THE JOURNAL "SACK"
A massive, incredibly passionate response about this subject, many are printed below for all to see. Thanks for taking the time to answer me, it's appreciated.
To clarify a couple questions:
1) Machine Head made 180 gram premium double vinyl for both The Blackening and Unto The Locust, check Amazon or eBay.
2) UTL came with a digital booklet on both the special edition and the regular iTunes versions, which apparently no one looked at : )
THE GENERAL JOURNALS "NUT SACK":
Amazon just started selling cd's with "autorip". This is pretty much the best of both worlds. You order a CD and it immediately appears in your cloud fully digital, ready to be streamed to your phone, pc, tablet etc. No need to wait to for the CD to arrive in the mail to hear it, you can start listening as soon as you buy it. Than a few days later your physical copy shows up at your door MEGA! Perfect for
someone like me who loves the convenience of digital but still loves an old-school backup copy. I also dig vinyl with a download code.
Tod aka Ratchetjaw
Ben from MetalSucks here. Big fan, as you know. I read your recent journal entry about the record biz and just wanted to let you know that I completely agree: streaming is the future and physical formats are all but dead (except for vinyl, which at this point is basically sold as a "souvenir"… people just like having it but never listen to the actual disc).
Four years ago I was praising Spotify, way before it launched in the U.S. (but it was available in Europe) and everyone said I was crazy. Last year when Spotify U.S. finally launched I wrote about it extensively on MetalSucks, and people said I was crazy once again: "Why would anyone want to STREAM music without even OWNING it???" I even got into a very public war or words with Century Media's president about it. Some people are finally coming around; it's fucking awesome! I'm glad to see someone with as high a profile as you supporting it. It takes time, though; metal heads are a very conservative bunch, despite what they claim about being counter-culture and all that, and many still steadfastly cling to their precious CDs.
Where I do disagree with you is on the viability of the album format in general (whether it's physical or digital); I do think metal fans still really appreciate hearing a full album, front to back. Metal is not a singles-driven market, even if singles do exist and help bring bands visibility. Metal fans, including myself, still really enjoy listening to an album. But I see your point, that our attention spans are much shorter these days, and sometimes less is more.
Cheers, and keep on writing.
First, let me just say a huge thank you for writing these journals. Please keep them coming! Special thanks for the PHPList option - very convenient indeed.
Now, to the point - just wanted to share my opinion on music formats these days. I'm probably the last generation to grow up on CDs (and cassettes - glad those are gone!) and I will miss them when they're gone completely (which will inevitably happen, just like it happened to everything but vinyl). However, I still think that for now they should be offered as an option, for a number of reasons:
- tangibles. People love things they can touch (may not be true for today's teenagers, but there're thousands MH fans older than that). We love the booklets and the artwork. CD is a piece of music memorabilia, just like a shirt from a show or that preciousssss guitar pick. And, if they're gone, what the hell do we give you to sign at a meet&greet? :)
- money. Having and loving Spotify Premium, I'd still buy a CD if I really love the band and want to offer my X dollars as a sign of support. I know plenty of people who buy a physical copy of an album AND buy it on iTunes (illegal downloading is so 2001). That being said, I admit I have no idea how much money goes into making CDs, and if us buying them gives you any real profit anymore, so please disregard if it doesn't.
- special features. Making-of DVDs, extra tracks...stickers. Anything that goes into a "collectable" category. I think this is probably the only CD format (versus just the "regular edition") that can be sold out nowadays.
All of the above is also true for vinyl, but arguably many more people are able to play a CD at home than a vinyl.
For all the other formats...iTunes? Yes. Spotify? Absolutely (best thing that has happened to digital music, period). Unorthodox things like "booklet with download code"? Sounds cool, and stays true to my "tangible" argument. I'd try this out.
Maybe you should do a survey on a site? Curious to see what the majority of us Head Cases/Undesirables think...
Anyway, hope this wasn't too long/boring, and sorry if my grammar is occasionally weird (English is obviously my second language).
Good luck with the new album! (lack of long songs might cause a riot though :))
All the best,
In answer to your question about formats...
I will be happy with whatever you decide to do as far as a release, though I am still a CD collector. I'm one of the old school idiots who NEED to have all of the special edition releases, the overseas versions, with the one extra track, etc.
I have plenty of downloads, and I too, have discovered many bands via youtube, and other streaming sites, but when I am passionate about a band, I want the whole collection, physical CD, artwork and all. In the case of Machine Head, ultimately I want whatever comes out on CD, in as many versions as there are. I have the regular and deluxe versions of the last 3 CDs (including the European and US release of TTAOE.) I also got the Metal Hammer release of Locust, and my posters from the magazine are framed and proudly displayed in my office/man cave/music room. I am looking at a Machine Head poster on the wall above my monitor as I type....
Anyway, I think I have made my point. If you put it out, I'm in!
The Kickstarter route is interesting. I have supported a few bands through that and Pledge Music as well. It is pretty sweet getting your name in a CD booklet under the thanks column! (It took me about an hour to find my name on the Machine Head poster, but when I did, man was I stoked!).
I gotta say.... I fucking LOVE your band. Machine Head has gotten me through some serious shit. The last 2 albums are just amazing. Some of the most beautiful guitar work in metal to date. The solos in Halo, Locust, Be Still And Know, and This Is The End, are just sublime.
I had the good fortune to catch you in Worcester this past year and was even luckier to meet you (see attached pic). Damn it was cold out by the bus that night!! I missed meeting Dave, but got to meet Phil and Adam as well.
That was my 3rd Machine Head show and I hope to see you again next time you roll through the east coast. (I drove about 3 hours from Albany to see you guys, and would happily do it again).
So glad I got to see Locust album done live.
Thanks for doing these journals Robb. It means alot to us fans to be able to have a connection with you and the band.
Looking forward to the new material.
Dude, I would like to see the new album put on a custom made flash drive. Either as a guitar, band logo or something that's unique and out there. You could also include a t-shirt and poster with it. In other words, a package deal.
Glad to see your putting your thoughts out there again for us to read and reply to.
Staying on subject, other then you guys (MH) I really dont buy CDs anymore unless
its in the value bin at some 7-11/WalMart/etc for 4.99 ( think we recently got Vanilla Ice
and the Spice Girls... hahahhaa ! so thats what Fucking Head Live and the original
versions of my open mic songs [MH, BLS, StoneSour, Slipknot, DKL, Prong] are
currently competing with). Everything else i buy is all digitally downloaded.
Though, I will say as there are so many die hard Head Cases...
something tangible like the pre release of UTL/baller pack of goodies I think
is very much wanted by us fans. What ever you release include another bottle opener
cuz i lost mine the first day it was on my keychain. I was fucking pissed !! You prob
have a fuck ton of other emails to read so Ill close this shit out. So stoked for the new
material soon to come !! Cant wait to fuck shit up down in Denver the next time you
guys roll through !
Fuckin A !!!
Andrew, Winter Park, Colorado
I totally understand your "ramblings" about what format to release Machine Head music in the future. Let me tell you - I like CD's. Sure I'll rip them to mp3's right away so I can have them in my player on the road, at work, in the gym. Sure I only listen to three of four songs in the beginning because they're the ones I instantly like.
But after a couple of months I have been thinking about the lyrics for this song or that song. I've been giving a couple of the other songs on the album a go and they kinda grew on me. So after some time, sometimes a looong time, I pull the CD from the shelf, put it on the stereo and enjoy the production for the first time because the songs are played on a HI-Fi stereo. And I start reading and re-reading the lyrics, enjoying the artwork and I start to dig the rest of the songs on the album.
Why??? Machine Head music grows on you. Some tunes turn you on instantly, but most need time to plant the seed and grow. And for that I need the full package. Sit with the CD in my hand and actually read the lyrics on paper, listen to the music while stepping deeper and deeper into the universe of your songs...
Just my ramblings :-)
P.S. Enjoyed your Wacken show immensly!!!
Steen Knudsen - Denmark
You wanted response from the fans about music formats so here's mine...
I appreciate what you're saying about digital downloads being the future and I know A LOT of people will agree with you. But for me there's something special about having a CD. I like that excitement you get as you rip off the plastic wrapper to get to the goodies inside. I love looking through the inlay and appreciating the work that someone has put into it. There's some awesome artwork in CD inserts and it would be a shame if those artists no longer had that platform. I like to be able to look at my CD shelves and think about what I want to listen to with it all laid out in front of me. Sure, I rip all my CDs. I listen to my music on my computer and my phone. I even have some music only in digital copy (usually albums my husband has bought). But CDs still hold a certain magic for me and I'll be sad to see the day when they are no more.
As a sure note - I've just supported two different projects through kickstarter, both of which smashed their goal. I think it's a great way to do things as if you're going to buy the product anyway why not pay in advance so you're helping it get made?
I'm enjoying your journals, keep up the good work and thanks for reading my reply!
Loving the journals, sir - keep 'em up!
Have you considered Pledge Music as a medium for releasing the new album (check out the site)? No label to concern yourself with, or stick their noses in, just a way of controlling how and when you release to the people that matter (us!) The fans decide what/how they want the music. Ginger Wildheart is showing the industry how to do it; I think that would be a very cool way forward.
Just a thought - thanks for listening, and a big HELLA thanks for the music, dude (the reason we're all in this together...)
Anyway, on this CD/Streaming/8-track conversation.... I'm probably not the typical customer, in that I love to buy albums. I look forward to them, as a kind of anticipated musical event, usually by artists I trust. I'd rather a band do as Tool or Metallica or any number of artists have done, and take time to create a GREAT record in 5 years, rather than an "okay" record in 3 years. Or, take the approach Newsted and Down have taken, and release 3-4 song EPs every 6 months...
I admit, I like to buy "deluxe" anything. I bought the delux Locust package, and I really enjoy the Priest and Rush covers! Having said that, artistically, I understand why the album proper ended after "Who We Are." In fact, I've noticed lately many of my favorite records have running times between 40-60 minutes long. In music school, I had a composition professor who observed that his student's melodies would typically be as long as their computer monitor was wide. The point being, obviously, that the medium can dictate the music, if it is allowed to. There are rare occasions where this works to the benefit of the music. Usually, it doesn't. And again, to your point about Reign in Blood, the magic of that album is that it's a god-damned blur. Gone before you know it.
Technologically, I still don't mind ripping my CD to mp3s. I use the CD player in my car to listen to most of my music, because between work and family, it's the only alone time I get to really listen and digest music. My CD player doesn't have the ability to integrate into with my smart-phone (aux input, blue tooth, etc), so I have to use CDs. If I buy something on iTunes, the only way I can listen to it in my car is to burn it to a CD. So, I buy the CD instead. I do like to stream to my smartphone when I'm at the gym, or otherwise able to listen through it. But even then, I'm streaming my own music collection, not through a service like Spotify or Pandora. If I want Sabbath, I want to be able to immediately choose it. I'm impatient that way, I guess, but I can see the value in having your catalog on a service like that.
For me, being the luddite, I still like CDs. They look nice on the shelf, they smell nice when you flip through the inserts, and I get to see production credits. I've bought tons of records based on production/mixing/mastering credits... Maybe that's the key, producing a CD package as an "extra," such that the album or EP is released through digital medium, but the only way to get the CD is to also buy the extra stuff, at a premium price. I've long been amazed that CD prices haven't gone up in the 20 years I've been buying them. Make a deluxe Machine Head album available online, for $25, but with the packaging and bonus tracks, etc. I'd buy that... And I'm going to digitize my shit anyway, so it's not like I'm ignoring the trends of the day.
I appreciate you reading my comments, I know they were lengthy. As a life-long musician and metal-head, I have given lots of thought to the kind of issues we face, both as musicians and as fans. My own attempts at self-production have enlightened me to the difficulties in writing, producing, distributing, and SELLING one's music. For my part, I will chase the music, where ever it goes, however it's distributed. I like CDs, but the writing is on the wall. And like my comp professor said, your melody doesn't have to be the size of the computer screen. As long as you guys think past the single, as you do and always have done, you'll be fine.
God bless, and thanks for all the hard work. I'll buy your shit, however it lands, because I know it's going to rule.
I haven't jumped on the spotify train yet but you're making me wanna check it out! I always download MH's stuff on iTunes and it's still just as exciting waiting for that release date to finally come and get it that day! It would be tight to get a calendar size booklet or poster with it! I'd love to try vinyl too, don't have a record player but I'd love to get one. You're a fucking mastermind and a very positive inspiration in my life I truly look up to you and I'm so grateful you're writing more music because I can't get enough. EVER! I saw you guys twice last year and you ARE bad fucking ass I'll never forget those shows. I love you guys.
Personally, I love CDs. There's just something that I can't explain about them, it feels so much better than a download. Just being able to hold it in your hands makes it feel more real somehow.
iTunes is fine. CDs are soooo 2000.
Eilish Kerry Ross:
You know what I want? Just more Machine Head. Got me through a bad patch in my life, inspired me to get out and go my own way in music. Your music is amazing, and I like that your venting. Feels more like you want to know my opinion, even if I am just one tiny voice in amongst the collective.
I hope someday I get somewhere in music, and for sure Machine Head will be the first band I'll want to play with.
Straight to the point, please make sure you include lossless audio formats (eg. FLAC). It's a shame when some digital releases are only available as a compressed MP3 and you want to play through a good hifi setup. You really don't want Dave's drums to sound washy do you? Thanks for the openness and a great read,
I don't even use cd's anymore except to make mix cds in the random cars that don't have an audio jack for my phone. I just set my phone on shuffle and let it do it's thing. I'm not interested in the least bit in paying 20 bucks for a cd when I don't know what I'm going to get. itunes and spotify are definitely the way to go.
Nano Marley Selassie:
I want the next machine head´s album in a download code in the front of a fridge. And a penguin. Everybody loves penguins. Think about it.
Morten Bønding Koch:
Great read and nice to see you picking up the old dairies again, it gives a much closer and clearer vision of what you guys deal with as band members. But sadly i would have to agree with you, CDs have been a trophy just sitting on a shelf while the music will be streamed or downloaded, personally i buy albums as a dedication to your hard work, well knowing that i might use this physical album only once or twice a year yet still streaming the songs from the exact somewhere else. It is a mind twister knowing what people want, but as a guy born in the digital world, a download code would be put to most use
just my 2 cents, Keep up the good work m/
I love having iTunes, spotify is great to but if I hear an album on spotify that I end up loving ill go buy it on iTunes. I never buy CDs anymore
+1 for the Vinyl with digital download idea - although I'm very taken by the "A guitar that plays the whole record through a USB plug"!!!
A download code on vinyl with a beard comb.
CDs fucker ! Call me old school !
I don't care if I buy a physical CD or electronic - but I do like the idea of music arranged in a project. We call them albums today - but it could be anything that groups songs together in a way that makes sense. I've often found as I listen to an album that the song that was my favorite to start with, the one with the catchie tune or the cool words, you know the obvious one - slowly is eclipsed by a more subtle one that has really interesting words or beat or guitiar or cowbell.... whatever. I love that process of discovery especially with your music.
I really don't like the idea of having all my music as digital downloads. Or even worse (for me), streaming them from the web. Don't misunderstand me, I use YouTube to discover music, hell, it's probably my main tool for finding new bands. But when I like a band, I buy their CD. If I like them a lot, I buy multiple CDs. Do I know if the rest of the album is any good? No, it might be complete shite. But that's not really important to me. I don't know why, but I just like listening to whole albums, to a collection of songs, instead of just a one-off piece of music.
Best of both worlds would be being able to get a physical copy of just the artwork for the CD that has a download code for the music. Personally I love having the artwork of a bands CD. I have bought both d/l versions and the physical CD just to have the artwork .
posted by : DevinTownsendsFunnyShapedHead
CD, CD, CD....
Streaming and MP3's are soulless. Yes, Spotify and iTunes are a great convenience, but music is much better when you feel you've invested in it and you can take the time to listen to it.
Writing a good song is a talent, but writing a good album is an artform, and the iPod generation have made music so disposable that good art is getting harder to find.
The day physical CDs become obsolete is the day I stop purchasing music.
posted by : astroboy
Having a musician actually saying that downloading is a great thing is the most idiot, dumb, stupid thing i've ever read. Seems to me that Robb Flynn grew up in an era where LPs where the dominant thing. So he damn well knows how cool it was to hang to a product that meant something. Robb Flynn sure knows as well how cool record stores were and how important they were for the whole scene. And i don't get how a pro musician can listen to digital download. Computers ARE NOT made to listen to music. Robb Flynn should go out and listen to his favourite records on a decent stereo system before opening his stupid mouth. The death of the album as a format is a tragedy. Robb Flynn is a ignorant moron.
COMMENT | People, get off your soapboxes.
posted by : labora
Robb is right, folks. Cd stores are disappearing, physical cds are getting harder and harder to find. Soon, they won't exist. It's inevitable. EVERYTHING is going digital these days. It's the way of the world. Like it or not, that's the way it is. I'd rather have physical cds myself, but 3/4 of the time, I can't find them ANYWHERE, so I HAVE to download them. Just the way it is. Get used to it....Cds won't be around much longer, just like the 8-track and cassette.
Posted by: Dragonflame:
To Robb Flynn: I still order CDs from my favorite bands...because I want everything I can get from that band. I want the artwork and lyrics, and reading the thank yous, not to mention the CD quality is better most of the time compared to streaming music. Sure, I get digital music too, but I like the option of getting the cd and artwork from the band as well. I actually have my favorite album covers on the wall in my bands rehearsal room. Taped those cd booklets right up there.
When you came out with that everything MH magazine awhile back...we all ordered it. We didnt want a digital order and read it on an Kindle or E-Reader. When we meet bands, we wanna buy their cd and ask them to sign it. We dont want the bands to sign a usb flash drive. Or have a band say they will email us a digital signature.
My cousin has like a crapload of cds all in his living room in a giant bookcase. I like going through them, and when I grab a cd to put on, I like being able to read the booklet and look at the artwork. What if it was all digital and he said,"Sorry, internet is down if you wanna look up lyrics and stuff about the band." It's not the same.
Subscribe to The General Journals: Diary of a Frontman... and Other Ramblings
Machine Head will be appearing at NAMM this coming January 24th thru the 27th. Phil Demmel will be doing an autograph signing at the Jackson Guitars booth on Saturday at 2PM, Robb Flynn will be doing an acoustic performance at the upstairs Epiphone booth on Friday at 4PM, and both Phil and Robb will be signing at the EMG booth on Saturday at 11AM.
Just to refresh everyone who may not have read the first Journal I wrote, I have started up my diary/journals again after taking a much needed break from it. They're now called "The General Journals: Diary of a Frontman... and Other Ramblings™". For a little background, I started doing these journals/diaries 11 years ago in 2002, between "Supercharger" and "Through The Ashes". It was the first wave of the internet, and we jumped on board, were one of the first (if not the first) to start the text/video diaries, and we fully embraced it. It was awesome, and enabled our band (that had been completely written off by the major U.S. metal press, and continues to be) to connect with our fans in a really unique way. And that's what these are for/about: the connection. I need this connection, and from what you've told me over the years, you need it too. I find myself looking back on my life and so much of it is about searching for a connection, any connection, through music, through shows, through jamming, through partying, through girls/sex, through friends, and oftentimes, down all the wrong paths. Maybe we all are. And maybe some of us don't need to be. Some of us had great normal lives, lives that kept the need for this fucking endless search at bay. I'm certain that part of it with me is, being adopted at 6 months and never feeling truly "connected" to anyone (3 foster families in the first 6 months of life), but hey, that's a whole other story.
Side Note: If you're reading this on a website other than MH1 or our Facebook page, please know that this is not a "press release". These are my "journals", "ramblings", "brain dumps", etc. There seems to be some confusion about that. If you're not a fan of the band, feel free to ignore these, I'll be doing them often, sometimes twice a week. I'm not trying to win anyone over here, I'm not trying to change anyone's opinion of Machine Head or me, I don't expect, or even need, everyone to like me or the music we make. This is for the diehard Machine Head fans (the Head Cases, The Undesirables) who follow the band closely. It's for our main site MachineHead1.com, our Facebook, and the PHPList that I've started. Its purpose is to give said fans updates, thoughts on life, and life in a band.
No immediate tour plans, but we will officially begin writing this week or next. No one has really sat down and discussed where we'd like to go in depth, but we have talked about shorter songs (LOL). The last Ten Ton Hammer show we did in London really got us thinking about cool, short songs. In particular, "Postmortem" by Slayer seemed to really get our blood flowing. We all talked about it afterward, how they managed to squeeze so many AWESOME riffs into 3 minutes and 28 seconds is just freakin' mind-boggling (or as our drum tech Mudbilly says, "mind-bottling"). "Everlong" and "Sad Statue" were also cool nuggets of shortness (videos of us covering those songs are up on YouTube, check 'em out). Phil has told me he has some riffs, McClain e-mailed some cool riffs, I have some pretty awesome riffs tuned down to F that I'm stoked on... so, who knows where it's all going yet, but it's definitely starting to bubble. Can't really tell where it's all gonna end up, you can't really plan that out, but that's some of what we've been bouncing around.
In other news, we've successfully finished our recording contract with Roadrunner and are currently free agents. It's an exciting time for us right now, the world is our oyster and we can dictate a lot of fair terms in exchange for our art. There's been a lot of talk as to what we should and/or shouldn't do; the music business has changed dramatically since the last deal we signed for "Through The Ashes" back in 2003 (let alone our first deal in 1993), and what we're looking for in a deal here in 2013 is different.
I used to be a staunch believer that the world isn't waiting for a quickly-delivered Machine Head album, they're just waiting for a great Machine Head album. And while I still believe that, in the 10 years between TTAOE, TB, and UTL, the world stopped caring as much about great "albums". People want great songs, and while great albums are appreciated, they don't mean what they used to. People have been burned by too many lousy CD's / albums / downloads. I know I have (the new Muse record blows, I LOVE that band, but the last 2 have been pretty meh).
Plus, if you're making music these days, there's a hell of a lot of chatter to cut through between Facebook, Twitter, gaming, movies, Instagram, YouTube, social everything, mobile everything... listening to an album front to back ain't what it used to be. Songs resonate more, it's easier to get to the point. I don't even want to listen to most albums all the way through anymore, most have too many songs / are too damn long. Gimme "Paranoid" ANY DAY - 41 minutes, 8 songs (one of which is a drum solo!), a masterpiece. Gimme "Moving Pictures" - 39 minutes, 7 songs, PERFECT!! Remember when Slayer's "Reign In Blood" was so short you could squeeze the whole album on one side of a cassette?! The official Def Jam cassette had the whole album repeated on side 2 cause it's 29 minutes!! People were up in arms, they actually felt ripped off.
Today, it's regarded as a masterpiece.
Is anyone saying "man, I wish 'Reign In Blood' had 9 more songs"?
We don't need 19 songs and 72 minutes of music on a CD. And where would you even get most CD's nowadays? Between my iPhone, iTunes, and Spotify, I just download or stream it, it's too easy. I can say without a shred of doubt that I will never buy another physical CD again. Ever. I have found so many new bands on iTunes and Spotify (I use the $9-a-month Premium version) it is absolutely incredible. The entire history of recorded music is at your fingertips, at all times. Sure, there are a few holdouts, but they'll be on board within the year. Even Metallica just hopped on the Spotify train. The world has gone streaming. It's just too easy. Hell, I've found more new AND old bands on YouTube just surfing around than I ever have going to a record store.
And so we as a band ask ourselves a lot of unique questions about what we should do. I am absolutely not interested in selling CD's first week of release for $16, $17 or $18 dollars/euros/pounds. I'm not interested in selling CD's at all frankly, though I realize people still buy and appreciate them... but hey, change is inevitable, especially in this business. Just like cassettes became obsolete, just like CD longboxes became obsolete. I remember when people were pissed that we didn't offer vinyl for "The More Things Change...", and then really pissed when we didn't offer cassettes for "The Burning Red", and I mean PISSED about those cassettes! Does anyone miss cassettes now? Hell no.
And as I write this I'm thinking - as I'm sure many of you are - just how counterproductive the things I'm saying are. I mean, Machine Head are in the business of selling CD's right? But at the same time, we're in the business of making music, for people to listen to, however they want to. We find ways to generate money to pay back the people who loaned us the money to record, to re-invest in our band, to make better records, to put on better light shows, to bring better sound systems, to keep the lights on at Machine Head, to live our lives, so that we can make more music. We don't want to get in bed with a bunch of corporate sponsors, we've already dabbled in that and it's a nightmare, worse than the record companies. Who knows, maybe we'll end up signing with a traditional record company after all, because there is A LOT of stuff that we're just not interested in doing. Maybe we do something radical instead, I've heard a lot of great things about these Kickstarter projects, Amanda Palmer in particular has done amazing...
I don't know where I'm even going with this. It's part vent, part ramble, part trying-to-figure-it-out-as-I'm-typing. But in saying that, let me put it out to you: How do YOU want Machine Head’s music? Do YOU want a CD? Do YOU want a Spotify stream? Do YOU want the ease of an iTunes download? Do YOU want vinyl with that digital download? Do YOU want a new/different configuration no one has thought about/offered? A guitar that plays the whole record through a USB plug? A calendar-sized booklet with nothing but a download code?
Write me at [mail=TheGeneralJournals@gmail.com]TheGeneralJournals@gmail.com[/mail], post on our FB page, Tweet it to me, post a Blabbermouth comment, I'll read it all.
Because to me, it's all about making the best music we can, about striving to be better than the rest, not just good, but absolutely bad fucking ass. Making something so powerful, it can't help but be heard. And frankly, that's all that matters. The rest will sort itself out.
Subscribe to The General Journals: Diary of a Frontman... and Other Ramblings
Life has a funny way of playing out, how seemingly innocuous encounters can take you to places you never thought you'd go.
Flash back to about a year and a half ago... I'm walking through Whole Foods in Walnut Creek talking on the phone to my friend Tom when a lady and her daughter approach me wide-eyed. "Are you fucking Robb Flynn?!" ... “I could be..." They scream with delight and make a big ol' to-do, "oh my god, we’re huge fans, I love ‘The Blackening’, I'm Tony La Russa's wife!" I'm tripped out, they're both super nice, we take pictures, my friend is laughing his ass off, more about the fact that I was swarmed in a freakin’ Whole Foods than anything else. So, last February we headline The Warfield in San Francisco, and after the show, who walks in but Elaine, Devon and Tony La Russa. A bunch of my Chicago buddies are there and lose their minds, and hilariously begin sneakin' pictures with him while he's talking to someone else by "leaning in" and snapping a quick pic (which became the legend known as "The La Russa Lean"). My baseball fanatic Dad FREAKS OUT, and Tony L blows my mind when he tells me that I "have so much charisma, he wishes he could bottle it and make his players drink it". WOW!!?? I'm not worthy! We strike up a conversation and I mention that we got our dog Shady from the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) in Walnut Creek that he started almost 25 years ago, and he's really stoked about that. He takes down my number and texts me the next day thanking me for the hospitality and for the great show. We've stayed in touch randomly over the last year.
Two days after Christmas I get a voicemail from Tony, he's doing his 22nd annual benefit to raise money for ARF, he wants to invite my wife and I down to both nights, and wants to know if I'd like to come hang out, or even jam a song, and if not, just enjoy the show. The first night is Comedy Night with Dana Carvey, Kevin Pollak, Rob Schneider and John Wing, the second night features some Broadway performers, Rich Hebert (the main star of the Broadway renditions of Les Miserables, Billy Elliot and Saturday Night Fever), The Tommy Igoe Big Band, Jeff Scott Soto (of Yngwie Malmsteen / Trans Siberian Orchestra fame!) jammin’ some Queen tunes, a Robin Williams comedy set, and Tony fucking Orlando!! JESUS!? How do you say no? I get back to him on New Year’s Eve and and say yeah, and if he's up for it, I can maybe jam a couple of acoustic songs. He's down.
It's an anniversary gift for his wife Elaine, who is a raging metalhead... like, bananas for super-random-obscure-euro-metal kind of metalhead. Elaine La Russa is the real deal folks. So now I'm thinking, “what the hell am I gonna play?” I figure I just did "Die Young" acoustic a couple of weeks ago, I was confident I could pull it off, but what else? I had never performed the all-acoustic version of “Darkness Within” that appeared on the Special Edition of “Unto The Locust”... hmmm, fuck it I'll try that. Only thing is that when I recorded that version, I played the guitar and sang separately, as I’d had about 2 hours to re-interpret it amidst a pretty mean hangover.
We show up to the Comedy Night, and I was telling my wife, "man, I'm so ready to laugh, I need to laugh". We sat next to Elaine, and MAN did we laugh! Every comedian was hilarious, and all for different reasons. At one point I had to massage my face muscles because they were starting to cramp from so much laughing. It was a full-on uncontrollable mescaline-laugh-a-thon flashback. I SO needed it.
The next day I showed up to soundcheck and the first person I see is John (Indo) who was the engineer at the home studio The Grill where we recorded the '93 demo that would get us signed to Roadrunner. He's doing my sound, yes, it's gonna be awesome. Rich Hebert from (as Phil calls it) "Les Mis" is singing some insanely amazing version of a Les Mis tune, him and I are sharing a dressing room and hit it off. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, including random/cool conversations with Tony La Russa. I invited my Dad down as I thought he'd get a kick out of it and I REALLY wanted him to get some time with La Russa, even though La Russa's Oakland A's beat my dad's beloved San Francisco Giants in the '89 "Battle Of The Bay" World Series, he got some quality hang time in. He was in baseball heaven. I had a total bro-down with Paulie Z and Jeff Scott Soto who did a Queen medley after my set and killed it. And then the time came to do my set for a 40-to-70 year-old audience that I was certain had no fuckin’ clue who the hell I or Machine Head was. I cracked a couple jokes about it and definitely broke the ice; I was nervous, surprisingly so, irrationally so. Every time I do these acoustic things I'm nervous, I kept telling myself "dude, you headline festivals in front of 100,000 people, and don't even blink an eye, why are you nervous?" I guess the idea of sitting, just me and an acoustic, and just being in the moment, connecting to the lyrics, connecting to the emotion and the place where I wrote it, and the idea that I couldn't rely on my old bag of tricks is... well, scary. I both like and hate that feeling. I feel like I need to do more of it just to get past this weird... I dunno, fear?
Tony La Russa's intro BLEW ME UP!! Dude RULES. After that intro I could have farted for 10 minutes and people would have at least politely clapped. Did "Die Young" first, went down good, I sang the end a lot better than at the Mitch benefit, and then came time for the debut of the acoustic version of "Darkness", just me and an acoustic, no sing-a-longs, no band to kick in The Heavy; a new version I had never played live. It worked, it totally worked, I nailed most of it, was a little flat in some parts at the very end, but overall it felt good, and I was proud of myself for taking up the challenge.
Flash forward to the afterparty at Willie McCovey's Restaurant in Walnut Creek, and people seemed really impressed that a big, ugly, hairy heavy metal guy could sing, expressed being blown away, a lot of people related to the lyrics. There was a genuine curiosity about metalheads too, a lot of people asked if other people in metal could do this? I told them they'd be amazed at the level of talent and musicianship there is in metal, that, we are what jazz musicians were in the 30's and 50's: an unrespected and misunderstood genre that people will look back on 30 years from now and go "wow, how did we miss that and not give it its due?" I signed autographs and snapped pics all night and it was cool to see the Bay Area Metal Scene getting recognized and appreciated by (for lack of better words) the Bay Area "Social Elite".
Back to the show... the rest of the night after my set just went bat shit awesome. Robin Williams came out and fucking KILLED IT, that dude is fucking funny, with a mouth like a pirate hooker! His bit about his 4-hour Viagra hard-on and his 60 year-old penis shooting one drop of semen that had just two 51 year-old sperms ("just point me to the eggs and I got it from here") had me in freakin’ tears. Then headliner Tony Orlando came on and brought the house down. He opened with “Tie A Yellow Ribbon”, into “Knock Three Times (On The Ceiling If You Want Me)” and the hits never stopped, he had a KILLER backing band, the keyboard and guitarist (Cole Brothers) were real deal rockers, they did an amazing Beatles medley, and for the last song, "Hey Jude", he brought all of the performers out. Next thing I know the keyboard player hands me a guitar, looks at me and says "it's a lefty". I look down and say “Uh...", he says "just flip it over, it's strung backwards"... "hmmm, ok!" Next thing I know I'm playing guitar on "Hey Jude" with Tony Orlando, then the world flips on its head and outta nowhere, Tony Orlando stops the tune and says we’re gonna rock out... suddenly the band kicks into "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin!!?? So there I am onstage rockin’ out, on a left-handed guitar flipped upside-down, with Tony La Russa on the gourd, Tony Orlando on the vocals, the whole cast of performers, jammin’ "Whole Lotta Love"... fuckin' nutzo!!
What a night.
Yes, life has a funny way of playing out, how these seemingly innocuous encounters can take you to places you never thought you'd go.
Subscribe to The General Journals: Diary of a Frontman... and Other Ramblings
Hanging with Dana Carvey, dude was hysterical:
Rich Hebert from "Les Mis":
The MAN, Robin Williams:
The Champ, doing the La Russa LEAN:
Tony let me rock the 3 World Series rings!:
Tony Orlando and The General, total bromance:
The pipes from hell, Paulie Z!:
And the man who held it all together, awesome dude, major rager, and saxaphonist for the freakin' DOOBIE BROTHERS, Mark Russo:
GREETINGS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Welcome to The General Journals: Diary of a Frontman... and Other Ramblings™.
Over the last 2 years I have spoken with many people who have asked why I don't write my diaries as regularly as I used to. Truth be told, between touring and all the demands of Machine Head, as well as being a husband, and full-time Dad to two young boys when I'm not on tour, I just haven't had the time. On top of that, my diaries had snowballed into epic endeavors that seemed to demand more and more with every installment and that just started to overwhelm the whole process.
Well, I'm stoked to say that after taking a much needed break from writing said diaries, I will be resuming these much-loved nuggets of text, albeit in a less epic form. They will now be called "The General Journals: Diary of a Frontman... and Other Ramblings", and my hope is to have at least one journal a week. They will continue to go up on all the usual sites (MH1, FB, Twitter, etc.) with one new addition - you will now be able to subscribe to these diaries via my newly created phpList so that you can get it sent right to your e-mail inbox. I myself subscribe to a few of these and I think they're really neat. Of course you can unsubscribe from my unusually awesome opinions at any time, but why the heck would you want to do that?!
I really look forward to talking about all things Machine Head, music, life in a band, as well as "life in general" (See what I did there?).
STONE SOUR - HOUSE OF GOLD & BONES PART 1
How good is this record? Seriously, how good is this record? I can't stop listening to it. I'm a few months late to the SS party because, truth be told, up until now I haven't been that big of a fan. I've liked a few songs over the years, primarily their ballads. "Bother" was freaking amazing and a great video. "Silly World" was great (and also a cool video), "Through Glass", ditto. But their hard stuff just came across as, I dunno... "Slipknot-lite" to me. This new stuff is freakin' ridiculously good! The production is massive, freakin' MASSIVE! Jay Ruston did a fantastic job on the mix. Great arrangements, great lyrics. "Absolute Zero" is a stone cold monster rock tune.
"You're looking at an absolute zero / I'm not the devil, but I won't be your hero"
Such a great line, I'm so sick of bands singing about America, and capitalism, how they're gonna win/be rich. We're not all gonna win, we're not all gonna be rich, and it's great to hear somebody say, "I'm a fuckin' loser" and own it.
Stone Sour - "Absolute Zero":
"Taciturn" is incredible, such a passionate vocal performance, Corey pours his heart out, you can feel the ache. "Give me a sign, show me the light / Maybe tonight, I'll tell you everything"
Wouldn't we like to know everything about somebody? Him? We would, but if we found out everything, we probably wouldn't want to know it, but then Corey doesn't tell us everything, and it leaves us that much more interested.
Stone Sour - "Taciturn":
"Influence Of A Drowsy God" may contain my favorite lyric on the album (I've kicked myself thinking "Why the hell didn't I think of that?): "Take all the examples and what have I learned? / Nothing can heal you when everything burns" ...FUCK! SO damn good!
Stone Sour - "Influence Of A Drowsy God":
Hit up iTunes or Spotify right now and get this record.
HE IS LEGEND - IT HATES YOU
I just Spotify-ed this band on the way down to the Mitch Lucker memorial last Friday. My tech Scott (aka Sgt. Stokely) turned me on to them and I haven't been so blown away by a band in a long time. Sort of like Alice In Chains meets Diamond Eyes-era Deftones but released before Deftones made Diamond Eyes. Insanely amazing rock vocals, super down-tuned guitars, cool ambient parts with some seriously legit metal guitar chops. "That's Nasty" is one of the most interesting, beautiful and crushingly doomy songs I've ever heard. Great lyrics and fantastic arrangements. So damn catchy its hooks haunt you for days. Bizarrely, the first three songs on the record blow, and the album cover is retarded. It's only after the first three tunes that the record turns into something truly incredible. "China White III" is mesmerizing... entrancing. "Our land is so terribly dry, and we see no crop, without the raindrops, only the weeds will survive, and keep our seeds from thriving. Will we ever see the spring?" Really cool stuff. Great, unusual, rock band that if you don't dig, you're just not living.
He Is Legend - "That's Nasty":
He Is Legend - "China White III":
APPLE TV / AIRPORT EXTREME
The world has gone streaming, it's just too easy now. I am FULLY on board. LOVE Spotify on my iPhone. My wife just gave me Apple TV for Xmas and I picked up an Apple AirPort Extreme (which is crazy fast WiFi)... duuuuuuuuuude... MIND BLOWN! Netflix-ing everything, I can play Spotify on my laptop and sync it with my TV, it's crazy. Streaming music, TV and movies just went next-level!
MITCH LUCKER MEMORIAL
What a great night with so many amazing performances. Such an incredible vibe in the place, emotionally charged and intense. I laughed, I cried, I was blown away. I met and re-connected with people on what seemed like a deeper level. I felt fucking alive. We did five tours with those guys. A lot of the 30-minute Behind The Music-style intro video killed me, very powerful.
Stand out performances and surprises for me were:
Dude from Job For A Cowboy. He had to open the show - no pressure, right? Man, he had such an unusual look on his face, looking up at the sky for quite a bit of the show (singing to Mitch?), but GOD DAMN he killed it on the vocals. Brutal, charismatic and engaging. Never paid dude much attention before, but I will now. Dude from Whitechapel absolutely KILLED the vocals, he knew the song like he was born to sing it, voice so low and heavy it was jaw-dropping. Eddie from All Shall perish killed it, whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Ricky Ex-Suffokate killed it like some crazed lanky spider up there.
Suicide Silence guitarist Mark Heylmun and I spent the previous night working on my acoustic cover of Black Sabbath's "Die Young". We soundchecked it twice with Scott on tremolo guitar; I was surprisingly nervous, maybe because it was the first time playing it live, maybe not being able to rely on my usual bravado/attitude/"roar" was a bit daunting. It was 3 acoustics and a vocal, naked and all about the passion. It felt good and to my surprise got an amazingly good reception. Even the deathcore, neck-tat kids were patting me on the back all night. I got a bit choked up near the end, but I nailed the high scream in the bridge; it was weird though, the "choking up" made it more real. There was a lot of emotion in the air and people were moved. They felt something.
We all did.
I bet even Mitch did.
"Die Young" live:
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The entire Machine Head family wishes every one of you the happiest of holidays and a fantastic new year! Our heartfelt thanks for an amazing 2012, here's to an even better 2013!