its super interesting to me that in the last couple of years it appears that various corporate entities are releasing back catalogues of live performance and interview footage on their youtube channels.
corporate ogre LIVE NATION is no different. i imagine GREEN ROOM TALES was a long form interview segment various acts were contractually forced to do when playing their HOUSE OF BLUES venues to be shown in house before future gigs of other acts. most of the ones i located were around the turn of the millennium. most of the videos provided are crap (think BOY BANDS, NU METAL and FAKE GRUNGE bands), but i dug up some gems from various artists either now deceased or early in their career.
i'm glad these were made available even if the interviewer was overly enthusiastic and pretty awkward.
it is really hard to not love this guy. JEFF GROSSO was the type of opinionated curmudgeon you rooted for. i think this appeal was based in his intense love of SKATEBOARDING and its all-encompassing culture. his VANS YOUTUBE series JEFF GROSSO's LOVELETTERS TO SKATEBOARDING was an embrace of the CULTURE, COMMUNITY and the wider INDUSTRY and very much succeeded in spreading that contagious passion the sport. as he would always say with his fierce call to action, "why are you watching this? go out and skate!"
on this first anniversary of his passing i wanted to pay respects and try to make people aware of his legacy. he was not the most athletic and had insecurities, but was brave enough to share his shortcomings and vulnerabilities with the world. LOVELETTERS TO SKATEBOARDING was his way of spreading the gospel and reflecting the full spectrum of talent and enthusiasm in the culture. and we are the richer for it.
i remember being in college and taking a FRENCH FILM course knowing nothing about the subject. within a few classes and a few films i was made aware of the politics and aesthetic discourses at play and how such discussions transitioned over time. in turn, i became pretty intimately aware of a number of directors, actors, producers and production companies that hitherto i was blissfully unaware of.
for me GROSSO and his LOVELETTERS are very much of that vibe. some competitors and online keyboard warriors have dismissed GROSSO and considered him a gatekeeper and a self-appointed arbiter of SKATEBOARDING history, but i feel like they miss the point. he was presenting his passion, his knowledge and his opinions. if anything he wanted to share that passion and i feel all the richer for it becoming aware of how SKATEBOARDING shifted in terms of TRICKS, CUSTOMS, TECHNOLOGY, PUBLICATIONS, GRAPHICS, PRODUCTS, OBSTACLES, PERSONALITIES and FASHION to what it is has become to day: an eternal youth movement based on individual expression that has influenced global culture. there is literally no wrong way to SKATEBOARD.
i think one aspect of his influence that is often overlooked is his push for INCLUSIVITY, especially with regards to his efforts to push companies to promote women. he in essence leveraged his influence and attempted to make the industry more accessible and to a wider demographic that transcends GENDER IDENTITY, SEXUAL PREFERENCE, GEOGRAPHY and SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS.
so yeah, in summation GROSSO in my mind was pretty PUNK ROCK. you cant watch his YOUTUBE series and not buy into his DIY ethos of just go make it happen.
go skate. no expectations, just go.
again, hard not to love the guy. rest in peace. GROSSO forever.
there's something to be said about musicians interview musicians. there is a telepathy and a common wavelength at work that transcends superficial aspects like genre and style. it probably comes from a rooted common experience and mentality of persistence that comes with "making it" in a band setting. IT'S ELECTRIC! (APPLE MUSIC) was a in-person, pre-pandemic podcast where METALLICA drummer LARS ULRICH interviewed peers like JERRY CANTRELL (ALICE IN CHAINS), NOEL GALLAGHER (OASIS), JAMES MURPHY (LCD SOUNDSYSTEM), MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN (TOOL/A PERFECT CIRCLE), BILLY CORGAN (THE SMASHING PUMPKINS), LES CLAYPOOL (PRIMUS), GREG PUCIATO & BEN WEINMAN (THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN), DAVE GROHL (FOO FIGHTERS/NIRVANA), JOAN JETT, JACK WHITE (THE WHITE STRIPES) and TOM MORELLO (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE) among many others.
whats interesting is that ULRICH, despite his notorious reputation for talking (and talking and talking), within the confines of these interviews he is mostly listening. in fact, i'd argue he is an incredible astute interlocutor that gently guides his subjects through insightful productive conversations. most teachers know that the longer you speak the less impact each word has on your students. i was really taken when recently rewatching these interviews to see just how gifted an interviewer ULRICH was and how engaged his follow-up questions were. you didnt get the sense that he had a list he wanted to get through, rather in an almost HOWARD STERN-like manner allow the subject free reign to drive the conversation as he gently steers it. to pull this off you must be a really good listener, which in popular culture i think ULRICH never gets credit for. makes sense though, given the fact that he is often a key composer within METALLICA who often deals with arrangements, a practice whereby you need to listen with intention to surmise the best presentation of musical ideas for maximum impact.
i hope he gets back to this podcast post-pandemic, because it felt like he was really on a roll with it. and it seemed like he was genuinely in his element and having fun. selfishly i just found the conversations compelling and insightful, more so than the vast majority of ROCK AND ROLL interviews you find online.
i think people are aware enough of the innovative and controversial shenanigans that have taken place on the HOWARD STERN SHOW over the years. it is pretty amazing that he is being finally recognized in his late career for his singular interviewing skills, i'd even argue that his shows now are among the best of his career. just wish he'd stay off those lame network talent shows.
regardless i think often overlooked as well are the number of amazing music performances that have taken place on his radio show, mostly of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK, METAL and CLASSIC ROCK variety including the likes of CHRIS CORNELL, JOHN FOGERTY (CREEDANCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL), FIONA APPLE, DAVE GROHL (NIRVANA/FOO FIGHTERS), BILLY CORGAN (THE SMASHING PUMPKINS), ROB ZOMBIE (WHITE ZOMBIE), DAVID BOWIE, PERRY FARRELL (PORNO FOR PYROS / JANE'S ADDICTION)
definitely check some of these out and see what i mean.
ok, admittedly i am not a HATEBREED fan. full disclosure. i did however highlight them in a recent METALCORE episode of DEER GOD RADIO and i do respect them, but i always found them to be a bit corny because their music was essentially humorless. i mean, even SLAYER throws in some latin rhythms every once in a while just to break up the monotony. i found it to be all about brute force and this unrelenting intensity that is just pleading to be mocked. seen them a few times, however, including OZZFEST JAPAN a few years ago and HATEBREED is absolutely crushing live. brutal and intense, no levity.
even though HATEBREED frontman JAMEY JASTA is a bit of a meathead (maybe guns and hunting is cool in CONNECTICUT?), he does have a captivating podcast that interviews musicians and peers from all reaches of the METAL community as evidenced with the recent participants such as of RANDY BLYTHE (LAMB OF GOD), JIMMY BOWER (EYEHATEGOD, DOWN), SAMMY DUET (GOATWHORE), BRIAN "HEAD" WELCH (KORN), OLA ENGLUND (THE HAUNTED), KEITH BUCKLEY (EVERY TIME I DIE / THE DAMNED THINGS) and TREVOR STRNAD (THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER) among many many others. so i will give him that.
recently they started releasing videos of these shows on YOUTUBE so definitely check them out if you are hungry for SLUDGE, DEATH, BLACK, THRASH and PROG METAL news during this never-ending quarantine.
JONATHAN ROSS doesn't look like it but he is a bit of a trouble-maker. he is the host of a late-night comedy show that has ruffled the notoriously stoic BRITISH upper-crust and famously he was suspended from the BBC for a prank call gone wrong with fellow muckraker RUSSELL BRAND. his first stint was on the BBC1 with FRIDAY NIGHTS WITH JOHATHAN ROSS (2001-2010) that was followed by the ITV show THE JONATHAN ROSS SHOW which has continued airing to date.
the BRITISH comedian has had some incredible musical guests on both his primetime shows over the years including NIRVANA, DEPECHE MODE, LADY GAGA, DAVID BOWIE, RIHANNA, THE LIBERTINES and GORILLAZ among many many others. definitely check them out these performances.
because the experiential nature of music is such an ephemeral and almost primitive phenomena, there is a tendency for listeners to pretty much take it for granted. as if music was always there. unlike filmmaking, the process of MUSIC PRODCTION is a bit of a mystery to the layperson, an almost alchemical process.
when i began consciously listening to PODCASTS almost ten years ago on a regular basis, the ones i was drawn to had a sense of playfulness with the platform itself. the sound design on something like NPR's RADIOLAB is so palpable and convincing that it is easy to be swept away into an alternate reality where you are swimming with red blood cells or strata of light waves.
likewise the ongoing PODCAST SONG EXPLODER is another podcast with incredible sound design. it is a meta in that it is a podcast about sound, specifically how songs are constructed. podcaster HRISHIKESH HIRWAY basically deconstructs songs with the help of the artist down to their base elements and explains how the piece fit together. you get a real, visceral sense of the artistry and technical wizardry involved with modern music production and how such has enabled songwriters. its incredibly informative and because of its well-sequenced and thoughtful presentation, SONG EXPLODER makes you appreciate the process on a deep intuitive level.
its is quite the experience and i recommend listening to the podcast for anyone interested in music production or with an interest in art. recently SONG EXPLODER expanded into a NETFLIX show but my preference is still the podcast.
at the moment we are living in an age where amazing live performance series, past and present, are all becoming newly available on YOUTUBE. its pretty cool.
MOOG SOUND LAB is a discontinued live performance series based around, you guessed it, the analog synthesized wizardry of ROBERT MOOG's machines and features various artists from the world of INDIE ROCK, ALTERNATIVE HIP HOP and AVANT-GARDE POP. in essence it serves as sonic evidence of the wide-range of moods and sounds available through the gear.
definitely worth watching if you have an interest in analog synths and their unique multitude of sonic applications.
everything recently is so depressing. with structural racism in our policing, COVID continuing unabated and political unrest at the hands of QANON true believers still an ever present threat on our republic. just thinking about the onslaught of disinformation and thoughtless cruelty that has been perpetuated by the hubris of the former TRUMP administration and his craven sycophants in the GOP is just too much to stomach. it is because of them that our country is devolving into a GREEK tragedy.
ive already written about my love and admiration for NORM MACDONALD and how his LATE NIGHT appearances are legendary. they cheer me up every time i see them. following closely behind are the appearances by fellow SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE alumnus WILL FERRELL over the years, who gets more and more absurd each time he's on any LATE NIGHT program supposedly promoting a new project. its become less and less about the film he is promoting and more about some ANDY KAUFMAN-esque next level batshit weirdness.
i love these bits and his insane singular commitment to staying in character and ever-present comic geniusm, so enjoy and get some relief before the ominous return of our collective TRUMPIAN HELLSCAPE.
for the past couple months the legendary, and recently troubled, guitar manufacturer GIBSON has been publishing a series of long-form interviews on its YOUTUBE page. in keeping with recent efforts by other leading manufacturers of musical products like ERNIE BALL and FENDER, GIBSON has used legacy artists to reconnect with their core, and often overlooked, HARD ROCK / METAL audience.
it is probably a smart move of having JERRY CANTRELL, KIRK HAMMETT and TONY IOMMI out front speaking about their careers then having GIBSON themselves selling themselves, especially given the company's recent heavy-handed and notoriously misguided PLAY AUTHENTIC debacle. i also find it interesting that they chose these three players as two of them are well-known endorsees of other manufacturers, CANTRELL with G&L and HAMMETT with ESP. IOMMI of course is synonymous with the GIBSON SG model. apparently last year CANTRELL became a brand ambassador, whatever that is, but then again live and in the studio he has been known to use LES PAULS. HAMMETT likewise is famous for his use of LES PAULS as well as FLYING V's, especially in METALLICA's early years.
whomever jumped on this trend at GIBSON of created thoughtful interviews and mini-documentaries on legendary players deserves kudos because these are great. they have only released a handful but they are well worth investigating.
its really cool the stuff that is being released on YOUTUBE these days. since 1987 the DUTCH television live performance series 2 METER SESSIONS has been film/recording/mixing one session a week of upcoming musical talent. as you can imagine, the variety and scope of these recordings has grown immeasurably over the years and there has been a slow trickle via their YOUTUBE channel releasing the more memorable performances.
everything from BURNING SPEAR, BECK and YEASAYER to SEPULTURA, NADA SURF and even NIRVANA.
definitely look these vintage performances up if you have the inclination. definitely worth the effort.
i have to say, one of my key coping mechanisms throughout the who TRUMP ADMINISTRATION was listening to the POD SAVE AMERICA podcast. if you are not familiar with it, the podcast is basically several former OBAMA ADMINISTRATION staffers who share their insights into the mechanisms and insider baseball of AMERICAN politics. sounds wonky, and at times it can be, but it is these conversational podcasts are done with humor, honesty and a sense of duty in informing the electorate.
they also are not trying to hide the fact that they are all DEMOCRAT operatives who functioned at the highest echelons of power, so take that as you will. they acknowledge their bias and dont make attempts to shield their perspective. specifically, the panel is made up of former OBAMA ADMINISTRATION speechwriters JON FAVREAU and JON LOVETT, spokesperson TOMMY VIETOR and strategist DANIEL PFEIFFER. regular guests on the program include former DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR BEN RHODES and former DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF ALYSSA MASTROMONACO. behind the scenes there are also several prominent staffers as well so it very much feels like a family affair.
its funny, whenever i dip my toes into listening to sports commentary on radio or cable television i am keenly aware of what actual athletes (current and former) say. i always take that experience as being a deeper insight into the processes of preparation and execution that make up being a high-level athlete. same with politics to an extent. my experience of the TRUMP ADMINISTRATION consuming media was one where i felt constantly unrelentingly barraged with half-truths, misinformation and disinformation to such an extent that the ground seemed to shifting beneath me. i could feel myself being gaslighted since, much to my own chagrin, i am not sophisticated or have the intestinal fortitude to wade through all the shit. what i like about POD SAVE AMERICA is that you get a feel for how a functioning administration works. not a perfect one. not an idealized one. just the hard lessons made from making mistakes in the field. to me that is the value of listening to their podcast. you get a sense that there is a series of protocols and procedures and hierarchies and command structures and internal information gathering services created by well-intentioned, competent people attempting to make a positive difference.
i'm telling you, if there was a REPUBLICAN version of this, id listen to it immediately. no question. i find it even more intriguing to learn about processes that inform decisions i dont agree with. but this is all i have as most of the current conservative conversation online is beyond toxic and engulfed in a mindless cult of personality at the moment.
we will see what happens. there has to be some former BUSH or REAGAN officials that can pull this off. just saying. my only real criticism is how prominent the male presence is with the panel, but they are well aware of such and have numerous CROOKED MEDIA-branded affiliated podcasts by comedians and operatives that showcase the diversity and concerns of a wide and complex national electorate, including that of HYSTERIA and POD SAVE THE PEOPLE. i look forward to seeing where they take the program during the upcoming BIDEN ADMINISTRATION.
with the resurgence in interest in vinyl records that has been going on for the past two decades in the wake of streaming, the mp3 and the obliteration of the compact disc as viable format, HARDCORE icon and vinyl aficionado HENRY ROLLINS has been teaming up with online retailer THE SOUND OF VINYL and UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP's promotions and outreach website UDISCOVER MUSIC to create a series of videos about his love of vinyl and those artist that create it.
ROLLINS' curating efforts over the past few years on this accord have included tutorials, artist recommendations and interviews with artists, directors and independent label owners. basically everything a novice would like to know about starting a collection and where to start, but were afraid to ask. ROLLINS at his age is over the industry, so he comes off as a no-bullshit, straightforward guide with no pretensions. and thank god for that since lord knows that elitism is what drives people away from record stores.
i enjoy watching these and my hope is that both companies expand such with other noteworthy curators. my suggestions: CHUCK D, BRIAN ENO, GEORGE CLINTON, DAVID BYRNE, AFRIKA BAMBAATAA, RICHARD DAVID JAMES, NEIL YOUNG, Q-TIP, CORNELIUS and JOHNNY MARR. one can only dream.
below are ROLLINS' record recommendations. in the future i'll post further articles highlighting some of his interviews. this is still very much a current and developing endeavor.
RICK RUBIN is a renowned record producer with an enviable discography that transcends genre and era. he is celebrated for his ability to tap into an artists creative mindset and challenge them to produce new material that often exceeds audience expectation. notable records he's produced include the likes of SLAYER's REIGN IN BLOOD (DEF JAM, 1986), RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS's BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK (WARNER BROS, 1991), TOM PETTY's WILDFLOWERS (WARNER BROS, 1994), BEASTIE BOYS' LICENSED TO ILL (COLUMBIA, 1986), SYSTEM OF A DOWN's SYSTEM OF A DOWN (AMERICAN, 1998), RUN-DMC's RAISING HELL (PROFILE, 1986), JOHNNY CASH's AMERICAN RECORDINGS series (AMERICAN, 1994-2010), SLIPKNOT's VOL.3: THE SUBLIMINAL VERSES (ROADRUNNER, 2004) and METALLICA's DEATH MAGNETIC (WARNER BROS, 2008) among many others. he has also involved been involved in the formation of two successful record labels, DEF JAM and AMERICAN, with each known for their diverse roster lineups.
all that being said, it comes as no surprise to anyone that RUBIN decided to start an interview podcast where he does what he does best: talk. his deft ear and inquisitive, probing questions mark him as an active listener of idiot savant levels.
check out these interview he's done over the past few years. definitely worth your time if you are a fan of modern music and the process behind their creation.
this is pretty cool.
the MUSEUM OF POP CULTURE in SEATTLE recently did their annual fundraiser for local music education and community engagement initiatives by celebrating the work of regional favorite sons ALICE IN CHAINS. aside from their performance at the event, there were also performances both on-site and via video submissions by various peers and artists, many of the METAL and ALTERNATIVE ROCK persuasion.
while i am pretty on the fence about music-related museums in general (in my mind movements are only truly dead once you can visit an exhibit), these performances by the likes of MARK LANEGAN of SCREAMING TREES, MASTODON, HEART, FISHBONE, KORN, SOUNDGARDEN, TAD DOYLE of TAD, KRIST NOVOSELIC of NIRVANA, DAVE NAVARRO of JANE'S ADDICTION, COREY TAYLOR of SLIPKNOT, METALLICA, BILLY CORGAN of THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, TAYLOR HAWKINS of the FOO FIGHTERS are amazing and serve of evidence of the cultural impact ALICE IN CHAINS had on their peers and the next generation of musicians.
makes me miss LAYNE STALEY and MIKE STARR all the more deeply. not to mention their fallen peers in CHRIS CORNELL and KURT COBAIN. rest in peace brothers.
DESUS & MERO is some of the funniest shit i have seen in years.
i know DESUS NICE & THE KID MERO represent a different voice in comedy and bring a much needed urban perspective to late night, but forget all that. they are just hands down funnier than the competition. and their takedowns of industry goons (cough, cough, DJ ENVY) are both savage and legendary.
in a perfect world these guys would have a network show, but sadly we dont live in that world. thus JIMMY FALLON. until then i have to hand it to SHOWTIME for outbidding VICELAND to bring these guys over.
their show is definitely worth checking out. you're welcome.
photograph by nacrowe
ani have long felt that PAUL REUBENS has not gotten the due he deserves in popular culture. like many other kids (and adults) of the 1980s and 90s, i was obsessed with PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE and its ingeniously constructed alternative world filled with talking chairs, globes and floorboards and a childish nymph of an adult who went on wild adventures at home with a kaleidoscopic roster of guests of every seeming variety, human, bovine, animated, and the list goes on.
rewatching it as an adult years later it still baffles me how great that show was on a production level alone. as is common knowledge now, REUBENS' show helped initiate/enrich the careers of various notable collaborators including LAURENCE FISHBURNE, NICK PARK, MARK MOTHERSBAUGH, PHIL HARTMAN, ROB ZOMBIE and TIM BURTON among countless others. it really is quite amazing what an eye for talent he had at the time.
as an adult i also appreciate the show's look as it incorporated a postmodern aesthetic in keeping with his CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIUS leanings and MEMPHIS GROUP use of contrasting colors color palettes and designs. this became a look of the 80s, but in his vision it allowed for a view of the world devoid of barriers and biases, wether they be of the religious, class, geo-historical or issues surrounding identity (sexual orientation, gender, race) variety. in this world all were welcome.
for me PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE is everything the 1980s wasnt politically. inclusive, artistic and valuing freedom. and by that i don't mean the personal freedom to discriminate or cast judgement on others (which seemingly in AMERICA is the only place where this passes as liberty), i mean the ability to live your authentic life free from discrimination and reprisal. in the 80s you had the AIDS epidemic and the failure of institutions like the REAGAN ADMINISTRATION and the CATHOLIC CHURCH to properly adress such, each using it as a hacksaw to parlay their own agendas revolving judgement and power. very JESUS-like indeed.
REUBENS gets a bad wrap because of his arrested at an adult theater, but really who cares. who did he hurt exactly? are we really that puritanical when it comes to sex (answer: yes). i think because of it his work promoting diversity and acceptance in youth culture gets criminally overlooked. not to mention all the great careers he helped initiate.
thats sad. because i defy you to watch any episode and not be heart-warmed by the inventive and invigorating nature of his classic saturday morning children's program. it still brings me joy over 30 years later.
LIVE IN THE K! PIT has an ingenious conceit. put an aggressive band on a small stage in the back of a LONDON pub cramped with hardcore fans and see what happens.
what happens is INTENSITY. far more than your usual live performance series fare. gotta thank KERRANG! magazine for conceiving nad implementing this concept because these videos are pretty killer, including the likes of TORCHE, BEARTOOTH, MASTODON (including guest vocalist SCOTTY KELLY of NEUROSIS), PARKWAY DRIVE, REFUSED, CANCER BATS and BARONESS among many others. enjoy.
here is a blast from the past. ever since MP3s took over the music business back at the turn of the millennium, long before streaming was a thing or even the iphone for that matter, there was a resurgence of interest in VINYL RECORDS. this was due to the warmth of that analog sound that just can't be replicated on a digital format. call it psychosomatic but we all know its true.
roughly a decade ago the television channel FUSE (remember FUSE?!) had a series of small segments called CRATE DIGGERS in which they interview producers, artists and musicians like AFRIKA BAMBAATAA, PEANUT BUTTER WOLF, HANK WILLIAMS III, PETE ROCK, JELLO BIAFRA, LORD FINESSE, DJ MUGGS, SHEPARD FAIREY and DAN THE AUTOMATOR about their vinyl collections and how they went about amassing them. its basically a love letter to the pursuit of new unexplored sounds.
definitely worth checking out.
photo by nacrowe
with the impending second bankruptcy of GUITAR CENTER likely to be finalized at the close of this month, it seemed as good a time as ever to look back at the live performance series GUITAR CENTER SESSIONS that they co-produced with DIRECT TV that took advantage of their iconic flagship HOLLYWOOD location.
it feels like the end of an era with their impending doom, but sadly they never took advantage of the internet and basically ceded that ground to competitors like SWEETWATER. it is mind-bogging that COVID knocked them out give that this lockdown period we've been living through has sold more guitars and instruments then any other period in history. just think about that.
oh well, at least we have these performances until they inevitably get taken down.