Tagged: american idol

Metal is dead

You know how you sometimes find that special place on the beach, the perfect spot that you don’t want anyone else to find…? Or if you find a great place – anywhere, that makes you feel good, your own discovery that is yours, and yours only – that you will protect and keep a secret or maybe share with just your closest friends…?

That’s what metal has been to me my whole life. I can’t say that I chose it – it chose me. It was like an epiphany, a religious experience – and because metal wasn’t widely accepted, I felt like I was a part of a small, secret club or something.

It wasn’t on the radio, it wasn’t in the papers, it was just this… underground, rebellious movement in the eyes of a teenager, especially a female teenager, as there were very few female role models in metal in the very early eighties.

Metal was anti-establishment. It was a big fuck-you middle finger in the face of everything that was “adult” or “responsible”…. Parents hated it, religious groups hated it, polititians hated it, media ignored it (except for when Ozzy bit the head of a bat or Alice Cooper decapitated himself onstage or W.A.S.P got banned by PMRC for their lovely song “I Fuck Like A Beast“).

THAT is what metal has been to me, always. A freedom and an escape from everything that you’re supposed to be.

In a way I guess I don’t want to grow up. Metal has been that escape from everything that had to do with normality. But now, I’m beginning to wonder what the hell is happening. Metal is dying.

Two days ago I stayed up all night, watching the streaming online version of ABC’s “Dancing with the stars”. Kiss and Steel Panther had been announced as guests. I had to see what the deal was. I would have been better off if I had never seen that.

My god, what a sad sight. Kiss has never really been “rock’n’roll” in the “rebellious”sense, they would sell their own mother if they could make a buck or two, and that’s nothing new. Still it was disturbing somehow to see them on this family show, this absolutely squeaky clean family entertainment.… It made me sick watching people dancing freaking BALLET to Twisted Sister…! Oh my god, it was so…gay! And I don’t mean that in a homophobic sort of way, but you know what I mean. It was just so fucking WRONG!

Not only that, but all those hard rock anthems had been “cleaned up” and were sung by some…session singers, people who are as far from metal as you can possibly get.

I guess it’s stupid, but it actually made me sad to witness it. To me, this is the armageddon of metal. I see it everywhere. Judas Priest on American Idol – the show that kills music. Call it whatever you want but it doesn’t produce any new music. You have people singing covers and trying to sound like the real deal, like their idols who got famous the old-fashioned way, by working their asses off.

It’s really just a money-making show that’s looking for a product to sell. That means the “product” must be G-rated. No damn TRUE rock’n’roll here! It’s family entertainment for gods sakes.

I’ve realized that by talking to the Croatian guy, the rocker dude who I first saw on “Idol”. His label still hasn’t released any of his music, because he’s a rocker – and rock doesn’t appeal to the little girlies who are the ones buying records. Maybe – if you make it TRENDY. Like if you give Bret Michaels a dating-show for instance…

So, Priest appeared on AI, sold their souls to the devil if you ask me, Kiss on Dancing with the stars, Alice Cooper won’t be performing at any REAL rock-festivals in Sweden this summer, but he WILL be playing at Liseberg…! Liseberg is a family amusement-park! The man who got himself banned everywhere he went back in the day, who was arrested and feared by your parents and your teacher – is now a family entertainer, like a rock-Liberace or something.

And AC/DC sold their music to WalMart, the very same retail corporation that wouldn’t sell albums that the PMRC had labelled with “Parental Advisory”-stickers!


Yeah, I’m an idealist, I think it’s sad to watch the death of metal as we know it. It’s not rebellious anymore, it’s not anti-establishment and it’s not my “private island” anymore – or anyone else’s.

Hard rock is business now. You will hear the dorks on Glee singing some washed-up version of an old Pat Benatar-song or something and you will find the kind of r’n’r outfits that you had to look everywhere to find (specialized stores) – at H & M or any other major store. It’s sellable now. Metal sells – and everybody’s buying.

No more underground movement, no more middle fingers… no more rebellion. Metal is now Dancing With The Stars, American Idol, family amusement parks and WalMart. Guess maybe it’s time for me to grow up too…

Does integrity exist in rock’n’roll?

AC/DC and Walmart…. A match made in heaven? I think not.

AC/DC and wallets, backpacks, t-shirts, mugs, baseball-caps, stickers and so on – better? Maybe not, but somehow more accepted because it’s still kept “within the family” so to speak.
I guess in the word integrity in rock’n’roll means “staying away from whatever is mainstream”.

Fans upset signature song used in Walmart commercial

We all know how pissed off fans get whenever their favorite metal band decides to experiement with something new

Van Halen doing “Jump” in 1984 caused a MAJOR protests. Oh-my-god. Blasphemy! KEYBOARDS in metal? What the f***. People back then could maybe stretch their tolerance to hammond-organs but no way in hell synthesizers had any business in metal.

When Judas Priest attempted it two years later with Turbo, they got the same reception. To this day, people feel like their heroes let them down.

Both bands were accused of being sellouts – because they were trying to cater to a wider audience. So they were treated like traitors. Being a metalhead means “keeping it in the family”.

I guess that’s why “real” rockers generally don’t like anything that has to do with stepping outside that frame.

Ozzy doing a reality-show, Judas Priest performing with James Durbin on American Idol, AC/DC selling their music to WALMART?!?! Where does it end, how much can metalheads accept?

We all know that it’s tough to be a musician these days. Nobody buys records anymore. Oh come on – honestly. When was the last time YOU actually BOUGHT a record? Possibly a collector’s item, but mostly, we all download or send mp3’s back and forth via e-mails or chats…. Artists can’t live on pure love and air only. :-) They need to survive.

I guess that’s why we’re seeing more of this now. KISS has always been a money machine. Funny enough, most of us have been perfectly okay with assisting them with that, by buying all kinds of “fun stuff” with the KISS-logo on it. But we did NOT like it when they did “I Was Made For Loving You“, because THAT was a HIT that NON-METALHEADS bought and liked. God forbid! Sellouts!

I guess that’s also why “real” rockers dislike bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard or Europe – because those bands actually appealed to everything and anything from kids to teenage girlies to actual music lovers. The reason why people think that Motörhead is a REAL metal band, is because generally, non-metalheads don’t like them.

You won’t see Lemmy in a reality show, he wouldn’t be caught dead doing anything like that. I guess out of most musicians today, he would be the ONLY musician I would say has true integrity that is solid as a rock. He is cool that way, I admire his attitude. It’s brave. I mean, alright, he let “Ace Of Spades” be used for a beer commercial, but that is somehow still rock’n’roll and very Lemmy. Its not WalMart!

Most bands nowadays are acting like whores. They would do anything for money.

One of the worst ways of moneymaking, is the “VIP packages” that are so big in America. Where they CHARGE fans to meet their idols. That is one of those things that I just have a hard time accepting.

What the fuck – I bought the records and the merch, I “liked” them on Facebook and added them on MySpace and Twitter, I’m wearing their freaking t-shirts and I’ve been crushed in the front row at their shows. And they can’t meet their fans for FREE? What’s wrong with that picture?

I realize that you can’t meet everybody, but usually, there are only a few people hanging around before and after the shows. Would it hurt inviting them in to listen to the sound check or have a beer on the bus? Providing they seem fairly normal of course…. I would never, EVER degrade myself to the point where I had to PAY a band to say hello to me, like some beggar. Fuck that.

I remember a girl from New Zealand who was a HUGE Billy Idol-fan that we met in Copenhagen years ago. She was traveling all around the world to see him. God knows how much she spent on tickets, hotels and all that. I should know – I did the same this year going everywhere to see guitar-hero Gus G play with Ozzy and Firewind. It’s not exactly cheap. But you do it for the love of rock’n’roll.

She had bought the most expensive “VIP-package” in several cities, Copenhagen being one of those cities,

I couldn’t believe it when she said how much she had paid, but I forget now the exact amount… Well – they let her in – ten minutes later she was out in the cold again! They “let” her take a photo with Billy and she wasn’t even allowed to use her OWN camera, she got an autograph and a poster and some other junk and after ten minutes it was BYE BYE BABY BYE BYE………..

I’ll never forget that. A die-hard fan like that should be invited in for FREE, get the red carpet for supporting Billy in every possible way. Not be treated like crap – because that was really shitty. I don’t blame Billy for that, he was super cool after the show.

“His people” told fans that Billy would not sign anything because he would risk getting a cold if he stayed outdoors. Billy didn’t give a fuck, he talked to everybody and signed anything people put in front of him.
The VIP-shit is some management’s idea – I would assume….. 

But fans generally don’t complain about the “VIP”-bullshit. Cause it’s still “in the family”…

So I guess it’s cool to make money as long as you make sure it’s for the right people. Making money is okay when you’re a rocker, you just need to make sure you do it the right way. Cause integrity for metal-fans is about staying true to yourself, keeping it METAL.

Many people have taken on the heavy metal lifestyle because it’s always been an alternative to whatever is normal and mainstream. It’s a form of escapism, a full-time escapism where you just refuse to be a part of whatever society tries to sell as normal

So I guess AC/DC stepped WAY out of line in that respect. But as integrity isn’t a big deal in today’s world in general. I guess they are laughing all the way to the bank (and Walmart…)….

A day in the name of music

Well, for being a vacation where nothing was supposed to be happening except eating and sleeping, I had a really nice day yesterday – in the name of music.

“The Croatian dude”, i.e the singer I mentioned two blogs ago, Vilibald Kovac, came down to Split for a short visit.

I was curious to meet him in person. A very nice guy, so yesterday was without a doubt the best day I’ve had since I got here. Ten days of just being “normal” is enough to drive me nuts! So, it was refreshing to meet this super-talented guy, share some music and talk about everything and anything related to the music business.

It was a challenge for me though, cause although I know Croatian, sort of…, it was difficult to talk music because I’ve never used the language for that. So my brain was working full-time to find the right words. Exhausting. Still, it seemed  most logical, otherwise he would have had the same problem with English, I assume.

I learned that artists here have the same label-bullshit to deal with that artists in other parts of the world also get headaches over. The contract is for 5 albums I think, and these albums are required to be in Croatian. So – no chance to get this talented guy out to a larger audience worldwide anytime soon. That sucks and most of all frustrating when you see and hear someone who could actually do very well out there.

The stuff that he did at “Idol” doesn’t really represent what he’s capable of, I think. Not even his latest single, although it’s a good song and he sings it well (I love that voice).

Quite incidentally, he played a song that he had performed live some time ago, a slightly downtuned version of Queen’s epic “The Show Must Go On“. His vocal performance on that left me absolutely speechless, and I rarely get speechless.
Seriously. I took a quick look at the very humble guy that was sitting right next to me with his hair in a pony tail, looking very “everyday-normal”, while I was listening to this VOICE that was out of this world. It was hard to imagine it was the same guy!

He was apologising for fucking up some guitar-part somewhere in the song, whatever – DUDE, nobody would care if the whole BAND had stopped playing! That VOICE is amazing, jesus christ, I just gave him his headphones back without a word. Sometimes words are just redundant – it was more “Okay, that was fucking brilliant and I’ve got nothing more to add“.

Anyway, it was really nice to meet Vilibald, very easy guy to talk to and very down to earth. I don’t have that version of The Show Must Go On, and even if I had, he wouldn’t let me publish it anywhere (damn…! ;P).

But if I could play it for you guys, you would understand why I’m all “Holy-fucking-shiiiit!” here! You never know – maybe fate brings this guy out of Croatia someday and to the stars where he, in my very humble opinion, belongs.

Two more songs from the “Idol”challenges:

Alright, I really didn’t want a Justin Timberlake-song in this blog, but the guy spiced it up to be a rock-version, so OK then. ;)
[Tip: Check out the scream at1.21]


This one was chosen for him by the jury for the finals. From what he told me, he was very sick that day and had to get shots and all kinds of shit to even be able to stand upright that day. If I hadn’t known that, I would never have guessed, not based on this interpretation of a song that’s so hard to cover (and get away with).


Vacation in Croatia, but still rockin’

Funny to be “back” to writing here again, got used to the Firewind-blog after all the gigs the past few weeks. It’s been hectic travelling from place to place – cause while the band can just pass out whenever they want on their tour bus and have their driver take them to the next venue, I have to take care of the logistics myself. :)
It’s a good thing I got such kicks from the shows, or else I have no idea how I would have survived that crazy lifestyle.

Right now I’ve had a chance to sleep – get LOTS of sleep here in Split, Croatia. For once, I’m NOT travelling to go to any gigs, I’m just having a vacation like normal people.
But I was just sent a video by a young, Croatian singer who I’ve been in touch with back and forth for about a year. That will be the theme of today’s blog. Maybe a bit unusual, but I’m on vacation, that IS unusual, for me. :)

There is a version of American Idol in every European country, and last year I was watching a few of the Croatian episodes when I was here to see my dad. I missed most of it, think I only had a chance to see maybe 3 or 4 episodes altogether. There were two “rockers” in the competition, but one of them stuck out more than the other.

First of all, his crazy NAME! If you think that people in Croatia normally go by names like “Vilibald” you’re wrong. Actually, the hostess asked his dad why they gave him such an unusual name and I think he answered that he and his wife couldn’t decide on a name for their son and so they just picked the name that was in the calendar the day he was born – and went for that. It just so happened to be Vilibald.

Pretty cool when you think about it – cause there’s NO way you’ll ever forget a name like that. Couldn’t be more rock’n’roll. :)
Secondly, the guy had one hell of a voice!! Holy shit, for such a tiny guy, there was a lot of voice and although he seemed very shy in the interviews, he came alive when it was time to rock the audience.

[A heartfelt version of Deep Purple´s “Soldier of Fortune”, one of my favorite songs ever]

I had to go back to Sweden before I knew how the contest ended – but I asked my dad to watch the last episode cause I wanted to know how the Vilibald-guy had done in the finals. Of course, he didn’t win. Rockers rarely do, usually when it comes to business and selling a new artist, they want something more mainstream to sell to an audience consisting of anything from old ladies to teenage girlies.
Maybe he would have done great with the girls, but maybe not so much with the older record-buying audience.

I don’t remember exactly how I got in touch with the guy, but I think I found his dad on Youtube or something, who in turn gave me the contact info to Vilibald and I’ve kind of followed his challenges on and off ever since.

Being an artist in Croatia is difficult to begin with, if you want to make it internationally, and even moreso if you want to ROCK. The guy wanted to record a real hard rock album but, of course, was not allowed to.
However, he sent me this video a few days ago, that he just completed and I guess it’s a good compromise. It’s a power ballad that works with a wide audience and is still rock. He didn’t sell his soul 100%. :-)

Of course, it had to be in Croatian, cause I assume it’s a record company requirement, but I thought I’d share the video with you guys eventhough you won’t understand a word of what he’s singing (just pretend it’s death metal, you never understand a word of any of that either, no matter what language it’s in…!).

So, it’s just interesting to follow a new, up and coming artist this way, and maybe with the new rules of the cyberworld we’re all part of, the guy might actually attract a bit of attention beyond the borders of Croatia. Seems to me like the world is getting smaller each day, who knows. Either way, I’m keeping my fingers crossed! :)

 [Vilibald hanging out with Tim Ripper Owens]