hear their epic-sounding music it makes sense.  The band have been releasing songs periodically over the past several months, and released their newest single “Starting Static” last week.  In fact, TPS had that premiere – and now, the follow-up chat!

Please say the band is named after actor Bill Pullman.  C’mon though right!?

As much as I’d like to say yes and I think Bill Pullman played one hell of an American president in the movie Independence Day, the band is actually named after the Pullman Standard rail car manufacturing company founded by George Pullman back in the 1800s and pretty much dominated the industry during the railroad boom of the late 1800s into the early 1900s.  I like trains and I like history, seemed like a good fit.

Having been together several years, you’ve gone through some lineup changes that are largely attributed to the rigors of touring.  What’s been the best and worst thing you’ve experienced on tour to this point?

The band started in 2008 the original lineup stayed intact until 2012 which is when we started touring heavily.   You see a lot of cool things on the road but you also come across a lot of obstacles: at least seven flat trailer tires, two flat van tires.  One of the craziest things was when we were driving across the state of Missouri and all the electricity on the highway was nonexistent.  There was heavy rain and a lot of wind to the point where the van was getting pushed violently.  There were only a few cars on the road that we could even see because the rain was coming down so hard.  A couple miles outside of Kansas City we ended up getting a motel room and once we checked in, turned on the TV to discover a major tornado had just torn through the town we had driven through on the way to Kansas City.

You’ve been releasing songs periodically over the past few months that were worked on while touring.  Is it hard to write on the road, or is sitting in the van for hours just like a studio when it comes down to it?

Not only do you see so many things when you’re on the road but you experience so much, you go through so many emotions.  Sometimes you can’t write fast enough.  We made it a point to always try out new songs and new ideas during our sound checks and when you’re playing a different show every single day that’s a lot of sound checks to try out a lot of different material.

New single “Starting Static” has more synth going on than other Pullman Standard songs.  Are you hoping to have more of that in the future, or was that just “let’s see how this sounds”?

Pullman Standard has always had an ever evolving sound.  It’s always been a part of the ideals of the band to not stay stagnant with just one sound but try new things and keep moving forward with what feels right.  Although a couple of our new tunes that we demoed on the road are very synth heavy some of the other tunes are a lot lighter and more acoustic, and a few are very much more rock ‘n’ roll and guitar and bass heavy.

A running theme in your music is an epic feel.  Is that the band’s defining feature?

On our last EP Edge of the Clouds we were going for songs that were more anthemic – stuff that you could see being sung by massive crowds of people, songs that had choruses that were easy to sing to and easy to remember.  I would hope that our songs get stuck in your head and you can’t stop singing them, not because of simplicity but because it just feels right – it feels good to sing them.

Any concrete album plans for “Starting Static” and the latest songs?

Absolutely we are planning on heading down to Vybe Studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where “Starting Static” was recorded and working with Tai Vu, who co-produced the song as well as engineered it.  We have about 20 fully finished demos that we are ready to pick and choose from and turn into another EP – possibly a full-length pending on our budget.

You’re now taking time off from touring for Timmy D’s health reasons, and there have been recent personnel changes too.  Besides “Starting Static” now being out, what does the next while hold for Pullman Standard?

We had been on the road for 14 out of the last 18 months.  Fatigue had a lot to do with worsening in my body’s condition.  The band is moving forward with doing a short tour in October out to the Midwest to promote the “Starting Static” single as well as raise money for the recording of the new EP.

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Music Is Hard: So Is Paying For It

 Music is hard.  Also, that knowledge might become a recurring TPS feature?

The other day on Absolute Punk I learned of an ongoing series called “How I Failed In Corporate America, The Music Industry – And Pretty Much Everything Else”, which is written by former Peace Mercutio member Dan Buckley.  This particular post was about “Part 3”, which talks about the amount of money he alone spent on the band.  The moral of the story is…the musical financials are as hard as the instrumentation!In “Part 3”, Buckley runs down his band expenses from 2010-2013.  It’s broken down by “Marketing”, “Production and Merchandise”, “Equipment”, and “Practice Space and Rent”.  But that’s not all – the fifth is one of the more basic, yet expensive aspects of being a musician: “Travelling and Tour”. That is what we’re gonna highlight:

Moving Expenses and Trailer: $1,000.00
Tour Fees: $2,230.00
Fuel: $1,643.38
Food: $692.30
Miscellaneous (Toiletries, Emergencies): $121.46
Total: $5,687.14

That’s just one part of the Peace Mercutio experience in those four years, and from one member.  Touring – especially nowadays – is the most important thing an artist does, and yeah it’s hella expensive to do properly.  It’s hard enough trying to maintain a full-time job if you need to and working it around that, but then it’s really pricey.  There are reasons smaller artists will crash on people’s floors and all that, and little things like that make a lot of sense in keeping costs down. Plus, you never know if (when?) the van is gonna break down in the middle of the highway.

During the highlighted time period, Dan Buckley spent a total of $51,573.42.  That’s his contribution to his band alone.  That’s aside from his own personal expenses outside the band (which were less than the band expenses).  That’s aside from the other members’ contributions.  That’s a crazy number.  Now, it does feature things like a Los Angeles billboard and full-page ad in Alternative Press which are in the not-at-all-necessary file, but even factoring in the relatively normal expenses that’s a good chunk of change.  Some of even the necessary things could’ve been spent on more wisely I’m sure, but that gives you a good idea of how expensive it is to get serious about music.

The end of the article talks about how Buckley, in all this, confused “passion” and “purpose”.  Basically, he thought if the band failed he failed as a human being.  In any passion you have, you definitely have to separate things and know that no matter what goes on with said thing, you’re still you.  If you’re a musician, be a musician – have that be your greatest passion and what you do.  But, if you fail at it, you don’t become worthless.  There’s always another project, and/or there’s always something else you’ll enjoy and can succeed at.

Read “Part 3” of “How I Failed…” because it’s a really eye-opening, honest read from a musician who’s been there.  There are also parts 1 and 2, which talk about being in the regular corporate world and getting that inspiration to break away and do what you want.  The finale, “Part 4” is coming, and I know I’m looking forward to it.  Reads that are not only compelling, but teaching are the best ones.

Mashup Thoughts: Friday, August 7th


Yay it’s time for more “Mashup Thoughts”!  You know, the subjects-worth-talking-about-but-not-intensely-enough-to-justify-a-full-unique-post feature that puts ’em all together!  It’s a “mashup” like in music!  This has gotta be the last time we do this intro since this is like the third or fourth edition – you get it right!?

Music is hard.

As the hashtag goes, music is not only something to enjoy, but marvel at.  As I pointed out on Twitter yesterday, there’s very little about skill itself that you can really, justifiably dismiss.  The tweet related to Trivium frontman Matt Heafy saying “Screaming is easy.  Singing is hard.”  He’s done both, and both are definitely hard in their own way.  I can’t sing, but I definitely can’t scream: I’d get through one line before hacking up a lung.  Ouch.

Instagram! #blog #uniquepics #ThePerfectInsta

When it comes to social media, TPS has been on Facebook and Twitter since the beginning.  It was only in the last two months that the YouTube and Instagram (even more recently for the latter) were created.  They’re for unique videos and pictures, and when it comes to Instagram I followed a couple of neat accounts that are worth one from you if you’re also down with the subject matter.  Surf Porn has beautiful shots, Skateboarding Memes is funny (and really dislikes Zumiez) and Punk Edits puts tattoos and stuff on all kinds of people – it’s really interesting.  You know who you should also follow?  The Perfect Scene, ‘duh!  One of these days – if I can work a musical tie-in – my cat will probably even make an appearance!

Octave chords!  They’re called octave chords!

Finally, in the most recent “Liner Notes” I decided to look up what those power-chords-sans-middle-string that we often compliment are actually called.  They’re some of my favourite chords, and we mentioned how “Succubus” by Caffiends makes good use of them.  Octave chords!  So here’s a typical power chord tab:

e——–
B——–
G——–
D—9—-
A—9—-
E—7—-

And here’s what that octave chord would look like:

e——–
B——–
G——–
D—9—-
A—X—-
E—7—-

You mute the middle string and it sounds really cool (also, the D string is on the 9th fret and the low E is the 7th if you’re not versed in tablature). The More You Know!