Archive for the ‘Journal Entries’ Category

Howard Stern vs. Sirius/XM

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

howard_sirius_logoListening to Howard Stern’s impassioned rant about his lawsuit against Sirius/XM Radio this morning on the way to work was both depressing and inspiring. When you think about being unappreciated at your job, maybe you can find some comfort in knowing that Stern, who has generated billions of dollars in corporate revenue for his various employers over the years (more than anyone in the history of radio) is even unappreciated by those who benefitted most from his success.

It’s not just you; it happens to the most-talented and famous as well. We are all dispensable. It’s the nature of greed to squeeze every drop of blood from all in its path. Howard hit the nail on the head when he said that we all, including him, have a slave mentality in this country.

I don’t know the details, but from what I gather Sirius/XM is re-defining success now that they have it, and are not giving credit where it is due. Howard promised executives at Sirius back in 2004, when they had a mere 600,000 subscribers, that they would acquire XM as a result of him leaving his extremely lucrative terrestrial radio career to do his show for them. They scoffed at this idea, not believing it was possible. He made a deal with them based on his predictions which have since become reality (the company has indeed acquired XM, and amassed a grand total of over 20 million subscribers). Now Sirius/XM is refusing to pay Stern what they agreed on, citing other factors as reasons for their success.

Notice how the mainstream media is so quick to blame the victim, in this case, Howard. You may have noticed headlines like “$500 million is not enough for Howard Stern!” Since they’ve done such a great job painting him as a monster all these years, most non-listeners will immediately think, “What a greedy bastard that Howard Stern is!”

It’s this same sort of jealousy that keeps us hating union workers and voting against our own rights to keep others from having what we fear might be more comfortable lives than our own. We look over our shoulders to see what everyone else has instead of banding together to fight for what we all deserve, so we can all enjoy healthier, more secure and comfortable lives.

There’s something about America that refuses to stand up to the corporate elite. I think Howard’s rant today rang so true to me because I believe it is the same battle we should all be fighting much more vigorously. It’s the story of what will most likely be America’s downfall: our trust and worship of corporate entities; and the underestimating of the true nature of their greed.

Evangelist, Harold Camping has been wrong twice in his predictions about the end of the world coming, and he’s going to be wrong a third time on October 2. He’s taken millions from his followers, probably most of them poor. How many kids do you think went without food, medicine or clothing so that their parents’ checks could be mailed to Camping’s Family Radio International? And do you really think he believes his own bullshit? I doubt it.

War profiteering as the true motivation for war is something even the most progressive of us seem to find hard to fathom. The idea that we are killing innocent civilians in mass quantities and sacrificing our own soldiers, all for the interests of corporate profit, is almost impossible to imagine.

But documents leaked to Wikileaks have shown that we fund Pakistan who in turn funds The Taliban, our enemy, and friend of al Qaeda. We publicly decry dictatorships, while secretly arming them so that we can fight them later on. I’ve heard it described as a “calibration of violence”. We feed both sides in the interest of perpetual war for profit.

It’s a horrifying reality and the true face of corporate greed. We just can’t look at it for some reason. We can’t stand up to it. It’s total slave mentality on a grand scale. Instead of cutting the defense budget and insisting we change our blood-drenched, corporate-serving foreign policy, we blame the poor for our nation’s financial problems and vote to take away their benefits.

We give tax breaks to the super-rich. We pay no attention to the fact that some of our biggest “too big to fail” corporations are tax-dodgers. We call them job creators while they send jobs overseas in droves, despite record profits. Aid to the poor is seen as socialism, but corporate welfare in the form of bailouts is just fine with us.

Corporations will send your kid to die, lobby for deregulation against your better interests, destroy the environment which sustains our very existence, take away your job, and pay you as little as possible with as few benefits as possible, all for profit.

When Howard re-signed with Sirius/XM late last year, he idealistically spoke about why he decided to stay rather than go elsewhere. He believed they were a team, that there was more work to be done, that it was home to him, etc. It saddens me to see them put him in the position to have to take legal action against them so soon after making this decision.

Howard Stern doesn’t need Sirius/XM; he could do his show online and make a lot more money. If he left today, the company would crumble just like terrestrial talk radio did in 2005. He is a creative, a team player, a company man, and like most Americans in the eyes of the corporations we slave away for every day and blindly support against our better interests, a chump.

Stern is retiring in 2016. Perhaps Sirius/XM is clinging to every dollar because they know their days are numbered. Instead of fighting him they should be collaborating with him to plan the future direction for the company. After all, no one understands radio better than Howard Stern.

Jay and Silent Bob Get Old at SMODCASTLE

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

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As you probably know, I’m a total podcast nerd. In addition to recording my own weekly music show, I subscribe to a handful and listen faithfully each week. It’s gotten harder to keep up since discovering director Kevin Smith’s Smodcast Network. In addition to the original Smodcast, the show Smith does with longtime producer and friend Scott Mosier, there is Hollywood Babble-On, Puck Nuts, Blow Hard, Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, Tell ‘em Steve-Dave and Highlands: A Peephole History.

I was aware of Smodcast, but didn’t really pay too much attention to it until the infamous Go Fuck Yourself Southwest Airlines episode from March of this year, where Smith was forced off a plane for allegedly being ‘too fat to fly’. I found the story riveting and extremely moving. I’m a sucker for anyone who sticks it to the man and Smith does it better than most. In fact, these podcasts take independent broadcasting to a whole new level, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Oh, and I will never fly Southwest again.

Last Sunday night, my friend Shyam and I attended a taping of Jay and Silent Bob Get Old at SMODCASTLE, Smith’s new theater where almost all the shows are taped in front of live audiences. It was Episode 7. $25 tickets, and well worth the money. Episodes 1-6 had told the story of Jason Mewes’ ongoing battle with drug addiction, and this was the first episode where they were able to finally let loose and take the show wherever it wanted to go.

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We arrived about 30 minutes early, and there was already a line. Mewes was hanging outside, smoking cigarettes and talking shit to the crowd – not in an unfriendly way mind you, but keeping with his Jay persona (which Smith says was based on Jason anyway), he rolled on about teabagging, cock, balls, that sort of thing –  all with a big smile on his face.

There were a couple women theater-goers in line for the wrong venue and it was funny when they realized it. Jason said “oh, this isn’t the show you’re here to see?” They shook their heads as they walked off in a huff, “Definitely not!”

The lobby area of SMODCASTLE has a Smerch (t-shirts, signed posters, etc.) area  and ticket counter where they sell the stuff. We thought it was cool that they sell boxed water, with a generic label: ‘WATER’.

DSC03739We grabbed seats in the last row as we both are allergic to having our seats kicked from behind (it’s a 50-seat theater so there are no bad seats). Kevin Smith fan-art lines the walls, along with photos, hockey memorabilia and the original framed Jaws schematics from Universal.

The dark atmosphere inside is consistent with other theaters I’ve been to on Theater Row in Hollywood. Shyam and I have seen some David Mamet plays together in the area, so it was a familiar vibe for both of us.

Mewes played the role of usher, helping people get to their seats, selling water and signed posters in the tradition of a wandering hot dog vendor at a baseball game. His little dog Puggle was there as well, running around the theater before and throughout the performance.

Smith stayed backstage until show time and exited the stage immediately afterward. He walked out in his traditional hockey jersey garb, took a seat at the mic, and went right into “Every saga has a middle age and this is what happens when Jay and Silent Bob get old, my name is Kevin Smith”. As I expected, what you hear on the podcast is what you experience at the live taping.

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The centerpiece of the episode was Jason’s telling of a threesome with two girls back in the Jersey days. He had introduced his mother-in-law to the audience before the show, unbeknownst to Smith, so when the audience reacted to Kevin’s request of a sex story, Mewes had to explain why. At Kevin’s request, he substituted the names Jay and Silent Bob for the girls’ names, and much hilarity ensued as a result, as you might imagine.

I highly recommend SMODCASTLE. It’s one of the benefits of living in LA. If you find yourself here on vacation, it’s one of the best things I can think of to do. They post their schedule here, and there’s something interesting happening every night. In addition to podcast tapings, there are film screenings, Saturday morning cartoons, and more.

You can even rent the place for your own podcast or wedding (Smith is an ordained minister)!

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I’m sure I’ll be going again.

Photos by Shyam Yadav

Podcast Guide: Radio On-Demand

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

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To me there is no one more punk rock than Howard Stern. He is the devil to so many, but not only does he make me laugh, he sticks it to the man harder than anyone I’ve ever heard and is a true virtuoso at his craft. Non-listeners like to paint him as nothing more than a shock jock, but the truth is that he’s a brilliant comic talent in the classic tradition of Groucho Marx, and also happens to be extremely gifted at his chosen medium, a medium that is too often overlooked as something that’s easy to do: Talk radio.

When Stern left terrestrial talk radio he destroyed it. The two biggest markets, NY and LA, stations that became talk stations only after Stern proved the format financially lucrative, crumbled in his absence and were forced to return back to all-music formats. Now he is on the verge of doing the same to satellite radio, the medium he saved by making the switch, unless they pay close attention to what he wants. If there is one entertainer who needs no corporate entity in 2010, it is Howard Stern.

I was a casual listener back in the terrestrial radio days, but when the show was ramping up to the Sirius launch toward the end of 2005, I couldn’t wait to hear this groundbreaking radio he said he was going to be able to do once he was free of FCC censorship. I was inspired by the fact that he knew he’d have only a fraction of his audience but was willing to give it up for creative freedom. I was listening to the first notes of his historical opening broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio in January 2006 when Will the Farter farted the 2001 theme.  What a brilliant way to start this new revolution.

sirius-xmOnce I had my Sirius radio plugged in, I never went back to terrestrial radio. There was no need to. Anything musical that I may have been interested in hearing was available on Sirius, sans commercials. And there was Stern, NPR, all sorts of political shows, etc.

There are problems with satellite radio however. There have been countless times when my radio wasn’t working due to worn or broken cables, and I have spent a lot of money replacing accessories or radios when the accessories are more expensive than the radios themselves (or simply not available anymore).

Another problem with the Stern show on Sirius is that I miss a lot of it. Even though it loops throughout the day, I seem to always be in my car during the same segments (morning, noon and night). Luckily there is Howard TV (On-Demand) where I actually get to watch a lot of the interviews and show segments that I miss. I wish the entire show were available On-Demand. In this day and age I don’t think there is an excuse for that not being an option when we are paying good money for the service (I pay close to $30 per month for Sirius and Howard TV). And it wouldn’t be difficult…

There are Sirius radios that record, but after talking with a friend who has one, I’ve learned that he is always missing shows or parts of shows. Plus he can’t record the entire show as it is listed as being a four hour program, and usually goes over. There is also a space issue as the radio cannot hold much more than a few hours of content.

But I have the answer: Podcasting. Podcasting is Radio On-Demand. And there are no reception issues; no cables required other than the one connecting an iPod to a car radio’s auxiliary jack. No need to program anything or schedule recording on a proprietary device. All that’s required is a download which just takes a few minutes.

I first read about podcasting back in 2005 or so, when I got my first iPod. I was curious about it but never looked into it until a couple years ago. There seemed to be a big dark cloud of a learning curve. I forced myself to learn about it when I was stuck at work listening to the same music day after day on my iTunes. I was desperate for new content. The first show I found was Michael Butler’s Rock and Roll Geek Show and from there I’ve found many other great ones. Now, aside from doing my own weekly rock podcast, I love to check out new ones and keep up with my favorites.

Howard Stern is threatening to not re-sign with Sirius after his five-year contract runs out at the end of this year. I believe that unless Sirius comes up with solutions to the issues I’ve brought up; they are going to fail when he leaves to produce his own show online. The technology is antiquated. Stern used to say that Satellite Radio is the future. He doesn’t say that as often anymore. He also seems a bit fed up with how comfortable they seem to be there, as if when he leaves they’ll still be able to continue. But we know, and Howard knows, that will not be the case, whether or not he admits it publicly. According to this article (which Stern read on the air yesterday), Sirius is barely hanging on even with The Howard Stern Show still on their channels.

You might notice if you read this blog that I promote a lot of other podcasts than just my own. I do this because I want podcasting to succeed. I believe IT is the future. I believe that radio can go no further than this. Sure, nothing can replace a live show, and nothing should, but once that show is recorded it should be available for download so that we can take it with us wherever we go, and never miss a minute. We have busy lives; we can’t always be by a radio when things are on that we want to hear. When we miss our favorite TV shows we have On Demand and Tivo, but who has time, or the means to record an entire 4-5 hour daily morning radio show? We should just be able to download it and listen to it when we want. Especially if we are paying for it!

Stern could copyright-protect his show and make each episode available as a podcast as soon as it was done. He could even put each hour up as they are created. Anyone wanting to distribute illegal copies would have to record it in real time, which is as equally possible to do now from a Sirius radio. I haven’t heard that pirating is a problem for Sirius. I don’t think that making the show available as a copyright-protected download for subscribers would lose revenue for the company. I think quite the opposite is the case. The dependence on this proprietary hardware is annoying and keeps a lot of people from subscribing. The live show is already available via iPhone, so a podcast version would be the next step.

For those of you who are as intimidated as I used to be about podcasting, the following is an easy-to-use guide that I think if you follow, will help you fall in love with this medium as deeply as I have. Join the podcasting revolution and let’s put terrestrial radio out of commission forever, and force Sirius/XM to get with the program!

 

PODCAST GUIDE

FIND A SHOW The first thing you should do is search in the iTunes Music Store for a show you’d like to listen to. This is how I found the Rock and Roll Geek Show.

SUBSCRIBE When you find the show you want to check out, click the Subscribe button. This is not a permanent thing, it is easy to undo. You don’t need to send an email to anyone or fill anything out to unsubscribe. Subscribing simply downloads the latest episode of the podcast into your Podcast Folder in iTunes. If you decide that you don’t like the show, you can unsubscribe with three clicks.

FIND YOUR PODCAST FOLDER On the left of your iTunes browser, you will see the following folders under LIBRARY: Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts and Radio. This is all your downloaded content (except for Radio which is what you think it might be, live internet radio channeled through iTunes). Click on Podcasts. You should see the show you subscribed to in the main window.

HEADERS In the main window you will see the following headers: Podcast, Time, Release Date and Description.

VIEW ARCHIVES  To the left of the show title (which is under the header Podcast) there will be an arrow pointing to the right. Click this arrow, and you will see all the show’s archives open up (click it again to close the archives). They will be grayed out, meaning that they haven’t been downloaded yet. The headers will make more sense from this view. Time is the length of each episode, Release Date is the date the podcaster made the episode available and Description tells you what the episode is about (guests, artists, songs, topics, etc.).

LISTEN TO YOUR PODCAST To listen to the show you subscribed to, double-click on the episode. To stop listening, you can click the pause button, much like a CD player. The podcast episode will behave in iTunes exactly like a song, the only difference being if you come back to it later, you can double-click and it will start from where you last stopped rather than starting over.

DRAG TO YOUR iPOD  Just like songs, you can drag podcast episodes to your iPod to take with you. They will end up in an automatically created Podcasts folder.

DOWNLOAD AN EARLIER EPISODE  Scroll down to view the archives. Look at the Podcast and Description columns for info on what the various episodes are about. If you see one that stands out for you, click the GET button to the right of the Podcast field. The episode will automatically download and once complete, the text will darken, looking similar to the latest episode you downloaded when subscribing.

REFRESH Podcasts are updated regularly and you won’t know exactly when this will happen. So when you go back into your iTunes folder, click the REFRESH button to have all your subscriptions updated. This means all the new episodes will automatically download. Sometimes this happens automatically when you open iTunes, but if not you can click the button.

UNSUBSCRIBE If you decide that a podcast is taking up too much space, or you don’t like it, you can unsubscribe by simply right-clicking on the top line and deleting. You will get messages asking if you want to also delete the content from your computer. Say yes, then empty your recycle bin to be sure the space is freed up.

Below is a list of my favorite podcasts and links to them in the iTunes Music Store:

 

rnrgeekThe Rock and Roll Geek Show Hosted by Michael Butler, the show consists of punk and classic rock interviews, concert/album reviews and analysis. It is an interactive show as the audience contributes much of its content via emails read on the air and audio comments. Butler was one of the first podcasters. Read more about him on Wikipedia here.

 

 

indiecastThe Rock and Roll Geek Indie Cast The “mostly music companion to the Rock and Roll Geek Show”, this is my favorite podcast. Recently expanded to an hour, it’s basically non-stop hard rock, and Butler has good taste. You’ll discover tons of new bands.

 

 

 

covervilleCoverville Brian Ibbott hosts this mostly-music covers show. It’s eclectic to say the least, and always entertaining. The show alternates between episodes focused on one artist, usually coinciding with a birthday or anniversary, and all-request episodes. Lately Brian has integrated new ideas where listeners can vote on their favorite versions of songs on his website. If you like covers, this show will be your crack cocaine.

 

 

goodcleanfunThe Good Clean Fun Show “Another Rock and Roll Geek train wreck” of a show, hosted by Michael Butler and his friend Jasper. Lots of rock talk, and whatever else comes up in between occasional songs. It’s recorded live with listeners online via UStream, and although I usually listen to the recorded podcast version, the one time I logged into the chat, it was pretty fun.

 

 

onestepOne Step Beyond This podcast is a spin-off of One Step Beyond Radio, which is broadcast live every Saturday night from 6-9 Pacific. If you live in Goshen, IN, you can hear the radio show on The Globe 91.1 FM, or stream it from their site here. Host Jeremiah has become a friend and played drums for a band called Sad Tropics who I have played on The Bull Pit. I also interviewed Jeremiah on episode 47. His taste in music is extremely eclectic, the songs are good and the shows are always entertaining.

 

burroFrom the Burro This one is hosted by another friend named Dave who plays good rock and punk. Dave plays in a band called Tokyo Pop Stars and does his show out of Nashville, TN.

 

 

 

smodcastSmodcast Writer/director Kevin Smith’s podcast that he hosts with his long time producer partner Scott Mosier. Great stories. A highlight was when Smith talked about his Southwest Airlines controversy. Check out 106 and 107 for that.

 

 

 

boilingfrogsThe Boiling Frogs Sibel Edmunds is an FBI whistleblower who has an amazing story to tell. Read her story in Vanity Fair for some background. She uncovered some incredible horrors happening in the FBI and when she brought it to the attention of her superiors, she was fired. What she learned was that this was standard practice in the FBI and CIA. This podcast is mostly interviews with fellow whistleblowers with amazing stories to tell. Her co-host is Peter B. Collins. If you want the truth about what has and is happening in America, this is the first place you should go to get it. Completely non-partisan, this isn’t what anyone wants to hear, but it’s what we need to learn to move forward. I can’t recommend this one higher. Subscribe today!

 

leftrightcenterKCRW’s Left, Right and Center This one has something for everyone if you like political commentary. During the stealing of the 2004 election I was a bit annoyed by them as they refused to discuss it, yet had no problem talking about the Ukraine election that was happening at the same time. Now it’s pretty much common knowledge that the election was stolen, but they’ve never talked about it. You can at least hear semi-intelligent opinions from all sides of the political spectrum. It’s only 30 minutes so it goes by fast. 

 

soundopSound Opinions Based in Chicago, Sound Opinions is hosted by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, two of the finest and best-recognized pop music writers in the nation. In addition, they are the top music critics and dedicated competitors at Chicago’s two daily newspapers, the Chicago Sun-Times (Jim) and the Chicago Tribune (Greg). They call it the only music talk radio show, but that’s not true if you include podcasts.

  

cdbabyThe CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast This is good for anyone interested in the future of music and technology. The basic premise is that labels are dead, it’s DIY from here on out, and all aspects of it are discussed.

 

 

 

paranoidThe Paranoid Squirrel This UK podcast, hosted by Armitage, brings you music that you should hear on the radio but don’t. Mostly hard rock, classic rock, punk and metal. Some bootleg live recordings that are interesting.

 

 

 

harmonyHarmony in My Head Not a podcast, but I found an illegal site that has all the archives available as mp3s. I always miss Henry Rollins’ Saturday night radio show here in LA on KCRW. But all the episodes are there. You don’t get the subscribe feature, but you can grab what you want as the playlists are all there as well. There are months of great content, it’s all you need. I <3 Henry Rollins if you don’t know that about me already, and I’ve not even begun to delve into these archives.

 

 

There are many more podcast options out there. That’s the great thing about it. Few are making money on podcasting, but us listeners have never had more options. It makes me kind of wish Howard Stern would go off the air or do a shorter show so I could take in more of what’s available.

If you have any questions about podcasts, don’t hesitate to contact me at johndissed@hotmail.com.

A&R in 2010

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

The more I realize how corporate corruption and greed are destroying all that is free, the quicker my desire for success in any traditional sense dissipates.

I got an email about my solo music from a woman who said she was a talent scout. I wrote her back answering her questions. Big mistake. Her boss called me the next day and launched into an ass-kissing diatribe of epic proportions. Her first words were “your music is so raw and ethereal”!

My music may be raw, but it’s far from ‘ethereal’. She obviously doesn’t know what the word means, or she didn’t listen to the music. I answered a few questions but very quickly realized it was a con. I decided to just cut to the chase after she jabbed me for not making a living with my music (which is not something I feel badly about at all).

With over half the world starving, a real number of close to 20% Americans unemployed, millions uninsured, thousands dying in wars based on lies, I’m lucky to have a roof over my head, food, a job and benefits. The fact that I make my living doing something other than music is not a tragedy. And having a studio with the freedom to record what I want and the capability to get it distributed worldwide on my own terms, with no creative constraints whatsoever, is a dream come true. I have nothing to complain about. I didn’t take the bait.

FangsI asked “What do you do?” She answered that she does A&R for a company that places music in Film and TV. I asked if her company charges the artists they represent. BINGO! “Yes we do, it is a yearly fee of $390”. I told her I don’t pay for services such as theirs, and then her desperate greed-soaked vampire fangs were revealed as she started to berate me about it. I asked her why, if her company was so good at placing music, charge the artists? Of course she had a comeback for that:

Many of the projects don’t pay.

So, let me get this straight. I’m supposed to pay her to get me on a student film? I have no problem donating a song to a student film, if it’s good, but I’m not going to pay hours of hard-earned cash to do it. I would do it for its artistic merits, but I have plenty of projects to participate in with attractive artistic merits, I don’t need to pay someone to find me any more.

When she started in on how I was a hypocrite for not wanting to pay her when I have no problem paying to get my music mastered, etc. I told her “Thank you, goodbye”, and hung up the phone.

I just looked up the phone number I received the call from. Here’s their site. The search results showed up with a handful of other musician blog entries using the word “scam”, so I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Christmas 2009

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I spent Christmas in Borrego Springs with my parents. They rented a house on the edge of town right next to the mountains. The view was stunning.

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I lived in Albuquerque for a little over 2 years while studying music at the University of New Mexico. Borrego, with its enchanting desert landscape and Southwestern style art and architecture, is the place in CA that comes closest to a NM vibe. The only thing missing is the food. If you are ever in Albuquerque, be sure to stop by the student ghetto’s El Patio on Harvard, for a vegetarian burrito plate. I recommend the green chili.

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It was cool spending a few days chilling out and hiking around the desert with my family. They got me a camera for Christmas and I spent a lot of time taking photos trying to learn how to use it. Other than my cheap cell phone camera, I’ve never owned a digital one.

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My dad and I watched The Godfather and a handful of noir films at night. He collects them and has an extensive library of DVDs. He always has great insight into the films too, as he’s read a lot about them. The connection between the two is that the legendary badass, Sterling Hayden was in one of the noirs we watched, Crime Wave, as well as Godfather.

Driving back to LA last night, I was overcome with a wave of depression thinking about my life, music, etc. I think about things like that during this season. It’s the time of year that the “what the hell am I doing?” moments hit the hardest. I had Michael Butler’s Christmas episode of his Rock and Roll Geek Indie Cast on the iPod. I had emailed him and his daughter, Martina (who was looking for Xmas music to play on her Emo Girl Talk podcast) an mp3 of my acoustic Spinal Tap Christmas with the Devil cover. I didn’t think they’d play it as it’s neither very rock or emo, but I figured I’d do my best to promote the Unhenged Spinal Tap tribute CD that Brian Ibbott of the Coverville podcast was kind enough to include me on.

At the very end of the show, three songs from the end, Michael said he was going to play something by his “good friend John Dissed” and played the song. I was instantly overwhelmed with gratitude and my depression was lifted.

THEN the next two songs were Hanoi Rocks “Dead by Christmas” and The Ramones “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)”! Not bad, getting played on my favorite rock podcast preceding two of my favorite bands of all time. Nothing beats that, no radio airplay on any show in the world, nothing.

Michael just got back from the UK where he played bass on seven songs for his hero Ginger of The Wildhearts‘ Birthday Gig. Fans of the Rock and Roll Geek Show donated over $1,400 to get him there. I have to say that some highlights of 2009 for me were meeting Butler at the Viper Room this summer after seeing him rock out with Ginger (who I’ve since become a huge fan of), being turned on to some great music from his show that I never would have heard otherwise, and hearing this song, and my band Bull Lee, on the Indie Cast.

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Ginger got Michael into The Secret and he talks about it a lot on his various podcasts. I watched about 5 minutes of the film on YouTube and had to turn it off. It has a little too much pseudo-science for my taste (I refuse to believe, for example, that thoughts can radiate through the air and convince a stranger, completely out of sight, not to steal something). But the positive vibes Michael puts out and has had returned to him by his listeners is contagious, so maybe there’s something there that I missed. I definitely feel grateful to be considered his friend, and a once-in-a-while-contributor to his shows.

Check out Butler’s Ginger Birthday Gig recap on The Rock and Roll Geek Show, Episode 383 on iTunes or on his website.

Oh, and The Wildhearts are giving away a free song, “Zeen Requiem” here. It’s currently my favorite song of all time.

Luminosity, Grace and a New EP

Friday, December 11th, 2009

This week, the city of Los Angeles benefited from a surprise visit from my good friend Shyam Yadav, who is fresh off a plane from Morocco where he was working on – I’m sure he won’t want me to tell you this, but here it is – Sex and the City 2! He’s here to take a photo for his FTX 14 Soundtrack album cover.

FTX is Shyam’s French Toast and Hugs gang (you can see past FTX album covers and read about the gang here).

Last night I met up with Shyam at the Continental Gallery downtown. His roommate, Sean Sobczak’s sculptures are on solo display there all month. The show is called Luminosity. Yesterday was Art Walk and people were swarming the gallery, completely transfixed by Sean’s work. It was amazing. If you’re here in LA, you should go check out the exhibit.

When Shyam and I weren’t talking, he was busy taking pics of the sculptures for his ongoing Grace photo album project. Grace is his classic 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle, and Shyam has photographed her in front of many historic monuments; including the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. He has 15 volumes of photos. Here’s a sample from last night:

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It was surreal seeing hundreds of people posing and taking photos with their cameras and iPhones in front of these sculptures that I’ve seen so often while hanging out at my friends’ loft (dubbed The Justice League). Twitter must have been buzzing with illumination last night! The only thing missing was Grace, who is always parked inside the loft, behind velvet ropes, facing off with a two-headed, fire-breathing dragon.

dragon

It was a great night hanging with my good friend and seeing another friend have such overwhelming success right before my eyes. The world can be a beautiful place at times.

Grace has also made her way onto my latest album cover. When I wrote the song “When Hard Nights Fall”, the title song of my new EP, I had a vision of a car driving through the desert at night. It had to be black and classic. I didn’t think until the last minute to use Grace as a model for the cover, but I thought of it in time to get a photo from Shyam the last time he was in town (he had to take a special shot to get the right angle). Illustrator, Mike Dyson (Guerrilla808 Studios guerrilla808@gmail.com), did a brilliant job bringing her into the world I had in my head for the cover.

JD 0dViper2

The When Hard Nights Fall EP just showed up for sale on iTunes this week. I recorded it last year, roughly between the Presidential Election and New Years. Consequently, both the former and current Presidents make appearances, as well as Christmas, love, hope, despair, healing, dreams and death.

Physical CDs can be purchased here on CD Baby.

There are two more opportunities for Luminosity public viewing: Saturday December 12 (tomorrow) and the Closing Reception on December 29. Go to SandmanCreations to read more about Sean Sobczak.

Oh, and French Toast and Hugs 14 is happening downtown in January. It won’t be as pretty or glamorous as Luminosity, but it’ll be just as meaningful. More details to come…

Suggested Listening

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

podcast

Post-Thanksgiving work day. Here at the J.O.B. doing my best as usual to drown out the douchbag co-worker with podcasts. After you check out The Bull Pit Thanksgiving Special, here are some other good ones for the week: 

Rock and Roll Geek Show #380 – Host, Michael Butler plays excerpts from a KISS bootleg he bought at the Oakland KISS show. The sound quality of the music is great, and Butler’s play-by-play is hilarious. Paul Stanley has some awesome stage raps. Makes me wish I went to the show last week. If they come back, I’m going. 

Rock and Roll Geek Indie Cast #117 – Michael’s all-music companion to the Rock and Roll Geek Show this week features songs by The Devin Townsend Project, Pete Way, American Heartbreak, Replacements, Celebrity Skin, Material Issue, Cheap Trick, Poison Arrows, UFO and more. 

The Good Clean Fun Show – I’m catching up on the last two episodes of this as I write. Good drama about Butler’s day job (which I can relate to as I’m sure you can), and the boys getting kicked off of UStream for showing a film called The Sinful Dwarf. This is an awesome train-wreck style shit-talking podcast which is always entertaining. Some good rock talk as well. 

Coverville #630 The 6th Annual Thanksgiving Double-Shot Beatles Cover Story – Beatles covers by Mark Mulcahy, Paul Weller, The Smithereens, Eton Road, Nina Simone, Shawn Colvin and more. 

Sound Opinions #209 – Annual Turkey Shot. Hosts Greg and Jim are both music journalists for Chicago newspapers. They are kind of the Siskel and Ebert of music podcasting. It’s an NPR thing, pretty cool. 

CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast #76 – Corey Smith made headlines when his independent music career slowly grew into a multi-million dollar business, selling out large venues… That’s this week’s description of this DIY tips show for musicians. Some good info for anyone who does online DIY marketing, music or not. I haven’t listened to this week’s episode yet but will do after GCF.

Friday, 4:36am

Friday, October 16th, 2009

dull roarCan’t sleep. Read a bit of Henry Rollins A Dull Roar which documents the prep for Rollins Band’s 2006 As the World Burns Tour with the original band. I call it the original band, but it’s the Weight lineup, which to me is the best one. I saw them play at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills on that tour. Here’s a review I found by someone who dug the show almost as much as I did. I rate that gig as the best I’ve ever been to, and I’ve seen a lot of them. A lot of Rollins Band shows too. I can’t put it into words so I won’t even try, but I was deeply moved and I really hope they do it again sometime.

Anyway, the breakup of that band was shrouded in mystery and it’s really cool to read what Henry has to say about it, about the rapport between them, their rehearsals, how they got back together. I’m not very far into the book but it’s inspiring me like nothing has in a while.

Had lunch with my friend Hector today and we’re talking about doing some acoustic shows… that made my day. Hopefully we’ll have something to announce soon. We’re going to start working on songs next week. Hector plays bass for The Frequency and I’ve interviewed him on my podcast. He is one of the very few musicians I know who I can call an artist. I feel lucky that he’d consider working with me.

Direct Orders from The KISS Army

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

kiss armyWithin minutes of posting my Sonic Boom review, I got two direct tweets from The KISS Army sent to my phone.

THEKISSARMY Not a very good review. Give it another listen, then get back to us later.

THEKISSARMY You got a copy at 1:15 PM Oct 13th (yesterday) and you reviewed it already? C’mon, man. That isn’t enough time to have an honest listen.

That was kinda surreal. It made me feel bad, actually. I know what it feels like to create something and have it torn apart by people who don’t really give it a shot. I actually didn’t think I panned the album, there are some great songs on it, but I guess some of my language was kinda harsh. If I change my mind after further listens I’ll modify my review, but I did listen to it about 10 times since I got the album… and I am comparing it to early KISS which is some of my favorite music on the planet.

BULL LEE Live @ MarcJoseph (photo set)

Monday, October 12th, 2009

I was perusing some Kate McGray BULL LEE photographs last night and found a group of photos I hadn’t paid much attention to in a folder called bl_marcjoseph.

I don’t remember when this was, maybe sometime in 2007, we were asked to play at the MarcJoseph store on Beverly. They had no sound system so we brought a mic and Trisha sang through a tiny Peavey practice amp that was given to me by my friend Shyam. The amp is no longer with us, incidentally, but it is forever immortalized in these photos.

We set up and rocked out for a handful of friends and stragglers. The store owners loved it. The highlight of the performance was when Trisha ran outside and screamed her lyrics at the traffic on the street. That must have been a bizarre thing to see from the point of view of people walking or driving by.

I uploaded the best of the set to Flickr here.