Thursday, June 30, 2005

Ray LaMontagne announces US Summer Tour

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Ray LaMontagne, whose debut album garnered a five star review on and has sold nearly 150,000 copies since its release, has just announced a lengthy U.S. summer tour. Kicking off on July 1st with a show at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA, the 28-date tour culminates on August 17th at Atlanta, Georgia's Roxy Theatre.

Less than a year ago he was playing solo acoustic at Los Angeles' tiny Hotel Café (capacity 100). This time around Ray is set to play L.A.'s Wiltern Theatre (capacity 2300) with a bassist, drummer and string section in tow. Venue sizes have grown all over the country as the singer galvanizes throngs of new fans.

The LA Weekly said that "LaMontagne hits the guitar strings, and all at once music roars out with blowtorch ferocity, as if the mere act of singing is his last best hope of staying alive."

The touring arena is not the only one where Ray has a solid foothold. His single, "Forever My Friend" is at 20 Bullet on the AAA radio charts.

Ray will be joined on many dates by labelmate Rachel Yamagata and will be opening for Dave Matthews Band on several, including a July 30/31 stint at New York City's Randall's Island.


7/1 Northampton, MA Calvin Theatre
7/2 South Burlington, VT Higher Ground
7/6 Seattle, WA Moore Theatre
7/7 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
7/10 Boulder, CO Fillmore Auditorium
7/11 Denver, CO Club Sound
7/12 Salt Lake City, UT Historic Mountain Winery
7/14 Saratoga, CA Historic Mountain Winery
7/15 San Francisco, CA The Warfield
7/16 San Diego, CA House Of Blues
7/18 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern LG
7/19 Tempe, AZ Marquee Theatre
7/21 Dallas, TX Gypsy Tea Room
7/22 Austin, TX La Zona Rosa
7/24 New Orleans, LA House Of Blues
7/26 Louisville, KY Headliners

Appearing with Dave Matthews Band

7/27 Darien Center, NY Darien Lake Six Flags


7/28 Toronto, ON Mod Club (headlining)

Appearing with Dave Matthews Band

7/30 New York, NY Randalls Island
7/31 New York, NY Randalls Island

Newport Folk Festival

8/6 Newport, RI Fort Adams State Park

Headlining Tour

8/7 Portland, ME State Theatre
8/9 Hampton Beach, NH Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
8/11 Philadelphia, PA Merriam Theatre
8/12 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
8/14 Cleveland, OH Odeon Concert Club
8/16 Nashville, TN The Warehouse
8/17 Atlanta, GA Coca Cola Roxy Theatre

Fresh off Grokster win, RIAA files more lawsuits

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), on behalf of the major record companies, today announced a new wave of copyright infringement lawsuits against 784 illegal file sharers.

The "John Doe" suits filed today cite the individuals for illegally distributing copyrighted music on the Internet via unauthorized peer-to-peer services such as KaZaa, LimeWire and Grokster. The litigations were filed in federal district courts across the country, including in: California, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, DC.

"On Monday, the Supreme Court provided a real shot in the arm to legitimate online music services and unanimously injected moral clarity into this debate," said Mitch Bainwol, Chairman and CEO of the RIAA. "If there was any doubt left, there should now be none – individuals who download music without permission are breaking the law. Our efforts to defend the rights of record labels, musicians, songwriters and others in the music community from theft will certainly continue and likely be strengthened in the weeks and months ahead."

As a member of Music United – a broad coalition composed of virtually every component of the recording industry and music community – the RIAA also applauds the coalition's launch of multiple educational initiatives, including a worldwide campaign with Childnet International to help parents understand how to keep their children safe and legal when downloading music on the Internet. A new parental pamphlet, "Young People, Music and the Internet – a guide for parents about P2P, file-sharing and downloading," will be distributed across the globe in the coming months and on websites including Childnet International is leading the campaign, with various partners in 18 countries.

In addition, Music United today launched an advertisement campaign that highlights the harmful effects of illegal downloading on the music industry. The "Feed a Musician, Download Legally" ads will appear on outdoor poster space in 11 major cities, where they can be seen in areas such as metro stops and the sides of buildings undergoing renovations.

"Against a clear backdrop of what is right and what is wrong – what is legal and what is illegal – it is as important now as ever to encourage our fans do the right thing," said Cary Sherman, President of the RIAA. "Ideally, this is a message that will resonate broadly with millions of fans all across the country – and one that parents will take up personally in conversations with their kids."

U2 Live at Croke Park (Dublin, Ireland) 6/25/05: Unforgettable

-review by Rob Dunne, Special to

I have seen U2 play live many, many times. Last weekend in Dublin, I saw the best U2 performance I have ever been at.

The excitement in the city on Saturday evening was palpable. Thousands of people made their way to the venue, beers in hand, Stetsons on head (the scalpers made a killing with those 'Bono' hats). The crowd was literally from all over the World - Aussies were racing pints with the Irish, Asians were watching the Aussies and the Irish race pints and Americans were recounting all the U2 gigs they had been to already in the US. The inimitable Dublin banter was flying back and forth as we closed in on Croke Park - a World-class stadium that holds about 85,000.

Just before 9:00 p.m., the four members of U2 sauntered on stage almost modestly acknowledging the crowd. Their understated entrance was countered by a frenzied reaction from the crowd as the boys took their places. It was still daylight in Dublin when U2 launched into Vertigo. Amazing ! I have never felt energy like it at a gig. As soon as the show kicked off, I knew it was going to be something very special.

U2 played Out of Control, a rarity so far on this tour, and then reverted to the tour play-list - Electric Co., Elevation (great stripped down version), New Year's Day and Beautiful Day. Then, we were treated to the first true highlight of the show - Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. This is U2 at their finest. And when the crowd started singing that one-line chorus at the end, the only thing that could quell the gospel chanting was The Edge's guitar on All I Want Is You. At this point, I was nervous that the show was peaking too soon. How could U2 sustain it ?

As the crowd bellowed "All I want is Yooooouuuuuuu!" and the sun finally went down, U2 turned on the lights. The video curtain beamed out across 'Croker' as U2 started City of Blinding Lights. The band and Croke Park had become one.

From the new album, the highlights in the show were Bono's emotional tribute to his father with Sometimes You Can't make it On Your Own and the thumping rendition of Love and Peace Or Else - Larry's hesitant (all the girls thought he was "sooooo cute") moment in the spotlight. There was a perfect segue between Love and Peace and Sunday Bloody Sunday, another highlight. Bono was in full soapbox mode as he wiped those tears away and ripped through Bullet the Blue Sky and Pride.

But for me, the two standout moments during this part of the show were Running to Stand Still - simple and beautiful - and Where The Streets Have No Name - the crowd went nuts during that song ! (even Bono said "that was incredible" afterwards).

They finished the show with One which has secured itself as a U2 classic and Bono used the altruistic platform to promote all things good for mankind (you have to give him some latitude after that performance). U2 left the stage.

We caught our breath and then the Encore....

U2 transported us back to Zoo TV and the crowd were back in a frenzy. The opening rift of Zoo Station accompanied Bono as he marched down the walkway like some sort of rock n' roll nazi. After The Fly and Mysterious Ways, Bono decided to have some fun with the crowd. He brought a guy up on stage - Matt from Canada, as I remember it - and let him play guitar on Party Girl. Then it was back to pure U2 with All Because of You (superb live version).

Finally, U2 brought the show to an end. They played an absolutely beautiful version of Yahweh - in my opinion, not a standout track from the album, but live and stripped down, it sounds like a Bob Marley ballad. Bono's aching voice flowed over Croke Park and as he begged God to "keep this city safe," the crowd cold only beg for more.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Songs From the Unknown by Orange Park

Reviewed by Barry Lyons

Consider a unique musical oddity of the current global marketplace: a band with roots in Florida decides to head north, settles in the New York area, starts building a reputation that yields an extensive news article in the New York Times, and the band becomes big - in Japan. Yes, you read that right. Not long ago Orange Park (the brothers Justin and Jeff Moore, cousin Jaye Moore and Chris Harvey) had the good fortune to be featured in a Japanese documentary TV series called New York Streets. Now, if Orange Park mania hasn't broken out (yet) in Japan, it has been noted elsewhere that "music fans from Tokyo to Kagoshima [have labeled] Orange Park as the 21st Century Beatles." That's quite a statement. Now that their full-length debut, Songs From the Unknown, which was initially released in Japan late last year, has now just been released in the States, what's the verdict? Easy. Barring any other late-year contenders, Songs From the Unknown wins the top prize in this year's power pop sweepstakes.

Imagine Beatles-inspired tunes channeled through the raucous but poppier side of Cheap Trick. That's pretty much what you get here. "Make Up Your Mind," the hook-filled opener that opens the CD, has a classic guitar riff and a catchy chorus that would make Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander drool. While Orange Park never lets you forget their primary influences, other influences abound. Is that a subtle Cars influence I hear in "Sorry" with its subtle use of synthesizer and its brief off-beat drum part? And then there's the intriguing "Miles Away," which, while keeping to the pop/punk genre, has a sudden great blast of chaos and distortion toward the end that suggests a lost song by Longwave.

Orange Park has this penchant for knocking out joyous, upbeat rockers that would make any aspiring power popster green with envy, yet the band reveals another side with their two mid-tempo and acoustic-flavored songs. Justin Moore has spoken elsewhere of a strong John Lennon influence on the band, yet "Unknown," with its pensive lyrics ("Bitter thoughts are always wasted, nothing here is for surs") and wistful melody, has a beautiful McCartney-like melancholy and sensibility not unlike "Things We Said Today." Likewise for "Times Slips Away" ("All I wanted from you slips away"), a nearly all-acoustic song with some gorgeous George Harrison-like counterpoint playing that closes the CD. Which reminds me: a few years ago, when Orange Park's rabid fans around the NewYork/New Jersey area could only make do with The Extended Play EP that had been making the rounds and giving them good notoriety, the band did an acoustic set at CBGB Gallery in downtown New York City. With virtually everything unplugged, the band highlighted their ability to sing tight, close harmonies and put their Beatles-inspired melodies on full, unadorned display. For Earvolution readers who live in the New York area, "Times Slips Away and "Unknown" will give Orange Park fans an excellent idea of what they missed that night.

But, never mind my minor quibble about the dearth of acoustic guitars on this CD. In fact, I'm not even close to complaining because I can't make my enthusiasm any plainer: Songs From The Unknown is one of the best records of 2005 - or 2004, if last year you happened to be living on the other side of the planet.

Nike apologizes for ad campaign artwork "similarity" to Minor Threat album cover

by Morgan Clendaniel

The similarity between the cover art of Minor Threat's 1984 album and the ad campaign of Nike's "Major Threat" skateboarding tour (which you, once again, can compare here) seems to have struck a chord with someone in Nike's legal department, because the company has apologized and attempted to pull every single ad featuring the image.

Yesterday, Minor Threat front man Ian MacKaye told that it was:

"disheartening to us to think that Nike may be successful in using this imagery to fool kids, just beginning to become familiar with skate culture, underground music and D.I.Y. ideals, into thinking that the general ethos of this label, and Minor Threat in particular, can somehow be linked to Nike's mission."

MacKaye didn't need to add that none of Minor Threat's music was made in alleged sweatshops.

Today, Nike fell on its own sword, accepting full responsibility for the similarities. Removing all blame from legendary Nike ad agency Wieden and Kennedy, Nike stated that the ad was both entirely their responsibility and, for those who had yet to figure this out: "a poor judgment call." Neither Minor Threat nor their label, Dischord Records, have commented since the release of the apology.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Pre-Grokster, FTC Urged Government to Take Steps to Ensure that Consumers Get the Many Benefits of P2P File-Sharing

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing technology offers significant benefits but also poses risks to consumers who use it, according to a Federal Trade Commission staff report issued last week prior to yesterday's landmark Metro-Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) Studios v. Grokster, Ltd. ruling. The staff report, "Peer-to-Peer File-Sharing Technology: Consumer Protection and Competition Issues," analyzes the consumer protection, competition, and intellectual property issues that were discussed at the FTC's December 2004 workshop on P2P file sharing. The report recommends that industry and government take steps so that consumers receive the many benefits from this technology while avoiding the risks that it creates.

P2P technology enables computer users to share communications, processing power, and data files with other users. Use of P2P technology can yield significant benefits, such as enhancing efficiency by allowing faster file transfers, conserving bandwidth, and reducing storage needs. Businesses, government agencies, academic institutions, and others use P2P applications for a variety of tasks. However, the most common application by far is commercial file-sharing software programs used by consumers to exchange files, such as music and movie files, with others; information presented in the FTC's report indicates that tens of millions of individuals have used a P2P file-sharing program.

The FTC's P2P workshop was held on December 15-16, 2004, and included seven panels, featuring representatives from the P2P file-sharing software industry, the entertainment industry, hi-tech research firms, government agencies, academic institutions, and consumer groups. The Commission also received 51 public comments concerning a variety of issues related to P2P file sharing.

The FTC staff's report states that the workshop provided "valuable insight." It concludes that P2P technology continues to evolve in response to market and legal forces. Consumers face risks when using commercial P2P file-sharing software programs, including risks related to data security, spyware and adware, viruses, copyright infringement, and unwanted pornography. There was little empirical evidence submitted in connection with the workshop, however, addressing whether these risks are greater with P2P file-sharing programs than with other Internet-related activities such as surfing websites, downloading software, and using e-mail or instant messaging.

The report makes recommendations concerning what industry and government should do to decrease the risks associated with the use of P2P file-sharing programs. Industry should engage in technological innovation and development, industry self-regulation (including risk disclosures), and consumer education. Government should investigate and bring law enforcement actions when warranted, work with industry to encourage self-regulation, and educate consumers about the risks associated with using P2P file-sharing software.

The report also presents the competition and intellectual property issues that were discussed at the workshop. The FTC staff report generally concludes that policymakers should balance the protection of intellectual property and the freedom to advance new technologies, thereby encouraging the creation of new artistic works as well as economic growth and enhanced business efficiency. The report concluded that it would not be prudent at this time to make specific recommendations for policymakers about the intellectual property issues that P2P file sharing raises, because the Grokster decision was due to come out. No word if such recommendations will be forthcoming now that the decision has been released.

One thing is clear: legal and authorized P2P systems will not be disturbed by this ruling. Thus, smaller artists without big label promotional spending dollars will still have a chance to take advantage of the distribution potential that the internet and P2P systems can provide when properly utilized.

Monday, June 27, 2005

John Dunbar: The Moment You've Not Been Waiting For

(Heartpunch Records)
Reviewed by Barry Lyons

Virtually any songwriter or group with allegiances firmly rooted in '60s Brit pop is going to put up stakes in particular camps. If it's a garage sound you're after, you can't avoid the influence of the early Rolling Stones. If you've got a slightly poppier sound but with slashing guitars as your ideal, you turn to the mid-period albums by the Who (and, perhaps, to the first major band in their debt, the Jam). And if you're an exponent of the intimately carved tale, you might turn to the "Penny Lane"/"Lovely Rita" side of Paul McCartney's work with the Beatles, but you'll probably own an even greater debt to the Kinks. This is where New York-based singer-songwriter John Dunbar comes in.

Dunbar has been kicking around in various guises since the 1990s. He headed up a band called A Confederacy of Dunces, which released two albums. Since that band's break-up, he has released two solo discs, one album by a short-lived band called IFFY, as well as one CD he called the Konks, his Kinks-inspired response to the Rutles. Dunbar now returns with his third solo recording, The Moment You've Not Been Waiting For, a not-quite-successful collection of songs that primarily calls to mind his songwriting hero, Ray Davies, that are delivered in a voice that sounds like a cross between Chris Difford and Michael Penn.

Dunbar has a great knack for employing irony and setting downcast lyrics of woe and regret against a jaunty, buoyant sound. For example, the opening song, the infectious, acoustic-driven "An Afterthought," has "She learned a lesson you'd rather not be taught/How to become an afterthought" that is at odds with the music's upbeat sensibility. "The Arms of a Woman," with its "Sunny Afternoon"-like rhythm, also shows off Dunbar's penchant for crafting witty Ray Davies-ish lyrics ("Nobody knows he's a filled with keen bon mots/Because he's a built much like a young Don Knots") set to a scampering music-hall beat.

Although Dunbar has great instincts as a producer and arranger, he would be better served if he had someone else at the helm. Part of the problem here is that Dunbar plays all the instruments, and while he's certainly proficient as a multi-instrumentalist, his performances don't quite have that requisite snap and crackle that only a seasoned band can bring. A greater problem, though, is the rather congested sound of the production, with some of the instruments sounding buried in the mix. For example, the aforementioned "The Arms of a Woman" has an old-time piano sound that, if it had a brighter, "up front" sound to it, would have made the song even jauntier than it is. Dunbar also likes to employ occasional quasi-psychedelic textures to the background of some of his songs, but if he were to double-check "Tomorrow Never Knows" by the Beatles, he would discover that it is possible to employ such a sound without losing any focus or clarity.

All told, The Moment You've Not Been Waiting For suffers a bit from a vague sense that many of these songs didn't quite get past the demo stage, problems that would have been rectified by a full band and a producer other than himself. In "These Days Have Been Going on For Years," the narrator (Dunbar?) muses that "these days I'm feeling I should change careers." No, he should keep to the one he has. Dunbar is a gifted lyricist and he has a quirky way with melodies, but to these ears - and it is the arrangements and production that I have in mind here -this CD comes off as a decent collection of songs that, if Mitchell Froom had shepherded into fruition, would have resulted in a solid and very fine pop album.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Foo Fighters In Your Honor Garners Biggest Debut Sales of Band's Career

If you see Dave Grohl smiling a lot these days its because he has lots of reasons to be happy. His band's fifth album, the 2-disc In Your Honor has racked up the biggest sales week of their career, entering the Top 200 albums at #2 and selling over 310,000 according to Nielsen SoundScan. In addition their current single 'Best of You' is #1 on the Media Base Rock Chart and has jumped from 18 to 8 on the Digital Tracks Chart. In Your Honor's first week sales more than doubling those of the band's previous album, One By One. The Foos are doing well internationally with #1 albums this week in Australia, New Zealand & Sweden and #2 albums in the UK, Norway & Ireland.

Foo Fighters return to the road this month, kicking off their European tour June 29 in Moscow. They will return to the States for a U.S. tour in September.

TV & Radio Lose Out To Internet Among Youth Audience

15-24 year olds across Europe are spending less time watching TV and listening to the radio as a result of using the Internet, according to research from the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA), the pan-European trade organization for sellers of interactive media. Almost half of 15-24 year olds (46%) are watching less TV, preferring instead to browse the web while 22% are listening to less radio. A third of those questioned are even reading less, choosing to consume information over the Internet.

Activities done less as a result of using the Internet:
Watching TV 46%
Talking on the phone 34%
Reading newspapers 33%
Reading books 32%
Listening to the radio 22%

Across Europe, this key target audience is spending almost a quarter of their media time (24%) online, more than reading newspapers (10%) or magazines (8%). In comparison, the average European devotes 20% of their media activity to the Internet. Among 15-24 year olds, TV continues to represent the largest share of media time at 31% with radio just ahead of the Internet on 27%.

Music to your ears
Music dominates online activity for this age group with the Internet providing a cheaper and more convenient means of purchasing and downloading tracks. A quarter of 15-24 year olds are now buying music online having previously purchased it in the shops. Almost half of those questioned (47%) would be prepared to pay for music download services, while 52% of youths listen to music online now instead of elsewhere.

Game on
Gaming is also a popular online activity for the youth market. 25% of 15-24 year olds would be prepared to pay for online gaming services. 40% had visited a games website within the past 7 days, while 17% had purchased a computer game online.

Online Chat
The EIAA research also reveals the extent to which youths are using the Internet to communicate with friends, with 58% preferring to chat to friends over the Internet. Meanwhile, over a third admit to talking less on the phone now that they are online while 26% send less text messages.

"The 15-24 age group is the holy grail for most advertisers and the EIAA research conclusively demonstrates the extent to which the internet now represents an essential media for this audience, increasingly replacing other media including TV and radio," said Michael Kleindl, Chairman of the EIAA and CEO of Mailprofiler Technology Solutions AG. "If advertisers are to reach this key audience effectively, the proportion of online as part of total ad spend will have to rise significantly."

Friday, June 24, 2005

Four Fans Stabbed at Corrosion of Conformity Concert in Tampa

Violence erupting from a crowded mosh pit at a Corrosion of Conformity concert at Tampa's Masquerade club last night left four fans stabbed. The concert was a stop on the Stonebreakers and Hellraisers Tour featuring COC, Crowbar, Alabama Thunderpussy and Suplecs.

According to a Tampa police spokesperson, one of the victims was pronounced dead early this morning, June 24, at Tampa General Hospital from repeated stab wounds to the chest and upper body. One of the other victims, a female in her early 20s, suffers from stab wounds to her chest and abdomen and remains in critical condition. Unconfirmed reports indicate that she was the wife of the deceased victim. The two other victims were both males; one was treated at the scene and other remains in hospital care and is in stable condition.

Witnesses say that the stabbing occurred at about 11:30 p.m. shortly after a fight erupted between two females in the mosh pit. The fight apparently escalated quickly and absorbed other members of the crowd, including the assailant. The assailant waved a large knife at the concert-goers who attempted to intervene. The suspect managed to flee the scene before police arrived.

The suspect is described as a white male in his late 20s to early 30s, with a shaved head and reddish-brown goatee and moustache. He was reportedly wearing a white tank top.

Homicide detectives with the Tampa Police Department are asking witnesses and other individuals with any information about the incident to come forward. If you have any information, please contact the Tampa Police at 813-276-3200.

Corrosion of Conformity issued the following statement on their website:
We are stunned and deeply saddened by the brutal stabbings of three people at the Tampa show last night. We don't have much information at this time. Unofficially we have heard that one victim didn't make it. In twenty plus years of gigging we've never seen anything like this. It's sad that people can't come together for a good time listening to music without something tragic happening. We feel for the families of those attacked and wish success to Tampa law enforcement in their quest to solve this pointless crime. Take care of each other and go in peace.
We at are also deeply saddened by last night's events. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I interviewed members of Corrosion of Conformity and Alabama Thunderpussy at their show in Towson, MD. From my vantage point backstage, I could tell that these bands truly love what they are doing and thoroughly enjoyed playing together. I hate that such a senseless act of violence may affect the spirit of this tour. Band members and fans should not have to worry about violence in music venues, but unfortunately that has become a reality.

Line Up for Seventh Voodoo Music Experience Announced

This year's Voodoo Music Experience is quickly taking shape as one of the most entertaining festivals of the year. The festival will be held on October 29-30, in New Orleans. Passes for the event go on sale July 8. Weekend passes are $50 plus applicable fees, camping wristbands are $35 and RV passes are $50. That means you could spend Halloween weekend in New Orleans and catch performances from a bunch of great bands for less than $100. Sounds like a bargain.

The preliminary line up includes: Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, The Flaming Lips, Billy Idol, Social Distortion, Ryan Adams, the New York Dolls, My Chemical Romance, The Bravery, Digable Planets, Louis XIV, LCD Soundsystem, The Decemberists, and many others listed here.

Dischord Claims Nike Stole Minor Threat Artwork

Multi-billion dollar sportswear company, Nike, just rolled out an ad campaign for its Major Threat skateboarding tour. Pitchfork points out the striking similarities between the Major Threat tour's artwork and the cover art of Minor Threat's self-titled 1984 compilation. To decide for yourself whether Nike ripped off the legendary punk rock band and their label, check out the artwork in question here.

The copyright to Minor Threat's cover artwork belongs to DC based Dischord Records. When asked whether Nike had obtained permission to use the artwork, a Dischord representative told Pitchfork:

No, they stole it and we're not happy about it. Nike is a giant corporation which is attempting to manipulate the alternative skate culture to create an even wider demand for their already ubiquitous brand. Nike represents just about the antithesis of what Dischord stands for and it makes me sick to my stomach to think they are using this explicit imagery to fool kids into thinking that the general ethos of this label, and Minor Threat in particular, can somehow be linked to Nike's mission. It's disgusting. sought the opinion of Editor and lawyer, Jordan Baker in this matter. Baker said the following:

Among the intellectual property rights that are at issue I think it's very clear that Nike has made a derivative work out of Minor Threat's copyright in its cover art. Nike might argue that this is a parody, but I fail to see what kind of social commentary Nike is trying to make in its graphic in relation to the original Minor Threat art, and generally parody is no defense for this kind of commercial appropriation.

An Interview with Missy Higgins

Missy Higgins, who hails from Melbourne, Australia, released her debut, The Sound of White, in her native country last fall and earlier this month in the U.S. Now, in my accompanying review for Earvolution that was published several days ago, I gave The Sound of White three-and-a-half stars. That’s hardly a shabby rating. But within a week's time, and after giving her CD many more listens, I have changed my mind: I'm now going to give it four stars. Unfortunately, upper management at Earvolution has duly informed me that, owing to the technological eccentricities related to revising articles and reviews that are simultaneously and irretrievably sent out elsewhere into the world (apparently we are still living in the Stone Age of Internet news feeds — through no fault of Earvolution of course), the original rating coinciding with last week's review will have to remain.

So permit me to revise my position by way of words, not stars. To recap: last week, when I was a cement head, I mistakenly thought that The Sound of White was very good. This week, now that I'm a week older and that much wiser, I now think — no, insist — that The Sound of White is great, possibly bordering on tremendous. And so with that mea culpa out of the way, let's go to the interview. Missy Higgins spoke to me from Woodstock, New York, one night before her terrific performance at the Mercury Lounge in downtown New York City.

Given that you're probably a new name to most Americans, let me start with an obvious first question. Who do you see as your predominant influences long before you started writing songs?

I don't think I have predominant influences really but I did listen to a lot of jazz in my early teens.

Yes, I was going to ask you about that. I hear a lot of jazz inflections in your music.

My brother is seven years older than me, and when I was 13 he was in jazz band. When he heard me sing he got me to sing in his band with him on the weekends. So he got me into all sorts of people like Billie Holiday, Natalie Cole, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Sara Vaughan. So I really got into all the classics. And when I was in high school I studied jazz.

I recently saw an interesting interview with Aimee Mann where she talked about influences such as Rod Stewart and Neil Young, people I don't normally associate with her music. So it's interesting that you mention people that I get wisps of but don't necessarily seem to be strong influences.

I think I get wisps of inspiration from many people. Definitely with certain songs of mine I can hear a bit of Aimee Mann or Sarah McLachlan or I can hear the Fiona Apple influence. I can hear the Gillian Welch influence. I also listen to people like Radiohead and the Doves.

You're all over the map!

Exactly. I listen to several styles of music.

Any Beethoven in there?

No, but my Dad was always playing classical piano in the house.

I love your lyrics. I love that word "scrupulous." When I saw the lyric sheet I thought, let's see what she does with this, and it was great. I'm going to assume that with your love of poetry you must be a voracious reader as well. Am I right?

I go in and out of phases. Usually when I'm in a relationship I don’t read much because I'm usually more occupied when I'm involved with someone.

I think that applies to all of us. But do you have any favorite books?

"Perfume" by Patrick Suskind. And then there's "The Godfather." Ben Elton is another one. "Dead Famous" is one of my favorites.

I like that many of your songs seem less about standard love songs and more about searching for emotional intimacy. On a related point, in one of your other interviews you talked about looking for the meaning of life when you were about 12. You implied that not many kids are that introspective at the age. Where do you suppose such introspection came for you?

I had a lot of insecurities as a child. I know that most people go in and out of such phases, but for me I had a lot of dark stages when I was young. And not for any logical reason I can think of because I had one of the happiest upbringings you could have. My family is so happy, stable and secure.

Sometimes such insecurities can be great for an artist.

Yeah, another theme that runs through my songs is this a feeling of a kind of detachment, which has been a theme throughout my life. It's also like you said a yearning for a sense of emotional intimacy and an awareness of real emptiness and loss.

You mentioned that words generally come to you first and that the music comes second. But do you find, now that you've done your first record, that music comes first or is it always a mixture?

It's always a mixture actually. I usually write songs by playing my instrument alone and sometimes words pop into my head and then the song grows from there.

When you work on your songs, do you arrive at the studio with ideas for arrangements or is it a case of ideas being knocked around in the studio?

The thing is, when I went into the studio, I had never played any of my songs with a band before. I had always been a solo artist. So I went into the studio not having a clue as to what the instrumentation might be like. So I got into the studio with some really great studio musicians and we just played through the songs with everyone just feeling their own way through them. I wanted this to be an organic experience. I didn't want to tell people what to do. I've learned a lot about what I do want instrumentally on my songs, and I've been playing with a band ever since I've recorded the album. For the next album I'm going to have more ideas about what I will want for my songs.

In an earlier interview you talked about how some musicians can burn out easily. Do you find that these people might be overwhelmed by the music business or that they may not be prolific writers and can't keep up with the demand by labels?

I think for most of them it's probably mismanagement. I think a manager has a lot to do with how an artist is presented and marketed. Sometimes a record company pastes an image on people and skews them in a certain direction, and then puts them in every possible thing they could be in, Pepsi ads and things like that. It's just inevitable that the artist is going to lose touch of the reality of why they started writing music in the first place and why they became a musician and that’s because they loved it. I just think the best thing is to have the people who are around you, the record company and the management, to have faith in you as an artist and work with you rather than to steer you in their direction.

You seem to have an idea of where you would like to see your career go. Elsewhere you've spoken of wanting to look back 20 years from now at a great and satisfying career. Do you look on at people like Joni Mitchell or Bonnie Raitt and see them as people to emulate in terms of having a long and thriving career?

I really respect people like them who haven't jeopardized the little girl inside them or their dignity. They seemed to have gone their own way.

And they have navigated the shoals of the industry.

Exactly. It's so easy to follow because everyone around you is telling you that they know more about the industry than you do. So yeah, I've always respected people who never put their integrity on the line.

So I guess we won't be seeing a Pepsi commercial from you anytime soon.

[Laughs] I doubt it.

(images from

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill Acoustic" Sets Record Single-Week CD Sales At Starbucks

Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill Acoustic studio album has debuted with the biggest single-week CD sales in Starbucks history (not that they've been selling records that long!). Released Monday, June 13, 2005 - marking the ten-year anniversary date of the original release of her 30+ million selling Jagged Little Pill - the album has sold more than 61,000 copies in its first seven days of exclusive availability at Starbucks.

In a unique agreement between Starbucks Hear Music and Maverick Records, the album is being sold exclusively in Starbucks Company-operated stores in the United States and Canada throughout the six weeks of the "Jagged Little Pill Acoustic Tour." After the tour concludes, the album will also be sold at traditional retail outlets, starting July 26.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Aerosmith Guitarist Joe Perry Ready To Rock Fancy NYC Food Show With Signature Hot Sauces

Perry - whose new solo album, Joe Perry, is in stores now - will join the rest of the Rock Your World crew in attendance at the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade's (NASFT) Fancy Foods Show July 10-12 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. Both Joe's signature sauces - "Rock Your World Boneyard Brew" and "Rock Your World Mango-Peach Tango" hot sauce - are being considered for food awards, which will be announced at the show.

A longtime fan of spicy food, Perry grew tired of concocting his own sauce by blending different commercial hot sauces to create the right balance of flavor and heat. Four years ago, he contacted a Boston-based food company about putting out his own hot sauce. A year later, Perry unleashed the Rock Your World Boneyard Brew, an all-natural mix of fresh habanero peppers, onions, garlic, lime juice, red bell peppers, chipotle peppers and aged red wine vinegar.

"I like a sauce that adds some heat but doesn't overwhelm the food," Perry explains. "There are plenty of sauces out there that will blow your brains out; I wasn't interested in that. I wanted to create an everyday sauce with no preservatives for people who want to add a little zest to their food."

Unlike many celebrity-endorsed products, Perry was deeply involved in each step of product development from the taste to the packaging. "The bottom line is that I won't put my name on anything--from a Les Paul guitar to a hot sauce--that I don't personally use."

It was Perry's grandfather who first turned him on to fiery flavors. "My grandfather's doctors told him he couldn't have spicy food anymore, so he had a secret stash of hot pepper that he used to share with me," Perry recalls. "When I started traveling a lot 25 years ago, I was exposed to a wide range of cuisines and fell in love food that packs a kick."

Last year, Perry introduced the Rock Your World Mango-Peach Tango hot sauce, a flavorful mix of habanero peppers, mangos, peaches onions, garlic, lime juice, red bell peppers and aged red wine vinegar. The tropical twist, Perry says, was inspired by his trips to the Caribbean and the bottles of Matouk hot sauce he saw on every restaurant table. "The tangy taste of fresh mangos and the bite of habaneros complement each other for an intense sweet heat," Perry explains.

Hard Rock Café currently serves Rock Your World Mango-Peach Tango with its quesadillas and uses it for the Mighty Mango Mary, a twisted take on the classic Bloody Mary. Part of the fun, Perry says, is hearing about the new ways people use his sauce. "I never would have thought to use the sauce in a drink like that. It's strange, but it's like writing a song. Once you put it out there, people will interpret it different ways. Instead of telling me stories about my songs, now people are telling me their Rock Your World recipes."

Wilco May Attempt Dance Album; Tweedy Fears He is Too White

In a recent interview published in the Houston Chronicle, Jeff Tweedy made it clear, in case we couldn't tell, that he dictates the musical direction of Wilco:

I started the band, and it's definitely my band...I think it's always been understood that it's my band. It's just been about whether I could handle that situation.

You definitely have to have some kind of direction. That doesn't mean you tell people what to do with an iron fist, but you have to steer the ship.

So, we should take him seriously when he says the band may endeavor to create a dance album:

We've got a lot of interest in making something really propulsive. Something I call a 'dance' record -- thinking of like Sly Stone or the Spiders' krautrock.

Tweedy's only hesitation is that he is white and afraid to move:

I want to know if I've gotten to the point in my life where I feel comfortable moving my body. Maybe not on stage, but in the studio. I'm painfully white. I don't want to live the rest of my life like that.

An Interview with Johnny Weils and Bryan Cox of Alabama Thunderpussy

by Heather Huff
Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Alabama Thunderpussy belongs to a movement unfortunately dubbed "stoner rock." The ill-fitting moniker evokes images of passive, drugged-hazed, redneck rockers when it actually represents an active revolt against mainstream, watered-down hardcore and a resurrection of the DIY ethos that defined punk/hardcore's early years. You'll also see ATP classified as "moonshine metal" and "southern-fried hardcore." No matter what you call them, ATP waves the flag of a tight-knit, hard-working community of bands keeping it real in a time when bigger names in metal are suffocating from the stench of their own corporate taint.

Johnny Weills (vocals) and Bryan Cox (drums) talked to me a bit about the band and their life on the road after their June 9 show in Towson, MD on the Stonebreakers and Hellraisers tour with Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar and Weedeater.

HH: How is it being on tour with Corrosion of Conformity?

BC: It's amazing. It's awesome. It's the "No Bullshit '05" Tour. All of these bands are bands that play music because they love to play music. All of the bands are good -- all killer no filler.

JW: The chemistry is really good. Everybody is getting along. Everybody is enjoying it and digging the music that we all play. We're all contemporaries.

BC: Yeah, everyone is on the same page.

HH: When I asked Woody [Weatherman, COC] about the tour said the same thing.

BC: Yeah, it's pretty cool that you can get this many people together in the same place and everybody can hang out and there's no weird stupid jerk over in the corner that everyone thinks sucks. Tours are hard work. If you're going to do a tour one of the biggest parts is can you hang out with the people you are on tour with. If you can it's a lot easier.

HH: Bryan, tell me about your search for a replacement for the first Johnny [Throckmorton] and then the transition of Johnny Weills into the band.

BC: This is the real Johnny. They say everything happens for a reason. I think we definitely did the right thing. Everyone in the band felt like we needed someone else singing for us and this dude wound up being the first one we listened to. That's what I mean about everything happens for a reason. I think we started looking for a reason and then there's a reason that this guy was the first dude to send us stuff.

HH: How did you find Johnny?

BC: There was a guy from Columbus who promoted a couple of ATP shows and Johnny was friends with him from back in the day. He told Johnny that this band from Richmond was looking for a singer and he thought it would be right up his alley.

JW: I've been playing in bands since I was 17 and I'm just about to turn 37. I've been doing this shit for 20 years and I've been trying and trying and trying all of this time to hook up with a band that was actually willing to tour and do shit. If you would've told me before I hooked up with these guys two years ago that this was going to happen I would've laughed in your face. I called them a couple of times and the guy he's [BC] talking about kept saying, "you should be singing this band." I'm like, "that would be awesome, but they've got a singer." As soon as he found out that they were looking for a singer he let me know. So I got on it right quick because I knew it was perfect. They're this perfect blend of metal, punk, and old classic and southern rock, all shit that I grew up with.

BC: It's cool to meet people who are into the same shit you're into. When you can actually jam with them, it's even better.

JW: Yeah and they drug me out to Richmond. I was in good position at that point. I was making some decent money working at a club, so I could afford a plane ticket to come out and hang. We did the whole thing of sending shit back and forth and they dug that. Then they said, "why don't you come out and hang out and we'll see what you're like?" So I did and then the hazed the shit out of me!

HH: Ha, hazed how?

JW: I showed up and basically they wanted to see if I could hang with them.

BC: We wanted to make sure he could hang with some hard fucking partying motherfuckers.

JW: We drank a lot.

BC: He came out on a Friday night and we drank a lot on Friday night and had a barbecue outside of my house. We drank the shit out of some booze. We got up the next day at probably about 1:00 and jammed for a while.

HH: What's your liquor of choice?

BC: Lately, Crown Royal.

HH: Really, Canadian whiskey?

JW: Is that Canadian?

HH: Yep.

JW: All of that blended shit is Canadian.

HH: Maker's is my favorite.

BC: I like Maker's too. If you want to talk about Bourbon, I like Basil Hayden.

HH: Oh yeah, Basil Hayden's is so good.

BC: That shit is like drinking apple juice. Yeah, so anyway he came out and we drank like crazy on Friday and then jammed some on Saturday and then got drunk again on Saturday and got up on Sunday and jammed again.

JW: You have to understand what they mean by jamming. Before I came out I asked Bryan to give me a list of songs that they wanted me to know. He sent me a bunch of the back catalog stuff. So then they started jamming on some of the new stuff that they had been working on and some of that ended up being on Fulton Hill. So, I started singing along and the chemistry just happened. These guys seemed cool and that was important to me as well.

BC: Absolutely

JW: I want to be able to hang out with dudes that I'm going to get along with because I don't want to be in a band where I'm a hired gun. The cool part about coming into this is that I was treated like an equal immediately. I thought that was amazing because you never hear of that shit happening. They're just awesome people and I felt like I was right at home.

HH: Bryan, why do they call you "Big Shirley?"

BC: Where did that come from? Man, I can't believe you asked me that question. Just don't ask me where the band name came from.

HH: That's a porn thing, right?

BC: Yeah, some b-porn, some 70's shit.

JW: Yeah, these guys had a friend that had this old b-porno movie and a black transvestite walks into a room and announces to everyone that she's the Alabama Thunderpussy. They thought it was hilarious, so it stuck.

HH: And Big Shirley?

BC: When we started out we figured we'd play in people's garages and basements and shit and that was it. So, we thought it would be funny if we all had stage names. I had some friends I was living with for a while that had hound dogs - some black and tan coon hounds. They bought them from this dude off of Route 5 in Richmond named Big Shirley. He bred hound dogs and lived out in the country and he even had business cards with Big Shirley on them. We all thought that was the coolest thing. So we decided to have stage names and everyone said I had to be Big Shirley.

JW: As far as the band name thing goes, the legacy continues. We all have band names.

HH: Well, what's yours?

JW: We went on a European tour shortly after I joined the band. I have this problem... [BC chuckles] it's a subconscious thing. I'm not aware when it's happening, but when I'm in a place where people are talking with a different dialect, I kinda pick it up. So people started calling me Euroboy [BC cackles] at first because I'd be up on stage and I'd be trying to relate to the audience and say some fucking stupid shit basically and look like a jackass. But they called me Euroboy and then I said, "I can't be Euroboy because there's a dude in Turbonegro called Euroboy." Then there was this Belgian singer and he's cheesy as hell, drunk as fuck, weirdo, old guy, the Dean Martin of Belgium or something and his name was Don Croissant and they're like "that's your name."

HH: Your band name is Don Croissant?

JW: Yeah and it's all his fault [points to BC, who is cackling like a villain].

HH: That's awesome.

JW: And then I was talking about pickles one day, so there's an alternate name.

HH: Pickles?

JW: Yeah, one day they had these tiny little pickles and I said, "hey, these are cornishones." And they're like, "oh, Don Cornishone."

BC: [Almost rolling on the floor from laughter]

HH: That's even better. So you are named after a tiny pickle?

JW: Yeah.

HH: Bryan, can you tell me more about when the band was first starting out in Richmond?

BC: We had a whole bullshit scam when we first started out. We hung flyers up for shows that we never played. Our first show we never actually played, we just hung flyers and made all of these people think that we were playing these shows. And we made up the locations too, it would be like Organ Hill Rec Center.

HH: In Richmond?

BC: Yeah, in Richmond. We made up these flyers and hung them up the night of the "show" around midnight and we never played. People got up the next day and and saw them and Randy [Richmond acquaintance] was one of the people that came up to us and said, "dude, I heard y'all played." I said, "yeah, at the Organ Hill Rec Center," and he said, "yeah, I've been in that place." There was no such place and we're like, "killer, man." They're like, "yeah, yeah next time."

HH: So when did you start actually playing shows?

BC: Right after our first bullshit show we ended up playing a basement show, which was also with our first singer, or second singer who was this girl Adrian.

JW: She was in a old school riot girl band called Spitboy, which was highly regarded.

HH: Was she good?

BC: I mean, she was a screamer, but it was cool. We're the most un-PC band in America and Spitboy was basically a feminist/activist type of punk rock band.

HH: And she was singing for Alabama Thunderpussy?

BC: Yeah, it was cool. She had moved to Richmond and she was chill. She wasn't all weird and jumping at people's throats and being political. She sang one show with us and then she met some dude from New York and moved up there with him. Then we got Johnny [Throckmorton]. Actually we had this guy before whose name was, well his ATP name was Diamond Mudguts, Luke Tremor. He was a roadie for Nebula after he moved away from Richmond, but before that he was in a band called Crackhead. That was probably the funniest band I have ever seen in my life. They played Twister's one time and they opened up for Eyehategod.

HH: Have you made any plans for after the tour?

JW: This is what we're looking at right now. We've been on tour since the end of January. We had a little over a month home here and there. We've got some ideas and some things that are in the works, but we don't want to say anything about that stuff until we know it's actually going to happen.

BC: We're just touring our asses off. We're going to try to get through the tour and then see what pops up.

HH: So I assume there will be another album soon enough?

BC: Definitely.

HH: How do you handle the writing process?

BC: We just try to get together and everybody throws ideas into a hat and we mix them up and see what happens.

HH: So does everyone come in with a lot already written?

BC: Definitely the guitar players, Erik and Ryan generally come up with the majority of the riffs and stuff, but we'll get together and check out the riffs and jam on them for a while and see what happens. It's pretty informal. What it boils down to is just a bunch of dudes in a room jamming. If it's not like that, then probably it sucks.

HH: Which of your tattoos is the most meaningful to you and why?

BC: I've got my dog's name tattooed on me, that's a good one. That's definitely up there.

HH: What's your dog's name?

BC: Buster

HH: What kind of dog is he?

BC: He's an Australian Shepherd Lab mix. He's about 11 or 12, he's an old bitch, but he's like a puppy.

HH: Do you bring him on tour with you?

BC: Hell no, that bitch would eat people's balls off. He's a mean little son-of-a-bitch.

HH: How about you Johnny?

JW: In April we did a European tour and ended up in Iceland. It was great, we had a fantastic time there. The guys that opened up for us...

BC: Brain Police

JW: Yeah, Brain Police had these friends who ran a rock bar down the street. They took us down there and had an open bar after party for us. There were these crazy Viking tattoo guys that were hanging out. They were really awesome dudes, but they were gigantic and they had long hair and beards and they were total fucking Vikings. They were really incredible people, but they were also tattoo artists and they wanted to hook us up. So we ended up being up until 8 or 9 in the morning. So one of them gave me this crazy zombie tattoo. He dropped the needle on the ground like twice because he was so drunk, but it worked out and we had a great time.

JW: But the tattoo that means the most to me is this panther head. I moved to Ann Arbor when I was 17 and was living with these guys in band called the Laughing Hyenas and they took me down to this place where they go get their tattoos. It was run by this woman Suzanne Fauser and she was really cool. She traded me a tattoo a sweatshirt I made of a Misfits skull. That means a lot to me especially because she passed away not too long after that. She was a really great artist and a really sweet person.

HH: I noticed COC doesn't have very many tattoos.

BC: They're old school though. Being heavily tattooed is kinda new school. I mean, you have the old biker dudes that had lots of tattoos back in the day, but people weren't getting them like we do. And unfortunately now there are dipshits with fuckloads of tattoos. It's like what the hell are you doing with all of those stupid-ass Chinese tattoos that don't mean shit to you? Give me a break.

HH: Yeah, no kidding. So tell me about the Richmond music scene. Are there any bands we should know about?

BC: You should know about RPG. They are definitely the killer band in town and they're working hard and touring. There has always been a great music scene in Richmond. Lamb of God and Gwar are from Richmond.

JW: Municipal Waste

BC: Yeah, Municipal Waste. They're a fucking whip ass band.

HH: Johnny, you moved down to Richmond from Columbus. What was the transition like?

JW: There's not really much of a difference. Columbus is a college town and Richmond is pretty much the same kind of thing. The downtown and the college part are really close together. The cost of living is pretty low in both places. There's a decent music scene going on in both towns.

BC: Yeah, that's the thing. Richmond has got a really good music scene with lots of good bands. And there's a low tolerance for bullshit there. If you're not doing something cool musically people will call that shit out and they will not come support your band.

Do yourself a favor and look into the Richmond scene. Also, check out Alabama Thunderpussy on the Stonebreakers and Hellraisers tour in a city near you.

*All photos © 2005 Joel Didriksen for

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


The AAMC (American Alliance for Medical Cannabis) and Suburban Noize Recording Artists the Kottonmouth Kings have joined forces for an upcoming demonstration and protest on June 25th in West Los Angeles, CA at the US Federal Building.

A spokesperson for the AAMC says the protest is a direct reaction to the recent Supreme Court ruling that allows the government to block doctors from prescribing marijuana for patients suffering from pain caused by cancer or other serious illnesses. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled the federal prosecution of pot users under the federal Controlled Substances Act was constitutional. The closely watched case was an appeal by the Bush administration in a ruling involving two seriously ill California women.

Ten states, including California, have laws allowing marijuana use for medical purposes. California's law, passed in 1996 under Proposition 215, permits people to grow, smoke or obtain marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a doctor.

The AAMC, founded by the late Dr. Jay Cavanaugh in 2001, provides education, advocacy and awareness about the benefits of medicinal marijuana. The AAMC is comprised of health care professionals, patients, educators, and community members.

California musical act, the Kottonmouth Kings, whose latest record debuted #50 on the Billboard Top 200, have been proactive in their support of the legalization of marijuana since the band's inception in 1995.

"AAMC is putting together this protest to remind the voters that medical cannabis must be kept legal because of what our government's laws represent. Laws are a reflection of our collective values, spirituality, and morality. How can a nation based upon principles of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and care of the sick and disabled, possibly ban a medicine whose use harms no one while relieving suffering?" argues Los Angeles Chapter president of AAMC, J.P. Mohr. "Marijuana is a beneficial, natural medication that deserves further medical research; research that our federal government won't allow. The same government that advocates the use of medications like Oxycontin or Adderal, denies medical marijuana. There are hundreds of accidental deaths every day from taking these other pharmaceuticals, yet there is not one documented case of toxicity or fatality from cannabis usage."

"Kottonmouth Kings have always been on the frontlines fighting to make marijuana a legal substance," says Kottonmouth Kings frontman Brad X. "When we got the call to join the AAMC rally, we jumped at the chance to be a part of the 'War on Drugs' by verbalizing our dissatisfaction with the recent Supreme Court Decision."

AAMC's J.P. Mohr added "The reason we went to a band like the Kottonmouth Kings was to help get the word out to young people about their importance in the act of social reform and political change," he says. "Kottonmouth Kings have actively been at the forefront of the pro legalization movement. Their fan base is very active and we want a younger presence at the protest so that people will see that this issue affects everyone."

The protest is expected to draw thousands of supporters to the Federal Building in West Los Angeles, CA on June 25th, 2005 from 12:00 - 4pm PST. Other organizations such as the Southern California Libertarian Party will also be lending their support to the event.

Billy Corgan Wants His Band Back

Angst-ridden, avant-garde troubadour, Billy Corgan, apparently is no longer happy going it alone. In a full page advertisement in today's Chicago Tribune for his first solo effort TheFutureEmbrace, Corgan declared his wish to reform the Smashing Pumpkins:
When I played the final Smashing Pumpkins show on the night of December 2, 2000, I walked off the stage believing that I was forever leaving a piece of my life behind. I naively tried to start a new band, but found that my heart wasn’t in it. I moved away to pursue a love that I once had but got lost. So I moved back home to heal what was broken in me, and to my surprise I found what I was looking or. I found that my heart is in Chicago, and that my heart is in the Smashing Pumpkins.

For a year now I have walked around with a secret, a secret I chose to keep. But now I want you to be among the first to know that I have made plans to renew and revive the Smashing Pumpkins. I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams. In this desire I feel I have come home again.
The band's original lineup included James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin, D'Arcy Wretzky and Corgan. Melissa auf der Maur replaced Wretzky in 2000 shortly before the group disbanded.

In post break-up message board musings, Corgan blamed Iha for the split and took a swing at Wretzky:

The truth of the matter is that James Iha broke up the Smashing Pumpkins. Not me, not Jimmy, but James. Did it help that D'arcy was fired for being a mean-spirited drug addict, who refused to get help? No, that didn't help keep the band together, not at all.
Hmm, good luck getting all of the original members back, Billy.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Radiohead's "Ok Computer" Best of Last 20 years

The band Bono calls the best in the world took top honors for best album of the last 20 years as compiled by SPIN magazine. I certainly have no quarrel with that.

The SPIN top ten is:

1. Radiohead - 'Ok Computer'(1997)
2. Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’ (1988)
3. Nirvana - 'Nevermind' (1991)
4. Pavement - 'Slanted and Enchanted' (1992)
5. The Smiths - 'The Queen is Dead' (1986)
6. Pixies - 'Surfer Rosa' (1989)
7. De La Soul - '3 Feet High and Rising' (1989)
8. Prince - 'Sign O' The Times' (1987)
9. PJ Harvey - 'Rid of Me' (1993)
10. NWA - 'Straight Outta Compton' (1988)

Overall a pretty good top ten. However, I would have made room for The Joshua Tree.

Sex Pistols at Live 8

The Sun is reporting that the surviving Sex Pistols - Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock and Johnny "Rotten" Lydon - have agreed to reunite for the Hyde Park show. Now that should be fun! Rotten also was just named the "most punk" star of all time. Of course, in true punk form, Rotten dismissed the award as bollocks.

FCC issues payola rules factsheet

Commissioner Adelstein applauded the issuance by the FCC of a Fact Sheet on "FCC's Payola Rules" that provides critical information about "What the Payola Rules Say" and "What You Can Do if You Think the Rules Have Been Violated."

Adelstein said, "We are enlisting everyone who watches and listens to the media in the effort to catch violations of our payola rules. Like a Neighborhood Watch program, putting viewers on alert will help us enforce the law and deter future abuses. It serves as another reminder that there is an unequivocal, legal obligation -- up and down the chain of production and distribution -- to disclose all forms of payola."

"Broadcasters and cable operators really need to take these rules seriously. There are major penalties involved that can include up to a year in jail. But even beyond the penalties, it is the longstanding policy of this country that the American people have a right to know who is promoting a product, policy or message to them," said Adelstein.

On April 13th, 2005, the Commission issued a Public Notice on Video News Releases (VNRs), in response to public and congressional inquiries about broadcast licensees and cable operators who failed to disclose the sponsorship of certain "prepackaged news stories." In the Notice, the FCC said the payola rules "are grounded in the principle that listeners and viewers are entitled to know who seeks to persuade them with the programming." Public comments are due June 22, 2005.

In a speech before the Media Institute, on May 25th, 2005, Commissioner Adelstein challenged the industry to reform its practice, and he openly called for the American public to help the FCC in monitoring and enforcing the rules against airing undisclosed promotions, including VNRs and product placements.

Friday, June 17, 2005

An Interview with Woody Weatherman of Corrosion of Conformity

by Heather Huff

Very few veteran bands are able to maintain the level of passion and dedication to their craft they once had. They become disillusioned, they cave to outside pressure, or they are consumed by their own fame and fortune. For whatever reason, they no longer approach music with the same spirit. Corrosion of Conformity is one of my all-time favorites, so when they recently released In the Arms of God, my enthusiasm was slightly tempered by fear. I liked America's Volume Dealer very much, but with all of it's polish, I wondered if it was a signal of COC beginning to lose a bit of their edge. I have become disenchanted with so many of my musical heroes; I couldn't stand to watch COC burn out as well.

Once I sat down to listen to ITAOG, I realized I had nothing to worry about. This album is just as authentic and raw as anything COC has done before. They are always evolving, but you get the sense that theirs are not the sort of self-conscious changes you see with other bands. They don't choose certain directions because they want to be as big as Metallica. They forge their own path because it's what they're feeling at the time. In this one album, they have proven that each of their journeys had a purpose - to prepare them for where they are now.

Woody Weatherman sat down with me last Thursday at their Recher Theater show in Towson, MD, to discuss the new album, the current tour and many other things. I can only hope the passion he so obviously has for what he's doing comes across in written form. If not, you'll have to check out one of their upcoming shows and find out for yourself.

HH: I like everything you've done with COC, but I think Into the Arms of God may be my favorite. It draws a little from your entire back catalog and brings it all together as if everything else was part of a natural progression to this point.

WW: Yeah, this one even goes back to the early stuff back in the punk rock days. I'm glad when people can see that. I don't think we're jumping around randomly. This is a good one and we've made other good records, but this one was easier to make. We weren't pulling our hair out.

HH: When you start working on a new album how much do you think about what you've done before?

WW: You can't think about where you've been. You hope that good songs come out of your head. You get into trouble when you start thinking about it.

HH: America's Volume Dealer was much more studio polished than ITAOG, was ITAOG a reaction to AVD?

WW: Maybe in some ways, but it's never intentional.

HH: Do you you start out with a particular concept when you begin writing?

WW: No, we don't do that, but by the same token I think ITAOG takes all of those old ones and throws them into the fan.

HH: What I really like about each of COC's albums is that they compel you to sit down and listen all of the way through because they are all woven together so well.

WW: Yeah, we definitely try to do that.

HH: What is interesting on ITAOG is that the momentum peaks and crests almost methodically and then at the end when you expect it to fade out, you get hit with "In the Arms of God."

WW: [Laughs rather maniacally]

HH: The first time I heard that I snapped my neck to look back at the stereo and said, "holy shit!"

WW: Yeah, you expect it to be some mellow closer and shit.

HH: What made you decide to end it that way?

WW: After all of the tunes were finished and we were finished mixing we were trying to think of what order would be cool because that's kind of important to it. If you just mix them up and throw them on there it may not be the right feel for the record. It seemed kind of fitting because it's kind of a tough record and we thought we'd end it with one of the tougher songs.

HH: Can you tell me a little bit about how the band writes together and if it was different at all this time around?

WW: No, not really. It was the same kind of deal. Most of the time everyone shows up with their own crap and we then just start tossing it together and see what's working. We'll get together in a room and tweak things and get it together while we're all there.

HH: How long does that process take once you all get together?

WW: Fast if everyone shows up with good stuff. This time it happened really fast. It was good.

HH: How did you decide on Stanton Moore for ITAOG?

WW: It fell in our laps really. He has known Keenan for a long time. They're both from New Orleans. We were working on all of these crazy songs and we couldn't get it together with anybody that was crazy enough to do what we wanted to get done. Keenan called up Stanton out of the blue to see if he knew anybody that could handle this kind of stuff and of course Stanton being the kind of guy he is said, "yeah me, I'll be there."

HH: He's great. It's amazing that he was able to transition in so well in such a short time.

WW: Yeah, it was really natural for him. Believe it or not he comes from that background too. He delved into some of that shit back in the day.

HH: He's not here tonight. How's Jason Patterson [Cry of Love] doing as a stand in for the dates where Stanton can't make it?

WW: He's killer. He's a buddy and he's from Carolina too. He's doing a great job.

HH: You took a long break before coming out with ITAOG.

WW: We did, but it wasn't intentional. We did that live album in 2001 and shortly thereafter Keenan did that Down record and they toured for a long time. So that killed a couple of years right there. Time just rolls and rolls. It didn't seem like that long.

HH: Do you play together and keep in touch when you have down time like that?

WW: Oh yeah. Me and Mike were jamming quite a bit and he was building a studio down at the pad, which is where we recorded the record. That was strange because we usually go to some fancy studio. It was nice to be able to stay at home and have our little practice pad.

HH: What else do you do in your time off?

WW: I work on a little bit of music. I have a very, very old farm house I bang around in so I'll get the hammers out and keep that thing going. I have an old Cutlass I would work on all of the time, but I blew it up and it was beyond by abilities to repair it.

HH: You're wearing a camouflaged hat. Are you a hunter?

WW: [Laughs] No, I just have it in case I want to hide out in the woods.

HH: Sometimes you gotta do that. How was the tour with Motorhead?

WW: That was so much fun. Everyone probably always says shit like that, but it really was. Those guys are the true deal. They're not fooling anybody and they tear it up.

HH: They are a little crazy on the road too, I'm sure.

WW: Yeah! It's real. There's no fake bullshit. It was a blast and they treat us good. It's weird but we've kind of got the same crowds - not exactly because we're different bands, but it seemed to fit. People that like Motorhead will probably like us even if they don't know us and vice versa, though everyone knows Motorhead.

HH: How do you think you fit in with the bands on this tour (Alabama Thunderpussy, Crowbar, Weedeater)?

WW: It's good. I didn't quite know what to think right off the bat. Now that I've watched all of the bands and hung out with them, I can see we've all got a good thing going on. It's good.

HH: And they're good guys?

WW: Yeah, everybody is very friendly. We keep getting lucky on all of that stuff. I would tell you if anybody was an asshole. I'm not polishing it up, they're cool.

HH: Oh come on, would you really tell me?

WW: [Laughs] Yeah, I might not mention names specifically, but I would tell. We have toured with assholes before.

HH: Ooh, who were they?

WW: I'm not going to tell! [chuckles]

HH: Alright, alright. What's the weirdest thing... [Bryan Cox from Alabama Thunderpussy walks into the room] ha, maybe this is good timing, what's the weirdest thing you've seen on the road?

WW: Right there! [Laughs and points to Cox] I don't know. Most of the weird stuff you can't really talk much about, but it also gets to the point where you get desensitized. We've been pretty calm lately, sorta. I forget things. I think I wipe it all from my mind. There's always weird stuff, whether it involves people falling on their head or whatever. There's always something funny.

HH: When I interview artists I always want to ask about their local scene, so how do you feel about Raleigh? First when you were trying to make it and then now.

WW: Yeah, I've always known a lot of people in bands in the area, but I think like anywhere else there was always more of a tight scene back in the day. That whole hardcore thing when we were kids was pretty tight knit.

HH: Do you have any advice for bands trying to make it today?

WW: Yeah right! In this day and age -- may the force be with you. We lucked out to have come out when we did because it was a lot more DIY and you could get away with it. Now there are 40 trillion bands out there. I guess it depends on what they want to do with it. If they want to make a living at it they might get lucky and eek out some kind of living or they might just have a good time and if that's what they want to do it's easy.

HH: That's probably the way you should approach it, as if you're never going to make it, but you're going to have fun.

WW: That's the way I've always approached it. We've stuck with it and done our own thing all along and didn't jump on any bandwagons. A lot of bands do that and maybe they have a short heyday, but then six months later -- huh? who?

HH: Exactly. So who are you listening to right now?

WW: We're always listening to old Deep Purple and Captain Beyond and weird old bands and some new shit. High on Fire is bad and Eyehategod is sick, but you know I always go back to the old stuff too. The standards -- the Thin Lizzys and the Sabbaths.

HH: What inspired you to get into all of this?

WW: Probably ZZ Top and to form this kind of band it was going to see Black Flag and Bad Brains.


WW: Yeah, I used to drive to DC quite a bit - back in the day when there was the Wilson Center and they would have all of the crazy bands. I'd go up to see Void and Minor Threat and some of those other crazy old bands.

HH: Do you have any other projects coming up?

WW: We're touring forever on this thing and then more Motorhead in Europe and then more, more, more.

HH: Where do you see COC a few years down the road?

WW: I'd like to do another record and maybe with Stanton because he says he wants to. Maybe we could write together this time cause we didn't really get a chance to write with him. The tunes were already there and of course he came in and it was a different world, but it would be cool to actually write a whole album with him.

HH: How do you feel about unauthorized downloading on the Internet?

WW: I'm kind of indifferent to it because it has been going on for so long. Some people just do it to check shit out and when they like it they go buy it. I hope it doesn't kill the ability for bands to be able to make records. It remains to be seen. Who cares about the major label? I'm not worried about how much their pockets are getting lined, but you have to wonder about that with the bands.

HH: Well that brings up and interesting point. What's your relationship with Sanctuary?

WW: Pretty good - as good as it gets.

HH: There's no pressure from them to be more mainstream?

WW: No, none of that. We've been through that before with Sony. They'd say "we don't hear the song, go back in the studio." We didn't have to put up with any of that with Sanctuary. We finished the record and gave it to them and they were happy.

Thanks Woody. COC continue to live by their own rules. They have a strength of character which will ward off all of those things that kill their peers. In this way, they remind me of one of my favorite quotes:

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." - Dylan Thomas

*All photos © 2005 Joel Didriksen for

Artist to Watch: Adam Mugavero

Adam Mugavero
(Unsigned Artist) 2004
by Jim McCoy

NY Songwriter Shows Promise on Debut Bedroom Demo

Two years ago, the Long Island-born, Manhattan-based Adam Mugavero began using an old computer in his Brooklyn apartment to lay down tracks written while the once-aspiring musicologist picked up a couple of degrees at the University at Buffalo. The end result of his labors is a very listenable, full-length recording from this (currently) unsigned singer-songwriter.

Mugavero cites a number of likes and influences - ranging from Neil Young, Nick Drake and John Lennon to Bloc Party and Iron and Wine - but it is his 'indie' leanings that are most apparent here. Not many contemporary records outside of the bluegrass or folk realm would place guitar, banjo, mandolin, guitar and strings on one track; even fewer still could endeavor to use all of these instruments and do it tastefully and effectively. Mugavero succeeds in doing this for the most part, perhaps drawing on the musical knowledge gained while studying classical piano as a youth.

The opening track, History, sneaks a banjo into the background without sounding hokey or as if it was simply done for its own sake. Similarly, Late Night Conversations manages to meld a mandolin, guitar, cello, lap steel and a Pink Floyd-like radio playing in the background into a cohesive, yet markedly not mainstream, work that does not fall victim to overplaying or unnecessary melodrama.

Not all of the disc's ten tracks, however, fall squarely into the indie mold. Already Miss You is a concise, piano-based ballad with latent power that is clearly influenced by Lennon's solo work but is not blatantly derivative. The Waschugal River - about a trip to Washington state with a group of friends - moves nicely thanks to some programmed drums, and the title track shows that Mugavero is not opposed to well-placed modern electronic treatments as he displays some good vocal ability. His website also tells us that one track, Have Mercy, was placed in a short film featuring Tim Roth, Amanda Peet and Robery Downey, Jr.

Mugavero clearly has potential as a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist. His arrangements are sound and he has the ability to drop backing vocals and various instruments into the right places. The disc certainly makes one ponder what Mugavero might be able to accomplish with these songs given a reasonable budget and a complete, modern studio at his disposal.

Breathe is available at

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Linkin Park & Destiny's Child added to Live 8 Philly

Concert organizers announced that Linkin Park and Destiny's Child will join host Will Smith and Bon Jovi, the Dave Matthews Band, Jay-Z, Kaiser Chiefs, Keith Urban, Maroon 5, P. Diddy, Rob Thomas, Sarah McLachlan and Stevie Wonder for the Live 8 show in Philadelphia. More acts are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. And, don't be surprised in Linkin Park and Jay-Z team up on stage to revisit their work on "Collision Course."

Strip Club DJ sues Kid Rock

The strip club disc jockey who claimed Kid Rock assaulted him in February has filed a civil lawsuit seeking money damages from the "Detroit bad boy." Rock was arrested in February after an incident in a Nashville strip club. At the time, the DJ, named Jerry Campos, said Rock hit him in the face a couple of times. Police released Rock after he posted bail.

Earlier this week, Kid Rock pleaded no contest to "criminal assault" and the Court gave him a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days in jail. The Court also ordered Rock to complete anger management classes and to Campos $180 to replace his eyeglasses. Not satisfied with the punishment the criminal justice system doled out, the DJ now will seek a payday in court and is looking for over a half-million dollars.

Band puts itself up for sale on eBay!

It's common to hear of independent musicians who lack the backing of a major label and the marketing power that comes with it searching for ways to make themselves stand out. An Orlando duo, The Zax have found a creative way to get some financial backing. The Zax have put themselves up for sale on eBay.

The band is going to use the money raised to help pay for the cost of recording their debut album "Umbrella." And, they are also promising to match the highest bidder and donate the profits to the charity of the winner's choice (or if they have no preference, to the bands choice, VH1's Save the Music Foundation).

The Zax have built a respectable following even without a produced record, and have garnered over 40,000 plays on The Orlando Weekly describes them as "80s-style pop" and the Orlando Sentinel calls them "escapist noisemakers."

Like many acts trying to make it, the Zax found themselves in need of a product to give to their fans. "We sent out a newsletter to our fans [about the auction] and I got an e-mail back from a girl in Texas, who said 'I don't have $2,000, but I have $200.' Here's this girl who doesn't know us, and she's willing to send us $200 to help us do it. Those kinds of things make it worthwhile," recalls singer Ryan Harmon. "We need money to get this out to our fans, fans like that, and we want to help a good cause at the same time."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Live 8 Rhetoric: Bono Sends Thom Yorke a Missile; Michael Stipe Says Americans Less Educated than Europeans

The BBC has documented all sorts of interesting rockstar banter regarding the upcoming Live 8 concerts.

First, there's Bono, who commented on Radiohead's decision not to play Live 8 in London:

It's very difficult for people, they can do whatever they want as far as I am concerned. They are that great, they're that special to me.

If they don't want to do this, then fair play to them.

I would love to see them, Thom if you heard this, I've a little missile on the way.
Then there's Michael Stipe, who says most Americans are ignorant of the campaign to relieve third world debt:

I think the most important thing about this really is that it's going to open a lot of people's eyes.

I live in a country where a lot of people are struggling so much to get through their day and their week that it doesn't look like the land of milk and honey.

In comparison to some of the countries we're talking about, it certainly does, but people are not as educated as they are in Europe.

eBay removes Live 8 tickets

Reacting to outrage by Live 8 organizer/founder Bob Geldof over folks selling their tickets to the London show, eBay has now banned the sale of tickets to the event. Bowing to pressure, eBay reversed course after initially saying they would allow the sale citing the individual owner's right to sell the ticket.

Sir Bob referred to the eBay ticket sellers as "wretches."

A quick search didn't turn up any remaining tickets on eBay, but plenty of Live 8 related items remain for sale. Hopefully those selling the items will donate them to the proper charities.

50 Cent Backs out of Live 8; Jacko to take spot?

The hip-hop heavy line up for the Philly version of Live 8 just got a little lighter as 50 Cent announced through his publicist that he won't be able to make the show. Nothing against 50 Cent, and I'm looking forward to seeing Jay-Z and Will Smith, but I'm still wondering where all the big rock acts are when it comes to the Live 8 show in Philadelphia: Foo Fighters, Janes Addiction, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Aerosmith, Black Crowes, Live, Sheryl Crow, are just some of the names that could balance out this bill. And, there are scores of up and coming acts that would enhance the show as well. And, what about all the old school do-gooders? You'd think Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Jackson Browne would be all over this thing?

Anyway now that 50 is out, could there now be room on the bill for the recently exonerated Michael Jackson? Rumors are circulating the MJ could appear in Philly with his pal Stevie Wonder. Now if we could get Bruce on the bill we'd really have a rockin' rendition of "We are the World."

now for something completely different...The Ditty Bops

Many of us "indie" fans often slam the major labels for not putting cutting edge, interesting stuff. We legitimately complain that the majors stick to the bubblegum pop formula and are afraid to take chances. Warner Brothers certainly shook off that stereotype when they signed the Ditty Bops.

The Ditty Bops are Amanda Barrett and Abby DeWald, a pair of California artists who have bewitched LA's music scene with their pure-voiced harmonies, magnetic personalities, and brilliant "strummin-n-fretting" (Abby on guitar and Amanda on mandolin and dulcimer).

The duo recorded its self-titled debut on Warner Brothers Records with producer Mitchell Froom (Suzanne Vega, Crowded House, Elvis Costello). Playing with a variety of musical accompaniment styles, from jugband to contemporary folk pop, to the indescribable and unprecedented, The Ditty Bops see their work as encompassing more than just music. Performance art, visual art, storytelling, and a plain old good time all meld together at a typical Ditty Bops show. The ladies cite such diverse musical and emotional influences as Dan Hicks and his Hotlicks, Merle Travis, Doc Watson, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Malvina Reynolds, Andrew Bird, The Hot Club of Cowtown, western swing, ragtime, early jazz, and musical theater.

Abby and Amanda have both led varied artistic lives since childhood. Amanda, who comes from a family of performers and eccentrics (her father is a professional clown and her mother is a Pagan Celtic musician) learned to juggle, play dulcimer and sing professionally as a child. Likewise, Abby has been cultivating her spontaneous, crazy-pickin' guitar sound and creating obsessively intricate, whimsical drawings from her own personal mythology from a young age. She studied art in school and created all of the art for the album, and most of the art for the website.

When the girls bumped into each other at the Rocky Horror Picture Show in New York, while both were 20 years old, it was only a matter of time before their talents would merge together. Indeed, four years later Abby and Amanda began to explore the fruitful possibilities of making music together. Soon, they started playing around LA as a 4 piece acoustic band, and were discovered by Craig Aaronson (A&R of Warner Bros. Records) while playing at Molly Malones in Hollywood. Since then, The Ditty Bops have generated a prolific body of work and garnered a substantial following.

The ladies have been getting rave reviews and are currently touring the country:

06/17/05 Hideout - Chicago, IL

06/18/05 Prairie Home Companion - Chicago (Highland Park)

06/21/05 Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA

06/22/05 Liquid Lounge - Reno, NV

06/24/05 Doug Fir Lounge - Portland, OR
w/"Blanche" and "The Mosquitos."

06/25/05 Crocodile Cafe - Seattle, WA

06/26/05 Richard's on Richards Cabaret - Vancouver, BC,

06/28/05 Harlow's Night Club - Sacramento, CA

06/30/05 Spaceland - Los Angeles, 1717 Silverlake Blvd.

(The Ditty Bops are donating 50% of their money for this show to the non-profit "Bicycle Kitchen." There will be a bike ride to the show from the Bicycle Kitchen in Silverlake)

07/01/05 McCabe's Guitar Shop - Santa Monica, CA

09/23/05 Austin City Limits Festival - Austin, TX

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!