Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Wood for the trees...

Like a lot of people my age (31) it has become necessary to harvest down my ever growing collection of music, books and DVD’s. After all my twenties (especially the second half) was a hazy time of madness, alcohol and self medication that resulted in a lot of bad purchases ranging from mandolins (still haven’t learnt it) to Lightspeed Champion's solo debut (haven’t got past track 4). Various Freddy King and Ike Turner reissues still in the plastic clutter up my shelves and although I would consider myself a fan of both never find myself reaching for these compilations at any time.


With the influx of industry freebies coming through the door and those pushed into my palms at gigs when I recently sat down and had a quick flick through the pile to hopefully separate the weak from the chaff I found myself wondering why I owned so much drivel and peacefully disregarded them at the alter of musicmagpie.com.

Albums are like clothes, when you’re living in the times they were made and fashionable they seem like the bread and butter of your whole personality, but add the benefit of 10-15 years on top and your amazing vintage boot cut jeans which you envisioned yourself wearing until you were 50 seem as inviting as a ‘Best Soft Rock Ballads ever’ compilation that was given away free with the Sunday newspaper one hung-over morn.


I started off with Blues. It was the genre that was the root of my musical playing guitar wise. Hours, weeks, days and years were spent copping licks from Albert Collins, B.B King, Albert King and Buddy Guy records on repeat from the sanctuary of my teenage bedroom. Despite the rose tinted glasses I can’t think of the last time I pulled out Guy’s ‘Stone Crazy’ or Collin’s ‘Ice Pickin’ (both which I used to love) and played it for listening pleasure alone. Has my musical palette changed so drastically or is it a case of eating cereal everyday for 20 years and then one morning you’re just not hungry at all?

You must be ruthless when having a clear out. They are just cd’s, no one is judging you and by throwing away a Babyshambles single (that you already had on the album anyway) doesn’t mean you’re throwing your memories of nights gone by at Pete Doherty secret gigs and throwing great times into the void, it’s simply about shelf space. Many friends made the complete move over to digital years ago, as soon as ITunes appeared on the scene many downloaded their whole collections and then sold them all to the record exchange in the knowledge that everything was safe and secure on their lovely shiny hard drive. Unfortunately 9/10 times they then either dropped a drink on their computer, sat on their laptop or just downloaded another ‘free’ song which was so ravaged with computer viruses that if it was a horse it would’ve been shot shortly after and their collections were once again back to zero.

Should we use the same old maxim that is given to our wardrobes for our music collections? If you haven’t fancied listening to an album in 2 years, you have to accept that you probably never will and bin it. Can we be that hard lined with the soundtracks of our lives? Should we realise that the ‘3 for £20’ sales are just tricks to make us consume more 2-3 star albums that we didn’t want for free but as they are in the sale are worth a score of your hard earned cash?

There are some mainstays of course. The Beatles (repeated listens regularly), Bob Dylan (although I could probably fling a few out from the ‘Street Legal’ phase and 6 cd’s of ‘The Basement Tapes’ is definitely overkill for anyone), Jimi Hendrix is solid and definitely gets played a few times a year to keep me on my musical toes (although the 'BBC sessions' could probably get lost without me noticing). The rest are a mixed bag of styles and artists that get the occasional nod but are really there for other people to notice and pull out so I can educate them in why their collections are rubbish and pointless.


My ‘desert island disc’ choices would be pretty easy if I was completely honest as probably without me noticing I could check the glove compartment of the car or look at my ‘most played’ tracks on my iPod to quickly make a true and accurate list. Of course if you asked me down the pub I’d rattle off some long lost 1965 ‘45’ by a defunct Detroit garage rock group followed by Radiohead and finally resolved with a new band from Japan who’s MySpace page I found when looking for an old school mate.

A total of 80 cd’s were shaved off the collection and are no longer in my flat. The scary thing isn’t that I’ll immediately go and recoup all the sold titles when they are digitally re-mastered and remixed next year or that some long forgotten group will return on a wave of nostalgia and everyone will be talking about how “they always liked them”, but more the case that I could probably ditch another 80 without breaking a sweat. Have I always had such bad taste in music?


Glove compartment mainstays:


Hunky DoryDavid Bowie

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from MarsDavid Bowie

Safe as MilkCaptain Beefheart and the Magic Band

Submarine original soundtrackAlex Turner

The Singles collectionThe Smiths

Thursday, 23 August 2012

IC1s Interview - August 2012




John Campbell – Guitar (JC)
Andy Faulkner – Drums (AF)


Q. What makes a good rock n’ roll band?

A. JC: Be yourself, be real, be genuine, have a personality and don’t follow the rules. By that I mean too many bands pick up the imaginary textbook of ‘How To Be A Rock Star’ like throwing TV’s out the window and thinking you have to wake up covered in vomit with a bottle of Jack Daniels in your hand. Do that if you want but don’t do that because you think that’s what you have to do to become a rock star. Anyone can do that. I see so many wannabe Liam Gallagher’s in bands yet they don’t take his advice from the opening line from Oasis’ first single (Supersonic)… ‘You need to be yourself; you can’t be no one else’. Granted he wants to be John Lennon so the circle of imitation keeps rolling. Sound wise I think all members need to be at the top of their game. You won’t make a great band if only one member is the nuts and the rest are adequate.


Q. IC1s have always been very outspoken, do you think this can get in the way of what you’re actually trying to say as a band i.e. everyone is just looking for the ‘funny quote’ or the ‘mug off’ to another band etc.

A. AF: We’re outspoken in terms of what’s around us - other bands these days don’t seem to have anything to say. We do love to banter, things would be pretty dull if we didn’t but I don’t think our integrity has ever been questioned. We have great songs and work hard, that’s why we’re turning heads within the industry not because we might be outspoken, laddish or witty... That’s all just a bonus.



Q. Live you’ve been playing variations of the same set for a while now, when are you looking to record the debut album and how many of the set list songs will make it to the final cut?

A. JC: I would like to think that we would have recorded our debut album by the summer of 2013. We have plenty of songs to choose from already and seem to be churning songs out every time we get together. So either expect a 20 track debut double album with pop up pictures and booklets of choreographed dance moves or just a 10 track ball breaking, no nonsense debut album. Rest assured most of the set would be on the debut so expect ‘Levitate’, ‘Not Perfect’ Whack Jack’ etc. Excited aren’t ya?


Q. Do you think your sound has evolved as a band since you started, is this something you consciously try and do or are you more from the ‘if it’s ain’t broke, don’t fix it‘ school of thinking?

A. AF: I’d like to think we have a trade mark sound, something instantly recognisable, but it’s evolving there’s no doubt about that. How can it not? You’ve always gotta be trying new things in music and testing the boundaries. We’re writing songs now that we would never have thought of doing when we first got together but each new song has to fit with the IC1s sound and ultimately it’s the fans that determine what sinks or swims (although most swim of course!).



Q. You’ve recorded with different producers in the past; do you think any of them have captured the essence and ‘true’ sound of the band yet?

A. JC: Yes and no. It’s been said that we have a more energetic and raucous sound live and that’s not been evident on record yet. I think that’s obvious given that our shows are usually fast paced and adrenaline fuelled but I don’t necessarily think that should transcend on the studio recordings. I feel that sometimes capturing that mayhem may make the songs messy but then at the same time we don’t want to be over polished either. So I guess our sound is somewhere in the middle! Given that we have limited time with the producers we have had has meant trying to find this middle ground as quickly as possible so I suppose we haven’t managed to capture our true sound just yet but the band would be more than happy to work with all 3 again and are sure that we can get our sound perfect… If not we’ll just find someone else ha-ha


Q. In regards to the lyrics of the songs, do you write them from experience or is it just imagination and a feel for what sounds good and fits the song?

A. JC: I’m pretty sure Dan (Coburn) would say a majority is based on experience with some elements of his overactive imagination. I mean some songs are pretty self explanatory and are stories he has experienced and some are quite imagery and profound but still experience related. Dan has a fantastic way of speaking from personal experience but making it universally understood by others. For example ‘Beautiful Ugly’ was written after a messy break up with an ex of his but anyone else can relate to it as everyone has experienced a break up and can feel those same emotions expressed in the song. I believe it’s crucial to write songs about real things and real experiences really coz if you can’t feel it and believe it then how can your listener?


Q. Having two guitar players in a band can cause issues with the spotlight and guitar hero ego type thing although I’ve found that in IC1s both Jesse and John swap roles between rhythm and lead guitar parts without any problem, how is it decided who is going to take the riff or solo?

A. JC: Well technically Jesse is better than I am so he tends to take the face melting solo’s ala ‘Whack Jack’ and ‘In Freefall’ whereas I’m a sucker for an infectious riff that you would whistle all day long to ala ‘Not Perfect’ and ‘Levitate’. Having said that though it’s not something that’s set in stone so we are more than happy to mix it up now and again if the parts played work. Jesse was brought up on Jimi Hendrix records and has a huge love of metal bands like Metallica which is where his finger skills come from whereas I got my education from the Noel Gallagher School of simple but effective guitar playing. This is why we sound so f*cking good together. Keith Richards once said something along the lines of "Ronnie Wood and I aren’t the greatest on guitar, but put us together and we are the best guitarists in the world". I strongly believe Jesse and I are bastard sons of this ethos.




Q. Summer is here once again, are there any plans for more festival slots this year?

A. AF: We’ve just got back from a couple of festivals and during the Olympics we were invited to play on the Emerging Icons Stage in the Olympic Park. Emerging Icons got in touch again this week and we’re returning to play at the Paralympics. It’s a great honour to be part of it all.


Q. When you look at bands such as The Rolling Stones do you feel that you will still be making music at that age or is rock and roll a young man’s game?

A. AF: The Stone are living proof that age is not a factor in rock n roll but you gotta know when you’ve had your time right!? As great as the Olympics was, I would have loved to of seen more up and coming bands perform on the big stage. We’re the first to pay tribute to English greats like The Who, McCartney and Ray Davies but it was disappointing to see so many old acts hogging the limelight. Oi! Roger (Daltrey) stop reaching for your microphone and start reaching for your prescriptions!


http://www.ic1sband.com
http://www.myspace.com/ic1s
http://twitter.com/IC1s/

Thursday, 16 August 2012

REAL HEROES: NEIL YOUNG



There have been many icons since the phenomenon of Rock and Roll began back in the mid 50’s, from the un-restrained swagger of Elvis to the screaming wild persona of Little Richard, the faces and stories were part of the character and the music and as a complete package in the pre-music video world this was a sure fire recipe for success. Somewhere along the line the backroom stories and after hours activities started spilling out from under the velvet rope and these icons started getting judged not on their music or performance but instead by their appetites for destruction and bodily self abuse. Jazz artists such as Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday can’t be discussed without their drug habits being mentioned within the first paragraph and almost recall their musical and cultural contributions as an afterthought.

Today musical legends such as Motorhead frontman Lemmy, Keith Richards, Iggy Pop, Keith Moon and Ozzy Osborne are held up as pirates of the modern age, whose road to excess led them to the musical palace of wisdom. Although as the stories add up and the bar tabs get paid the musical credibility of the releases fall on the back burner and are ignored while another yarn is told about “the time when we all drank some poison and still played a show in front of a crowd of millions without anyone noticing…blah, blah”. It seems the true measure of a man in the world of rock and roll all depends on how much can you drink, snort, inject and swallow rather than what they are saying when they are stone cold sober.



Maybe it’s just a case of growing up and seeing your heroes fall by the wayside by drugs, drink or lack of imagination in their craft. But lets be honest, whilst figures such as Keith Moon sound great to go out for a drink with you’d almost certainly slam the door in their face if they arrived with a suitcase for a holiday. Upon closer inspection, and with the passage of time, the ‘live fast-die young’ brigade seems very silly and boring when you look at the bigger picture. For the purposes of this article, that bigger picture is Neil Young.

Formerly of Buffalo Springfield, member of super group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and superstar solo artist in his own right, with an impressive 33 studio albums under his belt, Neil Young is a survivor, a poet and someone who has never followed trends, but instead followed his own muse to the hilt. He is also the father of three children that each have medical impairments. His two sons Ben and Zeke both suffer from cerebral palsy and his daughter Amber Jean has epilepsy (like Young himself). In 1986 Young helped found the ‘Bridge School’ project, an educational organisation that helps children with severe physical and verbal disabilities. There are annual concerts where Young as well as some of the world’s biggest acts perform to help fund the organisation. During the 1980’s Neil Young and his wife Pegi raised their children and overcame the limitations and barriers laid in front of them. Although some help was taken, no publicity or star power was thrown at it. They pulled together as a family and for the outside world it was a closed shop.



Young’s career suffered in the 1980’s as a consequence, certainly from a critics point of view with many albums getting very poor reviews indeed. Albums such as ‘TRANS’ received critical attacks due to it’s synthesizer based arrangements and accompaniments. Calls that he’d “gone too far” and was “trying to be current and go electro” were ignored by Young himself, since in his eyes he was singing to his sons. Using vocal synthesizers and singing barely understood lyrics he was showing the public through this music “this is what it’s like trying to communicate to my own children”. It was very brave and some tracks such as ‘Sample and Hold’ and ‘Transformer Man’ have held up extremely well (especially the MTV Unplugged version which received cheers) and could be considered gems in his cannon. Other albums released in this period were done so to fulfil contractual obligations to his label only and were released to get himself out of his contract with David Geffen who by this time was suing Young for making “un-Neil Young sounding music”. Young carried on regardless, never losing sight of his ultimate aim to put his family first.


Anyone can shoot up heroin or drown in their own puke, it takes a real man to look after his family and weather the storm life throws at you, putting his own burgeoning career on hold to ensure the wellbeing of his children. It doesn’t take a strong heart to drink 40 shots of vodka and drown in your swimming pool, but it does take one to look after your disabled children, have a happy marriage and still stand up on stage night after night, sending 20,000 people home happy after you’ve played two hours of their favourite music. For men out there looking for a hero and a role model in rock and roll I’d point you in Neil Young’s direction.


originally on www.thecalmzone.net



Friday, 3 August 2012

What's in a name?




After the recent news that Snoop Dogg wants to be further known as Snoop ‘Lion’ I am reminded that there have been many, many ‘nom de plume’s out there in POP world over the years. Some of them stranger than the original names, some the catalyst that made them famous in the first place.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” ; William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’

A quick selection of well known and lesser known name changes


Snoop Dogg/Snoop Doggy Dogg/Snoop Lion – Real Name: Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.

Elvis Costello – Real Name: Declan Patrick MacManus

Bono – Real Name: Paul David Hewson

Paul McCartney – Real Name: James Paul McCartney

Madonna – Real Name: Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone

Marilyn Manson – Real Name: Brian Werner

Johnny Marr – Real Name : John Maher

Meat Loaf – Real Name : Marvin Lee Aday

Freddie Mercury – Real Name : Farrokh Bulsara

George Michael – Real Name: Georgious Krylacos Panayiotou

Joni Mitchell – Real Name : Roberta Joan Anderson

David Bowie – Real Name: David Jones

Elton John – Real Name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight

Cliff Richard – Real Name : Harry Rodger Webb

Cee Lo Green – Real Name : Thomas Callaway

D’Angelo – Real Name : Michael Archer

Tina Turner – Real Name : Anna Mae Bullock

Alicia Keys – Real Name : Alicia Augello Cook

Lady Gaga – Real Name : Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

Sting – Real Name : Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner

Slash - Real Name : Saul Hudson