My year in rock 2015 – retrospect
2015 left the building a few hours ago (here in Sweden) and when I look back, the “slow year” I thought I had, because of the upcoming cruise that made it harder, financially, to travel all over the place – was in fact less boring than I felt it was. ;)
MARCH: The year started out with the GUS G tour he did in early March (with JEFF SCOTT SOTO as special guest) that I was doing PR for, so lots of work there but was nice to make myself useful as a professional this time.
The month before that, FEBRUARY, I also went to see his former bandmate APOLLO in Halmstad, Sweden, doing a cover gig with “TRIBUTE TO DIO” an all-star band. Great evening.
BRYAN ADAMS played at Forum in Copenhagen, an unforgettable experience and a last minute-decision to go.
Went for a short visit to Detroit to see my friends from MADAM X, hear some new music and also catch a gig with MICHAEL ANGELO BATIO at the Diesel.
APRIL: I didn’t stay away from Detroit that long, cause in April I was back there again – this time for the MADAM X gig with AUTOGRAPH and KOUGARAN, also at the Diesel. Great gig, great evening!
That same month – April – took me all the way to Sao Paulo, BRAZIL, for the MONSTERS OF ROCK festival. I went to see OZZY solo but ended up being absolutely floored by YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and UNISONIC!
Other bands that played were Judas Priest, Manowar, Primal Fear, Kiss, Motorhead (Lemmy cancelled, Sepultura filled in), Steel Panther, Rival Sons, Black Veil Brides and Accept.
MAY: After that gig in Brazil, in April – I had to see MORE, so I got on a plane to Bucharest, ROMANIA, to see the Maestro: YNGWIE MALMSTEEEN. Bucharest was a fantastic surprise, I loved that city and will go back as soon as I get a good reason. :)
JUNE was, as usual SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL-time and my personal highlight was meeting IAN HILL of JUDAS PRIEST for an interview after the press conference.
Right after Sweden Rock, literally the day after the festival ended, I got on a flight to the US again, this time to Florida to do a studio report with TSO (Trans-Siberian Orchestra): Met up with PAUL O’NEILL, JON OLIVA, AL PITRELLI, KAYLA REEVES and JEFF PLATE. Were there for two days with a non-stop busy schedule, but very very interesting and most of all, was glad to see The Mountain King again! :D
BILLY IDOL played in Varberg – HARDCORE SUPERSTAR opened on a great summer day, very cool outdoor venue.
JULY was a non-metal month, but cool gigs nevertheless. LADY GAGA with TONY BENNETT at Tivoli Gardens (amusement park) and ELTON JOHN same place, two days before.
AUGUST: ROB ZOMBIE, Vega, Copenhagen. I was supposed to see him again at a festival shortly thereafter but cancelled because one of my best friends was getting married. One of few good reasons to cancel plans of going to a show. :)
SEPTEMBER: GUS G came back to Scandinavia, this time with KOBRA AND THE LOTUS and KAMELOT in Copenhagen and Gothenburg. Kobra and the Lotus was a nice surprise, didn’t like them on record, but enjoyed the shows!
W.A.S.P with opening act DYNAZTY played in my home town Malmo later that month, met up with my friend Taz (lights for W.A.S.P), which is always a pleasure! :D
OCTOBER: No gigs. Ended up in the hospital for an emergency appendix surgery and was told to keep still for a few weeks. So I did. Kind of.
NOVEMBER: WHITESNAKE played in Denmark with openers DEAD DAISIES. The place was packed. Mostly remember the hassle with the backstage passes, those things can be a pain in the ass and never worth it.
Anyway – later in November, I took a little trip over to Detroit again to see the MADAM X boys and girls and listen to some new songs from the upcoming album in the studio.
Producer Kevin said I should go see the band POP EVIL and pulled some strings to get me in on the guest list – on the worst day of the year…! It was snowing like crazy that evening, but in the end it was a good choice, I liked the opening act KALEIDO better than the headliners, to be honest. :)
A friend, Maj-Louise, “kidnapped” me on a spontaneous trip to Gothenburg for a meet-and-greet with TOBIAS SAMMET of EDGUY & AVANTASIA, and listening party of the new Avantasia album. Also playing that night was HAMMERFALL.
And in DECEMBER, I had two busy weekends visiting Dublin and Birmingham for WHITESNAKE/DEF LEPPARD/BLACK STAR RIDERS. :D
So I’m not sure the year was a total disaster, it turned out pretty good after all. :)
YouTube is your friend, not your enemy
“We are against YouTube. We don’t like it.”
Those words were uttered by a musician a while ago, and if there had been more time, I would have loved to discuss that further.
Every successful business spends a lot of time and money on understanding their customers. A band or an artist is most definitely a business – and a tough one to be in too. You need to understand the mentality of your customers, i.e the fans.
Unfortunately, many artists seem to be stuck in the 80’s and the 80’s way of thinking. It’s 2013 – the minute you choose to get your ass up on a stage, you will end up on YouTube – if you’re lucky. Even back in the hayday of the glorious movie stars in the 50’s and 60’s they knew that ALL publicity was GOOD publicity.
You’ve got a crowd of a few hundred or a few thousand people with cellphones and built-in cams or little compact cameras with HD-video, in front of you. What’s the smartest thing to do? Thinking of it as a threat or using it to your own benefit? There is an old saying that goes – If you can’t beat them – Join them.
Every smart artist nowadays will do the latter. Even those who were initially against YouTube have now realized that it’s a powerful marketing-tool. If you’re not on YouTube – you simply don’t exist.
The more videos a band has on that thing, the more popular they will seem, because nobody’s gonna waste time and effort filming and sharing a boring, uninteresting band. It’s a compliment that someone has taken time from their concert-experience, to share it with others.
Cause unlike records, a live-experience can’t be copied. You can’t distribute and share the feeling and the buzz of being in a crowd, that true live-experience that people pay tons of money for. The ONE thing that artists today actually CAN make money from, if they know how to do it properly.
So, a fan-filmed YouTube-video should be looked at as a PR-video for the NEXT show a band is gonna do. I’ve had people commenting or e-mailing on my videos, saying that the show I filmed looked so awesome that they’ve decided to go see the band when they’re playing in their town.
Being the one uploading live-vids, I’m not making ANY benefit from it whatsoever. I’ve not made as much as a penny doing that. But the bands – as much as they may be bitching about it (some of them) HAVE.
Most of them are probably even totally unaware of the two or three extra people that bought a ticket to their next show, based on a live clip they saw on YouTube. But those three people may be the ones telling THEIR friends about the kickass band they saw last night! That’s the way it works.
Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P) has always been against cameras at his shows. But a few years ago, at a press-conference at Sweden Rock Festival, he had to admit that there’s no point trying to fight it. Instead, he had chosen to subscribe to the Grateful Dead-way of thinking.
Now THERE’s an interesting band to take a look at from a marketing point of view.
There is too much to say about how they’ve profited BIG TIME on allowing fans to participate in the live-experience of the band. I suggest you Google it, it’s pretty interesting actually.
Grateful Dead were early pioneers of “how to let fans have your music for free and still make a profit”. They even let fans plug right into their soundboards.
To learn more – go check this out: http://www.amazon.com/Marketing-Lessons-Grateful-Dead-Business/dp/0470900520
What are some of the marketing lessons that businesses can learn from The Grateful Dead?
Brian: The fundamental assumption in almost every band’s business model was that they were going to make their money on album sales. The Grateful Dead rejected that assumption. Their fundamental business model was based on making money from the concerts.
Because of that change, there was a cascade of decisions that fell from that. For instance, each concert was completely unique night-after-night, so there was a strong incentive to see them for several nights in a row – this ultimately led to fans following them around the country.
In addition, they allowed their fans to make tapes of the concerts and freely spread them to their fans – the more concerts they played, the more tapes there were, the more people were exposed to the music, the more people paid for concert tickets.
David: The Grateful Dead let their audience define the Grateful Dead experience. Concerts were a happening, a destination where all 20,000 or more audience members were actually part of the experience.
Making fans an equal partner in a mutual journey, the Grateful Dead teaches us that our community defines who we are. In an era of instant communications on Twitter, blogs and the like, we learn that companies cannot force a mindset on their customers.
Not that I’m a big fan of the Grateful Dead, but they definitely knew what they were doing.
Going back to the musician who was saying that he didn’t like YouTube because he had no control over what was being distributed and he couldn’t edit it and such… That’s all just an ego-thing. I understand it, I don’t like people taking pics of me where I look goddamn awful, uploading it to their Facebooks and Instagrams. I have no control over that either. It’s a pain in the ass. But I’m not an artist who has chosen to be looked at/listened to.
If the bands think of YouTube as a threat because they have no control, I don’t see why they don’t simply TAKE control?!
Unless they give people an ALTERNATIVE, people will go to the “unofficial” material, cause there’s nothing else to choose from.
Why not bring someone on tour who’s good at filming and editing – who they can “control” – open a YouTube-channel called XXX On Tour 2013 – watch it here! And put good quality videos up there regularly?
Maybe even take a small fee for letting people download these good quality clips each day? I for one would prefer that anytime, to the crappy iPhone-videos with horrible audio that people upload on YouTube.
I’m far from a pro, but I feel that the least I can do for a band and their fans, is to provide videos with decent audio. At least as decent as you can get with the size and type of cameras you’re allowed to use without getting into trouble with security.
GRASPOP festival did a great thing last year – filming every day, then uploading it within 24 hours – great quality, multi-cam footage! Who’s gonna want to watch something that’s not as good, when there’s the real deal?!
My point is – instead of being uncomfortable with the evolution in social media, USE it wisely and let it work for you. I don’t see the point bitching about something when you’re not providing an alternative.
Being in a band today means you’re up against tough competition. The more you’re seen and heard, the more likely that you’re going to survive – it’s ALL about keeping your name and reputation alive.
YouTube is a big part of that.
Message to bands: Be creative and proactive – YouTube is your friend, not your enemy! :)
It will be a quiet evening today. Things really happen very quickly in this fickle business…
An interview opportunity turned up only about a day ago and was supposed to take place here in Malmo this afternoon or evening.
The tour manager didn’t get back to me all day. But he finally explained why the whole thing fell through – in the last minute: The interviewee was sick and had to rest today, in order to perform scheduled duties tomorrow. An explanation and an apology is all I need. Everything OK, no prob.
Maybe sometimes it’s only a last minute excuse for something else, but that’s fine, as long as people don’t compromise my time.
Looking back, there have been a few interviews from hell. Artists that have only answered “yes” or “no” to everything, artists that got drunk, turned the interview into a circus, trashed the bar before passing out, artists who have flirted instead of doing their job, and well, a little bit of everything. ;P
Not only the artists, the people around them can be quite a pain in the ass too.
The first time I experienced it was back in 1990 when Alice Cooper was in Malmo and was staying at the SAS Royal Hotel. I had an interview scheduled and had booked a photographer as this was supposed to be a center spread. A professional photographer who charges by the hour. You don’t want to waste his time.
Alice’s assistant called me three or four times that day telling me that it WAS okay with the photo-session, then it wasn’t okay, then it was…and then it wasn’t.
I kept calling the photographer yes-no-yes-no... It was embarrassing and annoying. It all ended with this: I wasn’t allowed to bring a photographer, but was welcome to do the interview on my own.
Thank god I brought my own little simple camera – and then asked the assistant to take a pic of Alice and me. It wasn’t a good shot, but it’s the ONLY one from THAT particular meeting. I’ll never forget the drama though!
[Alice Cooper in his hotel room at SAS Radisson, 1990]
A similar thing happened with Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P) in the beginning of 2000 when W.A.S.P played in Malmo. My cellphone kept ringing off the hook that day. Blackie would do the interview. Blackie was not going to do the interview. Blackie WAS going to…. oh, geeez! The last thing I heard was that Blackie was fine with doing the interview and I was welcome to the venue at five o’clock or whatever it was, right after sound check.
I got there, set up my recorder, prepared my questions… I looked up, and in walks… Stet Howland (the drummer)!??
They sent STET to do the interview instead of Blackie – cause “the man” had decided to go and TAKE A NAP on the bus…. *sigh* Don’t get me wrong, Stet is a funny and a nice guy, but you want to know who you will be talking to BEFORE you get there.
Or Pete Steele – Type O Negative (RIP) he acted like a rock star diva at first. He did the interview alright, and it was a really good and interesting one by the way, but then he suddenly decided that he didn’t want to do the photo session. And the photographer was already on her way to the venue with all her studio equipment…!
But then, when she started taking pics of the other guys in the band, Pete got curious and walked over to check it out. He ended up getting so into it that it took hours before the photo session was done! Killer, killer photos! Wish I had a few of them….
Then there was Ville Valo, HIM-frontman. The first interview I did with him, he was great. Interesting conversation, very polite and all that… The SECOND time, maybe one or two years later, his attitude sucked..!
When I got there, Ville and the drummer were…not exactly sitting, more hanging, in their chairs looking bored before I had even as much as said hello. Oh, lovely… Didn’t matter what I asked, they just didn’t want to talk. Instead, they would give deliberately stupid answers or laugh at eachother’s jokes.
I was pissed off. We both have a job to do, why waste my time if they weren’t going to do theirs?! Got even worse when the photographer tried to take a pic of Ville. He had some beanie on his head that he had pulled so far down his face that his eyes barely showed.
She asked if he could remove it. His response was: “No!” So she asked if he could maybe lift it up slightly. He went: “No” then she asked if he could maybe look up a bit at least. He barely felt like doing that. She managed to take one – maybe two pics before he just got up and walked out of the room! WTF?!
Oh and by the way – I didn’t write a word about HIM after that. Total waste of time.
[Ville from the first interview, maybe a year earlier. Nice guy, good interview. Things can certainly change quickly]
Shortly thereafter, same venue – interview scheduled with German band Helloween. The guy I was about to interview was at the venue, but didn’t show until 2 hours too late. His excuse? He had to “take a shower”…. Must be the cleanest rock star in the business…
Mike Monroe – oh my god. This is a long story but the “worst” one yet. :) The photographer and I were working on a book project in collaboration with Sweden Rock Magazine many years ago, and Mike Monroe and Andy McCoy were to be featured in the book.
The photo session was supposed to take place at Savoy hotel – photographer had managed to negotiate an hour in a very old and cool part of this hotel’s restaurant, before they opened that day. When Mike didn’t show, I went to the hotel down the street to find out what was going on.
It didn’t take so long for Mike to come downstairs but…when he realized that there was a photo shoot involved (that was the most important part of the whole interview!) he disappeared back to his room, stating that in THAT case, he needed to fix his makeup.
It took FOREVER for him to get back and the clock was ticking… the location wouldn’t be available for much longer. Once he got there and did the shoot – he did a brilliant job I can’t say anything about that. He was an absolute pro in that respect. But then, before leaving, he climbed into an antique grandfather clock from the early 1800’s, causing us to get banned from the hotel because of it…
He and Andy wanted to eat “before the interivew” and asked if there was good Indian food somewhere nearby. There was only ONE, and a pretty expensive one, since it’s right in the tourist district… Neither me or the photographer had counted on anything like that, and we were both pretty much broke.
[Don’t take these guys to a restaurant if you’re short on cash…]
I ordered a soda. Mike and Andy (and Mike’s girlfriend) ordered starters, entrees, dessert, drinks –everything on the menu, well, not far from it. The table was FULL of plates and glasses. The interview? Well…. He said “ask whatever...” while eating, so it was an unusual scenario but he wasn’t really in the mood for an intrerview and I got some stupid or very short answers. Funny, cause I had spoken w. Mike the year before and THEN he had been really cool.
Anyway… Suddenly, Mike takes his napkin, wipes his mouth, gets up and says: “Thanks! Bye!”
Andy and the girlfriend followed him, left the restaurant…and left us with the bill! That bill was as long as my ARM! We didn’t have money for representation and this had not been in the plans at all.
The magazine, of course, didn’t want to pay for it, the record company said they had nothing to do with that and the management said they knew nothing about a restaurant visit. So, we emptied our pockets and used our credit cards to the last penny we had. And the interview hadn’t even been worth it….
Oh – and I’ve STILL got that receipt as a souvenir!
Interviews don’t always turn out as planned. But I guess that if they did, I wouldn’t have all this stuff to look back on – in the rearview mirror. ;)
I made it to W.A.S.P – 30 Years Of Thunder at HMV Forum in London!
W.A.S.P played in London, the same day that I arrived last night, and I had no idea…! This is what happened:
During my lunch break, I logged into my Facebook account and accidentally saw it – “30 Years of Thunder” so I clicked on it and realized that it was in London, and uuuuh, I was on my way there for the 50 Years of Marshall-thing.
I went to Ticketmaster to check times, tickets, prices…. Only to find out that the whole thing was sold out. What?! I haven’t heard of a sold out show in ages! But I decided to go to the venue anyway, there’s always someone outside selling tickets, I might get lucky.
Then, while I was killing time at the airport later that evening, I got a message from Jon Oliva’s former drum tech, who had noticed my status update: “Say hello to Chris from me!”
That’s when it hit me, I probably knew someone on this W.A.S.P-tour. Chris, I never thought of that. Last time I saw him he was out with Doro, but yes he was with W.A.S.P a few years ago too, now that someone mentioned it.
I didn’t have his contact info, so I thought it didn’t matter, if I managed to get into the show, I’d go and say hello to him, always good to see a familiar face!
And then – while I was standing in line to board the plane, it dawned on me that my friend “Mommypig”, Oliva’s former tour manager, knew Chris. So I texted her to ask if she knew how I could get in touch with him, because the W.A.S.P show was sold out and I was on my way over to London.
She said she’d see what she could do and get back to me. I received her last text seconds before takeoff when we had to switch off “all electronic equipment”! :)
By the time I landed in London, two hours later, there was a text when I switched on my phone again: “Guest list is confirmed for you. Have fun!”
I could have hugged the WORLD at that point, was so relieved and so happy!
So now, the race was on to make it to the show on time. Thank god for GOOGLE! I had printed directions so I raced through the airport, one of those “excuse-me-excuse me-excuse meee!”-sort of zig-zag walks and got on the Stansted Express within minutes, a combination of luck and determination.
After a train ride and two subway changes, and a walk, I finally got to the venue. All sweaty after the run, I checked in at the guest list booth. The girl smiled and said “Hello Daniela, yes you’re on the list, welcome!”
I MADE IT!!
The Beatles-song “With a Little Help From My Friends” came to mind. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the lucky circumstances and good friends. The place was PACKED and I mean….PACCCKKKEDDD!!!
I couldn’t see shit, I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know where the stage was, all I could see was PEOPLE and beers everywhere. I finally located the stage. I’m not kidding when I say that there was no spot a-n-y-w-h-e-r-e in there that didn’t have someone standing there, forget the usual “I’ll just squeeze my way through”. No way you could squeeze in anywhere.
I wanted to say hi to Chris but he saw me and shook his head, to let me know he had no chance in hell to communicate, it was nuts over at the merch as well.
Well, I don’t know if some high rock’n’roll forces like me or what, but I had ended up behind a bunch of really tall guys and suddenly they all left to go get more beer – and I found myself standing right behind the wheelchair section with a perfect view!! :)) And nobody pushing me. I heard angel choirs at that point – “hallelujah!”
And so the show began. Oh my GOD. W.A.S.P has always been a brilliant live-band. I’ve seen them many many times through the years and they always deliver, you can be sure of that. I don’t even care if Blackie is “helping things along” nowadays with pre-recorded vocals here and there, as long as it’s nicely done, I don’t care.
It was like a machine gun just shooting out all the hits that we love, one after another, framed by this really cool stage set, three big screens showing the classic videos in the background while the band was performing the songs live.
I was happy to hear one of my favorites, the old ballad from the first album “Sleeping In The Fire”.But you got all the other stuff too, I Wanna Be Somebody, Forever Free, The Idol, Blind In Texas, The Torture Never Stops, Hellion – whe whole razzamanazz! :))
The crowd was in ecstasy, the guy next to me was crying! During the short break, before “part two” of the show continued, he told a girl standing next to him that he had had a tough childhood and when he was 15 he heard “The Idol” which changed his whole life and he kept telling her that he owes W.A.S.P so much for turning his life into something positive with their music. Wow, that was amazing. And then you have religious nuts telling people that heavy metal kills. I would say that in more cases it saves.
Anyway, the show was packed with explosive energy where all you remember is Blackie’s intense, piercing look and Duda’s bass-pirouettes – accompanied by Mike Dupke’s KILLER drums and the cool riffs from Doug and his blinking and spinning special guitars. But then they went onto the more dark and gloomy side of W.A.S.P where you had to watch and listen to political and religious messages and watch really depressing videos on the screens (from the crimson idol story). I don’t know, it totally killed the mood.
People even started leaving. I can see why Blackie doesn’t want to live in the past and I understand that he wants to show where he’s at now as a person and an artist, but on a Friday night in London, in a packed arena, it might not be the most perfect time or place for that. People wanted classic W.A.S.P, not be reminded of the shitty reality of things. Music to many people, including me, is escapism. You just want a bit of fun during the one or two hours that you spend in a sweaty crowd.
Anyway, after maybe 20 minutes of gloom (good music, intelligent thought behind it all, don’t get me wrong, it just simply didn’t fit into the party-setting) they finally turned the heat back on.
When W.A.S.P is good – they aren’t just good, they are… outstanding. Kicks everybody’s ass.
I’m so glad I heard about this gig in the last minute, I guess that piece of crap Facebook-thing can be good for something sometimes. :)
I waited till the place had cleared, to say hi to Chris. He was totally drained. “This is only the beginning, we don’t get off the road until December…!” I could tell that it was good business but also VERY demanding.
Was good to see him, I left HMV Forum to grab a cab back to my hotel at Wembley. Today it’s GUITAR HERO TIME!
It’s almost unreal, I can’t believe that I’ll get to see Yngwie AND Paul Gilbert, two of my absolute favorites, on the same stage, the same evening! A moment in music history, for sure!
Stick around for more!
(took a few simple phone pics last night but this piece of shit hotel Wi-Fi doesn’t allow any uploads so…. later!)
You don’t have to be stupid to rock!
Rockers have often been brushed off as stupid airheads with nothing in their heads but chicks and parties. You know – bad vocabulary, bad choices, not much to contribute with. Kind of like these guys:
But after almost 25 years in the business, interviewing more bands and artists than I can even remember, it hit me that I’ve rarely thought of anyone as “stupid”. Some have formal educations, some are street smart, and some are just naturally intelligent. You don’t always have to be a rocket scientist to be smart. Very few have been total airheads actually.
Then I started digging into it. You’d be surprised how many rockers you’ll find that have fancy titles and impressive degrees to brag with.
Brian May (Queen) for instance… PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College in London. He began working on it 30 years prior to completing it in 2007, but got sidetracked when Queen hit the big-time. Apparently its never too late to finish what you started…!
Offspring’s Dexter Holland: He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology, both from the University of Southern California.