theres a fine line between art and advertisement, and guitar pedal manufacturer WALRUS AUDIO walks it here with its discontinued SONGS AT THE SHOP series of live performances from its YOUTUBE channel. it finds established and up-and-coming talent of varying genres (INDIE ROCK, POST HARDCORE, POST ROCK) playing at their headquarters in OKLAHOMA.
what might at first glance appear like a ploy for absolutely shameless product placement instead puts the focus on the artist (where it should) and gives you a sense of how these products enable musicians. the fact that the talent straddles so many different genres only furthers that point. its an interesting concept that has been utilized and co-opted now by bigger companies like ERNIE BALL and GIBSON with more established legacy artists, which is fine but there appears to be a purity here with these performances. a symbiosis between the product and the art.
definitely check out some these performances.
i am a fan of online series of live performance by bands. i make no secret that we here at DEER GOD made a few of our own at various NYC locations in pre-pandemic times. BLIND BLIND TIGER SPEAKEASY from what i could gather is a downtown LOS ANGELES bar where some genius filmed and recorded upcoming area bands in front of a green screen. i just love the creative anarchy and bold weirdness of these performances and their presentation.
lord knows if id seen this when it was still happening years ago, i'd have thought long and hard about following suit and experimenting with different FX elements. maybe once (or if) everything goes back to normal that could be a possibility.
either way, these videos from BLIND BLIND TIGER SPEAKEASY are just fun to watch. enjoy.
i am always on the hunt for live music series online. it probably comes from attempting to initiate one myself. i recently came across LIVE @ 885FM which showcases live performances by upcoming as well as established INDIE ROCK acts in their studio out of CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. notable participants during pre-pandemic times include that of JOHNNY MARR, BOB MOULD, NADA SURF, BEST COAST, RODRIGO Y GABRIELA, ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER, JENNY LEWIS, INARA GEORGE (of BIRD & THE BEE), KURT VILE, BLITZEN TRAPPER and FIRST AID KIT.
obviously this is a take on the model spearheaded and popularized by the longstanding live performance series out of KEXP in SEATTLE, but honestly who cares? i love the fact that there are a multitude of radio stations (including KCRW in SANTA MONICA) providing quality, professionally recorded and mixed content of bands playing live.
we all win. especially when legacy radio stations have the pull to draw in first-rate talent, as is the case with 88.5FM.
i think everyone can appreciate a disruptor. someone that comes out of left fied and innovates to such an extent that an industry has to react in their wake.
in terms of sports i have written in the past about RODNEY MULLEN (blog entry linked HERE), a legendary skateboarder who found a way to incorporate (then-tragically unhip) freestyle elements into street skateboarding and basic birthed modern flat ground trick. what once was deemed outsider then became the very lexicon upon which the modern sport defines itself.
i don't think its hyperbole to put AUSTRALIAN 3X BMX BIG AIR X GAMES champion RYAN WILLIAMS on that same level. in terms of action sports, SCOOTERS are looked at as a joke. a kid's toy. probably ironically the same way people used to view skateboarding and bicylce riding. currently FREESTYLE SCOOTER is still not an X GAMES event. but FREESTYLE BMX is.
what's interesting about WILLIAMS is that being a FREESTYLE SCOOTER pro, he was able to incorporate various tricks into BMX that had never been attempted or considered before, things like BRI FLIPS, INWARD BRI FLIPS and my favorite, the FREE WILLY (SCOOTER-only).
again, a new lexicon of tricks get incorporate into the sport from an overlooked and undervalued related sport.
internet musical equipment retailer/reseller REVERB.COM recently put out a short-form documentary called THE MU-TRON STORY where they interview engineer and MU-TRON creator MIKE BEIGEL about the famous phase pedal and the nature of creation.
now you find any discussion of OSCILLATORS, CAPACITORS and ELECTRICAL CIRCUITS to be a blur of garbled technical speak, but what draws my attention to content such as this is the process by which new sounds are introduced to the world.
and that gets heavy real fast to think through the implications of such. new signal chains equal new vibrations which equals an expanded range of possible sounds. the lexicon of music has thus been furthered, expanding our consciousness and emotional capacity in the process.
BEIGEL speaking about how difficult it was to get his invention off the drawing board and into physical world, yet lived to see it transformed again by the likes of STEVIE WONDER, FRANK ZAPPA, JERRY GARCIA, BILLY CORGAN, BOOTSY COLLINS, ACE FREHLEY and NEIL YOUNG among many others is a pretty satisfying narrative arc to take in. it becomes apparent that those circuits have entered into a spiritual realm, affecting us all.
THE MU-TRON STORY is definitely check it out if you have the inclination.
i recently watched the first two seasons of THE MANDALORIAN and very much enjoyed it. in my estimation it is a return to the original inspiration and motivation from which the creation of the STAR WARS arose. such being an excuse to investigate and mishmash a bunch of genres in a space setting.
if you watch the original trilogy there are more than obvious nods to cinematic obsessions of GEORGE LUCAS such as the work of directors JOHN FORD, AKIRA KUROSAWA and LENI RIEFENSTAHL as well as eastern theology BUDDHISM and TAOISM and early serials like BUCK ROGERS and FLASH GORDON. the list goes on.
in THE MANDALORIAN there seems to be clear effort to return to said influences in a television serial format with a moral protagonist navigating a whole series of hardships and obstacles on a JOSEPH CAMPBELL-inspired "HERO's QUEST" that literally finds him in situations that are highly reminiscent of old westerns, war films (complete with aerial dog fights), action films and science fiction.
i think that this is noteworthy since the second and third trilogy of STAR WARS films have been more about the complexity of interplaying narratives/sub-narratives and the abundance of characters (my assumption is for marketing purposes) rather than the core journey of a main character. THE MANDALORIAN provides a more cohesive and engaging story due to its more minimal scope and ability to seamlessly collapse various genres in an authentic, believable space. it really is quite the achievement and i look forward to further seasons.
this is probably my favorite TV show post-GAME OF THRONES.
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.