Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Machine Head Cover Ignite

Not the first cover I would have thought of, but this is kind of dope - Machine Head covering latter-day Ignite. Check out their cover of "Our Darkest Days."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Death Angel's Rob Cavestany on His Signature Riff, Latest Album & That Damn Burger Ad

Image lifted from deathangel.us
A while back, I had the pleasure of interviewing Death Angel’s Rob Cavestany for High Times magazine and was truly impressed by how friendly and chill he was. Before we knew it, our conversation exceeded what could ever be committed to print, so below are essentially the outtakes from our talk. Most surprising tidbit I learned? Apparently Rob thinks the riff to “I’m Bored” is overrated. Read on!

ZT: What were your expectations for Death Angel when you first got back together?
RC: We had no goals at all. It was only the immediate goal as to why we reunited in the first place, which was to play the benefit show for Chuck Billy [2001’s Thrash of the Titans]. We didn’t even exist when that benefit show was being set up.

Then we played the show, and, of course, it was so killer… Then we started getting offers and offers. Still, we were just going to close it up, then all of a sudden we got asked to play the Dynamo festival in Holland –we headlined that thing in 1990 on the Act III tour, so for us, it was one of monumental shows of our career. So then we were like, OK, we’ll do the one show in Holland, and that’s it. Then it just went on and on and on. We couldn’t stop after that happened.

What does your latest album title, The Dream Calls For Blood, mean to you?
The title is kind of our mantra at this point; the dream being our band, and the blood that it calls for is the sacrifice. The blood, sweat and tears, the ridiculously hard work and your life that you pour into the efforts of something that you really want to make happen very badly. Anybody can put their story to that kind of thing. 

For a long time, you were used to playing with family. How is the vibe different now?
At the beginning, it was extremely different and very bizarre, because I was used to playing with the original members for most of my life. In time, I grew to be familiar with the different styles that these guys play, and their personalities. Now, it’s like they are family, they just look different. They’re our less brown family members.

Do you still see the ex-members of the band at family gatherings?
I actually hung out with Andy [Galeon, original drummer] a couple of times recently. Andy’s got a couple of kids, I've got one kid, and our kids don’t even know each other, which is really sad because we were the closest of brothers. 

Our entire relationship revolved around our music, so now that we weren’t in the same band together, there was just an uncomfortable silence of nothingness, of trying to avoid discussing music when we’d see each other. They know I'm still doing all this stuff. In the end, it caused us to lose complete contact with each other. I practically didn’t talk to those guys for a year straight or more. We’re now starting to say hi… Andy’s oldest daughter is as old now as he was when he was already playing shows.

Technology has changed the music landscape in the last decade or so, do you think it’s helped or hurt the scene?
Obviously, the Internet helped with the ability to download and share files quickly, and has helped spread music quickly. But it hurts the recording musician and the songwriter, in a way that you just can't sell music very much anymore. So it depends on how you use it, but it’s unstoppable… so you gotta figure out how to play the game within the rules that have been shed forth.

What was your experience with having a "viral" demo back in the day?
The Kill As One demo was produced by Kirk Hammett. We played with Slayer and Overkill in New York at the Ritz [nee Webster Hall] before we even had an album out based on our demo tape. And when we got out to NY for the first time and played, all these kids were singing the lyrics to our songs! That was only possible because of tape trading… because we mailed it to them - one by one. I was sitting there duping off them tapes and mailing them from my house. That was a little bit more magical… everything felt more exciting when you finally did hold your first album. Now, every kid can make a CD out of their bedroom, no problem.

Any thoughts on the current thrash revival?
The style and the music holds its own because that energy doesn’t go away. The same reasons that we were drawn to it all those years ago is the same thing that can happen to any fucking kid of that age now, then, whenever. It’s got that youthful angst, but its also got musicality for musicians who want to geek out. My kid loves thrash, and he’s 7 years old.

Tell us about the signature riff to Frolic Through the Park's “Bored.”  
I wrote that riff as a joke.That song was never even going to be on Frolic, it was completely a joke. Friends of ours were like, "You have to put that song on your album!" At first we were laughing at the idea of it, like, "That’s not a metal song at all!" But then we did, and now it's become the song that we get defined by. Its not my favorite song of ours, but I'm glad that we have at least something like that at all. 

When you see old performance footage or listen to old live albums, what goes through your head?
When I see videos of us from back then... obviously we were way younger, but we’re way better live now. And we pay more attention to playing better. We used to swing around our hair a lot back then, but we actually go off on the stage much more so now. We’re in way better shape than we were back then. Back then we were just skinnier, we have stamina nowadays. 

And I can't let you go without bringing up the Carl's Jr. commercial that used your song, "The Ultra-Violence."
Carl’s Jr. –  Yeah, haha.
I still haven’t gotten a free jalapeno turkey burger out of it [laughs], but seeing it on TV was such a kick. Everybody was blowing up my phone. I never got down to the bottom of why us and why that song. It seems pretty coincidental that we were touring for the 25th anniversary of our debut album, The Ultra-Violence. We re-released it and we were playing it beginning to end live.

I was with my parents, my wife and my kid watching the Golden Globes and they cut away to commercial, and that’s the commercial that came on! When it happened, it was a glorious moment in achievements…. My music being played on a Carl Jr.'s commercial!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Goodbye, Roseland

It's fair to say that I've spent a lot of time inside midtown's Roseland Ballroom. From big acts like AC/DC to the dozens of Slayer, Pantera and countless other shows I caught there - it's been a fun place to see gigs since my teens.

Last night, I went to pay my final respects at Lady Gaga's closing run of the place; the second-to-last night they'd ever hold concerts at Roseland. Though I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish it wasn't a harder act I saw there last, I appreciate Gaga's reverence for the place. She's a native New Yorker, so she understands the space was more than just a slab of real estate, it was a temple where tons of music fans like myself went to worship the thing holiest to them: music.

If you're not in NYC - or couldn't get tickets, here is a link to where the Roseland's last show will be broadcast tonight, starting at 9pm ET right HERE.

Posted below are some of the stubs I found from my history with the venue. If you look at the dates, you'll notice one of my many Slayer shows was less than 24 hours from a remarkable Hole show during the Live Through This period.

RIP Roseland, I'll always have my memories... and dozens of ticket stubs.

The rest of my iPhone pics of Gaga's show (including the moment she climbed a rose-encrusted ladder - in heels - up to VIP to serenade Tony Bennett) can be found here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Donate to SxSW Cares

UPDATE: There's been a fourth casualty. An 18-year-old named De’Andre Tatum passed away on March 27. He joins victims Steven Craenmehr (35), Jamie Ranae West (27) and Jamie Ranae West (26).

The four senseless deaths that occurred at South by Southwest this year hit me harder than even the Harlem building collapse that happened so much closer to home. All I kept thinking was, "it could have been me or any of my friends."

Now, the people behind SxSW have set up a charity portal where folks can help the remaining 22 victims who were hurt with their medical bills and more. I urge you all to join me in making a donation here, at SxSWCares.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Eyehategod Music

Last night, the boys in Eyehategod debuted this lyric video [pardon] for the rather uptempo "Agitation! Propaganda!" and it's pretty bitchin'. Right around the 1:40 mark is when stuff slows down and some good Bower Power riffage comes through. A good presage of things to come.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

In Defense of South by Southwest

We're in the throes of South by Southwest season and surely if you're in some way a music or media fan (or check social media even occasionally), reports about it are pretty hard to ignore. And in more recent years, people have actively started to make an armchair sport of mocking how overblown and commercial SxSW has become.

Yes, it IS incredibly commercial. I roll my eyes every time I read an insane announcement about how the iTunes Festival is setting up shop and bringing Coldplay and Pitbull. It totally tickles me to think about Lady Gaga playing the Doritos stage, which in past years has been modeled to look like a giant vending machine. And please believe I'd pay to have access to a Judge stage-dive cam for their throwdown for Converse.

But you know what? I'd still go back in a second if it fit into my schedule. My experience with the Austin-based culture extravaganza extends only to attending the music portion several times over. I've never really done the tech or movie parts (despite having access) because of time constraints and to spare the health of my liver and kidneys.

Here's the thing, though: in all my many years of going, I've never had a bad time. Whatever type of music you're a fan of, you'll likely find it. There are literally thousands of artists that descend upon the city for your entertainment. And you have the nerve to complain that these acts are picking up some corporate exposure along the way?

Sure, my experience is biased as a member of the press. I've never had to load in or find parking around closed streets flooded with jaded day-drunks. (FYI: I'm saving all my intoxication, band and make-out stories for the inevitable book.) But are you seriously willing to tell me that hanging outside in (usually) warm weather, drinking a free beer while watching an endless array of bands is a BAD thing? Buddy, you've got problems.

So after reading and hearing so much dumb smack-talk over the last few years, I present my reasons of why you should stop complaining about SxSW.

In Defense of SxSW in Five Gripes:

Ooh, SxSW is So Lame! When Have I Gone? Never
Those who actively denounce SxSW but have never attended can just step over to the left and STFU. It comes off petty. All that shit-talk sounds like embitterment because you've never been connected, adventurous or intrepid enough to make your way in. Hell, even without any kind of pass, bracelet, credential or guest list, ANYONE can catch free music, eat (good) free food and drink free beer if you resolve to get in the thick of it and show up in Austin.

Not Liking SxSW is Kind of Un-American
Think about the tenets this country and the Peoples Republic of Texas are founded on: loud music, ever-flowing beer, cool breezes and seared meat. Guess what? That's pretty much what you're in for at SxSW. And since Austin is home to Whole Foods, chances are there will be a veggie option. You're going to tell me that this is a TERRIBLE proposition? Time to move to Canada and attend NxNE instead.

There's No Discovery Because People Are Busy Watching A-List Acts
Sure, your editor might expect you to cover the huge marquee performance, and that might conflict with the set time of the new band you're dying to check out. Luckily, said unknown band probably has five gigs at SxSW, so you can do BOTH. Or if you're not obsessed with being the humble-bragger, pick a lesser marquee act that you've always wanted to see but haven't. A few years back when Metallica was headlining Stubb's, I decided to go check out Devo for the first time and my mind was blown. Then I probably went off to see some metal band stomp all over Emo's.

There are literally opportunities to see music each day from noon until 4am - day party to after party - the great alpha and omega of South by Southwest. Even without trying hard, I've probably caught 35-50 acts per trip, with plenty of eating and schmoozing in between. Remember the time there was a Profound Lore showcase, followed by a jaunt to see Panic! At the Disco before grabbing a Sausage King dog and hopping in a pedi-cab to see Eyehategod and Pentagram play a huge field? I fuckin' do. That was also the same day I caught The Kills and Havok back to back. Yes, folks, you CAN see it all.

It's Way Too Commerical
In a one-block radius, I once scored Mountain Dew sunglasses, a remarkably soft Rolling Stone T-shirt to sleep in and a much-needed chicken burrito from a truck with Danny Trejo's visage and the Shady Records logo painted on it. Why? Why the hell not!? It was there and marketing is everything. Might as well suck on that teet and save your food money for drugs and bartender tips.

SxSW is Too Impersonal
Ooh, I can't get into this panel and see my favorite NPR commentator or the kid I know from Twitter.... I'm gonna call bullshit right here. Since Austin is smack-dab in the middle of the country, people from LA and NY (and all those other places in between, even from across the world) attend, making it a wonderful place to rub elbows with tastemakers, potential employers and the dorks you had flame-wars with in the Geocities days.

Still not convinced? Not much more I'm willing to say. But at least do yourself a favor and live through SxSW once before shrugging it off. As Albert Einstein put it, "The only source of knowledge is experience."

Zena T

PS: Want to see who've I've seen? Some SxSW galleries HERE and HERE.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dan Lilker's Swan Song

I must admit, I was surprised to see the following post from my old buddy, Dan Lilker. When I think of metal lifers, he's one of the first I picture. And unlike many of his contemporaries, he's somehow maintained his passion for the scene without picking up any of the hardened embitterment so associated with pioneers who never quite hit it big. I'll definitely miss seeing him at various fests, but respect the hell out of him for getting out on his own terms.

It looks like Brutal Truth is a wrap, but Danny's and their legacy will continue.

"A Message From Dan Lilker

I regret to inform Brutal Truth fans that as of October 18th, 2014, I will be retiring from being a full time recording and touring musician. That date is my 50th birthday, so I chose it symbolically as a significant milestone to make such a weighty decision. As a lot of you know, I've been an active member of the metal scene since the early 80s with the thrash metal bands I've been in before the formation of Brutal Truth in 1990, and I'm simply just tired of the rigors of touring mostly. Unlike some of my peers from the 80's who went on to sell millions of records I have always been drawn to extreme underground metal. I don't care about staying in 5 star hotels and having a big cushy tour bus but I am getting tired of squeezing into a van for 8 hours after all these years on the road. I have always played what I believe in and that is been priority #1, but the time has come to have a little bit more stability in my life.

Brutal Truth will still be active on the touring front until mid-October and will aim to do as much as we can in the next 9 months or so. After that, I will still have creative output with my 2 local bands in Rochester NY, Nokturnal Hellstorm and Blurring and do the occasional project tour, but yes, as of mid-October, Brutal Truth will no longer exist. I do realize that will be an extreme disappointment to all the grind freaks out there that have supported this band so rabidly all these years, and your enthusiasm will always have a special place in my heart, but I've made my decision, and I hope everyone can respect that.

Thanks, Dan Lilker"